Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Spiritual Kiss

I still have the Kiss shared by Batman and Wonder Woman in Blackest Night Wonder Woman #2 (now officially a holy book for Batwondy fans!) lingering in my mind, despite it took place in a virtual reality created by Lady Aphrodite to contain a rampaging Black Lantern WW (see the previous post to make sense of it). Hence, this post.

And I promise you that this post will still be confusing for non DC comic readers or JL Animated cartoon watchers. Heck, it’s likely to confuse my fellow Batwondy fans, even! But I need to address this. I need to share with you why I see the kiss as beyond physical. Why I see it as reaching a spiritual level as well.

To do so, I need to make some disclaimers:

1. I don’t see anything wrong with seeing the kiss as very sexy. God, it IS very sexy. Alluring. Seducing. Nicola Scott really knows how to draw a sexy yet poetic kiss. I’m glad she’s with DC now.

2. Some references I shall make here will confuse many readers, particularly those unaccustomed with Vedic tradition, a very generic tradition I’m about to source. It’s not that these examples can only be found in Vedic books; I am certain that other traditions have some similar examples as well. I shall try my best to explain with my understanding that stems out of love.

3. As I will use these references in love, I shall disagree with fellow Vedic followers who might think of this post as a sacrilege or blasphemy, for trying to link human love with divine love. For… ah… where is the line, actually? Our true, pure, unconditional human love is basically a divine love as well, and a divine love can only be understood if we humans have experienced human love.

Enough of confusing you, now let’s start.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

In Darkness, Love must Triumph

Okay. My regular readers will not understand why I branch out to comic book this time, but if you read my first (and the only entry so far) about this topic here, you will begin to understand. Or so I hope. Anyway. Doesn’t matter. For I am ECSTATIC!!! Thank you so much, Greg Rucka! God bless you!

Okay. Ahem. Get back on trail. I’ve been on high like this since yesterday, since I picked up my Wonder Woman #39 and Blackest Night WW#2 from my local comic shop. I belatedly read WW#39 because I was away for a month, but still… I salute thee, Gail Simone, for wrapping the gigantic Warkiller arc magnificently. Thank you.

Enters Blackest Night Wonder Woman #2. I started this arc, superbly written by Greg Rucka and beautifully penciled by Nicola Scott, with no intention to read the main Blackest Night stories, for it just gives me headache. Thank God for Wikipedia. But I was, still am, more than willing to read the WW tie-ins, for… hey, it’s Wonder Woman! Plus, Greg Rucka was a respected WW writer, clearly still in love with Diana, and he’s been communicating with Gail Simone as well, so the characterization fits in. Blackest Night WW#1 – where Diana fought against the resurrected Maxwell Lord whom she killed to save a mind-controlled Superman – was amazing. I don’t have the book with me, but it just reaffirms my belief in Wonder Woman. In Diana, in her faith in Love.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

I See You (A commentary of Avatar)

I’d been wanting to watch Avatar since the trailers hit cinemas in town, but in all honesty, I thought it was a violent movie about the natives versus the Almighty Americans (no offense my dearest American friends)… until I read Stephen Simon’s entry about Avatar in Holistic Asia, and realized that it was actually a spiritual movie.

Hence, I painted my eyes with glittering soft blue eye shadow, and onwards went to the local cinema here in Yogyakarta, making my way through the snaking queue of people in want of watching either Avatar, Sherlock Holmes (so not elementary, Watson!), and The Princess and the Frog (have to watch that one too!). I didn’t regret I spent almost half an hour in the queue.

James Cameron’s Avatar was a treat.

True, I sobbed a lot during the movie (guess which scenes?), ooh-ed and aah-ed during the beautiful panoramic views, shed silent tears when our hero and heroine made love under the sacred tree of love, and take my proverbial hat off at the fall of the Brave Trudy.

Avatar reminds me to see something as it is, instead of with my preconditions and perceptions. Paraphrasing Mo'at, Neytiri's mother and spiritual leader of the clan: “The Sky People do not want to learn from us. They came with the glass full.” Snicker. It reminds me of the old Zen tale whereby a disciple keep asking his Master about stuffs, and his master keeps pouring down the tea until it overflows and wet the disciple’s expensive robe.

“Master! Why keep pouring the tea? My cup is already full; it overflows!”

“Why keep asking me questions then?” replied the Master. “You already have your answers in your head.”

But more than that, Avatar made me realize that I was, am still, on the right path. The Path of Mother Earth. I’m one of her daughters, and it’s my duty and privilege to protect her, even from ourselves, her own children.

“You know where I came from,” Jake Sully said to the Soul Tree. “There’s nothing beautiful there. They killed their own mother.”

For the love of my life, Jake… I truly hope no Earthlings will ever need to say it. I truly hope we have not killed Mother Earth, Mother Gaia, Prativi Ma.

No, I am not blinded by all that happens in this planet. I am not blinded by the massive deforestations and ocean acidity, nor the rapid removal of many species. I am not deaf to the silent cry of Mother Earth. I weep with her. I weep and work for her.

But I still have hope that one day, if we are ever going to meet the Omaticaya of Pandora, we are going to greet them like this:

“Greetings, Brothers and Sisters. I See You. I come from another world, much like your own. And though we almost destroyed our own Mother, we managed to save her from ourselves. She is still alive and breathing joyfully, much like Eywa, much like your Great Mother. And I thank the Universe for that.”

