What inspires you?
Mr. Hartanto Gunawan is the meditation teacher at Wat Arun in Bangkok, Thailand. He’s a former CEO, a former Buddhist monk, who now serves as the head of the Community Learning Center there. The center’s mission is (from their website):
To help orphans, poor and disadvantaged children & youths receive equal opportunity in education
To prevent children and youths from being trafficked and abused
To help those youths to receive proper employment upon finishing their study and training with us
To provide scholarships as an option to continue their higher education in Bachelor Degree
To teach and train children & youths in right and good morality, ethics, discipline and self-development through the mind in order to be good citizens in the society
To maintain and promote Thai culture and tradition.
David wrote a great blog post about him and his programs in 2018 during our first trip to Bangkok and our fortunate meeting of this inspiring man. And David recently wrote another great piece about our meeting with him this trip and his new year’s resolution.
I’ve been thinking about inspiration. What is it about someone that makes them inspiring? Is it how they act, what they do, what they say? There are people you meet that are inspiring and truly fill you with energy and motivate you. It seems to me that inspiring people are focused on others and less on themselves. They are not doing what they do for their own ego. They make you feel good about yourself. They are happy and positive, in tune with and maintaining their own emotional health. They are passionate, dedicated, and believe in what they are doing. They are thoughtful and honest. They share their own struggles, obstacles, and practice.
All of this, in my opinion, describes Mr. Hartanto Gunawan. David and I are inspired by him. We are motivated to help support his Community Learning Canter, helping orphans, poor and needy children/youth and preventing them from abuse and human trafficking through quality education. While we sat with him and discussed his work and programs, he said something that has stayed with me as an image. He shared why he felt it was important for these girls to learn and train to be nursing assistants. There are numerous options he could have chosen for training like maybe hospitality. But he said there is a certain level of respect that is present when the girls put on the nursing uniform. If they were cleaning a hotel room, for example, they may still get remarks and dangerous comments that could put them in danger of physical exploitation. But with the nurses uniform there is an awareness and respect that is an important part of what is he providing these girls. No matter what your societal or economic level is, most people respect and listen to what the medical professionals in uniforms say. He has considered the immediate needs of these girls and then the long term needs and impact his program will have.
When I contemplate a word I like to look it up in the dictionary and see how it’s defined there and the various ways it’s defined. The Oxford definition of inspiration is:
- The process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
- A sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea.
- The drawing in of breath; inhalation.
I love the connection and reminder that inspiration is also inhalation! When we inhale we fill up and expand. Being with Mr. Hartanto Gunawan is like this inhale, this creative force, a full feeling, a feeling of expansion, a motivation to take care of the mind do good.
He has created programs which, not only literally saves girls from human trafficking, but also instills self respect and self development. He travels far distances all over Thailand to talk with girls he hears maybe getting lured into, unknown to them, dangerous human trafficking situations. The most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation. As you might guess, young girls are the most common victims of human trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation. Preventing human trafficking is such an import action. Unfortunately it is on the rise and sex trafficking is one of the biggest criminal businesses in the world. Meeting these girls in person has motivated me to learn more about it and to find ways to prevent human trafficking, like supporting this specific program. He literally saves them and provides them with a means for an income. And just as important, he provides them with meditation training which helps to increase their confidence and understanding of their mind and perspectives.
David and I are inspired to support his programs in ways we can, which right now include sharing what he does with others and providing some financial support. If you are looking for a good cause to donate to HERE IT IS! Thank you to everyone who has already made a donation since David’s blog post. We have raised over a $1000 and David and I have matched the donations with another $1000. We hope to be able to host Mr. Hartanto Gunawan in the USA, in NH, at Sharing Yoga at some point in the future so that he can share directly with others about his programs and meditation philosophy.
What inspires you? Inspiration is all around if only we are open to it!