Various muses, thoughts, and writings by Sastraswara.

Mengapa menulis? Terutama: mengapa menulis di ruang publik semacam ini? Ada semacam dorongan untuk berkomunikasi—-untuk berinteraksi dengan orang lain. Di balik tembok-tembok pemisah tak kasat mata itu, dorongan itu mewujud di tulisan-tulisan ruang publik semacam ini. Mungkin juga, bagi sebagian orang, tulisan semacam ini sebentuk ekspresi yang agak narsistik. Boleh jadi tulisan ini juga. Tetapi ada baiknya kita merasa ada sesuatu yang lebih dalam daripada hasrat semacam itu.

Lebih jauh: menulis dalam bahasa ini. Berkomunikasi dalam banyak bahasa, berganti bahasa dari waktu ke waktu terkadang melelahkan. Namun bahasa yang ini, bahasa yang kita kenal, membuat pikiran lebih mudah mengalir. Terkadang kita berpikir dalam bahasa yang lain; kita menjelma juga jadi kepribadian yang lain. Lain bahasa, lain budaya, lain kepribadian. Terus berganti, kepribadian kita pun mengalir dari satu pijakan ke pijakan yang lain. Sesekali menemukan jangkar kokoh yang tidak akan berpindah, sungguh memberikan kelonggaran bernafas.

Pilihan bahasa sudah langsung menentukan kepada siapa kita bicara. Mungkin satu hari kita akan sanggup berkomunikasi lintas bahasa, lintas budaya, tanpa perlu penerjemah.

Bagaimana Cara untuk Memulai Kembali?

Memulai kembali—-di titik ini bagi saya—-berarti kembali kepada dua hal. Yang pertama adalah kembali pada kesederhanaan; yang kedua adalah kembali kepada pondasi-pondasi dasar.

Saya merasa bahwa kebuntuan yang saya alami datang dari kompleksitas. Hidup memang punya kompleksitasnya sendiri. Ketika saya datang menjawab tantangan hidup dengan solusi yang kompleks, seringkali saya terjerat dalam usaha itu tanpa bisa keluar dengan keberhasilan. Ada kebutuhan besar bagi saya untuk kembali pada kesederhanaan.

Selain itu, saya melihat ada hubungan antara kesederhanaan dan pondasi-pondasi dasar dari kehidupan saya sendiri. Pondasi dasar yang saya maksud mencakup antara lain: nilai yang saya anut dan teknik/kemampuan yang miliki. Di tatar nilai, saya merasakan tarikan kuat untuk kembali menilik sumber keyakinan yang saya punya. Di tatar pengetahuan, saya ditarik untuk melihat latihan-latihan atau pengetahuan dasar yang pernah saya pelajari.

Ini yang saya berusaha bangun; ini yang saya berusaha mulai kembali.


He sat on his working desk and looked outside the window. The sky outside the window was cloudy. It was about to rain, but the shimmer of the sun gleamed still, penetrating the shrouds of clouds. From the fourth floor he was on, he could see the busy street below. The busy world of humans felt to him like a vortex of a hurricane that easily sway those who stands too close to it. He tried to stand facing the hurricane. In his inner ear, he heard the roar of the hurricane coming closer. But he tried to keep his calm, though his hands shivered.


He used to be angry with that person. His anger fueled him throughout his teenage years. He hated him for everything he had. He thought of killing him in his sleep. Why could his mother love and keep that person in their house? This he could not understand until later when his anger extinguished. He only learned later on that there exists a type of love that is unconditional. It demands nothing. Only later on did he learn that forgiveness is liberating and that even though anger fueled him, it also burned him. He suffered burned scars that healed slowly.

The last time he saw that person, he felt pity. He chooses to forgive. He chose to sit with him and accepted him as he was: suffering and alone. That person suffers from an incurable illness. He tried to put his hatred aside and sat with that person, understanding that person's suffering. That last time he thought, “I can learn to let go of this anger and finally be free from it.” When he left that person in the town of his childhood, he was a changed person.

His mother called him in one morning. Unprepared, he knew that kind of a call meant only bad news. He was right: it was about a funeral. That person passed away. “How did he pass away?” he asked. “In sleep,” said his mother. The virus got to him. He passed away in his sleep, alone, in the house of his childhood. The doctor took a blood sample, and it was tested positive for the virus.

