Jam and Jerusalem

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July 16th 2008
Published: August 3rd 2008
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One morning I accidentally stood on a large beetle, this made a loud crunching noise, which made me feel a bit sick. The cleaner at our hotel looked at me and said 'It’s OK, good riddance to it'. I asked him what he meant. He told me that all insects are scum and that he believed were once the human souls of all the really bad people of this world like drug dealers, killers, child abusers, sex traders and so on. I looked at him for a little longer than normal as I could not believe what he had just said as I picked off the remaining bits of beetle carcass from the sole of my foot. He told me that the evil humans of this world reincarnate as insects as Bali Hindus believe there is no purpose within this earth for these bad souls but to be reincarnated in to bad insects.

I imaged David Attenbourgh scratching his head on this one. My inner Buddha tried to argue that there were all kinds of insects in the world with many different purposes. The insect world has good productive insects, also some bad and harmful to humans, insects that can bite and dish out poisons but they serve purpose within nature, which we humans have no control. The cleaner said that there are also all kinds of humans in this world, some good, some bad, poisonous and the very ugly who are devolving back into insects, fascinating.

Looking at the crushed beetle corpse on the floor below, I asked cleaner what do most people reincarnate into if they were cold blooded murderers. He said they would be reborn in to horrid useless insects as these people usually don't perform their sinful actions within the realms of spiritual law they kill other humans, this needs to be punished. They would reincarnate as a terribly useless ugly cooremann citrus yellow mite, which is a god damn ugly creature up close. I wondered how the criminal soul now reborn into an ugly useless insect that found itself crushed under my foot could evolve, so is that it? Is his path now clear to start again and be reborn as a human again, with its slate wiped clean? I could not get a clear answer to this from anyone.

The Balinese also believe that physical affliction is due to negative actions and all round badness in a previous life time. I asked why he kept referring to these bad people as 'he', he corrected himself by saying that women are also capable of such crimes and they will also come back as an insect or someone physically challenged to some degree. Thieves, con people, cheats and liars will all pay the price in some way, he said these people think they are getting away with murder, but no one gets away with anything in the eyes of God or Gods, God knows their sins and will punish them accordingly. But what about people who spend years in jail and have reformed, the people who are truly sorry for their crimes and go back into the world and do good for others? This, he said was a good thing, they would have consciously changed the law of karma within that current life time, they will be re born ok in the next life, if they physically hurt someone in this life, in the next life they will be burdened with similar afflictions or they will come back to serve humanity that will be there sole purpose. I asked him what if someone in his family was born perfect but later developed an illness or had a terrible accident which left them dependant on his family, forever, and then did that person do to deserve this? He said that he believed it was the karma of the entire family that maybe they did not look after or treat someone properly before this life and the karma had returned. This entire conversation was repeated with many other Balinese throughout my time here, this was not just the views of one man, they all believed in this.

Because of this belief the Balinese people are constantly warding off any bad karma and doing good deeds for others and offering their offerings to their many Gods. Every morning you see them holding a small tray of offering to the Gods made from leaves containing, rice, flowers, other grains, sweets, incense or coins. They sprinkle holy water before a door way of a home or place of work, as I have mentioned previously each family court yard has its own temple, these temples are always smoking with incense, mixed with the assortment of flower heads these places always smell alive. The people make five sacrifices or offerings to their Gods this originates from the main God Brahman and is called Yajna. The five Gods are: God, the manifestation of God, the law of karma, the heavenly state of nirvana and the evil spirit. It’s funny while I was in Bali all I kept hearing was about these evil forces that exists inside the human soul and around the immediate environment. They believe in many forms of spirit such as the ancestral spirits who resides within the mountains and who over sees and guides the living soul to safety, the sky Gods that live in the sky and maybe guide pilots, birds, kites, clouds and the weather, the trance of the shaman priest is also celebrated and respected, the human soul and its multiple souls within one are prayed to and given offerings.

