No matter the outcome, their historical relationship is nothing short of astounding.
As just one of 17,504 officially listed islands, Bali Island sits in the middle of the ring of fire, a long horse-shaped chain of active volcanoes and earthquake sites that runs all around the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Bali became the only part of Indonesia to remain predominantly Hindu.
Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world and of all official religions Hinduism has the longest history in the archipelago. However, on most Indonesian islands this chapter in its history has been erased by time or conquest. The only exception being the island of Bali. Until the present day most inhabitants of this island (known as 'island of the Gods') practice Balinese Hinduism.
Connected and interconnected in isolation, a direct symbiotic relationship between Bali people and their canine spans hundreds of years. There are many stories and myths surrounding their union and as usually happens with all engaging tales, reality becomes a very fluid medium. One certainty has remained constant for millennium. If Bali people did not want their dogs, they would not be there. Balinese canines are an integral part of Balinese history and culture. Their relationship is far from perfect, nothing is.
So why do Bali people cohabit with Bali dogs. The reality is very simple. It just is and has forever been this way and the thought of any other outcome is not a consideration, it’s their enduring agreement.
‘Without Bali dogs, Bali is not Bali.’
The commonality is generalized across different species. An innate ability to teach. An instinctive and unlearned skill. Unpaid yet invaluable. To shape, show, model, test and deliver survival techniques in a playful form. To fool a pupil into thinking they are directing the play and controlling the outcome. To let them think and believe the undetected learning is their idea. The skill of the elder, through play, is to correct the behavior of the young. To reward and respond to correct behavior and correct or ignore undesired behavior(s). Without realizing it, a young one is being trained to survive, without even knowing it.
This is the job of life and even though there is no guarantee that a well-rounded, balanced, responsible adult will emerge the onus is on the elder to offer every opportunity for that to happen. If achieved, then an existence of do no harm has prevailed over chaos, a balance for the greater good has been achieved and a chance to pay it forward has dodged a destruction bullet.
To observe Bali dogs playfully engaged in the most serious and important job, free from interference and manipulation, is fascinating and just simply fun. To realize what they are doing, free from ego, leads you to the only conclusion possible. Their lives, on a proven sentient level, have reached an evolutionary stage of true altruism. No wonder they are referred to as, ‘mans best friend.’
Only a true and rare best friend would show you how to do the most difficult job, with no conditions attached, beyond asking you to know that in life you get what you give, its as simple as that.
It’s happening all the time, crowded waiting rooms, with beings moving in different parallel realities, arriving and departing in different directions.
In a world of separation, we really miss the point, by a big margin. There is no you, me, us, them, they. We really are all in this together. The pandemic nearly gifted us that simple reality. Do that, this happens. We have so much to learn, such little time left. As an eternal suffering optimist, the reality of an overwhelming reality continues to erode what is left of hope. Its why we connect with dog energy.
Sometimes if you are observant and just sit for a bit and really attempt to see through unadulterated attention you may be rewarded with an opportunity to experience life as it really is.
To be ‘lucky’ enough to spend a lifetime observing behavior in all its aspects and to now experience the transition of life on a canine reality has been a humbling privilege and honor. There is so much to learn from their ‘simple’ reality. They answer questions we haven’t asked and realities we would rather not face.
Bali dogs are interesting subjects, island locked for most of their existence, they and Bali people have just done what they just do, forever. Of course, things have inevitably changed, however the underlying ‘behaviors’ have remained constant. What works for the greater good works, what doesn’t work on that basis is weeded out. ‘Pure’ unadulterated Bali Island born canines with ‘clean’ genetic lineage are no different to their ancient forebears. They must survive fast, be self-sufficient, resourceful, self-soothing and tough, or they die.
They play hard, train hard and grow fast. A puppy one day, becomes a small dog, learning on the street or from their elders’ skills that will enhance their embedded DNA or see them unable to match it with the reality of life out there in the real world of Bali dogs.
Old must give way to the young, it’s the only real universal rule you can certainly rely on. The job is to make reality for them as real as possible by engaging in regular practice in preparation for the real gig while balancing life and death in the day-to-day discipline of routine play fighting.
