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Tat Tvam Asi – I am you, you are me

Posted: 27 January 2016

After celebrating its most ambitious and well-attended event in November last year, the Ubud Writers & Readers Festival has announced its return to Bali’s cultural capital from 26 – 30 October, 2016.

Centring on the theme Tat Tvam Asi, a Sanskrit phrase translated in Bali as ‘I am you, you are me,’ the Festival’s five-day program of panel sessions, literary lunches, hands-on workshops, food tours, poetry slams, night parties and more will focus on dissolving the social, cultural, political and geographical barriers that divide us.

“Tat Tvam Asi is a bold recognition that in our purest state, all humans are identical and equal kindred spirits,” explains Founder & Director of the UWRF, Janet DeNeefe. “If our souls are identical, then to hurt one another is to ultimately hurt ourselves.”

“This is a powerful ideology that underpins the collective identity of the Indonesian archipelago – uniting people from incredibly diverse religious, ethnic, cultural and historical backgrounds to share common respect and understanding,” she said.

The concept of Tat Tvam Asi has been prominent in literary and artistic expression for thousands of years, encapsulated as early as 150BC by Roman playwright Terrance, who mused, “If I am human, then nothing human is alien to me.”

It has since been explored in various forms, not just as a thematic undertone of creative expression but through the very power of the arts itself; to communicate and empathise with the most common of human needs and aspirations.

“Some of the world’s most powerful works of literature are those that connect us with people, places or things of which we know so little,” said DeNeefe. “The power of these works is that they enable us to understand the lives of others and recognise our common humanity.”

“Last year bringing together more than 165 authors from 25 countries across the globe, the Festival prides itself in being a global platform to celebrate big ideas and extraordinary stories. In many ways, the Festival has encompassed the concept of Tat Tvam Asi since it first began thirteen years ago.”