I am not blinded by what happens in our planet; by what we have been doing to our Mother. But I still dare to hope for our chance.

Now, does Avatar still play in Sydney? I want to see it in 3D…

PS 15 February 2010:
See also Amy C's article for Top Five Spiritual Lessons from the Avatar movie.

Pic 1: Avatar movie poster, Wikipedia
Pic 2: Zen master and his tea, from here
Pic 3: Seeds of the Soul Tree, by Phantasy Star Deviantart

What is Fear?

Fear is like a big scary guy that stops you right there and… and forces you to choose something else.

“You cannot go in here,” he says with guttural voice. “Leave. Take another path, left or right. Or… back off.”

But there is another choice. You look at him squarely in the eye and say:

“No. I want to go on. I want to move on. Please kindly step aside. You’re in my way.”

Say it sincerely with confidence. And, after what feels like a millennia,…he the Mr. Fear smiles, bows a bit, and gives way.

“Go ahead,” he says. “Be my guest.”

And behind him… there’s previously an unseen door, or even open space you name it… which is your true goal. Your true happiness you always seek.

Fear, it turns out, is not an enemy.

He is a big scary friend, but he’s a true friend nonetheless. Because he makes us realize what is more important: His scary form… or something behind him, a beautiful thing, state, person…your own self even…hidden from him.

Turns out…when you truly hug and embrace your fears, they do turn into beautiful flowers…

Meeting the Javanese Mother Mary

“Is Mother Mary a Catholic?” asked my 8 years old nephew innocently. I can’t help replying back with “God, what is your religion?” – something that he wouldn’t understand, in retrospective.

But that’s exactly the point. How do you explain to a child that it’s okay to visit a church, though you’re not officially a Christian? Or visiting a temple tho you’re not registered as a Buddhist or a Hindu? Or enjoying the coolness inside a mosque despite your chosen faith, for that matter?

Since when did it become a matter? Since when did I have to defend my rights to visit any sacred places, regardless of their religious/traditional affiliations? My mother was supremely elated when she found out that I visited the Temple Church of Ganjuran (Gereja Candi Ganjuran), a.k.a. Ganjuran Sacred Heart Church in Bantul, Yogyakarta. She and her second husband immediately related it to me becoming a Christian. How do I explain to her that one of my best friends in Bali often accompanies me to the local temple and she (happens to be a Christian) also prays in her own way?

I guess my mother has enough stuffs to ‘worry’ about. My sister is dating a Moslem Javanese man. A very decent man I’d say, and I’m happy for her. But she has enough problems in explaining to mum that his religion matters not for her.

I can understand my sister. Two Indonesian laws in need of annulment are 1) the 2008/9 porn bill (God, I can write a long article just about that!) and 2) the marriage law (don’t know which year), which states that two Indonesians of different faiths cannot be married. If I recall correctly, it requires that one of the lovers must sacrifice his/her own faith and convert to another’s. IMHO, it creates a false foundation for the marriage. Why can’t you just remain faithful to your own religion and respect your partner’s as well? More than that, not only respecting and tolerating, but appreciating. For the essence, the beauty within, is just the same.

I guess I’m a strong proponent for interfaith marriage in Indonesia; one that is not merely based on respect, but also on appreciation and understanding that each path is uniquely tailored for a person. The connection between a person and the Sacred, the Creator, God, whatever you name it, is a very personal one; it is even more personal than the bond between husband and wife. That’s why it is called a ‘path’. Because it is small and is only walked by one person at a time.

Coming back to the conversation with my nephew. Eventually my sister and I came up with an explanation like this:

“Religion is the way for a person to speak with God. It is up to him/her how to speak with the Almighty. You can speak in Indonesian language, in Javanese, in Balinese… in English, in Mandarin… etc…”

“God can understand?”

“Yes, God can understand. Even if you don’t speak at all, God can still understand. And wherever you pray, whatever your religion is, God still understands.”

That explanation seems to suffice my nephew. With the Javanese gamelan playing in the background, he sat next to my sister in front of the Javanese style Jesus Christ, while I walked to the corner of the compound, to Mother Mary and Baby Jesus. I need not to explain why I was more attracted to this Javanese Mother Mary, but I can try. Perhaps because she reminds me of Lady Isis and Baby Horus, Ma Parvati and Little Ganesh… mother and child. Perhaps I was, am, attracted to her Javanese style. Perhaps I just need to speak to a mother who listens.

“This is Mother Mary?” my nephew was confused with her Javanese garment and hair ornaments. He was used to the cloaked Mother Mary he always saw in churches.

“Yes, this is Mother Mary,” I told him. “This is the same Mother Mary you saw with the cloak inside the church.” I wanted to tell him that I can see the same Mother Mary inside the Vedic Goddesses and Celtic High Ladies… and even in the trees and the stars… but that would confuse him more. It would confuse him more if I say that the Vatican seemed to disagree with the representation of Mother Mary in Javanese Hindu style.

But…yes, this is still Mother Mary. Her Javanese statue, along with the temple church (gereja candi) compound was built in 1930s, the courtesy of the Dutch Schmutzer family for the Motherland of Indonesia.

Yes, she listens to me too. For I am her daughter and she is my Mother.

All pics are my own.
Pic 3 = 'Mother Mary of Ganjuran, I seek Thy Blessings'