A Post about Zen

P.S : The post contains delicate issues about religion and spirituality.  Author has no mean to promote or disregard any spiritual and religious group.  No mean of sharing affiliation, only experience.  Peace!
P.S :Post ini bercerita tentang hal spiritual dan agama. Penulis tidak bermaksud untuk mempromosikan atau menjelekkan komunitas agama dan spiritual manapun.  Bukan menjelaskan ketertikatan, hanya pengalaman.  Salam dua jari!

Vihara Giri Ratana, Ciseeng Bogor


In my recent travel to Jakarta,  I am more excited and nervous to talk about this.  I went for my first meditation experience.  This is nothing religious, and conducted in the most secular fashion. I was meditating with MMD which adapts vipassana khrisnamurti teaching.  I have read Khrishnamurti before, I felt challenged but intrigued by the way he explains about attachments to things we think we know.  So, that was what the meditation all about.  To free judgments and only "watch" our thoughts.

Why Meditate?

I am not familiar with the concept of meditation, but I know that most of successful people or leader meditate to keep themselves at balance.  Though some might say that meditation culture is a pretentious cult or whatsoever, but my personal reason to meditate is to clear my mind.  I had been struggling to adjust with my new life in Indonesia, as I wrote in several blog posts and mouth-to-mouth story with my closest friends.  I am so tired, exhausted at everything.  I am tired hearing me complain.  I am tired at feeling tired thinking that my friends will be tired listening to this tireless complain.  I am tired of feeling like shit.  I am tired  of being told, "the answer lies within you", I would not even know what the sentence mean five years back when I was in university, simply because I was not quite of a deep person as today.  I am tired of thinking about relationship with others like my parents, family and friends.  It was just... overwhelming.

I followed Ben's tumblr (and I met him at the day of the meditation) and I read a post last month. There will be a meditation in Bogor next month (this August).  Out of curiosity, I contacted the organiser/representative, it was Pak Toto whom answered me.  He said the space was full.  It was meant to accommodate 50 people.  But I was curious and I asked more about the meditation.  He was very supporting and attentive.  Mostly, I was asking about how 'neutral' the retreat is, considering it is held in a Vihara and I am (still am) a practicing moderate muslim.  He told me the participants come from different culture and religious background, hence the meditation is initially secular.  Though I am still very nervous.

It was 8th of August, Friday, I landed in Jakarta for a gathering and few upcoming interviews.  A week before the retreat, Pak Toto emailed me and informed me there was still one space left.  I thought this was crazy but I signed up instantly.  And I did not talk about this to my parents... well... unless they read this blog.

What happens?

Friends.  People.  Changing perspectives.  Doing something I have not done before.  That happens.

Unlike last year whenI went to Ubud, it was for fun and also curiosity.  I have met new friends and awesome figures I managed to be still in touch with.  I am always thankful for it. But my experience in Bogor was one of the kind.

First, I was confused because I made a sudden decision and I really had no idea of how to get there.  I stayed for few days at Serpong.  My aunt whom I stayed with, was about to book me a rental car. But I did not want to trouble people and she was a bit suspicious when I told her I am going to Bogor and will stay at Vihara.  I remotely went for this underground.  So, Pak Toto gathered all the participant in a whatsapp group, and I begun to correspond with others and asked if they are traveling from Serpong.  

A nice lady, Bu Nadine answered me and offered a ride with her friends.  There are Bu Lena, Bu Sinta and Bu Erin.  They were surprised to learn that I want to learn spirituality at this age.  Well, I guess it is understandable because when you are twentysomethings, you have so many ideals that are constantly challenged.  They were quite impressed when I told them I have read Khrisnamurti before (thanks again to Ben, although I have only read Think about These Things and still reading Freedom of the Unknown) so I found this meditation to be relating.  Bu Nadine have been joining MMD for almost 10 years and before this she was 'meditation shopping'.  She found that MMD suited her best.  This was Bu Lena second experience with MMD.  It was first experience for Bu Sinta and Bu Erin, who happen to be mother and daughter, but they have been practicing meditation for long.... while, I, was still a virgin for this.  

Interestingly, I also met Ben and his girlfriend Rara.  I told them that I have been following (creepy) them by their blogs and read about their thoughts and experiences.  They are friendly and warm twentysomething with strong character and visions.  I have also met Citra and Kennya, who are also twentysomethings.  Most of the attendees were adults so I am happy to find twentysomethings in the crowd.  Much interestingly, there is Naya, the youngest attendee by only 13!

What really happened...

