The World Of In -Between
Once I am in Canada , March 1st , John and I head to Florida for our yearly visit for two months.
During April’s full moon , I place one of my crystal’s outside on a table for cleansing. I leave it out there for a few days and on one of those days a dove comes to sit on it . I say to John, ”that’s strange, Prana is here , he has a message. His message is that he is not well and will be leaving soon. I need to stay in connection with his family. I do not email or text Wah or Mantra but a friend , Brooke Martin and Manqku Made. “Is Prana feeling well?” I ask. “Yes Ibu, he is a little tired and weak but he received natural medicine and he will be fine”. I check Prana and Wah’s astrology charts and Prana is not fine. I know in my gut he is leaving and I am burdened with this information. I cannot tell his family or anyone except for John and a close friend Lucia. In the next few months life goes on accordingly ,however I am still apprehensive. In May Prana’s family go on vacation , a rest but Prana does not join. I feel it in my body, the beginning of his demise. June 22, I receive text from Wah about his father’s health. He is being treated for low energy, appetite and general condition. There is also liquid around his heart. I begin a prayer group with those who have travelled to Bali with me. I call it Agung Prana’s Angels. I request prayers for Prana and his family. Mostly for acceptance for what is to come. The family is having difficult time when final results come in and they move him to another hospital hoping for better results. Three days later Prana leaves his body.
The planet has lost a King, Humanitarian , Visionary, Mentor, Entrepreneur, Companion, Father, Statesman, Mystic. Something inside me has shifted and changed. I weep. When my brother Dereck passed in 2000, I felt I loss a limb. When our daughter left , I lost my mind for a span of time, when my parents left within three yrs of Melanie, I lost my heart. With Prana’s passing , I cannot explain. There are no words in the English language to describe. Bits of my soul is missing , my limbs, mind and heart all together. It’s a slow progression putting them back together.
I leave for Bali to attend cremation ceremony July 16th and arrive on the 18th. I have missed the first of many sacred ceremonies. The Bathing Ceremony.
Mrs Prana,(Arine), Agung Wah, His brother, Mantra Bugus and Prana’s daughter Decy take Prana’s body to his home in Puri Taman Sari. They are not about to hand him over to just anyone or an undertaker as we would do in our culture. They have many ceremonies to prepare.
The Bathing Ceremony is held on Prana’s 70th birthday, July 12th. The village and Prana’ friends are invited to witness the family in this holy sacred ritual. The family lovingly hand bath his body with holy water, oils and spices. They then put him in dry ice and lay him in the sacred pavilion located next to his room. They construct a tower where many offerings are placed. These offerings, called canang sari (canang, roughly translated as ‘basket of flowers’ and sari meaning ‘essence’), are hand-sized, origami-like, carefully constructed open boxes, made of palm or banana leaves and most commonly filled with bright fresh flowers. Each flower is selected for its color and each color has a specific significance. Occasionally, money, a small bit of food, or a burning incense stick is placed on top of the offering. The tower is filled with many offerings to help Prana’s soul’s journey.
You must remember that houses are not like our homes in North America. Here they consists of bedroom, kitchen , dining, altars all outside in open concept.
Another procedural is called Mekarya Alam Tegak . The entire village is invited to prepare food for cremation ritual. Because they will be busy in the next few days with so many ceremonies they are asked to take food home for the next few days from what they are prepared.
In the evening another ceremony called Mesesalin Munggah tumpeng salu is preformed at 23:45hours. The main point of this ceremony is the changing of the sarong of the body with offerings.
The next day at 1:00pm we have the Manah Toya Ning. The villages, family parade to sacred river in village and collect holy , white and clean water to bring back to Prana’s body for future ceremony. As water is collected by the priest and family we and then in prayer of acceptance of this water. All together we are in ritual for a hour.
Later in the day at 3:00am we proceed and are witness to one of the most joy filled ,yest sorrow filled precessions. There is a huge parade with two huge chairs which sit two of Prana’s grandchildren. The holy water is blessed once again. When we return to compound, home of family, there is a song sung to sing goodbye to the body before its cremation the next day. It is the melancholiest song and sound I have ever heard. There are many tears and afterwards, 5 year old grandson begins to cry to his mother, “ why do I have to say goodbye to grandfather?” Those of us who witness this exchange are heartbroken and feel much compassion for this brave wee one.
Following this there is another ceremony for the grandchildren , this one is so that they will carry on their grandfathers vision into the future. With each ceremony there is holy water sprinkled on everyone as well as prayers said.
Towards the end of the day there is my favourite ceremony .The Miaspas Kajang.
This means the Purification of symbol of human body. The family prepares with the help of high priest on sacred cloth a likeness of body. This is done with Chinese coins and family is asked to come forward and stitch their energy into symbolic body on a cloth. I am grateful and filled with wonder to be asked to participate.
