Seeking a True Knowledge
Looking from my own experience, almost 60 years living in the world, I dare say that way of life is pre-destined for everybody. I mean that everyone has his/her own place in this life, probably it is said as fate by many people, said Pak Sastro Hutomo to the writer, in his family house in Panembahan, East of Kraton, a more antique quarter of the city of Yogyakarta.
'Please have your coffee and try some snacks, please feel free', he said nicely with high Javanese politeness, offering to the writer to taste some pieces of boiled cassava and fried peanuts. He sipped his warm and black coffee and before litting his kretek (clove) cigarette, he offered also the writer to smoke.
'What I've told you, is just a confirmation of what my late father has told me years ago, also in this house', smilingly he told me, inhaling deep his cigarette. Then the explanation went on smoothly the whole evening, in his own words Pak Sastro said:
Right from the start, since my birth, I am a traditional Javanese - the family, the tradition, the education, the surrounding, the culture, the nature and I believe even the situation when I was created thru my parent are all completely Javanese.
Since my childhood, I get used to wayang as my bed time stories. I had a collection of wayang puppets from hard-paper, from time to time, I played by imitating a dalang (puppet-master). I am accustomed with gamelan music. I learned Javanese traditional dance, pencak silat martial art etc. I grew with tradition of slametan (ceremonial meals) and sajen (offerings) and taking good care of family heirlooms especially the kerises. I get used to the talk of spirits and mysticism. As any other child I was taught Budi Pekerti, a Javanese morality and good conduct, etiquette, at home and at school.
The most important and impressive lessons for me: I must be always grateful to Gusti, our Creator who has given us life. I have to always worship and honor and remember him anytime, anywhere in any situation. I am obliged to respect my parents, my elder relatives (uncles, aunts etc), my grand-parents, my ancestors, my parents-in-law, my teachers etc.
The practice of self-denial has been taught since I was young as fasting, less of eating or do not eat specific food for certain period of time, less of sleep or stay awake for 24 hours or all night stay alone in the room with no light. I have followed obediently this habit. I taught that as a man. I had to be able to go through it. I see it as a tradition. I see that my father and also my grand-father (the father of my father) they did the same, thing from time to time. This practice brings you closer to Gusti. When I was in Junior High School, at the age of 12 or 13 year old, I oftenly accompanied my grand parents in their eighties. I slept in their house. I noticed that my grand father never slept in bed.
Even during the night. He only sat on his sitting chair. But he was healthy until the end of his time, although he ate not much, preferably vegetables and fruits and he smoked 12 kretek (clove) cigarettes per day. He didn't talked too much to me, sometimes he asked me about my school, my silat martial art training. He told me his experience of learning kanuragan (invulnerability), usually considered as first level in learning kejawen) when he was a youngster. He told me when he did ascetism in Parang Tritis, with his friend in the beach of South Sea. After the third day of meditation on the beach, his friend 'saw' a palace in the middle of the sea, he wanted to go to that palace, he walked toward the sea with its huge waves and strong current, my grand father had to use all his ability to safe his friend, to be back in 'normal' world again, he was successful.
My grandpa was on ordinary person, a small priyayi (kraton/palace employee), carried-out his simple life with determination. My father told me, that he had pushed all his children to study diligently and to have good conduct and to do self-denial, with strong belief that one day their life should be bright, in the correct path!. In the 1960's, my grand parent in their 80ties were famous in the neighborhood and a lot of people knew them and their children. They had 8 children, all of them earned a good living, have good position in the society as government's ministers, members of parliament, intellectuals, high ranking government officials, business executives. What a parent's pride!
The topics of the family conversation was not narrow-minded. Although the family has its deep root to tradition, preserves the culture strongly, it is open to any kind of discussion of various subjects from arts to politics, from local to national and international affaires. For a Javanese everything is permitted as long as for 'Mamayu Hayuning Bawono' to embellish the beauty of the world (lit) in a broader sense means to preserve the world for the benefit of mankind.