This was my first time meditating and I had no expectation and I had been told to have no expectation.  The meditation begun on Friday, 15th August at 7 pm to Monday morning.  The Guru is Romo Hudoyo and he explained briefly about the meditation and what to expect. Basically, this is in line with my expectation which is to focus on my inner self and discover my what I truly want, so I can clear my mind and move on to get what I want.  A dream job, a scholarship, a life partner... not really, or a vision.  Because the transition from living independent to living again with the family, sometimes can be not so comforting.  There will be argument. Heavy arguments.  There have been few in my case.  I know that perception of anger, sadness and happiness are residing and processed in our mind.  I am trying to believe that, but not quite.  I believe in the theory but now I need to practice how to control this mind.

The method of the meditation is simple.  30-minute of sitting, standing or even sleeping and have nothing on your mind.  Not even a slight or a little thoughts.  The objectives of this meditation is to stop overthinking and be in the present.  You must have been annoyed few times.  Let's say, you are thinking about your ex, and you hate them.  You hate them because you have identified the feeling of hate each time you begin to think about them.  So this meditation trains to put off the "fire" before it burns you completely.  We are made to understand that every emotion, let them be sadness, anger, jealousy and happiness they are not permanent.  It comes and goes.

Sounds so convincingly deep?

Yea, but it really is hard to do it.  I am an obsessive overthinker and I cannot stay still during 30 minutes of meditation but I make sure everytime I change position and open my eyes, I did not think of anything.  Even for Ben and Rara, who have been practicing many kind of meditations before, MMD meditation is considered difficult.  Because we do not have any subject to focus on, be it our breathing or skin-sensation.  You need to focus on one thing : your inner self.  And how do you see the inner side of you?

I was getting used to it time by time, because we had plenty time to focus on our inner self.  (Yea, 2 days and 1 night of silence and meditating!) It felt so good and quiet.  It enhanced my awareness especially during my prayer and even in simplest daily activity. For example, I was on flight, on my way back to Palembang.  I have a fear of flying.  During take off, the weather was so cloudy and the plane was struggling to ascend.  I could feel that my heart beat fast.  I noticed that I was scared.  But it passed eventually.  So, this is what the meditation trains us to, which is to control our thought and emotion.  We watch our reaction of feeling as a third person.  Romo Hudoyo, the Guru, told his experience.  When he meditates, he imagines himself sitting next to a river, which current flows and brings wreckage and random stuffs like sandals, twigs, flowers... and so on.  He would only see things that passed in front of him.  He does not expect what comes next or after or where the things flows and ends.  For me, I would imagine myself sitting inside a train compartment watching the view pacing out from a particular window in front of me.  I will not bother looking anywhere but straight ahead, but only a view to that window.

This trains us to acknowledge the present and stop psychological timeframe.  If one is able to stop the psychological timeframe, or "die psychologically" or being unattached from all stimuli and surroundings, then they may able to see the "Truth" or the "Divine".

For me, I have not reached till that far nor I am expecting to see the "Truth".  My goal to attend this retreat is to be able to stay content and calm, thus, I can reorganise my mind and move on with whatever plans I have ahead.  Slowly, I can feel that I am back on my feet.  I am back in Palembang now.  I accept whatever that comes across  in this city, whilst waiting for the answers from the step I have taken.  Because you cannot change the nature that is set for you.  I am done playing God, and I think everyone should stop playing God.

Meditation does not mean passive.  It sounds like something passive but there is more depth to it. Romo told us that human heart is like a pond.  Our ambition is like flowers that covers the surface, but we still need to go deep to see what is inside our heart.  Ambition is good and it motivates us. It helps us to be a better person than we are, but ambition is also blinding.  It make us wanting more.

I am not the most ambitious person in the world,  in fact, I think I am a mediocre and just a person who does thing moderately, except for my interests.  But I also have life goals.  I have realized, I have been upset because I have left  independent life in Malaysia for some uncertain opportunity home.  I thought that I was pretty calm.  I went out with my friends.  I teach.  To kill time and went for any kind of healthy distraction, jogging in the morning, muay thai class... but I had never enjoyed it.  Probably I only "pretend" that I am okay, which I was actually not. Hence I grew to be very sensitive lately.... And I could feel it went out of my control.  Have you ever felt like waking up in the morning and said, "Shit, what's next?"... Yes, I did feel that way a couple of months back.

But I guess, I am over it.  I am just keep on walking and now waiting to harvest the seeds I sow from yesterday.

It is also interesting to see different perspectives from other attendees.  Most of attendees are seeing religions as no longer an attribute but a spiritual value.  A quest to seek the Divine.  This is a challenging view for me.  But I can understand why they think that way.  For me, the meditation helps strengthening my faith and belief even more. Although I was really nervous and a little discomfort at the first time I heard others exchanging conversation about metaphysics and mystical events...  I was like "okay, cool story."

But I was prepared for it and here I am, feeling better....

Ciseeng, 17 August 2014
Indonesia's Independence Day
The day our minds were liberated too


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