Monday, 29 December 2014

Ajahn Brahm and the anniversary of my health crisis

My wife and I have just returned from the Mahindarama Buddhist Temple in Kampar Road, Penang, where we had attended the second of two talks by the visiting Ajahn Brahm from Perth, Australia. Arguably, he is one of the most popular speakers on Buddhism that I've know. His talks always generate a very big crowd among the Buddhist fraternity here and often, there would be people lingering by the staircase at the back of the hall because they couldn't come in to sit down. Yesterday, he was speaking about peace of mind and today, the subject of his fascinating one-hour talk was the ego. Your ego and my ego.

We have been going to the Mahindarama temple for so many years now just to listen to Ajahn Brahm's end-of-the-year talks, although we know that much of what he would cover are repetitions of topics he had covered in the past and in his books.

If one hasn't heard him before, the ideas he shares are pretty informative and illuminative, but for anyone who has heard him in the past, you tend to know after a while where he is coming from and where he is heading to. Still, we come and listen to him. We come to pay him our respect. It's a yearly ritual. Well, almost yearly because the only time that I can remember which he had given Penang a miss was in 2012. Boy, we sure felt his absence during that year-end.

And what we'd normally do at the end of a session is to go up and meet him, to exchange a few words. This year, when we went up to him, I informed him that exactly one year ago, after attending his final talk at the Mahindarama for 2013, I was hospitalised for two weeks. In hospital after a severe bout of diverticular disease. And I told him tonight that I was glad to see him again because it marked the anniversary of the beginning of my health ordeal. He must come back next year in order to mark the second anniversary. We had a good laugh.

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