Star Date: Feb 2018
Hello Dear Family & Friends!
"Let it go. Trust. Enjoy your life! That's why you are here!"
(From Gami, my 92 year old Mom, up beyond the Moon)
Thousands of fireflies, kunang kunang, the rice fields were alive with an other-worldly pulse. Ecstatic at the appearance of the 'Super Moon' after hiding behind rain clouds for 2 nights, all of God's Creation came alive. The skies cleared, the stars shone, the moon in all its super glory was dressed in a delicate lacy luna corona defying description. Frogs, crickets, toads, bugs joined the chorus. A chorus singing pure joy. A chorus singing pure Love. That is the key to the wonder of the Universe. That's all there is. Simple. All else is an illusion. Transmute disparaging energy into a reality that defies words. Our purpose in life is to speak to this truth. To live in this truth. To share this truth. Be this truth. Let everything else go. Trust. Live in the internal essence, not react to the external illusion. Let our internal peace shine to those around us. Stay in the Joy and Love. Live from In to Out!
I woke up suddenly, the full moon shining into our room, flooding it with a heavenly brilliance. Walking out on the front terrace the Super Moon, largest in decades, was displayed in all its glory. All of creation was rejoicing in the beauty. My Mom had said to me over 50 years ago when I first set out to explore the world, "You will always be in my heart. Think of me when you see the moon, for we are both looking at the same moon, no matter how far apart we are."
Now, thinking of my dear Mom, I distinctly heard in that spunky voice of hers, "You should see the moon from up here!" Yes we are all connected. Trust. All is one. All is well.
"Tat Tram Asi" (Balinese)
"Tat tvam asi" (Sanskrit)
I am you,
You are me.
This powerful Hindu philosophy focuses on the essence of what it is to be human. There is no separating Balinese religion from their everyday life. It is all interwoven in a colorful display of rituals and ceremonies. This contented way of life has been evolving and growing for centuries.
Out of over 18,000 islands of Indonesia, the world's largest Islamic country, Bali is the only island where Hinduism is the predominant religion. Original Balinese fled nearby Java and established a unique culture, molded by the high castes and artisans arriving on the shores. Inhabitants were made to blend into the new society and a mixture of old and new traditions combined. Hinduism can be traced to the 8th through15th centuries when it was gradually accepted into practice. During this time it incorporated many of its older Balinese beliefs and rituals such as animism* and ancestor worship. Today's religion is officially called Agama Hindu Dharma. It also known by a few other names, especially Agama Tirta meaning 'religion of holy water' which is an important part of many of the religious rituals.
Bali has adopted the back and white checked fabric as a symbol of light and dark, good and evil. You will find this fabric draped on statues of deities and gods during religious festivals. It is also worn during religious ceremonies and during performances of epic ancient stories from the Mahabharata passed down through centuries.
Offerings (banten)to the gods are placed high on alters or sacred areas of the temples. They consist of various items, always beautiful and sprinkled three times per day with holy water. Often the daily offerings are made with a palm leaf folded into a container with flowers, rice, salt and sometime fruits. Most offerings are made by women using plant materials. Offerings by men use meat and represent the animal kingdom. The ornate large offerings (Gebogan) are used for special religious ceremonies.
Once these offerings have been blessed and received by the gods, they may be used by the people. During the blessing incense is used to carry the essence of the offerings up to the heavens. The tall offerings (Gebogan) with luscious fruits, other foods and beautiful flowers is then taken home and used for a festival dinner. It is common today to see women carrying their offerings in covered baskets on their heads heading to the temple, then later this is used for the family's dinner.
When visiting an elaborate funeral in Sulawesi, where many buffaloes were slaughtered (33), it was good to see that the meat was distributed to well wishers in buckets. A sort of 'take away'. Nothing much goes to waste in Asia.
We went off, with good friend Barbara visiting us from Sumatra, to explore a couple of holy sites with Balinese pilgrims performing ceremonies at our side:
The Elephant Cave, Goa Gajah,
Nyepi, Day of Silence. On the Eve of Nyepi, Pengrupukan Ceremony is to invite all the evil spirits to occupy the ogoh ogohs and once collected the effigies are burned - thus destroying the evil spirits. Ogoh-ogoh are statues built for the Ngrupuk parade, which takes place on the eve of Nyepi day. Ogoh-ogohs normally have form of mythological beings, mostly demons.
The main purpose of the making of Ogoh-ogoh is the purification of the natural environment of any spiritual pollutants emitted from the activities of living beings (especially humans). Philosophically, civilized men are required to manage the natural resources without damaging the environment itself.
Aside from being the symbol of Bhuta-Kala, Ogoh-ogoh is considered a symbol of modes of nature that form the malicious characters of living beings. Each village usually build one Ogoh-ogoh mainly built by each village's Seka Truna Truni (Balinese village's youth organization), but often some smaller ogoh-ogoh also built by groups of children around the village. Some artist also usually build one. After being paraded on a convoy around the town, finally it is burnt to ashes in a cemetery as a symbol of self-purification.