It is a progressive Javanese slogan since the ancient time! It is a proof that our ancestors have seen the sign of globalization, in the common spirit that all nations should agree to build the world for the benefit of all nations, for harmonious satisfactions of all people. Because we live in the one and same world, under the roof of same sky, inhale same air, consuming same source of water and benefiting of same sun. We have to preserve the world, that's mean we are environmentalists-we love the nature and the universe.
Towards the universe the right of human-beings are equal. There should not be discrimination in whatever form: color of skin, ethnics, gender, religion etc. all kind of differences should be regarded as valuable assets, a unifying factor not exposed to be sources of conflicts.
As it is written in the country's coat of arms 'Bhinneka Tunggal Ika' there are difference but they are one /united/. So everyone lives in harmony (rukun). Should harmony prevail now and forever?. Logically, the reply is yes. But it depends to the consciousness of the people. That's why, our world needs good, sincere and intelligent people to whole heartedly carry out their task to preserve the world for the benefit of mankind.
So, Gusti/Lord - the Creator gives a challenging task to human-beings to preserve the beautiful world, to live creatively in peace and harmony. Kejawen, silently is giving opportunity to people to learn true knowledge (kawruh sejati), to see reality (kasunyatan), to experience the state of harmonious relation between servant and Master. Where there is no more secret, everything is clear.
The harmonious relation, must be preserved among people and between human beings and nature to keep our world safe and sound. To reach this goal, among other the world needs people with good cipta (the forefront of feeling), to do a lot of concentration of cipta, based upon sincerity and holiness deprived from self-interest to help maintain the good and correct life in the world. The best condition of the universe with all its content including human-being is of our prime concern. The genuine Javanese approach of the fate of our common world is always optimistic, the world is beautiful and the life is also bright and beautiful!
We have to respect each other and we have to help each other with the blessing of all loving God! This should be our common platform where a true civilization is preserved, where a real sense of freedom is guaranteed, where everybody could live in peace, safety, prosperity and happiness free from any kind of intimidation, menace, torture, worriness and fear. That should be the world of today and tomorrow!
As a humble citizen of the world, I do sincerely hope, Kejawen should be considered as one of the positive outlooks with universal value. I carried-out my simple life as many other people: graduates from school, get a job, get married and having a family. I felt that everything was smooth, as if it had been pre-arranged that way, what I had to do was just to follow the direction.
I understood well that both my parents were traditional Javanese too. In their fifties, they became serious kejawen followers. There were times when I had to accompany my father or mother or both of them to meditate in a certain places out side town or purified themselves by bathing in a spring or lake. They always prayed for the safety and well - being of the family and later on the big family, daughters and sons-in-law and grand children.
From my mother side, I am closer to the royal family of Yogyakarta. my grand-father, from mother's side was a high-ranking aristocrat of the Palace of Yogyakarta. he was supposed to be the Patih/Prime minister of Yogyakarta Kingdom, but cancelled by the Dutch colonialists, as he was too nationalistic. He , then assigned as an expert of royal art in Karaton (palace). His younger brother was inaugurated as Patih.
They never told me to follow their path, only some times they told me of their experience. Probably it was meant to be understood by our own mind and consciousness. There were some precious examples by my parent, which I never forget, it was happened during the Dutch occupation period when Yogyakarta was occupied by the Dutch colonial army for 6 months in 1949. I was 7 year old boy.
My father was a civil servant with the regional office ofYogyakarta under the Governor of the late Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono IX. During the occupation period, all officials loyal to Indonesia did not work. He was entrusted to keep a lot of bundles of money from his office. He kept the money above the ceiling of our house, 1 kilometer west of the famous Malioboro street. A colleague of his, made the book-keeping.
Every month, some money were taken and distributed to employees and donated to the guerrillas independent fighters. After the war, the rest of the money and the book were given back to the state treasury.
It was a lot of money available in front of eyes, life was difficult, and my father and his friend did not steal even a piece of it! They were sincere and loyal to the country. There was no greediness of material wealth. A half century ago this country could pride their civil servants. It should be also at present!
Since my school day in Yogya, I get used to have friends from various ethnics of Indonesia including Chinese. Many pupils and students from other islands studied in Yogya, some of them work after their graduation, live and have families in Yogya. There are also expats in Yogya. That's why Yogya is a metropolitan at present. When I worked in Jakarta, I mixed also with colleagues of various nationalities I traveled a lot in many parts of the country and some countries of the world.
