Notes on Sumarah meditation practice

Laura Romano, 1995

The purpose of this article is to introduce some basic principles of Sumarah meditation. It is not my intention here to explain everything about the method or in any way to give the full picture of this particular meditation. My wish is just to briefly introduce those elements of Sumarah theory and Javanese philosophy that one is at first faced with when begins to practice.

Ilmu Sumarah is a type of meditation practiced by one of the many mystical groups existing in Java, the Paguyuban Sumarah. Even though the practice and the guiding line of Sumarah can be considered universal, ilmu Sumarah (lit. the science/knowledge of total surrender) has deep roots in the ancient Javanese belief system called kejawen.[1] Because of that, I feel it is necessary as an introduction, to say a few words about it and the way the presence of the individual in the Universe is viewed by the kejawen philosophy.

Despite appearing a very syncretic type of world view, kejawen is a very homogeneous and consistent complex of beliefs, based on the main cosmological conviction of the absolute correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm. Reality in all its forms and manifestations, from the most refined ones (halus) to the most rough ones (kasar), is conceived as a solid unity whose parts are not only a product, but more than that the ontological elements which give existence to the Whole. In kejawen we do not find the dualistic contraposition between Creator and created and not only is there a correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm, but, more than that, there is not really any clear boundary line between the two. The whole is in all the parts, but also each part is already an exponent of the whole.

In this context the human being is nothing but a microcosm which contains in itself all the manifestations of the macrocosm and therefore represents perhaps the most powerful living potential for the harmony between the whole and the parts, between matter and spirit. She/he is the ultimate possible meeting point of rational and irrational, known and unknown, human and divine. Besides this very special microcosm that is the human being, there are many other levels of microcosmic reality: they also represent manifestations of the universe, phenomenally different, but substantially somehow identical in their essence.[2] 

It is clear that in such a way of viewing 'this' and the 'other' world, there is no space for those types of dichotomies, so typical of western philosophies. Pairs of opposites like subject and object, matter and spirit, positive and negative turn into something quite different in the Javanese mystical tradition. Basically they lose their character of opposites and the relative ethic value that we are used to connecting them with and they stand as ontological essences valid in themselves. At this point the ethic matter becomes irrelevant compared to the ontological one, because, as Javanese often like to say, itu kenyataan (that is reality) and this and only this is what we have to deal with.

In Javanese there are two terms to say reality: kenyataan and Kesunyaatan. The first being reality and the second Reality. The first refers to the phenomenal world, to the microcosm and in general to the horizontal level, the second refers to the universal level, to the macrocosm and the vertical level.[3] 

In the Javanese world view, each individual's life is nothing but a 'mampir ngombe' (a short stop on the Path to have a drink of tea), a moment that sometimes will be memorable, but anyhow will remain just a moment on the Path and perhaps not so very important as it seems to us.

According to kejawen, there are two main reasons why we are limited to see our individual existence as separate from the whole. The first one is that we are most of the time positioned in aku (our ego) and therefore our general view of reality is narrow; the second one comes from the fact that most of the times we use mainly (if not only) the thinking and analysing capacities of the mind as a tool of interpretation of reality and of interaction with it.  In this context meditation is seen as a way and a tool to change that type of point of view and to move towards a more comprehensive position where at least all the categories of the self will get equal space.

There is an image very dear to the Javanese, and not only the mystics, which is used to represent the 'place' and the 'duty' of the individual in this world: it is the one of a carriage pulled by four fiery horses, ridden by a charioteer and carrying one passenger. Every Javanese would understand the symbolism of this: here the charioteer represents the ego, the I, while the passenger the soul; the four horses are the four basic desires[4] and the carriage is the actual life.  All of these elements are interdependent and equally important in their function.  The carriage has to be treated with care not only so that it can function as the comfortable vehicle it is supposed to be, but also because truly it doesn't belong to us; the horses, indispensable to move the carriage, on the other side, can also be its ruin: they can make it proceed at a good speed, but they can also go wild and in their fury overturn with horrible consequences.  The horses are powerful and fiery, this is their very nature; they are pure energy that needs to be handled skilfully and with wisdom.  The charioteer –the I- usually just wants to ride, to go further; he is full of good intentions, but also of ambitions.  At least apparently he has got the leading role, but his strength is at the same time his weak point, because in his power is hidden the potential and the danger of destruction.  The good charioteer not only has got to learn to ride his horses, but in order to be able to do so he will have to deeply know and love them, to understand their pace, their weak and strong points and the relationship between them.  A too weak driver will easily be at their mercy, ending up by being their slave, but, on the contrary, a too despotic one will eventually tire or hurt them.  Finally the adept charioteer is not only looking in front of him, is not only thinking about his destination, but he will also always be thinking about the carriage of which he is nothing but a trustee and remembering his silent passenger and his needs.

