A Tribute To Greg Goode: By Harsh K. Luthar, Ph.D.
It’s funny the things we remember about people. I met Dr. Greg Goode in 1999 at the Providence Zen Center retreat. Providence Zen Center is a beautiful and scenic place with accommodations for weekend or week long spiritual and meditative retreats. People from many diverse faiths and traditions had come from Canada, California, and many places in between. Dr. Goode was scheduled to give a session on deep body relaxation and visualization at the event.
Greg Goode has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and is a well-known expert on various Eastern religions and traditions, in particular Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta. Greg and I had already known each other through different discussion lists on philosophy and spirituality on the Internet but were meeting face to face for the first time at the retreat. My first impression on seeing Greg was that he was about medium height, strong and muscular looking, balding, with a great warm and engaging smile that showed a lot of teeth and made everyone feel welcome.
During the first meal of the retreat about fifteen of us gathered. The Zen monks had cooked some wonderful dishes based on Tofu, vegetables, rice, and soup. The food was delicious and the conversation around the table reflected such joy amongst the group members that it is hard to put in words. After about an hour, people were finishing their meals, putting their dishes in the sink, and coming back to the large dinner table to resume talking and listening. No one wanted to miss anything that was being said!
I was the last one to finish eating having gone back several times to fill my plate. Finally, I sat contented listening to the group conversation. Suddenly my eyes fell on the accumulating pile of dishes in the sink. It occurred to me that, although the Zen monks were responsible for cooking and feeding us, we were probably supposed to do the dishes ourselves. In any case, it did not seem classy to call the Zen monks back just to clean up after us.
Then the most amazing thing happened. Just as I was reflecting on how to best organize the chores amongst the group members, Greg got up from the table as he was talking and went to the sink. He continued his conversation with people around him and, in a matter of fact way, started putting the soap on the dishes and washing them with a sponge. Seeing this, my thought process about organizing chores came to a quick halt and I jumped up and offered my assistance to Greg. Greg gave me a towel and said that he would pass on the clean dishes to me and I could help by wiping and drying them with the towel. Soon everyone from the table was up and helping and the dishes were sparkling clean and the whole kitchen was spotless in no time. After that, all of us again sat down to talk to each other.
That is what I remember about Greg, his unassuming and warm demeanor, that big smile with the bright teeth reflecting his openness and humility. I especially remember vividly the image of Greg spontaneously getting up and starting to wash the dishes. Greg did not need to think about how to organize others. He set the example in a way that a selfless leader sets and we all organized ourselves to accomplish the tasks at hand. Wow! Here was a leader who did not have to tell anyone what to do! When I think of Greg, it reminds me that there are Bodhisattvas all around us. Perhaps we are all Bodhisattvas or can be Bodhisattvas and provide assistance and inspiration to others at some time.
Well, the real story begins here. After the retreat ended, all of us kept in close contact and continued our communications and discussions. Some years went by and Greg got married to May, a beautiful and kind woman from Jiangsu, China, and became the stepfather to her son. We were all so happy for Greg.
One day, I heard from Greg that due to issues related to her Visa, May had been taken by the Immigration service to a correctional facility. Greg had to then take care of May’s son and hire an immigration lawyer to assist May with her Visa. We prayed for Greg, sent him our love during these difficult times, and held him in our heart.
Greg describes the experience of his wife May being in prison and the effect it had on him and May vividly in the story, “How Kwan Yin Came To My Wife’s Assistance.” Kwan Yin is the Buddhist Bodhisattva of Compassion, “She Who Hears the Cries of Sentient Beings.” Greg has told the beautiful story of how his wife May prayed to Kwan Yin and chanted invoking the name and blessings of Kwan Yin and other Bodhisattvas. It is a warm and moving story that brought tears to my eyes. I thank Greg for writing about his and his wife’s ordeal and experiences and sharing his blessings with us.
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God bless you all with all good things.
Lots of love,