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A Lesson from Bali

The altars at our hotel – every home and business has one.

Traveling is a wonderful teacher if only the student is ready to show up for the lesson. My latest classroom has been the amazing magical island of Bali. Even if I were deaf, dumb and blind it would be difficult not to notice the reverence for life that the Balinese show us daily. We are staying at a charming guest house called Ala’s Green Lagoon, a hideaway in the rice fields, just off the busy streets of Ubud. It has been a gateway into another world. There are two altars on this tiny property, one for the family and the other for the hotel. Every room is carefully decorated and built with care and detailed attention. Houses here are not so much built as they are created as masterpieces of constructive ingenuity.

Everything is blessed, EVERYTHING. Early each morning our host, his wife  or one of the staff carry a tray containing a small glass of water in which a flower bloom is dipped, then the water on the petals is flicked onto every door and window as they softly chant while smiling in blessed gratitude. Each of the 9 hotel rooms, both altars and every motor scooter daily receives an offering of flowers, rice and a stick of burning incense in a tiny 3 sq. in. woven coaster of palm fronds. Additional signs of the gifts of life are evident. Some days every step up to the swimming pool has a fresh hibiscus bloom placed on it. Other days we will return home to find our room fresh and clean with red flowers laid sweetly on the sheets or placed above the doorway.

It is nothing short of remarkable to be witness to this consistent devotion to the spirits of god, man and nature. There are many special days in the Balinese calendar and on Saturday March 22nd we witnessed one. It is called Tempek Landep. This was a more important occasion as you will see in the video below.

How can I not fall in love with these people and their gentle aliveness? It will be hard to leave, but I have learned from the Balinese that in reality we humans are completely dependent on the bounty of nature and everything in life has been given to us. Thank you Bali for the reminder that EVERYTHING is sacred.