Javanese Mysticism

Animistic, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and modern influences are all evident within Kejawen and it is impossible to understand many internal developments without knowledge of national political struggles. The Javanist perspective on larger Indonesian events is a feature within them. From the Javanist perspective broad pattern of history are both clearer and more important than particulars, historical process is a spiral linked to the deepest roots of local culture. Each phase of the history is viewed by Javanists as presenting a new challenge to indigenous spiritual identity. Javanese mystics view themselves as attempting to adapt to modernity by presenting an ageless spiritual awareness through new forms. These basic spiritual ideas differ little from those found in other esoteric traditions.

The Javanese have a firmly established sense of karma and reincarnation and they use many other Indian terms to describe and deal with the spiritual path. At the same time, Islam has left a deep imprint on Kejawen in terminology and style, much of which is straight Sufism, and in their stress on God.

The techniques used are as diverse within Java as in other mystical traditions: some groups meditate (samadi) through use of mantra, others by concentration on particular chakra (occult centers within the body), using Sufi dhikr, or tirta yoga (immersion in water). The range of these techniques reflect the plurality of religions active on Java now and influencing it during its history.

It is worth emphasizing that no specific technique is characteristic of Kejawen as a whole, though some general cultural orientations are closely related to kebatinan. The general conviction, found widely in Asia, that “the essence of all religions is the same”, that only forms of practice and teaching differ, is related to mystical inclination and a widely avowed distaste for fanaticism; thus forming the core understanding in and of Kejawen.

Reference: Stange, P.: ‘The Evolution of Sumarah‘, pp. 9-15.
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