Dewa Putu Merta Pastime, 83, formerly worked at the Tourism Department and was a commando in Buleleng during the war for independence. Now he lives in Denpasar with his wife.
What’s the greatest lesson life has taught you?
Always have a good attitude and help those in need, without expecting anything in return.
What’s most important?
What I’ve just said, and also: Making other people happy.
What advice you would give the younger generations?
Be creative in what you do.
Are you worried about dying?
I have never been worried about it. It is normal and it is out of our control. It is 100 percent up to God.
When was the happiest time of your life?
When I was working for the Tourism Department. I had many friends, locally and internationally. I learned a lot from working there.
And the worst?
During the fight for Indonesia’s independence. The fact that people killed and got killed. Not so long ago I was watching television and a national song was played. It made me cry as it was a favourite song of one of my colleagues that died in front of my eyes during the war. There had been an attack and I thought it was far away from our camp. But not long afterwards he dragged himself in and asked for help. He had been shot in the stomach, and there’s nothing you can do for that. It’s a slow death. I watched him die.
What’s humanity all about?
To make people happy.
Why are there so many conflicts in the world?
Humans are egotistical. Whatever they think, that’s the right thing for them. That’s why God gave us the Vedas, which means “book of knowledge.” According to its history, Veda was divided to two, Shruti and Smerti. Shruti are Sanskrit words from God and we will never know what the real sayings are; Smerti has its own interpretation. These sayings from God were collected then made to the Vedas, which then became the base to guide our lives.
Is one lifetime enough?
It’s hard to answer this one. In Hinduism it is taught that a life is fully perfect when you feel free and experience happiness with no limits; so in one perfect lifetime you can’t pay back all your sins and debts – there’s not enough time to pay back your karma. This karma debt won’t finish before your lifetime ends.
How has Bali changed?
Bali has changed especially in tourism. When I was with the Tourism Department, I implemented a programme of developing cultural tourism, because with that the culture is upheld. Culture itself becomes the tourism attraction. There are some places in the world that have lost their culture because of tourism. But I don’t think that has happened to Bali. Bali has changed but because of its culture-based tourism, the culture lives on.
What’s the major difference between the East and the West?
Westerners never believe something straight away. If they hear something that’s said to be a fact, they don’t accept it as a fact; they question it. They try to find out if it’s true or not. Like the fact there is reincarnation: They don’t believe it right away; we Balinese believe it; they might not. I read once there was this documentary on finding the truth about reincarnation through a girl who believed she lived on Earth before. So they checked and searched all the places where she said she had lived, and it all checked out; it matched her story. Then they believed in reincarnation, or as we Balinese call it, Punarbawa.