The actors in this play are not static or permanent. The goal is not self-satisfaction, its species survival at all costs and it takes collective pack mentality and intelligence. It’s the ultimate pay it forward without ego on the level of human understanding. When you have played your part, its time to walk proudly through the gate while holding the door open wide.
They have the answers if only we would listen.
Itu terjadi sepanjang waktu, ruang tunggu yang penuh sesak, dengan makhluk-makhluk yang bergerak dalam realitas paralel yang berbeda, datang dan pergi ke arah yang berbeda.
Dalam dunia pemisahan, kami benar-benar kehilangan intinya, dengan selisih yang besar. Tidak ada kamu, aku, kita, mereka, mereka. Kami benar-benar semua ini bersama-sama. Pandemi hampir memberi kita kenyataan sederhana itu. Lakukan itu, ini terjadi. Kami harus banyak belajar, waktu yang tersisa begitu sedikit. Sebagai seorang optimis yang menderita abadi, realitas dari realitas yang luar biasa terus mengikis apa yang tersisa dari harapan. Itu sebabnya kami terhubung dengan energi anjing.
Kadang-kadang jika Anda jeli dan hanya duduk sebentar dan benar-benar berusaha melihat melalui perhatian yang murni, Anda mungkin diberi kesempatan untuk mengalami hidup sebagaimana adanya.
Menjadi 'beruntung' untuk menghabiskan seumur hidup mengamati perilaku dalam semua aspeknya dan sekarang mengalami transisi kehidupan pada realitas anjing telah menjadi hak istimewa dan kehormatan yang merendahkan. Ada begitu banyak yang bisa dipelajari dari kenyataan 'sederhana' mereka. Mereka menjawab pertanyaan yang belum kami tanyakan dan kenyataan yang tidak ingin kami hadapi.
Anjing Bali adalah subjek yang menarik, pulau terkunci untuk sebagian besar keberadaannya, mereka dan orang Bali baru saja melakukan apa yang baru saja mereka lakukan, selamanya. Tentu saja, banyak hal telah berubah, namun 'perilaku' yang mendasarinya tetap konstan. Apa yang berhasil untuk pekerjaan baik yang lebih besar, apa yang tidak berhasil atas dasar itu disingkirkan. Anjing 'murni' yang lahir di Pulau Bali dengan garis keturunan genetik 'bersih' tidak berbeda dengan nenek moyang kuno mereka. Mereka harus bertahan hidup dengan cepat, mandiri, banyak akal, menenangkan diri dan tangguh, atau mereka mati.
Mereka bermain keras, berlatih keras, dan tumbuh dengan cepat. Seekor anak anjing suatu hari, menjadi anjing kecil, belajar di jalan atau dari keterampilan orang tua mereka yang akan meningkatkan DNA tertanam mereka atau melihat mereka tidak dapat mencocokkannya dengan realitas kehidupan di luar sana di dunia nyata anjing Bali.
Tua harus memberi jalan kepada yang muda, itu satu-satunya aturan universal nyata yang pasti bisa Anda andalkan. Tugasnya adalah membuat kenyataan bagi mereka senyata mungkin dengan melakukan latihan rutin sebagai persiapan untuk pertunjukan sesungguhnya sambil menyeimbangkan hidup dan mati dalam disiplin sehari-hari dari pertarungan permainan rutin.
Para pelaku dalam lakon ini tidak statis atau permanen. Tujuannya bukanlah kepuasan diri, kelangsungan hidup spesiesnya dengan segala cara dan dibutuhkan mentalitas dan kecerdasan kolektif. Ini adalah pembayaran pamungkas tanpa ego pada tingkat pemahaman manusia. Ketika Anda telah memainkan peran Anda, saatnya untuk berjalan dengan bangga melalui gerbang sambil menahan pintu terbuka lebar.
Mereka memiliki jawaban jika saja kita mau mendengarkan.
Dedicated to Briedhe, Meg, Agra, Nyoman, Ketut and Family and all Bali Dogs.
‘From deep ignorance arises attachments. From attachments arise the grasping. From grasping you crave objects. From objects, you acquire, you want and demand a sense of permanence. When not permanent, you wish to ‘force’ it to be permanent-then all the actions to force something to be permanent makes all the karma arise.
