Leadership Training and Practice
The motivation underlying the practice of
leadership in Sumarah is gratitude: gratitude for
existence. Leadership is an attempt to give
service which is in accord with the demands of
Reality, the Will of Tuhan Yang Maha Esa.
The role of leader is not something that anyone
can meaningfully say he can fill. This
appreciation comes from the observation that
proper leadership is a spontaneous response based
on an open reception of reality which requires the
suspension of the ego. Thus, an experience
commonly reported by leaders is being able to
respond effectively to questions and demonstrate
knowledge outside their ken: "I can't do anything.
The one who guides is not me".
It is sometimes said that there is only one guide (pamong), who simply uses the bodies surrendered to this service. One result connected with this is a surprising consistency in the responses to a question by different guides. In one instance, three different guides (who had not seen each other) were visited in the course of a day and gave substantially the same response to a question, down to details.
However, in a deeper sense the guide is not seen to function as a person but as a relationship with reality. This open and accepting relationship and the perspective that comes from it is common to all guides when they practice properly. Leadership in Sumarah is an intuitive practice but, as will be seen below, it is intuition raised to the precision and rigor of a science.
The cosmos within which this leadership is practiced is deemed a tightly interconnected entity which is Tuhan Yang Maha Esa in its entirety. Each of us is a microcosmic receptor and participant in the macrocosm. In Sumarah, this is not presented as a philosophical tidbit but as the applied basis of the leadership practice.
At the crudest level, this micro/macro identity is demonstrated in the practical absence of barriers or boundaries between the experiences of each of us. The ego perspective is felt to cloud or distort the reception of reality by imposing order and definition on it from within. The extent of this distortion is related to the amount of control exercised on perception; that is, on the intensity and duration of the emotions and on the rigidity of the thoughts.
When this distortion, which the ego carries around with it rather like a shell, is dissipated by relaxation and acceptance, more of the real situation is perceptually allowed to enter. With extended practice and the attainment of the open neutrality of faith in regarding the world, great bodies of previously occluded information become available. One type of information that this includes is that concerning the emotional "shells" of other people. This is what is termed empathy in Western psychology; however, the concept is much more fully developed in Sumarah than it is in Western thought.
On the most superficial level, people exchange emotion all the time. When people meet, their combined conditions define the nature of the energy exchanged between them. If one person is angry, the other receives a distructive and disruptive energy. If the two people are in the throes of romantic love, they impart and receive a glow of energy. Contacts between people range between these two poles and every relationship produces some sort of reaction as the two (or more) perspectives combine.
Emotion can act either as a weapon or a support. The effects of such exchanges tend to be subtle but can be obvious. For example, a person with strong anger can influence and disrupt another's experience markedly. The wash of emotion automatically engenders a defensive response in the other, which can be seen as a simple return of the emotion. However, this disruptive effect is by no means limited to the negative side of emotion. A strong positive emotion also influences the other and disrupts his or her experience. While this disruption is apt to be relatively pleasant, the Javanese take the position that in either the positive or the negative aspect, these exchanges are an imposition on the other and are to be avoided.
As consciousness increases, more and more of this emotional environment is received. However, sorting out a particular response, whether it comes from the ego, the unconscious or outside, is very difficult until the "true faith" (iman bulat) level of attainment is reached. With "true faith" the ego has calmed, learned acceptance, learned not to takes sides in experience, and achieved a broad, stable perspective. As a consequence, the situation becomes simpler. The ability to guide starts at this point.
The levels of exchange focused on in Sumarah leadership training are based on a principle of emotional and experiential "contagion" which has been extensively tested in practice. The basic technique is to "clear" your "tools of reception" by going into a relaxed, neutral meditation. One then focuses attention on the person being "checked"(cocokan), and then one returns ones attention to ones own condition to see what changes have taken place during this process. A great deal can be picked up this way, ranging from crude emotional empathy to receptions of considerable detail.
However, the emphasis is on receiving the condition of the individual's general experience and focuses on where that experience is blocked in some fashion by tension or misdirected (i.e., unrelaxed) energy. In essence, this technique supposes that any experience being contrued in a way that does not match the real experience itself determines tension based on the discrepancy between the contrived and the real perspective. This tension is founded on defensive perceptual selection and is expressed in thought, in feelings and in the body itself. The idea is to find and release this tension and to change the attitudes and perceptual manipulation that support and maintain it. This is a rather subtle operation in which the person's situation and level of attainment determine the specific character of the guide's response.
In general, however, the emphasis is on developing consciousness, consciousness of your condition in as broad a sense as can be managed and consciousness of influences on that condition. In the following instance, Suwondo expresses some of this theory while asking another guide to check his condition:
Would you check the condition of my body now? [Answer from the other guide: "Not pleasant."] This is an influence too. "The influence of what?" you may ask. I had saté [shishkabob with a peanut sauce] for lunch and that can influence your physical condition too. Saté has an effect on you. Just about everything has an effect of some kind and you have to keep track of what influences your condition. (Keratonan 4/3/80)
With practice and the development of sensitivity
it is quite easy to receive the sort of
information received in checking though it may not
be very clearly understood. However, this is only
the first step in becoming a guide; this capacity
becomes possible before the ego has been released.
The bulk of training is devoted to developing
communication--external communication with the
group being guided and internal communication with
the guide's own inner nature (the "true teacher")
and through this with reality itself (Tuhan
Yang Maha Esa)--which is the most demanding
aspect of guiding.
There are a number of levels of external contact and communication that must be kept open in guiding. The first is the maintenance of a constant, open reception of the situation and the group being guided. When you are guiding, the personal meditation is surrendered. A personal meditation would involve separating attention from the group and, in effect, the group is your meditation.This practice is described as "becoming one with the situation", and is strongly advocated in any situation where communication is important and especially in teaching of any kind. This allows greater sensitivity to the reception of your presentation and continual attention to feedback from the audience helps to mold your message to their ability to receive it.
Another level of external communication contrasts the verbal or overt message and the contact that takes place on the level of rasa. As well as being able to receive the condition of individuals or groups with rasa, the tool of rasa also provides another channel for contact and communication. This does not involve emotional manipulation but, in essence, comes through the exercise of an absence of support or opposition: you just let things be what they are.
