The images below may be too graphic and upsetting for some readers. Please ensure children are not nearby when viewing. All images were taken with the consent of attendees at a Balinese funeral.
I want to stress that I was respectful at today’s funeral ceremony and advised that picture taking was completely acceptable by everyone and I was encouraged to be part of this ceremony.
… Last night I had the strangest dream and something happened within it that made me laugh in hysterics. I actually woke up at 2:30am in a state of laughter. It was very strange to hear myself physically laughing as I became conscious. In the morning I thought how interesting that I was laughing in the middle of the night. Does this day have a special message for me?
I am reading a book titled “How to stop worrying and start living” by Dale Carnegie . It is quite a good read and was published in 1948. The book provides excellent practical advise on just letting go of the past and forgetting the little annoyances of life. Obviously there are not many annoyances at the moment so this is a great time to read and be prepared for the next stage of my personal evolution. I hung out poolside during a sunny morning while reading this particular book.
There was distant music that started about mid afternoon in the local village.
When I enquired about the music the owner of the hotel told me that a young man, only 30 years old, had died 5 days ago of a heart attack. He was at a temple when it happened and with friends. I was told that all are welcome to join the funeral proceedings and the cremation. I asked if this was definitely not an imposition and other hotel staff advised me that all was truly “OK”. Before I left the hotel the owner stated … “don’t forget the camera”.
I was given a sarong to wear and taken to the cremation site. This was going to be an incredible experience. I walked into an open area and saw many gathering and preparing for the fire. Oddly, just before the fire started, a coconut fell from a tree high above us and dropped on the grass with a massive thud. That seemed spooky. There was silence and the fire was lit. I checked again if being there was acceptable and was told that it was fine and that pictures were not a problem. Later I discovered that even the villagers would take pictures as well. There was almost a “business like” mood in everyone around me. Not one tear!
None cried. None wailed or reacted badly or sadly. There was a look of acceptance, there were even smiles around and the children were relaxed and very much at peace. Some people smiled at me and gave me a nod. It turns out that this young man worked at a local resort. Perhaps I represented all the guests he had taken care of in his life? I will never know.
There were moments when I looked at faces and saw something in the eyes of local villagers that will stay with me forever. The only way I can describe the expression is that the people were appearing to say … “I am sad to see you go and I am in understanding that what lies before me will one day be me”. The look was of acceptance, understanding and knowing that this is what we will all go through.
I tuned into this collective thought and considered that his soul is gone and in a very different plain and place. The man is no longer in this world. What is left is decaying matter and needs to be returned to the earth. This is his body, it is not actually him. This is a collective celebration of life and his spirit but also the routine of ceremony to take care of an earthly state.
The ideas regarding worry have taken a new meaning from the events of today. Balinese people told me that when he passed there was great mourning and wailing of loss by all who knew him. There were of course many tears shed at the loss of this magnificent human being. I was told those tears last one day publicly. Then everyone is too busy to cry while they prepare for the cremation ceremony. There is great sadness and loss but it is kept within. The body is not holding his energy and soul anymore so it is not to be mourned over. It is a vessel only.
This is something that even the children around me understood. He died 5 days ago and young with no warning. They let his body go and sent it back to the earth understanding that this is what they were tasked to do. They did this with understanding that one day it will be themselves and that this is natural and right in the cycle of life.
At one point someone threw an unlit cigarette into the funeral pyre. I wonder if smoking was the young mans killer. I left the ceremony amazed at the images I had witnessed and the hidden lessons we were all given by this experience.
The rest of my day was also eye opening when the owner of my hotel took me around his private museum collection of Balinese art and history. That is another blog entry in itself, as his collection and story is amazing. He is a man of 70 years old that is truly living … he looks 50 by the way.
I left today with deep humility and I feel that this young man who was named Turut Burdukacita had many lessons to share with us all both in life and now in death.
Cremation in Bali
Later tonight I went to a fine restaurant in Ubud to celebrate life. At the Table next to me sat an American couple. I could clearly hear the conversation and was most intrigued when the gentlemen at the table stated “America is the richest country on earth yet we are greedy, selfish and burdening our kids with terrible crimes… actually we are the poorest nation on earth”. The remainder of their conversation was about living life fuller and with more meaning.
It will take a bit to process all that was input in this day’s experiences!