“It would appear that when East meets West all you get is the neo-Sanyasi, the instant Nirvana. Coming at the problem from separate directions, both parties have chanced upon the same conclusion, namely, that the most effective weapon against irony is to reduce everything to the banal. You have the Karma, we’ll take the Coca-Cola, a metaphysical soft drink for a physical one” - Excerpt from Karma Cola by Gita Mehta
Three decades ago this ground breaking book, Karma Cola by Gita Mehta, about the clash of Eastern (India) and Western cultures became a cult classic; sadhus, ashrams, salvation, Anjuna beach juxtaposed in dual reality – hypodermic needles and orange robes.
The heyday of the hippie generation replete with its chillums and levitating gurus sandwiched between unbridled sexuality, transcendental meditation and psychedelia bring up comparisons albeit diluted in the ongoing influx of new age dharma bums to Bali.
The matted tresses or tonsured heads, just so attire with rudraksh beads mingling with organic food, laptops and lollipop smiles appear to some as an anathema to enlightenment. But this is not so, for if the hippies had their chillums then the new age wallas have their bilious green health drinks, smoke free lungs and the new rock and roll, yoga and meditation, the popular method of tuning into one’s inner self. Some exponents profess that through yoga and meditation one’s gender (male or female) is discarded and a neutral gender is attained – a world within a world where external stimuli does not exist and one becomes, in a manner of speaking, self contained/complete, in other words, asexual.
Balinese mysticism has its own unique blend of mantra and tantra on offer for those escapees from Western sensibilities. With the cross fertilization of thoughts and chants continuing to grow in number and decibel levels there is every possibility of roles reversing. Maybe a time will come when Easterners would seek out Westerners to recover or rediscover lost inheritances.
But till then, the dharma gates are open and the flood of refugees continues unabated while the islanders garner the rewards…culture for a dollar and no one (apparently) is any wiser!
In the words of Gita Mehta - “The sages who prophesied Kalyug did warn that speed would lead to a marked preference for fantasy over reality. So if the tenor of the times suggests that we should see no reality, hear no reality, speak no reality, then perhaps a minute’s silence should be observed…”
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti Om