For example, this is often described in terms of anger. When a person is angry, the anger is an emotional attack on his environment. The normal, automatic response is a defense of some kind in countering the impinging energy. This can involve returning the anger or various kinds of avoidance or surrender to it (often involving fear). The angry relationship that grows out of this contact is colored and distorted by it whether the response be with confrontation, with fear or whatever. This relationship itself then acts to support and justify the anger by giving it a kind of "sounding board". It is a pleasure to the inflamed ego to feel "right" and to use the energy of the anger to justify itself or to prove its point.
However, the way such emotional projection is handled in guiding is by simply and accurately receiving it. The emotion goes straight through and opposing it in any fashion hinders its release. This can be very painful for the guide, but it is the best and quickest way to release the energy associated with any emotion. This method applies to emotion of any kind or intensity. Contact with strong emotion in this fashion is one of the ways that a guide is able to mature. Maturation comes in that the as the emotion goes through, it exposes areas that are not "clean" and in which there is unreleased material in the guide. This happens because these unreleased areas give automatic opposition or support as the emotion passes and the guide is drawn out of open reception.
In guiding the emphasis is on remaining openly receptive and on communication that arises out of this openness using either words or rasa as a medium. Guiding cannot properly be based on a pre-formulated strategy or plan of presentation. The group itself at the particular time determines its own message; and, while a guide can sometimes be sharp to the point of prescience, at other times the same guide may not communicate clearly. A lack of clarity can reflect two things. First, it may be that the guide is not mature enough to be able to explain the particular problem. A second possibility, however, reveals one of the emphases of this practice: a guide will often respond to a question by saying, "I can't tell you, it wouldn't be proper. You must see that for yourself" or "How does it seem to you?" For example, one woman who was considering getting pregnant asked two guides separately if it was right for her to do that. Both responded that it would not be proper for them to advise her and that she must arrive at her decision herself.
The leadership position in Sumarah is termed "guide" (pamong) in order to emphasize the leader's role as a servant to the consciousness of the participants in the meeting (but not necessarily to their egos). This sometimes demands this sort of evasion and is sometimes associated with giving criticism which is extremely sharp. However, it is not deemed proper for the guide to pronounce the responses based on his sensitivity in oracular fashion but rather that his role is to aid in imparting awareness by inducing self-criticism. This is the criterion of the effectiveness of external communication.
The guide expresses the Sumarah method in such a form as is determined by his own capacity, the group, and the situation in a broader sense. Thus, there is a great deal of variation apparent in style and form between areas. This reflects the appreciation that the demands of communicating the content determine the form used.
I did not have much contact with guides from outside Central Java; but, from what I saw of Sumarah guides from Jakarta I was surprised by their almost rude directness. This contrasts sharply with the quiet refinement of Central Javanese culture in general and with the often gentle fashion in which Central Javanese guides work in particular. However, the crudeness does somehow seem very appropriate to the modern, Westernizing context of Jakarta. One guide from Jakarta visited a Solo meeting and described himself as being direct and rough-edged (he was indeed), and depicted his techniques as follows:
I just tell them, "If you don't believe, don't bother coming." I don't worry about etiquette, I just clobber them, "Brother, you're just here trying to amuse yourself." When we meditate we have no mother, father, or children but only Tuhan to relate to. (Tipes 4/10/80)
Solonese were respectfully aghast at this
presentation and the meeting broke up early.
The second kind of communication that a guide must attend to is internal communication. Just as the thought and emotion of ego cloud and distort the reception of the world outside, so too do they distort and prevent the reception of the microcosmos within. The body is a mysterious, complete receptor of reality. That which consciousness is able to receive and recognize is seen as the external world while the rest passes through unnoted and registers within in the fullness of nature. The universe that opens within is far more complete then the universe that can be received with the five senses. Information of many kinds is accessable in it. This is the basis for the unanticipated comments that come out in guiding.
However, other types of information are also referred to. Suhardo is the most experienced practitioner of this aspect of the practice. In part this is simply because he has been doing it since 1935 and these experiences take a while to sort out. One thing that Suhardo talks about is the ability to feel the state of individuals or groups of people: places and cities in particular have their own "feel" or atmosphere. Suhardo talks about "going to" and receiving within the feeling of cities such as New York, Jakarta, Tokyo and Solo and then comparing and seeing the subtle and not so subtle differences that these various agglomerated gatherings of human consciousness possess. He also says he can receive individuals in this fashion. It is possible to receive support by contacting a guide, though it can be hard on the guide if it is done too much. I was also advised that when I wished to visit Suhardo, I should contact within to see if he was home. He was always home when I stopped by.
The reception of the microcosm is in rasa. Some of it is separated off by "selection" and received consciously, but the bulk of it passes through and is experienced as the "feeling" context of experience. It is in rasa that internal and external experience interface--where the world within and the world outside meet. Guiding demands that communication be kept open in both directions and that rasa be clean and clear. The primary contact of our being with the fullness of reality, with Tuhan, is compared to the moon reflecting the sun's rays. The experience is derived but is pure and direct. All other human activity and perspective take place within this direct state of surrender and are enclosed by its purposes.
This is the realm of the "true teacher", and the actual voice of this unsullied reception of reality is called khakiki. Khakiki expresses the perspective and the will of this total point of view and the spontaneous responses of the guides are khakiki. The Sumarah organization was founded as a result of the reception of khakiki by Sukinohartono in 1935. However, khakiki has not changed. Khakiki that arises now is an expression of the same state of ego surrender that it was then. This gives Sumarah continuity and also gives it the power to compare and grow with the many experiences of the guides. Joking reference is frequently made to the problem of learning to differentiate khakiki from khakiku, which might be respectively translated as "revelation" and "my-velation". In khakiki the tone and character of the voice do not change as they do in some other groups that practice a similar technique.
