BALINESE HINDUISM
**MEN AND GODS**



Every Balinese will describe himself to you as a Hindu, but the truth of the
matter is that the elements of Hinduism found in Bali are rather like the
Catholicism found in the remoter parts of the Philippines. For some it may
be a genuine presence, and its philosophy a real foundation for faith and
action, but for the majority it is a dressing applied to the more
fundamental and essential spirit-religion found everywhere in the Malay
archipelago. Nevertheless, it is an extraordinary phenomenon to find,
isolated on one south-sea island, manifestation of a religion originating
somewhere near the Caspian Sea and brought into north India nearly four
thousand years ago. Even then the tenets of Hinduism were far from new. The origin of the Vedas, the holy book of the Aryans who brought
Hinduism to India, are lost in the mists of antiquity, but the oldest of
them, the Rig Veda, is certainly the oldest religious text known anywhere
in the world. And the central tenets of Hinduism do fit in very well with a
system of beliefs that holds that the world is every where is populated by
spirit. A people who believed from the start that in every bush, volcano,
fortunate or disastrous event there was an invisible intelligence at work
cannot have found it difficult to take to a philosophy that thought of a
World Soul of which we, and all others living things, are temporary
embodiments. To educated Hindu, the whole universe is ordered by a
controlling spirit, Brahman. Your inner essence, the silent core of your
being that remains when all the lust for money, sex, and power are stilled
is your Atman. And the innermost secret, the core of mystery, is that the
two, your "soul" and the vast spirits of the universe are one and the same
thing. You are a part of it, manifested for a brief time in matter. So is a
mouse, a tree a grain of corn. The cycle of birth and death, creation and
destruction, goes on forever, the essence of all things constantly
embodying itself in matter. And in just the same way that all things are
part of the great world Spirit, so their death is no tragedy, merely the
returning of the part to the whole, A whole from which innumerable new
manifestation will be born. This constants rebirth of the spirit, at a higher
or lower level of creation according to the place your acts have brought
you in your last incarnation, is natural and inevitable. But it's wearisome
to the high aspiring soul who longs for permanent rest, for final union
with creating spirit itself. And because the spirits of all things and the
great universal spirit are essentially one the same, this ultimate union, or
reunification is possible. Reject all desire, which holds you down among
the world of material things, and you might attain that final fusion with
the ineffable and unimaginable that is know as Moksa. You at last realize
the potential that has been in you all along and become one with
Brahman



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