At the end the really important thing is to have a good journey!

We could say that kejawen classifies the Being in general and the human being specifically in levels of consciousness.  In general the idea of consciousness as well as that of phases is very present in the Javanese philosophy and world view: here 'how' is in a way more important than 'what' and 'where'.

According to Sumarah the individual is provided with three basic piranti (lit. tools for work): raga (the body) rasa (sensitivity, sensibility and feelings in general), pikir (thought and in general the mind's analysing capacity).[5] 

Beside those the main piranti of consciousness are: angen-angen, the mental oriented consciousness; rasa, the feeling oriented consciousness; budi, the spiritual-divine oriented consciousness.

In a way it could be said that there are also different levels of the self, that we could perhaps describe in the form of a spiral of concentric circles, beginning with the very limited and unaware aku locked and dominated most of the time by its own desires, and then widening towards a more complete and whole I, diri yang utuh (total self) more in touch with the inner self and the hati nurani  (the enlighted heart): here aku gets closer and closer to the soul (jiwa) and more in contact with its needs.

The hati nurani is also the place where dwells our guru sejati, the inner teacher, that voice which always knows the truth, our truth, because it is in contact with the soul.  The individual jiwa is our luggage, it is what we are provided with (sangu) and, at the same time, the essence of this incarnation.  In the kejawen prospective the soul is 'given', which means that it cannot really be transformed in one life time; it is what it is and its level of maturity is the karmic gift that we were given by our parents together with life.[6] The different parts in our being have their own demands and needs together with a general sense of longing towards unity, towards liberation, towards overcoming painful duality.  Part of the practice of meditation is to learn to listen to this longing.

Meditation initially is nothing but a tool and a technique to meet and to get to know all the different parts of the being from the most kasar (rough) to the most halus (refined) ones.  In fact just as we can get to know another person, it is possible to meet our various inner 'others', their state of health or sickness and the role they play in our being in the world. This is seen not in a psychological sense, it is not the case of 'others' in the sense of different aspects of our personality, but indeed in the sense of levels of the being: the aim is then to create the space, the time and the inner silence necessary for them to manifest.  In this sense meditation, before being a tool of knowledge and transformation, is a tool of cleansing.  In Sumarah the condition of non-consciousness/non-awareness is often compared to an oil lamp whose glass is so dirty with soot to make one think that inside the flame is dead.  The room is dark, the lamp gives no light and one will think that there is no flame inside.  Instead it is just we who are deceived by our own condition, because we identify with it.  The light is the source of life, it is life itself and it is always in us as long as life is in us.

Here openness and courage are needed: the openness to allow the manifestation of unknown parts of ourselves and to receive their 'new' messages and the courage to put that into practice in our daily life. The work of cleansing, then, becomes also a work against ignorance and in favour of knowledge; a kind of knowledge which is not intellectual knowledge based on concepts, but a kind of knowledge which is given through personal direct experience, in a condition where subject and object are not any more separate or opposite.[7] 

Sumarah literally means total surrender and this is the main practice in Sumarah meditation: the total surrender of the ego as a condition necessary to be able to receive the teaching and the messages of the guru sejati.  The practice of a single session, as well as the whole process, begins with a deep relaxation of body, feelings and mind in order to create the space and the silence necessary for the awakening and the unfolding of awareness.  This means, first of all, a basic change in perspective either as perception of reality or interaction with it.