Khakiki is very instructive both to the questioner and to the guide himself. Cleansing and clearing the internal and external levels of communication so that khakiki can flow unimpeded is a demanding job. This is especially true when a guide first starts practicing. The following is a meditation guided by Suwondo at the guide-training meeting. In it he talks about guiding and also shows how the theory outlined in the last chapter is presented:
So before you guide, I suggest that you do as complete a meditation as you can. Don't make up a strategy like, "Later I'm going to do this, this and this." Don't. This wouldn't be coming out spontaneously. The explanations that do come out take various forms. It depends on the situation there at the time. So the way to do it is to try to unite yourself, to make yourself one with the atmosphere there, the situation at that place and time. If you're not used to it, if you're not used to this spontaneous flow, then before you start you should get ready as best you can.
When I first started, and would be guiding a meeting at such-and-such a time, I would try to get myself clean and ready for two hours beforehand. So I would question myself, meaning that I would try to accept that I can't do anything. What is the proof that I can't do anything? You ask. You try to get close to Tuhan Yang Maha Esa. "How about it Tuhan? What is Thy Will for this gathering? What should I do? Later, when there is a question I can answer -- something I have already experienced myself -- then I already have some idea of how to respond. But then if there is a question that I don't know and have never experienced myself then won't I force an answer? I will try not to get puffed up. Will the answers to the question come or not, though? If I am to answer these questions I humbly request your Will concerning them and your protective shelter. How about it, then? What am I to do?"
For example, something I experienced the other day in Batu when Pak Mur asked me something. I didn't know. I didn't understand the question, and I didn't know how to answer it. At that time I didn't know, but then later -- to use the terms of today's science -- it was as if this body were a computer. The data enters and then when the data has been processed, out comes an answer. It's not the I that produces the answer, though. So sometimes the process just continues on its own. Later that day at Pak Nardo's place, the answer to Pak Mur's question just came out. It was like Pak Mur's question had answered itself, without my participation. I myself did not answer it. I couldn't try to find the answer because I hadn't even understood the question. I didn't understand the question to start with; my understanding only came along with the answer. I had just continued on. I didn't have any lingering attention tied to the question that had puzzled me.
Sometimes it just happens like that. It's like moving close to Tuhan. We ask Tuhan, "What then, what must I do?" This is the kind of experience you receive when you can do that. Our elders used to call this, "Thought arising from the Will of Tuhan." (Keratonan no date a, ca. 1977)
Why does a person become a guide? What are the positive and negative aspects of this practice? The following meditation comes from the training meeting and in it Suwondo discusses the use of devoting the hours and hours of time that some people give to guiding and looks at its benefits and drawbacks:
Don't' rush it.
Allah. . .Allah. . .Allah. . .
Don't work too hard at it. Just go with it. Just follow the process. Follow the process of your rasa. Give your attention to Tuhan. By Tuhan I mean the Laws of Nature, not just the name but the Laws of Nature. Because this is a very important aspect of trying to achieve unity of your tools and your ego.
I won't go into this in depth now; but, in brief, the method for bringing harmony to your tools is found in daily meditation, and being self-critical. As is said in the Aims of Sumarah, we should practice proper behavior both in the world and within ourselves in our deeds, words and thoughts. That's what's hard. The inner aspect. But then later there comes a development within. Later there is another level when not just the thoughts are observed but the emotions too. Then you see that these emotions are caused by your old attitudes -- your bad habits. The tool that arises to observe them is your intention. Your intention to face reality will change your attitudes, but you can't change your attitudes without following the process. What is meant by process here is letting it work itself out naturally.
One of the things that is part of this process is special meditation. While you are in special meditation, you can find out which of your tools have not conformed by giving service, that is, by guiding. The problem is that if your just harmonize your tools within you, you can find yourself holding onto some old attitudes and feelings without realizing it. Thus, our elders used to say that even though your desires are still strong, you should do some bad guiding precisely to find out about your desires in the act. To put it in more modern terms, this means that when you guide you have to use energy or strength. So when your energy is used to guide, your strength decreases and as the energy gets less the desires also get less.
Our elders used to call the desires the "desires of air" (hawa napsu). The reason they were termed hawa napsu is that they could be set in motion if pushed by air, that is, by breathing. In connection with that there are levels of breathing: napas, anapas, tan-napas and nupus. So when the air you take in, when your breathing is refined, this in itself guarantees that your desires will also be refined, reflecting the energy produced by the refined breathing. When your breathing is crude, then your emotions will be crude too. Your emotions will be crude due to your heart working too hard.
When you guide there are two important aspects. From your own point of view, you can receive new experiences guiding. That's because when you guide you'll find many or the experiences are outside your ken before you experience them. Sometimes you get a question you don't know how to answer and haven't a clue about, but then the answer just comes by itself. Like the other day, there was a question I hadn't the slightest notion of how to answer, but then suddenly it just came out. When you experience that it will demonstrate for you clearly why we say that the one guiding isn't the person himself. Like the other day, there were lots of questions that were outside my knowledge, and the responses and explanations I gave were new to me too. So I received a lot of knowledge from the answers that were coming out of my mouth that I didn't have before.
The important thing, though, is to have a firm grip on your meditation. Because meditation has various levels: "Worship in thought" or "awareness of thought", then "worship in feeling" or "awareness of feeling", then "worship in life" or "awareness of life", then "true worship" or "true awareness", which is existence itself. These levels are something we cannot explain if you haven't yet received your own experience of them. Other guides can only act as witnesses. But sometimes a guide is given a powerful experience in receiving something in his role as a guide a level or two, depending on Tuhan alone, above his own level of attainment. This is not his own level that is suddenly elevated, but is only given as an experience in the higher orders of existence. So lots of things can happen when you guide that show that, "It's not me that's guiding."
Lots of the knowledge and experience in guiding become the guide's teachers in advancing his consciousness and level of attainment. It's like, for example, a knife you've sharpened; if you don't use it, it'll get covered with rust and lose its edge. Or it's like a badminton player who has stopped training and practicing regularly. He may feel like he's still sharp, but when it comes time for a match he'll soon see he's not.
But lots of people don't see it that way; many people who study Sumarah just do it for themselves alone and haven't yet devoted themselves to giving service to Tuhan Yang Maha Esa. The fact is that the service is not directly to Tuhan, but by way of Nature's creatures. Looking at it another way, our elders used to say that, "All deeds, words and thoughts are service to Tuhan by their very nature." Everyday tasks -- earning a living, raising children and so forth -- should not be considered as your private business. That won't do lest it become, "I raise the children. I'm the one that makes the money. I can do this and I can do that!" That's not the way it is. So Existence itself gives we who live a duty:
Serve the Harmony of the World,
Serve the Harmony of the Universe
Therefore, when you just take without giving in return, it's not right. What this means is that true worship, true supplication, is actually giving service.
