A Tsunami brought me luck

A Tsunami Brought Me Luck !! The year was 2004. At the beautiful Nilambe Meditation Centre, in the highlands of Sri Lanka, I was awaiting my taxi. Not wanting to disturb the yogi’s in the hall, at its arrival, I sat in the kuti. A book titled “Basic method of meditation” was lying on a table. Some good folk surnamed De Silva Nugegoda had printed it for free distribution… and kept a copy inside this kuti. I didn’t bother to have a look inside the day before on my arrival, -The basics…, I am far above the basics…. !!

Now, for want of doing something, I casually, turned its pages and soon got immersed in it. I was to find out, that the basics of this authour was far above mine. I was amazed. The book described an experience I have had, but never quite comprehended it, apart from having an idea that it did represent the pure mind. Nobody had ever explained them to me before. I looked for the author. There he was, in a small photo on the back cover. I thought “Oh this is the monk I must go and see….” Then again, “Oh these westerners….. they are very good at marketing… they would write attractively… but ultimately it would all turn out to be soooo.. disappointing after all.” Yet, the authour’s name got rooted in my heart, in spite of my surface reasoning being otherwise. When I look back, I feel that providence had other plans for me. Come December 26, 2004…. our small island was caught utterly unexpectedly, in total confusion by what it had never known …, except in a historical event that took place around 205 BC, which until then was accepted skeptically as a half-legend not real. From the northern to the southern coast, sweeping the eastern shoreline up round to the south west, the Tsunami came ravaging-in, causing a devastation that the poor islanders never knew. They were taken unawares, unprepared and in disbelief. Oh, the misery it caused….! As the saying goes, with all the bad come the good things too. As a result of the Tsunami, sympathy came pouring-in, from around the world. As a blessing to the Tsunami battered island, the Singapore Buddhist Society was planning to bring Ajahn Brahm to Sri Lanka, as one of their many gestures of goodwill. Yet, we normal folk were unaware of these plans. I looked around wanting to help the devastated people, for whom material things were being received and stacked up more speedily than they could ever be distributed. I looked around hopelessly.

Okay, I thought. I would hold a mettā (loving kindness) session at home where friends and relatives would gather to spread loving kindness towards all those who were affected, so that they could build up their lives back to normal swiftly. For this, I wished to invite a very popular monk of the area, Venerable Udithadheera Thero, who was very good at teaching and giving examples of mettha. Information came that he would come to a Temple at Kuruwita -a small village- to give a dhamma talk, on the next full moon day.

As I prepared a lovely invitation card and went to this temple, that evening in early January 2005. Readers, please note that Kuruwita is a typical village, where local folk neither spoke, read nor wrote in English. Imagine my surprise, when a village-lass, whom I befriended at this temple for the first time, should tell me that Ajahn Brahm is coming to Sri Lanka…!!! I was stunned… “Indeed?” “Yes, it’s true”… “The author of Basic method of meditation?”…“Yes, it is…He is coming to Sri Lanka…!..!!….!!! I soon learnt that Singapore BS had already planned a very tight programme. This village upasikaa told me that things are being coordinated at the Naradha Centre in Colombo 7. Back in Colombo, from Ven. Dhammavihari Thero, the Head Monk of Naradha Centre, I found out that Ajahn Brahm would be at an introductory session in the Dhammahall of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress initially, before he could start his series of Dhamma-talks for the first time in Sri Lanka, in 2005. Ven. Dhammavihari Thero told me, that this session may not be crowded. It had not been publicized. I may get a chance to speak to him.

When the long awaited day arrived towards the end of January 2005, me and my cousin sister, hurried to the Dhamma-hall of the Buddhist Congress. It was nearly full. The supposedly unpublished event!! Ajahn Brahm is one western monk, who was even then immensely popular in Sri Lanka. Later, village folk declared that they understood Ajahn Brahm, even though his talks were in English. Seeing Ajahn Brahm for the first time, that evening, was nothing I can put into words. So inspiring. He was smiling, radiating happiness and full of humbleness. I can still picture him, peering into the hall from outside, as if to seek consent from the Venerable monks inside to come-in, when actually, HE was the Chief Guest ! I took a mosquito repellent-spray as a gift to him. (Later I found he wouldn’t use them). This would give me a good chance to go up to him and talk, or so I thought….., but no way! At the end of the event a whole crowd walked towards the stage to pay him reverence. We too joined this crowd, and while Ajahn was still on the stage reached up to give him my small gift, and ask “Venerable Sir, could I please visit your monastery?” “Of course”-he replied. www.bswa.org would give me all the information. It was easy to remember, the first letters of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia.

From then on, there was no turning back..… and here I am….Sorry Ajahn, not yet enlightened. Still, we are better off on the path Ajahn Brahm. The momentous time will come when the good kamma could happen! Who knows!