Through the practice of deep relaxation and meditation gradually one will be able to move out of the position of concentration.  This is the most common attitude we have developed because since school days we have been taught that it is the 'right' mental perspective for doing things 'well'. The focus will then begin to widen, little by little as we dare to let go of the grasp of the aim and of the will to possess. (In this case to possess understanding, awareness, enlightenment).  Concentration is then slowly replaced by a more open and receptive position, which not only is more relaxed, but also is not depending on concepts and pre-concepts.  Then finally we can be more open to the messages not always 'logical' of the hati nurani and to new kind of experiences and events.

In Sumarah the importance given to levels and phases has a very flexible quality.  Stages of consciousness should not be considered as rigid divisions, nor in any way permanent; they only have an indicative value of the progression of one's spiritual process.

In Sumarah there are three main stages in the process of spiritual maturity of a person who is practicing.  They are as follows: tekad (drive, will) the intention, that starting moment that will take us, for example, to the decision of taking part in a meditation session or also more in general of beginning the spiritual quest.  Iman (faith, belief) is faith in the Divine plain, is the believe which supports the made choice, not only because our will 'agrees', but also because our heart knows that it is the right one. This kind of faith is not a dogmatic one, but is rather based on the proof that reality will give us in meditation and in a new conscious daily life.  Finally the third stage is the one of sumarah (lit. total surrender), where the practitioner lets go completely and just follows the Process allowing her/him self to be in the inner position of receiving and accepting what is given, without anymore  using her/his will or being depending on her/his faith.  This is a completely neutral position where no effort is needed anymore.

So, in a sense, sumarah is considered the final stage, but on the other hand it is not seen as a final condition that once obtained will continue for ever, with no remissions or back slides.  It is a state that can never be taken for granted.  That is, perhaps one of the reasons why Sumarah has often been defined as ilmu kira kira, ('the science of more or less so').

The Sumarah practice even though aiming for the divine is in fact extremely human and makes continuous reference to the human limits, one of which is the 'forgetting' all the time.  That is why the practice of eling ('continuous remembering) is considered synonymous with kesadaran (awareness).

The three phases of tekad, iman, sumarah can also be viewed as three stage of a deeper and deeper relaxation, where aku (the ego) lets go, so to speak, of its leadership, finally accepting to be processed by Life, by the Universal Law, by God.  Finally then, from that place we will be able to 'hear' and to receive what in Sumarah is called Tuntunan (the supreme Guidance).  Tuntunan is the 'guiding energy' that literally guides us and gives us directions for our inner and outer life through intuitions, revelations, small or big enlightenment  or moments of light (Pepadang)

There is the space of Truth, which will manifest in many different forms and with different types of messages according to what is needed.  Sometimes from inside and from ‘deep down’ aspects of our subconscious will manifest, like old memories, denied emotions or frustrations, levels of reality that most people will usually only experience in their dream life.  Other times we might be given insights, orders, deep intuitions and messages about ourselves or others that seem not to come from our usual self but from a higher dimension, somehow from 'up there'.  While this is happening a cleansing process is also going on because of the power and the purity of the Tuntunan: the glass of the oil lamp having been cleaned because we had opened up and made ourselves available to be 'processed'.  The Process then will go on and we'll experience a change in attitude and a new type of opening that will eventually allow us to see other aspects of reality.

The position of surrender, of sumarah, at least temporarily, is necessary for all of this to happen. Here, perhaps, originates the 'old' criticism about the passivity and fatalism of certain Asian cultures, the Javanese included.

To me this criticism seems to be rather a misunderstanding that lies in the fact that what is seen as non-activity, no effort, also no strength, is in fact just a change of subject.  The ego who usually is fully in charge and therefore fully active, is pacified or at least made less dominant, while on the other side what is usually asleep and non manifested becomes active or, in other words, is activated.  Under the Guidance, the one who speaks, who acts, who feels, who understands is of course still the same individual, but in a different state, the one that in Sumarah is called Trimurti, a condition where thoughts and feelings have become one in the light of budi (the higher consciousness).  In fact only in such a condition can a person receive the Tuntunan, the Guidance.[8] This is not at all a passive condition. Quite the opposite, it is a state of discovery and renewal. At this point the ego is not the king anymore and it is only because we are so used to have it doing things and being in charge, then it might seem like nothing is happening. But this again is just due to our own blindness.