Being a guide is actually hard, it's not easy. And there's a risk: when there is a need, you suffer inside and out. That's the cost. "Everything has its cost." But every bad experience has its good side too. When you truly practice, when you practice so as to be in accord with the Will of Tuhan Yang Maha Esa, the grace you receive is different from somebody who just takes it easy. This is what makes up for it. "He who is diligent progresses; he who takes it easy falls behind." What will you reap when the time comes? This is Nature's justice. The harvest from your practice here will depend on how well your deeds fulfill your aspirations. No one escapes from the Law of Cause and Effect. (Keratonan no date b, ca. 1977)
This meditation points up an aspect of the process of maturation attributed to the practice of guiding. In the original meditation in Javanese (as hopefully comes across in the translation) there was emotion in the presentation. According to Sumarah understanding, this was in error. A desire to please, to be believed, to be understood, a pleasure at having the words flow out, all these are considered signs of immaturity. However, the way that these emotional attachments are ironed out is precisely by commiting this kind of error so that the tendency is expressed and exposed. With practice, little by little, consciousness of these automatic responses arises and the emotion is released. In the following Suwondo discusses this process in referring to listening to tapes (like the one of the meditation above) which had been made a few years before:
When I listened to it again -- "What's this? You mean I was still like that? What's this?" It was crude. That's what's called progress. So I could see myself that formerly I was like that because meanwhile my spirit had matured and my attitudes were different. When I played the tape again it was different. For the time it was right, but now it's not -- the vibration is crude. So when I play back the tapes from three years before the vibration seems different because my mental attitude is different. I can't really blame myself because back then I was like that. This shows the stages of attainment; back then I still had emotion. I still had -- what do you call it? -- I was still influenced by my will. It was true, yes, but true then and true now are different. (Grogol 6/1/79)
There are six techniques commonly used by guides
during meetings. They are all variations on one
basic theme, which is that of open receptivity,
spontaneity, relaxation and the surrender of the
personal perspective to the service of others and
Tuhan Yang Maha Esa. Two of these techiques
have already been described, but I will briefly
recapitulate and expand on what was said earlier.
The first and most fundamental of the techniques is called "guiding" (momong, which is the verb form of "guide" [pamong]). Guiding stresses "making yourself one with the situation", and is the state that a guide should properly be in throughout a meeting. In it the guide receives the situation and the group, and out of this open reception a spontaneous message arises that is attuned to the needs of communication in that context and the guide's own level of attainment.
With the more experiences guides, the process of attunement can sharply distinguish responses to one person from those given to another and this reflects the needs of communication. One questioner may best be able to receive a loud, joking sort of presentation, while another is most comfortable with reserve. This sort of flexibility is a product of time and experience.
There is a great deal of variation in guiding between different groups. Groups consisting of people of a generally uniform level of attainment are the easiest to guide, while groups that are markedly mixed in levels of attainment are harder to guide. Groups that are just starting are the hardest of all from the guide's perspective.
Earlier in the history of Sumarah practice, the guide would single out individuals by name and correct them directly during a meeting. This is not done now in as much as it sometimes had the effect of creating an uneasy atmosphere. Personal comments are now made only when asked for.
The amount of accuracy and detail potential to this technique is considerable, but this again depends on the guide. This acuity was illustrated from my fieldnotes by an experience I had with Suhardo:
I asked him about the levels he had spoken about in the meeting. He then led me through a meditation. It was like someone with sight guiding a blind person across the room. Incredible specificity.
One example of this specificity came when I misunderstood an instruction. He had first instructed me to have my attention down in the heart area and then he told me to bring my attention up into the head area. I misunderstood and remained down in the heart area. After a few seconds he said, "No, no, not down there; bring your attention up now".
A second technique is called "checking" (cocokan).
To review what was said above, "checking" is done
by entering a state of neutral, relaxed meditation
and then focusing attention on the questioner who
has asked about his condition. The guide then
redirects his own attention to his personal
condition and the answer is related to the changes
the guide notes in his condition.
However, what the guide receives is not necessarily a physical sensation. It can be a word, a phrase, a feeling or it can happen that the response itself proceeds without any ego involvement or understanding. Sometimes a very clear and detailed picture of the other and his situation is received, as in one of the cases below. At other times no response is received at all, and this is reported. In the early years of Sumarah, a guide was always expected to produce an answer of some sort. Nowadays the emphasis is on reporting honestly and accurately and not forcing a response. When it doesn't come, it doesn't come. Checking is a very commonly used technique and, as in guiding, there is a great deal of variation in acuity, facility and apparent comfort in doing it among the various guides.
The third technique is another form of checking. In this case, the checking is done on an experience in the past. The questioner gives a time and a day, and the guide goes through the same process as above except that the attention goes to the specified time. No particular effort is made to explain why this should obtain the desired result. However, occasional reference is made to the identical nature of the internal microcosm and the external macrocosm, and to the appreciation that, at any given time, consciousness is more affected by the limits of the ego than by any lack of available information. From this perspective, checking in the past constitutes a tapping not of personal memory but of the stored, full reception of reality at that moment. Nobody worries about it. It is not done in the future. Checking is a mechanical process and if the time and date are mixed up, the result will not be what is sought. When the person cannot remember the exact time or day, he is asked to "relive" the experience, that is, to recall it in his memory. Checking in the past is the most common form of checking and people will note down the time of remarkable experiences so they can question a guide about them.
Some of the guides use decidedly oblique methods to try to get the questioner to arrive at a realization himself rather than being told. This tactic is compared to the meanderings of the Solo River, which wanders about a great deal before emptying into the sea. At other times guides can be quite blunt and direct. This again depends on the situation and the proficiency of the guide. Junior guides are often quite blunt, but with practice they increase their repertoire of responses. A young guide is very apt to be intent on finding out about the accuracy of what he receives, while the older guide is more concerned with effective communication.
