The name's Ben, currently back living in Bogor, Indonesia. I also run a, photoblog and that's all you need to know.
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man’s-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again.
 Pema Chödrön (via purplebuddhaproject)

(via purplebuddhaproject)

Saya berasal dari sebuah negeri yang resminya sudah bebas buta huruf, namun yang dipastikan masyarakatnya sebagian besar belum membaca secara benar—yakni membaca untuk memberi makna dan meningkatkan nilai kehidupannya. Negara kami adalah masyarakat yang membaca hanya untuk mencari alamat, membaca untuk harga-harga, membaca untuk melihat lowongan pekerjaan, membaca untuk menengok hasil pertandingan sepak bola, membaca karena ingin tahu berapa persen discount obral di pusat perbelanjaan, dan akhirnya membaca subtitle opera sabun di televisi untuk mendapatkan sekadar hiburan.
Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Trilogi Insiden

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I will be reading one of my essays on warmth for the launching of The Murmurhouse, a literary journal. The event will take place this Saturday, 27th of September 2014 at Reading Room - Kemang from 3-6pm. Feel free to drop by! I’m very keen ini meeting new people! And maybe we can talk about life and other shit like that. 

Anonymous asked: Hai Ben. Aku ingin tahu bagaimana sudut pandangmu dalam mendefinisikan "dewasa". Bersediakah kamu berbagi? Terima kasih. Semoga kebahagiaan dan kebaikan senantiasa ada di dekatmu.

Menurut saya tolak ukur kedewasaan ada dua: 1) kemampuan untuk menyadari bahwa segala tindakan kita, sekecil apapun, memiliki sebuah konsekuensi terhadap lingkungan di sekitar kita termasuk segala bentuk makhluk hidup yang berada di dalam lingkungan itu. Atau dengan kata lain kita kritis terhadap segala tindakan kita.

2) Dengan menyadari no 1, maka segala tindakan kita akan digunakan bukan hanya untuk kepentingan pribadi namun juga untuk kepentingan bersama atau dengan kata lain dilandasi oleh empathy and compassion.

Jika disimpulkan menurut saya kedewasaan adalah memiliki sikap kritis, mampu berempati dan welas asih dan terakhir adalah mampu memahami dan meredam ego kita masing-masing.

Anonymous asked: hanya mau menanggapi post Ben ttg agama. menurut saya semua agama itu sama, yaitu metode untuk mencari kebenaran. Sedangkan meditasi, adalah salah satu alat yang digunakan dr salah satu 'metode2' tsb untuk mendapatkan kebenaran. Jadi memeluk agama bukan hanya sekedar untuk mendapatkan rasa nyaman/aman/kepastian. Tetapi untuk memilih salah satu metode yang paling sesuai dengan kita agar kita lebih mudah mencapai kebenaran. Karena toh saya mendapatkan 'rasa' yang sama dari meditasi ataupun shalat.

Tapi mengapa harus ada sebuah kebenaran absolut? Bagaimana jika tidak ada? Apakah kamu merasa lebih nyaman dan aman dengan adanya kemungkinan sebuah kebenaran absolut? Merasa lebih nyaman ada aman dengan mempercayai adanya sebuah kebenaran absolut?

Dan bagaimana jika ternyata tujuan dari meditasi bukan mencari sebuah kebenaran absolut? Dan hanya sekedar melihat diri lebih dalam?

Literacy and independent learning

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I’ve been working on a project in increasing Indonesia’s literacy rates (as in the number of people who actually read books not just merely the number of people who can read books) with Indonesia’s National Library (Perpustakaan Nasional RI) these past few months. Although it’s been fascinating to have hands-on experience working with the Indonesian government, especially when formulating a policy that will affect millions of people, it’s also sad to bear witness to the depravity of how Indonesia’s government does its job. Lacking in financial resources, lacking in adequate human resources, lacking in motivation for any kind of progress, basically lacking in a bunch of other things that will probably fill an A3 sized spreadsheet. I know, I know, i’m giving the National Library a very gloomy picture but I get frustrated easily when talking about literacy and education. So might as well speak the truth.

