In the Buddha’s famous and dramatic Fire Sermon he says: “All is burning.” Last Sunday I had a lesson on this very theme, and not just intellectually but very much in the material domain. Moments after our Sunday morning meditation someone in the congregation noticed flames on the far side of the our second floor courtyard. I got up and looked and as it didn’t seem too serious I and a few others went upstairs to get the garden hose. While they attached it to the bathroom tap I climbed out the refectory window and began hosing the flames. Meanwhile, the congregation quickly filed downstairs and left the building. Unbeknown to me and the three others who were helping me the fire in the ground floor restaurant was already burning fiercely and spreading quickly. Within five minutes I was being showered with burning ash and choked by smoke and as the flames were clearly becoming a conflagration I decided it was time to leave. I ran (no time for mindful walking!) up to the third floor where my room is to shut the windows in the hope that my large library might be saved, and ran down to the main hall to find it dark, the lights having gone out and no light coming through the by now smoke-blackened windows. Padma, Vincent and Nam Kin were looking grim and close to panic. “We’re surrounded!” Nam Kin said. We ran to the library and then to the computer room, both facing the main road, but only a menacing red glow was coming through the windows. The stairwell leading downstairs had been completely filled with smoke only five minutes before, but when we looked again we saw that someone who had ran through it earlier had left the door open and the draft had now cleared some of the smoke. We decided to make a dash for it. We emerged to a much relieved crowd, some of whom were in tears thinking that we had all perished. The police were already on the scene holding back the crowds and questioning us as to whether there was anyone still in the building. Held up by the traffic jam on Balestier Rd the fire brigade only arrived after we had emerged from the flames.
Given that these events only happened a few days ago and we are occupied with police reports, getting mail redirected, insurance matters, etc we have as yet have given little thought to the future of our society, the BDMS. Let’s see how things unfold.
It only remains to thank the many friends and even many strangers from as far away as Germany, the US, Australia and India for their concern, sympathy and offers of help. On behalf of the BDMS thanks very much.