Ripples Following Ripples ~ IN AND
morning, Maggie picked me up, and we saw a large monitor
lizard in the middle of a busy road, so we made a
u-turn, but by the time we’d got back, it had
been run over and was almost dead. I got out anyway
and dragged it to the side and laid it on the grass.
They are commonly seen on the roads there; ten years
before, I saw one, and always regretted not stopping
to help it.
My ticket came and on the 10th, I went to Jakarta
to begin a month of talks in Indonesia. I became quite
busy there, going from place-to-place, but that’s
how I like it. The climate however ~ as in the rest
of S.E. Asia ~ was not to my liking, and I was con-stantly
sweating, while everyone else appeared cool; this
was the price I had to pay for being there.
Now, Onfat had collected funds from his friends to
cover my ex-penses, and two days after I got there,
he put me on a plane to Semarang, to visit Bing Twan
for a while. It was good to see her again, as she’d
been very loyal to me since we first met in 1978.
She took good care of me during the time I was with
Back in Jakarta, I was interviewed on a Buddhist radio-program,
and it went well, with phone-in questions from listeners
as well as from the compere. I also gave several talks
in the temple where I was staying. The translator
~ a young monk named Nyanaditya, resident there ~
was very good; he would accompany to other places
as my main translator; there were many talks still
Then, because my right ankle was still painful at
times ~ 4 years after the sprain ~ Onfat arranged
for me to see a specialist, who, although he was a
Catholic, didn’t charge me. He recommended I
have an MRI ~ Magnetic Resonance Imaging
~ on it, so we went for that the next day, at a different
hospital. I was asked to lie down and keep still for
about 40 minutes while this huge machine did its stuff
on my ankle. It was very peaceful ~ and fortunately,
nicely air-conditioned there ~ with soothing music
playing, so I almost went to sleep for a while until
I was 'cooked'. The charge was about $120, very cheap
by Western standards.
Onfat had managed to contact a monk I was keen to
see again, and took me to his place at Bogor, an hour
from Jakarta. Since I met him in 1978, he had become
the head of the Mahayanists in Indonesia, with a number
of large temples in different places, and was very
wealthy. We had lunch with him, and I asked if he
had any spare robes he could let me have. Of course,
he had, and gave me some. We also visited Michael,
Nyanaditya’s father, who I’d also known
for 25 years. He offered to help me get my visa for
India in Jakarta, so I gave him my passport and plane-ticket
to Kathmandu. On the way back into Jakarta, we collected
the re-sults of the MRI and took them back to the
specialist, who soon saw from the films what was wrong
with my ankle ~ the cartilage between the joints was
worn down at one point, but nothing wrong with the
ligaments. He prescribed some medication for the regeneration
of the cartilage, but I don’t think it helped.
At least I knew what the trouble was, and my mind
was more at ease about it. Unfortunately, he said
walking was not good for the problem and would only
exacerbate it. How could I not walk, however?
My talks went well; I had one almost every day, and
sometimes more than one, but I didn't mind, as I usually
got plenty of time to myself during the day, and after
all, I went there to give talks.
I was called upon to conduct a weekend retreat in
Jakarta, and there was good feedback from it. I also
participated in a retreat in the mountains, and gave
two talks a day during it. It was nice to be away
from the heat and humidity of the lowlands.
In Jakarta one day, a young guy came to talk with
me and opened up about a problem: He'd been in love
with a certain girl for the past three years, but
had discovered that she didn't love him anymore; he
requested some advice. I asked him how it felt to
love, and he said "Happy."
“Then why ask for more?” I said. “We
cannot make other people love us, but if we love them
and feel happy, it's surely enough.” I then
asked him if he loved her only when he was with her?
"No," he said, "Even when I'm not with
“Then you can see that your love is not merely
physical, but is of the mind or heart, and there's
no reason for it to cease if she doesn't love you
in return, is there? Loving isn't a thing of the market-place,
an exchange of goods.” I told him the story
of Dante ~ an Italian poet who lived about 700 years
ago ~ and his love for Beatrice ~ how, whenever he
thought of her, he was so happy that he couldn't think
ill of anyone, and he never even met her, and saw
her only twice during his life!
When my British passport was returned, I found that
the babus at the Indian Embassy had given me only
a single-entry visa valid for 3 months from the date
of issue ~ probably because I had a visa for Pakistan
in it ~ so it meant I’d have only two months
left by the time I got to India; they also charged
me almost US$70, whereas in Kathmandu, a multiple-entry
visa valid for 6 months costs only US$32. I would
try to get another Indian visa there.
The program they’d set up was quite grueling,
and my tongue was tired after giving talks almost
every night and sometimes thrice a day. Also, speaking
to audiences as large as several hundreds, wet with
sweat, was a bit hard to take; at some places, there
wasn’t even a fan for me. I decided to return
to Malaysia sooner than planned; had they tried to
dissuade me, I might have stayed, but they didn’t,
and so I left the land where God is used as a rubber-stamp.
You can be as corrupt and dishonest as you like, as
long as you believe in God, as required by the Constitu-tion
of the land. Imagine that: Indonesians must believe
in God by law. How can you legislate about things
like that? It will only make people hypocritical and
cunning. No wonder Indonesia is one of the most corrupt
countries in the world!