Every where I go, I always admire the local specific nature, arts and cultures. Having seen other countries, I feel sure that Indonesia is also beautiful, especially its green picturesque nature, beautiful seas and ancient monument heritage. Our art, culture and various traditional ceremonies are also valuable. Now, I think kejawen is also an interesting subject to study, as one of world's philosophy or belief.
My normal life until my 53 year old of age with my family was a happy one. I got good income, my wife always works with foreign companies, we sent our children to good schools, sent them to English courses taught by expats, so now we are an English speaking family, sent them to learn traditional dances etc.
Except a cozy house where we live in Jakarta, we had a country house in the nearby mountainous region and other facilities to support a convenient life. On holidays, we enjoyed together, visiting our parents in traditional Lebaran holidays (to end a month of fasting) or just holidaying in beautiful resorts at home or abroad.
As traditional Javanese, happily we have supported our parents and our families. It is our duty. Thanks God we could afford. During that time, I remained loyal to Javanese value and tradition. Sometimes with my wife, we saw whole night wayang (shadow-puppet) performances with pleasure or I attended some lectures of Javanese culture. I met with some experts of kejawen. I visited some places of pilgrimage of Mataram dynasty.
Change of life style
I was put in a such situation that I could do nothing! That was it! I was forcefully out of biz. What about my family? As a Javanese, I felt that I was moved to open my private notes of kejawen teaching. In the first days, overcoming a shock desperate feeling mixed with anger, it was hard for my body to support my urgent wish to find a just answer from Gusti/Lord.
I prayed a lot, practicing a lot of self-denial. (I skip details what I have done, I'll tell later on for those who are interested to learn reality). Step by step after a long process of spiritual practice and I can accept the true life in accordance with kejawen, I got the reply: My understanding of life based upon logical thinking, where a human-being is happy if he has adequate material wealth as food, clothes, house, other wealth and pleasure, power and position has changed.
That kind of understanding is to fulfil the need of my body and my logic thinking. From now on, my life has to fulfil the need of my holy spirit who does not need any kind of material wealth. It is a divine call, it is the wish of Gusti. I have to dedicate my life to the wish of Gusti. I got the reply after a long devoted spiritual practices including samadi, after I am in harmonious relations with Gusti. It is a true knowledge, a reality. The usual terminology in Javanese is:
Process of Seeking a True Life
Thank God, I was not out of control. Powerless, I prayed very seriously at midnight after taking a bath with cool water. I prayed also outside the house directly under the night sky. I felt calmer when I saw the clear blue sky with the shinning moon and twinkles stars. I worship God the Almighty, requesting protection and a way-out. I began to remember the spiritual Javanese teaching which I have ever been told long time ago by my parents and other old people, although my emotion was still high.
Only you can solve your own problem
As if replying to my immediate question 'But how? The inside message said: "Be calm, ask yourself" The following nights. I tried with difficulties to meditate. I got again the message from inside: 'Take care of your real life, no need to blame others, mix only with good people.
It was difficult for me to understand, but at least I started to feel that my praying got replies. Meanwhile an old friend of mine offered me a job, although the income was far less than what I usually earned, it was great for me. At least I was not too ashamed to my family.
I forced myself to work at my best, trying to forget the painful past. At night, I continued with praying and meditation, which had become more solemn. One night, when I was in silence, praying to all loving God, all of a sudden a clear picture of my beloved family appeared in front of me, as if I saw a TV. Screen
I held my breath, grateful to Gusti/God, that I've been reminded to take good care my family. In two months, my first daughter was going to marry, meaning that that we should make wedding ceremony. My wife was worried, from where we would get the money. Our daughter understood the financial situation we were having. She told us not to make a wedding party.