Speaking of literacy every 8th of September, UNESCO celebrates International Literacy Day. This year’s celebration reminded me when many years ago, as I was struggling through my elementary education, counting the volumes of cubes, memorizing important names and dates of momentous events in Indonesia’s colorful history, that despite the exhausting school subjects that I had to learn, I was never really encouraged to read a book. To actually pick up a book and read the whole book from start to finish all on my own.

Even though I was always told that books are the heart of education, Indonesia’s educational system, oddly enough, didn’t have compulsory books that I needed to read and finish.

I was taught to be able to read of course, but in retrospect it was fairly limited so that at most I would be able to read my schoolwork and undertake the school tests. The ability to read doesn’t necessarily translate into the act of wanting to read more, especially when it comes to reading books.

Reading books, it seemed, was not all a concern of my formal education. One could hope that things have changed nowadays, but sadly how schools approach books these days hasn’t changed much.

When it comes to merely eradicating illiteracy, Indonesia has done a fantastic job since it’s independence. Based on the 2013 survey conducted by the Central Body of Statistics (BPS), people aged 15 – 44 had an illiteracy rate of only 1,61% with high a number of illiterates still concentrated in Papua. However a 2012 study also done by BPS has shown that only 14,08% reads non-fiction books and a piffling 5,01% reads fiction. We shouldn’t be at all surprised.

As I said previously we do not have a compulsory book policy to foster the desire to read, to learn more, to be thirsty of new knowledge. And it will  be hard to have people learn independently and continuously if we do not have this hunger to read. There will be a shortage of life-long learners that our government has often sought in producing. Without having these life-long learners the quality of our human resources may deteriorate, as people do not see the need to independently increase their ability and skills to keep pace with the changing times. Learning stops when school finishes.

I was hoping that the new 2013 curriculum would change all this. As it was trumpeted by our government that it would answer all the complexities of our future. It was heralded to foster critical thinking and the ability to solve complex problems. Yet with no compulsory books to read their wishes are nothing but naive. Critical thinking can only grow through independent learning that challenges the self and there will be no independent learning on a much wider scale if we are not encouraged and fostered to read books and information that calls into question our preconceived understandings of everything around us.

The purpose of books is to challenge us, intellectually, morally, and emotionally. They are there to tug our hearts when it has run cold, to enlighten our minds when it has run dry. They are there to give us new insights of the world, of people, of how society works. Books help us find ourselves, and show a glimpse of life that we may live. It gives hope to those who need it the most and it gives us a moment to pause and reflect within a world that pushes us to constantly achieve.

Without encouraging youths to read books, we are not teaching our them to explore, to discover, to see the world in a different light. We are not encouraging them to feel the pain and happiness of others through the reading of personal stories, poems or memoirs. Nor are we teaching them to imagine, to envisage a world that is beyond our current world. 

Nyanyi Sunyi Seorang Bisu by Pramoedya Anata Toer, Madilog by Tan Malaka, Dibawah Bendera Revolusi by Soekarno, Menuju Manusia Merdeka by Ki Hajar Dewantara just to to name a few, becomes nothing more than books read by intellectual elites who brag about their literary accomplishments in their weekly book discussions. 

Maybe Indonesia is not ready for something as “revolutionary” but as simple as reading a book. We have had a sad history of banning (and burning) books. If that is indeed the case, then it just shows that books indeed have the power not only to teach us new knowledge of the world but also to help us see, to help us understand what has been hidden from us all along. Without books we educate our selves to remain blind and ignorant just to store knowledge that’s been imparted to us, not much thinking or questioning needed.

So perhaps Paulo Freire, the Brazilian educator, was right to say, “education is oppression.” What better way of oppressing the society by educating them to remain blissfully ignorant and uncritical of the world around us?

 

Living Together in a Religious Plural Society

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My former supervisor recently sent me a photo of my thesis bound that will be submitted to my university’s library. If any of you are interested in the dynamics of religion in Indonesia, including a bit on our perceptions of religious tolerance and of Indonesia’s (religious) citizenship, my thesis is now available for download at

http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10063/3501/thesis.pdf?sequence=2

It’s about 120+ pages long, and since I perfectly understand that reading 120 pages of academic writing is quite a headache inducing event, you can flick to chapter 7 for the conclusions of my thesis.

