Four months into pregnancy the morning sickness passed, and since my womb is not uncomfortably large yet, Michael and I decided to honeymoon in Bali. We had no idea what we were getting into until the first night when the island cast a spell on us. Bali's magic is indescribable, but if I were to compare it to something, I'd say it's as beautiful as Hawaii, as spiritual as India, and as friendly, inexpensive and easy to travel as my favorite travel destination:
Thailand. Just imagine a volcanic island about the size and population of San Diego County where Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists practice harmoniously side by side.
We spent the first week frolicking among terraced rice patties with my spiritual teacher, zYoah and his companion Colleen. Our time in Ubud was filled with luxurious massages ($7 per hour,) extravagant gourmet meals (average bill $6 per person,) and long philosophical discussions around a darshan table with like-minded artists, musicians, coaches, and tantra teachers from all over the world ($ Priceless.)
Our next destination was Uluwatu cliffs where Michael surfed world-class waves breaking over dangerous coral reefs. We then hired a devoted Hindu driver who took us to visit sacred lakes, volcanoes, mountain villages, and to meditate in ancient temples. Along the way we fed monkeys, found snakes, and saw a huge furry fruit-bat that looked like a flying dog.
Above all, it's the spirituality that enchanted me. Villagers spend weeks preparing elaborate ceremonial structures only to be burned in a glorious cremation celebration. Bali's pre-hindu pagan-like spirituality is still very alive in their daily practices. The Balanese philosophy embraces the dark as well as the light. Before a big ceremony, for example, cock fights are held in the
gardens outside temples so that the rooster's blood will run down into the earth and apease the devil, in order for the prayers of the devotees to go undisturbed by evil forces.
Another telling example of their non-dualistic belief system can be found in the classic Barong Dance. At the climax of this epic story from the Mahabarata, a number of peacekeepers go into trance to try to kill a powerful demon, but instead of the cliche story of good triumphing over evil, the Barong cannot be killed. The dancers reveal that in order for there to be good in the world, there must be evil. The devil, like God, is eternal. Thus the play ends with the ultimate sacrifice: wherein the dancers kill only the evil that lives within themselves in an act that looks like suicide.
Balanese art is deep and intricate. We were inspired by the woodwork, architecture and gardening everywhere. We're looking forward to incorporating these ideas into the green remodel of our Emerald Temple as well as weaving these deep spiritual teachings into our upcoming Artist's way and tantra series. For those of you that don't live in San Diego, we're excited this month to offer our first tele-course. And for our local community, we invite you to the following exotic adventures (we promise you don't even have to deal with homeland security)...