Having discovered the meaning of life, the Balinese healer and spiritual guide, I Gusti Putu Karep, is rounding out his final form, but before he goes, he’s set on sharing his knowledge with those who seek it.
A thirty-minute drive from the tiered rice paddies of Ubud, in the relative obscurity of a village called Tampaksiring, there is a neatly kept compound. A cluster of elevated open-air platforms shaded by thatched roofs and a vibrant green canopy of palm and banana trees, it is filled by people wearing colourful sarongs and neatly placed udeng (head wraps), chickens scratching in the dirt and the slow burn of lingering incense. But this scene is not what draws people here. The prospect of health is what draws people here, and for that they come to meet the white-haired and weathered old man with the thick black-rimmed spectacles who calls this place home—the Balinese guru and spiritual healer I Gusti Putu Karep. This is Gusti’s retreat, and it leaves visitors pain-free, mentally refreshed and spiritually enlightened (or at least on their way).
“Experience,” he says with a smile. “It’s all about experience, and maintaining an inner balance.”
As a young boy, the teacher says he had an ability to interact with spirits and previous lives, and that these were his first callings to life as a spiritual healer and guide. “When I was young, these visions were very strange, so I talked about them with some gurus and spiritual healers in the area because I didn’t understand them,” he recalls, “they said that I was indeed lucky, and that these would begin to shape my life as a healer.” Thus, as an early teen, Gusti began studying meditation, Balinese horoscope reading, massage therapy and yoga—practices that he has since mastered.
But the pivotal moment in Gusti’s life came later, when, during a three-day meditation, he came to understand the meaning of life. This occurred after months of preparation for what was supposed to help him better understand his previous lives – incarnations that included a child who died young and a man who left his family after discovering his wife’s infidelity. “These were the things I could not yet comprehend, these were the reasons I needed to isolate myself, to meditate, to understand.” But something unexpected happened. “I began floating,” Gusti says, still surprised. “I began to go into a trance and my spirit began to float above my body. I went up and up and up until I could see the entire world, the entire universe. For three days I was there, seeing everything, feeling everything, and it was there that I found the answer. It was there that I understood what the objective of life was.”
And what is that? “Experience,” he says with a smile. “It’s all about experience, and maintaining an inner balance. We will continue to be reborn if we have gone through something tragic, if we have continued to lose, if we have continually failed to experience and learn all that we need to on this earth.” So when does it stop? “When we come to a point where we are happy with what we have experienced,” he says. “Where we have learned all that we can learn. Where we have returned to the pure state in which we were born. And where we are content with the journeys that have unfolded.”
But you won’t find any modern medicines or medical charts here: the healing is carried out only through traditional methodologies that are largely based on a set of Balinese horoscopes.
Gusti now runs his decades-old centre to help others pursue the same understanding. Welcoming visitors from around the world, the centre focuses on relieving physical, mental and spiritual burdens. For those seeking physical healing, traditional Balinese massage with the use of local oils is employed by any number of Gusti’s growing contingent of apprentices. Visitors suffering from mental strain are engaged with yogic exercises and meditation-based healing. And lastly for those on the path of spiritual understanding, guidance and healing, it is Gusti himself who counsels and questions them on their quest for clarity. The individually tailored treatments can be done in a day, or can alternatively be spread out over the course of a week, or even months or years depending on the visitor’s needs and schedule.
But you won’t find any modern medicines or medical charts here: the healing is carried out only through traditional methodologies that are largely based on a set of Balinese horoscopes. These horoscopes, derived by Gusti and his staff from the island’s lesser known astrological Wariga calendar, establish what Gusti calls a “basic character set”—essentially, a loose list of personality traits around which the Balinese healer and his apprentices craft personalised treatments and reach a better understanding of their visitors. After this carefully calculated horoscope is interpreted by Gusti and his team, what follows is a palm reading and Gusti touching his fingertip to a visitor’s while deep in meditation to better understand one’s organic makeup and physical health. “We can solve everything here,” he laughs, “a broken leg, stress or even confusion about where to go in life. Whatever it is, it can be solved here.”
Gusti has a grasp on things, that much is evident, but he won’t be around for much longer. “This is my last life,” he proclaims. “Now that I have understood it all, now that I have experienced the tragedy and what there is to experience, I will die for the last time.” He flashes his ever-present smile once more. “I will be done.”
If you would like to arrange an appointment or meeting with Gusti, please contact Concierge at The Chedi Club Tanah Gajah, Ubud, for more information. The concierge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via phone at (62) 361 975 685.
(Featured image: Offerings like this are often found around the island of Bali, the front of Gusti’s compound is no exception. Offerings such as these are often filled with flowers, incense, rice and sometimes even candy, fake money or cigarettes.)