Side Effects of Religion

January 10, 2016

With the world slowly going crazy and the use of religion as a platform to justify it all, it is natural that there are discussions everywhere on this provocative subject. If we could eavesdrop on undocumented conversations in salons and dining rooms as we do on reddit forums, the volume and the intensity of these discussions would be far more than ever in the past century!

So, not wanting to be left out of this band wagon, let me also say my not-so-few words about this ‘hot’ topic.

hmmmmmmm ……let’s see what I can find in my recent experiences.

So here I am in Bali, Indonesia – and the side effects of religion are EVERYWHERE!

In their speech, in their lifestyle in their daily activities!!

And to my utter surprise,the side effects of religion are all positive here!!

Women use their religion and their worship to create an aura of beauty and serenity in the lives of their families and their community.

The “sarva mangalam”  principle meaning “May there be good for everyone” [yes – EVERY ONE] drives actions.

A bit out of sync with the world?

Every morning, after bathing, fresh flowers and leaves are brought in and the leaves are woven into works of art. A small tray is made using larger leaves, and the first offering of food is placed on it.

Trays  are then taken and placed outdoors – some on the floor to appease the demons or the negativity of our lives, some on platforms to ask for blessings from the divine powers.

These spiritual acts translate into acts of kindness in the real world. The morsels left on the floor feed the ants and the ones on the platforms feed the birds. So – a device that is used to looking after the creatures we share the earth with, also fulfills a spiritual purpose.

These prayer offerings are placed not only outside one’s own home but also at crossroads and fields and common areas so that all who pass that way will receive the benefits of that prayer.

Religion to do good?   mmmmm.

And then as if that alone were not enough,  to do good for all?  wow! the idea seems ssoooo past tense!!

Imagine someone being bold enough to declare that “good” is the purpose of religion in the first place.

I wonder about the fate she might suffer at the hands of media and the powers that be, who, no matter which religion they are from, want us to believe that all the others are evil – in effect, collectively declaring, all religions to be evil. Quite a paradox.

To compound the issue of my surprise, I realise that Bali is a Hindu province located in a country where the majority are Muslim. And that is not just surviving as minorities do in most countries, but  thriving!  There is no conflict and no disharmony. There isn’t any now and there wasn’t any when new religions arrived centuries ago through traders. The adoption of new faiths was peaceful and without bloodshed.

????

Sounds too much like a fairytale?

So what is the catch?

My mind cannot believe that there is NONE.

And so I am forced to accept the truth.The sweet truth.

That religion can indeed be used to bring out the good in people. To create a life of serenity. And beauty. and peace. To create art.

What wonderful side-effects religion can have!

***

Here are some pictures of ammazing amazing Bali – of ladies and their leaf art – of their worship and prayers for themselves and the world.

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPThe Old trays from the previous day are collected and replaced by fresh ones

 

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

The rice fields get their own trays

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

Auspicious trays on the dashboard for the car and the travelers

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

Platform to place trays for the divine spirits to feed on

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIPBALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

 

IMG_6578

Auspicious rice is applied on the forehead during worship

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

Sarva-Mangalam-Bhavatu-Bhavatu-Bhavtu…
May that tranquillity & well-being be everywhere, and in everyone.”

 

Maybe Bali is the paradise it is, because of such sentiments that dominate the lifestyle of its gentle beautiful residents!

BALI LEAF ART & WORSHIP

Worth listening to this Sanskrit Shloka with volume on maximum.

 

 

“Bhumi-Mangalam, Udaka-Mangalam, Agni-Mangalam, Vayu-Mangalam, Gagana-Mangalam, Surya-Mangalam,
Chandra-Mangalam, Jagat-Mangalam,

and the most important lines:

“Jiva-Mangalam, Deha-Mangalam, Mano-Mangalam, Atma-Mangalam,”Sarva-Mangalam-Bhavatu-Bhavatu-Bhavtu…

TRANSLATION:
“May there be tranquillity & well-being on earth, on water,
in fire, in the wind,
in the sky, in the sun,
on the moon, on our planet,
in all living beings, in the body,
in the mind and in the spirit.
May that tranquillity & well-being be everywhere, and in everyone.”

 

jaina mishra

Jan 2016

 

#religion, #side effect, #art, #Bali #balinese

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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