When I visited Bali 17 years ago, I was told there was a very special medicine man, Ketut Liyer, who lived in Ubud. I didn’t get a chance to meet him then. Years later, I read the book, Eat Pray Love and he was was one of the significant characters Elizabeth Gilbert met on her journey. I remember the way I felt when I read the book and saw the movie. I recall feeling like I understood the depth and connection she experienced meeting him as well as the connection she had with Ubud. I related and always knew I would return.
I first visited Bali in 1999. The new century was approaching and I was going through a difficult time in my life. I decided to plan an adventure and it was spontaneous. One in which I would go far, far away and be one of the first to bring in the new year, hopefully standing on a beach somewhere, watching fireworks and gaining the perspective I so needed and wanted at the time. I chose Bali.
I will share about this visit another time but I will say, for now, that what I experienced on that journey, changed me and will be a part of me forever. I had such a deep connection with Bali. It was a deeply spiritual connection. I will look forward to exploring and expressing my thoughts about it one day in my writing.
Fast forward to the year my family and I traveled around the world. We were almost nine months into our travels before we arrived in Bali. One of my most favorite places on earth. I clearly recall, as the plane was approaching, feeling like I was going back home.
While driving in a taxi upon arrival, I inquired about Ketut. I found out he was right around the corner from where we were staying. As soon as we settled in, I felt compelled to make arrangements for us to visit him. I could hardly wait to meet and connect.
Ubud is a sanctuary, filled with amazing artists, culture, yoga, magnificent nature, rice paddies, and a bohemian, earthy, spiritually awakening atmosphere, which I cannot get enough of.
Ubud is still my favorite place in Bali. It remains tranquil and filled with so much warmth and kindness. It is in this peace-loving village where I had the pleasure and honor of spending time with Ketut.
I felt deep joy from the the moment we entered his home. As I walked around the corner, I saw him and felt connected immediately. When I sat down, I was so happy to see his toothless grin and the sparkle in his eyes. I experienced the deep wisdom of a 100 year old man sitting before me, just by looking at him. So much was communicated before we even spoke.
I felt every bit of his healing energy, simply through his eyes. He was so charming and funny and had me laughing so hard, I was crying. This meeting was a destined component on my path. This day, exactly as it was, couldn’t have been more special.
He read my palm and analyzed my soul. Deeply. He brought to light much for me to contemplate about this life, my place in it, and things to come. He made me laugh with the kind of belly laugh that makes one truly understand what joy is.
He told me I would be returning to Bali in the near future and that he wanted me to come back and spend time with him. He adored my family and asked if we would all come back to visit and to please not forget about him.
He told me a few other things, which I keep to myself, but often ponder.
I will always remember this day. I will continue walking on this path with my heart open and the willingness to recognize and embrace life’s teachers, lessons and answers along the way. I will continue questioning, observing, learning, giving and growing with all of the awareness and love in my heart.
In all of my travels around the world, I find myself very interested in the citizens of each country and their culture. I like to see how others live, what they value, what they stand for and how they treat others. There are two places in this world so far, in which I have met the kindest, warmest and most generous human beings. The first, is Ireland. The second, is Bali.
Indonesia is split religiously between Hinduism, Muslim and Christianity. Bali is predominantly Hindu. I do not subscribe to any one religion however I am deeply spiritual and carry God within me always. In terms of peace, I have gathered so much about the Hindu faith and I feel such gentle, loving and kind energy here in my quest for understanding.
Many Balinese people prepare offerings and pray three times a day, asking for good blessings. They strongly believe in Karma and lives their lives, speak their words, and treat others with that in mind. They truly think about what they are doing and saying before they take action. They want to ensure that these actions align with their intention, purpose and good will for others.
As a citizen of the United States of America and a witness to all of the violent, senseless and evil crime that takes place in this world, I see light. I see that we each play a role and have the power to make a difference. Not all people of any race, religion, or country, are good. Not all, are bad. We are each different and responsible for our own actions and what we choose to give and take from this world.
That said, I do believe it’s possible for ONE person to evoke hate and it is just as possible for one person to induce LOVE.
I thank you, Bali, for shining brightly through the darkness. I thank you, for choosing Love and for generously sharing it. I promise to act with the same kindness and to offer whatever I can to you, and all people.
Ubud is still my favorite place in Bali. It remains tranquil and filled with so much warmth and kindness. It is in this peace-loving village that I had the pleasure and honor of spending time with Ketut, the Medicine Man.
Lastly, I’d love to share this deeply poignant excerpt from Eat Pray Love. I truly believe in and agree with this sentiment:
I’ve come to believe in something I call the Physics of the Quest. The rule of quest physics goes something like this…
If you’re brave enough to leave everything behind familiar and comforting, which can be anything from your house, to bitter, old resentments
And set out on a truth-seeking journey, externally or internally
And if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue
And if you accept everyone along the way as a teacher
And if you are prepared, most of all, to face and forgive some very difficult realities about yourself, then…
The truth will not be withheld from you.Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love
I couldn’t have said this better myself. The truth is being revealed and I am aware and open, to receiving the gift of each layer, as it is uncovered.
Thank you, Elizabeth Gilbert for these words and thank you, dearest Ketut, for being so lovingly and openly present to me and my family. I will always remember our time together and the deep, hearty laughter we experienced.
One day, we shall meet again.