Every place has its own bad and good stories. Bali is likewise. In this regard, there is a book written by a friend from the West called The Dark Sides of Paradise, which telling about the dark sides of the island. Like two sides of a coin, since the beginless beginning, bad and good, dark and light, are inseparable pairs that always stay side by side to each other. While the restless souls are being shaken by the waves of dark and light, the luminous souls surf above all waves. On the path of meditation, the surfboard is called the perseverance to keep observing. And out of the perseverance to keep witnessing, lucidity is then born. From this pool of lucidity, it can be brightly seen that every era has its own challenges, as well as its own resolutions.
In ancient times, every time the Balinese elders published literatures in particular, the name of the author was rarely stated. An epitome of sincerity and modesty that is worth replicating. Sadly, the existence of this anonymous masterpiece, has then unknowingly creates future perplexities. Particularly when there is a younger generation whom keen to deeply explore the trails of its meaning. As for examples, kakawin “Eda ngaden awak bisa” (never think you can do anything), or a short phrase “Nak Mula Keto” (that is the way it is). Those are a series of a very meaningful message. Yet, the anonymity makes it difficult to trace the trails of its meaning. Fortunately, Kakawin Sucita Subudi that contains the Balinese Buddhist teachings mentioned its author’s name. Thus facilitates the younger generation to trace the trails of its meaning. Which then reveals that at the west part of the northern Bali had once being gifted with a revelation of Buddhist teaching that is very Bali typical
*) Kakawin are long narrative poems composed in Old Javanese, also called “Kawi”, written in verse form with rhythms and metres derived from Sanskrit literature.
11 Meanings of Genta*)
Being inspired by these stories, the ‘Compassion’ spiritual family is then ventured to place the inscription of “11 Meanings of Genta” near to the very sacred big Genta that had been established few years earlier by the same spiritual family at Pura Dalem Puri Besakih. The message is carved on the rock of Mount Agung to make it long lasting. The author’s name is also written down, to enable the new generation to trace the trails of its meaning in the future. The first and the most popular meaning of Genta is as a prayer vehicle. Without the Genta, prayer is similar to someone whose traveling by foot. Upon being transported by the Genta, a prayer is then like someone who travel by means of a vehicle. As for the type of the vehicle that will be found – from bicycles to jet planes – it depends on how deep someone embodied the other meanings of the Genta.
*) Genta = a bell
The second meaning of Genta is the encounter of Shiva-Buddha, the stupa part of the Genta tells about Buddha. The handle of the Genta is similar to Linggam that represents the symbol of Shiva. Not all devotees of Shiva is happy with this story. And not all Buddhists is willing to accept the parallel story of Shiva and Buddha. Yet, when one has been deeply touched by the teachings of Tantra, he will then understand through his own achievement that the encounter of Shiva-Buddha does truly exist and astonishing. The third meaning of Genta is the encounter of Lingga-Yoni (masculine-feminine). Both in Hindu Tantra and Buddhist Tantra, the symbol of Lingga-Yoni is equally placed in the springs of knowledge. In Buddhism, it is symbolized by Buddha Samantabhadra that depicted as a naked Buddha who embrace his queen whom is also naked. In Hindu Tantra, Shivaji and his Shakti are the highest Guru. And both are subtly symbolized into Lingga-Yoni. The Balinese elders are similar, in places where the masculine hill is cuddled by the feminine ocean, the elders built a very sacred holy site there.
The fourth meaning of Genta is as a symbol of love. The genuine aspirants of Tantra deeply understand that the path of Tantra is a very dangerous pathway. There have been many victims on this pathway. Yet this kind of turnpike might only be liberating, if someone practices Tantra with a noble intentions of perfecting compassion to all beings in the universe. Hence, quite a few students in the path of Tantra treat all beings as their biological mother whom deserve to be cared for, to be loved, and to be prayed for. The fifth meaning of Genta is as a bell of mindfulness. All forms of love would never be perfect if it is not equipped with the practice of mindfulness. It symbolizes that everything in nature comes in pairs. From night that comes in pairs with the day, until sorrow that comes as the pair of joy. Instead being dragged back and forth by sorrow and joy, the task of a seeker in this regard is to be mindfully standing as a witness. To be more precise, a compassionate witness.
