Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Dear sisters,

You may have got the idea we are not doing much on this island except traveling and relaxing, but we are also working. My husband and I, at this midlife stage of our life, are both working at becoming nicer people for the second half, and hope to show you the results at Christmas.

We are not flaying our arms around blindly in this attempt, hoping it will just happen by saying it out loud. We are also looking to others who have done and thought about it longer than we have. What does it take?

The Balinese for example – I do not know how they keep it up – but they show no signs of road rage in traffic that begs for it. They toot modestly when they wish to pass a motorcyclist, carrying the full content of house and family, and wait patiently when cars and coaches are backing up in the middle of the street. I did not believe it was really true, so I have been watching Nyoman closely, our patient driver, as these daily events occur, hoping to catch him at an outward sign of annoyance. I have caught him once at a cluck under the tongue, when two big hairy Australians refused to back up on a dirt road, and a nervous chuckle when a woman on motorcycle swerved in front of the car, because she was talking on her mobile phone. He laughed and waved at her, after she turned to smile at him apologetically and they went on their way, none the worse for the incident.

Allard has been impressed by this Swami guy, Swami Vagishananda, affectionately known as Swamiji, who for some reason has a large following of tall Swedish men. He lived in seclusion for a long time and has had time to ponder. Now making up for lost time he has been described as "an ever-flowing, sparkling waterfall of Mother Sruti's sacred words."

Central and essential to his teaching are mantras you have to repeat many times, until they are engrained in your person. I think it takes years of chanting. That is a lot, for which you certainly need a prayer bead necklace with a tassle to count your mantras as you say them, by itself a wonderful accessory in Ubud.

All this is retold from a second hand telling, of course, so I am not taking responsibility for accuracy. I haven’t seen Swamiji in person (apparently women are not as keen on him as men) and have yet to be seduced by mantras, but for the time being, the three guidelines for happiness that Allard brought home with him, are being repeated in our household.

The solution for happiness, as I understand from Allard’s recap is this:

1) do not try and change anyone (which means do not give unsolicited advice):
2) do not communicate in an emotional state
3) give all the rest away to Shiva, “let it go” – “namaha”.

So, the message to you sisters is; if you want to my advice from now on, you will have to ask for it. That is a good start, don’t you think?

The second one is a very good one for my marriage, assuming emotional state includes the state one is in after two bottles of wine. I now have credible back-up from Ji.

The third one is the most difficult. I am trying, with my chemically induced hormonal imbalance, to not let my nerves fray and my voice rise inverse proportionally – yes, even in Paradise - as my son lets me call his name five times as I stand beside him, before acknowledging my presence, or my daughter for running off to her room, throwing herself dramatically onto the bed and weeping for the smallest thing that does not suit her, or the internet for throwing me out at a crucial moment in the reservation process, or indeed my sloppy chakaranga’s in my yoga class this morning.

“Namaha”, we keep saying to each other, -“give it away to Shiva's thick blue neck. She can take it."

I am not sure it is engrained yet. We may need some more guidance. I think a meditation course is coming up. We have only four more months to look around before we return to the real world. Time just floats away here.

If you find me boring when I return, please give it to Shiva.


Esin Yardim said...

what a wonderful post (again), reminded me of the serenity in bali within that chaotic traffic:)

Talking about meditation, I couldn't help myself to give unsolicited advice. You might explore Vipassana meditation, there are many different forms. Some (like Goenka version) are really strict and long but there are some (such as in Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai) are more beginner-friendly.
Enjoy the rest of your time in Bali :)

scatteredsisters said...

THanks Essin, we will look into it. Claire