Sultan died today.
In a village, by a lake, under a volcano, he ended his incredible life. Reaching 80 years old in human time, he embraced death with dignity and grace, albeit with street dog toughness handed down by millions who had gone before him, and thousands of years of genetics designed to instil a need to just keep getting up and move. He had his last free roaming walk just outside his gate before turning back and submitting to the inevitable reality of this life finally ending.
Sultan found a safe secure home with a family who loved and cared for him as a family member. Their devotion to him and his long life was an example of unconditional love, based on a simple action of kindness, good heartedness and the laws of karma.
Sultan was a small black Bali Street dog with dark markings on his tongue, a sure sign of high intelligence. He was a dog’s dog and gathered many friends in his village. He was wary of humans, with very good reason, and only allowed a few trusted bipeds the joy of being able to touch him. As his life slowly receded, he allowed more touch and wagged a tail that only vibrated in the company of his own species.
In his last few weeks and days, he exemplified what it means to accept your end-of-life reality and the teaching for his human pack was one of his last greatest gifts.
Every death, as every birth, is unique. Sultan’s life was filled with a notebook of things that made him smile, cry, run, rest and fly. He was Anjing liar, community dog, who lived for his free roaming walks, a true professional Bali Street dog
Everything dies but some beings just live on, in every flower, on every path, in a sound and on the fleeting waft of a scent. Then there are the inevitable sweet/sour moments when out of the corner of your eye you really do see them. When you look for them with love and joy, when grief and pain submit to your most comforting memories.
Thank you for everything and more Sultan, you have left a vacuum that will in time be filled with what you taught. For now, we celebrate that we were so blessed to have spent our lives with you and grieve terribly that our lives are shattered that you are physically gone.
May you live on and run free.
Hidup sepenuhnya, akan pergi pada waktunya
Live to the fullest, will go in time
Dari ketidaktahuan yang dalam muncul kemelekatan.
Dari kemelekatan timbul kemelekatan.
Dari menggenggam Anda mendambakan benda.
Dari objek, Anda mendapatkan, Anda menginginkan dan menuntut rasa keabadian. Ketika itu tidak permanen, Anda ingin 'memaksanya' menjadi permanen - maka setiap tindakan memaksa sesuatu menjadi permanen membuat semua karma muncul.
Didedikasikan untuk Briedhe, Meg, Agra, Nyoman dan Ketut dan Keluarga dan semua Anjing Bali.
Sultan meninggal hari ini.
Di sebuah desa, di tepi danau, di bawah gunung berapi, dia mengakhiri hidupnya yang luar biasa. Mencapai usia 80 tahun dalam waktu manusia, ia memeluk kematian dengan martabat dan rahmat, meskipun dengan ketangguhan anjing jalanan yang diturunkan oleh jutaan orang yang telah mendahuluinya, dan genetika ribuan tahun yang dirancang untuk menanamkan kebutuhan untuk terus bangkit dan bergerak. Dia melakukan perjalanan bebas terakhirnya tepat di luar gerbangnya sebelum berbalik dan tunduk pada kenyataan tak terelakkan dari kehidupan ini yang akhirnya berakhir.
Sultan menemukan rumah yang aman dengan keluarga yang mencintai dan merawatnya sebagai anggota keluarga. Pengabdian mereka kepadanya dan umur panjangnya adalah contoh cinta tanpa syarat, berdasarkan tindakan kebaikan yang sederhana, kebaikan hati dan hukum karma.
Sultan adalah seekor anjing hitam jalanan Bali kecil dengan tanda-tanda gelap di lidahnya, sebuah tanda pasti dari kecerdasan yang tinggi. Dia adalah anjing anjing dan mengumpulkan banyak teman di desanya. Dia waspada terhadap manusia, dengan alasan yang sangat bagus, dan hanya membiarkan beberapa bipeds tepercaya senang bisa menyentuhnya. Saat hidupnya perlahan surut, dia membiarkan lebih banyak sentuhan dan mengibaskan ekor yang hanya bergetar ditemani spesiesnya sendiri.
