The Moon, and What It Means for the Balinese

By Ketut Suardana

For The Bali Times

UBUD ~ Two people are sitting down having a serious conversation about the possibility of the world being dark without light. One of them is Yadnya Walkya, a respected philosopher, and the other King Ganaka Weideha from the Wideha kingdom.

King Ganaka asked Yadnya Walkya many questions.

King Ganaka: Why is light necessary for human beings?

Yadnya Ganaka : The sun, my Lord. Without the sun as a light for people, how can people live?

King Ganaka: That is true, but what happens when the sun sets? Where is the light for humans?

Yadnya Walkya: My Lord, the moon will become the light for humans. With the moon, people can see, walk around and do their work.

King Ganaka: What happens when the sun and the moon go down? What will be the light for humans?

Yadnya Walkya: Then fire becomes the light for humans, my Lord. With the fire, people can see, walk around and do their work.

King Ganaka: Well, if the sun, moon and fire disappear, what will be the light for humans, O Walkya?

Yadnya Walkya: Sound will become the light for humans. Even if people can’t see in the darkness, they can move and walk to sound that emanates around them.

King Ganaka: Yes, well, if the sun, moon, fire and sound disappear, what is the light for humans?

Yadnya Walkya: The soul will become the light of humans, because the soul determines life.

King Ganaka: And who is the soul?

Yadnya Walkya: The soul is seated in our heart, surrounded by desires, a compromise with the intellect. The soul is always in the same state and never changes; it is eternal, wandering in two different worlds, with no time or space limit. The soul determines death. People are born with desires. Bad desires will drive one into the dark side of life. Body and soul have same characteristics: purity, dynamism and laziness. These three elements affect people’s life circle through their thoughts, words and deeds/karma. The reaction to our actions/karma is called Pahala, of which there are two types: Bind Pahala and Absolve Pahala. Bind Pahala is attraction to earthly pleasures. Absolve Pahala liberates one’s life from suffering – from which one reaches Nirwana onn this planet (Jivan Mukti).

It appears that Pahala is two sides of the same coin: good and bad, hot and cool, day and night. Only with knowledge do we attain the ability to maintain a balance of Pahala.

When we achieve peace of mind, it creates a harmonious environment that helps in keeping the balance of the soul.

But this will be not happened instantly. It is a process through time and extreme patience that will bring about radiance of the soul.

There are two types of knowledge: knowledge of physical/worldly materials and knowledge of the spirituality. From both of these disciplines, people can do their work and spend time in devotion to God. This combination of remembering God when we are at work or play is called Karma Yoga or Bhakti Yoga.

“Therefore, at all times remember Me in fight. When thy mind and understanding are set on Me, to Me alone shall thou come without doubt.” Baghavadgitha VIII-7.

Even a cow eating grass in the jungle has her mind on her calf that is some distance away from her.

Meaning of Full Moon, Dark Moon

The Hindu belief that people are reborn because of their previous karma is called Karma Wasana.

Full Moon or Dark Moon is a holy day for Hindus, when they visit their temples to offer God their Karma Wasana.

For this ritual, Balinese make an offering called Canang Sari. It symbolizes Karma Wasana. It is when the Balinese pray not only for the past but also the present and future karma and seek deliverance from their thoughts, words and deeds with flowers, leaves, fruits and water as offering. The Balinese who prays with flowers between one’s fingers that are directed earthwards symbolizes a desire for worldly pleasures. And when the fingers with flowers placed between them are upturned towards the sky it means that the devotee yearns to be closer to God.

Balinese believe that the Full Moon and Dark Moon are the heart and mind of a person, the moods waxing and waning with the lunar cycle or Kala (the power of time).

Balinese belief the Moon is the symbol of divinity of the mind. Therefore, for people with bright or pure minds, their resultant behavior is like the Full Moon. And when the mind becomes impure, people’s behavior is dark and ominous, just like the Dark Moon.

Atma Tattwa is a Hindu holy book that talks about higher consciousness – what people search for in their lives but find it difficult to obtain because of Maya (illusion), the effect of the Dark Moon.

People are aggressive most of the time. If Atma Tattwa is dominant in one’s life, one becomes wise and affectionate. And when Maya Tattwa is dominant, people suffer from anger, jealousy, drunkenness, greed and arrogance.

The Dark Moon occurs every 15 days. It is a time when Balinese seek God’s protection, with deep devotion, for they attempt to keep away bad energy and wild desires. The Dark Moon is a good day for people to practice their spirituality as it is the night of Lord Civa. There are 15 tools and weapons for people to fight the darkness and bad desires. It is called the Panca Yama Brata (five ways for purity and wisdom) and Dasa Yama Brata (10 ways/ethics for purity and wisdom).

Panca Yama Brata:

1. Ahimsa – no killing

2. Brahmacari – no sex while you study

3. Satya – be loyal to promises made to keep others happy

4. Awyawaharika – to work with peace and honesty

5. Asteya – no stealing other people’s possessions

Dasa Yama Brata:

1. Anresangsya – no selfishness

2. Ksama – to apologize for one’s shortcomings and stand the test of life

3. Satya – be loyal to utterances

4. Ahimsa – no hurting or killing

5. Dana – self advice

6. Arjawa – honesty and truthfulness

7. Priti – affection for others

8. Prasada – keep a pure mind and do not expect anything in return for your good deeds

9. Madurya – be friendly, gentle and respectful

10. Mardarwa – be altruistic

The Full Moon (Purnama) cycle occurs every 15 days. It is a time when Balinese visit the high priest for cleansing. Some also go to a holy spring like Tampak Siring Temple and other places to purify their body and soul. The Full Moon is a special day for people to go to temples to worship God and also to seek protection and to practice spirituality in a bid to reach a higher consciousness. There are 15 tools and weapons for people to follow to fight the darkness of mind and spirit: Panca Nyama Brata are five ethical codes and Dasa Nyama Brata 10 ethical codes for purity and to build higher consciousness.

Panca Nyama Brata:

1. Akrodha – don’t let anger control the mind

2. Guru Susrusa – respect gurus

3. Sauca – pure purify mind and body

4. Aharalagawa – not to overdo worldly pleasures

5. Apramada – self-control of ego and religious beliefs

Dasa Nyama Brata:

1. Dana – alms to the needy

2. Ijya – worship of God and ancestors

3. Tapa – self-endurance in life

4. Dhyana – concentration

5. Swadaya – to learn and understand religious beliefs

6. Upasthanigraha – control sexual impulses

7. Brata – loyal to oaths

8. Upawasa – fasting

9. Snana – daily body cleansing and prayer

10. Mona – to speak less

The Full moon and Dark Moon are two different sides (Rwa Bhineda), like good and bad, black and white.

The Dark Moon is the night confession and is called Sivaratri. And in Bali, Hari Raya Nyepi is the New Year Day for Hindus – this is the darkest night of the whole year.

For Balinese, Full Moon is the best time to conduct a temple ceremony. In Tenngger, East Java, Hindus hold a ceremony on Mount Bromo in Purnama Shada to worship their ancestors. The Full Moon is the birth and death of Buddha.

“When the people already possess the high consciousness

They can control macro cosmos and micro cosmos

Internal external life, planets and sky they can control them

With great affection (Prema) to live with them

In obedience and in humility to God.”

The Serat Cipto Waskito from Pakubowono IV.

Semoga damai di bumi, damai di hati, damai di langit

Peace on earth, peace in your heart, peace in the sky

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