Friday, May 22, 2009

An Ode to Dr Richard Harring
Dr Richard Harring, Kalamazoo, Michigan passed away at 5.30am on Wednesday, 20 May 2009. Sambodh Foundation India, The Sambodh Society Inc. USA and Sambodh Centre for Human Excellence, Michigan expresses deep condolences on the bereavement of our dear friend and close associate. Below is the note that HH Swami Bodhananda-Ji wrote for the service ceremony of Richard Harring. Our Pranams to Dr Richard Harring.
Remembering you forever,
Friends of Sambodh India and Sambodh US.

An Ode to Richard
Swami Bodhananda
20 May 2009
Kalamazoo, Michigan

Richard is no more. But that is only physically. His memories live on. So too does his memorabilia. Richard continues to live in all of us. We may call it the everlasting presence of the Spirit or the Soul. He lives in my brain cells, in your brain cells. When we are gone and our gray matter become mud he will live in the grains of the earth, in the sap of the trees, in the wild foliage, in flowers and fruits.

Richard lived amidst books. His intellectual interests were varied and wholesome. There was nothing and no issue, be it political, economic, social, religious, spiritual or ethical or environmental, that escaped his attention. I always enjoyed my conversations with him. He had strong views and he expressed them forcefully and backed his observations and comments with the latest available data. He lived in the present, with his feet firmly on the ground. But I could often see stars twinkling in his eyes, though his ironic smile betrayed his inner pain.

I always felt that he wanted to stretch and pluck the moon, but some strange concern pressed him down. That was a private secret that he kept close to his heart. Not even his close friends, who were far and few, knew what was aching him. But he continued to smile and shed sunshine where ever he went and whomever he met.

He was a loyal and ardent devotee of his Guru. He couldn't complete even one sentence without remembering his Guru who passed away long ago. He was dear to me; was my good friend, counselor and concerned critique. He stood by me and Ruth through thick and thin, counseling and cautioning us, but always ready to shoulder any responsibility that he felt will ease our burden. He never grumbled or mumbled even when he had to do things which he was not passionate about, but thought would make others happy.

Sambodh Centre for Human Excellence would not have been possible without his good wishes, whole-hearted support, prayers and blessings. Richard will live as long as Sambodh Center for Human Excellence lives.

Above all Richard was a good man. My definition of a good man is one who is good to others, often setting aside his own needs. He had a special knack of sensing other's thoughts. He was there with his hurried gait, halting warbled speech and ready wit and winsome smile to enquire about your needs and comforts. I had the privilege of being his quest for more than ten years, and never ever did he give the feeling that I was not special. He considered his guest as God's messenger.

Richard was a perfect host. Anybody who has enjoyed his hospitality will vouchsafe for that. That merit alone will entitle him for the highest place in heaven.
Richard was a good husband, good father, good friend and a good grand-father. He read all the Harry Potters, a boring enterprise for a man of his intellectual depth, just to be in the good books of his grand-son, Adam. He was a loving and loyal husband and was fortunate to have a wife who shared his interests and passions. Richard and Ruth were ideal couple, epitomizing the Vedic dictum- Sahadharmam Charathah, walking together the path of Dharma.

Finally I can say without any hesitation that here was a man who lived his life fully, who lived his life righteously, who lived his life spiritually, with full of awareness, who gave more than he took, laughed more than he wept, hoped more than he despaired and left the world richer than he found it. I salute him from the bottom of my heart.

Four days ago I was with Richard, in a restaurant, eating, which happened to be our last supper - we were five: Richard, Ruth, Nancy, her friend Marc and me. While leaving he held my hand tight and whispered, "I want to study Shiva Sutras, the 67 mystic statements on Shiva and Sakti, from you". I gave him time for 20th, Wednesday, 11.30 AM.

The Shiva Sutras describe spiritual disciplines to be practiced by a devotee for ultimate union with Shiva, the supreme Universal Spirit. Richard was up on that day at 5.00 AM and was at his table at 5.30 and I am sure that what was then uppermost in his mind was Shiva, the dancing God of creation and destruction. He must have been so intent on Shiva that time-space evaporated, the bonds of the heart cut asunder, the body dropped and his soul ascended to Shiva Loka, the abode of Shiva, in Mount Kailash. His whole life, Richard chanted OM Nama Shivaya. Today He has become Shiva Himself - Shivohum, Shivohum, Shivohum.

It pains me to think that I shall never again see him in the form that I am used to. I may even unconsciously reach for the phone when I am faced with a problem. But soon I will get accustomed to the permanence of his physical absence and learn experientially the Gita teaching that the born shall die. Salutations to you once again Richard, our good friend!

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