Another hard, but basic point in perhaps any spiritual path, is the one of acceptance. The concept of narimo (lit. acceptance) is very much emphasized in the Javanese tradition, but this too has to be understood in a specific spiritual perspective and not using moral parameters of cultures based, for instance, on the 'ethic' of productivity where ambition is considered a virtue and competition the source of success in life.

In Javanese philosophy acceptance means in fact nothing but a deeper understanding of the Universal Law that regulates everything. It means to admit the limits of our own I and its basic impotence and suffering for being bridled in the tentacles of its own desires. It means to perceive the deeper sense of the Universe, feeling one's self as a part of the whole.  Acceptance, in this sense, is also based on the belief of the law of karma whose wisdom and truth is usually not immediately knowable and understandable for us. Last, but not least it must be said that the attitude of narimo  refers basically to the inner condition and does not limit decisions and actions that may need to be taken. It is important to become aware of the fact that most of the time the weight and the pain caused by our rejection of a certain event is actually bigger and heavier than the problem itself.[9] 

In this sense Sumarah teaches us to see the main obstacle, as being most of the time the rejection and /or the anger that accompanies the problem more than the problem itself. Very often the experience will be that, once we have overcome the rejection, the problem loses much of its intensity and power and we become able to see to the very bottom of our anger.

Finally we experience that the more we see that the anger was in fact inside us and not outside, in the event which at first made us angry, the more the problem tends to dissolve. The very fact of the resistance to accept the idea of acceptance is in fact the last proof of the mind's attachment to its own solutions, the proof of the stubbornness of aku  who doesn't want to let go of its axioms, of its securities and familiar ways of doing and understanding things.

Mystical knowledge, is usually surprising and 'unbelievable', not in the sense that it is not real or directly experienced, but for the way in which the understanding is realized.

Almost by definition, to be able to have an intuition we must stop thinking, we must leave some space for what may seem, at least at first, illogical or inconvenient. Even so, when we reach some kind of truth in this way, the feeling is not the one of conquest, of the result of an effort coming from our own will power[10], but more of a gift. Then the truth (or the non-truth) of it will only later be verified by reality, while the complete understanding of the origin of our intuition or revelation will very often still remain obscure.

Sumarah is a mystical path especially soft and tolerant, where one of the first things to learn is to accept at the same time our limits and our infinite potentialities. Here lies one of the many paradoxes of spiritual practice in general: though the light of the divine is in each of us, we'll never be God. Even if hati nurani, our purest heart, continuously aims for perfection and for the union with the Divine, as human beings, we may never really be freed from that longing.

In western mentality and way of life the idea of 'limit' and 'limitation' has a significance only as something to be overcome. In the kejawen philosophy and in Sumarah as well, on the contrary, it is something that first of all has to be accepted. Another paradox here is that acceptance is in fact the first step towards the possibility of change, while rejection, along with the desire of overcoming, is exactly the biggest enemy of transformation.[11] 

We have seen how meditation is a means for a different and more complete understanding and experiencing  of the microcosmic dimension in relation to the macrocosmic one. This occurs through the exercise of 'being', 'staying' and operating from a place that is different from the one of pikir. Rational thought, in the spiritual approach, is considered the simplest and most elementary tool of knowledge and often the source of different kinds of psycho/physical ailments and tensions.[12] It is interesting to notice that the very activity that is considered the highest capacity of the human being in a certain value system, can be considered mediocre or even disturbing in an other.[13] 

According to the Javanese view, there are two other faculties of the mind considered sometimes accessories to pikir, other times superior to it. One is angen-angen, the activity of the back part of the brain, more connected with memory, even if not necessarily conscious memory. This faculty of the mind is considered in some ways superior to pikir, because it is more in contact with rasa. The other one is cipto, the ability of clairvoyance that could be developed with specific exercises of concentration. This faculty is located in the front of the brain, in the so called 'third eye'. Cipto, though often considered superior to pikir, is limited and the practice connected with it can have serious side effects. Sumarah disapproves of the use and development of cipto, because it feeds the ego and implies concentration. Concentration is considered to create tension, closeness and 'shrinking' of the horizon of awareness. Relaxation, on the contrary, is seen as a way of opening to a wider perspective and as a necessary intermediate state towards surrender.

