By Dr. Tan Kheng Khoo
a former pathologist doing teaching Buddhist meditation? Dr Tan Kheng Khoo
is an unusual man. He spent nearly 30 years examining dead bodies, before
giving it all up to teach meditation. Today, he is one of Singapore's most
famous meditation teachers, counting among his students, BG Lee Hsien
Dr Tan's move from science to spirituality did not happen overnight. He practised at Singapore General Hospital, then ran his own lab for 14 years. He had already been meditating for 10 years, and was gaining prominence as a lay meditation teacher, when he left his lab in 1985 to teach meditation full-time. Along the way, he also studied at the College of Psychic Studies in London and even visited an abbot in the Thai jungles for advice. Dr Tan also heals people through esoteric methods like "energy channeling." His public lectures, at places such as the Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce, are packed with hundreds of people. Peppering his conversation with words like "chakra," "prana" and "spirit guides," the former pathologist gives his views on the relevance of meditation in Singapore.
Q: How is meditation relevant to people's everyday lives?
A: When meditation is taught correctly, the person would not be as stressed as before. His health will improve, and at a much later date the whole personality would remain calm and tranquil. Then there will be less anger, but the most important change would be transformation of character. The best transformation is to "let go".
Q: Why have you devoted your life to teaching this?
A: Having seen Singaporeans so stressed up, and their goal in life being basically materialistic, I do not believe that Singaporeans should suffer so much. Their main aim is to achieve the 5 C's (cars, condominiums, clubs, credit cards and careers). The stress accrued in pursuing this goal is too tremendous. I believe that we are seeing much more cancers today than 30 years ago, and I believe that this is stress-related.
Q: Do you find that interest in meditation is growing in Singapore?
A: Yes, interest in meditation has certainly grown a great deal. This is because Singaporeans know that they are very stressed, and they have already resorted to tranquilizers and exercise, but to no avail. Tranquilizers are of temporary effect and also the person loses his clarity in awareness. He does not want to behave like a zombie everyday. A stressed person, also, is rather lethargic and therefore exercise is an uphill battle. So it boils down to a daily routine of meditation, which will definitely benefit the patient in many ways. Raymond is the man who looks after my courses in the Buddhist Library for seven years. He noticed that students would turn up very agitated and stressed out in their first year. However after two to three years they would calmly walk in and sit quietly for their meditation classes. The change is very noticeable.
Q: Some of the topics you cover, such as "cosmic energy," "soul mates," and "spirit guides" seem very far out. What do these have to do with meditation"?
A: If I were to give 10 lectures on pure meditation alone, I think the crowd will quickly dwindle to a fraction of my present numbers. Because I talk about spirit guides, soul mates, karma and reincarnation, these topics grab them, and this is how the hall gets filled up. I insist that they meditate everyday for 12 weeks. This is how I force them to meditate for at least 3 months with me.
Q: But shouldn't people learn meditation purely for meditation, and not because of these sensational type of topics?
A: It is not really sensational. My topics pertain to the science of the spirit, and this is one thing we know very little about, even amongst priests and monks. So I am teaching them to be acquainted with the spirit world. We're spirit first and body second.
Q: Why is that important to know?
A: Because when we die, we leave this corpse behind. After 70 or 80 years, we go home to the spirit world as a spirit. Singaporeans must know this. Most people on earth believe that they are wholly this body only, and nothing else. If they believe in spirits, it is mainly associated with ghosts, and that is wrong. We are always spirit first.
Q: So why are we here?
A: We are here to learn. And what do we learn? At the end, we learn how to love. In order to learn how to love, you've got to have enough wisdom to let go. Otherwise you'll be selfishly loving only yourself. And even then, the majority of people do not know how to love themselves. After many incarnations, when you are enlightened, the only thing you can take back is love. Of course, on the way, you would have accumulated wisdom and total humility. This process of purification must include service and charity. That is why I interpret "Anatta" of Theravada Buddhism as selflessness and not "no self". You service other people with your altruistic acts until you are selfless.
Q: What kind o healing work do you do?
A: Just channeling of cosmic energy down to the patient. I open up the chakras (energy centres in the body) from the sixth (located in the forehead) to the third (located in the abdomen). Then I place my hands on the troubled spot for a period of time lungs, stomach, brain etc. I am able to help one-third of the patients completely. One-third, I am unable to help at all. The remaining one-third, I am able to alleviate their pain, suffering or disease, but not eradicate it completely. Most of my patients have been through Western medicine, and these doctors have already told them to go home to make a will. The best disease for healing is an auto-immune disease, e.g. rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus and multiple sclerosis, etc.
Q: How would you explain "channeling cosmic energy" and "opening of the chakras?" For those not familiar with it, it sounds kind of strange.
A: The sanskrit word for cosmic energy is ‘prana’. The Western word for it is ‘orgone’, and this is the same as ‘waiqi’. If you focus your eyes on the sky on a bright day, you will see numerous white spots, some with black dots in their centers. They swish about as in ballet dancing, but they appear and disappear very fast, in a matter of seconds. All these pranic spots are in constant movement and they come and go rapidly. We absorb this prana every moment of our life through our seven chakras. If we stop absorbing prana, we die very quickly. Take for instance, a case of stomach cancer, the patient’s third chakra at the solar plexus is blocked. I put my hands on the solar plexus, and prana will be channeled into the stomach area to unblock it.
Q: How exactly do you siphon the qi or prana ?
