Animism in Bali by Sydney Sackman
Animism, the belief that all humans, animals, plants, and objects possess a spirit, is a key belief in Balinese Hinduism. This concept is one of the things that differentiates Bali’s form of Hinduism from other forms such as the Hinduism in India. Since arriving in Bali, animism has intrigued me and become a topic I am curious to learn more about.
The Balinese culture expresses a deep appreciation for nature and the Earth as a whole, which is understandable when looking at how animism fits into their Hindu religion and belief system. The Balinese people seem to be in tune with Mother Nature, and as a result come off as extremely in harmony with the Earth to me. Further, I have felt a different energy from nature’s side as well; my interactions with nature in Bali so far have been pleasant and rewarding, and I can’t help but feel that some of that is the animistic culture at work!
I was lucky enough to not only view the Balinese long tailed monkeys, but actually got to interact with them when a couple decided to jump on me during my visit to the Ubud Monkey Forest! While the thought of monkeys jumping on you may not sound ideal for some, it was a silly and funny experience that I’ll always remember from my time here. I didn’t feel panicked or scared when the monkeys were on my shoulders, and I knew that if I let them do their thing and respected them, they wouldn’t do any harm to me. I feel like the monkeys could sense my peace of mind in our interaction and because of that, nothing bad came out of our interaction.
When snorkeling off Menjangan Island, I felt the same energy swimming around the reefs. The fish and sea life seemed unbothered by my presence, and it was a peaceful coexistence of humans and sea life in the same environment. I dove down to get a better look at a barracuda (which I normally wouldn’t have done back home in Florida) and even joked to others that “the Bali barracuda must be nicer because of the cultural beliefs here”.
Seeing and experiencing the culture regarding nature here has given me a deeper appreciation for my surroundings, and is something I hope I can take back home and share with others.