The tool which is more emphasized in Sumarah practice is rasa. Rasa includes all levels and all the aspects of the feeling dimensions from the physical experience connected with the five senses to the purest sensations and intuitions. In fact the word rasa means taste, feeling, sensation, sensitivity, sensibility and it can even  mean thinking (obviously another type of thinking from pikir). Rasa is considered to be approximately located in the chest area with an emphasis on the right side when it has to deal with events or activities connected with the social and worldly dimension, while more on the left side when in connection with more spiritual aspects of life. I say approximately because in fact rasa cannot really be located. It is the intelligence of our feelings and has its own 'logic'.[14] While pikir and cipto are both still very much tied to aku, on the contrary rasa has the potential of allowing us to gradually distance ourselves from the dominant power and the leadership of the ego. The work of meditation among other things is the awakening and purifying of rasa . The practitioner gradually moves from rasa kasar towards rasa halus, eventually being able to reach rasa murni, the pure feeling. If with pikir we understand and with cipto  we can 'see', only with rasa we can truly manggon (lit. be and sit comfortably, 'feel at home').

All the tools of the ego and every part of the being, obviously have their roles, their tasks The problem though remains that the individual usually lives most of her/his time under the dominance of aku and is moved by the power of tekad (will). It is because of this human 'habit' that Sumarah sees the necessity of practicing  on the rasa level and becoming more and more aware of its quality, its language, its intelligence.

I have previously spoken of the importance of creating within us the space and the silence necessary for a different level of understanding.

Here lies a crucial point: we cannot expect to change our lives if we are not willing to change our attitude! If the perspective is going to be 'another', a new one, then it is necessary to change, perhaps little by little, but surely, with patience and tolerance. There is no bargaining on this point. If we want it different, we must be open towards change, honestly. And this is a difficult thing because aku is a white eel, long, slippery and always pretending to be pure and innocent; very difficult to catch and very resistant to accept responsibility for its own mistakes.

To change categories and attitudes means to be willing to change habits, patterns and familiar tracks. Basically that means unknown territory. Here lies the importance of the practice, i.e. to learn all that is there for us to learn, remembering the importance of inner honesty, perhaps still the most significant requisite of all. Only then can we begin the cleansing process together with the awakening of rasa that progressively is purified and 'sharpened'.

The more we proceed in letting go of the habitual means of understanding and inquiry, of action and decision, the more we will be able to let go of the 'wants 'of aku. Creating new habits we also create a new attitude and vice versa: one influences the other and the more we proceed the more it will be so. It is difficult indeed to describe such a progression even for someone who is going through it. The difficulty lies exactly in the fact that it is feelings that we would like to talk about. How can we explain the feeling of salty even when we know it precisely? We can perhaps say what it is not: it isn't sweet or sour or bitter, but what it really is can only be experienced. Only then we will be able to share our understanding. This is something very simple, almost obvious, and yet it is not at all easy to accept and actually to live by it.

Going further with the practice, rasa becomes at the same time stronger and more refined, getting us closer to what in Sumarah is called rasa murni (literally pure feeling). Rasa murni dwells in that very special 'place' that in certain currents of Sufism has been called 'the heart of hearts' and in Sumarah  is called hati nurani  or sanubari. It is only when we are in that 'place' that we can hear the voice of our guru sejati  also called pamong pribadi, the true teacher, the inner guide, the divine voice in us. But the guru sejati speaks another language and most of the time talks very softly as well. Here again is the importance of practice, exercise...and daring to learn from mistakes.

Through Sumarah practice while we learn to be more often in contact with the guru sejati  we also learn to obey It, as the only one who can really 'momong aku' (take care of aku). Because of the interrelation with the Divine, being its utusan (messenger), the guru sejati is the only 'one' who can teach us to perceive how partial our vision is, how incomplete our lives are and who can guide us towards the recognition of the total self that we really are. The guru sejati  in Sumarah is more often called pamong pribadi, (lit. individual guide) so called because it is needed by the pribadi, our true identity.

