UNIVERSAL DHARMA

So Many Roads ~ MALAYSIA AGAIN

The flight from Medan to Penang, across the Straits of Malacca, was the roughest I’d been on; we were buffeted so badly that I really thought we would go down, but we didn’t and landed alright. I stayed in a branch-temple of Phor Kark See, by the name of Miao Hiang Lim. According to the Chinese Buddhist system, the abbot there was considered my older brother, as he had also been ordained by Ven. Hong Choon in Singapore; he spoke no English, so we were unable to communicate much, but he treated me fairly, and we got along alright. I never went to stay in MBMC again, because I was regarded as a traitor or renegade, but I did visit Luang Pau. From that time, I would not see him again for the next 16 years.

Back in Malacca, things had been happening. The collectively-stupid committee of SKE had finally woken up to Piyasilo; he had done so many evil things ~ believing he was immune from their effects ~ that they had decided to expel him. Hearing I had returned, and probably thinking they could use me against him, they invited me to a meeting, but without telling him in advance. Imagine his surprise to see me walk in the room where they’d gathered! He recovered sufficiently to brazen it out, however; he was, and still is, a very clever person, and all the more dangerous for that. He denied everything I confronted him with, including his attack on me in his Holiday Work Camp notes, saying it was just a hypothetical case, and he had not been referring to a real person, either me or anyone else, but everyone knew he was lying through his teeth. I have never known anyone lie like him, and when a person can lie like that there is nothing he cannot do. While my interrogation of him was going on, the committee-members must have been aware that they were also ‘on trial,’ as they’d gone along with him without a murmur of protest when he first arrived from Bangkok to assume a position that wasn’t his to assume, it being a Buddhist Association and not a monastery; they had allowed him to do whatever he wanted, and so were also responsible. I’ve never had an apology from them, but then, they don’t have a good track-record, as at least one other monk came to grief there through their internal politics. But I had been somewhat vindicated, having waited two years, thinking that, given enough rope, this demon would hang himself, and in his home-town, too! I had not wished revenge on him, but did want to see justice done, and can’t say I was sad when he was exposed and got something of what he deserved. This is not the end of the Piyasilo story; there is more to come later.

I went again to Singapore for a while, and there met an old man from Manila named Koh Boon Hian, which was fortuitous, as I had decided to go there for maybe three months to visit some of the psychic-healers for which the Philippines is famous (most of them are frauds and charlatans, no doubt, but some are probably genuine). I had no contacts in Philippines, and he told me he could arrange for me to stay in one of the Chinese temples in Manila (he himself stayed there when he was in the city), as he was due to return there shortly. This was good news, and I told him I would keep in touch with him, which I did.

I went up the East Coast again, and in Kuantan, met someone ~ an engineer ~ who was humble and kind. He had the idea of becoming a monk in the City of Ten-Thousand Buddhas in California, a temple that had been set up by a Master Hsuan Hua. I wasn’t in favor, as this master was extremely egoistic, always boasting of his psychic powers, but I thought, let him go and see for himself; it was perhaps the only way he would learn.

Next stop was Kuala Trengganu, where my involvement with Vietnamese boat-people was about to begin, albeit dead boat-people. Two weeks earlier, a large boat packed with more than 200 people had pulled into the estuary of the river there and tried to dock at the jetty; but some Malays had refused to allow them and threw stones to drive them away; the boat turned and went down-stream, but hit a sand-bank in the river-mouth and capsized; I don’t know if there were any survi-vors, but the bodies, upon recovery by Chinese people (Ma-lays would not touch the corpses of anyone they considered kafirs ~ infidels), were buried in a local Chinese cemetery in a mass unmarked-grave, and Lao Chang requested me to go with him to the cemetery to perform a ceremony for those unfortu-nates; there was no monk in K.T. at that time to perform one (and many Buddhists think only monks are qualified to perform cere-monies of this nature; I don’t). I was the first monk to come along after this tragedy (and there were many such up this coast during the exodus from Vietnam).

I readily agreed, and went with him to the cemetery. Standing among blood-stained stretchers that lay discarded beside the grave, I focussed my thoughts and chanted something in the hope that those people would somehow be at peace wherever they now were. Malaysia doesn’t have a very good record re-garding treatment of the boat-people, second only to Thai-land, in fact, and the authorities of both countries knew what was going on and did little or nothing to stop or prevent the atrocities perpetrated by their fishermen-pirates; attacks on boat-people continued, and they were robbed, raped and murdered for years; no-one will ever know how many perished at sea in their attempt to reach safety and find peace, freedom and happiness that was not available in Vietnam; it is simply impossible to imagine or cal-culate, but years ago, while it was going on, I read one estimate of over 350,000!

There was a group of boat-people ~ live ones! ~ in an old warehouse near the river, not far from the temple. They were visible from the road that ran past, behind a barbed-wire fence. Sympathetic Chinese from the town would throw food and clothes over the fence to them.

Keong ~ the ghost-boy of the previous year ~ visited me so many times asking me to teach him something that he became a bit of a nuisance; maybe my ‘holy water’ had been too strong!

* * * * * * *

And here, I must draw my narrative to a close. My next book will continue on from this, perhaps in 2007. It will tell of my involvement with the boat-people of Vietnam, and my further travels.


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