Learning to Let Go
By Arlene Kroeker
Roger Servranckx, Vancouver
Roger is a retired scientist. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics and spent his career researching particle accelerator physics around the world — Switzerland, Holland, Germany, USA, and Canada. Although retired, Roger still thinks like a scientist, so when he was introduced to energy flow and meditation, he was skeptical. He was also bad-tempered.
Andy introduced Roger to Bodhi Meditation. From inner Mongolia, Andy had practiced Bodhi Meditation with Grandmaster JinBodhi for many years. She came into Roger’s life to care for his ailing wife in 2008. When his wife died on December 3, 2008, Andy continued as Roger’s caregiver. For years, Roger would often drive Andy to the meditation center.
“Why don’t you come?” Teacher Jue-Fa (whom he refers to as Qt Chen), asked him in 2010. Roger, an agnostic, declined. He thought the center was religion-based. One day in early 2011, at the age of 82, for reasons he still doesn’t understand, he stepped into the center. He quickly discovered that instead of a religious place, it was a compassionate place, independent of religion. He attended his first eight-day Health and Happiness Retreat and listened to the teachings of Master Mu-Yu. During one of the sessions, the incessant heavy drumming noise disturbed Roger. He stomped his feet and said. “I hate this.” However, when Andy asked if he was going to attend the next day, he answered without hesitation, “Yes.”
Roger applied a scientific approach to Bodhi Meditation — learn first; let the learning dictate the outcome. Learning was difficult. Qi repeated, “Let go! Let go!” But at the time, Roger couldn’t let go.
During the Second Level Retreat in 2011, Roger listened to the teachings of Grandmaster JinBodhi. Immediately he was impressed with the Master’s vast knowledge of not only Buddhist traditions but also of science and psychology. That was the beginning of Roger’s journey to “let go.”
Qi asked Roger during a 2011 Second Level Retreat if he wanted o dharma, or disciple, name. He refused the honor, as the word “disciple” connotes a religious affiliation. The next day, after the discipleship ceremony, Qi told him that the Master realized there were a number of Caucasians, and even some Chinese, who were hesitant about having a disciple name. Master was willing to make an exception and hold a second ceremony. “Do you want to come?” Qi asked him, He agreed. Eight people were blessed with a name in the ceremony. Later, Roger asked Master Mu-Yu, “As an agnostic, am I disrespecting Buddhism by accepting o name? Master Mu-Yu told him not to worry. “In Buddhism you do not have to accept any notion unless you feel comfortable with it.” For Roger, the Buddhist code of ethics is universal and obvious — don’t kill, steal, lie, drink alcohol — all to ensure good behavior. Roger let go of the idea that accepting a Buddhist name meant embracing a religion.
In October 2011, Roger practiced meditation before undergoing aortic valve replacement and multiple bypass surgery. One of the doctors commented that he had never seen a patient so calm when facing this type of operation. Following a successful surgery, Roger, weak and recovering. didn’t return to the Bodhi Center until March 2012. Before the surgery, Roger was very iII. His heart valves acted up daily. Some days. during the practice, he would hove to lie on the floor because he was so exhausted, but he never quit.
During the Second Level Retreat in 2012, to the surprise of many, he stood for three hours of meditation. They asked him, “How did you do that?” He answered, “Sheer determination.”
It is very difficult to change basic behavior, so although Roger is grateful for the Improvement and support for his physical welfare, he is even more grateful for the complete change in his attitude. Roger attributes the practice of compassion during the year after his return to the center as the major healing in his life. No longer bad-tempered, Roger is now naturally spontaneous, responding with the compassion principle. That’s the healing that changed him the most.
In 2013, Grandmaster JinBodhi presented Roger with a large, Chinese-style vase as a thank you for his volunteer work. Once Roger recovered emotionally from the surprise, the Master asked him what he was going to do with the vase. Roger told him that he was gifting it to the Vancouver Bodhi Meditation Center as a token of the work the administration is willing to do for the English-speaking group.
Bodhi Meditation, for Roger, means always learning something new. He learned compassion, the philosophy and culture of Buddhism. He learned that the group of people of the center are like family. He learned that the songs and chants bring tears of compassion. He experienced minor healing as his eyesight improved to the point where he no longer needs glasses for distance and has a new prescription for reading glasses. He also reduced his cholesterol medication and the beta blockers, and has not renewed his prescription for sleeping pills. He learned that his role is to do what he can do best as a volunteer.
His daughter and son-in-law told him how much he has changed since he started the practice of Bodhi Meditation. He’s pleased that his family has acknowledged that he’s let go of the bad-tempered side of his personality and embraced compassion.