Saturday, 9 July 2011

Getting Naked For Religion!

As I've said in a previous post in Jainism and Hinduism getting naked for spiritual benefits, religious festivals and even enlightenment is acceptable.

However not many other religions seem to encourage nudity as a form of spirituality, often quite the opposite. Maybe excluding the Japanese with their naked festivals.

Still even in modern Indonesia, with it's majority Islamic views there is a spiritual place where Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims gather to meditate and offer prayers. Candi Jolotundo, or Jolotundo Temple is a bathing place, where spring waters offer their healing properties for whoever dares take the chilly plunge.

I arrived with swim shorts, but was encouraged by my guide that naked bathing is the norm, and totally acceptable. With men and women having their own seclude area of the temple. Especially at night when there is no light, and the darkness offers even more privacy from your fellow bathers.

So I took to it, and am glad I did. I spent a cold hour meditating in those waters. I was joined by other people who came to meditate, and others who simply wished to bathe. All of them abandoned their clothes and shame.

That is the point for me, Jainism teaches all unattachment from physical and emotional things. So, to feel no shame is key! Hence the naked monks.

I had to go back in the daytime... as I hadn't actually seen the temple.

On my arrival the same guide told me that during busy times it is not advisable to bathe naked. I had already planned a more modest bath this time, and wasn't hoping for the spiritual experience of the night before.

The reason he explained is that many Muslims visit the temple, as tourists. Not to bathe but simply to see it, and that means that holding-on to what little modesty is to be had becomes difficult. His concern was that often large groups of women visit the temple, and being nude around women... even in this spiritual place... is taboo.

There were no tourists and only few male bathers, so I was again greatly encouraged to bathe naked. For greatest spiritual and health benefits.
Unlike my usual shy self, I took the chance.

I was able to meditate again for a full hour, submerged in those chilly waters and unaware of the few tourists who passed by.

Had I realised how clear the waters were, I am afraid I might have given into shame. However, I would gladly go back again to bathe in the day or at night.

I asked my guide to look after my camera, which he took as an invitation to take photos for me, and of me! I am glad he did, as I hadn't taken any. You can see just how clear the waters were in the last two photos, and how unashamed I was.

No comments: