His lucid style brought Buddhism to thousands
by By Dr. Mrs. Tilokasundari Kariyawasam, The Sunday Times, Jan 11, 2009
Colombo, Sri Lanka -- It is with profound appreciation that I recall my memories of Alec Robertson, whom I knew for nearly 25 years. My association with him was inspiring, challenging and a source of much spiritual and intellectual satisfaction.
The more I recall Alec Robertson, the more questions I am led to ask about Buddhism. I think of the exquisite personality that made Alec unique. What better way to spend one’s life than in investigating the intricacies of Buddhism, a broad dynamic field with shifting emphases and new discoveries.
Alec filled me with enthusiasm for Buddhism. He shared new ideas and corrected faulty ones. I owe a debt of gratitude for what I learnt from him.
His extempore lectures, here and abroad, were acclaimed for their spiritual and worldly wisdom. He successfully maintained the live lecture format. His aim was to stimulate thought, while teaching a view point that was helpful. His preaching placed Buddhism in the broader context of Sri Lanka culture. His lectures generated a wide range of practical applications of Buddhism; they helped promote emotional stability, accelerate learning, break unwanted habits, overcome fear, and build self-esteem.
He was a consummate narrator to children. He used no tricks of oratory. He addressed the audience in general conversational tones, the smile coming and going on his mobile, expressive face. His lecture schedule was epic. He was also capable of addressing general audiences with simplicity and direction.
His writings provided inspiring and valuable insights, while conveying a picture of his personal life, his wide-ranging knowledge and his thoughts on issues of global concern.
Mr. Robertson lucidly expounded all the suttas, and even the Abhidhamma. He appealed to people to look within, to know the Four Esential Truths, the essence of Buddhism. He showed how the Buddhist philosophy of impermanence, suffering and egolessness can blend with one’s life. He looked at Buddhism in a new way. His life was a consuming quest for knowledge and wisdom.
Mr. Robertson must rank as one of Sri Lanka’s finest broadcasters in English on Buddhism. His exemplary life will inspire us to be better human beings.
Alec Robertson was polite, but there was steel too. He was firm, assertive and confident. He will be remembered for his iron-will, profound wisdom, selfless service, purity, magnetic personality and exemplary teaching methods. He had intellectual integrity, moral earnestness and spiritual insight. He was a true Buddhist – one who had relationships, friendships, marriage, family and an eminent life.