Tri Hita Karana is the fundamental underlying priciple of the Balinese lifestyle. It is a Sanskrit formula composed of tri (three), hita (welfare), karana (cause), which translates as the “three causes of well-being” or “three causes of prosperity”:
• Harmony with God – manifested in prayer to the Divine, rituals and offerings
• Harmony among People – manifested through communal cooperation and compassion
• Harmony with Nature – manifested as promoting the environmental sustainability
Tri Hita Karana guides most aspects of Balinese life, from rituals to communal gotong-royong cooperation practice and spatial organization in Balinese architecture, which always includes the philosophical and religious aspect of the Oneness of the Three Worlds (Tri Bhuana): Bhuhloka, Bhwahloka, Swahloka.
• PARHYANGAN (Relationship to God) – Our relationship with God (Shiva, Buddha Nature, Divine Consciousness) is reflected in all relationships — relationships with ourselves, with each other and with the world. It shows up as inner peace, joy, deep love, and a quality of knowingness. When your inner world is aligned, the outer world reflects it back to you. You are in the flow, living your dreams, and the boundaries of work and gifts are blurred. You are living your truth, connected to All that is and sharing your gifts with the world.
• PAWONGAN (Relationship to People) – Keeping the harmony and balance between human to human. This concept has emphasized how to keep good relation with others. The simple ways to apply this in daily life is to conduct three good things (Tri Kaya Parisuda): to think the good thing, to speak the good thing and to conduct the good thing. In Bali, harmony is shown through sincere tolerations and respects, not only for the ones we know but also for the ones we do not know.
• PELEMAHAN (Relationship to the Environment) – Palemahan comes from lemah (the land, or environment). One famous example is the Tumpek Uduh holiday, a sacred day of reverence for plants, in particular large trees, fruit-bearers, or those considered useful. It is also reflected in the natural irrigation system on the island known as subak, which consists of cooperatively managed weirs and canals that draw from a single water source in accordance with ancient scriptures and the advice of the priests.
Today, Tri Hita Karana is being applied by permaculture technologies and modern sustainable business practices. It is implemented by hotels, restaurants and other buildings. Moreover, other locations outside of Bali are also starting to adopted this lifestyle concept.
A religious necessity
In Hindu Dharma, all aspects of life and nature as seen as living, divine beings, being part of the body of the Universal Consiousness (Acintya, or Shiva). All aspects of Nature are sacred, and all have their protective deity. The Barong for example (protector of Balinese villages) is known as the Lord of the Forest.
Plants are seen as being endowed with only one single life principle (ekapramana), compared to animals which have two such principles – (dwipramana), and human beings, who have three (tripamana).
This is why big trees are dressed by wrapping a sarong around their trunk as a sign that they are living beings. For this reason, one may not cut a tree without proper ritual precautions. After cutting it, wood cutters always insert a small branch on the stump and give it a small offering (pejati), complete with the proper prayer. And for each tree they fell, they will plant a sapling nearby, with another offering.
Wide varieties of plants are also needed for the regular rituals and ceremonies. For example, in a cremation ceremony, more that 50 different species of plants are used for their various spiritual effects.
Extension of Tri Hita Karana to Fair Trade Principles
Tri Hita Karana is also emerging as a guideline for consumer products, as more people seek to purchase only from companies and co-operatives that allow time for the Balinese to attend to the religious ceremonies and that meet the following fair trade principles:
• Respect for the Environment: Products made from raw materials that originate from sustainably managed sources, and have the least overall impact on the environment. Using recycled or easily biodegradable materials for packing to the extent possible.
• Payment of a Fair Price: Socially acceptable remuneration considered by producers themselves to be fair and which takes into account the principle of equal pay for equal work by women and men.
• Ensuring Good Working Conditions: Providing a safe and healthy working environment for employees. Working hours and conditions for employees complying with conditions established by national and local laws and ILO conventions”.