I have been invited to all the rituals the family is preforming. To be enmeshed into family like this is an honor and a privilege. I am considered family here as well as the Goodman’s from Tucson , Arizona. I wrote about them in another chapter. Bobbie Goodman came here two weeks prior to have ceremony of her husbands ashes in the Bali Sea in Permuteran. We joked that Allan , her husband came to pick Prana up. In life they were very close for the last twenty years. Bobbie has experienced the death of her husband in Nov and now our beloved Prana. It is not an easy time for her but she is a pillar of strength. I learn many spiritual lessons from this goddess of wisdom. One of them the importance of non attachment. Her energy is very Zen. A women filled with peace and acceptance.
July 21st, I awake at 4:00am to prepare for Cremation. It begins at 6:00 to pray , receive blessings ,move some of the many offerings, wreaths and posters that paid respect to this great man. There are literally hundreds of them.
I sit in peace and quiet as I observe and absorb all that is happening around me. The family seems to be doing well despite the sorrow in their hearts.
There are once again many rituals & prayers offered for family to prepare them .
We are ready to remove both Prana’s physical body and his soul body which we were able to add a stitch of ourselves yesterday. The soul body had been laid upon his physical body. The family lead the procession to cemetery. There are a least a thousand people present. As they lift bodies I notice that Prana’s sister in law , Arine’s sister begins to shake. I intuitively know that Prana is about to enter her. Boddie, myself & David, a friend of Bobbie’s who was also very close to Prana approach her to steady her balance. She grabs us by the hands and say’s “COME”
We walk very fast, and the procession widens to allow us to walk through. Yes, Prana is directing us . He leads us to four temples , we are not yet allowed to enter until the 12th day of mourning. We stand outside praying the Gayatri Mantra as we are instructed. I have not memorized this sacred Sanskrit chant yet but I pray every word as it is being challenged into me. Prana talks to us with messages that I do not wish to speak about here as it is very whole, holy, sacred and for our eyes, ears , soul only . To be with Prana before he leaves is one of the most exquisite , sacred, sorrow filled, joy filled experiences of my life. I do not expect anything to surpass this wonder in my lifetime. To those of you who have wondered or doubted that there is an in between , unseen world , trust me , this place exists. I have witnessed it. When we die , we have time on this earth in spirit form before we finally leave with the help of ceremonies to move to our next Karma . We in our culture have so much to learn from the Balinese. When our daughter passed away, she was cremated and her ashes given to her daughters. We did not have any other ceremonies to help Melanie with her transition. I was not able to grieve properly. I allowed myself to be in my own hell for almost five years. This hell planted itself into my body and hence the extra weight gain.
Now I understand why and once home I too will help our family with the correct way to grieve as I have been learning here. In our culture we know nothing about the soul and what really happens and how important it is to have ceremonies to release the deceased as well as ourselves. There is no death. We are on a journey of the soul. We enter the planet to serve and then we depart to return home to the divine to begin another existence.
At the cemetery, there are many prayers , offerings before Prana’s bodies(soul & physical) and his items that he loved are laid into the sacred bull. Once the fire begins it is here that the family struggles with their sorrow. Bobbie and I handhold and help where needed to offer our love and support.
Once body has purified into ashes , the same bits of bones remaining in ash are removed and the family , Bobbie, David and myself are asked to approach in yet another ceremony where we roll and help crush the remailing bones. We then proceed to river where all his ashes are released into the flow of life.
We return to home where we all share a meal together.
Wait, this is not the end of ceremonies.
The next morning we begin three days of walking to ceremony to break bread ,breakfast together with Prana. There is myself and a few members of family only. They place food for Prana on the ground where he was cremated to help nourish him while his soul is still walking the earth. After the third day this ritual stops and we go into quiet and mourning. I choose to eat nothing but soup at this time. We are in mourning until the twelfth day which will be August 2rd. I leave that day to return home but before I do , we have ceremony at sacred river to retrieve Prana’s soul. We then proceed back to crematory to pray and totally release Prana’s body to the heavens. When he is released he will follow his Karma and none of us know what that is. Such is alpha, omega. beginning, endings, light ,shadow, all is in balance. The family will continue with Prana’s Passion , his dreams and legacy . They will hurt when they think of him their sorrow will be lifted as they know Papa is now guiding them. Love never dies. Their heart is devoted and faithful to him. I also will be faithful, devoted to his dream, his family , his project, “Center of Hope.”
Footnote: In our culture we do honor our deceased. We lay them out and call it a wake , we sometimes cremate or have formal burial. Food is an important component as friends and neighbours bring us offerings to sustain us for the duration of grief week. Whenever there are tragic killings usually we rally together in candle lit environments to either pay tribute to the deceased or to protest the chaos. We are also in ceremony during these times, we are simply not aware that we are in ritual.
In the English dictionary mysticism is define