A Western mentality in a Balinese society


Human beings can be their own worst enemy. People who seemingly have everything, often have the ability to screw things up for themselves, or talk themselves into believing they’ve got the short end of the wedge.

Westerners living in Bali, complain to me endlessly, about how the locals do not think enough about the future. ‘They don’t even worry about tommorow, they just care about the immediate moment’, people say. Seems like an ideal way to live, if you can get away with it, I reckon. Someone said that one reason westerners seem preoccupied with the future, and Balinese live in the moment, is historical. In Europe, people had to plan for the winter, otherwise they’d starve, while in Bali, people could pick the fruit of the trees all year round. That may be part of it, but I think there are greater reasons.

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Living in the moment, or living for the future, can be interpreted in different ways. Your typical westerner, is mildy / non-religious and thinks they have this one life to live. Planning the ‘ideal future’, and spending tremendous mental energy worrying about it, is a western trait. The Balinese on the other hand are deeply religious, and believe the next life is what they are living for. With no need or expectation, to reach some peak of lifetime achivement / status / financial wealth, etc. the moment is to be enjoyed, hence all the locals hanging out, smiling and seemingly living an okay life.

Now I will concede, that when a Balinese person gets educated, they start to see ways to ‘get ahead’ in this lifetime, often adopting some of the western mentality. Add to this, when a person equates themselves with their wealth / creations, they are buying into the whole ego identity and must strive hard to protect it. Now, what other people say about their creations, status, wealth is important, something to worry sbout. I think in the big picture, the Balinese may be able to teach westerners a lesson.