Friday, April 29, 2011

Among the Rice Fields

From Tabulu, in the Central Mountains of Bali

            The utter luxury of laying on abed on the verandah overlooking the rice fields watching the clouds reflect the last rays of sun is astonishing. A lotus pond with a small waterfall makes water songs for the swallows swooping by.

            Day turns grey. The lush green fields, fruit trees, distant blue mountains all lose their color and the distant lights of freighters, fishing boats and cruise ships glitter on the Bali Sea, many miles from this verdant valley.
            I wish you were here, all of you, to share this deep pleasure. The cicadas and frogs begin to sing. My dinner vegetables are rhythmically chopped in the open-air kitchen and there is nothing but utter peace in this moment. I am quiet, I am alone, I am joyful. A gecko chirps, my food arrives. It is delicious, tofu stuffed with vegetables in tamarind sauce.

            This morning, I left the outrageous palace of my artist friend Symon on the north coast (more about him soon) and rode up the mountains to Gunung Batur, the second highest peak in Bali, the mother volcano with Bali’s largest freshwater lake. Dewa Danu lives here, the goddess of the lake. I video the temple devoted to her, Pura Ulan Danu Batur. It is grand and beautiful, with Hindu spires against the sky, and Chinese and Buddhist temples within it too. 

Pura Ulan Danu Batur, dedicated to Dewa Danu, the Goddess of the Lake

            There is no ceremony here today, or it would be filled with people, as all the temples were that I visited last week. But on the way down the mountain, I see a village preparing for the next week’s ceremony, and the beauty of their red dragons halt my descent.

            I am stunned by these magnificent creatures. Fifteen or twenty people from the village sit at the temple and create offerings. Yes, there is poverty here, and tragedy and sorrow, but the richness of spirit permeates all. No matter how luckless you are, you make beautiful offerings each day, you chant mantras, you create beauty, however humble  so the gods will come visit. The devotion here inspires and amazes. Our lives in the west seem fragmented and separated by comparison. 

Here's to our deeper connections, dear friends. May they thrive.


Gunung Batur, the mother mountain  

 Rice field views in next post, with the water tunnels and intricate canals

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