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Passing of Laurence Mills (Formerly Bhikkhu Khantipālo)

Just saw that Laurence Mills has passed away. I don’t know much about the recent parts of his life, but he published several books through the BPS.

In 1976, when he was Bhikkhu Khantipālo, he edited and published 90 suttas from the MN that were drafted by Ven Nyanamoli under the title A Treasury of the Buddha’s Words. Later, Wisdom Publications asked Bhikkhu Bodhi if he would edit the complete manuscript for publication. This became The Middle Lenght Discourses.

He also has a translation of the Sutta Nipata on SuttaCentral.

Perhaps folks who knew him could share some memories.


Here are some of his more well known titles:

Here are his publications on AccesstoIsight.org.
And a whole bunch more I’ve never heard of on Buddhist Studies Review, Journal of the UK association for Buddhist Studies.


Biography

From: Khantipalo - Encyclopedia of Buddhism

Laurence Mills was born in London in 1932, and educated at Thetford Grammar School in Norfolk. After training as a horticulturalist he worked at Kew Gardens in London. During his national service on the Suez Canal he read a book on Buddhism which inspired a lifelong interest in Buddhist studies. As a result he travelled to India and South-East Asia, eventually ordaining as a monk in the Thai Dhammayuttika Nikaya. He became an extremely accomplished Pali scholar and published a great many influential books and articles on Buddhism.

After thirty years as a Theravada monk, including extended periods as a forest hermit, he disrobed to pursue further research into Mahayana Buddhism, in particular the Tibetan Dzogchen tradition. In 1973 he established Wat Buddha Dhamma in New South Wales, and in 1991 he established the Bodhicitta Buddhist Centre in Queensland.

He is one of the founding fathers of Buddhism in Australia and is well known for his inspirational practice and teaching. After a lifetime of service to Buddhism he finally succumbed to ill health and now resides in a medical care facility in Melbourne, Victoria. In 2010 he re-ordained as a novice in the Vietnamese Mahayana tradition under the name Minh An, “Peace with Wisdom”.

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Sothi… May the late Lawrence Mills rejoice over his wholesome deeds and attain the bliss of Nibbana.

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There was a distinct millennial reorientation of the interpretation of western Theravada about the year 2000. For example the division between mind and body is now rarely heard:

"In Buddhist Teaching, the inter-dependence of mind-body (nama-rupa) is emphasized. Moreover, it is the mind which has charge at the helm, while materiality (rupa) is a passenger. As the Dhammapada stresses in its first and second verses: “Mind precedes all states and is their chief, they are all mind-wrought…”—“With Robe and Bowl,” Khantipalo

Khantipalo’s books are therefore a preservation of what was once a unified approach to the dhamma, in accord with the pioneer stage of development of Buddhism in society at that time.

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I read some of his BPS booklets and am forever grateful as those were my first books on the actual words of the Buddha(his book Bag of Bones was memorable)

May he attain Nibbana and be free from samsara :pray:t4:

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I met him once, at the Sydney Buddhist Library, where he gave a talk and signed copies of his newly published autobiography. I’m not sure if it was one of these, but I will check my bookshelf next time I’m at home. He was already based in Melbourne at that time, but as the founding Abbot of Wat Buddha Dhamma it was wonderful to meet him.

While I was living at the Wat I spent much of my free time in the Library which, at that time, was essentially the personal library he had left behind. The margins of the texts were full of neatly pencilled comments that I found fascinating: what a lovely way to be introduced to Dhamma study. :pray: When the Forest Monks arrived most of the works written originally in English were burnt (this being the respectful way of disposing of Dhamma materials for which there is no further use).

A story travelled around that Khantipalo was dead already (perhaps because of the long time he’d been in Aged Care). but at Vesak one of the anagorikas at the Wat told me that some of their friends had recently visited him and that, although succumbing to Alzheimer’s, he was very content.

He was a scholar. How different his scholarly life in that small room in the middle of the bush, secluded against the rest of the world, from the experience of some of the scholar monastics on this forum! Do you have memories of him Bhante @Sujato, that you can share?

