Philosophy of Javanese in Life Series – Urip Iku Urup

Life’s flame, Beloved
Gaseous, burning, glowing.
Choose your own spectrum.

What is urip iku urup? It is literally “life is flame”.

Most Javanese describe “urip iku urup” as “your life should be beneficial and/or helpful for others” like flame coming out from fire giving surrounding the light, saving others from the dark. Always do good things. Help others. Don’t make a noise. Don’t disturb others. Those are very normal advices coming from the Javanese elders. Not bad, but to me it is a jumbo burden to always being good and being nice and saying yes and not complaining when life is sometimes tough and forcefully dredging out negativity from the very gut.

I though highly respect this urip iku urup through my own interpretation: “life should be full of passion”. Only those with passion, zeal, enthusiasm, energy, commitment, excitement, fondness, zest, keeness, avidity, gusto, glee, joy can bring the most benefits of what they do towards others. Not so much different from what normal Javanese interpret, just that I prefer seeing things from how life radiates from within self rather than how it is measured through others’ benefitting my life. Simply put: I’ll do super best; if you get the benefit, that’s good for you. If not, tell me and I’ll make it better.

If you choose to be a teacher, be the best version of teacher you are. If you want to be a researcher, be the best version of researcher you are. If you decide to be no one, be the best no one in the world! There is a spirit of learning from the scratch and striving for perfection. And there is a sense of originality.

Flame has different colours, depending on the heat and intensity of the fire. Many think red flame is the scariest perhaps because it is the one bellowing in rage, eating up property in fire. However, it is the most external part yet actually of the the lowest temperature. It is the tongue, not the voice. The blue represents the hottest flame — it is the gas burning, the higher temperature, the innner most, the closest to the core. It’ll cook things faster but quiter! It is the vocal cord, not the voice.

In life people should choose what flame they want to represent in life. It is whether they want to stand out and be the red, symbolising the intensity of the whole fire! Or, they want to be outstanding as the blue and not arguably be the hottest support to the reds around. Both are ok. Just remember not to extinguish each other, Red and Blue. People need to choose their own roles in community. Some people are good at performing at the stage. Some are good at executing. Some are good at initiating changes and pushing from the back of the course. Some might be good at all but I doubt one person can be good at three perfectly at teh same course. If one thinks so, one will either overkill the people around one or kill one’s self.

Within self, red and blue is about act of maturity or choice of expression in many different occasions to face different situations with different people. How people process their experience and mold the wisdom within is a hidden flame. Let them do. Their timing is theirs, not yours. Sometimes they want to show their red, the other time they show their blue.

Flame is alive inside and outside! Be a flame while we live! You’re the voice!

If you listen to this song, you’ll see that urip iku urup -the so called Javanese local wisdom- can be found everywhere. Local wisdom is never local, it is universal value expressed differently by many in different places.

Salaam….

Note about the writing and the song: don’t bother, it is my interpretation 😊

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