–Guest post by Mark Sidwell–

Thank you all for accompanying Martin on the journey so far.  For those of you who find this blog later, welcome.

Martin died late Saturday evening, September 7th.  The change was peaceful, and he was surrounded by family and words of love.

Shortly before that, when his body had become very much weaker, he wrote the below final entry for this blog and asked me to post it later along with whatever else seemed fitting.

“I’ve done everything I can think of that I can still do, there’s little I can learn by continuing to live like this and I will become an ever increasing physical burden to Felicity my beloved partner so I will eat and drink no more. I have been blessed in so many ways. Now I’m excited to see what comes next.”

These words encapsulate the spirit with which Martin approached life, and his death.  He applied his Buddhist practice devotedly to the experience of ALS, and focused his attention on finding peace and equanimity with the various changes to his body.  The grace with which he encountered every challenge showed us what was possible, and helped us to find a measure of the same ease with a very difficult experience.  I’m deeply grateful for that gift.

Many years ago, Dad mentioned that it had recently occurred to him that the happiest time in his life had been when he was little, when his family had lived in a house with a dirt floor and had owned almost nothing.  He said with a chuckle that it was ironic that he’d spent most of his life working very hard to make sure that he’d never be in that situation again.  He said this not regretfully, but with his characteristic quiet amusement.

When Dad found Buddhism he approached the practice with the same diligence, deep curiosity, and quiet persistence with which he approached every new project.  He explored, and practiced, and he found something precious – in a sense, he found a way back to that house with the dirt floor, to the knowledge that in the midst of life’s brilliant complexity there is a simplicity hiding in the center of everything. He discovered that by travelling there, a kindness and peace can be found which is the inheritance of all sentient beings.

Like all good adventurers, Dad returned from this experience changed and with a desire to share what he’d found.  Not only did he write about his experiences here and elsewhere, but over the years he truly lived the precepts he was learning, devotedly applied the practice to his thoughts and actions, and by living that example he held the door open and gestured in, inviting us all into that tiny house with the dirt floor.

Dad’s body has died, and as he wrote in his final message he has now learned what happens at that moment.  Over the course of his journey he helped so many people, touched so many lives – and through this blog and all the out-spreading actions of all those whose lives he touched he will continue to impact many more. 

I think that the greatest parting gift he gave to us though is in his time spent pointing along the path that others had walked before him, toward the space we now share, all of us.  He stands at the door to that tiny house with a dirt floor, smiling, his eyes alight, inviting us in.  That house stands waiting for us, where we are together with the precious simplicity that Martin found.

As I sat with him in the last weeks we shared, one thing he mentioned was his hope that this blog would continue to be helpful to people.  I encourage you to invite others into Martin’s childhood home, and to share what Martin discovered here wherever you believe it can be of help to others.


13 comments on “Namaste

  1. Martin was a kind and gentle soul with a tilt of his head and that twinkle in his eye. He was very brave to live through this illness. May his guides and angels always walk beside him. Loving thoughts are being sent to him on his journey to a loving and peaceful place.
    With Love, Light and many blessings…
    Christine and Dick Bayles

  2. I’m saddened to know his indomitable spirit has left us, but joyous for everything he experienced and shared with us. It was an honor and a privilege to have worked for him, even for just a short time, years back at D&B. I always think of him whenever I have terra chips, as the first time I ever had them was at his office.

  3. So sorry for your family’s loss. Martin’s blog, full of grace and curiosity, has been an inspiration. Godspeed, Martin.

  4. I am sad to know Martin has left us, but deeply appreciative of the lessons he shared during his journey with ALS. I have shared his blogs with family and friends; all of us have learned so much from his courage, equanimity and ingenuity.

