A Loving Tribute to the Work of David Djaelani Gordon (2020)

The Buddhist Recovery Network was saddened to hear the news that David Djaelani Gordon, a pioneer of Narcotics Anonymous in South East Asia, and good friend of the BRN, passed away in Bogor, Indonesia, on April 3, 2020 due to a combination of heart and kidney issues.

David, originally from California, suffered 15 years of active drug addiction before finding recovery through the Twelve Steps. He trained as a psychologist and moved to Indonesia in 1996 to help deal with a rising addiction problem in the country. He started a rehabilitation center in the West Java city of Bogor, about an hour south of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta. The center was named ‘Yayasan Harapan Permata Hati Kita’ (‘Our Children’s Hope’). It’s known to most people in Indonesia as ‘YAKITA’, an Indonesian play on words meaning ‘Yes, Us!’ (https://yakita.webs.com/) It is one of the only non-governmental drug rehabilitation services in the country with locations across Indonesia and has helped thousands of addicts. He accomplished this together with his wife and partner Joyce Djaelani, the center’s co-founder, who brought her knowledge and experience from many years of working with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  

This was pioneering work, as Joyce needed to translate the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book and NA Basic Text, and the centre was one of the very few drug programs and help centers available in the country. David and Joyce were also pioneers in HIV and AIDS prevention in Indonesia, saving countless lives (many intravenous drug users in Indonesia were HIV-positive).

David and Joyce were enthusiastic supporters of the founding of the Buddhist Recovery Network. David served as an Advisory Council Member from the Network’s inception, and in 2007 the BRN donated books and resources to YAKITA which are still in use. 

David’s last project was making sure that the Criminals & Gangmembers Anonymous (CGA) Big Book is printed. Preparations are underway for its publication in the USA.  It was founded by David’s sponsee, Richard Mejico, in prison, who David remained in contact with over the years. 

I had the privilege of visiting David and Joyce’s home and main center in Indonesia with my wife Carolyn in 2008. We discovered an oasis of kindness and tranquillity. I remember the four of us sitting together on the swing in their back garden, the scent of tropical flowers on the breeze, chatting and listening to birdsong and windchimes. 

David was a quiet worker, a humble man, who has saved countless lives and should be remembered as a recovery pioneer and beacon for hope in South East Asia. We would like to pass on our deepest condolences to Joyce. David and Joyce were a team, inseparable for many years, and so she has lost her life partner and irreplaceable confidante in the tremendous work they have accomplished together. We know that she has the love of the YAKITA community they built up together to support her, as well as YAKITA’s many partners and supporters around the world. We wish Joyce well in continuing their important work.

Paul Saintilan (Co-founder and former Chair of the BRN)

A Loving Tribute to the Work of Professor G. Alan Marlatt (1941-2011)

Professor G. Alan Marlatt

The Board of the Buddhist Recovery Network learned in March that Professor G. Alan Marlatt had passed away on March 14th near Seattle. Alan was a Director and co-founder of the Buddhist Recovery Network. He was a clinical and academic psychologist, a Professor at The University of Washington, and Director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University. He was also a Buddhist who practiced in the Shambhala tradition.

Alan was a pioneer in the work of relapse prevention and more recently integrated mindfulness meditation techniques with cognitive behavioral relapse prevention skills to help people identify and cope with common triggers for relapse. He won many prestigious awards for his work, such as the Jellinek Memorial Award for outstanding contributions to knowledge in the field of alcohol studies, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Innovators in Combating Substance Abuse Award, the Distinguished Scientist Award from the American Psychological Association and Lifetime Achievement awards from the Research Society on Alcoholism and the Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Alan chose the location for the inaugural meeting to discuss the establishment of the Buddhist Recovery Network. This meeting took place in January 2008 at Cannon Beach in Oregon. He represented the Network in 2008 at the 5th UK/European Symposium on Addictive Disorders in London, and was a keynote presenter at the Network’s first Conference in October 2009 at the Against The Stream Meditation Center in Los Angeles. He attended Board meetings where he could, given his extensive international travels. He undertook this work without any fee or reimbursement of expenses by the BRN. He showed that the BRN was keen to associate itself with leading research and evidence-based treatment approaches. He invited others to participate in the work of the BRN, such as Dr Ann Bolger and Timothy O’Brien (Amara) — both Directors and important contributors to the work of the Network. He also invited Dr M. Kathleen Lustyk to present at the October 2009 Conference.

Alan’s gentle, modest presence in BRN meetings made one forget that he was a giant in his field, with a Curriculum Vitae spanning 54 pages, and a publication record than includes having authored 23 books, and more than 300 articles and book chapters.

Alan was keen to contribute to the 2011 Conference from May 19 to May 22 at the Against The Stream Meditation Center in Los Angeles. The Board of the BRN has decided to use his Conference session as a tribute and celebration of Alan’s work, attempting to summarize his achievement for delegates, and allow people to share the way he has influenced their work and their life.

The Board of the BRN would also like to pass on our deepest condolences to Alan’s family, who have also been a part of the BRN community. His wife Kathryn Moore travelled to both Cannon Beach and Los Angeles with Alan to attend BRN meetings, and has been a sharp and intelligent contributor to our work. His son Christopher Alan (Kit) Marlatt travelled with his wife Ashley to the Cannon Beach meeting, where they filmed the proceedings. Kit also video recorded the October 2009 Conference, creating an important archival record for the BRN.

Alan touched the lives of many people within our BRN community, brought kindness and compassion to addiction treatment, and has left an important legacy. Our 2011 Conference will continue this remembrance.

The Board of the Buddhist Recovery Network