Photo of Hans taken at the age of 49.
I first met Hans when he attended several of my retreats during the 1990s. We became good friends with a common interest to establish as much as possible the Buddha-Dharma in the West. We both drew extensively from the Pali discourses of the Buddha alongside the threefold training of ethics, mindfulness/meditation and wisdom.
Born 5 January 1959, Hans Gruber engaged in ancient Indian and Tibetan studies and European History at the university in Hamburg. He knew Pali and Sanskrit fluently. I drew regularly on his wealth of knowledge of the texts.
To use a poetic turn of phrase, Hans suffered fools lightly – especially around the issue of God, which he felt belonged to primitive thinking. He had strong views on Buddhism, theism, Christianity and more. Hans never held back in his writings nor in speech to uphold his cherished views. Conversations with Hans were vulnerable to listening to a withering critique from him.
Though challenging, he remained a likeable and thoughtful person dedicated to exploring the reality of things. His smile had the power to melt ice.
Alexandra, his niece, posted some loving words of appreciation of Hans on his Facebook page. She knew him well since her childhood,
After completing his degree, Hans spent three years on a full-time course of practical training in journalism. He wrote articles for magazines, newspapers and translated books for a Buddhist publisher.
Hans contributed a chapter on Buddhism in the Harenberg Lexikon der Religionen (an encyclopedia of the world religions), and the Kursbuch Vipassanâ: Wege und Lehrer der Einsichtsmeditation (Fischer Taschenbuch, 2nd edition).
He became a regular contribution to our biannual Dharma Facilitators Programme (later Dharma Seminar) in the Waldhaus Retreat Centre, Andernach in Germany. A prolific writer, he developed an exceptional website with numerous articles and beautiful photographs
www.buddha-heute.de devoted to the question “What does Buddhism mean for today?”
His YouTube channel has recordings of public lectures www.youtube.com/
Along with Asaf Federman and Jenny Wilks, Hans acted as an advisor on the Pali texts of the Buddha for our Living Dharma Programme run more than a decade ago. He kindly offered to translate two of my books in English.
Hans did not approve of the translation of the Pali word sati into mindfulness. He said sati means clear seeing. I agreed. Clear seeing carries a depth of meaning to it as sati does in Pali.
I found him to be exceptionally supportive. He kindly wrote a very comprehensive guide to learning Pali. It is now currently available on my Buddha Study Guide. We cooperated on articles such as a comparison of Dharma teachers and Advaita (Non-duality) teachers in satsang (a gathering for inquiry into truth). See next blog for this shared article.
He wrote an excellent and detailed 13,000-word essay on Mindfulness of Breathing with quotations drawing from the Pali texts.
I noticed he wrote less on the Buddha-Dharma in recent years. I received an essay from him to read in the months before the pandemic. His Facebook page addressed a wide range of themes including the vaccinations, religious viewpoints and “Abrahamitic monotheistic cultural conditioning of the West.“
Articulate, handsome and committed to a passionate inquiry, Hans made an immense contribution to pointing out the depth and expanse in recent years of the Buddha-Dharma. The German-English speaking world will continue to benefit from his exceptional writings available on his website and elsewhere.
We may not always have agreed with Hans but he expressed a vibrant and original approach to some of the significant issues of our time.
Thank you, Hans. We miss you.