Posts Tagged ‘Bali’

Bumi Sehat: The real reason I will move to Bali

August 25, 2011


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Death and Cremation in Bali

August 3, 2011

Since arriving in Bali on June 2nd I have been staying at Oka Kartini on Jalan Raya (main road) in Ubud. Oka is a beautiful, mature Balinese woman. What makes her unique is that she has white skin, unlike other Balinese woman who have brown skin. Oka and I have become very close friends, we love each other very much and she calls me her sister. I am very blessed to know her.

This family belongs to the Brahmin caste, the highest caste in Bali. They are very well respected in their community. On Friday July 22nd Oka’s husband Ida Bagus Rai died following a long illness and several hospitalizations. The family compound is the most important structure in the Balinese culture aside from the many temples where ceremonies are held … I am looking at a very big temple from my veranda as I type this. For 12 days the cloth-wrapped body of Ida Bagus Rai laid in state on dry ice in the family compound, which is situated on the grounds of Oka Kartini. (I know it can be confusing, but Oka Kartini is both the name of a woman and the place where I am staying.) His body was behind curtains on a veranda and even though I visited Oka each of the 12 days, I had never seen the body. Every day more people came to pay respects to Rai. His body could not ever be left alone, so every night there were men guarding the body.  I unwittingly went back there one night to see Oka and walked into 40 or 50 men who were busy gambling. I did a quick about-face and went to visit Oka in her room.

I was invited by Oka to attend the family gathering in the compound yesterday morning. I appreciated receiving her invitation, even though I had definite trepidations because I’ve never been to a cremation. My stomach was feeling queasy about the whole thing. But I accepted Oka’s generous invitation and when I arrived in the compound there were already at least 200 people, drinking tea, eating special Balinese treats, and chatting away. The women in this family are so beautiful and they really know how to dress. I think I would immediately recognize a female relative of Oka’s by the very classy way they dress (see photo).

The time finally came to take Rai’s body off the pavilion where it had been for 12 days and bring it down to a structure that was at ground level. His sons carried his body down and put it on the structure. His body was still wrapped in white cloth. The Balinese priest who was there to pray and give blessings to the body stood by while the family unwrapped Rai’s body. At first I was apprehensive, but I became open to the sacredness of what I was witnessing, I approached the body and began to take photos. I had never before seen a body that was dead for 12 days and my eyes were wide with wonder. When all the cloth was removed, close family members (Oka and their five children) stood on the structure surrounding the body on all sides and gently washed the body with soap and water. They then placed many frangipani flowers on the body and the priest began the blessing ceremony. The priest wore beautiful jewels and was dressed in elegant Balinese robes and headdress. I was very impressed. He then began saying prayers and anointing Rai’s body with holy water. At this time, Rai’s grandchildren came close to their grandfather’s body and sobbed. It was so evident to me how much they loved him. I wanted to take each one of them in my arms and soothe their little aching hearts. They are so beautiful. After this blessing ceremony was over, Rai’s body was wrapped again in cotton and family members came up to him and gave him gifts including money, which would go with him and be torched. His body was then wrapped in other materials and tied down. His sons then carried him back to the veranda where he had been for 12 days and family members went up and said their final good-byes.

The body and the burning structure were then carried across the street to the cemetery area of the temple. As it grew closer to the time of burning and I watched the men setting up the torches with propane, a profound feeling of blessings came over me. The fear was gone. It was okay that the body was going to be burned because of all the love and blessings that had been bestowed on Rai that morning. Suddenly there was a huge burst of flames directed at the structure with Rai’s body on it. The men who were doing the torching were careful to contain the flames, running back and forth and adjusting the level of propane they were burning. I was awestruck. I have never seen anything like this. Ever. The next thing I knew there I was within 7 feet of the burning structure taking photos. I watched as Rai’s body became ash and his lower extremities fell into the flames. I stood silently, with my hands in prayer position, and thanked God for the honor I was given to be there with this beautiful family at this time.

Everyone came back to Oka Kartini where there was so much delicious food. This whole day had been a beautiful experience, truly a day of celebration. I became aware of the deep spirituality of the Balinese people, especially around the issues of death and cremation. This experience has changed my feelings a lot. I am no longer afraid of dying and if I am to be cremated, I pray that it will be a beautiful experience for my loved ones. The soul of Rai will soon be reincarnated into a new baby in the family and the cycle of life, death, and reincarnation continues.

My deep gratitude goes to my beloved Oka Kartini for including me in this very sacred and profoundly personal experience, one which I will never forget.

I have attached some photos from today to this blog entry and I have sent you the URL to all photographs which I took on this very auspicious occasion.