Thanks for that. :pray:

May he attain Nibbana and be free from samsara :pray:

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Here: Bag of Bones: A Miscellany on the Body

Here: With Robes and Bowl: Glimpses of the Thudong Bhikkhu Life

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Thanks for the notice. I read his collection of edited Majjhima sutta, it was my real introduction to the Dhamma. I remember being amazed and confused, and suspecting that a whole world was opening up before me. I never met Khantipalo in person, though I spoke with him once on the phone. He was a pioneer, and his influence is still echoing in Sydney Buddhism.

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All Khantipalo’s themed books dealt with monastic practice except ‘Bag of Bones’ (showing his organizational bent). It provided sutta references to the theme of mindfulness of the body, emphasized by the Buddha. This relates to the struggle in his own life where after disrobing he explored Mahayana.

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I had met Laurence Mills in the last few years of his life from the nursing home in Melbourne, where we had visited him with an old Wattie from Wat Buddha Dhamma & Gary, who had been helping him out. He was somewhat responsive and he just said “shine” (i.e., like a light) when he liked something.

He liked listening to Danno Budunge (Sri Lankan Buddhist song about arahants of Anuradhapura) while we were there. Gary mentioned that he was also singing the Sri Lankan national anthem sometimes (not sure if singing or being sung to!). We did pirit/paritta for him.

We were also introduced to Dzogchen practice for purifying the realms by Gary.

I can’t claim to have known him well, but I really got the sense of someone who had spent a lifetime really spreading Buddhism, looking for Buddhism, from his walls and bookcase…which were really a shrine in themselves, to all kinds of Buddhism. He had everything there, from Luang Ta Maha Bua to a radiant aum.

I hope he can keep on “shining”, wherever he ends up & eventually be free (who knows, if he isn’t already).

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Thank you for the details provided by everyone.

I haven’t known Ven Khantipalo at all. A few months ago, I was looking for the Parābhava Sutta (Discourse on Disaster) in SuttaCentral & found his translation in Sutta Nipāta. It is a very nice Sutta in verses & his translation is great!

It is interesting to note that he liked listening to [Danno Budunge ](Sri Lankan Buddhist song about arahants of Anuradhapura) & more surprisingly of listening to Sri Lankan National Anthem! Perhaps, who knows, he may have been a Pali Scholar Monk/Lay Buddhist, in Sri Lanka, in a previous life!

May he attain Nibbana & end all his suffering!

May all beings be healthy, happy & peaceful!

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To give a little bit more detail around that, his former wife was Sri Lankan. And I have never met a Buddhist that didn’t love Danno Budunge.

Once someone has Alzheimers, singing and chanting can be a great way to connect with them and lift spirits…hence all the nursing home singing, including the Dzogchen chanting.

Purifying the Six Realms in Dzogchen: https://melong.com/new-video-download-the-purification-of-the-six-lokas/

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Yes, indeed, we love that song, too! There are number of such songs but, we are staying away from music for quite sometime, now but, on & off, listen to such soothing, Sinhala, Buddhist melodies!

Thank you for sharing that additional information, too!

This brings me to what the Lord Buddha discoursed in the Saṅkhārupapattisutta
MN 120, (Rebirth by Choice). In that Sutta, Lord Buddha discoursed that if one practises Faith, Ethics, Learning, Generosity, and Wisdom then, one can be reborn anywhere according to one’s own choice!

So, if a good, practising Buddhist living in Sri Lanka, during the colonial times, (when, the British were ruling the country), wished to live among the British, to live in relatively more luxury, it would have happened! That could have been, Good? Bad? Who Knows?

Apologies to Ven Ajahn Brahm, as we all know, Good? Bad? Who Knows? is the title of one of HIs many best-selling-books!

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There are people sharing memories on Facebook page which can be found by searching google for “Laurence Khantipalo Mills Facebook”.

They just posted details of live stream of his memorial service which starts from 8:30am AEST [EDIT: stream starts 8:30am, dana for sangha at 11am, memorial 1230 see facebook) Tomorrow (Monday) morning and link is here

https://www.facebook.com/Laurence-Mills-1536075609963440/

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He was so quirky and very daring… He was teaching a retreat I attended at Wat Buddha Dhamma in about 1984. I talked with him about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh (later Osho) who I was interested in. Phra Khantipalo asked if Bhagwan could help people to access their past lives. A practical question!

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Ajahn Nissarano - In Memory of Laurence (Khantipalo) Mills | 11 JUL
Talk at the Buddhist Society of Victoria by Ajahn Nissarano in Memory of Laurence Mills also feat. Gary Dellora.

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