How to Find Nature, Philosophy, and Spirituality in Bali in One Month.

You may have seen images of the rolling green rice terraces of Bali on our Instagram, but the beauty that you see is just the tip of the iceberg (or the tip of the rice grain..if you will). If these images and the entire image of Bali strike you as deeply philosophical, spiritual, and full of natural beauty, it’s because there’s meaning at every corner. Even something as mundane as these rice terraces.

Bali’s Subak System

The five major rice terraces in Bali combine to makeup 19,500 hectares (about 48,000 acres) of Bali’s landscape and they are all interconnected by canals, weirs, and water temples. Together they are called the subak system, which dates back to the 9th century.

The whole of the subak system is a physical manifestation of the 2,000-year-old Balinese spiritual philosophy of Tri Hita Karana, roughly translates as “three causes of well-being”. The philosophical triumvirate at play here is harmony with (1) nature, (2) the human world, and (3) the spirit. The canal’s waters and its overarching philosophy come together in water temples throughout the subak where rituals are performed to promote the innate interconnectedness between the human world and the natural world as well as humanity’s reliance on the environment to live and flourish. All of the rice grown on the island is fed by one water source and it is because of the subak system and this physical manifestation of Tri Hita Karana.

Unsettled’s Philosophy

The harmony of the three philosophical elements — the human world, nature and the spirit — though ancient, is equally as timely and relevant to us now. At Unsettled, our guiding philosophy is people, place, and purpose. We use this lens to discover our sense of wonderment — the nature of things that inspire us.

Living in Bali

We also use our guiding philosophy in thinking about how we travel, explore, and live in Bali. Our retreats are designed to help you live in that destination, and that doesn’t just mean providing you with housing and a modern workspace. When you are in Bali with Unsettled, you are exploring, learning about, and living within the local cultural context. We do this by asking big questions that invite us to reflect on how we show up to life and how we might learn from people, place, and purpose. Questions, such as:

What does balance look like in your life?

How might you practice it daily in your work and life?

What might you pull from the people, the natural world, and spirituality in your life?

The concept of balance and harmony is omnipresent in Bali. The Tri Hita Karana philosophy sustains the subak system but it can also help sustain us too. We explore it while we are living in Bali and we ask how we can take it back home and apply it to our lives. Maybe, just maybe, exploring these three elements while we are living on an Unsettled retreat in Bali can help us feel a greater sense of harmony and balance in our lives, no matter where we find ourselves. Want to explore living this philosophy while living in Bali with us? 


Unsettled is a global community for those who live and work differently. 

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