Graeme Lyall has passed on

Dear friends,

On Vesak day, May 3 2015 at 3.40pm, Graeme Lyall passed away. Those familiar with Buddhism in Australia will know of Graeme’s unsurpssed service to Buddhism in this country and internationally. He was the senior Buddhist in the whole country, having been part of the original Buddhist Society of NSW from its inception in 1953.

I won’t give you a history of his life, but will share with you some of my memories of him as a man.

Graeme reminded me of the Monkey character from the classic show: his nature is irrepressible! He was an august and respected figure, but in the true Australian spirit never let that become pomposity or conceit. He laughed and joked all the time, and his humor always had a point to it.

Graeme was a man after my own heart, in that he was not afraid to speak his mind. If you think Buddhists are often too quiet in the face of events that need to be spoken of, you haven’t read Graeme’s amazing website. The domain seems to have lapsed recently and is now run by a different group. But you can still see snapshots on the Internet Archive; here’s the most recent:

I met him for the last time a few months ago, and as always he was in fine spirits, and speaking of his work as a prison chaplain. Not for him the lazy retirement of the dignitary. He went straight to those most in need, and gave them his heart.

And he was still growing in his own heart. I was very privileged to see a little moment a few years ago that spoke so much to me. I don’t want to give any personal details, but there had been some disagreement between Graeme and someone else involved in the Buddhist scene. They ran into each other at a ceremony I was at, and when they saw each other there was a moment of recognition: and then a big hug! To me that’s a sign of a real practitioner. Not to be perfect, but to forgive and to move on.

While Graeme was deeply non-sectarian in his approach to Dhamma, he had a strong connection with the Chinese Pure Land tradition, and was a close student of Master Chin Kung. A number of years ago, when he was very ill, he laughed with me that he would be soon in the Pure Land. He was delighted at the prospect!

Wherever he is now, I have no doubt at all that he’s happy. He devoted his life to sharing the joy of the Dhamma, and I know that he would just want you to be happy as well. So let’s make his life meaningful by staying happy. And if anyone has some thoughts or memories of Graeme you’d like to share, please leave them below.


3 thoughts on “Graeme Lyall has passed on

  1. Graeme Lyall has always been an inspiration for many lay Dharma Practitioners for walking the talk on the Dharma path. His numerous contributions to the growth of Buddhism in Australia are unprecedented, especially the founding of the Sydney University Buddhist Society, UNIBODHI. Apart from his compassionate work as a Prison Chaplain, he has also been instrumental in the active promotion of multiculturalism and interfaith harmony. His legacy of a humble and compassionate Dharma practitioner who walk the talk, will be exemplary for many lay Buddhists to emulate.

  2. It was a great privilege and a pleasure to know and work with Graeme who devoted his entire life towards propagating Buddhism in this country. His achievements are immense so much so that it would be impossible to omit his name when talking about Buddhism in Australia. As Bhante said, where ever he is now, there is no doubt he is in a very happy state. Graeme, you are an inspiration for us.

  3. We are sorry we never knew Graeme Lyall, but he was part of the first dana we offered in our new house here in Kandy yesterday because of his help and friendship with Adrian, our Dhamma friend in Germany who made a donation to Bodhirukharama in his name. We’re sure that Adrian would like readers of this blog to know that his life was profoundly influenced by Graeme. As one of the monks present observed — passing away on Vesak is most auspicious.

    Dear Ken and Visakha,
    I just found out that my noble friend Graeme Lyall passed away today in Australia at 3.40 pm age 83. He was the founding chair of the Buddhist Council of New South Wales in Australia and has worked for the Dhamma for decades. He has given me help and assistance over a long time. He truly earned bringing his life and work to a good end on this great Vesak day.
    It was also through his help that I first got to know about Bodhirukarama long ago. I want to give my donation for the caretakers salary at Bodhirukarama in his honor. I have attached a picture of him.
    May this noble Kalyana Mitta gain highest happines and attain Nibbana quickly.
    with metta,

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