With the death of Jinananda, on 28 December 2017, the West London Buddhist Centre and sangha lost a much loved friend who has been a very important and influential part of our community for many years. His funeral was held at the Centre on 19 January 2018, followed by a wake that evening including a celebration of his life through sharing memories and rejoicing in his merits.
You can download here the memorial booklet from the funeral, which lists the order of the service and includes texts of many of the readings. The final page lists the books which Jinananda wrote and edited and also the audio books he narrated, both secular and Buddhist. (There were two omissions from the list of books Jinananda edited – What is the Sangha? and Living Wisely).
An obituary written by Jinananda’s friend Nicolas Soames (Jinamitra) that was featured in the Guardian last month is available here and another, written by Bodhilila, is below.
An obituary by Bodhilila
Jinananda was a much loved teacher and friend to many people at the West London Buddhist Centre where he taught for over 30 years. He was Chair of the centre for a number of years. More recently he took on the role of Mitra Convenor, supporting men who wished to deepen their Buddhist practice within the Triratna Buddhist Community. He was also a trustee of the charity and the West London Buddhist Centre Treasurer.
Jinananda was ordained by Sangharakshita on 2 November 1986 at Il Convento in Italy. He contributed much to the wider Buddhist community, writing a book on meditation and two books on the Buddha – Warrior of Peace: the Life of the Buddha and The 100 minute Buddha. Jinananda and Vidyadevi had the idea of editing some of Sangharakshita’s talks into books, and together edited Who is the Buddha? ,What is the Dharma?, What is the Sangha? and Know Your Mind. In partnership with Pabhodhana he edited, The Yogi’s Joy, Living with Awareness, Living with Kindness and Living Wisely.
He was also the sole editor of Wisdom Beyond Words. Through these books and his teaching Jinananda gave the gift of the Dharma to many people, both near and far. He was also a successful audiobook reader, recording many Buddhist and secular titles for Naxos AudioBooks including Karma and Rebirth and the bestselling audio book of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, released under his birth name, Duncan Steen. This has sold in the tens of thousands and was the No 1 worldwide non-fiction audiobook title on audible.com in December, the month of his death.
Jinananda was also passionate about outreach work and, as well as his teaching commitments at the West London Buddhist Centre, taught a weekly meditation and Buddhism class in Ealing for many years. He also taught mindfulness classes at City Lit and the YMCA and was always willing to teach meditation sessions and short courses for local community organisations.
Jinananda was diagnosed with cancer towards the end of 2016. Due to his illness he was not able to continue teaching during the last year of his life. However, he still visited the Buddhist Centre and came to meditation sessions up until a few weeks before his death on 28 December, aged 65. According to his wife, he passed away peacefully in London, surrounded by close family members, shortly after a trip to Cambridgeshire to spend Christmas with his extended family. His physical condition rapidly deteriorated during the last week of his life but he was no longer in any pain and his mind was still very present and aware. On Christmas Eve after travelling from London to be with his family he was alert all day and able to eat an evening meal at the table with everyone, and he stayed up until 11.30pm. Jinananda dealt with his dying process with much courage and dignity, using the experience as an opportunity to deepen his practice. This can be seen in his blog, especially in the later entries as he was approaching death.
When I saw him a few days before his death, Jinananda was thinking about his funeral and the readings and pieces of music he wished to be included. He also said he would like people to chant the Tara mantra and Avalokitesvara mantra for him.