Singapore to Bali – the Great Mother

Above: guardian spirit at a temple in Bali

We are at the Singapore Airport — on our way to Denpasar (Bali, Indonesia). I go over Chapter 6 of the Tao te Ching:

“The Tao is called the Great Mother: empty, yet inexhaustible.
It gives birth to infinite worlds.
It is always present within you.
You can use it any way you want.”

When you meditate, you come into contact with the Tao, the great creative force that generates thoughts in your mind. The thoughts arise and you can use them however you wish. During meditation, let these thoughts go and experience the emptiness.

The airport has a kind of kinetic art that reveals continually-changing variations.

Opposing forces appear distinct — yet merge.

We view patterns that disappear and reappear. I walk as I document what I see and this increases the complexity. Vehicles pass by on the road.

I stop walking, allowing you to see the configurations more clearly.

Here is the lesson: set aside time to be still — then you can look inside.

We are staying at a hotel in Sanur (Bali, Indonesia). Bali has been overrun by tourists. Every day, I look at Hindu temples — manifestations of human religiosity. In one complex, I watch young girls learning Balinese dance. The dances have been shaped by the need to perform for tourists — but the inner core involves trance.

I walk toward and around a shrine dedicated to the Hindu elephant god Ganesha, God of success. There is much traffic on the road but I approach Ganesha. I see a swastica, an ancient Hindu/Buddhist symbol.

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Balinese Hinduism, practiced by over 80% of the people of Bali, includes animism, ancestor worship, Buddhist saints (Bodhisattvas), and Hindu deities. Hinduism came to Bali around the 5th century CE, replacing Buddhism.

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In most parts of Indonesia, Hinduism was replaced by Islam — but Bali remains Hindu.

Balinese temples (Padmasana, Puras) are open air compounds with enclosed walls, intricately decorated gates, shrines, towers, and pavilions.

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Rare image of the Buddha

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Main shrine with lesser images

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A “chair-like” shrine

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A main shrine with an image

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Bali is called the “Island of a thousand Puras.”

Some shrines involve an empty chair dedicated to Sang Hyang Wasa Widhi (also “Acintya Sang Hyang Junggal” — there are variations in the design and two people told me that the shrine does not have a chair but is a place for the god).

I am unsure about this.

As the great jazz musician Fats Waller used to say, “One never knows, does one?”

Balinese Hinduism has been shaped by its minority status in Indonesia. Modern Hinduism emphases “One God” — leading to a greater degree of harmony with Islam. In a way, Balinese Hinduism is monotheistic — the various gods are thought to be manifestations of the One God (this idea is also found in Hinduism in India — but Hinduism is generally regarded as polytheistic).

This is a shrine in a market by the ocean. In the past, people left sacrifices hoping to catch fish. These days, they hope to catch tourists.

Here is what I say: all religions are manifestations of the Great Mother, the source of creativity within all of us.

Focusing on specific religious beliefs is like looking at the foam on the surface of the ocean. Deep below the foam, the ocean is still.

I am not so concerned with what you believe. I want you to be happy. Look below the surface.

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