A woman says a prayer for the dead after
the first Bali bombing in October, 2002
Anyone who has ever been to Bali must be feeling a profound sadness today... Before the ascendance of Jemaah Islamiyah and al Qaeda, Bali was probably the most peaceful place on Earth. I always thought of Bali as one of the most evolved civilizations on the planet, a place overflowing with creativity, gentleness and laughter, where everyone seems to be a painter or a woodcarver or a jeweler or a musician or some kind of artist. There is magic and wonder all throughout the island. Lazaris would say they were people in touch with their "boundary dweller"--that creative power that lifts us out of the mundane human experience. The Balinese have maintained the beauty of their traditional culture, their sense of the sacred and artful, and yet they have also managed to absorb and balance the impact of the Western world. Every year, more and more people learned about the "paradise" of Bali, and every year, more and more tourists would come. And every year the Balinese welcomed all of them, openly, with laughter, innocence and love. I had a wonderfully funny spiritual experience at the temple dedicated to Hanuman in Bukit Sari, the sacred monkey forest, but I digress... But how long will Balinese culture endure suicide bombings, carryed out by fanatics whose stealth is only matched by their perverted hatred and messianic arrogance? In Maluku, Jema Islamiya destroyed groups of Christian villages because the Indonesian military turned a blind eye to the arms that were being brought into islands by Muslim militant ideologues. What will happen in Bali?