Dalam beberapa minggu dan hari terakhirnya, dia mencontohkan apa artinya menerima kenyataan akhir hidup Anda dan pengajaran untuk paket manusianya adalah salah satu hadiah terbesarnya yang terakhir.
Setiap kematian, seperti halnya setiap kelahiran, adalah unik. Kehidupan Sultan dipenuhi dengan buku catatan hal-hal yang membuatnya tersenyum, menangis, berlari, beristirahat, dan terbang. Dia adalah Anjing pembohong, anjing komunitas, yang hidup untuk jalan-jalan bebasnya, anjing jalanan Bali profesional sejati
Semuanya mati tetapi beberapa makhluk hidup terus, di setiap bunga, di setiap jalan, dalam suara, dan dalam embusan aroma yang sekilas. Lalu ada saat-saat manis/asam yang tak terhindarkan ketika dari sudut mata Anda, Anda benar-benar melihatnya. . Ketika Anda mencari mereka dengan cinta dan sukacita, ketika kesedihan dan rasa sakit tunduk pada kenangan Anda yang paling menghibur.
Terima kasih untuk segalanya dan lebih banyak lagi Sultan, Anda telah meninggalkan kekosongan yang pada waktunya akan diisi dengan apa yang Anda ajarkan. Untuk saat ini, kami merayakan bahwa kami sangat diberkati telah menghabiskan hidup kami dengan Anda dan sangat berduka karena hidup kami hancur karena Anda secara fisik pergi.
Semoga Anda terus hidup dan berlari bebas.
Hidup sepenuhnya, akan pergi pada waktunya
Pre-pandemic is gone, replaced by its troubled sibling, the one that doesn’t fit anywhere in this already dysfunctional global family. She who has a habit of changing her name, shape, identity and attack mode. She who possesses a very nasty way of making all around just a bit twitchy and more than a little jumpy. She who arrives, inflicts, and thrives on chaos and instability.
Yep, there are those who have been untouched, for now. Those who don’t give a shit about what has stopped, cropped and stuffed an awful lot of people, never mind trillions of flora fauna, in other words, a shitload of generalized planetary life forms, other than us.
Its good, yet weird, to be writing about dogs again. Dogs and their relationship with humans, especially those that get each other. After 2 years, 2 months, 5 days, its time to dive back into a very different blogosphere, that digital platform for sharing articles and shoving forth opinions. The rusty reality has been obvious, lack of practice, aging and a lung eating, organ infecting virus tends to distract one from one’s hobbies and passions.
So, it was with itchy fingertips and a brief helicopter view of how things stand/paw for the magnificent Bali dog and the ancient relationship with their island humans.
We are very sure, factually we know, there have been detrimental outcomes over the last nearly 3 years, so we are not about to ‘talk up’ any reality either which way. The reality is that Bali people and Bali dogs have survived another challenge to their union. And like so many battles before, they have endured and their intertwined story continues, albeit battered bruised and shaken. What they retain in common is a very ancient ability to live in this moment, adapt to change and evolve as required to survive and thrive.
Human existence had increasingly been predicated on surface reality. This is not the reality of life.
Having disconnected and checked out from the inescapable reality of interconnectedness, we had ‘unknowingly’ imprisoned our whole species way before a novel Coronavirus slammed the door shut and locked us down and forced us inside.
Two years is a very light sentence for the unfathomable crimes we have inflicted upon our life support systems. Life beyond our arrogant stance was/is bigger and greater and much more powerful than our insatiable consumer driven emotions could ever conceive. Our rational perceptions were/are subject to a tsunami of pleasure. Swimming, luxuriating, ultimately drowning in a whirlpool of decedent hedonistic never satisfied urges. Constantly reaching for that first hit, our addiction to stuff was on a train wreck. An awful and tragic crunching stop. Covid-19 wasn’t/isn’t personal and it hasn’t gone away. Its still here to remind us. To nudge, poke and alert us. When our human made conditions are ‘right’ it and/or other messages will be delivered. Unfortunately they are likely to be carrying and spreading much stronger consequences than SARS-CoV-2.
