November 15, 2017 Che Smith

Reflections From Paradise

Reflections From Paradise

When we landed on the small Indonesian Island of Bali I had no idea what to expect.
Many people I know who’ve been there, describe it as Paradise and I was eager to find out why.
When entering a new country, I always take a moment as I leave the airport to inhale deeply. I want to smell the air, feel the energy and say a short prayer of gratitude to the land for accepting me.

During the ride to our residence the town began taking shape, with massive Temples and bright colored shrines on every corner, next to every home and before you walk in any store. There’s no escaping the feeling that here you’re on holy ground. Bali has beautiful mountain landscapes, large colorful jungle leaves, sunshine that hugs you like a loving mother and people who seem obsessed with serving.

We stayed in a private villa that came complete with a swimming pool, six rooms with individual showers & tubs, a huge kitchen and a full staff that cleaned and cooked whatever we requested. I know this sounds like a billionaires palace and indeed it felt that way but trust, it wasn’t very expensive by Western standards. The staff was super nice, but more then nice they were kind. The type of kindness you know comes from the inside out exuded peace, more than just “the customer is always right” attitude.

I’m drawn to beautiful humans with strong cultures that operate from spirits I feel vibrate love.
I felt this before in Cartagena, Colombia, as well as Dakar, Senegal. Spiritual cultures exist on every continent and come in various religions that I find all have similar principles. Honestly these travels are making me view God as more then Islam, Christianity, Judaism or any faith that espouses itself as “The 1 True Faith”. I’m seeing that God is everywhere in Multiple forms that can take shape in many religious practices.

At about 12:30 a.m. my body clock hadn’t adjusted to the Asian time zone so i was wide awake and anxious. I wanted to tour the area on foot to really see the people, smell the air and perhaps get some souvenirs early on. FYI This place doesn’t sleep. I asked one of the staff how dangerous it was to walk the street alone at night, she laughed so hard her head flew back as she grabbed her gut and replied in broken English “Nooo Its Very safe here, you walk anywhere you want no-one harm you, this is paradise”.

I walked for 3hrs starting at 1am through the tourists districts and even a few dark streets & alleys. I observed the main source of Balinese income “Australian Tourism”. Some making deals with venders, some being loud drunk & rude, some entering the many massage parlors they have on every corner. The Bali people are well known for their great massages, in fact I had a few during my stay and for a person who doesn’t like to be touched intimately by strangers, I can say it felt remarkably rejuvenating, comforting and even a bit empowering (Side note: These were not rub & tugs, they were legit messages).

The next day I took a walk and began talking to people on the street asking questions about the shrines and small offering pots on every street corner decorated with flowers, fruit, candy or small amounts of money. Strangers happily explained the Balinese religion, which is its own special brand of Hinduism. A blend of Shivaism and Buddhism. Someone even said to me “The truth is one; the interpretation, multiple.”

The offerings left outside everyday represent giving back to the various God’s that protect the land and bless the people. They have many God’s but break them down into 5 elements:
* Space
* Air
* Earth
* Fire
* Water

They believe in the Sun God & The God of Security & Protection which were the majority of shrines I saw. Far from any kind of expert, I began to realize the Balinese people have many God’s that merge into oneness within the spirit.

The offerings have multiple purposes including feeding stray animals they don’t leash or own, they just feed and let be free. “WOW”! These people weren’t servants they were just “Of Service”. Trained that way by their faith. Balinese people aren’t very wealthy but work extremely hard with pleasure. One of them even sat with me to say how much they enjoy their work.

I pray for this place. I pray tourists don’t ruin it by introducing unhealthy ideas.
I pray selfishness never overruns the sense of self that exists here.
I made friends in Bali I know I’ll have for life. This also sparked an intense interest in Buddism.
Thank you beautiful Balinese people for opening my eyes wider!