Basically, I believe, through the evidence that I’ve found from my research, since we are still adamant in teaching religion in our schools, we are however teaching religion the wrong way. Our religious education is teaching our children to be religiously segregated, tolerance becomes nothing more than a mere theory that’s still incredibly obscure to be acted out in our daily lives. We lack realtime exposure in diversity, having only seen religious differences in school books but rarely do we expose ourselves and interact with these differences.

Proper exposure of these differences is the key in teaching understanding within a plural society, be it religious or cultural.

Questions? Feel free to send me an email at benlaksana@hotmail.com

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Anonymous said:

Hi Ben, saya ingin tahu pendapat kamu tentang ini: jika semua agama mengajarkan kebaikan pada umatnya. Apakah kalau begitu tuhan itu 1 dan perbedaan di dunia ini adalah sekedar perihal panggilan yg kami berikan ke tuhan? Haruskah kita memilih 1 agama dan hanya memanggil 1 tuhan dan menjalankan hanya dari ajaran agama itu? Bagaimana kalau kita percaya tuhan tapi menjalankan kebaikan tanpa memilih agama? Seperti yang Dalai Lama katakan “my religion is simple, my religion is kindness”. Terimakasih!

Anonymous said:

Jadi Ben, menurut kamu kita harus melepaskan agama seperti apa yang telah kamu lakukan?

Anonymous said:

Hai ben, aku pelaku meditasi juga yang masih bingung apa itu meditasi. well, apakah meditasi itu untuk melatih kesadaran diri saja atau bisa mencapai tahap-tahap lainnya? misalnya seperti “mengaktifkan cakra?” sehingga kita bisa mencapai sesuatu yang orang pada umumnya sebut “indra ke enam”?

Agama memiliki peran sentral dalam kehidupan banyak manusia bukan karena agama hanyalah sebuah ide yang menjadi landasan moral dan perilaku kita namun juga memberikan sebuah kenyamanan dalam kehidupan kita. Terutama ketika kita mengalami kesulitan dalam hidup, kita percaya ada sebuah entitas yang melampaui rasionalitas kita dengan kekuatannya yang abadi dan tak terhingga untuk selalu membantu kita. Ditambah itu kita membutuhkan agama karena kita percaya bahwa agama dapat memberikan sebuah kepastian secara psikologis akan kehidupan yang berlanjut setelah kita menghela nafas terakhir kita. Dengan kata lain, agama mampu meredam ketakutan kita bahwa kita tidak hanya akan mati menjadi makanan untuk cacing tapi melanjutkan hidup dalam keabadian. 

Dan disinilah masalah saya dengan agama.

Kita dapat percaya bahwa semua agama pada dasarnya sama, kita dapat percaya bahwa ada agama yang lebih superior dari yang lain, kita dapat percaya bahwa Tuhan itu satu, kita dapat melepas agama dan menjadi agnostik maupun atheis, kita dapat percaya bahwa alam semestalah Tuhan kita. Kita dapat mempercayai dan meyakini apapun.

Tapi ini semua tidak menghadapkan kita terhadap realita hidup kita, realita hidup setiap manusia, bahwa kita dalam keseharian kita mengalami banyak penderitaan, telah, sedang atau akan mengalami musibah, dan ketakutan kita bahwa setiap manusia dapat dipastikan akan mati.

Apapun yang kita percayai atau tidak percayai, mengapa kita tidak menghadapi penderitaan kita secara langsung dan menghadapi ketakutan kita akan kematian (kematian diri, keluarga, teman atau siapapun) tanpa harus mengintrojeksi ide (yang digunakan untuk menenangkan pikiran dan hati) bahwa si subyek yang mati akan mengalami hidup yang abadi setelah mati? Dengan mengsisipkan sebuah ide bahwa ada yang akan menghilangkan penderitaan kita, kita secara tidak langsung juga mengatakan ke diri kita bahwa kita ingin kabur dan tidak ingin menghadapi penderitaan kita. 

Mengapa kita tidak melihat ketakutan kita secara langsung, melihat penderitaan kita secara langsung, melihat kesedihan kita secara langsung, melihat masalah kita secara langsung, dan menerima bahwa kita ada di dalam keadaan yang tidak menyenangkan. Kita menerima keadaan kita saat ini, tanpa melihat bahwa ada sebuah entitas suprarasional yang sedang menguji kita dan akan akan mengeluarkan kita dari “cobaan” ini. 

