Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Could Bali’s Nyepi be Australia’s Good Friday?

West Australian’s love Bali with its beaches, cafes, night clubs, adventure parks and of course, Bintang beer.

But once a year our paradise island comes to a crashing, or should I say silent, halt as this predominately Hindu island celebrates Nyepi, a day of ‘stillness’ and ‘self-reflection’. And for those currently in, or heading to,  Bali this weekend remember that Nyepi-2015 will be celebrated on Saturday of this week.

A ‘Day of Silence’ might be fine for the Balinese, but for us Aussies it also means all cafes and pubs in Bali will be closed, all beaches will shut - and patrolled by security guards to ensure no swimming or beach sitting  takes place - and all supermarkets, and even convenience stores, will close.

Most tourists simply confine themselves to their hotels or villas during this day, where they can sit around the pool, read books, sleep and just do their own piece of meditation or ‘self reflection’. A big shock to the system if you are a typical over-stimulated westerner!

Interestingly, many people actually quite enjoy the Nyepi experience despite it being quite difficult for many people to ‘do nothing’ for an entire day.

And that brings me back to the fast approaching Easter holidays in Australia, and in particular, Good Friday. Sure, it’s a day when here in Australia we are meant to reflect on the death of Jesus Christ, but for many families it’s just another holiday, albeit with ‘nothing to do’; not even an AFL footy match to watch!

Good Friday 2014, in our household, saw my partner Katherine and I try our version of Bali’s Nyepi, whereby we just stayed home and enjoyed our own quiet day of reflection. Nice.

In the afternoon our kids and their partners came over for a late but simple lunch and some good conversation. No TV, no noise and just us being a (un) typical Aussie family. I didn’t even feel as though I should be going to my local swimming pool to do some laps like I normally do. Anyway, the pool was shut along with most shops and cafes.

Despite my football-addicted father (bless his heart) saying that there is almost no life without footy, it turned out to be a really nice day. It was even better than Christmas Day where it is compulsory to have all the family over and to provide endless packages containing gifts to mostly relatives you haven’t seen for the past twelve months. Good Friday is open to simple choices as to what you want to do on this very ‘quiet’ day.

So maybe this Easter we should resist all sport, including football, on Good Friday, and actually  advocate for all shops to be shut along with anything that continues to stimulate us and - as the Buddhists call it - our ‘Monkey Minds’.

And perhaps we could follow the lead of our fellow Aussies in Bali during Nyepi this weekend and just chill-out with family and friends on Good Friday, or simply stay at home, letting the kids play outside whilst we sit around and read books, or even practice a meditation.

After all is it that hard to learn to do nothing for just one day?

Ross B. Taylor AM

March 2015.


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