During the procession, the Ogoh-ogoh is rotated counter-clockwise three times. This act is done at every T-junction and crossroad of the village. Rotating the effigies during the cremational parade and the eve of Nyepi represents the contact of the bodies with the spirits. It is intended to bewilder the evil spirits so that they go away and cease harming human beings. The Ogoh-ogoh is a very recent addition to the Nyepi ceremonies, first appearing in Denpasar in the early 1980s. At that time, they were carefully monitored for any criticism of the Suharto regime.
All evil demons burned up, we were able to experience Nyepi. If you ever doubt the level of commitment to spirituality in Bali, simply look to their Nyepi festival. Probably no where else in the world is there an island which absolutely shuts down for spiritual reasons.
Before Nyepi, there is Melasti which involves an elaborate ceremony to burn effigies of evil monsters and cleanse the island. Then comes Nyepi, which is known as the day of silence to fool demons into thinking that the island is uninhabited, thus leaving Bali alone in peace for another year.
In most cultures where economic forces relentlessly shape our lifestyles, it is refreshing to see that in Bali, belief in the otherworldly takes precedence, even if it’s just for one day a year.
Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next
morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as
such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is
restricted. The main restrictions are no lighting fires (and
lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or
pleasure; no traveling; and, for some, no talking or eating at
all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali's usually
bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no
noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen
even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the
Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to
ensure the prohibitions are being followed.
Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents
and tourists are not exempt from the restrictions. Although they
are free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is
allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in
Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions
granted are for emergency vehicles responding to
life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth. [On
the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni (Relighting the
Fire), social activity picks up again quickly, as families and
friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to
perform certain religious rituals together. Fires and
electricity are allowed again, and cooking of food resumes.
The day is supposed to be spent in meditation and silence. And no cell phones or wifi reception - can you imagine?? In most other countries cell phone junkies would go through withdrawal. But out in the rice fields, in our little home outside of Ubud, not much changed. Without any outside noise Nature again ruled supreme as birds and butterflies danced on the breeze. Normally Bali is a beehive of activity and it is crucial to seek out the hidden lovely quiet spots in which to enjoy your visit. Silence everywhere. What a rare treat! The nighttime was absolute magic with complete darkness punctuated only with fireflies and a display of celestial stars unmatched in the Outback of Australia.
The cycle of life is displayed in the rice fields around us. The fields are plowed, water added, the gossiping ducks arrive to fertilize and rid the field of pests. The new seedlings are planted, they grow into the vibrant 'new rice' green. Time passes and kernels of rice start to form. Before you know it the now golden field is harvested. A machine or women with flat baskets separate the kernels. All the while the amazing water irrigation system of canals, leading from mountain towards the ocean, provides the water necessary for a healthy crop. After a few weeks of the ground resting fallow, the fields are plowed. Repeat. Like the Hindu belief of reincarnation: birth and death.
Our time living in these rice fields has been
special. Just us, Nature, the cycle of rice, a few local
neighbors. Life is simple. Life is good.
Life as a Nomad presents certain challenges. Entering our 16th year of non stop travel, staying in thousands of guest houses, we were ready to slow down the pace a bit. And can you believe we are still together? Either crazy or something works. Our 14 month trip around the world, from Ethiopia to the Middle East to Europe to N. Africa to C*ba simply made us dream of spending a few months in Bali; not going anywhere. We were feeling the need to recharge our batteries annually. Knowing we wanted to spend a longer stretch of time in Bali each year, we thought it would be good to bring over some of our stuff from Hawaii, to 'play house' for a few months each year. Fifteen years stored in 10 boxes, our little treasures, remnants from 2 large houses in Hawaii, were crying to be set free.
And thus we launched into another Stuff dilemma. Which of our favorite stuff shall we bring to Bali? See one of our all time favorite short comedy routines: "Stuff" by George Carlin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac
We discussed the possibilities with Mr. Ketut. He agreed. Joseph designed a bookcase out of teak. When we were ready to leave we would just slide on the front, with a beautiful Balinese carving, and lock up the sleek cabinet. All our favorite worldly treasures, alias Stuff, safe until our return. The best of both worlds.
And so we continue to Trust that somehow, somewhere, for some greater purpose everything will work out.
Love, Light & Laughter,
1 US Dollar = 14,375.50 Indonesian Rupiah IDR
Abu and Made's Homestay: Take a walk down Sunset Lane, past Gauri's Restaurant, right at end of path past Three Dewis. Then just past Ibu Dayus on the right, first gate below, Abu and Made's Homestay. Great people, new units, good prices, great pool. Currently construction but within a few months this place will be perfect!
Contact Nyoman for help finding
a rental, or driver or getting fresh coconuts daily, a tour local or
island wide, or just about anything. He will take you on his
motorbike for the going rate or go get something for you. A
great guy, helpful, wonderful smile, and honest. Call or email
him for anything you need. Tell him Nancy & Joseph recommended
Beji Ayu Spa
Moksha Spa - total quiet seclusion and good massage at a great price. When coming off JL Bisma on Sunset Lane (Across from Guardian Pharmacy) you come to a T. Left is Guari's Restaurant; right is Moksha Spa and Villas.