  5. How he approached all aspects of his life from his days at NCSS to the years sharing his ALS journey is a testament to the depth of his character and his spirit. Physically he will be missed, but his spirit will continue to live within all of who were fortunate enough to share time with him. Namaste. Chris

  6. How he approached all aspects of his life from his days at NCSS to the years sharing his ALS journey is a testament to the depth of his character and his spirit. Physically he will be missed, but his spirit will continue to live within all of who were fortunate enough to share time with him. Namaste. Chris

  7. I would certainly echo what Chris said, Mark. I also extend my sympathies to Felicity and all of Martin’s beloved family members. His spirit will live on but interacting with him is lost to us. He also told me the story about happy days of a somewhat poor childhood, he enjoyed those memories. I certainly enjoyed him. Jill

  8. Mr Martin Namaste from far site at the cornor of third pole. I am very sad to hearing from your site this unexpected massage. Life is impermant but some hope for longer life. It has been so longer time that we spend so many himalayas doing trek in Nepal. There were so many memories among us Martun sir, Unfortunatly you left this world which made me sad. I never forget that you take me your home at Canedicut and Grandcenter which were memorable my sir. I pray for you rest in peace world Martin.
    I have honour to Felicity, Dan, Mark including intire members of family with love and respect

  9. I worked with and then for Martin in the mid 70s. I remember making many trips to Stamford where he would sit with me and explain the intricacies of networks and operating systems as I was attempting to write a book for the masses in terms they could understand. I remember a calm, patient, and extremely insightful man who cared about me and people in general. To me, he always seemed respectful and reflective; always willing to see the other side of what we discussing. As a student and then employee of his, I will always remember him with the greatest of respect. I feel honored to have known him. Stu Madison

  10. My condolences to the family. It was a pleasure to work with Martin many years ago at D&B. I appreciated his sense of humor. I was glad to hage reconnected with him on Facebook years after I left there. The way he approached his ALS adventure was an inspiration.

  11. We will all miss not being able to interact with Martin directly, but his memories will keep him alive in our hearts. He had such a positive and accepting view of life, and if I could share a letter he wrote in 2007 as it encapsulates who he was.

    “The main reason we’re so busy is we bought a house in Maine and sold our summer cottage on Cape Cod but only partly moved out of Connecticut. We do make our lives complicated. We all enjoy the new house – Felicity absolutely loves it – but it’s too far away for Steve, Mark and Dan to come for family gatherings and we haven’t settled into a new arrangement yet. I’ve been driving van-loads of stuff between the houses and living in both Newtown and Maine. Felicity’s art show in Maine went well and she’s now back in Newtown busily catching up on the Christmas cooking. She has made the new house a home and had fun doing it but it was a lot of work, especially because the roof had to be replaced and the ocean-facing side has to be renovated as soon as the snow melts (we really weren’t retreating from global warming). A neighbor says the house wasn’t designed for Arizona as I assumed – the architect was local, he and his client had “vigorous discussions” and “the project kinda got away from them”. Joking aside, it’s a fabulous location on a tidal salt-marsh, the house is both spectacular and soothing, and the people there are our kind of folks.

    Dan and I and my trekking friend, John, explored an area south of Everest where nobody goes and went to a religious dance ceremony and our Nepali guide Dhiren’s village. The monsoon finished late this year. It rained for 30 of our first 35 days and we were stuck five days in one place. Dan later admitted that he simply couldn’t understand why I keep going there but then the sun came out, he saw mountains and it all made sense. The views after that were spectacular and the dances were fascinating. During them I was seized by Long Life Man to help with his comedy interlude because our beards are so similar. When Dhiren was a child he got up before dawn, picked food for the goats and cattle, ran for a couple of hours to school, tried to stay awake during lessons, then ran home to feed the animals again. Many children didn’t go to school because it was just too hard, but the villagers have now built a school for Grades 1 through 3 and we’re helping them expand it to Grade 5.

    What else? I’m helping some Tibetan Buddhist nuns start a guest service. You can stay at their nunnery overlooking Lhasa where one of the nuns speaks excellent English and join in almost every part of their life. I’m a bit surprised to be doing pro bono consulting for a religious institution but as Buddha said, “There are gods but that’s not what’s important”. I don’t share his belief in gods and he wouldn’t care about that; I do think he was right about how we should behave toward others, as were Jesus and the other great sages. In any case, immersing yourself in a living Tibetan Buddhist monastery is a deeply moving experience (please tell people they can now do this!). I’m also working on my book about Nepal, Sikkim and Tibet. It’s taken four years to write more than enough words and get them into a satisfactory structure. Now I have to pare them down and restore the spontaneity. This email is also too long, but…

    All we really want to say is that we’re thinking of you….”

    Martin – we are thinking of you as well

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