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On Knowing Thyself — Pt.1

Photo by Shinta Lauw

When I was sick during my early childhood, I had these dreams that I can never forget. The first was the Earth rolling towards me. Yes, you read it right. The Earth is chasing me, and I am running with a fear of being smashed like a cockroach.

The second was me waking up and found myself in another body that is not mine. I can’t see whose body it was, but for sure, I can see a set of hands, feet, and every part of the body except for the back and face. I felt the dreadfulness when I see myself looking at me. With full of fear, I began to ask the dreadful question, “who am I?” then, when I can no longer hold myself, I woke up, full of sweat and short breath.

It is easy to interpret the first dream; it is possible that because my condition was so weak, I am afraid that I will lose the fight of life, and the world will crush me down. I know it is a possible interpretation because I was grown up in a Christian culture, and in Sunday school, I will listen to the story of how Jesus overcome the world. For sure, I had no idea about what the true meaning of overcoming the world is. Therefore, the seven-year-old me perceive that idea as to become stronger than the world. And consequently, I had this particular dream when I get weak.

The second dream is the tricky one. Even after all these years, I still can’t truly understand the meaning of that dream. Or, more astonishingly, how can a little child have that kind of horror emerge from his unconsciousness. But thankfully, that dream has led me to think about one of humankind’s big questions, “Who am I?” And my first step to imagining the answer to that question was to understand what it means when we use the word I.

The conventional perception of the word I is that it is a set of biological organs arranged at specific places with bones and muscles. This organic set of things is then wrapped up inside the skin and controlled by the consciousness between the eye and the ears. By this perception, we use the word I to separate the self from the outer beings; wind, ground, the trees, the birds, etc. If we identified ourselves by this perception, we are saying that I end where our skin ends.

But if we think it further, this identification is not accurate. We might think it is true because we assumed that I should only contain the things within our biological control. When we say “I move my feet,” for example, we acknowledge the feet as the part of the I because our awareness can control it. Yet we never say, “I beat my heart.” Instead, we say, “I feel my heartbeat” because we realize that our heart beating by itself; in harmony with the other mechanical body parts. The same unity goes with the air we breathe, the ground we step, and the water we drink.

I know it is deceptive and confusing because we’re not rooted to the ground like a tree. But when both of us went to the moon, let say, we need the same canned version of this planet, the soil, the air, and the water. Thus, because the physical body can not exist without the environment, the outer frame is an essential part of the body as well as the mechanical part of our inner body.

The sense of separation from the external world exists because we are not accustomed to being aware of how our species come out of this Earth. To make it clearer, let me remind you again about the accounts that you already know, first, The Big Bang.

At the very beginning of time, the universe expands itself. No one knows who started it, but it is stretching everywhere all at once. It began with a tiny area and grow to an estimated 93 billion light-years in diameter, as we know today. It will keep on expanding until no one knows when. At some point, this mighty expansion gave birth to particles, galaxies, stars, and planets.

Then, among these planets, this one planet called Earth can give birth to living things. I’m not a scientist, so if you want to learn how life emerged initially, you can easily google it. But to get a picture of it, let’s put it this way; there was something that exists within one environment. And that environment was somehow suitable for it to grow into something else and then live sustainably.

Hence, if we are come out of this Earth, we are all the children of one Mother Earth. And all the trees, the animals, the mountains, and everything on this Earth are our siblings. Therefore, the term Mother Earth has a sense of realness within it and not merely a metaphor. I know that we are so accustomed to the concept that having offspring requires sexual activity. This analogy is not a perfect comparison, but let me ask you this, who are the parents of the larva that emerge out of the rotten meat? My answer to that question is the meat and the Earth; lock the meat in an isolated jar with no earth environment, and it’ll be no life coming out of it.

Another layer of this realness is the equality of each one of us. As you see, since billion years ago, we all can not exist sustainably without each other. And to think that human is the leader of it all is the biggest hallucination of all time. It is right that we are the child with the capacity to speak, emerge with language, and so on, but language capability is not the Earth’s center. This big family has existed for billions of years, and homo sapiens is among the youngest children. For genetics, we are 98% similar to our closest siblings, the chimps.

