The month of August was already half-spent. Cold breeze, gently blowing in this early evening, pierced through the marrows. Elderly folks began to worry of another jolt of rheumatism and all sort of ailments. The coldness of the night gave enough reason for some people to stay indoors, spreading silence further into the night. Especially on a hillside village like Ledok Geneng Village.

On the east end of this tranquil village, stood a typical Javanese house, not too big, and was already too old, with its back against the village road. At a glance, it was as if the house was meant to be separated from the village. When Mbah Mangun moved the house, and turned it around to face the woods instead, Ledok Geneng Village found an interesting issue to talk about. It kept the tongues wagging among villagers for the whole month!

Some said Mbah Mangun had committed himself to ascetics. Some thought he was learning some sort of new spiritual abilities. There were rumors about Mbah Mangun receiving insights from the spirit of the woods on the east side of the village. And some went as far as believing that the old man wanted to remarry!

And whenever anyone tried to clarify the truth of these rumors by asking Mbah Mangun directly, his answers had always been different from time to time – not to mention his ridiculous way of answering things. “Well… my house is old, he feels rather shy being compared to younger houses.” “Oh… it’s simply because I’m too lazy to paint the fence on every Independence Day.” “Yes… I just feel like watching the woods night and day.” And loads of other absurd replies. The villagers eventually reached a silent consensus to not discuss the matter any further. They could only smile the whole thing away, for they already knew, that was just the way Mbah Mangun was!

And that was exactly the way he was chilling, right now. While everybody else stayed in their homes, wrapping their cold-struck knees to keep warm, he was busy piling up firewood by the house. Since late this afternoon, he was busy pulling out three cassava shrubs, harvesting bananas by the house, sweeping the yard and doing other simple chores. His body seemed refreshed, after taking quite some nap earlier this afternoon. It was quite a wonder, no children appeared to be playing on his yard today. Usually, they would flock around noisily. Perhaps they were joining or watching Independence Day games at the Village Hall.

All youngsters and teens in this village knew Mbah Mangun. They often loved to play on his spacious yard. No matter how rowdy they played, or how naughtily some picked stones to throw at his mangoes and rose apples, Mbah Mangun simply smiled at watching them having fun. At times, few of the children whispered to one another, questioning the old man’s sanity, because Mbah Mangun was never the same as their fathers or grandfathers, who always tried to restrict them so much.

At Mbah Mangun’s yard, the children could do anything they wanted, even being bad. Mbah Mangun never told them no. He even provided a first-aid kit box by the house. The children’s fathers once protested Mbah Mangun’s leniency, yet he surprisingly dumbfounded them! “It is only natural for children to be naughty. Once they grow up a bit, they’ll change and stop being naughty. They’ll be brash! And that’s how teenagers are. As for you, parents, it’s just as true. You always want to have things your own way.” Mbah Mangun chuckled and walked away from his protesters.

To the children, Mbah Mangun was only a typical elderly man, 170 cm tall, lean, yet more fit and healthy compared to their grandfathers. His gray hair had always been trimmed short. There was nothing special about him. But the children were always perplexed whenever their fathers had some clash of opinions with Mbah Mangun. All grandfathers in this village seemed to stand up for Mbah Mangun. He was always so revered by their grandfathers, but not by their fathers – because, more often than not, Mbah Mangun’s attitude irritated them.

The night had just fallen, yet dark shadows were already dominating Mbah Mangun’s yard. The dim 5 watt light bulb he installed at the corner of the house was barely enough to illuminate the alley down to the side of the road. A mere sign of a house in the midst of darkness. In such a dim a light, it wasn’t easy to guess the age of this agile old man who still went out to collect wood branches and dry twigs on his own. When Kampret parked his car by the side of the road, he didn’t even turned his face toward the direction of the sound. It wasn’t until Robert, Kampret and his wife started to step into the side yard and greeted him that Mbah Mangun finally turned at them.

Kampret:  Good evening, Mbah.

Mangun:  My, my, you’re coming in a pack. Planning to rehearse for the ceremony?