Doing Sacred Work of Puri Agung

July 26, 2011

This is one of the most challenging posts I will make, I’m sure. I debated within myself whether or not to post this and I realized that, of course, I should do it because it is relaying one of the many experiences I’ve had on this beautiful island of Bali. And an experience, I might add, that has been life-changing for me, an experience I never even dreamed of. Last Thursday I received a call from one of the priests at Puri Agung. Agung is a spiritually gifted young man who has a meditation center called Puri Agung. He has several hundred “devotees” at his beautiful center near Denpasar. Agung wanted to pick me up at 11:30 that night and take me to stay at the home of one of his priests and depart early the next morning for West Bali to go with him to a kundalini yoga workshop being put on by Puri Agung. As a little background, when I met Agung last September he told me that I had the heart of the mother of the universe, that I am everyone’s mother. When Derek met Agung the day after I met him and we were leaving Puri Agung, Agung told him “take good care of your mom because she’s my mother, too.” And it has been that way with us ever since. He calls me Mama and loves to have me near him. Sooooo, off I went to Denpasar, spent the night at his priest’s home and early the next morning, off to West Bali which is a beautiful part of Bali, so far not destroyed by building big hotels like a lot of Bali has experienced. The natural beauty of Bali is spectacular, green as far as you can see, trees, plants, flowers, rice fields. But let me get back to my story.

We arrive at the site of the meditation workshop and I walk in (the only female) with Agung, his priests, and his students. Agung sits me next to him at the front of the room. There are a couple hundred people, anxiously awaiting Agung’s arrival, looking at all of us and especially me. I hear the person on the microphone saying in English, Mama Lakshmi, America, Agung Mama. He makes several announcements (everything now is in Bahasa, the local language which I only know a few social words) and then they play the Gayatri Mantra (a beautiful mantra I play in my room a lot). The attendees are instructed to stand up, put their hands in prayer position and move them to/from their hearts in a fast movement, while standing up on their toes and rocking back on their heels. (I hope I am describing this in a way you can visualize.) As they do this the energy in the room becomes greater and greater. The man on the microphone is loudly instructing everyone to “let go”, “let it go”, “release it.” Loudly. Over and over. People in the room start going into trance. Soon a woman lies on the floor, screaming, thrashing wildly, her eyes tightly closed. Agung’s people go over and hold her down, her legs, her arms. She still thrashes. It is clear she is going through something very intense. Agung instructs his priest to send me over to transmit Reiki energy to the woman. Although I was nervous, I did what Agung wanted me to do. I held my hands about 12 inches above her body and sent Reiki to her. Suddenly, someone walks over with a little bucket and the woman sits up and spits into the bucket. By this time I am thinking what the hell have I gotten myself into, this is crazy. But I stick with it and eventually the woman is out of the trance, crying. I get a towel and put some cold water on it and gently wipe her forehead, wipe away her tears, giving her love. She smiles and thanks me. I move on to the next person … and the next person … and the next person. And on and on for about 10 people. By this time my body is on fire. I went to Agung and he walked me outside in the breeze and I let him know I couldn’t do any more. Later Agung and his priests expressed what good work I had done and how proud they were of me. Of course, I had so many questions about what I had just experienced. They explained to me that in some instances Black Magic was being removed. In other instances past traumas were being removed. The people who did this very hard work on themselves looked so beautiful, radiant when it was over. Just think about how incredible it would be for you to have horrific experiences removed from your body … wow! I can’t wait to learn Bahasa because I have some really intense traumatic childhood experiences that I will be more than happy to let go ot.

I know Agung will invite me to do this work with him again and with all my heart I must say I will be so happy to do so. I love Agung very much and am so happy just to be in his presence. His energy is so powerful, so pure, so non-judgmental, so loving. I am very honored to have him in my life. Whoever comes to Bali to visit me will definitely have an opportunity to meet him.

When Marcia was here with me, we were invited to attend a new house blessing ceremony at a beautiful home Agung built near Denpasar. We had a wonderful time, meeting his wife and his children, his family, his priests were there, and his friends. As we were driving back from West Bali the other day, Agung said to me (always through translators who speak English) that when I move to Bali I can stay as his guest at his beautiful new home. I was very touched by his generosity but I lovingly declined his offer because I want to be in Ubud. He wanted me close to his Puri Agung center so I can do more meditation and yoga there. I explained that I can meet more people in Ubud to bring to his center and, in fact, he should have a center in Ubud. Since then he and his priests have come to Oka Kartini, where I am staying. They met with Oka and are in a conversation with her where she invited them to do meditation workshops here … which will be good for Oka Kartini and good for Puri Agung. My dream is coming true. I can live here with Oka and Puri Agung will come to me. I can continue to do the sacred work of Puri Agung!

I apologize for the poor quality of the attached photos. They were taken by someone with my camera while I was working with a beautiful young woman. The other photo is an overview of the people at the workshop.

Hello, dear friends. Welcome to my journey to the Island of My Dreams!

May 14, 2011

Enjoy the beauty of Bali through my eyes

Greetings! Today is May 14, 2011 and I am preparing for my three-month holiday in Bali, starting June 1st and returning to Oakland on August 30th. To say I am excited would be the understatement of the world! I love Bali so much and I am taking this trip in anticipation of moving there on a more permanent basis. I have sooo much to do for this trip. Setting up this blog thing with my beloved Teresa is the first step on my Bali To Do List. I could not have done it without her wisdom and love.

This photo was taken in Tirtaganga, the palace of sacred waters in Bali