Tri Hita Karana

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Tri Hita Karana – The Balinese Philosophy of Life

Tri Hita Karana has long been recognized and practiced among the Balinese for its indigenous wisdom to bring about harmonious relationships amongst humanity, god and our surrounding environment. It can literally be translated as the three causes to well-being to maintain balance of the physical and spiritual worlds by taking responsibility for our life, the community and mother earth.  

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May the sky be peaceful, May the earth be free from disturbances, May the atmosphere of the air layer covering the vast earth calm down, May the waters flowing cool and May the atmosphere of plants and plants be of use to us.

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 Tri means three, Hita means prosperity and Karana means means to cause.  Derived from Sanskrit, Tri Hita Karana composes three elements of wisdom known as Parahyangan, Palemahan, and Pawongan that preserve the balance so easily seen in Balinese way of life, architecture, agriculture and tradition. It is believed that the wisdom of living true to these elements brings about prosperity and harmony. Let’s take a deeper look into the three elements to understand how we can live from such a beautiful way of life.

Parahyangan is the path to build a strong connection with Brahman the creator. As a religious community the Balinese work hard to connect themselves in accordance with their Gods through various prayers, chanting mantras, rituals and ceremonies. They do so in a sincere and selflessness manner simply on the basis of devotion; they are a part of God and God resides in each and every being.

The wisdom of Palemahan embodies a healthy and sustaining relationship between humans, their needs and the environment. This is an important teaching which emphasizes the preservation and balance of the surrounding natural environment. The Balinese know that each ecosystem needs to be maintained with awareness if our future generations are to be prosperous. The temples, statues, homes, tools, food, water and necessities for living are all provided unconditionally by nature. Just taking without giving back or properly maintaining nature will have detrimental consequences for future living if we are not careful. This concept of balance is also essential to grow and develop compassion and love others as well.

Pawongan is a harmonious relationship between our fellow human neighbors. In this teaching, sincere and genuine communication through acts of kindness are seen as important for the Balinese people to live side by side. The Balinese would not be able to live without one another as social beings. By being together the Balinese are a community of one without division. This may be the reason why there are so few homeless Balinese living in the streets if none at all. It is a beautiful reflection and commitment to value one another, as if they were family.

In a unique island such as Bali where Hinduism is the predominant religion, the Tri Hita Karana philosophy instills a deep understanding to benefit all aspects of life. Even though tourism, the over use of plastic and the lack of education has worked against the edifice of Bali’s growth, it is important that we address these issues so Tri Hita Karana can remain in its truth. It is amazing to see even amongst the pull of globalization that harmony and unity can still be realized amongst these challenges by coming together as a community to sustain healthy living, a connection with god, and conservation of nature.