The first thing I did in North Bali, even before arriving at the place I would be staying overnight in, was to stop at the Brahmavihara-Arama (roughly meaning: place of the noble way of life) Buddhist Monastery. The experience remains one of my fondest memories of Bali, and set the tone of a peaceful Bali for all of my subsequent visits.
Bali is nearly over-run with temples. You may have heard it said that Bali has more temples than it has homes. If you count the temple-shrines most Balinese have in their homes, you could argue that this is actually true. Either way, there are roughly ten-thousand temples—the kind most people consider to be a temple, anyway. This means that no matter where you go, you can find a beautiful temple with its own story to tell.
Bali is predominately Hindu, over 80% in fact. Buddhists make up less than one percent of the population of Bali, so finding a Buddhist temple isn’t quite as easy as tossing a stone in any direction, making Brahma Vihara Arama a truly wonderful find. It is a Buddhist monastery with a lot of (intentional) Hindu influence.
The first thing I noticed was the absolute stillness. Entering the threshold into the temple was like entering into peace itself. There was nobody else here. No tourists. No worshippers. No monks. No groundskeepers. The beauty was simultaneously breathtaking, and life-giving. I have never experienced such sudden tranquility in my life. There wasn’t a single spot of trash—somehow the entire place maintained the feel of something ancient while remaining as fresh and clean as the day it was constructed. I instantly felt connected with everything in this place, to every rock, every flower, ever tree. When I finally did run into some other visitors, they carried the same sense of peace and stillness with them that I felt.
I have been to many Buddhist temples all over the world. This one was different. It was distinctly Buddhist while simultaneously being pure Bali. The commanding tone given off by the Balinese styled statues were perfectly balanced by the tranquility of the lush greens, and calming waters of the place. There is something inherently genuine about this place, something that makes me feel as though I have always belonged there.
One of my favorite parts of the temple is the theme portrayed at the western section, which is home to a garden with a statue of the Buddha sitting underneath a Bodhi-Tree—the kind he famously attained enlightenment, and eternal perfection—better known as Nirvana. If there were anywhere in the world the average person could attain enlightenment, it would be here in the Brahmavihara-Arama Buddhist Monastery. The entire temple is meditative, I never meditated before coming here, but couldn’t help it while I was here. Since then, I have been chasing the feeling of peace I gained here, and maintain a daily meditation practice. I strongly suspect this is a pretty common story among tourists who visit here, and probably the best habit a person can be influenced into.
When you visit, please make sure that you pick up the sarong from the front office—it’s free, but you need to return it when you are done—and even though entrance is free, leave a donation to help keep the monastery going. If you want to avoid crowds, check their website at http://www.brahmaviharaarama.com/ to see if there are any upcoming events, or see if there are any events that you want to attend—like a meditation retreat, or Vesak.
The address of Brahmavihara-Arma is: Banjar Tegeha, Buleleng Sub-District, Buleleng Regency, Bali 81152, Indonesia
GPS Coordinates: 8°12'39.2"S 114°58'27.2"E
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