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In memory of Nina van Gorkom

A reflection on behalf of those who knew Nina through a shared interest in the Dhamma

Nina was a very dear friend to all those who shared her interest in the Buddha’s teaching (the Dhamma). Nina was much admired for her writings, for her detailed knowledge of the texts (scriptures), and for her positive contribution over almost 60 years to the discussions with Ajahn Sujin. Ajahn Sujin is the person who has been our guide in understanding the Buddha’s teaching as found in the original texts. For many of us, Nina’s writings were our first experience of an explanation of the Buddha’s teachings in writing that was meaningful and relevant to our ordinary daily life. Some of us have been fortunate to know Nina well for a very long time and to frequently travel with her. Nina’s enthusiasm for putting in writing what she was studying, and for sharing this with others, was extraordinary. Her body of work included:

Nina’s scholarship and research skills were impressive, as was the volume (and speed) of her output. In total she wrote some 16 books and 22 articles, and translated 4 works from the Thai. These have been translated into numerous foreign languages. We are extremely grateful for this legacy. Some time after the loss of her dear Lodewijk, Nina resumed travels to Asia on her own, and she continued these even when assistance with mobility became necessary. Since Covid struck and weekly Zoom discussions with Ajahn Sujin began, Nina has been a regular participant. She was usually the first to speak each week, bringing up topics that she knew would be useful for everyone. We last had the pleasure of her company on-line on the day before she passed away. We will miss Nina’s cheery presence, keen interest and good friendship. Our condolences to her family members.

Sarah and Jonothan Abbott 6 January 2024

Words of the Buddha from the sutta ‘A Single Excellent Night’:

“Let not a person revive the past
or on the future build his hopes;
For the past has been left behind
And the future has not been reached.
Instead with insight let him see
Each presently arisen state;
Let him know that and be sure of it,
Invincibly, unshakeably.
Today Death may come, who knows?”

MN 131, Translated by Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli and Bhikkhu Bodhi