Indonesia, Tibet and the secret of ‘terima kasih’
I first met His Holiness the Dalai Lama in 1996. Accompanying me was a parliamentarian and two other friends. We were fortunate enough to have a private audience with him. When I said we were fromIndonesia, he immediately reacted: “Oh yes, yes, yes … Indonesia …. Tibet has very strong relations,strong ties with Indonesia.”“Atisha, was a monk from India. He went to Indonesia to learn from the Indonesian master,” he said.Fortunately, I knew the story.Indeed, not many Indonesians remember we used to be a treasure house of wisdom. We did not importspirituality from India; indeed, even the Indian pundits came to our archipelago to learn from our indigenous masters.Later, Atisha traveled to Tibet, where he propagated the teachings of his master.The meditation he taught is still being practiced by the Tibetans. It is called Tong-Len, literally meaning“The Meditation of Terima and Kasih, Receiving and Giving”. The common phrase terima kasih, nowmeaning “thank you”, is no ordinary phrase.There’s a deep philosophy behind it. It reflects our view of life and it projects our deep rooted belief.We, Indonesians, believe, or at least once believed, in the law of gratitude. We do not, or did not, need amovie like The Secret to tell us to “be grateful” for all we receive from the universe.More than 800 years ago, the Indian pundit traveled to Sumatra, then known as Svarna Dvipa, to learnfrom Dharmakirti Suvarnadvipi, Dharmakirti of Svarna Dvipa. He spent more than 10 years with hismaster. He documented each word he heard and each lesson he learned.We, Indonesians, do not have any record of this.Later, this meditation would be used by Tibetan medicine men and doctors. They would imagine their patients’ pain and draw it into themselves. This is the first part of meditation, terima — receiving. Then,in the second part, they would send out their energy of well being, kasih — giving.The was technique soon replaced their herb-based anesthesia. Let me remind you again, all thishappened over 800 years ago.The beauty of this technique is, the receiver of pain, the recipient, can process pain and transform it intowell-being. All negativities can be drawn into oneself, be processed and then projected out as positiveenergy. Now the technique is being used by many Western neurologists, as part of transcranial magneticstimulation therapy, to relieve the suffering of some stroke victims.“But I have to emphasize, we haven’t got a clue what’s going on,” said Max Bennett, professor at theUniversity of Sydney and one of the world’s top neurologists.“It’s a phenomenon. But in one sense, it does indicate that there are a lot of things that we knownothing about in Western science,” he said.
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