Share! your Ashram experience

Greetings to friends of the Ashram,

I am not too sure how this is going to work but the intent is to provide avenue for friends and guests ‘who have a story to tell or share’ (I have heard some pretty remarkable ones) to do so and write their Ashram experiences, be that of a recent visit or – for those souls lucky enough to have met her – of old encounter/s with our late founder, Ibu or Mrs. Gedong Bagoes Oka.

This blog will be linked to the Ashram’s website to give visitors to the site as complete record as possible, from a single site, of what the Ashram was and is like, or what was Ibu like. This way people thinking about visiting the Ashram will have a better feel of what they’re in for and past guests can use it as a way of comparing notes, perhaps renew contact with others in the Ashram community etc. , as well as keeping a good record for posterity.

I have also come across comments written in some sites such as Facebook but I feel that a number of friends who are not on Facebook (and let’s face it – some never will!) miss out on reading some of those rather moving stories. So I would encourage those to re-write their comments here as this way we hope that will be a kind of virtual ‘repository’ on anything about our very own Ashram Gandhi and Ibu, along with links to other relevant sites, all together in the in a single place.

Depending on how this develops and as need arises we may extend this blog role such as to disseminate information, publicize events, discuss issues relevant to the Ashram or Ashram’s values etc., and all placed in relevant categories.

Your cooperation and contribution are both sought after and encouraged. I have a good feel that this will be a start of a great initiative and that here we have a suite of products that can keep us actively engaged as a community. Thanking you in anticipation and – as we say in Balinese and at the Ashram – suksma ((thank you) and shantih greetings!

Rudi Oka

(fyi I am the fourth of Ibu‘s six sons, based in Melbourne, Australia, but in frequent contact and visits to the Ashram)

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8 Responses to Share! your Ashram experience

  1. Prof. Tatu says:

    Grrreat idea, Rudi! Ma’af, that my name comes out in the “official” version — I keep a wordpress blog for my uni students. I’m looking forward to hearing everyone’s ashram stories. It’s wonderful to see those familiar faces on the header — and to think that Sitep (far left) was about 22 when I first met her — my same age. How often the soothing sounds of the mantras come back to me, or the words of Gandhi’s sayings, intoned by Ibu at her lessons, just after morning prayers.
    I used to love sitting on outside the temple, on the cool, hard tiles of the bale, huddled in the chill darkness, trying to make out who was who as each clambered up to join. Sitting in silence, waiting, everyone wrapped in light blankets…and then the mantras, the remarkable, timeless, wise and soothing mantras. Darkness giving way to light streaking across the sky, through silhouettes of impossibly tall coconut trees. The captivating flames of agni hotra, smells of morning fires around us, sounds of traffic on the road and children at the school next door. Another morning coming to life, fresh, and filled with possibilities!
    Hoping for a return, soon, and sending my love to all of you in the meantime.
    Om, shanti, shanti, shanti!

    • ashramgandhi says:

      I’ve got to get the hang of this as I thought I had replied yesterday. Thank you “Ibu Prof” for starting the ball rolling and you put the morning puja so beautifully. Certainly my most favourite puja as you feel so reinvigorated afterward – if you just manage to make it to the ungodly hour start. Yes time stands still on that part of the activities even sans Ibu with her lessons. The trick of course is to forgo the late night chats that are hard to resist as you invariably stumble across interesting people from all part of the world, or utilise the rare opportunities for the odd chat with the now very busy pak Sadra, now MP! I am so looking forward to being there in October.

  2. Derek D'Cruz says:

    Our Ashram experience began with a chance mention of Ashram Gandhi by a Quaker friend in Perth, Australia. On our arrival we were warmly welcomed by Ibu and ashram members, helped with settling in to our chalet looking out on this beautiful sea. We immediately recognised the unique qualities of this ashram and slipped in to that wonderful ashram routine, starting with dawn prayers, Agni hotta, activities through the day including the Ashram clinic, evening prayers, Agni hotta, and the beautiful night prayers, especially the Bhagavad Gita- You and I Arjuna have lived many lives, I remember them all, you do not remember. That was some twenty years ago. Thanks to Ibu, all ashram members, Rudi and all the Oka family for continuing this wonderful Ashram.

    • ashramgandhi says:

      Why did I think I had replied to this? Please accept the long belated apologies, it may be late due to the oversight but you know that I’ve always appreciated your unwavering support of us. We have to renew our acquaintances again since our sole meeting, I remember as I think it was the last of our family temple ceremony with Ibu, so that makes it Oct – Nov 2001? Thank you for writing and may our paths will cross – preferably at the Ashram, and soon. Om Shantih, rudi

  3. Laetizia says:

    I needed to make a “break” and I decided to go to Bali. Probably the best idea I had these last past years!!! During my stay in Bali, I spent a week at the Ashram Gandhi and it was just perfect for me! I found peace there, and met so lovely people (the other guests and the ashram members)! Even the birds and the cows were full of peace!
    If you’re looking for a very simple place, with lovely people, just to breath and be in peace, don’t hesitate. This ashram’s energy is full of love and peace. You can also have yoga class with Kawi, go to the accupuncture clinic wit Uki, read very intersting books. The area around is beautiful and Sitep’s food just perfect!!! I left the ashram totally whole. And it was so good! I’ll come back there for sur if I go back to Bali!
    If you’re looking for a “classic” ashram, with a guru and a very strict planning during the day, you’ll be probably disappointed. Like an american I guy I met at the end of my stay… he was unable to enjoy the peace of the ashram… he was so closed and alone… everybody there was proposing a hand…. but he was expecting something different and wasn’t ready to enjoy… I hope for him he’ll be able a next time!
    Sorry for the mistakes…. I’m french! If you want more details, you can contact me. That will be a pleasure for me to answer you!

