The Tribe Who Killed Ubud

Healing is a sensation. And it’s a sensation that has people selling their possessions, going broke, even sucking their families dry of money. What are some other things that cause people to act that way?

To be on the inside of any religion, there are some absurd concepts (the Earth is only a few thousand years old) we must accept without skepticism. The healing, new-age, global tribe communities of the world have similar ‘true lies’ at their core. First, you must always believe that you are helping and healing people (more than you are polluting the environment by flying around the world). You must entirely ignore the transactional reality of the services you offer – along with all of the filth that is tied up in the money that changes hands. Having experienced life in the Canadian community of Nelson, where no money is ever involved, Ubud seems like a commercialized amusement park for yuppies. And on a lower and subtler level, most members of these tribes also convince themselves that their obsessive yoga, ecstatic dance, eye gazing, and wearing minimal clothing – is not open to a Freudian interpretation. Sex is seen as another kind of transaction – if you can call it that – that has to be considered unimportant to the community, transcended, precisely in order for it to take place as often as possible. Nothing wrong with that; just saying, the game is even less opaque than a white cotton shirt.

Once in my two years in your macabre garden, I sat across the table from a man with a cigarette as he suggested the many ways I could lose weight; I sat across the table from a man eating a sweet piece of banana cake while telling me to stop eating sugar; another time, a drunken yogi confronted me about the miseries of diabetes – and then stormed out. I knew it was time to leave Ubud when I became fearful of your public places and your long tables – because conversation always, always rang pseudo-psychiatric.

What amount of crap – sucked out with enemas – can you bury in your good intentions?

Some ‘classes’ led by the healthy, young and affluent bule, detached from raw, raw struggle, and forever touring the world, – felt a bit like primary school gym classes, accompanied by a speech like a mediocre sound bite from an old, free-form Ted Talks presentation. That’s because I also recognized these phony gurus as people from my public school: The athletic ones who had health and wealth since birth. And that’s what they were trying to sell us – not for cheap, either!

Some people will feel forever premature in this life, carting around a deep and cellular thirst to spend existence in a velveteen womb, if only it were possible! These types will be vulnerable to the ploys of the healthy, energetic, and unburdened others – trying, with futility, to sell inherent virtues, dealing promise, DNA reprogramming, suggestive diagnosis, preying on hope.

We all felt dangerously comfortable in your Phys Ed classes, however. I took the ubiquitous advice to give up my job and all of my worldly possessions. Then I realized that the only way I could afford to renew my membership with ‘the tribe’ was to cash in on a human impulse to help my fellow human beings. Some of you Ubudians really do remind me of that friend of the family who comes over for dinner and tries to suck everyone into a pyramid scheme with a perfume-spraying vacuum cleaner. It’s shameless! Haven’t you heard of keeping your work and your personal relationships separate? The legitimate among you were too few, in the end.

The tribe says that everyone comes to discover why they live in Ubud eventually, because it has always been a place of healing. This tiresome maxim surmises the suggestiveness inherent in healing communities like this. Just like Big Pharma’s billboards towering above major intersections, could the presence of healing be wafting the suggestion – that you are unwell?

My suggestion? Don’t wait. Don’t pay rich foreigners to stand in for the Hindu-originators of these spiritual practices. Don’t endure another Coldplay song during a yoga practice either. Open Youtube and you’ll find tai-chi, qigong, and yoga – entirely for free!

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