Deaccelerate, Accelerate on the road. Life is not a race.
Fasting is a very familiar way of life to Javanese. Called pasa or poso, fasting in Javanese culture is always related to the effort to self align. Many Javanese like doing fasting with or without meditation (tapabrata or topobroto) depending on their commitment.
While Javanese Muslim do at least one month of fasting per year in Ramadhan, fasting in Javanese culture itself came even much earlier before Islam was introduced. While in Islam fasting is between dawn to dusk and the same restriction is commonly applied to all kinds of fasting, Javanese fasting is more varied both in term of period and restriction.
Fasting helps Javanese slow down the pace in their mind, regulate the speed of their ambitious behaviour upon life goals, train themselves to be patient.
There are several kinds of fasting in Javanese culture that are still practiced by relatively many nowadays.
1. Regular fasting This fasting is done only from dawn to dusk like the Islamic fasting. This is a common practice, many Javanese parents use this kind of fasting to train their children about how to manage their immediate excessive desires and concentration in under pressure situation. I remember when we were elementary and high schoolers, we were instructed by parents to do fasting on Monday and Thursday during yearly school testing weeks. Yes, I felt more focused on my study as I had to prioritise tasks to save energy. Brilliant!
2. Mutih Mutih is derived from the word putih (white in Javanese, Indonesian, Malay). During this fasting, a person is restricted to eat other than white rice and fresh water for 24 hours started either at dawn or dusk. Ordinary Javanese can do it for one day, three or seven. Yet more advanced (usually senior) Javanese would extend the period as per commitment.
3. Ngasrep or nganyep Ngasrep is derived from the word asrep that means cool or cold; while nganyep from the word anyep means tasteless. In this kind of fasting the food and drink should be all cool and tasteless. The person is suggested to eat only boiled vegetable without adding taste (salt, sugar, oil, sauces, etc) and drink fresh water. It is mostly done in three days.
3. Ngrowot Ngrowot is a word derived from the word krowot that means Javanese common carbo source except rice. The person who does this fasting will only eat carbo non rice like sweet potato, suwek (konjac), gembili, gembolo (English please….), taro, cassava and other tubers.
4. Ngebleng Ngebleng means staying in; so doing this, a person will do regular fasting but very limited food intake allowed without leaving room or house, not meeting anyone, just doing meditation or doing household chores without distraction from anyone. Someone can do it three and seven days and forty days. Not many are doing this as this is a challenging one: not easy to find a place. This fasting is quite heavy because it does not allow sufficient food intake for a long time.
5. Patigeni(pati: turned off, geni: fire) It literally means “fire turned off”. This is the highest level of Javanese fasting as the restriction applied really tests the person’s very high commitment: s/he is not allowed to eat, drink, sleep including fall asleep and see any light both artificial and natural. How long? The shortest is 24 hours, maximum unlimited. Note: if s/he sleeps or falls asleep, s/he has to restart the fasting.
There are other kinds of fasting in Javanese culture which were done by very limited people and have been left by many due to the impracticality such as pasangidang (from the word kidang or deer) in which a person is only allowed to eat raw foliage like a deer, pasangalong (from the word kalong or bat) only eating ripe fruit from the tree, pasakungkum (bathing up to chin level either in the pool, river or shallow sea) without eating or drinking, etc. There are probably other kinds of fasting as Javanese used to be very creative in “fasting engineering” hahaha….
Javanese believe that with fasting they will connect better to themselves and inevitably with the ultimate power of the universe. They will usually become confident people without showing off. Those fasting committed people —if doing it right and without evil intension— will be a highly spiritual people and voluntarily dedicated to environment and people.
Javanese believe that this type of people bring blessings to the surroundings although blessings are not always tangibly seen. The blessings can be as simple as peaceful daily life with little conflict,
Do we still have many of them? In very silent villages around Java island we might still find a few. They are traditional farmers who feel the need to connect with the ultimate power as only that can help them manage their humble farming that is now severely industrialised and exploited.
Under the green leaf,
Crawls then sleeps. Wake up with love.
Fly, Butterfly, fly.
Metamorphosis of egg to caterpillar to cocoon before butterfly is beautiful and relevant with the cycles of human being’s life in all aspect.
How someone finds a potential and amplifies the potential with any resources that one can think of such as schooling, taking courses/training/workshop, reading, listening, watching, contemplating, consultancy…. Oh some others who don’t have clear thinking include their actions of cheating, stealing, breaking the law, stepping the integrity lines, backstabbing, etc.
It is like witnessing the eggs sheltered by some shade of plants and with the weather and pressure, they are pushed to crawl out of the shells. Here it comes one hungry caterpillar, playing happily, eating this, eating that, eating these, eating those, eating everything. This caterpillar can only stop eating when one feels numb and one’s fullness melts away and wraps itself to sleep. The things one consumed liquifies it like ice thawed in a plastic bag.
Sleep soundly, hungry caterpillar and don’t wake up until someday your fluid self come into form, embodied into a totally different creature. The butterfly you are!
There was a time when an employee is so preoccupied with what one is doing, as if one is wrapped in a system that trapped one doing the same thing like no choice is given. One does it everyday until finally not having to think of how to do it already. One might feel the job is ingrained as a thought, a feeling, an intuition, movement, the life itself. Trained skills and talents make an art, the integrity shapes wisdom. A job—when has become a dedication— will not betray a human being.
Hope someday mine becomes one. It is never about how high I climb but about how deep I dive into the commitment of making what I’m doing a wisdom and benefits for those we promise to protect and support.
I think it is ok to be one hungry caterpillar, looking greedy and craving for more knowledge, experiences, adventures. As long as it knows where poison lies, it is safe to chew and swallow anything. No no not anything…. Select wisely, Beloved.
I remember Steve Jobs said “Stay foolish, stay hungry”. That person really knew what he was doing. Many people might have thought negatively about him, laughed at what he was doing, called him crazy, kicked him out for having different ideas, backstabbed him to stop his annoyance. Those people just didn’t know that that guy was a hungry caterpillar processing into a cocoon before butterfly. Amazing human being! God bless time when he was alive and forever.
Hmm…. Perhaps he truthfully made himself hungry by fasting and foolish by learning and unlearning.
God bless you, Steve Jobs and the people around his belief about staying foolish and hungry.
March on a twig. Oops! They flip.
It looks up to the blue skies,
Prepares to cocoon itself.
Butterfly is never really born. It is a natural breakthrough after the hungry caterpillar is willing to go fasting and liquidize itself in seclusion. When it is time, a butterfly comes into being.
You might be not a colourful pretty butterfly but cocooning should have taught you that your present being is the output of a long resting period after such a long euphoric period of being a hungry caterpillar. The euphoric being is gone, replaced by a winged soft being flying and dancing celebrating the moving air around its body.
Your wings might be just pitch black but they are the result of how sincere you are in a transformative sleep hanging in a weak twig, without knowing if you’ll be slapped down when the twig is broken, without knowing that you’ll be aborted because of the wet, without knowing that the end is the end or a transition point. You just don’t know but you accept your not knowing.
You might not be as pretty as the most beautiful butterfly out there but…. You’ve gone through the same quality of cycle – not less not more. Thanks to fair Mother Nature.
To be “born” winged, fly, help the flowers pollinate before fruition and magically create graceful move with super powerful effect….
Don’t be upset for being a flipping hungry caterpillar’ coz when you’re transformed, your flapping wings can blow a typhoon!
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