Ken Jones, a dharma teacher with the UK-based Western Chan Fellowship and an important voice in socially engaged Buddhism, left this dew-drop world Sunday, August 2, after a long illness, at the age of 85. His professional career was in higher education, supplemented by many years as a peace, ecology, and social justice activist. His Buddhist practice began when he realized that it was not enough to work for social emancipation: inner liberation was also necessary.
As a teacher in the lineage of the Taiwanese Chan master Sheng Yen and John Crook, Ken led many meditation retreats and workshops on various aspects of Buddhism. He was a founder of the UK Network of Socially Engaged Buddhists, and for many years was a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. His most important book on socially engaged Buddhism is The New Social Face of Buddhism: A Call to Action (2003).
I was fortunate to become his friend and to be hosted by him and his Irish wife, Noragh, in their rustic home near Aberystwyth University, in his beloved Wales.
Ken was also an accomplished poet, whose haiku and haibun were awarded many prizes. A few of my favorite haiku are below:
Strolling for miles
arm in my pocket
hoping she’ll take it
Aging address book
the living squeezed
between the dead
This fine evening
How simple death seems
Start your day with a fresh perspective
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