Tri Hita Karana are the 3 underlying principle of the Balinese lifestyle. It is a Sanskrit formula composed of tri (three), hita (welfare), karana (cause), which translates as the ‘Three Causes of Wellbeing’ 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 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.

The Hindu doctrine of tat tvam asi, “I am you and you are me”, teaches us that all things are connected.

Tri Hita Karana is the equivalent and continuation of the ancient Javanese principle of Memayu Hayuning Bawana.

This book explains the Tri Hita Karana philosophy

The Three Causes of Prosperity are:

  • Parahyangan (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. You are ‘in the flow’.
  • Pawongan (Relationship to People) – Keeping the harmony and balance in relations with others. The simple way to apply this in daily life is to practice the Tri Kaya Parisuda (‘three good things’): to think good, to speak good and to act good.
  • 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. It is also reflected in the natural irrigation system known as subak, which consists of cooperatively managed canals that draw from a single water source in accordance with ancient scriptures and the advice of the priests.

Today, Tri Hita Karana is also being applied to permaculture techniques 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.

In Hindu Dharma, all aspects of life and nature as seen as living, divine beings, being part of the body of the Universal Consciousness (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, that 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
  • Ensuring good working conditions: Providing a safe and healthy working environment for employees.