Mengapa kita tidak dapat menerima penderitaan dan menerima bahwa hidup akan selalu penuh dengan penderitaan karena memang beginilah hidup?

Dan disinilah peran meditasi untuk saya, bukan untuk mengatifkan “chakra” atau “indra keenam” atau apapun yang supernatural tapi untuk melihat, merasakan, dan mengalami secara langsung penderitaan yang saya alami. Termasuk melihat secara nyata kenginan saya untuk “kabur” dari penderitaan saya ini, apakah itu dengan agama atau dengan ilmu pengetahuan atau bahkan dengan meditasi itu sendiri.

Let’s look honestly at life for once. That life is suffering, whether we believe in God or not, or believe in kindness or nature. We can believe whatever you want, but you will still suffer, so why don’t we directly look at suffering and understand why we are suffering? Then maybe we’ll find a way out of suffering without having to believe and hold on to something else.

 

Anonymous asked: Ben, saya masih 17 tahun. Mungkin terlalu bocah untuk mengerti banyak hal tentang hidup. Tapi saya cuma mau nanya aja... What do you usually do when you're lack of productivity? Karena saya ingin jadi produktif seutuhnya.

Turn off your computer, put away your cellphone, find a good silent place and read books. Learn, learn and learn, ask, ask, ask, search, search and search. Read, read and read books until the day you finally draw your last breath.

impermanently secure

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I sit here in the heat of summer. The humid air grips me by the throat, having me sweat profusely. I become easily agitated. Even the sound of a motorcycle passing in front of my house infuriates me. I’ve been trying to finish my work, or perhaps start my work, but that’s been a struggle. My mind is just everywhere. So here I am writing what I’m thinking and feeling just to see and understand what actually is going on with me. Writing helps, it always helps. So let’s call this mindfulness writing.

I think to sum it all up the problem here lies in me wanting to be understood. That’s a bit vague I know. But let’s be honest here, I’m on the verge of being angry and the reason being is because everything around me is not happening according to what I want. I want the world to understand me right now that I’m in need of silence and some cool, fresh air to finish my work. And since a great deal my work involves writing and thinking, silence is one of those things that you just can’t bargain. A big no, no to even simply put into question.

I need to finish my work in order for me to have security. Be it financial security, intellectual security, a future job security as an academic etc, etc. In essence it’s about security. I desire for security and all this nonsense happening around me is preventing me (or I think it is preventing me) to achieve this security that I yearn for. It’s funny how I actually have been meditating on this for years but I probably have only scratched the surface. So far what I’ve found my craving for security is also intertwined with my desire for power. Don’t get me wrong, doing daily meditations does not make me a saint of any kind. Without the slightest doubt, I still have desires of course.

I’m not so much keen on popularity or money, being little known is something I cherish deeply and as long as I have money to buy food and books, i’m good to go. But the desire for power (which probably is in itself intertwined with popularity and money) is another thing that I sometimes struggle to control and understand.

I see so much injustice and morally deprived assholes around me that I often would imagine myself as someone who has the power to change all this absurdity around me. As if my moral compass points north of excellence (and I can assure it does not). I’ve been working on being a good boy only in the past 3 years or so when I started realizing that the world can be awfully harsh if you don’t understand your relationship with it.

But after a bit of soul-searching, or perhaps more precisely admitting that i’m full of shit, has shown that I don’t actually want power. What I want is not to be afraid, what I want is to be secure in this fast-changing, unremittingly needy world.

And what I’ve been told by the society around me is that all this power will bring me everlasting security. Banishing away forever after all my little fears that sometimes keeps me awake in the middle of the night. Such as?

Will I ever be able to bear the death of another family member?

After my father died a few years back, it petrifies me to even imagine such a thing. Thankfully I’ve been meditating heavily on death recently and it has helped a great deal. Yet still though to have weekend gatherings with my whole family, including Rara of course and understanding that each and every one them will die still makes my heart thump with fright.

Lost is such a painful experience, nevertheless I’m grateful to have had such an experience. A big learning curve that puts me into perspective.