Meanwhile, this hallucination of power is the root of all delinquent acts. This family has lived for a very long time according to Mother’s law, and suddenly, the youngest child came and say, “All of you are stupid, I’ll make the rules now.” Historically speaking, when our ego went too far beyond this equality of existence, the Mother will speak for Herself. She doesn’t need a word to ground you. Look at us now, being locked in our room like a disobedient seven-year-old kid.

Finally, by realizing our connectedness with all beings, we will see the I better. We’ll see that our identity does not end where the skin ends; it goes on to the environment and all beings. Like there will be no I if I’m an isolated entity unattached to my surrounding; because if I am so, then I am a non-being, a nothingness. Then I can not say that I move my feet, for example, because I need a ground to step for the statement to be valid. Therefore, If its environment is a continual requirement to validate the I, they’re one entity.

Well, let me take a break to tell you why I’m writing this. When Wainsight invited me to write in the contributor 1.0 project, there were some ideas on what I should write. One of them is the State propaganda, which says that Anarchist will riot on Java’s island. But I don’t think I need to explain this anymore. We all already know that the riots are ultimately just the state’s fantasy, resulting from an excessive paranoia to any different political views. In reality, our anarchist friends in Jogjakarta opened a public kitchen to help residents; and of course, there were no riots caused by that helpful activity.

Another issue that came to mind was the stigmatization of separatism related to the discussion of human rights violations in Papua. Once again, without the need for me to explain, we all already know that speaking up for human rights violations and urging Papua’s independence are two different things. As a Non-Papua citizen, I am not in the right position to advise whether Papua should be independent. The decision must be purely the voice of the people of Papua. In this democratic country, what we have to do is to ensure that every voice, including Papuan’s voice, can continue to be heard without any restrictions whatsoever.

Therefore, in order not to seem to be patronizing, I decided to write about, well, my imagination on why we all should care for each other like brothers and sisters.

When we acknowledge that we all are the same Mother Earth child and can not validate our existence without the environment and another human, I hope we can understand our nature as a species. We can then realize that our political views, skin color, religion, or anything that gave us the illusion of separation are nothing compared to our connectedness. That connection exists in our soul that we are all, not just us humans; the trees, the animals, the mountains, and everything in this body of Mother Earth, are in fact, a family.

We were a happy family back then. All we need now is to look closer, break free from the illusion of self-ego, and, yeah, reconcile that happy family. And I hope, once we did that, Mother Earth will let us human, her youngest child, to play outside again, sharing the kindest smile and loving one another no matter what.

Consequently, by diving deep into my imagination, I can understand my childhood dreams. The first one is that when I lived my life to overcome this world, Mother Earth will fight against me and can crush me like a cockroach. And after all, I came to the understanding that Jesus didn’t use the idea of overcoming this world to telling us that we are supposed to be more powerful than the world. I think what he meant by that is acknowledging that the divine that guides us all exists in the spirit. That divine entity is the one that connects all of us, not the worldliness illusion of power, superiority, and so on.

And when I look back at my second dream, I finally get it that my subconscious childhood mind was telling me, “see, we are all a spirit living in a body.” I felt horrible when I saw myself through other people’s eyes because I was so accustomed to the sense of separation that made me forget that we are all the same inside this worldly body. As a wise and progressive philosopher who lived a simple life, Jesus even goes further than just seeing other people as the same spirit as yours. He said, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” And of course, I agree with that statement. I think the journey to enlightenment starts when you’re capable of giving love to your acquaintance. And for the next step, all you have to do is see the love spreads and grows.

Well, I guess that is enough for now. For the second part, I would love to elaborate on this idea from a psychological perspective. I hope you folks can at least get my point. But if you feel like it’s confusing and illogical, that’s okay. This idea is just an imagination. After all, the world’s full of illusion and confusion; no one knows what the absolute reality is. But in the meantime, until we all sure about what is real and what is not, I urge you to spread compassion. The end goal isn’t to treat everyone with kindness but to realize that we are all the kind, we are all the divine, the one, the I — peace out.



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