Fatalism and Mysticism* 1
Today is Hari Raya Idul Ahda, the day when the streets run with blood as cows and goats are silenced in a ritual slaughter. I was going to blog about it but my fellow Expat in Jakarta
beat me to it.
Another blogger, Yosef Ardi, has set off a train of thought which I'd like to share with you. Being Indonesian, with a particular interest in the goings on among the élite, he offers insights into the realms of psyche which an expat cannot hope to fully understand. One particular post
of his touches on the psychic.On July 4, 2001, Indonesia's Attorney General Baharuddin Lopa died of a heart ailment in a hospital in Saudi Arabia. That was the formal statement from the State Palace. But the then-minister of defense, Mahfud MD, said that time, Lopa and his predecessor realized that their positions were vulnerable to possible poisoning or black-magic practices. This was a reference to Indonesians' belief in the mystical powers, for good or evil, possessed by dukun
(witch doctors). The evil witch doctors are called 'dukun santet'.
The corruption charges against former president Soeharto were to be Lopa's priorities.
Lopa was one of Indonesia's good guys and an early 'martyr' to the reformasi movement.
More recently, on Thursday, January 4, 2006, Special Prosecutor heading the Anti-Corruption Team Hendarman Supandji, claimed that he was the target of black magic campaign.
"My bed was full of death maggots (belatung in Indonesian language)," Hendarman told the press after reporting the progress in anti-corruption efforts to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh responded the black magic campaign saying he was ready to challenge those witch doctors. "We're not afraid of santet. We will move on with our drives to eradicate corruption," he said.
Javanese mysticism became embedded in the Indonesian state ideology, Pancasila
, which was used by Suharto to enslave the masses and by his cronies to enrich themselves and their families. Reviews of scholarly accounts of this intermeshing can be read here
.Most Javanese are Muslims, but there is a also a distinctive kejawen, "Javaneseness", incorporating elements of mysticism or kebatinan. In Mysticism in Java, Mulder describes both this and the ways in which it has influenced broader Indonesian ideologies.
While kebatinan draws on earlier strands (Hindu-Buddhist and Islamic), it is a product of the colonial encounter, and in particular of the courts in south-central Java in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The resurgence of Javanese mysticism has seen it given formal status by the state, but not accepted as full partner to the official religions. Accompanying this has been an increasing emphasis in kebatinan on monotheism and differentiation from klenik or black magic.
The spirit world and mysticism is not, of course, confined to the Javanese here, nor indeed to Indonesia. Every religion has at its core a belief in a 'world beyond', one that is unseen yet knowable through a seeming tangibility.
In Part 2 I'll give you an insight into how there are manifestations of the unknowable in Jakartass Towers, even though 'Er Indoors isn't a Javanese lass.*Perhaps 'metaphysics' would have been a better word to use as it deals with first principles and seeks to explain the nature of being, whereas mysticism relates to matters beyond human comprehension. (Websters)