Renowned Venerable Ajahn Brahm, known for his simple and cheerful approach to life, expressed his thoughts on President Ranil Wickremasinghe’s decision to initiate an inquiry regarding his missed flight last Wednesday(May 31). At his monastery in Perth, Australia, he said that ‘the President went too overboard’ and that ‘People should be allowed to make mistakes…’
Venerable Ajahn Brahm, in his characteristic manner, commented:
“A few mistakes happened, and they led to a big thing happening. We don’t blame anyone, we learn from it. And then, a good example of that, I’m just putting this in because it’s relevant for today.
Many people know that I’ve just come back from Sri Lanka. I was giving teachings over there, teaching a meditation retreat for nuns and monks, and the people there. And also giving some big talks over there.
The last big talk which I gave was to 7,000 people; it was a big audience there. I’m very well known in Sri Lanka. And somebody asked a question and said there were some monks over in Sri Lanka who stated that the Buddha was born in Sri Lanka. ‘Ajahn Brahm, what do you think of that?’
We’re celebrating Vesak on Sunday, and they asked me that question. It was relevant to the time. Was the Buddha born in Sri Lanka? And I said ‘Categorically, no, the Buddha was born in Australia.’ And of course, I don’t mean the Buddha was born here, I mean, what a stupid idea that is,
saying the Buddha was born in Sri Lanka is as stupid as saying the Buddha was born in Australia. That’s just irrelevant.
And I got the biggest laugh. And I could get away with that because I was leaving that night on a flight back here. But the interesting part was, the Sri Lankans know this because when I went to the airport, I am a well-known monk. So you go to the VIP lounge, that’s, you know, the special lounge. When I went into the VIP lounge, you can’t just walk in there, you know, because there are actually guards on there, soldiers with machine guns.
I never knew at the time, but the Sri Lankan Prime Minister was also in the lounge that evening, in another room. I never saw him. He was going off to some big event over in Bangkok. And I going to Singapore and then to here.
So there are a lot of soldiers around. So you went in there, plenty of time, you checked in, you know, you had your boarding passes; they stamped your passport, everything was, you know, orderly, and plenty of time to wait for the flight.
But then, when it came close to the boarding time, I said, ‘We should be boarding soon.’ He said, ‘No, wait, don’t worry, Ajahn Brahm.’ So I waited. I said, ‘Look, I think it’s really time we should go now.’ And he said, ‘No, don’t worry, everything’s on schedule.’ And they explained they said, you know, anyone in the VIP lounge, they take them onto the plane last of all. You know, so that, you know, they can keep security or safety or whatever.
So by the time they took me to the gate, that’s when I saw the aircraft and there, what’s it called, ‘the boarding bridge.’ The boarding bridge was moving away from the aircraft. ‘Oh, my goodness.’, this is not what I think is late. This is past the time.
And then the lady who took me there went in there, and I could hear her arguing really loudly with the member from Singapore Airlines, who was in charge of the flight. And they were shouting. It doesn’t matter how long they’re shouting. The boarding bridge went further and further away, and the plane took off.
I missed my flight. If I had just walked there by myself, it’d be no problem. But you can’t, because there are soldiers outside. With guns, real ones. So I missed my flight. And that caused a lot of problems trying to get another flight to get back here in time.
So now, honestly, Venerable Metaji told me this evening. He went online and on one of the news sites over there, There was an article there. The President of Sri Lanka. He’s supposed to be running a country. Instead, he’s initiated an inquiry about why Ajahn Brahmawangso missed his flight. Honestly, it goes overboard.
But anyway, if anybody hears this, look, you know, it’s a small thing. Someone made a little mistake. It’s not a big deal.
So please, instead of having an inquiry about why I missed my flight, have an inquiry about how you can have a better country with more forgiveness, and allow people to make mistakes.
Because one thing which I’ve noticed is, so many people make a mistake out of fear. When you allow people to make a mistake, they’re not afraid of making mistakes. They make less mistakes.”
According to reports, Ajahn Brahm spent nine days in Sri Lanka and participated in various programs. He was granted access to the VIP lounge at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) based on President Ranil Wickremesinghe’s instructions.
On June 2, Colombo, the President’s Secretary, Saman Ekanayake, directed the Secretary of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Aviation Services to investigate and take appropriate action against the officials responsible for causing Ven. Ajahn Brahmawanso missed his flight, resulting in a delay of over 12 hours at BIA.
In response, SriLankan Airlines issued a statement, stating, “The Thera had made a booking with another airline when an unfortunate delay occurred at Bandaranaike International Airport in the early hours of May 31, 2023. However, SriLankan Airlines promptly stepped up and went beyond to assist Venerable Ajahn Brahm in finding an alternative flight.”
However, Ajahn Brahm believes that the situation was taken too seriously, given that an inquiry was launched, while he himself finds it amusing. He suggests that more important matters should take priority, particularly for a president who is responsible for governing a country. He advocates for allowing people to make mistakes, as it leads to fewer errors in the long run.