The Uncanny Natural-ness of “Natural Makeup” By Japanese Young Females: How “Natural” Can They Be? Experience Traditional Tea Ceremony at YANESEN, Offering a Variety of Plans for Sightseeing! Indulge in the Authentic Taste of Takoyaki from Osaka at the Odaiba Takoyaki Museum in Tokyo! The Restaurant “Tsukiyo to Mori no Circus” Filled with Fascinating Magic and Illusion!
Graduated and Current Members of AKB48 Reveal a Secret World in the MV for “Kimi wa Melody”! We’re all familiar with the well-known dervishes of Morocco, Egypt and Turkey, but what is a Sufi? It was one of the most incredible trips of my lifetime, which, I have to tell you, is really saying something.
But the thing that affected me the most on this trip, by far—the moment that hit me the hardest and taught me the most—took place in less than a second, in one foot of linear space, and involved the simplest, most basic of human gestures: the single stroke of a hand. I was in Luxor, Egypt, a few blocks from my hotel on the corniche, sweating as I walked in the excruciating summer heat. Suddenly someone broke through the crowd, scooped the sick man up, and before I could even react, carried him off down the street. I wandered the last few blocks back to the hotel in a daze, stumbled into my room, broke down and cried. The next morning, drinking coffee in the hotel lobby, I heard that distinctive brogue from across the room.
I could see the Scotsman, along with a small white-haired woman, just about to walk out the front door.
When he returned to the hotel (which thankfully we all shared) his wife had just gotten the call that her brother had died. So they were going to forfeit thousands of dollars on the vacation that they’d saved toward for ten years, not to mention the cost of new plane tickets booked, literally, at the last minute, in order to go back home to deal with the family tragedy. Greg talks about the perfect spot for an afternoon layover from Narita airport in Japan, Naritasan temple is a gorgeous, peaceful retreat in the middle of bustling Tokyo. For reasons unknown, this was shot, edited, posted as private and then promptly forgotten about (probably because I was still on the road for weeks).
Pasupati is kind of purification and blessings that Balinese priests will perform on object (usually rings or other jewelry).
Since then we’ve returned to Egypt many times and watched as hundreds of others experienced the same profound shifts that we did.
The ancients recognized that our bodies are containers of the spirit, and they built their temples to mirror the human form, in perfect alignment with the cosmos.
When we approach these spaces with intention, reverence and joy, they blossom around us and inside us, revealing the profound mystery at the heart of life and elevating our vibration and our perceptions. And this December, during the most potent and pivotal days of the current age, 12-12-12 and 12-21-12, we’re going back. Having spent the last decade traveling to some of the more exotic, if occasionally troubled, parts of the world, I’m used to friends and family responding hyperbolically to certain destination choices. Technically I’ve been to Mexico twice before: once as a kid living in Texas, and once 20 years ago, when I landed in Cabo San Lucas the day after a hurricane had all but flattened the place.
I was invited to participate in Meeting Place Mexico, a “marketplace” for people in the travel business.
There’s Tlaquepaque: an art and culture center so truly delightful you can barely bring yourself to leave. But more than the landscape, the architecture, or the cuisine, the thing that impressed me the most were the people.
And almost without exception, when I mentioned “spiritual travel,” they lit up and shared some secret with me – either a personal story, or some hidden spiritual gem that I had to know about. When I was a kid living in Texas and my parents said we were going to visit Mexico, I conjured vivid images of men in sombreros leaning against cactuses. While not quite as comical, the difference between what I expected and I what I got on my latest trip was almost just as dramatic.
Appropriately, this site is very hot compared to other parts of the island, so I find it’s best to visit early in the morning.
At one point it seemed that President Obama was planning a visit to Bali which was to include a stop at Uluwatu. Despite the heat, the aggressive monkeys, and the disquieting nature of the patron deity Rudra, a visit to Uluwatu will add immensely to your experience of Balinese spirituality. According to Greg Roach of Spirit Quest Tours, the reality of Bali actually exceeds the picture painted in the media. Now we were crawling down an empty back street, drawing curious stares from a group of young guys shooting a game of billiards on a decrepit pool table that sat in the middle of the sidewalk.
I glance at my taxi-mate, Loryann, my look implying, “You okay?” She flashes a brilliant smile and says, “I’ve been to the Philippines. This little adventure began many months prior, when, on a prior visit to Bali, my friend Yanta introduced me to his guru, Gede. As he returns to the car, the driver announces, “No one here heard of Gede Meditation!” Gede now has a last name at least.
Yenta and Hari, my other long-time Balinese guide and friend, both stand waiting as we hop gratefully out of the cab. Of the dozen or so Balinese in the courtyard, no one seems particularly surprised to see Loryann or I. Suddenly the ornately carved double doors on the compound’s small temple pop open and Gede peers out into the courtyard, squinting beneath his shock of hair.
