A prayer for kindness

MARCH 14 — I owe the Malay Mail Online three weeks’ worth of articles, but whatever I have written seems rather trite, especially during this time of grief.

Perhaps I am procrastinating, and perhaps I am overanalysing, but how can writing about culture, faith, actually help the conversation that Malaysia is having now? Whatever I write can never “compete” with Ultraman, water rationing, our political circus and now, the disappearance of MH370. I could blog, but I no longer do.

But all that we are facing now, as Malaysians, tells me that this country needs healing. In the past two weeks, I have never seen this country so battered, and friends exhausted. 

My mother calls me up on an almost daily basis, and she complains of being tired. Tired of corruption, tired of the jams, tired of seeing her country abused.

“You call this progress? No wonder your father and I have moved away from the city. We’ve done society, and it is no longer a part of our lives.”

My father is a former civil servant, and armchair (and bedroom) political analyst, like many other pensioners. But he comes from a generation of civil servants who boasted and were proud of the work they did for the government. During his time, being a civil servant was akin to today’s CEO, or vice president.

“Now?” He raises his hands whenever he talks to us.

Perhaps, for today and for the rest of our lives, we can do this, aside from prayers. Many of us average Malaysians feel helpless. We are a stoic bunch, but I think we are hitting a brick wall these days.

So! I’d like to share with you a practice that has nothing to do with religion, and will sort out your kinks. I came upon it last year, during the General Elections when everyone, including myself, was fried. 

Did you know I was visiting my hairdresser every two weeks – I kept greying at this crazy pace! At one point, in between assignments, I was applying mascara on my grey roots!

I’m sharing this with you because I think that at this time, we all need lovingkindness.

What is lovingkindness meditation?

Muslims perform a special prayer for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic
Muslims perform a special prayer for passengers of the missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane at the departure hall of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport March 13, 2014. — Reuters pic

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This meditation uses words, images, and feelings to evoke a lovingkindness and friendliness toward oneself and others. With each recitation of the phrases, we are expressing an intention, planting the seeds of loving wishes over and over in our heart.

You can do this anywhere, even driving (I tested it), and all you have to say is:

May I be well.

May I be happy.

May I be free from suffering.

 

Then you wish someone else the same.

May (insert name) be well.

May (insert name) be happy.

May (insert name) be free from suffering.

 

For Muslims, you can say:

May Allah make me well.

May Allah make me good.

May Allah make me free from suffering.

 

You’re adults. You create your lovingkindness mantras.

And your homework for as long as it takes, would be this:

May the passengers and families of MH370 be well,

May they be safe,

May they be free from suffering.

 

May Malaysia be well

May Malaysia be happy

May Malaysia be free from suffering.

 

This is a probably the shortest essay I have ever written in my career as a columnist, but sometimes, keeping it short and simple is best, simply because verbal and print diarrhoea may just worsen the situation.

May you have enough.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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