By Anand Krishna
Baliku sayang, Baliku malang” – the expression in Indonesian is full of romance, deep sentiments and a long, heavy sigh. A lot is lost in translation, when the line is translated as “Darling Bali, Poor Bali” – or more appropriately, “O my darling Bali, O my poor Bali.”
Repeat it a few times like a mantra, “Baliku sayang, Baliku malang” – and, I hope, I pray, that you feel what I feel when repeating the same line.
Bali is my “poor” darling!
In the name of love, she has been exploited, and even raped. What a tragedy!
We all love Bali, yet we do things contrary to the very principles of love. Love, as I understand it, is “accepting you as you are.” Love is “loving you for what you are.”
Love is unconditional.
I cannot set conditions before loving you. I cannot, and should not, try to change you to suit my taste, and my fancy – before loving you. Such would be an act of violence on my part. And if you consent to it, then you are being very foolish.
Come to Bali, and love Bali for what she is.
Enrich her, and beautify her if you can. But please do not destroy her.
Reprimand those who are abusing and maltreating her. Make her aware of such acts of violence, whether done in the name of love, religion, development or progress – whatever.
Free her from the clutches of irrelevant customs, and practices. Help her see the difference between such traditions, and her lofty culture and cultural values. Make her realise that her dignity and identity are above such practices.
Let a Made remain Made, minus his/her madness for matter. Do not change him to Michael for material reasons. Similarly, help a Putu realise his/her inner power, so he/she is not tempted to change to Peter.
Someone commented, “What if he or she wants to change? Certainly, you cannot stop them. It is their individual rights.”
Hmmm, individual rights.
I want to commit suicide – it is my individual right. I am simply exercising my right over my body – what has that got to do with you, or with anybody else?
Wouldn’t you stop me from committing suicide?
In the moments of insanity, if I decide to kill myself – then, you who are sane have every right to discourage me, to stop me from doing so.
“You are going too far – this is about changing names, not about committing suicide.”
No, I am not going too far.
I am going deeper into the human psyche.
Today, I can change my name for some material gain. Tomorrow, I can change my religion, for similar material gain. And the day after tomorrow, I can sell myself – my soul, my identity, my dignity, everything – against some trinkets, some silver.
No, it is not about “changing name only.” It is about changing my whole outlook towards myself. It is about changing my self-esteem. It is about placing matter over and above human dignity.
Recently we read about a plush resort hotel at Nusa Dua giving English names to their Balinese and other Indonesian butlers, purportedly to make the guests feel more comfortable (The Bali Times, Jan. 25-31 and Feb. 05-11 issues).
This practice, as I am given to understand by the hotel management, has been going on for the past two to three years. So when The Bali Times reported this, they were naturally shocked, “Why now?”
Why not now?
Thank you, Bali Times. At the same time, however, I must regret my own insensitivity, and lack of urgency.
I am told by representatives of the hotel management that the butlers themselves initiated the notion. If this is the case, then I must regret my Indonesian conscience and sense of pride. Am I still proud being an Indonesian?
The hotel management assured me that the situation has already been reversed, for which I must congratulate them. It takes a warrior spirit to acknowledge one’s mistakes and correct them. This case has been resolved in the best possible manner.
However, there are lessons – not one, or two, but several – which we must learn from this case.
First and foremost is our “low esteem” about ourselves. The former chief butler who, according to the hotel management, had initiated this must have had very low esteem about himself.
Secondly, we are fast becoming very materialistic. I am not against matter; I cannot be. I am not against riches, and wealth. We all need money to live, to survive. But I am against putting the cart before the horse. I am against our dwindling faith in spirit. I am against our inability in setting our priorities.
I remember Indian Haris becoming Harrys and Mohans becoming Macs in Hong Kong. They were satisfied with their reformed (deformed – in my opinion) identities, until 1997 – when Britain handed over the colony to the Communist China. Today those Harrys and Macs are struggling to regain their lost identities.
Great Britain would not accept them. They cannot adapt to the new Chinese identity, whereas their original Indian identity is now lost.
Coming back to Bali: A member of one of the most prominent “budding” political families believes that “Bali is already 100 percent pure silver; she will not be tempted by more silver.”
Yes, but what about gold, titanium, platinum?
Self-confidence is desirable. It is good. But being over-confident can be dangerous. It can separate us from the hard facts and realities of life. It can make us blind to real threats.
The man, who is new in the business (of politics), was very excited about Julia Roberts’ upcoming Eat, Pray, Love. Why? Because that will bring more business to Ubud. Silver again!
I am reminded of Jesus, who said that man did not live on bread alone. Well yes, Sir, Jesus, certainly not on bread alone. Things have changed. Now we have many more options. Who cares for bread? You were fortunate, Jesus – you only had one Judas. Now we have a legion of Judases around us.
Be a Judas – sell Bali.
Or be a Jesus, willing to be crucified for his/her love for Bali. The choice is yours. As for me, I opt for Jesus! Amen.
The writer is a spiritual activist and author of more than 130 books, several in English (www.aumkar.org, www.anandkrishna.org). His organization runs Holistic Health/Meditation Centers, a National Plus/Interfaith School, a Charitable Clinic and a Public Reading Room in Bali. For more information, call Aryana or Debbie at 0361 7801595, 8477490.
He will be speaking at Yoga Barn, Ubud, this Saturday, Feb. 13. For information, check with the Yoga Barn directly, or call Aryana or Debbie.