In the end now I realize that what I want is security. A feeling of being safe and secure. Intellectually I understand that there is no such thing as everlasting security, and the desire of personal security has resulted in (borrowing an International Relations term) an “arms race” to the top. A top which gets higher when I’m just about to reach for the tip. A top which I often can’t even see.

So back to the cushion as my meditation teacher once said. 

showshin:

John Berger, Ways of Seeing

problems and meditation

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blanketandchocomilk said:

Hi Ben, I would like to ask u a question and I hope u’ll answer honestly. Hv u ever feel like being outcast because u hv different point of view? If u hv, how did u overcome the uneasy feeling of being outcast and not hurting yourself instead? Thx. 

Anonymous said:

Ben, what do you fear most in life? Do you think fear prevent someone from fulfilling his/her purpose in life? How do we suppose to cope when fear strangle?

Anonymous said:

haii benn, just read your writing “twenty-seven-years-of-dullness” and lately i also been obsessed with unending question about life, about why are we here, and somehow i feel depressed, paranoid and lonely just thinking about it. how did you/do you keep going and life as usual with that burden question in your head?

Anonymous said:

Hi Ben, I love reading your blog. Do you know how to mend a broken heart? What do you think? Sorry for asking this question, but please don’t say that time will heal. And could you give me recommendation for readings about human relationship/love? Thank you!

Anonymous said:

Hi Ben, what do you think, is the first step to find a strong support within ourselves so that we look nowhere for a security? Because I am feeling I am losing all self-confidence and faith. I am throwing tantrum at everyone I love and myself, I know this is not healthy.

Anonymous said:

ben, boleh ya nanya sesuatu yang mungkin sangatlah remeh temeh, cuma pengen tau, gimana sebetulnya cara berdamai dengan hati? bagaimana caranya mengontrol perasaan kita sendiri kala kita sudah terlihat posesif akan sesuatu? entah itu akan seseorang atau sesuatu. thanks :)

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I am a hard headed man, quite uncompromising when it comes to asking for help, as in I scarcely ask for help. I don’t see the need to burden others, especially when it deals with my sense of self. Is it a mistake to do so? Perhaps and I don’t recommend it to everyone. I have been through some very rough spots in my life, especially when dealing with lost and regrets, and looking back on my bumpy life, perhaps it wasn’t the wisest thing to go all solo and being a pretentious ascetic wannabe. 

Yet despite all that, through solitude and dwelling a bit in philosophy and spirituality (even if it was a fake attempt in the beginning, hey fake it till you make it!) I have actually found that in order to understand what is wrong with me it must ultimately be done by myself.

So perhaps going solo on understanding my self was the wisest choice (for me at least), even if was not the best nor the most popular choice to undertake. And with this I have also understood that using the help of others, if incredibly needed and available, is only a medium in order to have you face yourself. It’s the typical “spiritual” story, reiterated in many religious traditions where the guru/helper/etc can only point the way but it is you that must walk the path. 

All of the questions that I have posted above, if summed and simplified leads to the question of ‘how?’ Or perhaps more specifically how do I end a problem? How did I end my problems? 

Well first, I haven’t. I have problems like everyone else, and will still continue to have problems later on, like everyone else. But I have been able to understand myself better so that I can better relate to these problems I have and thus better manage these problems. It’s not the problem itself that is the problem but how you relate to these so-called “problems” that you have. Your relationship with these problems is the key in managing problems and this can be understood by first understanding yourself and how you understand your relationship with the world around you. 

I did it through studying myself initially through heaps of reading, questioning, only to find meditation as the best means to study myself. I initially approached myself by critically questioning myself, my moral outlooks, my beliefs, my desires, my understandings on everything. What is love? Why do we hate? Why do I believe in the things I believe in, including my past religious beliefs, my values, my ideologies etc. I asked and asked and asked. Because I wanted to understand what it means to be a human being and my place here on this lonely planet called earth, or what Carl Sagan sees as “a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.” 

I pursued these questions personally and through academia. I studied people, what constructs them, what binds them, what elates them, what destroys them, what animates them only to find that the problem of people lies within them. And since I am not that different from them, their problems, your problems are also the problems I face. Anger, hatred, regrets, envy, jealousy, sadness, fear.