    • ashramgandhi says:

      Hi Laetizia, my gosh time flies and please read my above comment to Derek. Ditto to you – another one of my oversights! I like your incisive observation of the place, I concur. Speaking of the interesting books, now it is much easier to browse as we have posted the whole catalog as a pdf document on this blog. Go to the top menu (under the photo banner) ‘Ashram Facilities’ and select ‘Gandhian Library’ form the drop-down menu and from the article click on the pdf file. You’d be amaze as the number of books that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise without spending days and days going through the shelves. Trust that you are keeping well and in peace! Kind regards and Om Shantih, Rudi

      PS Your excel booking system you set up is still used by Kawi and still serving the Ashram well!

  4. Kate says:

    More than 40 years ago I was directed to visit the Ashram by Daniel, whom I met on a course for Indonesian language and culture in Salatiga, Java. When the course ended the other students returned mostly to Australia but I was on my way back to England and wanted to use my new found language and culture skills. The tutor’s managed to get my visa extended so I could drop into this place in Bali that Daniel said was a good place to be, to experience a real world. I don’t remember much about the journey except I know it was local transport.

    I never forgot the experience. The real world was full of challenges. They were not unexpected because I had already travelled through India with a VSO visiting places so off the beaten track that even though people could speak English well they were scared to talk to me because I was white. Some had never really been close to white people and there was much giggling amongst children who wondered if my white skin and fair hair would wash off! In Katmandu, where I lived and worked for a while, and in the rest of Nepal, I was lucky enough to have the whole spectrum of experience from the rich to the poor and the expats and the travellers! I was allowed to see from the outside how people coped with staying alive. The force of life, making the effort to find a way through the challenges and set backs, was best when people tried to achieve an advantage for many. It might be by yourself or with others. And then came Bali with a wonderful village tradition, where the 10 jobs that needed to done by the whole village to help each other have a decent life were posted on your way in. Living proof of caring for each other because it makes your own life better.

    The most important lesson I learnt from Ibu Oka was to take on what is good from whatever or whoever touches your life. She watched me sitting on the porch one day but I could not just sit, I had to have something in my hands to do. She came over and said “Put your knitting away. You Europeans have such a problem with not doing anything. You must always be doing. Learn how to just sit and be.”

    I do it all the time now, that is I just sit and be part of what is in that place at that moment in time. Then I was twenty something, now I am sixty something. But I always need to find my place for this moment in the great scheme of things. 40 years ago it was sitting on the porch in what my heart told me was paradise, with warmth from sun, beauty of natural surroundings and good food and love and peace! I could watch the daily pattern of timeless living; making an offering, a beautiful acknowledgement of what was around and leaving it in a place for all to see as they walked out of the home; going to work at a job that would provide for the daily needs for those around you whether in a field or a University; caring for each other as you could and sharing what you had with others when they needed it; doing everyday essentials for living comfortably with each other – the family coming home to wash their clothes and themselves in the pool; gathering together to be part of particular experiences be it religous like prayers or more secular like the visit of the wayang kulit and the dalang for a shadow play that the whole area attended; or the ketchak rehearsals. I remember passing places in the evening where people made music with gamalan or a nose flute or a voice, and others danced or captured a moment in a painting.

    And from learning how to just sit and be I have acquired a useful trick, when life puts me in a place that is hard to be in I can search in my mind and draw out a life force from one of those places where I have just sat. I can close my eyes and be with those feelings again of being a special part of something much bigger and powerful than I am alone, and calm my soul. I catch myself collecting those moments sometimes, thinking “I must remember this moment because I will need it soon”.

    I came back to the Ashram last year, more than forty years later, before Christmas 2011 and I will be back in July 2012 because my youngest son now in his twenties has chosen to bring his new bride to Bali to celebrate their marriage with their friends. I tried so hard to return and stay so many years ago but times do change and now my life has passed through many different experiences both wonderful and hard to survive but I will always be able to dip into warmth and peace and refresh my life force. Thank you Ibu Oka and all those people who worked so hard with her to let my soul touch paradise and thank you for those who keep it here.

    (And I still love the most amazing food!)

    • ashramgandhi says:

      Thank you Kate for making the time to share these with us. Apologies if I had been ‘flat chat’, the same with the email, but I believe that we’ll finally meet in July? I’ve checked your booking at the Ashram and I shall still be there around the same time, and so would Jackson. I really am looking forward to it.

      Your story is another one that I find fascinating, it’s so good to hear friends of my mother recount their various stories, and how she or the Ashram made one or two lasting impression on some people. Something to take away that in some way life altering. My story is how the Ashram changed me after her passing, the challenges we had to overcome but have been well rewarded with the fantastic people I’ve met and the friends I’ve made and hopefully making some difference to the Ashram community along the way.

      Thanks again and I shall try to reply to your very well written email, but if not we’ll have a good after meal sessions at Bale Yoga soon enough. Can hardly wait!

      Om Shantih,

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