Beyond a connection to the physical, the Balinese also share a close communion with the spiritual. A visit to a high priest such as the highly revered Ida Pendanda Ngenjung will show you just how deeply connected and in tune the people are to the divine..
Sagely, wise, and almost patronly-looking, Ida Pendanda Ngenjung has an air of assurance and gentle comfort. Donning a white tunic over a sarong, with his greyish-black hair neatly combed and tucked into a bun, he looks every bit the part of a doting 83 year-old grandfather. His residence, a traditional Balinese home in Karangasem in eastern Bali, seems to have taken on the qualities of its renowned dweller too.
The space is tranquil and calm, with a meditative quality. Like most Balinese homes, it is lushly landscaped. The priest’s pet birds, including a Bali jalak, a talking parrot, a cuckoo, a burring laut, and a number of forest fowls, make their home in the compound as well, along with three dogs.
Locals go to Ida Pendanda Ngenjung to ask about their destiny and the things closest to their hearts. What is the future of my newborn son? When is the best time to start my business? When should I get married? To answer these questions, the high priest consults his almanac.
According to the high priest, while everyone has a different path, the key to a happy life is to maintain harmony, to be at the point of balance between heaven and earth. This requires a degree of self-awareness, understanding one’s own strengths and weaknesses and managing them accordingly.
He advises his people to remember God all the time, and to always pray and believe for blessings. This is in line with the ancient Balinese philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, literally meaning the three causes of well-being—harmony among people; harmony with nature; and harmony with God.
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