Tukiyem: No. It’s just that tomorrow’s a holiday, Mbah. Besides, we’ve got nothing to do at home.

Kampret: It’s dark already, Mbah. Why are you still busy?

Mangun:  Ah… I’m simply picking up dry twigs and branches to make myself a bonfire, not bad for driving out the cold – and also the mosquitoes, hehehe… Come, let’s sit on the front porch! The wind is kind of freezing over here.

Kampret: Let’s finish this first, Mbah. Here, let me help you.

Mangun:  Ah… we only need to light up the fire, now. Hey, could you get those cassavas by the water barrel, Pret? Good sustenance for the hungry stomachs.

Kampret: Brew some black coffee, will you, Yem? For all of us.

Tukiyem: I’m making some hot ginger brew to keep warm. Would you like me to stir a little ginger into the coffee?

Mangun:  Why, what a good idea, Nduk! Make more hot ginger, then. There’s a kettle in the kitchen for the coffee as well.

Kampret: I also want some ginger in my coffee, Yem.

Robert:    Aren’t you cold, Mbah? You’re only wearing a T-shirt.

Mangun:  Well, yes, a bit, but after walking to and fro, it gets warmer. By the way, while there are three of us here, what if we move this log pile to the front yard? Aside from keeping warm, we can also roast the cassavas and sit on the porch.

 

Without bothering to reply, Robert – bulky and muscular as he was – quickly carried almost half of the pile to the front yard. The three of them started to arrange and light up the bonfire. As the fire was being lit up, Tukiyem brought along the hot beverages and snacks from the back of the house. And, how fortunate, Mbah Mangun had made a rather absurdly big pandan mat. They all could sat comfortably on it.

 

Robert:    To be honest, Mbah, I’ve been planning to pay a visit since three days ago, but Mas Kampret wanted to come along and we had to postpone it until today.

Kampret: I was planning to visit on a holiday, seeing my wife wants to come along so badly.

Mangun:  You all sound so serious. Anything urgent or something?

Robert:    Nope. Just curious, Mbah. This week had been moving too slow. Everyone at the office seems to have a short fuse. My wife often gets mad at home, too. I keep on wondering what makes people so easily angered.

Mangun:  People get angry when their wishes are not fulfilled.

Kampret: What else are the causes?

Mangun:  What do you mean, “what else”?

Kampret:  The causes, of course!

Robert:    Is that the only cause, Mbah?

Mangun:  The most common reason for anger. Yes. The main cause. However, if you want to dig deeper, we will have to spend the entire night talking.

Kampret: Well, since tomorrow’s a holiday and Tukiyem is here with me, I don’t mind staying up until morning, Mbah.

Tukiyem: I also think this “anger” issue is our mutual problem, Mbah. I would love to listen as well. It will be interesting to discuss. I hope you won’t mind.

Mangun:  Hahaha… I surely don’t mind at all. I even find it tempting, to spend the night among enthusiastic young fellows.

Robert:    True, Mbah. But please start from your opinion on “unfulfilled wishes” as the common, most often identified root cause, of all the causes of anger we frequently run into.

Mangun:  Alright, but first… could you lift those cassavas away from the fire, Pret? They smell good. Must be well-cooked already.

Without another word, Kampret quickly went to the bonfire, Tukiyem close on his heels. They started to turn the cassavas, picking the well-cooked ones. Meanwhile, Robert returned to the car, fetching the plastic bag he brought along from home. Several packs of cigarettes and ten packs of signature ones especially for Mbah Mangun. Mbah Mangun rose from his seat and went to the pakiwan (washroom).

When everyone had gathered around again on the porch, they began nibbling the hot cassavas. After sipping the soothing hot ginger brew, Mbah Mangun started speaking.

Mangun:  As Robert had prompted earlier, now we will begin discussing the simplest thing, first. Because, anger comes from “pleasure”.

Robert:    Pleasure? Now, I don’t get it, Mbah. Well, I did get some sort of understanding when you first told us the reason behind anger is the “non-fulfillment of one’s wishes”, as blurred as my perception might seem. But now, why are you telling us that pleasure is the root cause?

