Once upon a time in the kingdom of Tabanan, Bali . . . .
It all started with a Banyan Tree . . .
. . . a LONG time ago (about 525 years) in the year 1487, (but not all that long compared to Egyptian pyramid age – 5000 years ago) in the Kingdom of Tabanan on the island of Bali there was a king named Sri Arya Mur Makules, who had only two wives and two sons. He left the boys in charge of the palace while he went off for serious prayer (Samadhi) in the temple. The two sons took on a stupid sibling type prank of cutting down the palace Banyan tree. All the palace staff were terrified and down right hysterical. As soon as the tree hit the ground with a great big boom, the older son, Sri Arya Ramong, fell terribly ill, mentally insane, and captured in trance, yelling and screaming. The King came home and was pretty darn upset and asked the younger son if he knew that the big Banyan tree was the main support of the palace like the spine of your back? The younger brother admitted to cutting the tree, but blamed the older brother (some family dynamics just don’t change much through the ages, eh?). FYI: The Banyan Tree is considered a holy tree with special powers of conducting spiritual energy.
All the royal Begawans (palace priests) tried to heal the son but failed. So the King went on a search all over Bali for a healer and heard about a Rsi Priest (a clan from the Waisnawa tradition) near Tanah Lot, who had psychic powers, and could possibly heal the crazy son and set things straight again. At first the Rsi priest said he couldn’t heal the son because he wasn’t a healer, but he did all the regular and proper rituals, dropped into a trance, and saw a vision of Mount Batu Karu and a teak forest. The king had no clue where in the heck this might be and asked the priest for a few directions or even better to be their guide. So they went hiking off to the forest for days and days (my guess with a few staff to help with the dishes) and found the hot springs, which is now the village of Penatahan.
After the party stopped, I’m sure for a little soak, they hiked a bit further to what ended up being the healing place. But for the moment there were only a few houses and a teak forest. The king inquired as to their names, and where might be a good place to pray and embrace Samadhi? The residents, Akuwu people, said they were simple country people and the best place to pray was a short walk to the northeast to a holy rock, where they traditionally prayed. They accompanied the King to the place of the stone, where he meditated daily and Ramong began to recover. When finally better he didn’t want to go back to the palace but preferred to stay in the area. He asked his dad, the King, to build a village for him and the priest to build an ashram to study and pray.
So a temple was built where Ramong was healed – Pura Batur. The priest built an ashram about ½ kilometer to the north and the area was named Mongan with another temple for the ashram, called Pura Dalem Madia. The King gave the land (8 hectare) to the priest with the stipulation he maintain the temple. The descendants of this priest are the family members who’ve partnered with us to put a Silent Retreat Center in what looks like pretty much exactly the same place, as we keep finding foundation stones (several of these stones are near “holy rock” and the labyrinth for walking meditation.)
By divine coincidence, the location of the Meditation Octagon, the Labyrinth for walking meditation, and the sleeping dorms seems to be in the same location as the historic ashram. Patricia (who founded Bali Silent Retreat and had a similar vision of the mountain, the water and hot springs) discovered the history in May 2012, after the structures were already built.
All was serendipitous, as so many events in Bali are: during a celebration for Uncle Karmina’s (a family member who’s shared the vision and leased the land to Patricia) graduation from special religion courses, he took out both a big shell horn, as well as, the family lontar* and began to read. The lontar* was very old and extremely fragile so, the family returned it to its secure place of safety in a box inside another box which is inside one more box in a small temple within the family compound. Patricia was in “awe” and Sangtu was giddy!
For his thesis, Uncle Karmina translated the lontar into Indonesian, so it could be included in a book on the history of Penatahan, Tabanan, Bali. The head of the family, Pak Ketut Sama, who had been supportive of this project from the beginning, but who’d had a stroke – unable to contribute much more than a nod, smiled big and broad with heartfelt satisfaction.
July 2013: We’re open!
The team at Bali Silent Retreat is looking forward to welcoming you for a stay or a day visit. Enjoy scrumptious food fresh from our organic gardens, a choice of accommodations to suit anyone’s needs … and SILENCE.
March 2013: It’s about details now.
February 2013: Toilets get set and finishing touches begin, though it continues to be obvious this is a simplistic ashram and not the Four Seasons.
January 2013: The Lodge is a completed shell and the dorms getting shaped up. 15KW solar panels and a battery bank are installed at the Lodge by Solar Indonesia and small stand alone panels and tear drop lights by Sundaya are installed in the single sleeping rooms and dormitories.
December 2012: The Lodge has a skeleton and the stairs/solar panel roof is in progress. The walking paths of railroad ties are being laid. A 51 meter well was drilled . . . OMG!
November 2012: Concrete construction continues on the main Lodge, and interior work begins on the other structures.
October 2012: The bungalows are pretty much finished.
September 2012: The gardens say
“Welcome Home” in abundance to Patricia.
July 2012: Dorms almost finished.
July 2012: Solar lights are put in the dorm rooms; building the kitchen – more stone, more concrete.
July 19, 2012: click here to a slide show link by one of my dearest friends, Neal Harrison, who recently visited the retreat center in progress. Despite the rain he captured its essence from construction chaos to the jungle path adventure. Thanks, Neal.
July 2012: Cleaning and repairing the old teakwood panel for interior walls of rooms.
June 2012: Brittany and our first sunflower, the beautiful gardens (river side) begin.
June 2012: The girls dorm goes up, Big Jogolo awakens (girls dorm).
June 2012 – Three bungalows have roofs, the Lodge begins.
May 2012 – A touch of Balinese style on the bungalows. Tiles going up and onto the bungalows.
April 2012: The skeleton of sleeping room sanctuary is complete . . . sort of, almost, well, good enough.
March 2012: Single Sleeping Room Lodge – the roof begins.
March 2012: Single Sleeping Room Lodge – getting ready to pour concrete on the textured “bedeg”.
Don’t try at home! (March 2012 Bungalows going up).
Perma culture maniacs working in 40 kilometer winds.
February 2012: Measuring for bungalows.
February 2012: BIG Ironwood Posts for reception Click to see video:
The road . . . always the road.
Deliveries by hand and shoulder and wheelbarrow.
December 2011: Retaining wall decisions for Sangtu and Patricia.
November 2011: The road and retaining wall.
November 2011: The road and a lonely stamper for the limestone.
March 2012: One of the jogolos arrive.
March 2012: The Labyrinth is pretty much completed and Amit embraces the “first walk” of the first labyrinth that she’s created. Great Installtion – Thank You, Amit.
February 2012: Bungalows arrive… in pieces.
January 2012: 35-40kph winds – Blowing the roof off the gudang! Tin flying everywhere – OMG!
January 2012: The road is finished at record breaking speed in time to beat the rains, and for the workers to go back to Java for holiday. Can the road get sides after holiday?
December 2011: Meditasi octagon and deck – just needs a good cleaning.