At once the group slides off their shoes and shuffles into the small vestibule of the temple, motioning for Loryann and me to go in front.


The interior is lit by a dozen flickering candles placed around a shrine in one corner of the room. The pungent smoke wafts over me as I scoop it towards my face and up over the crown of my head. We’re led around to the side of the temple, beside a high stone well filled with clear water, where the congregation (I really don’t know what else to call them) begins a purification ceremony for us.
Suddenly I am drawn into the heavens and blessed with one of the most extraordinary states of consciousness I have ever known.
A beautiful young woman, the one who made the retching sounds earlier, stands in front of me.
After we change into dry clothes, Loryann and I lounge around with the congregation on the porch of the temple.
Loryann is Ni Putu Tasya Shanti Dehe: The woman who possesses peace in her heart in the name of God. Gede twists up two simple white bracelets out of a raw bunch of cotton and ties them to our wrists, deftly trimming down the ends.
Each time I catch sight of that simple homespun circle I find myself wondering: What happened?
And just as the Sanskrit was more powerful for not being fully understood, so it is with the rest of that night. Armed with his son’s backpack and guidebook, Tom navigates the 800km historical pilgrimage from the French Pyrenees, to Santiago de Compostela in the north west of Spain, but soon discovers that he will not be alone on this journey. Graduated members Atsuko Maeda, Yuko Oshima, Mariko Shinoda, and Tomomi Itano once again returned to commemorate the historic occasion. I traveled over 30,000 miles, and visited over a dozen cities in seven countries on four continents.
I struggled to stand under a raging 100-foot waterfall on the Ayung river in Bali, swollen to a torrent after days of rain.
He was obviously having a seizure and, I could see, was in danger of choking since he was lying on his back. I still remember the way his head lolled and bounced as the man sprinted away with him in his arms.
My only thought was, “thank God that He was there.” He was the one that actually helped the man. They had arrived in Luxor only three days before, but his wife was so sick with an ear infection she had to go into the hospital.
Before I could even respond, he grabbed me up again in another great, loving hug and said, “We’re late for our flights, but God bless you, son. But I will never forget his kindness, his words, his loving energy, and most of all, that true, simple gesture of compassion and love—the gesture that left a mark on my heart greater than a journey around the world. Certainly by the time I returned home from my recent visit to Guadalajara I realized I didn’t really know much of anything about the place. I’d never been to one of these events before, so I thought, “why not?” It’s kind of like speed-dating for the travel industry. The unique, round pyramids at Guachimontones high in the foothills of Jalisco – more than 2,000 years old and one of the world’s most unique sacred sites. So genuinely warm, open, proud of their country, aware of both the remarkable heritage of the land and the modern reality of the nation. The reality of Nuevo Laredo, a modern city with cars and bridges and restaurants, was truly shocking to my child’s mind. And while I love getting a massage in Ubud, watching people get readings from Ketut Liyer, white water rafting down the Ayung river, or climbing the slopes of Mt. From the walls of the temples you can clearly see dolphins and sea turtles plying the crystal water below.
In the oldest, Vedic conception, Rudra is a malignant storm and wind god also considered to be the god of death; the living symbol of raw, uncultured nature. I’ve seen a lot of monkeys on Bali, most of them are fairly gentle and tractable, but not the ones at Uluwatu. Two inner tiers of body-guards were to circle the president at all time, armed not with weapons, but with bananas.
Built by the eccentric and mysterious Ed Leedskelnin as a tribute to lost love, the castle is made from thousands of tons of coral – all quarried, cut and assembled by hand, using only simple tools and no machines. Using gorgeous photographs, video, humorous anecdotes and amazing facts, Greg’s signature presentation style will bring Bali vividly to life. Thirty minutes earlier my Balinese friend, Yanta, had given the driver a few rapid-fire directives in Indonesian, then sped off into the snarl and tangle of Denpasar on his scooter, quickly outpacing the car. It would be easy to mistake this neighborhood for a “bad part of town,” but in Bali there really seems to be no such thing.
He stops in the middle of the street and jumps out of the car, engine idling and door open. I’ve learned over the years to say yes to these kinds of invitations (which has netted me everything from meals with Coptic monks to witnessing a ritual exorcism under a full moon). If I hadn’t invited her, it would matter a lot less that we were lost, that I had no phone number to call, that I didn’t know what Gede’s last name was.
In her case, this is understandable: she’s Filipino and with her brown skin and dazzling white smile could easily pass for a local. He brightens when he sees Loryann and me, then ducks back inside and begins to ring a small bell.
Next to me a young guy, also sporting movie-star hair, settles in, smiles at me, and lights a massive bundle of incense. The next half-hour is a bizarre combination of sputtering transcendence and self-consciousness. Gede’s assistant gently tells me to “Wash.” I raise my cupped hands and he fills them with cold, sweet water, which I splash onto my face.


