Every place has its own spiritual uniqueness. The one in Peru has been narrated in a very fascinating way by James Redfield in The Celestine Prophecy. Tibetans is exquisitely discussed by Sogyal Rinpoche in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Japans spiritual heritage was neatly written by Inazo Nitobe in Bushido, The Soul of Japan, and Indias has been elaborated by so many writers such as Osho in India My Love.
Balinese spirituality has also been written by many. Hopefully, one day someone will write the beauty of Balis spiritual way by referring to Parama Shanti (the ultimate peace), an activity which is conducted by most Balinese upon the closing of a ritual in Pura.
In the ceremonial arrangement, Parama Shanti is placed at the end of a ceremony, right before devotees prepare to leave the site. There are two possibilities of message here. First, it is the highest point of the ritual itself. Second, it is that the spiritual blessing the devotees bring to their worldly life after praying in Pura (temple) is the peace of mind (Shanti).
Bhur Bwah Swah
There are a lot of ways available for humanity to validate a conclusion. The scientists is by combining logic (rationalism) and historical fact (empirics) while those who are fond of holy scriptures referring to the verses. And all ways must be respected. However, for the lovers of sensitivity, sincerity, and acceptance, the way is by opening their physical eyes, ears, and inner eyes widely in order to receive the message of the inner master.
Anyone often pray in Hindu shrines, especially in Bali, will notice that the mantra most frequently pronounced is the one with Bhur Bwah Swah words. Lower, middle, and upper realms as a unity. Many Padma Sana even illustrate the lower realm with the horrible faces, the middle one as where the fear begins to cease, and for the upper one, it is carved beautifully.
Speaking frankly, this is a chronicle of Parama Shanti. By still respecting different opinions, more than ninety percents of debates in the spiritual matter is confronting God with the devil. God is worshipped and the devil is condemned. Again, this point of view must be respected. But in Bhur Bwah Swah, there is no opposition between God and the devil. Particularly because both are not placed in contradiction but admitted as parts of the same thing.
A Catholic priest has an interesting story about God. One day a boy took his mothers candy without any notice. His mother was angry and asked him moodily: Didnt you see God when you stole my candy? Calmly the boy answered: I did mommy. The mother got even angrier with such answer. She interrogated: And what did He say to you? Composedly the child replied: He told me that I may take two. With this answer, his mother was hysterical: You dont know that God will be angry because of your stealing!
It is an inspiring story that God is in the eye of the beholder, depends on the persons state of mind. In the mind of an innocent and sheer person like the boy, God is merciful. In her short-tempered mothers mind, God is full of wrath. And whoever deeply understand Bhur Bwah Swah will has the shanti mind, especially because he/she is no longer contradicting God with the devil.
In accordance with Bhur Bwah Swah, Balinese elders build religious sites with the concept of Nyegara Gunung. They construct spiritual structures in the place where mountain or hill is embraced by lake or sea. Pura Luhur Uluwatu, Tanah Lot, Ponjok Batu, Ulun Danu Batur, Ulun Danu Beratan, Sila Yukti, and Pulaki, are merely some evidences in this matter. In Balinese shrine, usually one will be able to witness the rising and setting of the sun which is blended with beauty.
Mount and hill are symbols of masculine, while sea or lake are of feminine. When the two are embracing each other intimately, this is not only the origin of creation, but also the cause of beauty. Either there is any relationship with the previous or not, all of Balinese offerings are also arranged in beautiful manner. Spectators viewing with mortal eyes will see fruits, flowers, and janur (young coconut leaf) lovingly arranged so humanity may perceive the beauty of life. The seers with inner eyes will see a lot of beautiful messages hidden within the lovely offerings.
This is again about Parama Shanti. Dualities like good-bad, right-wrong etc. (symbolized by the Nyegara Gunung concept) are present not in order to be confronted, but to be tidily arranged into loveliness. Health is beautiful because by a healthiness there are more tasks of life can be done. Sick is also beautiful, because sickness is an opportunity to compensate karmic debts. Wealth is good because there are a lot of positive things might be done with it. Poverty is good as well, particularly because it is the guidance to modesty.
This is Parama Shanti. The state of mind that perceives everything as beauty and good. Once a university student asked the lecturer, if all things are good, what about corruptions and affairs? Smiling gently the lecturer replied: Gaze like the sky and act like the Mother Earth. Parama Shanti happens when humans have insight as high as the sky and act as humble as the Mother Earth. When the sky teaches that all things are beautiful, Earth demonstrates the existence of a law which is as simple as touching water will get wet and touching fire will get burned. Those who plant banana will get banana while those plant cassava will get cassava. An agent of compassion will receive kindness while a corruptor will receive summons from police station. The union of the sky and the earth, that is Parama Santhi.
Parama Shanti in daily life
Western model of healing is based on the assumption that life is incomplete. Therefore it provides solution in therapy, operation, and medication by which many things in human system are taken away and a lot of outer substances, like medicine, are injected. And humanity has witnessed what happened in this year (2009). Global warming, war, disaster, terrorism, financial ruin, suicides, divorce, and an ex president of the United States of America whose retirement was celebrated by the throwing of a shoe.
We are all greatly indebted to the Western culture, together with their science and technology. It is certainly impossible for humanity to be as advanced as in these days without science and technology. However, in the midst of a quaking civilization, perhaps this is the moment when Easterners should return to their origin.
In Bali, when there is a great difficulty, the elders will give example to return to Pura. Discussing about Pura is impossible if not to mention about Besakih. And it is in Besakih where a profound spiritual teaching is inherited. The center point of Pura Besakih is Pura Penataran Agung. The uppermost part of Pura Penataran Agung quarter is named Kiwa-Tengen, where it is clearly shown that Kiwa (the left hand path, frequently given negative term like black magic) is not positioned lower than Tengen (the right hand path, often regarded as the positive). Both are given the very similar pelinggih (base) with the same luan-teben (height). And between the two, there is nothing.
Some refer to the empty space in the middle of kiwa-tengen as shunya (silence), some other as sesarining Dharma (the core of the teaching). Balinese elders name this Hyang Embang (The Supreme Silent).
In the light of Kiwa-Tengen, perhaps this is the moment to educate the self that the cycle of life has been completed from the beginning to the end. There are proper place and time for everything. It is only the acceptance that might lead humanity to the wonderful expression of life.
This is the reason why all religions teach their devotees to be grateful. There are Gods fingerprints and guidance in every happenings. This is the Parama Shanti in daily life. There is no coincidence, only guidance. There is no mistake, only meaning that has not been understood. A master once gave the following message to his student: Be kind when you meet the power of darkness, theyre not bad. Simply understand that theyre uninformed. In time, the dark forces will also find the bright light of understanding.
Perhaps that is why in Bali we celebrate the coming of the new year by Nyepi day. When all (good-bad, success-failure, holy-unholy) are useful and meaningful, tongue is speechless. There is no more left to be questioned, moreover to be argued. In this condition, arent the things left are only the profound silence, calamness, and shanti?