It was his second virtual funeral. He was so far away. Again, he became simply a passive observer looking into a screen while his cousin shot all the procession in detail. He looked out of the window. He had only bad memories of that person. Nevertheless, he was a family. And in that moment of realization, he allowed himself to cry while looking at the sky outside his window.


He remembers her. How come he would forget about her? She was taking care of him and his brother on many days wherein their parents were away due to their careers. He loves her, despite her stark discipline and eccentricity. She was more than just his mother's elder sister: she was his teacher and also his friend during nights when his parents were absent. She would take him to play card games or challenge him in a chess match. She would read him stories, took him to bed.

The crisis was not over. Nervously, he kept watching on his phone on new development about her as he worked that Saturday. She was tested positive and lay helpless in a long queue in the emergency room. No bed was available. The hospital could not take any more patients. People waited in taxis, cars, and floors of the hospitals. There were not enough beds, not enough doctors and nurses.

He kept waiting for his cousin's report. The clan made sure to use every connection they have to make it work: she should get a bed and hospital care. Thinking about this, he felt a strong poke in his heart. He wanted her to be taken in. But using such a method meant bypassing the hospital's standard of procedure, skipping, or might be overlooking others who arrived earlier than her. But... he wanted her to make it in. He felt strong guilt but also a selfish wish that the clan could somehow make it work. And they did.

She was taken in. No family was allowed to enter the hospital with her. His cousin became the contact person. He waits along with the whole clan, who are spread across the globe. He phoned his cousin. “I'm so far away,” he told her. His cousin answered, “And that makes you one of the strongest among us all. Do call me more often.” He promised her and ended the conversation. He looked at the sky and wonder why he tends to look at the sky. What was he looking for there?


He read from one of his books and decided to talk aloud for himself. So he selected such passages:

This is to be done by one skilled in aims who wants to break through to the state of peace: Be capable, upright, & straightforward, easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited, content & easy to support, with few duties, living lightly, with peaceful faculties, masterful, modest, & no greed for supporters.

Think: Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart.

He felt so tired. And as he looked outside the window, the sky released the rain unto the earth.

To my daughter Arudana I say:

They often talk about the five pillars, my daughter Arudana. Which five? The following five: That they believe in the oneness of the omnipotence. That they believe in the just and civilized humanity. That they believe in the unity throughout the land and water. That they believe in the sovereignty of the people lead by wisdom. That they believe in social justice for all of the people.

But another five pillars existed far before, my daughter Arudana. Which five? The following five: That one should not take the life of the living. That one should not take that which is not given. That one should not undertake moral misconduct. That one should not undertake an incorrect speech. That one should not take intoxication and fall into carelessness.

Pillars are to uphold a building, my daughter Arudana. Strong pillars make a strong building: Unshaken, unmoved, impregnable. Such a building provides a safe roof, A comfortable abode for those seeking protection.

The first group of pillars is to be practiced together, my daughter Arudana. Let it makes you a strong society. Such a society provides a safe country, A comfortable abode for those seeking protection.

The second group of pillars is to be practiced for yourself, my daughter Arudana. Let it makes you a strong vessel. Such a vessel provides a safe mind, A comfortable abode for those seeking protection.

The first group was once put forward by a ruler, my daughter Arudana. Some say it was used as a tool of conquest. A conquest of what? A conquest of power, my daughter Arudana, a conquest of power. A conquest of power begets unrequited thirst, It turned an endless wheel of suffering into movement.

The second group was once put forward by a ruler, my daughter Arudana. Some say it was used as a tool of conquest. A conquest of what? A conquest of self, my daughter Arudana, a conquest of self. A conquest of self begets the stillness of thirst, Turned an endless wheel of suffering into a stop.

Thus I said those to my daughter Arudana.

Berlin, 14 August 2020

From Stories for my daughter Arudana #poetry #Arudana

To my daughter Arudana I say:

When you’re older, you might ask What unity was actually meant Looking at the words unity in diversity?

There once lived a prince in a known kingdom. When knowledge arose in him He could not find peace in his mind.

So he left his palaces and set himself to the Meru. So he endured trials and help sentient beings on the way to Meru. And when he finally reached Meru he stayed there far from human affair

There once lived a king in a known kingdom. Having tasted the flavor of the human flesh He could not still the hunger in his mind.