A fourth technique is called "accompanying" (panjenengan kalian kula sami, literally, "you and I together"). Accompanying is something of a mixture of the guiding and checking techniques. In accompanying attention is given to receiving and directing a person's meditation over a period of time (see my experience with Suhardo above). The guide tries to "make himself one" with the other's state and to assist the other with his words and his consciousness to attain a deeper consciousness or whatever experience is sought. This is a difficult operation and experience is especially important to the guide's performance. Not many guides are confident enough to do accompanying.
A fifth technique is called "bearing" (nggendong). Bearing is another shared consciousness technique that is similar in principal to accompanying. However, bearing is done with a lighter contact over a longer period of time, often with a person who is ill. The intention is literally to "bear" some of the weight of the illness and bearing can involve some symptom transfer. For example, Suwondo talks about becoming sick with fever while bearing people. Examples of these techniques will be found in the Training section and the Cases chapter to follow.
A sixth technique, which is less commonly used, is called "rasa shock" (sok rasa). This is a technique used for treating mental illness and I have never seen anyone but Suwondo use it. This technique seems to be an unusually intense form of checking in which the transfer goes both ways, that is, to the patient as well as to the guide. A shock of contact is described as passing from rasa to rasa, heart chakra to heart chakra. During this an exchange takes place which is sometimes of sufficient intensity to jolt the afflicted into reality. Suwondo discusses rasa shock as follows:
For patients who have mental illness this is needed because they can't really communicate. When it is needed, contact with rasa can give a shock. While a person is ill, it's as if there were a rebellion against that person before he became ill. there is something that has been repressed which the shock pressures to reveal itself. Whatever it is that has been repressed is given a shock with rasa, and then it broadcasts whatever was below consciousness. Before that, though, it is closed off by emotions that have not yet been channeled off. These must be channeled off first; and when the overflow decreases, whatever has been repressed can be entered by consciousness. (Grogol 6/1/79)
I witnessed an application of this technique. The man was a secondary school teacher who had suffered a breakdown and still exhibited an agitated neurosis with some posturing and stiffness, while displaying continual fear. He was emotionally closed off and isolated by his condition. After a rather prolonged and intense session of rasa shock with Suwondo, he was still stiff and frightened, but they seemed to be direct, honest responses, and he seemed to have been drawn out of his dream world for a time.
The process of training a guide can be roughly
divided into three stages. In the first stage a
person who comes to the regular meetings is felt
to display interest, application and talent.
Gradually the guide begins to advise him to try to
follow along closely, receive the proceedings in
rasa, and to try to parallel the actions of
the guide internally. There will be an instance of
this in the first example below.
The second stage comes when the person is considered to have displayed the necessary commitment and maturity and he is invited to attend the weekly training meetings that are devoted to guiding problems and practice. In this meeting the problems and experiences or guides are discussed while advanced theory is presented and its application is considered and illustrated in experience. The training meeting is large: there are generally between forty and fifty participants, many of whom are already practicing guides in the Surakarta area. Many come considerable distances to the meeting on their motorcycles (up to fifty miles). All of the municipal-level Sumarah organizations in the Surakarta district are represented and organizational matters are also covered in the meeting. But the bulk of the meeting is devoted to the training. Sometimes junior guides are asked to lead meditations or to answer questions and their performance is evaluated by the senior guides. A certain amount of supervisory control is maintained on the practice of guides. For example, one guide was suspended for teaching pushing energy upwards, the danger that was described above in the consideration of the chakra. Some of the regular meetings are sometimes very rich in guides-in-training and the more intimate setting makes more supervised practice of the various techniques possible (as in the first two examples below).
The third stage starts when a guide is advised to start taking responsibility. This is usually supervised guiding at first, as in the training meetings; but eventually the junior guide is expected to be available to substitute for a regular guide when he is unable to cover a scheduled meeting. The first time this happens is always a notable, if not traumatic, experience for the young guide. In time a meeting is started in which the new guide practices, sometimes with observation, sometimes without. Often this meeting is held in the guide's own house. This is a big transition in that guiding itself now becomes the new guide's primary teacher and the training meeting becomes a forum for checking and comparing notes about the various experiences that guides have had.
Throughout the training the person studying this practice is constantly advised to try to receive the guide accurately and to feel free to question and criticize the guide's perspective. This is especially true in checking, where this feedback is considered crucial in helping the new guide to attune and receive more clearly. However, error is deemed possible at any stage of development and mutual observation is fundamental to the maturation of the group as a whole and of the individual members.
Supervised checking can be initiated by the guide or by the participants who are in training. In the following example, which comes from a regular meeting, Suwondo starts by asking that his condition be accompanied while he is guiding. Individual experiences are then discussed and he also urges one member to start participating more actively in the training:
Wondo: Now let's try something. This should be done generally, though. This is an exercise for those of you who have already started taking on responsibility and are putting your study into practice in some way. Check the explanation coming out of Wondo; try to accompany it as fully as you can. Where does it come across clearest? How is it expressed? Using what means of communication? How is the ego? Is it quiet or not? How about Wondo's character, how is that? How is his thought activity? All right, let's hear your comments. If there was something wrong, please say so. When it's wrong, it's wrong. Study being honest. If it was all right, just say so. This is for our study.
Bambang [a young man in training]: On that I didn't receive much. There didn't seem to be a contact.
Wondo: Try to follow the situation fully. Don't just follow the words of the explanation.
Bambang: You mean to follow the process of the meditation. And myself?
Wondo: There are various levels involved. How about you Mariono [another guide-in-training]?
Mariono: I received the head and thoughts as being quiet, with the attention in the back but with some activity in the chest and stomach areas.
Wondo: Can you accompany yet, Wistiani [a steady woman participant]? When you try to accompany, meditate first and then flash on me and then let go and check the changes in your condition. After the contact, whether it was successful or not, you check what changes have taken place in your meditation. That's the way to check someone. Study this and practice it. How about you others? If you feel like it, feel free to talk about it to each other.
Widodo [in training]: I received emptiness [suwung], but not much else; and then when you said, "All right" it was as if I woke up. I felt sleepy [luyut].
