Urip Iku Sawang-Sinawang – Javanese Wisdom

Urip iku sawang-sinawang is another Javanese wisdom that I’ve learnt. It simply means life is looking at each other, looking at something.

When feeling unfortunate, many will see others as luckier than them. Comparison is an immediate expression to show their frustration. Why are those people getting that but I’m not? Why does life give the blessings to them but not to me? Why are they married but I’m not? Why do they have good jobs but I don’t? Blahblahblah!

Let’s call them “these angry children”. When these angry children happen to consult to Javanese elderly, they will softly say “Ngger, urip kuwi mung sawang-sinawang….”

“Ngger” is equivalent with “My child”.

Many can only see what they are exposed to. Others have better job while these angry children don’t; and that makes these children angrier. They think that having particular jobs will make those people happier.

People are married and being married is considered happier and that makes these angry children sad or even angrier.

People travel to many places and these angry children think they are luckier; and that makes these children envy.

Some colleagues are able to deliver the speech better than these angry children and they think the colleagues perform better; and that makes these angry children feel as worst employees.

Are all those truly as these angry children think? No. Or at least not always. Or let’s say not exactly like what you expect. Or maybe not at all!

They have good jobs but they might have a lot of pressure or feel less appreciated. Whereas having (what you consider) less fortunate jobs is blessings for becoming less risky against integrity issues and less pressure.

They are married and these angry children never know what kind of spouse those people have. These children should be thankful for not being in a marriage this time and see that those married people are struggling financially or romantically or sexually or spiritually or socially or all…. Whereas the unmarried are free to be their own selves and getting more training from Life to be better and readier human beings.

People travel to many different countries while these angry children can only jump out to other districts in their  province. These angry children think that makes those people better human beings. Yes, they have more photo albums and memories of what they have seen and more information; but they don’t automatically become wiser than whoever mostly stay home but are able to process the life experiences into true wisdom to address this humble life.

And colleagues speaking more sophisticatedly? Bloody hell! Those who talk talk, but not always walk the talk. What’s more important is how what aren’t even spoken or talked have helped people around them.

So, life is only how we are looking at each other, looking at something. We can look at them and get offended. We can look at them and digest what we see into a wisdom to be better living being without judging ourselves of being bad or unlucky.

That’s a simple Javanese philosophy that might be also taught in other cultures.

Accept who we are and process our own facts to mould the shape of love in us. Others are not always our mirror, they might be magnifying glass.

In fact, all of us deserve to be these angry children while growing to be the wise.

Thanks for the simple chats with some good friends and my own self.

This picture of children with heart-shaped glasses is borrowed from https://www.freepik.com

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 😊