So he left for conquest and set himself to sacrifice a hundred king’s head. So he burned kingdoms and massacre people to obtain a hundred king’s head.

The gods asked the prince to answer the cry of the people, But the prince refused, having left worldly pursuits.

Thus the gods answered: The life of the those-long-gone and the life of those-devoted-to-duty Seems to you so different? How one discerns between the two? For there is no truth other than the one truth What may be pieces and shards are in essence a whole For there is no truth that diverges

Hearing this the prince understood And left for the kingdom in need. The prince set to meet the human devourer alone, Offering his flesh in exchange of the ninety-nine kings' life.

And so the human devourer put his teeth on the prince’s flesh. And so the human devourer tasted the sip of the prince’s blood.

Like heavy rains penetrated a weak roof, so it was, my daughter Arudana, knowledge penetrated the human devourer, discernment penetrated the human devourer, the radiant loving-kindness of the prince penetrated the human devourer, through all hatred and greed.

Having known desire, he then abandoned desire. Having known hatred, he then abandoned hatred. Having known delusion, he then abandoned delusion. And so the king abandoned suffering.

Thus I said those to my daughter Arudana.

Berlin, 14 August 2020

From Stories for my daughter Arudana. #poetry #Arudana

To my daughter Arudana I say:

Looking at the emblem of your motherland I am reminded of a story of the bird that liberated its mother.

Just like your forefather pursued selfless action to liberate his motherland, So it was the Garuda pursued selfless action to liberate his birth mother.

From what should the two mothers liberated from? Both should be liberated from slavery. Both should be liberated from a conqueror.

But what is the price of the mother’s liberation? The price of the mother’s liberation was the water of life. The price of the mother’s liberation was an elixir of the gods.

So the noble Garuda flew to the top of the Meru. Fought the gods and endured pain on every part of its feather. Took the pot of the water of life through trials and adversities. Single-mindedly set on liberating the beloved mother.

So such a selfless act touched the divinity. It is bestowed upon the Garuda immortality and sovereignty.

What do you think, my daughter Arudana, Does the Garuda, after obtaining immortality and sovereignty, After liberating its mother from slavery and bondage, Such thought came to it? —With immortality and sovereignty, I shall conquer over mortals and dwell among the gods.

No, my daughter Arudana. Instead, my daughter Arudana, It rendered service as the vehicle of the divinity. It made a promise to carry the burden of the many worlds.

With such a selfless act your forefather liberated his motherland, But no divinity bestowed upon him, neither immortality nor sovereignty.

No, my daughter Arudana. Nevertheless, my daughter Arudana, He rendered service as the vassal of the motherland. He made a promise to carry the burden of the whole lands.

Just like your forefather pursued selfless action to liberate his motherland, So it was the Garuda pursued selfless action to liberate his birth mother.

Thus I said those to my daughter Arudana.

Berlin, 14 August 2020

From Stories for my daughter Arudana. #poetry #Arudana

Beloved families and guests,

I want to express my gratitude for your coming today at the funeral of our uncle, brother, son, and cousin: Om A. Verily, we are all God's creation, and to Him, every creation shall return. So is the teaching of the prophet. Meditating on this teaching, please allow me, young and inexperienced member of the clan, to share the insight which he obtained.


There are places to which I would like to take you. You will not like it. Therefore, the places are unknown to you. I might never utter their names. I prefer to forget about those places and take you to the places you want to go to instead. Probably I would go there in secret, alone. So that during our time together I can forget about those places. I can forget them, I can forget myself, if loving you means forgetting and letting go.

Berlin, 22 February 2020 #poetry #unsentLoveLetters

You said your life is hard and you are often attacked. My love, I dare you to attack them back. If you cannot find any courage to do this, let your personal truth be its source. If you do not know what is the truth ask your heart. If the sound of your heart you cannot listen, look at your body. Alas, if all things failed, do it for me, my dear! I dare you to attack and put yourself on the battlefield. I dare you to take your lances and thrusts it into the heart of your opponents. All these in the name of justice and truth, for there is no triumphant outside the two. I dare you, my dear! I challenge you! For our love is a battlefield ought to be won too.

Berlin, 21 February 2020 #unsentLoveLetters #poetry

The final act of a Wayang performance is called the Manyura part. Some associate this word with agrarian activity: to harvest. What does one harvest in this closing act?