In Sumarah there is a strong emphasis not to use the word guru (teacher) but rather pamong (guide). This is to explain that the pamong is not someone who knows something others don't know. She/he rather is a person who, because more advanced in the practice has the duty to guide and encourage beginners, but only according to intuitions and instructions she/he will receive from the Guidance. In Sumarah the pamong is actually considered such only in the very moment in which she/he receives the Guidance and channels it to the audience. The form that the guidance will take changes according to the situation and this is perhaps one of the reasons why, among Sumarah pamongs, there has always been a big difference in style. The teaching never comes from the  outer teacher, the person, but rather from the Guidance and/or the inner teacher which the pamong will eventually help us to connect with. Often the pamong functions only as a clean mirror. So who is guiding, is really never the pamong person (the person), but actually the pamong energi (the energy) that at a certain time is channelled by a certain person.[15] 

It is difficult to define the aim of Sumarah. In the Sesangeman , which are the basic principles of Paguyuban Sumarah , it is stated that the main aim is to reach harmony of body and soul. Simply and in one word it could also be said that the aim of Sumarah is sumarah or again the attainment of the total self, or the becoming one of angen-angen and rasa  under the light of budi..........and one could go on looking for a definition and different ways to put it in words and each one would not be 'it'.

Clearly it is difficult to enclose the aim of the Sumarah practice in one concept and perhaps we should not attempt it. In fact, the process is gradual and not certain in timing or permanent attainment. Similarly enlightenment - a word by the way very seldom used in Sumarah - is not a leap in the darkness. According to Sumarah it is a gradual widening of the horizon under the light of Budi, a progressive opening to the Tuntunan, the supreme Guidance.[16] In any case it is important to keep in mind that all of this cannot be intellectually understood, but can only be mystically experienced. As with other 'special' experiences in life, for example true deep joy, mystical realization cannot be looked for, but it will arrive somehow indirectly by its self when its time has come. That's one of the reasons why we cannot attach to it, sometimes not even touch it: when we do we lose it.

Even though realization and enlightenment are the final destination of the soul, Sumarah tends to speak much more about the earth life than the celestial life. The idea that we are on this Earth because we have got some work to do here, debts to pay off and a mission to accomplish is what makes daily practice basic in Sumarah. Sumarah practice is in fact a way of living and a way of being in the world. The pamong pribadi is really the only teacher we have  to help us on the path and in the process of expanding our awareness. The first step is to learn to be in contact with our inner pamong as much as possible. The pamong pribadi often sends messages that are not exactly logical in the way we are used to, sometimes they don't make sense at all, they take us by surprise or they don't say what we would like to hear. It is just like learning a new language: it requires a lot of practice, courage and endurance and also the willingness to make mistakes, to experience and to experiment.[17] 

Often what happens is that our analytical mind doesn't want to let go, insists, or is stubborn in the familiar interpretations and dismisses the intuitions and the messages of our inner teacher. It is a matter of fear, conscious or unconscious, of the unknown. It is only when we see and declare ourselves ignorant, then we open to the possibility of getting in contact with the unknown. When that happens the ego despairs because it becomes completely useless in this context. This could also be called going back to the original innocence. Before that, aku will always be strongly resisting and fighting for its life. The white eel will try over and over again to impose its supremacy, stating loudly:" This is my life!"

How many times and in how many ways we become deluded, is up to the Process and to our level of awareness, collaboration and availability. Most of the time we think that by resisting we are protecting our rights, we are winning the battle. When we do that, we can have the superficial impression of a sense of security: the landscape is a familiar one, we feel safe because our mind has managed to translate the new into the old, the unexpected intuition into the usual reasoning: such is the trap of the ego! In fact  deep down we know that  the true Self is losing.

Here Sumarah teaches us to be tolerant and patient, but absolutely honest in admitting what we are doing to ourselves. Confession by itself has an incredible power of transformation when it comes from the 'heart of hearts', the hati nurani. Then, what matters, is to keep going and to keep the direction with dedication and faith, putting one foot after the other without looking up to the summit of the mountain.

The practice is one of watering the tree, just for the sake of watering the tree, not for the fruit it will give one day.


AKU:  the 'I', usually in the sense of the ego.

