Michael Dillon (physician) - Later Life

Later Life

Dillon had not revealed his own history in Self, but it came to light in 1958 as an indirect result of his aristocratic background. Debrett's Peerage, a genealogical guide, listed him as heir to his brother's baronetcy, while its competitor Burke's Peerage mentioned only a sister, Laura Maude. When the discrepancy was noticed, he told the press he was a male born with a severe form of hypospadias and had undergone a series of operations to correct the condition. The editor of Debrett's told Time Magazine that Dillon was unquestionably next in line for the baronetcy: "I have always been of the opinion that a person has all rights and privileges of the sex that is, at a given moment, recognized."

The unwanted press attention led Dillon to flee to India, where he spent time with Sangharakshita in Kalimpong, and with the Buddhist community in Sarnath. While at Sarnath, Dillon decided to pursue ordination and became Sramanera Jivaka (after the Buddha's physician). Because Sangharakshita refused to allow Jivaka full ordination, and other frustrations with Sangharakshita's management of Triyana Vardhana Vihara Jivaka turned to the Tibetan branch of Buddhism. He finally came to his dreamed-of goal, the Rhizong monastery in Ladakh. He was reordained a novice monk of the Gelukpa order, taking the name Lobzang Jivaka, and spent his time studying Buddhism and writing. Despite the language barrier he felt at home there, but was forced to leave when his visa expired. His health failed, and he died in hospital at Dalhousie, Punjab, on 15 May 1962, aged 47.

Writing under both of his Buddhist names, Jivaka published Growing Up into Buddhism, a primer on Buddhist practice for British children and teens, as well as A Critical Study of the Vinaya, which looks at the Buddhist rules for ordination and defeat. Both books were published in 1960. Additionally two books by him were published in London in 1962: The Life of Milarepa, about a famous 11th century Tibetan yogi, and Imji Getsul, an account of life in a Buddhist monastery.

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