Why I Cannot Attain Nibbana Just Yet

In the driver's seat of Kuan Aw's car installed with hand control kit

Dad was a Buddhist. Although he did not compel me to embrace Buddhism, I grew up reading the teachings of Buddha. The simplicity of the Four Noble Truths impressed upon me deeply, even now as a Christian. Buddha taught that desire is the root of all our sufferings.

For a time, I wondered if I could lead an austere life, one that is devoid of all the trappings. I attempted but obviously failed. There were so many things that I wanted to do and so many things that I wanted to possess.

Lately, similar grandeur thoughts have resurfaced again. In the attempt to make myself more mobile, I calculated the expenses required. At best, the car, modifications and an ultra-lightweight wheelchair will cost a bomb.

That was where the misery began. It is simply too expensive to even think about. I wished I can lead a simpler life but the environment in Malaysia is such that severely disabled persons are usually incarcerated in their own homes, unable to get out for the lack of assistance, barrier-free environment and accessible public transportation.

To get out, it is pertinent to have one’s own transport. The majority of us cannot afford it. We have a real need but do not have the means to resolve it. Buddha’s teachings notwithstanding, this is one desire that burns strong inside many of us.

Author: Peter Tan

Peter Gabriel Tan. Penangite residing in the Klang Valley. Blissfully married to Wuan. A LaSallian through and through. Slave to three cats. Wheelchair user since 1984. End-stage renal disease since 2017. Principal Facilitator at Peter Tan Training specialising in Disability Equality Training. Former columnist of Breaking Barriers with The Borneo Post. This blog chronicles my life, thoughts and opinions. Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

7 thoughts on “Why I Cannot Attain Nibbana Just Yet”

  1. Life is expensive for everyone. We will always want a better car, a better house, a better body. I have contemplated living in a cave in the Himalayas away from these trappings, but always stopped dead in my tracks after thinking that the Buddha was enlightened amidst civilization, not away from it. Many lessons there for us I’m sure. Peace.

    The message of this entry is that there are certain things that disabled persons cannot do without no matter how much we try not to desire for it.

  2. good luck with everything Peter!

    You set a good example for the others. Take your time, dont be so ‘pek chek’. do one thing at one time, and you shall achieve your goal soon.


    Thanks. Living one day at a time huh!

  3. Peter

    After following your blog for quite sometime, I want you to know that your writings have strong profound impact on my thoughts and actions. I truly hope you will continue to take one day at a time. I am sure Labor Omnia Vincit, brother! Keep the faith and be strong 🙂


    Thank you. Good advice there.

  4. Nothing wrong in yearning for material things.Its everyone’s wish to have wheels and be mobile.I live in the little red dot and I can’t do without a car,tried to but 20 cars later…, so I understand the feeling.Its a personal sort of freedom that we get behind the wheel of a car.A drive down to Taiping to the gardens in the evening,up Balik Pulau to have a durian or a trip to Macalister for hawker food.Would a small used car with conversions be within your reach?I suppose it would have to be automatic.Any mods required for the driver’s seat?

    Rightly said. The sense of liberation may be worth the money. The major modification for now is to install a hand control kit. Other auxiliary controls will be determined after that.

  5. Cars cost too much in Malaysia, anyway. And we’re too big to be a Singapore. What can I say, there are a lot of sucky situations in this country sometimes.

    Cars may be expensive but that is the only option when public transport is totally inaccessible.

  6. I think wanting a better car, etc is desire but just wanting a car in Malaysia given the poor public transport system especially for a disabled person is a neccessity. By the way, how much will it cost to have such a modified car?

    A neccessity it is. The hand control kit costs SGD800. Installation will cost a few hundred more.

  7. Hi Peter!.. Read the blog.. I was laughing.. Actually.. you could attain your Nirvana even if it was a material need or thoughts… in the state of nirvana, is what you have gained to please yourself in ways only you could appreciate yourself. Materialism is not that bad afterall.

    If you want something.. dont wait.. find ways and means to get it.

    Life is far too short.. before you realise it.. you will be 50 soon!

    Thanks for the advice. 😀

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