Morning Of The World
Morning Of The World by Jacqueline Wales
Bali has been described as ‘the morning of the world’ by the Indian leader Jawaharlal Nehru, and perfectly describes the beauty, elegance and awakening to conscience that occurs there. There is a strong belief in the power of spirits that infiltrate every aspect of life. So much so, that each year at the festival of Nyepi, it is the only airport in the world that closes down for the day so as not to offend the gods, and bring bad luck to the island.
What can the Western man or woman learn from the Balinese? Observing their ceremonies, dress, beliefs and behavior over the last twelve years, I would say a lot. There is a fundamental acceptance of life as an ongoing ebb and flow of energy, punctuated by rituals and ceremonies that define one’s place in the world. The collaboration between families and neighbors, while not always harmonious, are designed to create harmony with the gods, and ultimately with each other. The observance of rituals as a necessary part of existence to keep things stable and balanced is a piece we’ve somehow lost in our hurly burly lives.
There are many ways in which we connect to the divine in our lives. For the Balinese, Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual, and the Balinese place great emphasis on dramatic and aesthetically satisfying acts of ritual in honor of the spirits at temple sites scattered throughout villages and in the countryside. At every home and place of business, there is some form of shrine to the gods, and offerings are made two times a day to make sure the gods are kept happy, and that no bad luck will occur to the family or individual.
Ceremony is a major part of Balinese life. The rituals are a part of every family, and village, and there is no question that each one will participate in whatever is needed to perform these rituals. The art of offering is an intricate affair depending on the importance of the ceremony.
What is striking about this communal activity is the spirit of collaboration that naturally exists as people assume their different roles within the community. You could say there is much to be learned from this for our western tendency toward separation and division.
Curiously, there is no word for Art in the Balinese language, and yet art is found in almost everything. From the simple every day offerings, to majestic cremation ceremonies involving hundreds of people, and elaborate offerings. The Balinese simply see it as a function of their being. Taken for granted, but not dismissed as unimportant. Watch their dance movements, which are world famous, and you will see extraordinary elegance. Listen to the gamelin music, and you will find yourself humming along to unique sounds that you have never heard before. Look at the extraordinary carvings on temples and see the beauty of gods running rampant along the stones. Everywhere in Bali, the colors, sights and sounds are a magical carpet ride for the senses.
Another important influence that cannot be overlooked is the cultivation of rice. Bali is famous for it’s beautiful ricefield terraces. For over a thousand years, management of the rice fields has been in the hands of the villagers through village cooperatives, called “Subak”. Since farmers depend on the successful irrigation of the fields, the different Subaks form an inseparable bond that unites into a single system. Allocation of irrigation water is determined by the temple’s priest, and frequent ceremonies reinforce the bonds between families, villages, and regions. Each day, offerings of rice are given in thanks to the family and business temples.
When in Bali, you reconnect with a more peaceful way of existing by taking life at a slower pace. The traffic in Denpasar may be hellacious, but beyond that there are many oasis of calm and tranquility that bring you back to center in your own life. You learn to distinguish what is important and what is not. You learn to meet others in a more gracious, giving way, and you learn to let the troubles of the world melt under the grace and beauty of the environment.
It’s been said that the greatest journey we can make is the journey within. That journey begins with feeling, listening, looking and experiencing, and sometimes taking a moment in our busy lives to experience our connection with creation, to invite the future in, to discover that happiness is more than matter or property. To learn that health is above all else, an inner experience.
In Bali, you can take time to reconnect to your own ‘soul’ center which gives you the space to gather insights and determine your path forward to the future you desire. Villa Pantulan makes that possible.
Bali is the morning of your life.