Thais show the world the power of Maithree Karuna Muditha Upeksha in the face of national trauma


The agony of eighteen days of waiting ended in euphoria, when all twelve ‘Thai Football Heroes’ and their young coach were rescued unscathed, from one of the most grueling real life dramas that the world watched in disbelief. Their safe return was never a confirmed outcome due to the unthinkable challenges that lay ahead of the rescue mission. But the world prayed in unison and the prayers were in fact answered!

While watching this nail biting, heart stopping encounter, I was most amazed at the Thais’ calm and composed power of ‘waiting in anguish and hope’, displaying no hatred or anger. This was seen at all levels; be it the government, the community leaders, the rescuers, the parents and in fact the whole nation!

Being a Buddhist country, it seemed like the Thais showed the world by deed, the power of the immeasurable Buddhist principles of Maithree,Karuna, Muditha and Upeksha in its truest spirit.

They had only one goal; to rescue the trapped kids and their coach, unhurt. That’s all. With this common goal, they practiced what they knew best; ‘loving kindnesses’ to all beings. The Thai government led by example. They readily accepted all the help offered by cave rescuers from many parts of the world. There was no ‘ego’ nor ‘political agendas’ that came in between the decision they made. They welcomed the out pour of support with Karuna. The experts and the professionals were given the space and the freedom to carry out their tasks as needed. This was Muditha at its best.

Never did anybody even once, point a finger at another or lay any blame for this catastrophe. All those affected and involved seemed to have practiced Upeksha at all times.

Media was exceptional. They only shared positive stories and never sensationalized this ‘almost fatalistic’ situation. They displayed compassion and empathy throughout the ordeal. No wailing mothers, outraged countrymen or opportunistic politicians were given a platform to exploit the situation. They did their job in the most sensitive and responsible manner. In fact even the death of the brave navy diver was never hyped up in to a frenzy, instead, it was projected as a part of life’s many debacles, which we Buddhists call Karma. The composed statements captured of the brave navy diver’s wife and father were calming and consoling too. Never a moment of anger or hatred was shown towards anybody.  This was amazing and almost surreal from the usual media reportage we are used to.

The young coach of just twenty five years was an epitome of patience and resilience for the helpless little boys under his care. It was learnt that he taught them to meditate during this grueling, hopeless eighteen or so days. This obviously calmed them and gave them the inner strength to carry on. He seemed to have practiced all four principles of Maithree, Karuna, Muditha and Upeksha inside the cave and was reported to be the weakest of the lot due to not consuming the leftover food which he made sure the boys had instead. What compassion! Not one person made any accusations on the coach who led these children into a seemingly fatal expedition. Like a captain of a ship, he held the team together until the last kid was rescued. What agony and anxiety he would have gone through. The power of the mind seemed to have given him inner strength and courage to face this unenviable burden.

Needless to say the situation was extremely delicate; the whole world was waiting and watching, Thailand was experiencing its own share of political challenges, anxiety of families of thirteen innocent lives were hanging from a tattered thread… but there was a calmness all around. It was almost meditative.

It seemed as if the Thais taught the world a lesson by taking a leaf from the true Buddhist philosophy that they live and abide by. It’s as if they silently chanted the stanza …”this moment too shall pass!”

Thai Cave Rescue

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About lifeisabeach

love to use communication as a tool of passionate expression of personal views
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7 Responses to Thais show the world the power of Maithree Karuna Muditha Upeksha in the face of national trauma

  1. sharnij says:

    Thank you for this wonderful essay.

  2. Susan Razzaz says:

    Thank you for this blog. I had noticed how calm the reaction was and the absence of anger at the coach. But I hadnt thought about this as a cultural or spiritual thing. As usual, your observations are thought provoking and spot on. Thank you!

  3. Vichi says:

    Thank you Sandya for sharing this. Wonderful writing about wonderful incident.

  4. Melanie says:

    Sandya – what a great capture and a beautiful parallel – of the Buddhist principles. Thanks for taking the time to do this.

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