245. Āloka David Smith

I was born in Oxford, England, in 1946, and I’ve been a practicing Buddhist for 40 years. I began training with Zen, practicing with the Venerable Myokyo-ni, a teacher from the Rinzai school, at the Buddhist Society in London. This was my practice for more than five years, before travelling to Sri Lanka in 1980. Here I lived for three years as a Theravada monk under the guidance of the Venerable Dhammaloka Maha Thera. It was while I was in Sri Lanka that my spiritual breakthrough took place in 1981, and it is this that forms the framework of my first book, A Record of Awakening, published in 1999.

There is an interview made for television by conscious.tv that covers this period of my training. There is also an edited transcription version on this website.

On my return from Sri Lanka I matured my practice by essentially living on my own for a number of years in east London. At the time of my breakthrough in Sri Lanka my teacher told me I should travel and begin to teach, but it was to be around 20 years before I took that role when I began leading retreats at centres of the Triratna Community in the UK and abroad. My association with this movement came to an end in 2006, and the DharmaMind Buddhist Group started independently the following year.

Other books:

On July 31st 2015, Āloka peacefully passed away.  His funeral service was in the Birmingham Buddhist Centre on August 13th.  He wrote this farewell letter before he died and asked that it be read out at the funeral as his final words to his Sangha and Dharma friends.

Transcript of this interview

Interview recorded 8/9/2014

YouTube Video Chapters:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction to Aloka David Smith
  • 00:04:59 – The Path of Self-Development
  • 00:09:35 – Seeking Guidance and Support
  • 00:14:11 – Trusting Intuition and Taking a Leap of Faith
  • 00:18:57 – The Experience of Cutting Open and Revealing Reality
  • 00:23:46 – Breaking Up the Illusion of Self
  • 00:28:21 – Burrowing Into Who You Are
  • 00:32:51 – Choosing a Path to Self-Improvement
  • 00:37:21 – The Natural Process of Awakening
  • 00:42:35 – The Difference Between Commitment and Willfulness
  • 00:46:57 – Letting go of distractions and finding stillness
  • 00:51:24 – Cultivating Inner Strength and Patience
  • 00:56:07 – Surrendering to the Support of the Divine
  • 01:01:00 – Equilibrium and the Collapse of the Conditioned Mind
  • 01:06:32 – Revelation of Reality in the Dhammakaya
  • 01:11:55 – Understanding Quantum Physics Beyond Objectivity
  • 01:16:33 – The Advancing Host
  • 01:21:17 – The Nature of Experience and Unattachment
  • 01:25:35 – The Paradox of Non-Dual Enlightenment
  • 01:30:20 – The Subtleties of Enlightenment
  • 01:34:49 – Breaking Taboos in Buddhism
  • 01:39:55 – The Need for a Teacher and Emotional Support
  • 01:44:10 – The Evolution of Buddhist Practice in the West
  • 01:48:14 – The Importance of Traditional Form and Practice
  • 01:52:46 – Practices and Techniques in Zen and Theravada
  • 01:57:35 – The Rejection of True Nature in Buddhist Practice
  • 02:01:42 – The Importance of Authentic Teachers
  • 02:06:13 – Authenticating Awakening and Seeking Approval
  • 02:11:03 – The Importance of Humility on the Spiritual Path
  • 02:15:56 – Being Challenged and Avoiding Complacency
  • 02:19:55 – Conclusion and Farewell