Ripples Following Ripples ~ IN AND AROUND JAKARTA

One 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 her.

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 to go.

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 her."

“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!

< Previous  -   Next>

Home  -   Against The Stream  -   As It Is  -   Because I Care  -   Behind The Mask  -   Boleh Tahan -   Just A Thought -   Let Me See  -   Lotus Petals  -   Not This, Not That  -   Parting Shots  -   Ripples Following Ripples  -   So Many Roads  -   This, Too, Will Pass  -   Wait A Minute!  -   Your Questions, My Answers  -   Download  -   Funeral  -   Links  -   Contact