So how can I end this? Meditation became a key answer. An ongoing, ever-evolving answer on what it means to be me, what it means to be a human being and how I related to the people, to the environment and everything around me in a more compassionate and understanding way. Through meditation I began to understand myself and others better, more wholesome. Not just through my eyes, my feelings but through theirs as well. I understood that many people are at the very least (if not more) as angry, as sad, as regretful, as envious, as jealous and insecure as I am. I meditate because I know I am broken, and I, not my parents, not my friends, not Rara, or anyone else, but I need to fix myself. Because there is no other way. 

I keep on receiving the same old, same old questions, and I do not want to be dismissive of them which often I even don’t have the answers to many of them and perhaps will never have. But let’s be serious about this for once, as serious as you want your new shiny phone, as serious as your feelings for your lover, as serious as you getting your degree or a new job. Stop merely looking for mere, temporary uplifting inspirations and act out these inspirations. If you are just looking time and time again for answers and inspirations, for inspiring quotes, talks, videos, music, and everything else that you deem as inspirational then you haven’t really been inspired. What has happened is that you are addicted to momentary inspirations. Nothing has been changed. Go seek out there for more, and experience it personally. 

Commit yourself towards understanding yourself if you actually want to understand and answer your questions. You shouldn’t stop at how to stop this or why this is happening but ask yourself what is actually happening? What is actually going on within me? And maybe, just maybe you’ll start walking on this thorny often lonely path towards self-discovery. 

Life is unpredictable, irrational and complicated, so shouldn’t we at least try to understand it wholesomely rather than just be carried away by it and have ourselves be choked and drowned by it?

Sometimes, though, there’s nothing that can be done. More often than we might think, there is nothing we can do beyond coming to terms with our experience not as we want it to be, but with as it is…While we live, we are able to live. When it’s time to die, we are able to die. This is the natural order of things, and to the extent that we align ourselves with this, we experience peace even in the midst of distress.
Meikyo Robert Rosenbaum, resident teacher at the Meadowmont Zen Buddhism Community 

mental messiah

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Pop psychology circumnavigating the internet suggests that it takes about 21 days to form new a habit. Twenty one consecutive days of continuous habit forming.

True or false?

Well a bit of both. If it’s a simple task, say drinking a glass of water after your well deserved beauty sleep, then 21 days it is. But for much more complex tasks such as meditating or exercising before breakfast then it can take up to 50 days. Sometimes it can even take up to almost a year, as suggested by Jeremy Dean in his luminary book Making Habits, Breaking Habits.

Changing the self is never easy, it takes months to change habits and recently I found out it can take even longer (6 to 15 years) to change a culture. And what I mean by culture is the set of norms of a particular society, which can include a working culture in a company.

It’s not an easy task, but nonetheless it is a rewarding one. Especially if the preceding norm is not particularly a sterling one to have.

Put this in the context of a nation, the national culture and just imagine the work that needs to be done in order change it or even a part of it. To systematically change a culture (in a democratic sense that is, not the iron-fisted cultural revolution which happened in China back in the mid 60’s) will take tremendous amounts effort not only from the authority that can produce some kind of a national framework or policy to encourage change but most definitely what it is needed is the effort from the people themselves whom are the actors and target of that change. In a way people need to be willing to change and see the importance of change.

And this is where I want to strongly stress on, as in recent months Indonesians have been flooded with electrifying jargons such as the ‘mental revolution’ preached by Jokowi and his team. I reckon most Indonesians, while they shed their inspired tears and bob their heads many do not have the slightest clue what this actually entails.

Yes I supported Jokowi during the election and no, I definitely don’t regret electing Jokowi seeing how the other candidate is going batshit crazy at our constitutional court. But even though I supported Jokowi, to deify him, to put him on a golden pedestal and turn him into a national messiah is definitely a foolish thing to do. As he as an individual can do little when it comes to changing a mentality.

It’s hard to counter-argue his reasons of why a mental revolution is needed whether or not you’re one of Jokowi’s supporters. We need look no further than the corruption cases daily littering our mass medias or the growth of religious themed antagonism sprawling throughout Indonesia.

Surely these are telltale signs of the degrading national mentality of a supposedly law-abiding, democratic nation.

