2014 Lifetime Achievement Award – Dr. B. George Blake

Dr. George Blake

It is not common to see someone with as much diverse life experiences as Dr. B. George Blake.

The Jamaica native signed up to be a member of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) of World War II and trained as a meteorologist, serving at various RAF stations in England and Scotland.

Though he had the necessary academic qualifications, Blake did not take advantage of a scholarship offered to him as a bonus for RAF service.

“Rather, I took a job in local government in London, England. This lasted a number of years,” he says.

Blake then became interested in Buddhism after reading a book, which told him that he was responsible for his own mental, spiritual, and psychological health.

“It also pointed out that I was in a dependent relationship with others and shared in the responsibility for our mutual well-being,” Blake shares.

He was ordained a sāmanera (novice monk) at a Sinhalese centre in London in 1955 and received the full ordination as a bhikkhu (Buddhist Monk) at a monastery in Bangkok, Thailand, in 1956.

The next several years in his questing life, on leaving the order, included undergraduate and graduate studies in psychology at the University of Edinburgh, with a break for professional training in clinical psychology at the University of Glasgow.

The Oshawa resident, who can be numbered as one of the earliest Durham residents from the Caribbean, relocated to Ontario in 1966 and worked as a psychologist at Whitby Psychiatric Hospital for a number of years and then at Oshawa General Hospital until his retirement. This period also included an arrangement to teach in the Department of Psychology at York University, Toronto.

“I reunited with my Buddhist studies and practice after my retirement and now speak on Buddhism on invitation. Also, on invitation, I teach courses on Buddhist meditation,” says Blake.

Veteran, Buddhist Monk and Psychologist, Dr. B. George Blake is also an accomplished drummer and the author of, The Legend of Harriet Tubman; Kaipora Cove; Ego-bypass: A Buddhist Approach to Managing Stage fright; and Ego-bypass: A Buddhist Odyssey (A manual on meditation).

Along with writing his own stories, Dr. Blake specializes in telling stories from his African/Caribbean heritage and Jataka Tales (Buddhist legends) based on his studies and experiences as a former Buddhist monk.

His interests have expanded to writing, adapting and producing material that blends storytelling, percussion, voice and dance in conveying the story. With the Kalalu Folklore Theatre as a medium for these creative endeavours, Dr. Blake also offers workshops on managing stage fright and other elements of performance anxiety.

Dr. Blake points out that he has, “programs on specific themes available for concert and special presentation, suitable for adult and family audiences.” This rich cultural heritage has been presented to schools, libraries, and theatre venues, Harbourfront, and the Annual Toronto Festival of Storytelling, Listen Up!

Having spent a lifetime garnering invaluable experience, B. George Blake still takes time to feed the next generation that wise knowledge — that single practice is the epitome of greatness.