BALINESE SACRED GEOMETRY
Good prices, reliable, must allow 10 full days to extend or renew a visa. Best for longer stays to get a 2 month visa before arrival - then you may extend 4 months before leaving. Or get a 6 month or yearly social visa. Best deal is a one year retirement (7.5 million p.p.) visa if appropriate.
Komang works out of Bali Buda
every afternoon. The little extra they charge is worth not
having to go to Denpasar 1-4 times. Only once per year.
Chakoda Rai - over 90, sees people once in a while. When seeking a healer please ask around. A few are great, a lot aren't authentic.Indonesian Jamu is a unique system of traditional herbal medicine that can be consumed on a daily basis for both disease prevention and treatment of serious illness.
Jamu: bladder infection: kumis kucing leaf or beetle nut leaf tea. Turmeric jamu - great for the immune system and even Bali Belly.
Bali Royal Hospital in Denpasar. Dr Wein - good orthopedic surgeon.
Ubud Health Care
Jl Sukma 37
trustworthy clinic of a doctors in Ubud. If you call they will
pick you up.
Tirta Usada Homeopathic Clinic - At the Ibah Hotel right before the bridge. Tjok Gede - Prince of Ubud, great, talented homeopath. email@example.com
Sayan Aesthetic Institute
Just down the street: Warung
Siam for good Thai food
Poopies Juice Bar on Jl Bisma. I think they meant to put Poppies on the sign.
Fried crap. We saw this on a menu - I hope they meant fried crab.
Yoga Barn: (pet name the yogurt
Bali Buda: Restaurant and health food store. Great food and juices - most comprehensive store in town. Bali Buddha down the Main Road, turn right, across from the Post Office. Great organic menu and small bakery and health food store. Another wonderful place to chill and hang out with like minded people. They deliver.
Down to Earth: A bit more
pricey in the cafe and store but a good selection and may have what
the other stores do not.
Dewa's Warung -
The Elephant Restaurant - great food, spectacular grounds, just past the bridge on the right side, going out of town .
Down the path on Sunset Lane off of Jl Bisma. Kadek, Dewi and Gauri
are the young family who offer tasty food at a good price. Even
when I was cooking we would stop by there for coconuts on our
nightly walk through the rice fields.
Places to check out:
Don't miss Campuhan Ridge!!!. Get a taxi to the top of the hiking road then path.(50,000tp from town) Total hiking time down about half an hour but take your time, enjoy the view, stop for a coconut, have a relaxing lunch, check out the temple at the bottom.
Monkey Forest Sanctuary: a must see. Those monkeys are real characters. 30,000 r p.p.
When the taxi drivers or dance performance touts ask you to buy while walking down the street, just say: "Suda" already They seem satisfied without further discussion.
Jan bati - delicious
In case you were wondering why we have named our landlord Mr Ketut, and the man who gets our coconuts Coconut Ketut and Builder Ketut, and Sterling's Ketut etc just read on:
Meaning of Balinese Name
Basically the caste system in Bali are divided into 4 levels, which are:
This caste is for religious leaders (priest), the people who lead only the important religious ceremonies, and considered the highest caste among all. The names in Brahmana caste are :
Boys : Ida Bagus
This caste includes the ruler (king), royal family member, and knights. The rulers live in Puri (castle) and implement a role in the state government and state defense. The royal family names in Ksatria caste are :
Boys : Anak Agung, Agung, Dewa
There are also common middle names for the Ksatria caste, such as Raka (eldest child), Oka (last child), Rai (youngest sibling), Anom (young boys or Girls), Ngurah (powerful one). And if the child is born to the family member who rules in a Puri (the king), the names will be either Tjokorda (or Cokorda) or Dewa Agung.
A long time ago this caste was filled with traders, business people. They were also usually landlords who had fields for whom the farmers worked. Their names include:
Name Boys/Girls : Ngakan, Kompyang, Sang or
This is the lowest caste and has population of more than 90% of Balinese. Originally this caste has profession as farmers or labors. But as time goes and modernization developed Bali, the Sudras can also have profession as managers, lawyers or doctors. The names for this caste are:
Firstborn : Wayan, Putu, Gede (for boys), Iluh
Another important naming in Bali that you must know are the callings for older man is Bli (read: blee), for older woman is Mbok. As for teenagers or those who are not married is Gus (read: Goos; short from Bagus or handsome) for boys, and Gék (short from Jegég or beautiful) for girls.
MAY I KNOW, WHAT IS YOUR BALINESE NAME??
The Balinese year is not 365 days. I'm not sure if exact but their year is approximately 228 days. Their birthday is on a different date each year.
Balinese birthday is coming every six months Balinese calendar which is every 7 months if we compare with common calendar. and yes, it's not partying. mostly they do offering and praying. and having lunch or dinner together with family.