A simple marriage registration would do. I was very touched with her kind understanding. Through solemn praying, I would like to ask Gusti's blessing to marry my daughter. The reply was unexpected. I saw a picture of a complete Javanese wedding ceremony and I heard a voice: 'Celebrate the wedding! The next morning, I told my wife confidently to go on with her plan for the wedding celebration. Prepare everything including invitations, traditional dresses, ceremonies etc. She was, of course, a bit hesitated, but I told her: "Please believe me"
A relative of mine very nicely offered me a hand for the wedding, but he need me to do some jobs for him. Then, other relatives and friends supported us, it was the hands of God, I believe who helped us in time of need, of course I am very grateful to all parties who have helped us. The wedding ceremony was successful, attended by relatives, friends and even some dignitaries.
A period of Panalongso
For about 1000 days, I carried on my life with a lot of self-denial, I became a Total vegetarian to learn to be more patient and to be easier to control desire and lust. Wholeheartedly I'm always grateful to Gusti who has given me life. I decide that my Cipta (forefront of feeling), Rasa (feeling), Karsa (wish) and Tumindak/Karya (deed) to be always good and correct, clean and holy. I completely believe that a Javanese proverb saying:
Within this period, I slept only around 4 hours in a day. I always took a bath at midnight and did praying and samadi solemnly. I did ask to Gusti the safety and well-being of my family, other people, the country as well as the world, as the Javanese teaching says mamayu hayuning bawono - to embellish the world for the benefit of mankind.
People say it was Panalongso i.e. to suffer consciously for a quite long period, before reaching an awareness of total devotion to all loving God. If you can pass Panalongso, you should be Katrimo (accepted) by Gusti. You continue your total surrender (sumarah) to Gusti and your life should be in tune with your true life, a position towards a harmonious relations between Kawulo (servant) and Lord (Gusti).
Spiritual experience - Part I
During the period of Panalongso, I got spiritual teachings step by step. The first year was very hard, although I tried to completely surrender to Gusti, but I still tried to evaluate everything with logical thinking. But I was decisive to understand the path of my real life. My experience which are significant among other:
The appearance of light
I never get a direct reply from Gusti, but I am sure my request is granted. My wife is still working, our first daughter got married in decent manner. She and also her husband work and live happily. (They have 2 kids at present)
Our second daughter graduated from university, got a good job and her marriage was also celebrated well as in accordance to our Javanese custom. Our youngest daughter continued her study in the university and she easily could find jobs on non-permanent basis in various offices. By now, she has completed her study and got a permanent promising job. I myself, I am working although with modest income, never mind. I still have a good family and live relatively happy. I am fully aware that everything is decided by a good judgment from Gusti.
Spiritual experience Part II
Weton: Javanese birthday
In this weton day usually we make a simple offering in the form of a plate of red and white rice porridge and a glass of water. This offering is to remember mother and father whom have been trusted by the Creator to have children. It is also to remember the spirits-sisters and brothers who have born together with the person. (see Cipta Tunggal, point 16)
Sometimes it is accompanied by a ceremonial meals. When I made my weton offering, it was received by a person who precisely resembles to me, also the dress he wears. When I changed my dress, he also wears the same dress like mine.
The night when I did samadi, I got a message that I was entering the process of true life. I should be more careful when I talk, it could happened. I must always have a good cipta (forefront of feeling) wish and deed. I am not supposed to curse someone. Even to a very bad guy, instead I would ask Gusti to pardon him/her/them.
I would not fight back if someone does something evil to me. If I really trust in Gusti, I have to accept it without reserve. Surrender totally to the decision of Gusti. Gusti is just, wise and the most powerful. Solemnly I am grateful to Gusti.
Mission of life
I was created to be a seeker of true life. I have to be entirely clean physically and souly. I was supposed to be one of Gusti servants who spread sincerity and good morality, to preserve the world for the benefit of all creatures.
It does not mean that I should forbid anyone doing business, I could just tell them to do it with good manner, avoiding dirty tricky business. I had experience in business, so I know very well the difference between good and dirty deals.
Once again, I praise all-loving God. I was clearly told to work in the field of culture. The whole mankind and the world need culture which means a true path to civilization.
It's not supernatural, it is a reality. It is a proof and not merely an illusion, that a seeker of true knowledge could see reality, could achieved "a harmonious relation between servant and Lord", for the noble sake of mamayu hayuning bawono. (to preserve the world for the benefit of mankind).
Suryo S. Negoro
Suryo S. Negoro