I wanna share a little story about my growth with the connection to the spirit of nature. Actually, I grew up just a few kilometers away from here in the village of Nyuh Kuning, and my beautiful, amazing late mother, Linda Garland, the queen of bamboo (We love you, Boo.) taught me that to embrace the world, to embrace the spirit of everyone around us, we must surrender. We must surrender to the universe. We must surrender to everything and just let the universal energy come in. And from there we get power.
And growing up in Nyuh Kuning, in beautiful valleys like here, I would run around like a little Mowgli boy and climb coconut trees, fall off coconut trees, jump into rivers, fall over rocks, and learn how the spirit of nature worked, how the ecosystems and the people of Bali respected nature. And I wanna bring you to a time in 1988, when a holy man named Daaji, Gus Daaji, some of you may know, came to my home in Sangingan, the home of my father, and he blessed us on the full moon.
And Daaji was an amazing, powerful balian, as they call it. And, you know, in the middle of his mantras with the offerings five meters away, he would throw up a flower, and it would land right in the glass of the holy water. I mean, Michael Jordan had nothing on Daaji. I tell you, it's amazing. And this power and this connection with nature and the spirit of nature was so strong in Daaji.
I grew up alone a lot when I was young because my parents were overseas building houses for the rich and famous. So a lot of the time, I was with amazing people like Daaji, and we would go around Bali and pray in the different phases of the moon, no moon, full moon, and basically find every excuse to go and dress up in pakaian nadat and hang out in the temples and eat lots of yummy food and and watch the wayang kulit. It was an amazing childhood.
But then, ten and a half years of age, I found myself extracted from Bali and plopped into a British boarding school in Singapore. No idea what to do. My brother had gone there, so of course, I had to follow suit. I remember a few weeks after arriving at the boarding school, I was in the cafeteria, big smile, like, Hey, how you? You know, full Bali style. And this guy, this Singaporean guy, I remember he came up to me. He's like, "Dude, why are you so happy?" and I was confused. And then I was like, "Oh no, no, no, I'm-I'm not happy." And I stopped smiling, and I got more and more of these weird kind of interactions. And, unfortunately, I slowly learned to kind of like fit in to this energy that was in this urban environment of a very strict regimented boardinghouse.
And I learned to lie to fit in. I learned to be part of the pack, Lord of the Flies kind of stuff, and luckily I had some good friends, good people around me, friends and family who challenged me slowly. They kind of whispered it at first cos I was trying so hard to fit in. "Why are you trying to be someone you are not?" I had completely disconnected with who I was with this amazing spirit and really a core compassion that was free to express in Bali, and there it was all protected.
And I got horrible grades in school, and it was just very hard to connect with people, and slowly I adapted, and I learned how to listen to people and just kind of go from their high frequency to help them calm down. And I would just be a listener and a few very good friends actually helped me to do this and stay calm because I would be very kind of nervous about the condition of everybody around me. So I was always checking is everyone okay? Does everyone like me? And it was really this seeking of a kind of love that my self-love was conditioned on whether those around me were loving me.
And slowly, I learned that love comes from the inside. I had to be like my mother—surrender, just let the energy flow. If the energy is a high energy, slowly it will calm down. This too will pass.
And I was bullied a lot, beaten to buggery. Even though I went to a boarding school, they fought the small kids, and they even bet on us. It was pretty hardcore. I got smashed in sports, bashed my knee, broke a patellar tendon, da da da. When I was in medical care, they burnt my guitar. So kids in boarding school . . .!
But I slowly learned that if we do not connect with the spirit in ourselves, with the spirit around us, and the spirit in those around us, we can never be happy. And Daaji would always talk about Tri Hita Karana—this amazing philosophy here in Bali, and the way he said it to me as a child was very simple. He said, "It's three definitions of happiness, human to human—happy, human to environment—happy, human to God, to the divine—happy, and you must have all three happiness to truly be happy. And growing up in Bali, it was like by osmosis, you kind of followed this way.
But to then be extracted out of it and actually to try to kind of intellectually comprehend it and then go past the intellectual orgasms and whatever of it and actually go back to a place of the authentic real feeling of it was a slow long hard process for me. And I guess, in the end, I had my mother, who was this amazing beam of light compassion for the planet and for the people around her, and my father, who was this kind of eclectic traditionalist. He was very into Hindu rituals and animistic rituals, and antiques, and the plural lineage of Indonesia's amazing religious past and giving me all the routines. I then put this together to understand for the first time how I could connect with the spirit of nature around me.
And it took me about, I think, twenty-two years to figure it out and really be in a place of resolve and be okay with what Daaji had told me when I was seven, eight years old. This energy when I'm working, when I'm in a city, I can now go and escape and just try to connect with either a tree or maybe just some bushes, or maybe it's just some grass and soil. And I can put my hand to the ground and give my connection, my frequency. And I can try to release all the crap in my head and all the emotion, everything, and just reconnect. And this is something that I've been learning to do, and it's still a long journey, of course.
I guess if I had one thing to share, it's that a lifelong learning of connecting with the spirit of nature is something that we all need to invest in every single day of our lives. And especially for the future generations, Gen Z, Gen Alpha, Gen whatever. If they do not have this connection with nature, they will not have the spiritual and heart tools to create this sustainable future that we all are praying will come to be. So may we all learn together every day to connect with the spirit of nature and help to spread that to everyone around us.