Wondo: Later I'll try to explain the various experiences. In large part this was right, the same as with Mariono. There are various levels of reception, but it was mostly right. (Kerten 3/10/80)
The following brief incident also took place at the same meeting. The guide had paused at some length before responding as follows to a rather technical guiding question. The pause in this situation was used to try to receive the question and the situation of the questioner clearly. After the response, other participants asked to have their reception of the question checked. The passage takes up after Suwondo's pause:
Wondo: No, don't do that.
Joko [another guide]: Oh yes, thanks.
Wondo: I see what you mean, but that's not right.
Bambang: Was I receiving correctly or not?
Wondo: Yes, you were.
Paimin [another guide]: How about me?
Wondo: It was better before.
Paimin: And what I received then?
Wondo: You were avoiding it. (Kerten 3/10/80)
The following incident demonstrates the principles
of the technique of accompanying and the amount of
sensitivity potential to this practice. It also
shows clearly how intimately integrated this
practice is in the lives of the participants.
Suwondo was very close to his mother-in-law and to his wife's family in general. They were all involved in meditation practice, whether formally or not. Thus, in addition to the close family ties characteristic of Java, there were these bonds of mutual practice, sharing and worship. When his mother-in-law became ill, he went to her bedside to meditate and try to bear (nggendong) some of the weight of her illness.
Later her condition deteriorated and she was moved to a hospital in Yogya. Suwondo commuted the forty miles to Yogya every day on his motorcycle to be with her and to try to help. The Javanese hold that the journey of death (perjalanan) is a chance to return to the source of existence (Tuhan Yang Maha Esa). This journey can be helped or hindered by circumstances and when the time comes the spirit must be strong enough to let go of the earthly condition and the body. This process can be aided by receiving a push (rajah) of energy, which comes from nature by means of someone able to perform the role and deliver it.
Suwondo found himself in a position of strong conflict in having a profound attachment of love for his mother-in-law and at the same time receiving the responsibility of giving the push that would help her on her way. The following incident of group accompanying took place at the training meeting three days after she passed on. It was the most extended and profound instance of this kind that I had ever witnessed. Suwondo was upset by the experience and his speech was a little louder and rougher than is usual.
Now try to accompany me on an experience of mine while I relive it. This was related to guiding and specifically to the problem of separating the ego from the energy which comes from nature. This concerned my mother-in-laws death. In a situation like that there is always a contest between full acceptance and holding on.
Please try to follow.
This was my condition the other day [pause]. The body felt unpleasant, confused, worried, with a lot of attachment and self-concern. In fact, the knowledge of what was required was already there but the ego was not yet willing.
Then on Monday I went to Pak Hardo's home around noon. This was my condition at the beginning of the visit [pause]. Then I was hotly reprimanded by Pak Hardo. It was like being scolded; but in fact he was just setting me straight, forcing me to look at reality. Seeing the difference is hard sometimes. It looks like getting yelled at, but in fact it's getting set straight--having the reality of the situation pointed out to you. It depends on how you take it. This is reality, whether it fits in with what you want or not [pause].
Then we talked for a long time. It was as if I was being forced to separate my real duty from my social role. Proper behavior and proper etiquette had to be separated, separating the ego from the energy that was being given to me [pause].
Don't meditate to yourself. Don't meditate to yourself. Do the best you can, but don't go off in your own meditation. Do the best you can to open yourself so that you can receive another's experience. This is the study according to own level of attainment.
If I was willing, it was my duty to give her the push into death [rajah] but I wasn't willing. I still had my attachment to her. In fact, I just couldn't.
Then I was ordered just to point out her situation to her and to give her awareness of the unfortunate end of old age. This was the separation; this is where the separation came, right here. The ego and the duty separated here [pause]. I accompanied my father each evening [silence]. There had been a visible effect [silence].
Now a few days later. I was given an experience as a witness, although my ego was still unwilling. I witnessed it, but I was still not willing. My attachment to her still held fast. But the strength of the energy was constant. Within my meditation I confessed that I was attached, "Here Tuhan, I'm still holding on." But it depends on reality. So there were two realities. The first went along with the necessary natural process. The other was the process of my ego. [silence]
On Saturday after work I went to Yogya and stopped at Pak Hardo's again. He again told me to do it, but I still resisted, still unwilling. How could I be willing? But I had a deeper responsibility to my mother-in-law, a responsibility between her spirit and mine.
At that time I spoke to the doctor--this was important--I tried to make myself neutral while I was talking to the doctor. Try to check this. [silence] I lost track [luyut] but there was a force that came out by itself. I was just a channel, and my ego separated. The energy came out by itself. [silence]
This was just steady faith. I didn't recognize it at the time. It was only later that I realized that it was firm faith.
The crisis came on Monday evening. I visited Pak Hardo again, and he said, "If she needs it, give her a push so that it goes more quickly and smoothly." I still couldn't. I confessed, "I still can't do it, Tuhan, please, what is the best way, Tuhan?" I was just with her for a minute and she began to let go. I left and when I returned she was already gone. (Keratonan 6/19/80)
During the discussion that followed this presentation, one of the guides-in-training asked if Suwondo had really been staggered by the experience. The implication was that the preceding narration seemed to show that his strength in the practice helped him to face his response.
Yes, that's how I felt. Life's like that. I was confused, scared and in pain. I wasn't pumping myself up by saying, "I must be brave". No, no. That's what my ego's reaction was, but that's the way egos are. It's not that because you are a guide you have to be brave all the time, no. The process that a person that practices goes through is the same as the process that a person who doesn't goes through. It's the same. The way it is confronted is different, though. It depends on your level and the experience itself. The feeling itself is the same, though. What happens is the same; it's just the response that is different. It's the character that is different because, on the one hand, you have trained to accept and receive reality and without that training it just overwhelms you. It's not that this kind of thing is pleasant when you have prepared for it and only hurts a little bit. It's still painful, although you don't complain much. In that way it's not like when you aren't prepared for it, but the pain itself is the same. (Keratonan 6/19/80)
Sumarah practice is not seen as a primarily social
or diversional event but as a part of the
participant's life and preparation for death.
Traditionally in Java, much of the second half of
life is devoted to such practice. It was said to
be best to start a practice like Sumarah after the
age of forty when one had had some experience and
ones family responsibilities were diminishing.