Bali is very quiet; many businesses are closed temporarily/permanently, and sale/lease signs are very common. Yet there are many establishments open and ‘thriving,’ such has been the brutal swath the pandemic has cut and levelled on this Island. This scene has been reflected around the planet, yet each nation, region, city, town, suburb, village, family, couple, and individual has felt completely and terrifyingly alone and isolated. The rallying anthem of ‘we are all in this together’ was humanities greatest moment and ultimate chance to recognize what this ‘event’ was all about. It was our collective opportunity to evolve, to leap to that next level, to take our place at the real-world level table and consume only what we need and not gorge on our never ever ending wants, urges. To deal with our destructive greed. We failed, not because we are stupid. Its just very simply, our nature.
Tourists are returning to Bali. The promise and commitment to come back will give Bali people hope and faith that they are not alone, that they and their Island matters. If all stays on track the Island will be back to pre-2020 pumping levels within 12 months, if not before. Whether that is good or bad is not an argument worth having at all. Bali people have/are struggling and suffering terribly. Everything and nothing has/is changed. It feels like we left the room and immediately stepped back in. Bali as an Island is as it’s always been, smells the same, looks the same, vibrates the same. Except all the stuff is not there and again its open to opinion whether its good bad or whatever. The reception on returning was beautifully warm gracious and humble. And the weather is also great. Its not the Bali of old, it’s the Bali of real. Bali and her people deserve our full attendance and respect.
Collectively we need understanding empathy and love and a very quiet nod of recognition to what we survived when many have not. To have dodged a massive bullet, for now.
Its good to be back.
Every moment every day
‘For now, I will sit in my village by my lake under my volcano. For
now, I will be what I am. A simple Bali dog, doing no harm.’
Japano died today.
In a village, by a lake, under a volcano she ended her amazing life. She found safety, stability, surety, security, peace, happiness, love, and contentment. She found home.
Thank you so much Nyoman and family for the love and care you gave Japano. She didn’t trust many humans, but she completely trusted you with her life and her death. She found her best friend.
Thank you so much Agra and your team for all your kind assistance and for giving Japano a peaceful exit. Our appreciation is unlimited.
Briedhe. We are eternally indebted to you for bringing Japano into our lives. She will always be your twisted sister. She will be your air. We share your sorrow and joy for what she constantly gave and for what we will forever miss. We have and will always be truly blessed to have known her.
Japano. With unconditional love. Thank you so much for it all. You were a true professional Bali Street Dog. May you live on as your journey continues and may you run eternally free.
This latest pandemic has exposed human truths. Not my truth, your truth, just an absolute verifiable truth. Truth about discrimination, inequality, ignorance, arrogance, selfishness, and short term vested interests from individuals, societies, and nations. In 18 months, a blinding microscopic light has unveiled it all.
The destruction to relationships on every level is not really that surprising. Neither is the embarrassing truth that a golden opportunity for humans to get over our collective ego has been squandered, trampled, and ultimately wasted.
Connections that survived have faced a period of inner outer examination and reflection.
Bali has not escaped the avalanche of agony that this pandemic has inflicted, even though there was a period in 2020 when many believed the Island had some magical immunity. Their self-assured hubris was severely shaken when the Delta strain literally spiked that mystical bubble. What resulted was an explosive terrifying reality.
Relationships have and continue to be infected with the same pain that is being observed worldwide. The marketed myth that Balinese are, within their unique cultural context, somehow special or free from the reality of this global disease is insulting. They hurt the same as the rest.
There will be much to reflect on when we collectively attempt to put some semblance of order into our future lives. There will be reunions and remembrances and grief will shadow our tentative steps as we rejoin our broken bits.
For many the pandemic cycle has already turned, and they have moved on. For many more the circle has closed, they are statistics, numbered victims of this crushing event. And there are those who against all odds have maintained and strengthened distant relationships while awaiting their reconnection.
When a future restoration of our lives happens, it can only be hoped that what was old strong and stable in our past relationships will move new easily and peacefully into our together futures.
As a global pandemic ravages the lives of billions and with no quick end in sight there is growing rage about the unfathomable instability it has brought.
