Saturday, May 21, 2011
On Bali, Trash & Tat Tvam Asi....
I had the incredible opportunity to go to the breathtaking island of Bali recently. I went with a client on a “spiritual retreat” of sorts. We practiced meditation and yoga everyday, along with one of the 7 Spiritual Laws of Success which could easily be entitled the 7 Laws of How the Universe Works. I was struck by the lush, green landscape of terraced rice fields, elaborate stone and wood carvings around every doorway, not to mention the plethora of sizable, magnificent Hindu Temples dotting the landscape. I was also taken by the humble, daily offerings of rice, flowers, fresh fruit, incense and chanting that takes place in the majority of households, villages, temples, places of interest and businesses of every kind.
While we were in Bali, they were celebrating the metal gods or giving thanks to the gods for metal...in the past it would have been for their knives and swords but keeping it current...they now bless their cars and scooters in lieu of the knives. The Balinese people all over the island were making offerings, decorating their cars and bikes and the village priests were blessing the cars with holy water and incense. Kind of like car insurance, I thought to myself. After all, the blessings of several Hindu gods/goddesses may be even better than Geico, ...and I’m sure they beat everyones prices...just sayin...
So what i am attempting to convey here is that the Balinese people are a beautiful, devoted, sacred, god/goddess loving, believing, faithful culture. They are happy, friendly, smile authentically, are present and beautiful. They take off their shoes before they enter a holy place or even a neighbors house. It is required of everyone, tourist or local that they be wearing a sarong to enter their Temples as a means of respect to the gods.
I loved, respected and admired their conscious, peaceful, observant and sacred ways. However, there was this one thing that I just couldn’t make sense of that I started to judge and criticize. In this beautiful land...there is trash EVERYWHERE. “How can they be so reverent with all these beautiful and lovely offerings and then a couple days later their offerings become accumulated trash all over the streets? Why don’t they pick it up? Here they are working to honor the gods by their sacrifice and yet they don’t think that their trash is an affront to their gods?? Why don’t they see that?”, I judged.
I started to joke, if I were King for a day in Bali, I would start a clean-up campaign. I would take everyone on a field-trip to Singapore, where I had just come from, and show them what a clean city looks like! Singapore is sooo clean you could almost eat off the subway floor...forget that they are threatened with caning if caught littering and their communist ways...the place is scarily CLEAN. I went on...I would have everyone cleaning their little areas, invest in many trash trucks, create an island dump, put trash cans out in all public areas and establish a recycling campaign to boot. I spoke of this for days...and then it hit me...
I played a game with myself that I play with my clients called, “I am that I am...” So I asked myself, “How am I that I am that I am judging? How am I like this beautiful island that has all this trash?” Ooohhh...the answers came quickly. I am beautiful in that I do a good job in honoring my temple (my body & mind)...I meditate, do yoga, eat the healthiest of foods, have healthy relationships, get regular massages, detox when needed, read up-lifting material and make very nourishing choices...that is...except for this one thing.... (well, the one thing that was glaringly obvious to me, anyway...not to say that there aren’t others)...I dishonor mySelf by going to bed late most nights. I dishonor mySelf by not getting the sleep my body would prefer. Which leads to dishonoring mySelf in other ways and not accomplishing the things on my heart because I’m not up early enough to work on them or I’m too tired.
Yes...that’s how I am like that which I was judging. Now instead of beating mySelf up or the Balinese people I worked on compassion and understanding. I found out they do not have any form of trash removal in the small villages. In heavy rains, the people that live at lower levels have all of the trash from the people that live above them flow right into their yards. Clean-up for them feels futile when their neighbors are not enrolled. Since I’m not King of Bali...the best I could do at that time, was to make sure I didn’t contribute to the trash level...and look inward towards my own “trash” and vow to do better.
The next week I was in bed before 10pm every night :)...last night I was up til 3am. We all have our own ‘trash’ to tend to...and like an old Bible quote states, “...don’t worry about the speck in your brothers eye when there is a timber in your own.” So the next time you find yourself judging someone that is overwieght or yelling at their kids in the grocery store, stop and ask yourSelf...How am I THAT I am? You may not be “overweight” but you may be over-indulgent in other areas...you may not have kids or even yell at your kids, but maybe you yell at your employees or have harsh words with your spouse. There is ALWAYS something to see about ourSelves in our judgements and finger-pointing. Be willing to embrace the entirety of you. Acknowledge your darkness. Only in shining the light on it, will you be able to heal it and transmute it.
On the flip, shiney side, we only see the magnificence and beauty in others because it exists to one degree or another within ourSelves. Everything is a mirror for us. One of my favorite Sanskrit Sutras is Tat Tvam Asi. It means, I see the other in mySelf and mySelf in others. Everyone and everything are simply different versions of ourSelves. You and I are the same. I am that, you are that, all this is that. I am the beauty of Bali and the the litter and debris...all in one...at the same time. We are not flawed because we have less than perfect traits...we are human.
I am that I am and Tat Tvam Asi are tools for our own spiritual evolution. The ultimate goal is unity consciousness. The most enlightened people in the world embrace the fullness of their own light and dark. When we learn to let go of judgement, love ourSelves and see that we truly are all one...we not only raise our own vibration and personal awareness but the vibration and consciousness of the entire planet as well. Tat Tvam Asi...I see YOU.