Nowadays it has become common to start at a
younger age; however, the long-term, life cycle
appreciation of such practice remains the same. It
is something that is done either formally or
informally (depending on your inclination)
throughout middle and old age. One outgrowth of
this perspective on mystic practice is its relaxed
acceptance as a valued part of life, while the
pervasiveness of such practice gives it an
unhurried, if not today then later on, assurance.
There is a marked absence of fanaticism and recruiting pressure expressed to draw participants. One reason for this is, no doubt, the government supervision under which Sumarah and all the mystic groups operate. However, two other factors are connected with the absence of fanaticism. First, tolerance is an integral part of Javanese culture in general and Javanese mysticism in particular. Tuhan's tools are truly varied. In light of Java's position as a crossroad for Indic, Sufi and some Chinese strains of mysticism, as well as the indigenous versions, it is not surprising that it is the content (batin) that is considered primary while the particular form used to study it is seen as incidental.
One way this is expressed in Sumarah is in the Sesanggeman (The Aims of Sumarah) where it is stated, "They vow not to be fanatical, but to rely on truth, which in the end benefits all people". This leads to the second aspect of tolerance. Fanaticism is deemed an obstructive emotional disorder that is an expression of the ego and blinds you to the accurate reception of those aspects of reality that do not fit into your fervor. In training, young guides are frequently warned about fanaticism.
This is not to say that intensity does not have a proper place in Sumarah practice. Life is short and we sometimes need to be reminded of its transient nature. In regular meetings this urgency is not much expressed. The participants are not necessarily committed to the practice and there is a danger of misunderstanding. Intensity is one of the tools of communication that frequently, but not necessarily, is tied to self-serving emotion (pamrih). The process of freeing the tool from this influence is a long one, marked by many tainted presentations as consciousness gradually increases through experience.
In the training meeting, urgency and intensity are sometimes expressed, and this forum is considered the proper place for the study of intensity as in Suwondo's presentation above. In the following presentation, this intensity is expressed more properly and cleanly by Suhardo while guiding the training meeting. Suhardo's occasional participation in the training meetings (coming over from Yogya) was in the role of a supervisor, making sure that the fundamentals did not get lost in the details of technique. Guiding as practiced by the more gifted guides does not have a cultural parallel in the West. The crowd consciousness of some performers, preachers and politicians gives some indication of its nature, but the role of the guide is not to entertain or convince but to foster individual consciousness. Suhardo, truly the greatest man I have ever known, has a stance that always reminds me of two beings held sacred in Java: the fighting cock (jago anom) and the bee (tawon). This presentation should give you an idea as to why I feel this way. In the following meditation, a great deal of theoretical material is applied; it should also give you an idea of the amount of attunement potential to guiding by such a master:
That's right. Don't delay it. What you need to do is to put yourself in order. Why do you practice Sumarah if you are not willing to put yourself in order? In surrendering to Tuhan Yang Maha Esa the main thing is that your physical and spiritual aspects must strive towards receiving reality.
So you must do this. It's hard but you must do this.
To attain true faith what you need to do is stand on your own two feet. That means without a guide. When you can do that, then you can correct yourself.
You correct yourself like this, "How is my daily meditation? How can I improve it? What is the goal? What should I do so that my being will become united and so that I will be neutral and calm?" This is what's lacking. This right here. It's not enough just to collect your confusion and bring it to a guide. This is not enough because you will go quicker if you do it yourself. Therefore, with this, I give you this assignment which is to put yourself in order, to unite your physical and spiritual aspects and strive to receive being and reality. This is the main thing.
It's not that all of you are going to be able to settle into the fourth level today, the level of surrender. But you will be able to make a stride forward. For example, from the level of resolve to the level of faith or from the level of young faith to the level of true faith. Or if you have already attained true faith, you should be able to reach the fourth, which is surrender.
So in time you will attain surrender.
The most important tool for making these advances is daily meditation. If you just try to do the meditation here, without applying it in daily life, it's of no use. Actually, the true practice of Sumarah is in daily meditation and self-criticism. You must. Daily meditation without self-criticism is not possible; you must be self-critical. So every second you must direct yourself towards receiving reality. That is with awareness. Be aware of what resists this within you until you attain the complete awareness of rasa murni. Awareness has different levels and not everyone is the same; but you must be able to correct your condition on your own.
The key to correction is rasa. Your rasa must examine within, observe within and correct within. That is the way. Isn't that calm, calm and neutral?
But when you reach young faith, the sign is a coolness, a chill like it's freezing inside. What then is the sign and proof of young faith? I ask that you enter into meditation because before you can realize young faith, you must be convinced of the existence of reality and being itself.
So enter now, enter your rasa so your rasa observes itself and we enter into special meditation.
You must enter for the proof.
Allah. . .Allah. . .Allah. . .
This is faith when there's a chill as if it's freezing inside. Now enter more deeply. Deep within there is a light. This is what's hard, this is not easy. But if you wish to receive and surrender to Reality and Natural Law there is no other way, and then, when you have surrendered, there is a sign.
Did you receive your sign or not?
That's the proof.
There's a light within that comes from Nature, and this light is the source of life. Worship is the duty of those who live, worship to unite with life. This is your duty, to unite with your being and with life itself.
If you are now receiving the light that shines within you, this light is the source of Sumarah -- the revelation on September 8, 1935 came in this light. So the revelation didn't just come to Pak Kino, who was the first, oh no. It comes to anyone who has attained faith. It must be your own faith, your own experience; it won't come from anyone else, you know. Our surrender is directly to Tuhan Yang Maha Esa, directly to being and reality itself. There is no intermediary. It's direct.
Continue with this.
This is a very useful level of awareness to those who attain contact with Tuhan Yang Maha Esa. This is an important step because when you have gotten this far, you can receive and serve the Will of Tuhan directly. This is where you find khakiki, the voice of the True Teacher within us all. It must be witnessed. The orders of your True Teacher are here; and in fact, the True Teacher merely relays the Will of Natural Law (Purba Wasesa) to those able to receive it. This is the level of attainment where the connection with being and reality is attained.
But you are lacking in this; you lack this practice. Your thoughts are still active, and thinking is not allowed. That's not the way to do it.