ANGEN-ANGEN:  the activity of the back part of the brain, considered to be especially connected to the feelings and memory area.

BUDI:  the higher Self, the Supra-consciousness. Perhaps it could be associated with the crown chakra.

CIPTO:  the power of clairvoyance .

ELING:  lit. to remember, in Sumarah is used in the sense of remembering the higher Reality, God.

GURU:  teacher.

GURU SEJATI:  the inner true teacher.

HALUS:  refined, smooth.

HATI NURANI:  lit. the enlighten heart, our pure heart, the one that cannot lie. It is also called sanubari.

ILMU:  Knowledge, usually in the mystical sense.

IMAN:  faith, believe.

KASAR:  rough, coarse.

KENYATAAN:  the phenomenal reality, immediately experienced through our senses and our understanding.

KEPRIBADIAN:  personality, identity.

KESADARAN:  awareness.

KESUNYATAAN:  the Reality beyond reality, the metaphysical reality that can be experienced only through mystical practice.

JIWA:  soul.

MANGON:  to sit comfortably, to feel at home, to be 'here' completely.

MOMONG:  lit. to care for, to look after (a child), here is used in the sense of spiritual guidance, also instead of teaching.

NAPSU:  desire.

NARIMO:  inner acceptance.

PIKIR:  thought, thinking process.

PAMONG:  lit. guide, in Sumarah it is used instead of teacher.

PAMONG PRIBADI :  the inner personal guide.

PIRANTI:  tools, attributes.

RAGA:  the physical body.

RASA:  the feeling realm, from the more physical feelings, until the most subtle ones.

RASA MURNI:  the purest feeling.

SANGGUH:  what we are provided with, provisions.

SUJUD:  lit. bow down like in the Islamic way of praying, in Sumarah it means meditation.

SUMARAH:  total surrender, specifically here means letting go of the ego and surrender to the Higher Principle or the Law of Nature.

TEKAD:  drive, will.