I was invited to two private ceremonies. The first was in a small village far far from anywhere, I got on the back of my new friend Wayan's motor bike to meet his family. He introduced me to his mother whose name was also Wayan, his brother was called Wayan so was his dad and nephew, but this was not their family name like Smith this was their first names which was a perfect situation for me as I am rubbish at remembering people’s names after being introduced. We sat outside his little one room bedsit within the modest family court yard; his grandma was busy talking to herself as she sat upon the steps with no top on. His mother was busy getting ready as her hair dripped with conditioner as she held her sarong around her waist with nothing more on top, his niece and nephew were playing peek a boo and catch while semi naked, then they both shared soap suds in a big metal bath. Wayan and I drank sweet black tea while he explained that very six months the village gather at the temple to give thanks to their gods for being alive, they are grateful for the food that finds its way to their mouths and for the good people who do kind things for them. They give thanks for their good health and the ongoing good health of family members, I asked him what he thought of insects, and he winced his face and said 'ummm...bad people'.

Wayans mother had made a huge tower of offering to the Gods; this was stacked up high upon her head. It was made from apples, oranges and iced fairy cakes with hundreds and thousands sprinkled on them, a whole cooked chicken had been spread out at the rear, many of the other food offerings I saw were held together with gold foiled doilies and create paper cut outs that would not have looked out of place at a Women's institute 'best hamper' competition. This tower of perishables had already accumulated a train of busy ants, all racing to the iced buns which balanced nicely upon mummy Wayan’s small head. It was a rare sight to see all these numerous ladies on their way to the same temple all dressed in white lace tops and sarongs all elegantly gliding along with vertical vertebra balancing similar colourful offerings upon their heads.

I was allowed to take photos, the kids were very amused and the women all blushed. I watched all the Wayans sit before the priest who was holding a microphone and chanting some passages for good futures. A solid looking lady helped place all the offerings on a small alter, she became the villages own Vicar of Dibley as she laughed and bounced around the temple grounds making everyone else laugh who all knew each other; it was a real Bali Jam and Jerusalem moment. Wayan explained that the people sat there were his grandparents or his old school teachers and so on. He respected everyone; his fellow villagers were genuinely happy people. I asked him if there were any village trouble makers or someone who’s known as the village idiot. He looked perplexed, I was the one who looked like the village idiot as it soon became clear they all respected each other and would never say a bad word least to a foreigner. We returned to Wayans home where he made me some dinner that we ate with our hands which near blow my head off as it was in part made from thick chillies.

The second ritual ceremony I attended was at my hotel in Ubud the day before the Kings cremation. The staff had taken me on as one of their own as I had previously spent some times alone there, so the whole afternoon felt very special. Again it was the six months time of the year to ask and give thanks, so the hotel performed the same rituals giving offerings this time to the Gods of tourism and the Gods of accounting, thanking them for a the previous six months of good business and to ask for a prosperous next six months. They had two priests attend and the sounds of bells being chimed over mono toned chanting where the sounds seemed to float up to the blue skies above. I was included in this ceremony; I gave my own thanks to the Gods of backpacking and internet. I was splashed by holy water which was then sprinkled in to my hands, I had to slurp the water in to my mouth three times for purification, but this later made me feel sick. We all asked for good things for others and for ourselves, family and friends. I had rice placed on my forehead for clear vision, then some grains stuck to my throat so not to speak badly of anyone and to communicate my wishes to the right people. I finished off by eating a few grains of dried rice to ensure I was never again hungry.

That night a mosquito landed on my leg, just before I slapped it dead I wondered, could this be the former soul of Saddam? Within seconds I squashed the bugger till he was paste then flicked him over the balcony and I didn't feel bad at all.

Additional photos below
Photos: 17, Displayed: 17


Priest in UbudPriest in Ubud
Priest in Ubud

Performing ritual

3rd August 2008

Another Great Story
Claire, you take a small insect and write a great story. What can I say that hasn't already been said about your writing. I have a job for you if you are interested. It is writing for a magazine. Write me if you are interested. Love ya, Kent
4th August 2008

Been reading ur blogs for sometime and I completely agree with Kent. U should take that job offer, if you are not already one!! Way to go.
4th August 2008

Claire,should say ,reborned as an insect is enough punishment for the bad guy,even they are really bad,just hope i will not reincarnate into an animal,had saw lots of darkness among humans,just don't want to see any more.that's all.by the way,nice to see you again.

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