The operation of Natural Law -- the Will of Tuhan Yang Maha Esa -- totally permeates society. That's the way it's done. That is with faith, yes, faith. The Sumarah organization is not just dedicated to special meditation. Your daily life must at the very least be filled with faith. At the very least. So you look yourself, you must confront your weaknesses. "How is my daily meditation? What are my deficiencies?" You must do that. You yourself must surrender. It's your own responsibility, depending on you alone. It doesn't depend on the purity of somebody else. That's not it. It depends on you. And that means daily meditation. Without daily meditation you cannot devote yourself because if your daily meditation slips, if it gets bad like that, it means that you have lost your connection with Tuhan, your direct connection. There are no mediators. It's direct. Direct, but be careful; you must guard your connection yourself. This is what you must maintain at the very least. So managing yourself, which you can do with thought or some other tool, will not do. You should be informed and directed by reality itself. This is not hard.
Every action, every word and every thought should come straight from reality.
If your reception of reality is right, then your thoughts about reality will be right and your behavior will be right too. But if you let go of your daily meditation, you will be punished for it by losing your connection with Tuhan Yang Maha Esa. You must devote yourself inside and out.
Don't doubt it.
Practice proper behavior. Practice it. That's right, you can do it on your own.
What does that mean in your behavior?
Everything you wish to do that is not condemned, that is not punished in your feelings, I mean inside when you are calm and receptive, that means it is allowed. That means that it is acceptable.
For example, a merchant cannot survive without a profit. A merchant needs profit. But if the profit gets exorbitant and he's taking too much, inside he will know he's taking advantage and that he should have some feeling for the other guy. Inside you know. For a merchant there's a measure and a balance that comes from inside you. It weighs your actions.
That's what this meditation is for. We don't say that you must fast in this way or that, or not make money. No, that's not the way. These things are just provisions for living in this world. They're necessary for living in the world. But, at the same time, don't get attached to these things. Don't get attached. And not just to things either. Look at your intellect. Intellect. Your intellect is a tool for educating and instructing humanity. Don't go around thinking its the greatest thing. Oh, what a mistake. It's a mistake if you think like that. A mistake. When you receive your calling in Sumarah you'll find, as I have during the past forty years, that the intellect is just a tool to help humanity appreciate reality.
That's the way it is.
Keep going. This is faith here in your chest; the proof is in the experience.
You must be willing; you must dare; you must attain it. If you aren't daring enough, you don't reach it. Then faith is just a word, and when it's just a word, it is nothing at all.
Continue, keep going.
Go deeper. This is faith; don't get distracted by the view. Don't split yourself from the experience by observing it. Be firm. Be steady in your surrender to the Oneness of Being.
Go deeper so that the faith becomes true faith. True faith is a step on the path to the fourth phase, surrender. You must enter here.
This just now was true faith. Later you must bring your daily meditation into true faith as soon as you can. For those of you who are not yet able, this experience is a tool for you at your own level. Do it! Enter into true faith.
Allah. . .Allah. . .Allah. . .Allah. . .
Hurry up, enter.
Allah. . .Allah. . .
Ni ni na nu ni nu ni nu [a kind of free floating relaxed humming]
Let the vibrations enter and go with them.
Ni ni na ni nu ni nu [about five minutes]
Allah. . .Allah. . .
Let the world go. Leave your attachment to the world behind. Let your family go until what's left is just you yourself surrendering to existence, you alone with Tuhan Yang Maha Esa.
Ni ni ni nu . . .
Go on, enter again. This is preparation for entering the fourth phase. With this you unite your body and your spirit in surrender to Tuhan. With this you are entering into Natural Law. This means that you can follow Natural Law only if your tools have surrendered first.
This is Natural Law. When you have attained this level, the sign is that your spirit and your body do not waver. The body does not fluctuate. This means that the physical body of the desires and the body of the spirit have become united with existence in the present.
The body and the spirit become one.
When you are totally devoted to being one with the whole of existence, you will be entered by a light. This light fills you and comes out and pervades the world in its entirety, depending on the extent of your service and your level of attainment.
When that is attained, you tie into the Natural Law of the universe, which is general. But first you must be able to receive the Natural Law of your own being.
This comes first. This is the way. This is the way to unite all of your tools in the here and now. When your body and spirit are one, you become a servant awaiting the Will of Tuhan Yang Maha Esa, expressed deep within you.
This Will is right there inside you right now. There is no struggle, seeking the True Teacher, practicing neutrality or any of that; you just follow His Will.
That's enough. When you're told to go West, you go West; when you're told to go South, you go South. That's enough. That's because we obey the Will of Tuhan, not the Will of the True Teacher. The True Teacher is just a tool for finding the Will of Natural Law. So don't keep relying on your understanding once you've reached this stage. Don't do that. Don't keep trying to figure it out like that. There's nothing to worry about. It's easy.
Doing it is easy.
But the way that you do it -- the form it takes -- depends on where you are. You don't have to imitate the way they practice in Jakarta. The situation in Jakarta is different from the one here in Surakarta; different places are all different. That's true everywhere. You've got to be able to work with the circumstances where you are.
That means that if the appreciation of reality is expressed using religion, you use religion. If it is expressed using doctrines of kebatinan, you use that. However it is expressed there, you can use that medium. You can use any medium to describe the Sumarah method and give your practice and your faith to anyone at all. You can confront anyone because your orders come from the True Teacher, that is, directly from reality itself.
There is no distinction involved in this where one person can receive existence better than someone else. It's not that way. It can't be. There's nothing more than the fact of existence itself. There can't be.
So if you truly want to follow Natural Law, you should learn to practice without a teacher. That's the way to do it. That's the way I used to do it. It depends on your resolve, your resolve in facing your duty to reality with devotion.
But who is it that acts in the realm of existence?
We all do.
We are all the creatures of Tuhan and Natural Law. Our physical and spiritual bodies, our very lives are expressions of Natural Law; so how do you think that any of your actions could be outside of the Totality of Being? Wrong. It's wrong if you think like that.
What then? In fact, when you talk, eat, work, think, it is all part of the Totality of Being, Tuhan Yang Maha Esa.
That's what's at the core of it. That's the essence.
Now come into daily meditation. Daily meditation, enter daily meditation now. Open your eyes and be right here.