Bali has been slammed back to a time that few remember. When life was ‘simpler slower less unpredictable.’ Given where the island was headed pre pandemic, gridlocked traffic, hedonistic tourist hordes and general degradation of life sustaining resources, there are many who would say that such a disruption is a good thing. But this time is most definitely not that time. For sure there are subsistence areas on Bali where supporting oneself and community at a minimal level is and has always been a reality. But for millions right here and right now that ‘lifestyle’ is not a choice, it’s the intolerable and only reality.
What does this brutal retraction mean for Bali dogs? The indigenous island canine is semi feral. Their connection to humans has always been symbiotic, a mutually beneficial relationship. This union isn’t even thought about, it just simply is and has always simply been. But like any simple relationship, complexity and harmonious balance is the daily background hard work that is the world of unseen. Bali and her people are most certainly not simple and their balance on the forces of unseen and unknown complexities are most painfully tested at this time.
What affects Bali people will undoubtedly influence Bali dogs. No matter how resourceful Bali dogs have proven to be, they are still reliant on a food source that accompanies community life. Scraps and ceremonial leftovers have sustained their survival. They are genetically designed to survive on very little. But the breakdown in balanced community existence resulting from the effect(s) this pandemic has and continues to inflict will push the canine/human relationship to places it has never been. The consequences will be unseen to most, they have much more to worry about than a lowly insignificant dog.
Bali dogs are unencumbered from the ‘seen’ burdens that weigh heavily upon their human companions. However, they are sentient beings with feelings emotions and memories and even though superficially it may appear that the quietening on their environment may be to their advantage the reality could be opposite and disturbing.
Everything about this time is unfamiliar and unknown and it can only be hoped that the ancient Bali people Bali dog relationship can endure. Even if they don’t consciously know it, they are reliant on each other.
One without the other is not whole.
There are billions of us dog worshipping humans who connect more with a lowly canine than with our own species. Its not that surprising to us that trusting a dog far outweighs believing that our human compatriots have anything, but their best interests hidden behind a multitude of faces and manufactured guises. That is most certainly not to say that dogs do not have their priorities on full show, that is the ‘beauty’ bestowed in their nature. You really do get what you see. For those of us who have in their professional lives ‘worked’ with humans, a certain cynicism inevitably creeps in and a trained eye in human nature leaves one with no doubt that we cannot be trusted. That is not to say that all of humanity is self-serving but as history has shown and this pandemic has proved we are genetically hard wired to survive and if needs be, screw the rest.
Street dogs are a whole other level of canine. Their ability to be nimble, resourceful, alert, and tenacious in daily survival is unmatched. Bali dogs are not like any other dog, they are dogs that have adapted to Island conditions and the expectations of Bali people. They have exceptionally long memories, and their reading of human behaviour and intentions has been honed over thousands of years of selective breeding.
But they do live for now because that really is all there is. They are most certainly sentient and their advantage over us lowly humans is that they probably do not actually know that. They are just dogs, doing what dogs do, just being.
If they are fortunate, they will bond with a human and/or a family of humans. The actual lucky ones are the humans who have gained a being that will protect their cross-species family to the death. A being that will give comfort, companionship, and affection without even thinking about it.
This pandemic has shone a very bright spotlight on and into the nature of humans. It is highly unlikely that Bali dogs are aware of any change, as it is also beyond expectation that the rest of nature is aware of humanity tearing itself apart. Nature and Bali dogs just do what they do. It is plainly and evidently clear that their actions are vastly purer in collective terms than the selfish gene that is the weakness and flaw in us.
I have no doubt when we reconnect with the Bali dogs that we have journeyed with that they will recognise us. Not from a visual field but from an energetic memory imprint that we humans have little respect or understanding of.
Anthropomorphising anything is an arrogant human perspective. Othering anything else than human and imbuing it/they with human characterisations is the height of human hubris and ownership. Understanding Bali dogs also requires an acceptance of how Bali people see their Bali dogs. And for most foreigners the concept that Bali people and Bali dogs are a whole of Island life is virtually impossible.
In a year that has been like no other we would so much rather be like and with ‘our’ Bali dogs.
They are truly Hindus in furry form.