Thursday, February 28, 2013

Water Purification Ceremony with High Priestess Ida Resi Alit

19 January, 9 February, 19 February

The first visit was a quest. Several contacts who might lead me there fell through, yet I was determined to find this high priestess who was dedicated to water so I decided to set out with a driver and a friend to find her small village Demulih, which the Balinese tell me means "not welcome"—well, here we come!  

Found at last! Demulih slightly NW of Bangli
When we finally arrived, not only were we welcome, our timing was auspicious, though unplanned. The high priestess was about to begin her mid-day prayers, and graciously invited us to meditate while we waited. Afterward she would do the water purification ceremony for us. We sat where she indicated, slightly behind her, and meditated with eyes open so we could see her Hindu-Buddhist rituals holding a vajra, ringing a bell, flicking water and flowers into the air, chanting for 20-30-40 minutes. We were entranced.
Ida Resi Alit, Balinese High Priestess
 She turned toward us with a radiant smile, motioned us over and explained: we would be completely wet with water and afterward we would change into dry clothes. Of course, we didn't know, so brought none. When my turn came, I stepped up to the high platform she sat on. Her young niece filled many water bowls. She asked me to pray. I put my hands in front of my heart in the customary western way, and bowed my head. 

The water began to pour over me in cascades. I needed to tilt my head down avoid breathing water. Down it came in gushes. 

Next, she told me to wipe my head. I brushed the water through my wet hair many times, felt tension release, yield to water, and raised my hands high above my head, receptive, receiving.

After several minutes she told me to pray. This time I placed my hands near my forehead Balinese style and felt an expansive wholeness words cannot describe. 

Drink, she said, and I cupped my hands right over left and drank the sacred water she offered many times.

The next visit, two young European women who were also drawn to the water ceremony came along with my friend Yolanda from Mexico and I. This time, many Balinese families were there also.

Encouragement to raise the energy up into the heart and lungs

Many people responded strongly, with motion, cries, and laughter releasing as the water cascaded. Ida Resi sometimes gave instructions to help move the energy: stamp your feet, breathe deeply, pull the energy up into your heart.

There we were—Mexican, Belgian, Hungarian, Romanian, American, British and Balinese all reveling in these moist moments, drinking in ineffable healing transmitted in Ida Resi Alit’s own star language, the mother tongue we all shared.

Of all my journeys in Bali, all the ceremonies that raised my spirit and awareness, these water purification ceremonies are the ones that led me here because they affirm the sacredness of water.

Through all our water woes and water wars, this is the reason we struggle and fight—because water IS sacred. Most of us have forgotten, but some still remember and offer water blessings to whoever appears at her door.

After these three ceremonies,
I am moved to make a vow:
To learn more about healing water
to balance all I’ve learned about water ills.
Asmara (my Indonesian name)

From "A Little Book on Ida Resi Alit:" Ida Panditha Mpu Budha Mahaseri Alit Parama Daksa, also known as Ida Resi Alit, was born I Komang Widiantri on March 14, 1986, in a small farming village in the central highlands of Bali. She lived as an ordinary girl for the first twenty years of her life. At the age of 20, due to external events, she fell into a deep depression. Ida Resi Alit’s uncle, a village Mangku, concerned for her well being, introduced her to meditation and yoga to soothe her. As she started practicing, the girl who had no previous spiritual training or deep desire, began to have out of body experiences and download information during her practice. She was instructed to perform a special ceremony, the meaning of which she did not understand. At the ceremony she fell into deep unconsciousness. She stopped breathing and her pulse was gone. Her family wailed, crying and reacting hysterically, scared that she had died. Ida Resi Alit has no memory of this time. At 2am she started to regain consciousness, to be able to blink but not to talk. Then she saw a laser, like a bolt of lightning in the sky, and found herself able to fully return to her body. She slept until the afternoon and when she had awakened spiritually. She was able to recite mantras she had never been taught. High priests were called in to confirm this. Not only were the mantras valid, she knew many more that the priests had not yet learned. Soon after she was ordained by the highest authority, the Hindu Dharma Council, and she became Bali’s youngest and only female High Priestess.

Another article about her:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Devotion to Beauty

In Bali, the devotion to making things beautiful moves me deeply—all offered in gratitude to the gods for the good in life and to the demons to appease help them. Daily offerings of flowers in small palm leaf baskets are placed at each home, shop, school, banyan tree, rice field and every possible sacred place.

C(h)anang, the daily offerings

Vegetable field shrine

Daily offering on weavers loom

Benang, the stunning ceremonial offerings, and the offerings for the many special days honoring and being grateful for fire, metal, cooking utensils and other everyday objects.

Offering on a car to honor the spirit of metal and the fire that forges it.

To be in a culture where gratitude is a consistent part of everyday life, for both the very poor and the very rich, is a very positive kind of culture shock. It makes me imagine what life would be like in my country, my city, and every town if we did the same thing.

Goa Raja at Besakih, the Mother Temple 

We are so busy wanting more, we rarely take the time to be grateful for what we have, who we are, those we love. Bali reminds me that the time is now, three times a day, morning, noon and night, literally.

Maybe that’s why I love it here . . .

Monday, February 18, 2013

A Week in the Rice Fields

12 February 2013
Tebola/Sideman (Si-de-man)

Fertile valley in east Bali

The view is stupendous, as you can see. Across the fertile valley, the priest’s amplified voice chants every day at noon and six at night; at 6 in the morning, people pray at home on their own.

The 4 p.m. rains begin on time each day

I sit on the terrace overlooking the view,  painting, writing, editing video and assimilating the rich experiences of the last six weeks.

My view as I write this -- ahh!

The time has passed quickly. Partly I want to stay longer, mostly feel saturated and content.

The complex, colorful, ceremonies fascinate me as they proceed slowly over hours. I've been to more than ten different ones so far. As a witness, I am watchful, alert, fascinated. When I put down my camera and participate, I chat, eat food offered to me, grow weary with everyone else until it is finally time to receive the sacred water from the priest and pray.

At first I wondered why everything took so long—then over the weeks I realize somewhere a priest is chanting mantras or people from a distant village are slowly arriving for their part, or offerings are being blessed with holy water and placed correctly at the temple, or a priest is delayed and we wait for his arrival. They call it Bali time, rubber time. Arrive at 5 p.m. and wait until 8, arrive at 9, wait till midnight.  I slow down to the heat and beat.

Goa Raja cave temple ceremony for the New Moon

Bali's most sacred mountain, the volcano Gunung Agung on a clear morning.
Often it is invisible behind dense clouds