TUNTUNAN:  Supreme Guidance

Kejawen is the term used to define the complex of philosophical and religious beliefs that is the basis of the Javanese world view. Kejawen results from the fusion of the oldest indigenous beliefs with the three main religions which have been present in Java: Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.
For example the house, the neighbourhood, the market, the village are also considered from one side autonomous and complete microcosms, but on the other hand fully representative of the macrocosm. It is because of this that protection of harmony is so very important in the Javanese world.
Our own life, everybody's life is kenyataan. It is nothing but an illusion from the point of view of Kesunyataan, but it remains a very vivid reality in the eyes of aku, the I.
The four basic desires are connected to the four primordial elements of the universe and to four places in the human body. Each of them has a positive and a negative aspect. This simple scheme can give an idea of the reciprocal connections.
name of desire negative aspect positive aspect element place colour
AMARAH anger enthusiasm fire blood red
ALUAMAH greed endurance earth flesh black
SUPIAH lust inner peace water spine yellow
MUTMAINAH righteousness
air breath white
There are two words in Javanese to describe the activity of thinking: pikir, that connects to the rational-logical thought and the analytical capacities of the mind and angen-angen which is less connected with logic and more linked to a wider consciousness and to memory. Pikir is located in the frontal and middle part of the brain, it demands concentration and usually after a while causes tiredness; angen-angen is located in the lower back part of the brain, is less precise, more intuitive and more relaxed.
According to the Sumarah view a soul can be more or less mature or 'old', depending on the point it has reached on the walk back to the Origin and on the karmic 'luggage' it is carrying. Besides, individual karma  is not only personal and linked to previous incarnations, but it is also connected to the karma of the parents, the ancestors, the country etc. If it is true that the soul cannot really be changed, though it is believed that it can be freed by the grasp of aku.
In Javanese there are five different words to describe the process of understanding, according to where, how and with which tool one is operating. Mudeng is the most simple and immediate understanding: rather superficial, it doesn't need neither much reasoning nor special intuition. This type of understanding is usually quite obvious and based on concepts generally accepted as true. Mengerti is a more elaborated and less immediate understanding, it usually needs a certain intellectual effort and some kind of elaboration of the given datas. Ngakoni is a level of understanding which is not exclusively mental, but starts to use rasa to listen to other parts of the self and especially to acknowledge their existence and the validity of what they have to say. The next step is ngrumangsani: here the role of rasa becomes predominant. This level of understanding involves mind, intention and deep feelings: it brings the person in contact with the pure heart, what in Javanese is called hati nurani (lit. the enlightened heart). In this sense ngrumangsani is not only understanding and admitting something, but also deeply feeling the truth of what we are understanding. Often when experiencing this condition, one is moved to tears. At last nglenganani comprehends and overcomes the four previous levels: here the subject has arrived and  'sits' in peace and clarity being one with the object. Here there is no more duality or conflict and therefore the process of understanding is total because it has involved the total self. It is believed that only this type of understanding can bring real change.
The condition of Trimurti in Javanese is rendered in the expression 'angen-angen lan roso kumpul kesorotan dening budi', which more or less means 'mind and heart have merged in the light of budi'. Nowadays this concept has been developed  in a much more complex and articulated system of interpretation. Due to the brevity of this article, it would be inappropriate to enter this matter here.
In Javanese there are two words etymologically very similar but with a quite different meaning: kalah and ngalah. Kalah means to lose in the sense of losing a battle, a test, a competition where we had the intention and the wish to win. Ngalah on the contrary means to lose on purpose, to let oneself lose or better to let the other win, not because of weakness, but as a sign of inner strength. This virtue is highly prized in Javanese ethics: it is the humility of the great souls, the true strength that is hidden in docility.
This is one of the major obstacles, especially for the western practitioner who, since childhood, has been educated to the philosophy of "if you want it strongly enough......then you'll get it" and to consider will power one of the most precious and necessary qualities in life.
The typical and ultimate example of 'limit'/'limitation' is death, by definition the limit of life. In western society death is no doubt considered a negative event. It is the end, the void, almost a defeat to be overcome. In the Javanese world view, on the contrary, death is seen not as a conclusion but as a transition. The border, eventually, is the one between one kind of reality and an other, not between being and not being. Death is an event that belongs to life.
A typical Javanese comment to someone who gets sick is: " ........tentu terlalu banyak pikiran........."   " Sure you do think too much......" almost as thought was a kind of virus, cause of probable disease.
The negative aspect of pikir is seen in the very fact that it does not seem to help change. In a certain way we can say that the more we understand intellectually, the less there can be space for change. Often once we have understood something, we feel at peace with ourselves, having the sensation that we did what we could, "our best", as we like to say. In this sense often the ‘satisfied’ rational understanding nullifies a possible dynamic transformation. In spiritual practice to be especially clever, smart, learned can often become an obstacle more than a help.
Rasa is definitely the most used word to express the variety of the non rational dimension: Feelings, perceptions, sensations, intuitions, all of those are rasa. The phrase 'saya rasa', lit. I feel, is actually used most of the time instead of ' I think'. Also it is to be kept in mind that there are different grades of 'refining' of rasa  from the most kasar (rough) and kotor (dirty) that is still very influenced by personal emotions, through a more halus (refined) one, until rasa murni (the pure feeling area) where dwells the guru sejati, our inner true teacher. About the concept of Rasa in Javanese mysticism see the very exhaustive essay by Paul Stange  “The Logic of Rasa”.
One of the 'proofs' of the difference between the person-pamong and the energy-pamong lies in the fact that most of the time the second one seems to have knowledge of things completely unknown to the first.
This point could definitely be developed much further, but again, due to the brevity of this article, this doesn't seem to be the right place to do it.
Sumarah emphases two equally important moments in the meditation practice: the sujud pamiji (special meditation) and the sujud harian (daily meditation). The first is the moment of the formal practice, the moment when,  alone or in a group, with or without a teacher, we sit to meditate. Despite the obvious importance of the formal practice, in Sumarah the special meditation is considered above all as an exercise for the daily meditation, which, on the other hand, is the work of awareness and self understanding that we are supposed to do during our daily activities. The idea is to reach in daily life the same level of relaxation, openness and acceptance that we are given in special meditation. Practice and perseverance, honesty and a certain amount of courage will bring us to reduce the gap existing between the two types of meditation.