I have a personal story I want to tell you about Jeremy Glick and September 11, 2001. About seven months after I ordained in 2001, the famous 9/11 or September 11th event happened. During that time, I was living in Myanmar which was one of the 6 countries that were embargoed. Myanmar was specifically embargoed for Human Rights Violations and they were in second or third place behind North Korea for human rights. There were full on malaria warnings (by the locals) and I had just given up a career in the computer field that used to pay me loads of cash to do a job I loved with passion.
I was giving up quite a lot, all for the dream of Enlightenment and living the monk’s life I had read about and through the practice of meditation at home or at retreats. I was sort of crazy for giving up such a stable life for monkhood in Myanmar until the 9/11 thing happened. During that time, people started calling my parents’ house to say how sorry they felt about my unfortunate death. You see, I was the computer programmer with the name, Jeremy Glick they were thinking of. There was a little bit of confusion during that time and I guess the world changed without me around, especially since most people thought I was dead.
In September 11, 2001 there were four planes that went down. Two flew into the World Trade Center. The third one did impossible aeronautical acrobatics to hit the Pentagon1 and a final fourth plane went down in an empty field. The last of the four planes had a passenger named Jeremy Glick who was a computer programmer. He had a black belt in Judo, and after the “hijackers” announced themselves over the airplane’s public address system, Jeremy Glick (the programmer) picked up the air-phone to call his wife. His wife told him about the other three plane crashes and that he was surely going to die just like the others. With that thought, and nothing to lose, he organized a team of counter-attackers to barge into the cockpit and perhaps rescue the plane. That was how the plane supposedly crashed into an empty field and how Jeremy Glick died with all of the others. He was a national hero and he was plastered all over the news. Go ahead and Google “Jeremy Glick” and you will see the connection with 9/11 almost 20 years later. There was a lot of emotion during that time, and people did not know what to do. They knew my parents had a son named Jeremy Glick who was a programmer and so they picked up the phone.
In 1999, I left my job and set out to travel the world and to renounce the world too. I was a traveler or backpacker from 1999 to 2001 when I finally ordained in February 7th of 2001 at Pa-Auk Forest Monastery under The Most Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadawgyi. I sort of disappeared from society in 1999 and when the whole 9/11 thing happened, people who did not know me well mourned my death while others called my parents to tell them how sorry they were for my death.
I guess 9/11 was a triumphant part of my life. You see, up until then, I was the “crazy” one. America was stable, the economy was going well and the dart throwers on Wall Street were making tons of cash. It seemed like success was unstoppable and here was this “crazy” person named Jeremy Glick who had enough of the world and wanted to cash out, literally. I have not touched money since that time. I was the “crazy” person up until 9/11 happened and then I turned into the smart person.
The “Jeremy Glick” who died could have easily been me. I had always wanted to work at World Trade Center since the early-mid 90’s. In 1995, I was hired by the folks at McKinsey & Co. in the financial district to teach their internal people how to use a special new programming technology. I also went for an interview at Merrill Lynch at the World Financial Center across the West Side Highway from WTC. I was perfect for the job and had the exact experience they were looking for, which is very rare in the industry. The manager who saw me first was also surprised and offered me the job if I passed the technical interview. However, I caved in on the 2nd interview and did not answer a technical question correctly that I knew but it just did not come to me during the time of the interview. If I had gotten that job, I could have easily been at the World Trade Center a year or two later. Instead, I continued at Bayer Diagnostics (now owned by Siemens). It was while working at Bayer, that an ethical problem came up with the 2nd phase of a high-tech blood analyzer I had worked on for three years. I gave my notice and bought a one way ticket to go to the extreme West, first to Hawaii and then to the Far East. After that, I ordained, 9/11 happened, and then I was the “smart” one for making the right decision and living in a “safe” country.
- If you have 4 hours take a look at this link The New Pearl Harbor