Ripples Following Ripples ~ TRAGEDY

Because of heavy bookings, I was unable to get a flight out on the date I wanted, so had to settle for May 26th, which was Wesak Day, and I had to leave halfway through the celebrations in the temple, which must have seemed quite odd. Fortunately, because I flew MAS, the long flight to England was broken for 24 hours in K.L., where I was accommodated in a nice hotel, included in the fare and with all meals provided; this gave me time for a good rest before the 13 hours’ leg to Manchester.

Glen and Karin were waiting for me at the airport, pleased to see me, as I was them. It wasn’t long before I threw myself into vari-ous jobs around the place, doing two or three at the same time, so that when I got a bit tired of one, I could turn to another. I ex-pected to be there until at least September.

We resumed going to car-boot sales, whenever Annabelle was in the mood to take us; Karin couldn’t be relied upon, as she liked her bed too much. The markets were only just getting into swing because of the weather; although it was June, it was more like March, cold and wet.

Karin’s children ~ Chelsea, aged 5, and Lloyd, aged 2½ ~ were growing nicely and were well-mannered. Chelsea liked going to school, and the little boy was a delight the way he loved animals and insects; he often came up with a worm or spider or caterpillar in his hands, holding them very carefully so as not to hurt them.

There was a Buddhist Society not far away, and I emailed them to introduce myself and offer my services, but wasn’t graced with a reply, which confirmed my idea that they were insularly 'Tibetan' and not open to 'others.' I knew their email-address was valid, as I got someone else to email them to check, and he got a reply. I visited their website later, and it was as I thought: very Tibetan, not that there is anything wrong with Tibetan, but when they are sectarian ~ as is often the case ~ it is not a good thing; the West needs Dharma, not sectarian Buddhism. Buddhism is spreading in the West, but I’m not very happy about the way it is spreading. Many Westerners come to Buddhism with an inbuilt affinity for Dharma, but soon get sidetracked and embrace and conform to one of the various forms of Buddhism, with its cultural trappings. This is, to me, more of a loss than a gain, as we’ve had our own culture and should be looking for something that will take us be-yond local things like that to something truly universal. They surely would not want me coming along and disturbing their set-up, as no doubt I would have done.

One morning, out with the dog, I let her off the leash to run around, and as often happened, she went chasing rabbits in the bushes but failed to reappear, so after much looking and calling, I gave up and went home, with many glances behind to see if she was anywhere in sight. I envisaged having to come back later to look for her, but when I turned the corner into our cul-de-sac, there she was outside the gate. It was quite a distance from where she disappeared, and the way is by no means straight, winding and twisting through several streets before we got home.

Karin, now 29, had had a new boyfriend for some time (she was seldom without one), named Lee, a motor-bike enthusiast. One day, he asked her to go racing with him, and although she was tempted, she decided against it because of the kids. At about 6 o'clock, she got several SMS’s. Upon reading them, she burst into tears, as they were to say that Lee had had a smash on his bike and was in hospital with broken legs and brain-damage! She hastened off, but came back soon afterwards, saying that she'd not been allowed to see him, but had been told that there was no hope of his recovery as the damage to his brain was so severe. Poor girl was devastated, of course, as she loved him so much, and was on the verge of accepting his marriage proposal.

Later, she went to the hospital again, expecting to be there a long time, but was back much sooner than expected, and said: "I'm not upset anymore, but more angry than anything else." She then told us that she'd met another woman at the hospital whom she knew, and who'd told her so much of her close relationship with Lee that Karin was doubly-devastated to realize that he'd been two-timing her all along.

She took it all remarkably well after that, probably because her love had turned to hate. A week later, she received an SMS from his mother, saying that she'd authorized the pulling of the plug on her son; what an awful decision for a mother to have to make. Karin attended the funeral.

Since then ~ and this is where it got even worse ~ not only did she behave as if this had never happened, but had several other lovers, and even took to spending the nights with the latest one at his parents’ home just around the corner, taking her kids with her! She was behaving like a whore, but would listen to no-one and did just whatever she wanted, refusing to think about the effects it might have on her kids later on. It was good that we didn’t live in a classy area, as all the neighbors knew. I was ashamed to tell anyone, and wished it were not happening; it was very irrespon-sible of her, and not only set a bad example to her kids, but caused friction between us all. Some good news was that a few days later she moved into a council-house that she’d been allo-cated. Her stud moved in with her, but it wouldn’t be long before she got fed-up with him, as he suspected her of seeing other men; she couldn’t go out alone without him asking her where she’d been and who she’d seen. He even read her diary and checked her phone-messages. Unable to tolerate this, she chased him out, and was on her own again for a while.

Glen was expecting me to stay there permanently, but that could not be. I mean, it was good to have a break and do some physi-cal work, but it didn’t satisfy me completely, and there was little intellectual stimulus such as I get when I give Dharma-talks. I didn’t tell her until later that I’d probably leave around November and return to Malaysia, and go on from there to make another trip in Nepal and India, as I was sure she would be sad about it. It wasn’t a plan but just an idea, and I waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, something did. I got an email from Onfat in Jakarta, on behalf of the temple, asking me to go and give talks there. I accepted, and prepared to leave, but then the news came about the Bali bombings, and I changed my mind, thinking there was no need to go looking for trouble.

As time passed, however, I reconsidered, thinking that I must die somewhere, of something or other, and so I wrote to Onfat saying that I would come after all, and suggesting mid-December, so that they would have enough time to prepare. He got back to me and confirmed this, saying he’d send a ticket to Malacca for me.

In the meantime, I contacted my old friend, Stan, and got him to take me to the airport for my flight at the end of November. I was soon up in the air, Malaysia-bound again. DV was waiting for me the other end; it was good to be back there again, and to eat nice South-Indian food every day.

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