December 2007/January 2008 Volume 48Welcome to this bi-monthly edition of our newsletter! You will find these columns contained in our December/January issue:
Carla Woody, Founder
Metaphors for Life
Thought Forms in Black and White
Some of you may recall from the previous newsletter that I was fortunate to be in Bali during August, most of it spent in Ubud. I want to share more of my impressions with you, mostly because I'm still bubbling over with them three months later! In my experience, it's rare to be in a culture where the spiritual traditions and values are so visible even to a casual observer. There are many things I took away with me, but I'll offer just a few here.
The first has to do with prayer and ritual integrated into everyday life. There are temples everywhere public temples, shrines on the streets. And every family compound has an altar even if it's a small one tucked into a corner, but many are quite elaborate.
The women seemed to spend a lot of time making small, flat offering baskets from bamboo fronds, measuring about 4 inches square. I'd see them sitting outside storefronts or on the sidewalks talking together while their fingers were busy. For the last week I was there, every morning I watched an elderly woman make her rounds in the bungalow compound where I was staying. She carried a large flat basket in her arms, which contained those smaller ones all holding flower petals, incense, rice, things to attract notice of the gods and signify prosperity. Not only did she place one at the compound shrine and at the base of all the statues, but in front of the bungalow doorways and even on the manager's desk of the adjacent Internet café; all the important places to create a flow. Later walking through the streets or driving through the countryside, I'd note them in front of businesses and homes, almost everywhere.
The moments for remembrance and gratitude were ongoing. Not a time set aside, but included. One day I had hired a driver to take me to the coast. Along the way, he asked if I minded if he stopped for a few minutes. He pulled over outside a kind of marketplace. While I was fooling around with my camera, he got out. When he returned he had rice pressed into his forehead. During one night's dinner I was enjoying my food (immensely) and observing my surroundings. One of the servers would stop the others as they passed by. She dipped a flower in a water glass and then anointed them on the head with it. Not playing around, but blessing them.
The understanding of interconnection is also prevalent family, the banjar, the community. Our style of life in the West is shocking to them. The fact that we seem so disconnected when "I am because you are."
Perhaps more than anything I was taken with the sacred statues that were prevalent at every turn, not just in the temples. They seemed so exotic and expressive to me, not at all benign. I had a very kind driver who was not only quite curious about my culture but also eager to inform me about his.
He said, "Foreigners make a mistake and say we have so many gods. That's not so. Our gods stay inside the temple and are only brought out for special times."
I asked him about some of those I saw frequently that look somewhat like serpents or dragons and he disclosed that they were translators, conduits. They took the messages of the gods and translated them so we could understand them. And when I asked him about the black and white checked sarongs on just about all of them, which I was quite fascinated by, this is what he said.
"They remind us that we all have both good and not so good inside of us. This is to remember balance."
In Bali, those reminders abound. Balance. Work gets done, but the days aren't overly long. Acceptance of both sides of human nature without going to either extreme, or rejecting part of the self. Connection. And the middle road is valued. No wonder I was so touched and relaxed.
Photo credit: Carla Woody, August 2007.
© 2007 Carla Woody. All rights reserved.Carla Woody is the author of the book Standing Stark: The Willingness to Engage and Calling Our Spirits Home: Gateways to Full Consciousness and founder of Kenosis, an organization supporting human potential and global consciousness. Carla has long been guiding people toward mind/body/spirit wholeness using integrative healing methods blended with world spiritual traditions. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone (928) 778-1058.
More often than not, the publications or music you will find reviewed here will not be new or "bestsellers." Websites or organizations may not be well known. But all are spotlighted by virtue of their impact and value.
Some time in late 2004 I received an email inquiry about an upcoming Peru program I was sponsoring to Apu Ausangate, one of the most sacred mountains in the Cusco region. My phone rang not too long afterwards from the same source. The voice that greeted me had that wonderful Down Under accent coming to me from halfway around the world in Australia. That was my introduction to Paul and Phoebe Hoogendyk (P&P to friends) and the journey of the Greenstone that they've chosen to undertake. Little did I know then what a deep friendship we would form or how we would share such precious moments that, indeed, are timeless.
The Greenstone is sacred to the Maoris and incorporates Paul's roots from New Zealand. In the early to mid 1990s, P&P began to understand that, as part of their spiritual path, they were to acquire a large mother piece of Greenstone, an almost impossible tasking, from which smaller stones would be harvested, and to carefully place, through ceremony, at certain hallowed sites. But why? And what were the sites? Where were the resources and how was it to be done?
Imagine having the awareness of direction being planted clearly and yet most everything else being so unclear? Envision what it may be like mentioning it to family or friends and their likely responses. Or the inner voices trying hard to instill doubt?
Yet, by sitting with the tasking, the path began to unfold for them. A Mother Stone was obtained. Winging in from the ether, the places and the symbols to be carved in the Greenstone emerged to Paul. Not all at once, but as needed over the years. The means to undertake the journeys would appear in order to connect the energies, the filaments, of these sacred sites around the world.
I'm quite blessed to have had them travel with our groups twice for this purpose. On the second journey of the Greenstone, they accompanied us in 2005 to Apu Ausangate and it was left settled in one of the special lagoons at about 18,000 feet in altitude. On the sixth journey we had ceremony in the middle of Lago Najá on a misty day in January 2007 and the Greenstone found its resting place in the bottom of the lake in the Lacandón Maya rainforest in Mexico Since P&P began their travels in 2004, the Greenstone has been deposited in the New Zealand Alps, high on a mountain in Tibet, off the coast of Hawaii and in the Outback of Australia. As I write this, the Greenstone is answering a call to Mali in Africa. Several more journeys await and then that part of the work will be complete.
There are many, many people in the world who are doing good works in concrete ways that can be seen with our "everyday" eyes. And caregiving of this nature is vastly needed to support so many who are impoverished and suffering in various ways.
A very small percentage of people also understand the invisible ways of healing and giving support toward wholeness. These are the Spirit Keepers of the world. P&P are among them.
They've created a website that documents the journey of the Greenstone and will eventually publish a book. Enjoy their spirit and energy.
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