A meditation on “Luang Pu Mee Chai”, the latest entry in the “faith folder” in the filing cabinet of my mind – a totally environmental-friendly system managed by little mice of a not so organised breed.
In the filing cabinet of my mind, there is a drawer for “Magic and the Inexplicable.”
Files I keep in this drawer include labels such as “Crop Circles”, “Encounters with Gnomes in Fields”, “Secrets of the Universe”, “Ex-Boyfriends”, and some files that don’t really belong, but live there all the same; such as “Scientific Concepts I Can’t Be Bothered To Understand.”
Some people have the ability to think of something, incorporate the views of others, figure it out, and then chuck it all aside. This is because they also have the ability to recall information deemed “relevant” on demand.
I am not so gifted, so I have a bit of a system going on in my head. It’s an environmentally friendly sort of system, controlled by little mice on standby to manage the files.
Unfortunately, they’re not a very organised breed of mice so sometimes they get a little nervous and run around a bit too much when information is needed, leaving me unsure of what to say and with a bit of a headache.
Luang Pu Mee Chai
A few days ago, my parents took me to see a Thai monk called Luang Pu Mee Chai (LPMC), who lives in a temple halfway up Bukit Semenyih. My parents told me that LPMC had the power to “bless” anything, and once something had received a “blessing” from LPMC, it would then be “protected.” They said he is a most effective monk because a lot of their friends who had been to see LPMC while going through trying times were now doing alright.
My parents told me that people went to see LPMC for a variety of things. Some people would tell him their problems, and he would pray for them and “bless” them, and then miraculously the problems would disappear.
Apparently, LPMC’s speciality is making sure children who are about to sit for exams do well. Some people also get him to “bless” their cars and he does this (for a small fee) by scribbling stuff on their license plates in gold felt pens.
I couldn’t wait to meet him! This guy sounded like the real deal and a bit of a legend. Cars didn’t even exist when Buddha was around, yet this guy had successfully tapped into the modern automotive industry with nothing but ancient Buddhist teachings!
I’ll admit, I was intrigued. Aside from that, I really wanted to ask if his golden scribbles were in adherence to JPJ license plate guidelines.
And so I spent the 30-minute drive up the hill imagining what LPMC looked like. I pictured LPMC meditating furiously in his orange robe… eyes shut… sitting on a big lotus leaf… suspended in mid-air… the entire temple surrounded by a magical glow resembling the aurora borealis…
Now in my experience, having great expectations when you’re not sure when you will come face to face with that which you expect is one thing. Having great expectations on the drive up to meet the thing you’re expecting is a different beast altogether. The former perhaps allows more time for a build up of an expectation of disappointment, whereas with the latter, you risk experiencing unexpected disappointment, which is the worst kind of disappointment in the world.
But I never learn.
LPMC turned out to be a mere mortal just like the rest of us. When we got there, someone at the temple told us, “Dia sudah pergi baiki itu tangki atas bukit.”
So on top of being disappointed, I now had to wait an indefinite amount of time for the not-so-magical-DIY Sami Tangki to get back.
My mother bought some joss sticks and we wandered around the temple sticking them in pots of ash. Up a steep flight of stairs, we came across a massive nipple gong.
Some people were gathered around it, and we watched as a guy rubbed the raised boss in the middle with his palms, causing the gong to make a loud noise. A sign nearby warned us against hitting the gong. Curious, we went to have a go but the gong did not make a sound no matter how much we rubbed it.
A cheeky looking man sitting nearby told us that you had to be of pure heart if you wanted the gong to sound. A few old ladies hanging around the gong agreed with him, shaking their heads in a mixture of disbelief and disapproval every time one of us failed in our attempts.
Someone else stepped up and started rubbing the gong as if his life depended on it, at which point the cheeky man made an inappropriate joke, “Eh don’t think you are rubbing something else ok! You must be pure of heart!”
Some time passed and LPMC had still not returned, so we went to wait in a little cafe at the temple. Sipping a coconut, I listened as my father went on about how “If it didn’t work, no one would come back.” My mother said something about the magical gong and my aunt agreed with her.
The “Faith Folder”
I sighed lazily and filed the events of the day in the folder labelled “Faith.” This is a particularly thick folder because everybody I’ve met has had something to say about belief and they’re all different (although some are more believable than others) resulting in many different mini files.
The mice hate the “Faith” folder because they don’t see the point in storing thoughts belonging to other people when I myself never use this information. But you know what I’ve come to realise?
In a world where everything seems to be governed by Murphy’s Law, it is hardly surprising that people are turning to new things, even those that don’t necessarily make sense. Sometimes (and only sometimes) they share these things with us, knowing full well we disagree, out of sheer love for us. They store the faith in places where we don’t, in the hopes that if they’re right, there may be some sort of pay out at a later date in our favour. And it doesn’t hurt to make some room for all of that because at the end of the day, it’s just another file, and you get a free coconut.