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In Memoriam

In Memoriam - Alexander Shulgin

Alexander Shulgin, a chemist who specialized in the creation of and experimentation with mind-altering substances, and who introduced the controversial drug popularly known as Ecstasy for potential therapeutic use, died of cancer on Monday at his home in Lafayette, California. He was 88.

Dr. Shulgin, whose interest, as he put it once, was “in the machinery of the mental process,” was both a rogue and a wizard, a legitimate scientist and a counterculture hero. Over more than four decades, working generally within the law (if occasionally on the edge), trying out his concoctions on himself, his wife and a few friends, and publishing his results, he was the creator of almost 200 chemical compounds capable of rejiggering the quotidian functions of the mind.

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In Memoriam - Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri, on April 4, 1928. She grew up in St. Louis and Stamps, Arkansas. She was an author, poet, historian, songwriter, playwright, dancer, stage and screen producer, director, performer, singer, and civil rights activist.

She was best known for her autobiographical books: Mom & Me & Mom (Random House, 2013); Letter to My Daughter (2008); All God’s Children Need Traveling Shoes (1986); The Heart of a Woman (1981); Singin’ and Swingin’ and Gettin’ Merry Like Christmas (1976); Gather Together in My Name (1974); and I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), which was nominated for the National Book Award.

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In Memoriam - Doris Lessing

Doris May Lessing was a British novelist, poet, playwright, librettist, biographer and short story writer. Her novels include The Grass is Singing (1950), the sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–69), The Golden Notebook (1962), The Good Terrorist (1985), and five novels collectively known as Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979–1983).

Lessing was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. In awarding the prize, the Swedish Academy described her as “that epicist of the female experience, who with scepticism, fire and visionary power has subjected a divided civilisation to scrutiny.” Lessing was the eleventh woman and the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature.

In 2001, Lessing was awarded the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime’s achievement in British literature. In 2008 The Times ranked her fifth on a list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945.”

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In Memoriam - Bennet Wong

Bennet Randall Wong was a Canadian psychiatrist, author, and lecturer who with Jock McKeen co-founded the Haven Institute, a residential experiential learning centre on Gabriola Island. His writings focused on mental illness, group psychotherapy, humanistic psychology, and personal growth.

Born in Saskatchewan, Wong came to Vancouver in 1961.  He was an early adopter of the encounter group process, incorporating both the mind-body approaches of Wilhelm Reich as well as the perspectives of existential therapy. Throughout his career he has been an advocate of humanistic approaches to dealing with children, adolescents and families.

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In Memoriam - S.N. Goenka

Satya Narayan Goenka was a noted Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipassana meditation. He followed the tradition of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, under whom he trained for 14 years. In time he became an influential non-sectarian teacher of the Vipassana movement and a pioneer of Vipassana meditation in India. He trained more than 1300 assistant teachers, and more than 120,000 people would attend his Vipassana courses every year.

The technique which S. N. Goenka taught comes from a tradition traced back to the Buddha. Goenka emphasized that “the Buddha never taught a sectarian religion; he taught Dhamma—the way to liberation—which is universal.” Goenka called Vipassana meditation an experiential scientific practice through which one can observe the constantly changing nature of the mind and body at the deepest level, which generates a profound understanding that leads to a truly happy and peaceful life.

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