But here’s the thing when it comes to revolutions, it calls for the need of the participation of every facet of what makes a country well, a country. The partiality of a revolution lacks sustainability, as world history has shown. Not just the system, nor the political leaders but everyone that has interests in the progression of this country must undergo a revolution. This notably includes the individual citizens.

I cannot stress further on the importance of the individual when it comes to revolutions, even more so when it comes to a ‘mental’ revolution. As the act of transforming one’s mentality lies fundamentally on the responsibility of the citizens, citizens that are of the now not only of tomorrow.

This much-sought mental revolution does not and should not be confined to a utopian future where it resides merely in the realm of well-intentioned and grandiose wishes planned for our children. It is should be done for us here and now.

To have a mental revolution is to rethink of our current social conventions so that it is well aligned with a nation that is governed under a democracy and rule of law.

It is about transforming our social habits from unlawful, morally decadent, selfish citizens into law-abiding, empathetic citizens that actually understands the need and the use of a democracy and the rule of law in a deeply heterogeneous society.

It is to understand that we are undoubtedly interdependently connected with one another in a complex social web that extends beyond the limitations of religion, race and ethnicity. Thus our social, political, environmental, ethical acts, to name a few, will undoubtedly impact one another.

A mental revolution needs us; the ordinary people to act with civility in our everyday, banal and mundane lives. It needs us to take the democratic moral values needed to have a civil society, to be acted upon on the individual level. It needs to be stripped from its highly intellectualized, political, sometimes nonsensical jargons and be translated into what is actually needed and understandable by commoners.

In essence a mental revolution is about being mindful of the small innocuous daily acts that we often disregard and accept as normal.

This is about us driving egotistically on the road, this is about the person who shamelessly throws rubbish into the river, this is about the person smoking in a non-smoking room, this is about the recent black campaigns that show how indeed sick we are, and it is most definitely about those whom are in power, using their powers for their own self-centered benefits.

All these daily acts are nothing more than a reflection of how we as citizens see and understand each other. In short, we are still selfish. Most of our actions are still centered on ourselves rather than the society as a whole.

This is what a mental revolution fundamentally entails and this is why it will be incredibly hard to achieve. It is not simply about the amount of money you throw at it, or the countless policies churned out for it or the beautiful speeches of why it is needed. It all boils down to the government and especially the citizens of this young nation to be committed to it. Committed to the welfare of the society.

So before you consent to this wonderful mutiny on our degenerate national mentality, ask yourselves, “do I really now what I’m getting myself into? And do I, as a (hopefully) empathetic citizen of a democratic nation, really understand what it requires me to do?”

This mental revolution undoubtedly requires you to personally change and this leads us back to changing habits and culture.

As I’ve said before changing human beings takes time and revolution by definition is an instant act of change. By a flick of social switch it is hoped that everything changes from dystopian to utopian in an instant. When it comes to society or more precisely people it cannot be less true than that. 

What i’m getting at here is that a mental revolution cannot happen, as one’s mentality cannot be instantly changed. What can happen is a mental evolution, a change that takes tremendous amounts of time, effort and persistence and all that is underpinned by a system revolution in order to nurture, cultivate, promote the evolution of our mentality.

And so change lies in the minds of us human beings. If you want real change, it’s time for you to personally take action towards yourself. To be responsible towards your actions and borrowing a Buddhist term, to cultivate awareness that your actions will unquestionably effect others. Even if it is “merely” dumping your trash into the river or smoking in front of your kids.

We can’t continually depend on social or political heroes for societal change, what we need are persistence and commitment from ourselves. Continual dependence is laziness and that will only have an adverse effect on our mentality. Our dependence on some political messiah to bring about sudden change will bring nothing but superficial change that will hardly take root in our society.

Tolstoy once wrote on this saying, “There can be only one permanent revolution — a moral one; the regeneration of the inner man. How is this revolution to take place? Nobody knows how it will take place in humanity, but every man feels it clearly in himself. And yet in our world everybody thinks of changing humanity, and nobody thinks of changing himself.” 

I know I probably have overused that quote but I think that quote from dear old Tolstoy sums it all nicely because now I know i’m full of shit (and maybe you are too?) and I need to change in order for the society to change. And we are a part of society are we not?

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