Rest in the interval
The sixth meaning of the Genta is a suggestion to touch the serene space between two sounds. When the bell rings, most people only listens to its clinking sounds. Very few who is willing to touch the serene space between the two clinking sounds of the Genta. In Buddhist Tantra and Hindu Tantra, many students are requested to touch the serene space between two breaths. This instruction was first born out of Shivaji when He was answering the query of His empress, as being written in the luminous masterpiece called Vigyan Bhairawa Tantra, which contain Shivaji’s 112 answers for his queen. The seventh meaning of Genta is to go beyond duality. Anyone who often “rests” in the serene space between two breaths, between two sounds, between two thoughts (emotions), would be thereafter able to transcend any kinds of duality such as wrong-right, bad-good, sad-happy, low-high.
The eighth meaning of Genta is to grow over wrong-right. There is way too much violence happened in this era as too many people legitimating themselves as the righteous, and discrediting the divergent others. Many even dare to take the life of others based on their own justifications. At primary school level in general, the face of truth is indeed very black and white. Yet, at higher school level, the face of life are way more colorful. For example, a simple math of 2 + 2. In primary school level, the answer is absolutely equal to 4. However, in a higher education level, for example, 2 + 2 is not always merely equal to 4. When two glasses of water are being added with the other two glasses of water, then being poured into a bucket, the result will then become a fraction of the bucket. The ninth meaning of Genta is to exceed bad-good. Similar to trashes and beautiful flowers that rotating alternately, bad and good are also revolving alternately. Likewise, sadness-happiness, sorrow-joy, foe-friend, everything is rotating alternately.
The human soul will be able to beautifully grow when one is persistently practising to “rest” in the serene space between two breaths, between two sounds (the sixth meaning of Genta), in between two thoughts (emotions). It is not a coincidence that the most visited place in Bali for healing purposes, Ubud (which means the cure), is located in Central of Bali. At the head of the island (North of Bali), in the middle between the West and the East, the elders established Penimbangan Temple. To grow in the perfect balance is the tenth meaning of the Genta. This tenth meaning is opening the door that reveals the eleventh meaning of the Genta, which is the perfect soul. As often shared by ‘Compassion’ family, perfection is not a state of being flawless, yet the sincerity to smile to all imperfections.
“Does a perfect soul will still be reborn?”, that is the question of many young generation. As an encouragement for the beginners, the perfect soul is sometimes defined as a soul whose no longer reborn. As the soul maturely grows, an insight will comes naturally within, discerning that if all the perfect souls rest themselves in the realm of Moksha or Nirvana, then who will be guiding the countless number of beings whose suffering in this samsara realm? At times when the soul is enlightened, a divine understanding of the relative existence of birth and death will then blossom. Although in an absolute value, birth and death do not exist. Similar to garbage and beautiful flowers, death and birth are both spinning in the same circle of perfection. It is the level of achievement referred by the Balinese elders as nyepi lan ngewindu (the ultimate silence). And it is what makes the Balinese elders beautifully named God as Hyang Embang (the Supreme Silence).
In a more modern term, there is nothing left to explain. In the West there are those who write: “The most beautiful explanation about God is silence. The rest is only poor translation”. The most beautiful interpretation of God is silence, the rest is only disappointing translations. It is the substance the Balinese elders trying to convey through Nyepi day (the day of silence). Nevertheless, it does not mean that the perfect souls carelessly do nothing. Instead, they proactively guide all beings to go back to the home of silence. The Balinese elders refer it as urip lan nguripi (living a life that is worth living, not only for one’s self yet also for the good of all beings). Finding happiness by making others happy. In short, similar to the natural nature of water that is wet, the natural nature of flower that is beautiful, the natural nature of a perfect soul is finding joy through guiding all souls to beautifully grow. The following message is often shared to our very close friends in ‘Compassion’ family: “The most important thing is not the words of the messages you write. What matters the most is your beautiful attitude in everyday life. This beautiful attitude is what reawaken the Bell of Peace”.
Author: Guruji Gede Prama.
Photo: Putu Wirawan.
Translated By: Monica Laurena.