Bhinneka Tunggal Ika
I am in busy Jakarta watching motorbikes, lots of honking and angst faces, literally ramming other bikes as they push their way through the traffic crush. Eight million motorbikes in this city, forty million people … that is one heck of a lot of people in one place at one time. I reflect to five hours earlier where I am riding my push bike through green rice fields watching farmers peacefully hacking down banana leaves with sickles to feed their cows. No noise, cool breeze …simple peace.
The Indonesian motto upon the countries coat of arms…is…Bhinneka Tunggal Ika ..translated as “Unity in Diversity”. As a political catch cry to entice their followers this may sound cool … but for me … I am not sure. The diversity I love … farmers to yogis to business men to taxi drivers … yes … but the unity ? In this country some people are surviving on approx $2 a week whilst others are taking in $20,000 a day. In material terms, this is the land of some of the richest and poorest people in the planet … diversity yes … unity? … I’m not so sure. Then in the institutions where we send our children, intellectual achievement is honoured … the rest is forgotten. We demand standing on a straight line and walking like robots … don’t step before your turn? Do as the book says … yes here we have Unity … but like many educational institutions, sacrifices creativity and individual expression. So diversity being recognised … I am not so sure.
As I boarded the plane earlier amongst a sea of Indonesian people with briefcases and ties, I had attempted to initiate contact. But my poor language, fisherman pants , white skin and yoga mat … had me on a different planet. The best I could do was eye contact and smile. I worked on some but for others?
“Who is this weird guy?”
Again I struggled to find the unity within the diversity. Easy to say, difficult to do.
I then referred back to the same slogan … expressed differently … “Appearing as many, essentially one” ahh …Yes … I immediately felt the shift to something less superficial, more core … and yes … more truth. I had been tuning into the “world of appearances ” … the channel that easily gets you stuck. I am sure you get stuck there too.
Once I tuned into a more felt sense, I was playing in the world of appearances but not stuck there. Thus, I was able to understand the core truth of this powerful phase…
“Appearing as many , essentially one.”
There is no other that walks this planet like you or I … and this is something to rejoice and share with each other. But more importantly beyond this expression is a One that is very unifying and when we become conscious of it …. very transformative.
Maybe the guy on $2 a day is at home right now under the open sky holding his wife’s hand and playing with his kids. Maybe the guy on $20,000 a day is reaching into his cabinet with his hand to get a pack of anti depressants so he can get back to his computer screen in his air conditioned office. I know where I would rather be. We can so often get caught in the world of appearances and forgot what we are essentially.
In Chinese medicine’s metal element the totem is the mirror. It reminds us that appearances do matter. Showing up and making you own individual difference is important. As is the roles we play when we step forward and show up. We appear as present, clear and sincere. It may at times, ask you to wear a coat, play a role. It doesn’t mean sacrifice what is true. It also asks us to keep stripping back. Taking away what is not really essential and we are left with pure gold . We need the mirror to see this .
To look inside and have a good look at what is it we really value. Then we come back to love, not division, only one. Is not our yoga practice the same..? Our Zenthai practice is rich when … ‘two bodies really one’ … What about when we walk the street? … can we sense it in the passerby? That eye contact that acknowledges ‘appearing as many but essentially one ‘… can be a transforming experience. An experience that truly inspires us to help, share and connect with each other .
Back home in Bali …
I reach down mindfully for the young coconut and laugh at my bent index finger and slightly aging hand . I drink from the shell and allow the life force to permeate through every cell of my body. I look up I see the open bright eyes of a Balinese passerby. ” Selmat pagi” … I say … “good morning” he replies … I am speaking his language, he is speaking mine and we laugh together. I bring my hands together and take a bow to who he is … who we are.
“Appearing as many, essentially one”
“I used to live in a room full of mirrors, all I could see was me,
I take my spirit and I crash my mirrors,
Now, the whole world is here for me to see”