In my immaturity, I believed that Bali was better than the USA. I had a very profound experience here on my first visit 10 years ago. I felt like I could be more of me here than anywhere else. The climate suited me. The gentility suited me. The beauty and the pervading sense of gratitude suited me. The stillness and the quiet suited me. The green suited me. The sweet, intimate, intense massages suited me. The food suited me. The primitiveness and unspoiledness suited me. All of these things combined allowed me to relax in my own skin and bones, in a palpable, physical way, that was unlike anything I had experienced before. So i romanticized it to the max, delightfully tuning out all of the things that were unpleasant.
It has its drawbacks.
The first blush of love is so very intoxicating. We see only beauty, we feel only love, we will try things way out of our normal comfort zone because we are so full of bliss. This is not good or bad, it simply is a statement of observed and experienced fact.
The trouble comes if I return to Bali 10 years later and expect to have the same experience. It is impossible for all practical purposes, not least of which is the march of time and technology. 10 years ago, there was one internet cafe. I traveled with an Apple Newton and borrowed the phone line in the lobby to dial into Denpasar and via an AOL network partner could send and retrieve email. Now, there are literally dozens of internet shops, and most seats are filled. Many of these are open 24/7, despite the town itself closing up tight most nights by 9 pm.
You could lament that at least some of these people are choosing computers over weaving or carving, and that is a loss. But nonetheless, it is what is. This is what centuries of meditation teachers have taught – that to be in bliss, to quiet the mind, is to accept all as it is and allow it to pass by us like leaves floating downstream on water.
So I find it confusing and mistaken when the yoga teacher remarks that everyone needs to meditate and practice yoga for an enlightened, happy life. Or when the “get the government out of the way” politician says that everyone needs to let the government snoop on us because it’s for our own safety and security. And I find it confusing when the feminist fires another female because she feels threatened, whereas she does not feel threatened by a male counterpart. And I am sure people find me confusing and mistaken when they hear me speak all “none of this matters” on Beach Walks with Rox and then see me get irritated when I’m walking behind someone on a busy street who is smoking.
You see, we are all “victims” of discrepancies in our dogma. That is not a problem. These discrepancies are opportunities for consciousness. With consciousness, happiness flows with less effort. Consciousness does not come naturally for most of us, and the quicker we accept that, the faster we can get to work on acquiring it. 🙂
[This is part of continuous thread of writings I did in Bali earlier this year; you can follow them in order if you like.]