Tuesday, April 12, 2011

World Harmony Run Sudaji Bali

 It was just a tiny inconspicuous speck on the map.  It hardly seemed like it was worth the effort, to take the long and  rambling drive in order to get there.   Still, a World Harmony Run was going to take place, and these events always have the unique capacity to open doors and generally inspire and surprise you in ways you could not ever imagine.

The trip there though meant trundling for several hours over the mountainous Balinese terrain, in an on again off again rain storm.  The day was so damp and gloomy I began to feel my enthusiasm gradually diminish with each new bump and sharp turn.  There were moments when I thought, that if there was going to be a silver lining to the long drive there,  the cloud was taking its time to reveal its hidden dazzling charm.

The Bali roads are narrow and winding and even a half hour trip on them can seem so long,  little alone one that smothered us for several hours in a soupy fog.  On the map least ways, Sudaji Bali was a miniscule dot surrounded by miles of undulating green.  It is far, far from all the pristine beaches, and it is not serenely tucked beneath the rim of a silent volcano.  The scenery is not manicured or extraordinary by Bali standards, and it has no picturesque temples or monkey forests.  It has never been featured as a must see place in Lonely Planet guide books.

It is not a place I had ever heard talked about, and if I were really asked to describe it now, there really isn't much to say, other than, you must go and see it for yourself.

There will always be those who come along and say about extraordinary places, "oh you should have seen it way back then."  The first visitors to Egypt's pyramids probably uttered something like that several thousand years ago, as did those who staggered off the Mayflower at Plymouth Rock.  This phrase comes along each generation to describe the presumed diminishing charms of places in which no doubt visitors first passed out in awe the moment they stepped off the gang plank of a trans pacific steamer.  Bali has long been featured, and rightly so, in song and tales as a place of unique beauty and charm.  I am quite sure that if even it were invaded by millions of pawing panting tourists, that they could never ever diminish entirely, its pristine allure or its special charm. 

In a way, to describe Sudaji as a lonely green hilltop is not too far from the truth.  It is a little sacred nook, in which camera clicking, beer drinking, souvenir buying tourists have yet to come.  It is a place so far, unspoiled by the outside world, and it is in this simplicity and authenticity that it reminds us all of an unspoiled paradise, in which you just might feel you are the very first to come.  I happened to meet a transplanted Irishman named John Martin there and he enthusiastically described Sudaji as, "it is virgin territory."

When we first turned up the road to the town we could tell we were at the right spot.   There was a row of men in crisp white shirts getting ready to play their instruments.

Click to hear greeting music

There are always many paths laid out in front of us.  Most times our choices appear limitless, or sometimes this is what we perceive to be the reality.  When we seem to tumble down some rocky slope, we wish so much that we had taken another route, and yet perhaps the bump has made us wiser and stronger.  Later, when such a thing comes along to tempt is us again, we may be less willing to go that way.

When participating in the World Harmony you are always offered an opportunity to have a powerful new experience.  It will be one in which you can always trust, that not only are you most assuredly adding to the forward progress of your life journey, but also perhaps doing something positive for the world at large.

The event that day in Sudaji was one that was somehow simpler than the simplest, and yet at the same time, an all embracing heart felt spectacular. 

Once the run began, the route wondered up and down narrow lanes and trails.
At each stop small trees were planted, songs sung, games played, and everyone included in some way.

It is hard to say what it all meant, to a place that seemed so far removed from the rest of the busy world.  To be part of the World Harmony Run doesn't require much.  Run along with torch as best you can, and if the route is just too hard walk a ways as well.
For the littlest ones it all may appear so new and so big and yet they just might feel the greater world beyond their doors.  Maybe feel that peace can fill the world once and for all.
Atulya was one of the main organizers of the event in this wonderful little town.

At one point I let the torch and all the runners disappear down some narrow lane.  I wanted to explore some of the quiet nooks and corners of Sudaji.  A little boy trying to fish.

Some dancers getting ready to perform at one of the ceremonies.
A boy seeing someone very strange wandering by his home, and his dog protecting.
Young rice so green and vibrant you can almost feel it grow.
So many unexpected things took place during my short visit so Sudaji.  A procession of some kind.
Smiles from those who were genuinely pleased to see us and the faces of those who have seen so very very few strangers to their world.
Some who had little time for play but who could still offer a smile while they worked hard.
John Martin tells me simply, "there are no tourists here.  When you walk around the streets you will see it in the kids faces.  Some will run away."  He is clearly concerned how any kind of development will affect this rare unspoiled place.
He himself had only been here 5 months.  What drew him to the place was an opportunity for some spiritual training.  He loves the place so much that he now has his 2 children enrolled at a local school. He tells me that they love it so much here that they don't want to leave and go back to Ireland.  He calls himself, "a full time babysitter."

He says, "I came here with purposes, and those purposes were thrown out.  Bali decides what it is going to do with you, and what it needs you to do.  Those who come here for the right reason stay here, and end up helping."

Click to play John Martin interview

I am far away now and months have passed.  Yet as I once again go over the pictures I took that grey Monday in Sudaji the soulful tranquility of that special day all returns.  I know how much I was inspired by its peace and beauty.  I hope that perhaps, that all those we met there, just might remember the World Harmony Run as well. Feel that during our brief visit they could touch the world with their own unique peace, and share for just a little while, paradise with their world family.


You have thought
Good thoughts.
Lo, you have become
The body of Paradise.
You have meditated
Silently and soulfully.
Lo, you have become
The soul of Paradise.
You have dedicated
Your life unconditionally.
Lo, you have become
The goal of Paradise.

Sri Chinmoy, Europe-Blossoms, Agni Press, 1974. 


Anonymous said...

Maybe you may want to put a twitter button to your blog. I just marked down this article, however I must complete it by hand. Just my suggestion.

adhiratha said...

What a great expression of feeling for an amazing day. Here is link to more photos and text from that day describing in more detail some of the different experiences at schools and the final program. Also some more pictures of the incredible landscape..that further supports your descriptions
many thanks for this post - Adhiratha

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Utpal, I am happy I continued with "Read more" - it was definitely worth to see the beautiful faces, the smiles and feel the peace that just seems to embrace anybody looking at it.
I'll follow Adhiratha's link to see more smiles. Sorry, don't want to sign in, so I'll remain Anonymous.