Sembah Cipta

Sembah Cipta is an ancient method of worship which is still practiced by Indonesian mystics today. Sembah in both Javanese and Indonesian means ‘to worship’, ‘to venerate’, and ‘to honor’. Cipta can mean both ‘mind’ and ‘creation’ in Sanskrit, Javanese and Indonesian. Hence, Sembah Cipta also implies worshiping one’s ancestors and parents, for ultimately it is through them that we came into being in this world.

In order to practice this method of worship effectively, one has to direct one’s thoughts to Gusti (God), and then to one’s own ancestors and reflecting on the merits they accumulated during their lives. Through this form of contemplation, one will then become aware of the nobleness of those with whom he shares the same biological connection; thus he should strive to acquire virtues in this life just like his admirable ancestors did during theirs.

As part of a preliminary practice, one should strive to perform good deeds, control one’s sensual desires and eradicate any unwholesome inclinations (i.e. greed, anger and delusion). By doing so, one develops the causal conditions for his abiding in a (mental) state of well-being, a state of mind conducive to the practice of Sembah Cipta.

Sembah Cipta

Then one may proceed to carrying out Sembah Cipta. First, one should find a suitable place which one feels is comfortable to perform the practice. Then one should clear his mind from any thoughts that may come up to him. Do not think of anything in particular; just allow the mind to settle down. It is therefore recommended to focus on one’s feelings (rasa) and investigate how they appear and dissolve again according their nature, which is emptiness.

When the abovementioned instructions are carried out correctly, one will begin to feel more and more inclined to continue the practice, which then becomes not a burden at all. At first he will feel as if he is alone and deserted, and his physical body may even seem as if it no longer functions. Though one feels as if unconscious, yet the mind is fully aware. This state is the result of attaining tranquility of body (‘heneng’) and mind (‘hening’), and mindfulness (‘eling’) of rasa sejati, ‘true feelings’, i.e. the direct experience of reality, or intuitive awareness. It should be noted, however, that only when one has established a firm level of concentration the mind will be capable of bringing forth the fruits (i.e. the results) of the practice.



– ‘Falsafah Orang Jawa’. p. 32.

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