Finding Spirituality Beyond Ubud–Ever since the release of Eat-Pray-Love, individuals in search of themselves have flocked to Ubud. Ok, so, I admit it, I’m guilty of the same–I made a visit to the Balinese town last year to re-centre myself after quitting my job in New York City.
As a relatively unspiritual individual, I wasn’t sure what it was I sought or if I would find what I thought Bali might provide. But it seemed like the place to go. After spending four days in a private villa, I set off to participate in the quintessentially Ubud activities. I did yoga. I went to the spa. I enjoyed vegan food at Bali Buda. I meditated outside. I loved every moment but I didn’t feel what I figured I should or would while there.
And so my trip continued… bringing me all throughout the country to places I’d never heard. One such town is Candidasa. While there, I explored Pura Luhur Lempuyang, one of Bali’s nine cardinal temples. Following behind Mangku, a local priest and guide, we climbed; upstairs, past the Instagram-able gates of the first temple, and up the road toward the jungle within which the remaining structures hid.
Soon, we found ourselves amidst hundreds of villagers journeying to the seventh temple following an earlier cremation ceremony. With offerings piled high on their heads and wearing the most vibrant clothing, the group intertwined with our climb. Navigating the lush jungle and unrelenting heat, we became part of and absorbed into their procession.
Energy and quick smiles counteracted our growing exhaustion. Each Hindu lesson Mangku imparted made the endless steps fade away. Fueled by those around me, I finally arrived at the seventh temple.
Sitting, legs crossed, sweat dripping down my back, practising a Hindu prayer learned minutes ago, I finally felt it. During one village’s funeral procession, I became aware I was part of something larger than myself.
Closing my eyes and breathing, I felt a sense of peace I’d never before experienced. So, it turned out it wasn’t going to unfold for me in Ubud but instead at the top of 1,700 stairs outside an atom-sized village. A place where I least expected it.
Perhaps that’s the true magic of the island? Whether spiritual or not, whatever you are searching for, whatever brought you to Bali can be found anywhere. Whether it be to Pura Luhur or some other small town, venture forth, beyond the known. Much awaits…