With a single, fierce movement she snuffs out the burning incense on her palms and slides the ash down the middle of my forehead in a long, fragrant smear. Jean Pied de Port, France to collect the remains of his adult son, killed in the Pyrenees in a storm while walking The Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of Saint James. I was transported to the edge of bliss during a 5-hour Sufi Aisawa ceremony in Fes, Morocco.
To many, many amazing places, but there is a feeling of accomplishment in flying around the world that is hard to fully understand, much less describe. It changed me, somehow, and I’m still processing that experience.
And yet it was a spiritual revelation to me, an epicenter of understanding about the true nature of compassion, the true nature of what it means to be a human being. An hour after she was discharged, he discovered that there was thousands of pounds missing from his back account. And the temples and sacred sites are powerful spiritual technologies built to work in concert with this energy to awaken and transform human consciousness.
We are returning activate our highest purpose during this period of profound cosmic alignment. In addition, each temple (and direction) is associated with a color, a weapon (or ritual object), a sound, a written symbol and a part of the body. As with all Balinse temples, you won’t be allowed to enter the temple itself unless you are properly dressed (sarong, sash, headdress for men) and bring an appropriate offering.
It’s best to carefully hide way glasses, cameras, hats or jewelry, as they harass visitors, holding pretty much anything they can get their hands on for ransom. From tooth-filing to rubber time, cremation ceremonies, magical daggers, coconut wine, flowing volcanoes, sacred snakes, weasel coffee, roast suckling pig and chewing betel nut, this fascinating presentation will reveal the magical island of Bali in a unique and compelling way.
So here I am, clueless in Denpasar, and feeling doubly troubled since I’ve dragged poor Loryann along into what should be my personal muddle.
Actually, if I hadn’t invited her I probably would just have ridden on the back of Yenta’s scooter.
In the “temple dress” we’ve been told to wear – sarongs, sashes – she looks even more authentic. The air is close with the smell of heavy, sweet incense, and the sound of the bell in Gede’s hand bounces around the tiny space.
He begins to ritually bathe in the smoke, washing his hands and face in the traditional way, before motioning for me to join him.
To my inner eye, I see everyone glowing like gorgeous, luminous balls of energy, suffused with a golden light. He takes her hands, and the guy next to me moves towards her, touching her in the middle of the back, tapping, drawing the shape of letters across her back, gently slapping her shoulders. The guy who shared his incense with me, who I realize now must be Gede’s right-hand man, jumps up on the side of the well and uses a long wooden ladle to scoop out massive dipperfuls of water. In a corner of the compound, a few guys watch a soccer game: Arsenal versus Manchester United. It certainly wasn’t the “meditation” I thought I’d be getting when I accepted this invitation months before.
Veteran traveler and spiritual adventurer Greg Roach will dive deeply into the world of Sufism, exploring the mystical, transcendent aspect of Islam and sharing from his personal experiences in Egypt, Morocco and beyond. I got a new tattoo, was as violently ill as I’ve ever been in my life, was a “guest of honor” at an Egyptian wedding, was shot the finger by a man selling goat-heads, was propositioned for sex by a 60 year old butcher, cried with total strangers over lost spouses, drank, smoke, cursed and reveled my way around the entire planet. As Hinduism emerged from the Vedic religion, Rudra changed to become a more beneficent and beautiful god. But regardless, here we are and I’m feeling simultaneously stupid, responsible, and, thanks to the hiccups, dyspeptic. Me, on the other hand, no one is gonna mistake for a local, regardless of how hard I rock the man-dress. I can tell from the rich, resonate tones that this bell is made from an alloy of five sacred metals.
Greg is a popular speaker whose signature humor, presence, depth of understanding and amazing visuals will help you get your Sufi Rave on. Eventually becoming thought of as the lord of animals, the patron of hunters, and a god of auspicious luck. There is a gorgeous park area surrounding the temple grounds that makes for a shady respite from the heat of the day, as well as offering amazing ocean views of the cliff faces and the temple itself.
It’s a very comfortable arrangement, especially given Bali’s mild climate, but quite different from western style homes. As I exhale I send a wave of love from my palms, and the center of my chest, out into the room. No matter what it was, I can never forget that long, timeless moment when I was cradled in the arms of the cosmos and bathed by the hands of man. I sprinted over as several bystanders dragged the man out of the roadway and on to the sidewalk. Anything less and they’ll hold onto your stuff with one hand while eating the food with the other. Around me, I am enfolded in the arms of the beautiful community, the very essence of human compassion.
But each time I’m about to achieve that familiar, blissful, meditative “click” in my consciousness, my diaphragm spasms and my awareness slams back into my body. I am the rose flowering on the cross: a flaming amalgam of temporal and infinite, human and cosmic, transcendent and contained. I’m handed a huge bundle of burning incense, which I hold between my palms, fragrant smoke billowing.



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