A: By putting my hands on the patient. Prana goes through my seventh (crown of the head), sixth, fifth (throat) and fourth (heart) chakras and thence into my arms and hands. I then put my hands, bristling with qi onto the patient. Try it for yourself—feel the warmth or heat of your palms. After one to two minutes, my face will be red after the laying of my hands. This is because the patients absorb only 50% to 70% of the prana, the remaining 30% is left within me. After I finish healing, the redness will automatically disappear.
By laying the hands, I am turning on the tap. After that, I don’t have to concentrate at all. I can talk or think of various things, the waiqi will still continue to flow through. One does not need any prayer or rituals. However there is another category of healing which is called ‘distant healing’. Tn this practice, you merely visualise the patient’s face and send him white light to that organ or the area of disease. In this instance, the healer must be able to concentrate and visualise. Many patients have been helped this way.
Q: Can you give me some examples of patients that you’ve healed or treated?
A: There is one lady who was suffering from multiple sclerosis. This disease is not very nice. There are multiple plugs of fibrous tissue in the brain and spinal cord. These plugs cause pain, blindness and paralysis, culminating in total incapacity. It continues as a slow and debilitating death. After my healing, the neuro-physician pronounced her completely cured. Perhaps he should not have said that.
On Letting Go & The Five "C"s...
Q: You emphasise the importance of "letting go" for patients?
A: Yes. To everybody, not only to patients. But they must let go of numerous things. Firstly, material things. Secondly, relationships. Thirdly, ego and status. Then one must also let go of concepts, beliefs, one’s historical background, heritage and religion. It does not mean that we merely erase our memory of all these concepts. We must not be attached to them.
The first pursuit amongst Singaporeans is the five Cs. When they get these, they are supposed to have settled down to a soft life. However, after achieving the five Cs, they have to maintain that status, and this stresses them. Relationship is different. In this case, emotional feeling reinforces the attachment, and that can be very tenacious and intractable. The other party is not inanimate and therefore may further strengthen the attachment so that it is so much more difficult to let go.
Q: But why is that damaging?
A: It is damaging to the extent of losing sight of your goal.! same time, if you are too indulgent and drowning your children with money and other material things, you spoil them. children will finally not be able to stand on their own feet..This is disastrous.
Q: Is it possible to let go and still have all the five Cs?
A: Yes. You can have all this stuff, if you are not attached.
New Harmony on Earth
Q: In your talks, you mention that we are entering the "Aquarian Age." What exactly is it?
A: It is one of the 12 signs of the Zodiac. The Age of Pisces, which started around the time of the birth of Christ, has just ended. Each period lasts about 2,100 years. We are now about to enter the Age of the Aquarius, which should really start in the year 2,001. The Piscean Age has been aptly labeled as the age of materialism. The Aquarian Age is supposed to be one of increasing harmony, understanding and spiritual growth. In last 200 to 300 years, we have already been working toward this New Age.
We are now realising that our consciousness is made up of many levels, and in this Age of the Aquarius, we will be rnore inclined to reach our higher self. This explanation would mean that we will be letting go of things material. And we will search for things spiritual, and all this will lead to a more peaceful life on earth.
Q: Can you elaborate more on the Aquarian Age. Will the world be more psychic, intuitive or spiritual?
A: Throughout the ages, many old cultures practice psychism and its attainment has been equated with spirituality. It is not. Spirituality is the result of letting go and to be empty. Intuition is your little ‘small voice’, which can be easily heard during the silence of your meditation. The individualistic attempt at enlightenment in the Piscean Age will be replaced by groups of seekers in the Aquarian Age. As a group, we share our ideas and knowledge. We teach the others what we know. In this way it is faster and there is less jealousy. That is why we are going to have more harmony.
There have been dire predictions of the "end of the world" at the changeover into the next millennium. Although at every changeover of an age, natural disasters occur quite frequently, I do not believe that the end of the world is nigh. When we approach 2010, things will get much better.
Q: Why is that? Why 2010?
A: The changeover of one age to another is never an abrupt affair. It takes years to taper the outgoing age and it takes time for the new age to get a firm foothold. Therefore we estimate that it will take roughly 10 years into the millennium before the Aquarian Age comes into its own. I don’t believe that the world is coming to an end because humans are relatively young sentient beings, who still need the earth to practise. We humans have to keep on coming back to practise until we are enlightened, and up till then, we still need the earth.
You Have a Guardian Angel
Q: Can you tell us about your "spirit guides"?
A: I have two guides and one ancestor. (These were identified and drawn by a UK specialist.) One of the guides is a tall Red Indian and the other is a shorter Buddhist monk, Tibetan or Chinese. The third figure is my great-great-grandmother who is not a guide at all. She was a healer, a herbalist and she hangs around me, while I am healing or teaching. (My Red Indian guide) is brave and gives me courage to face anybody without fear, men of authority or ghosts, etc. And this is quite true. The monk is always behind me. He will nudge me, if I make mistakes. However, I can see my own healing guide. He is a tall man in white. A patient and my son have also seen him. He is always near the patient while I heal. He stands there calmly, helping me to heal.
There is another Egyptian lady who is often seen by me. My niece and the famous clairvoyant, David Cousin, have also seen her. She has a very long mane of black hair, which stretches to her knees. She is quite beautiful. She has been with me for 3,500 years. We have both been teaching ‘spiritual growth’ for 3,500 years. She had been my mother in one incarnation, and in another, my wife. She died in her last incarnation at 35 years of age. After that, she did not have to incarnate any more. So teaching spiritual growth is nothing new to me.
Q: Does everybody have a guide?
A: Yes. Everybody has at least one or two.
Q: Are they the same as "guardian angels"?
A: Yes. They are the same. One of them is always with you.