Friday, June 22, 2012

Tri Hita Karana

In Balinese Hinduism, the Tri Hita Karana (derived from Sanskrit) translates to three, welfare and cause - the three aspects that bring about well being.

These harmonious relationships are:
(1) Spiritual environment (Parahyangan) = the relationship between humans and God; (2) Social environment (Pawongan) = the relationship of humans with other humans; and (3) Natural environment (Palemahan) = the relationship between humans with the environment and all creatures.  

The harmony among these three aspects benefits human spiritual, mental and physical well being.

Darrell and I are daily witnesses to the amount of time and energy devoted to the rituals of their faith.

Alter outside our room in Ubud
We watched as Kadek said her prayers and placed her offering on the alter. She also placed another offering on the floor to appease the demons.

A lovely offering including a Ritz cracker!
From our place in the outskirts of Ubud, we walked to the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Balinese Macaques, (Macaca fascicularis, also known as long-tail macaques), are important in Balinese culture and you can see many monkey statues in Bali. This small sanctuary had over 600 monkeys clustered in three groups using different areas of the forest at different times of the day. Conflicts arise if they are in the same area at the same time.

The macaque behavior was fascinating to watch;
here they are rolling stones over and over on the sidewalk!
According to the literature we received at the Sanctuary: The adult males weigh 8-10 kg, have large canine teeth, broad shoulders and facial hair that resembles a mustache. The females are smaller (4-8 kg) and have long facial hair resembling beards. Macaque society is matrilineal with male macaques usually migrating in from other areas and attempt to associate themselves with the female matrilines. Mating occurs year round but most infants are born between May and August. Macaque mothers range from very protective to very permissive with their infants. Many females who are not the mother spend time holding and caring for infants and sometimes males will as well.

Macaque posing on one of the many monkey statues
The Balinese we have met have been honest and hard-working. After our visit to the Sanctuary, we took a walk through the rice fields in Ubud and were offered a $1 (10,000 rupiah) coconut to drink from and then eat. Darrell accidentally paid her $10 or 100,000 rupiah. (You can see it is hard to keep track of all the zero's especially as the bill color is not consistent!) The woman returned the bill to us, which she probably didn't have enough money to give change for, and which she could have just kept. Darrell replaced it with a 20,000 rupiah note so at least she was rewarded for her honesty!

Preparing a coconut
Balinese try to harmonize any conflicts with their faith, and there are obviously conflicts due to the pressures of tourism. While tourism has increased the overall economy for the Balinese it has also threatened some of the traditional ways. I will have more on rice farming later, but there is a large problem now with rampant development of homes right in the middle of rice fields (including the home we are staying in). You can see this home, labeled "For Rent", is completely surrounded. Also, as new roads are put in, the water channels to the fields can get clogged with debris making it impossible for enough water to flow.

Home in rice field, sign says "For Rent"
Darrell and I have our own less holy trinity for Bali. This picture shows the ever present motor scooter, the mangy sleeping dog, and an offering. I guess they do represent, in some weird way, the relationships to God, to other humans, and to other creatures... Bali in a nutshell!

Three huge aspects of Balinese society