This is only our second evening in Bali. My body's somewhat grumpy about being wrestled out of its nap and not even having been offered any supper. The theater's small and we're seated pretty close to the gamelans, gongs and drums--not a good idea for the sanity of one's eardrums.
The clanging but melodious music starts, the magnificent Barong appears, danced by two men huddled inside the large ornately decorated costume. Briefly I wonder how they can see where they're going.
The metallic decibels pile up in a cacophonous mountain of horrendously mesmerizing sound. In protest under what seems to them an unwarranted attack, all my outer senses start shutting down. I can almost hear them grumping, "Since we've gotta attend a dance, we're gonna do it OUR way!" My besieged body and I fight for control for a while, as now there's an extremely funny exchange between a "monkey" and the Barong. In spite of this, my body finally wrests control away from my conscious mind -
- which slowly drowns beneath the surface, down, down into the murky depths of the subconscious inner realms. But no peace here, no solace for a tired and battered being. Insistent vibrations from the Barong dance intrude, kicking up a riptide, rushing and swirling deeply throughout this watery emotional world. Shaken from their lairs by this commotion, shadows emerge and slowly take form. Disturbed, they're angry. They make menacing moves toward me!
Momentarily immobilized by uncertainty and indecision, I stare at them. More ornately and gaudily bedecked than the Balinese Barong and demon dancers, these shadowy forms come into the light of the Barong music. I see them clearly now, in vivid, living colors. In a flash, I recognize these as my OWN demons! I parented them, I named them--long ago. I fed them, nourished them, empowered them. Now they're coming to me once again for acknowledgement and power!
Now they try to manipulate me. Just as I've allowed them to do in the past. But no more! I take a new stand. I'M the regent now; I hold court! As each demon approaches the throne of my Self-realization, I name it and dispatch it into the Divine Light, to be released, transformed and made available as energy to be used in constructively creative ways. One after another the demons come. They're all here, I think to myself. As I dispose of the last one, I'm able to focus my conscious mind's attention once again on the outer dance of life, between good and evil.
The monkey has fascinated and bothered the Barong long enough, apparently. The Barong chases the monkey away. Two other demons appear, then more. All cavort about the stage. But again, the high decibels and metallic rhythms of the gamelan instruments insistently drive me down, down. I try holding my eyelids open with my fingers. But, unseeing, my brain turns mushy and heavy. Sodden and waterlogged, I again sink to where the emotions hold sway.
MORE demons come forward! No, no, there CAN'T be more! But yes, yes, I chose to empower myself again and send this batch of demons into the surging rhythms of the Light. Once more I emerge into the outer world to behold the Barong and demons swirling around the stage, challenging each other. But--a THIRD time I sink. I send a THIRD batch of demons into the Light. How many more? Will it ever end? How long have I been doing this?
Then I notice that it seems much easier to dispose of this third and much smaller batch of demons. Feeling lighter and refreshed, I emerge to enjoy the last half of the Barong dance. I remember that my totem animal is a lioness and recall the wonderful connection I'd made with Sekhmet, the lioness-headed goddess when I visited Egypt. I remember the trip to China the Integrated Awareness group did that awakened the sleeping dragon, then "seeing" that wondrous creature during a meditation. Interesting that this lovely and ferocious Barong, both dragon-like and lion-like, has now established its connection with me!
Two male dancers, one under the head, the other supplying the rear legs, animate the Barong. Their skills make the costume smile, gawk, gnash its teeth, shake its shaggy mane and tinkle its flashy metallic scales while writhing and undulating all around the stage.
Don later explains that he thinks the Barong represents the Kundalini; the monkey represents the brain stem and the reptilian areas behind the frontal lobes. The open rear door/gate of the stage represents the dimensional gateway between the unmanifest--behind the gate--and the manifest world--the stage in front of the gate. During the dance-drama, the characters manifest and dematerialize by going through this gate.
Highly skilled dancers rhythmically and superbly act the parts of the two kings, the two gods, the temptress and the supreme god. I marvel at how fluidly graceful the dancers are while wearing costumes that I'd find just plain inhibiting. I need to experience this drama over and over to activate the depths of knowledge within me that are symbolized within this particular Hindu cultural orientation.
Back in Ubud, Joan and I eat a very late supper at the Lotus Café, which fortunately for us is still open. I down a veggie samosa, substantial enough to assuage the hunger pangs, but I hope light enough to permit a restful sleep. I do sleep well, deeply, soundly.
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