Mangun:  Exactly! Pleasure is the root cause. Not the sole cause, of course. But this pleasure is the one dominating cause of anger. We will gradually trace the connection afterward. I believe you all know that aggravation is a cause of anger. And if you merely stop thus far, you won’t even bother to come here tonight.

Tukiyem: Alright, Mbah. We will try to digest it slowly. I’m pretty sure this whole anger issue is nothing trivial to discuss. It has become everyone’s issue. And to fully comprehend it, I believe, it could be quite complicated. But I promise to listen and try to understand, bit by bit.

Mangun:  That’s the spirit!

Kampret: Still, please be patient with us. We are no intellectuals. There’ll sure be a whole lot of questions and we might need you to repeat some explanations.

Robert:    That’s right. I second that, Mbah. So let’s start all over again, how come pleasure is the root cause of anger?

Mangun:  Let me give you an example: suppose you’re angry at finding trash scattered all over your front yard. Your first question would be, “Who’s the loony dumping trash on my yard?” Now, if you tell everyone in this village about your anger because somebody was littering your yard, I believe people will understand you. They will justify that your anger was roused by ‘someone, who littered your yard’.

Robert:    Because that’s the fact, Mbah. And the cause of my anger is the one who did the littering.

Mangun:  But you don’t know who that person was, do you? So now, you’re going to track him down, and find out who’s responsible for the littering. But when you go around asking people and no one could actually give you answers on the person you’re tracing, you will be even more enraged than before. This is actually a new burst of anger. A second anger. And your anger toward that mysterious person will grow hotter, because you believe he’s the root cause. But if the situation were different, for instance the people you interrogate feel troubled and it provoke them to anger. You’ll find new problems with other people, while the root of the issue remains, which is the same person. The litterer! Thus, we see a whole lot of chaos all around us, caused by “someone we don’t even know from the very beginning”. The greater our anger flares, the greater we feel the need to solve it. Precisely like a vehicle engine. Greater capacity leads to greater power. And you also know the consequence in case of accident. Surely the damage will be even greater, won’t you say so?

Robert:    I admit that it had happened to me, and others, too, Mbah.

Mangun:  And will your problem with the litterer finally end? Will it be resolved?

Robert:    Perhaps. But perhaps not.

Mangun:  I believe, the solution is simply to put an end to it. Why do I say “put an end to it”? Because it can’t be resolved on its own. But then, who will put an end to it? The problem will be forced to come to an end by a new situation. You won’t be the one putting it to an end. The new situation will. For example, you’ve got more important matters than this problem to deal with. Eventually, those more urgent tasks will put an end of the problem. Or else, you’ve come to a deadlock. The deadlock assures you the problem will not find conclusion, thus you just try to forget about it.

Robert:    You mean, it will end, yet remain unresolved?

Mangun:  Exactly! An unresolved ending!

Robert:    What’s the difference, Mbah? One way or the other, it finally comes to an end, doesn’t it?

Mangun:  Of course there’s a difference! When you’ve got an issue you’re already done with, yet ended without resolution, basically the problem stays unresolved. One day, when you’re reminded of it, the same anger will flare up anew. For instance, on another occasion, let’s say on a Sunday afternoon, when you’re adoring the beautiful flowers on the yard. You’re so captivated by their present beauty. Yet at the same time, you also wonder if their beauty will last. In the midst of that thought, other obstacles that might threatened your pleasure may rise. Including, trash. Spontaneously, your memory will recall the past encountered problem. Irresponsible people might litter your flower beds, any time. Certainly your anger and aggravation will be hard to rein in. You can get angry over and over again, for a single cause. Don’t you find it troublesome?

Robert:    Of course it’s troublesome, Mbah. The same situation is also true in business matters. Entirely unprofitable. I have to pay interests over and over again for one single debt.

Mangun:  Precisely. Likewise is the problem you consider as bygones. It’s not entirely resolved. The issue ended simply because other matters seem to be more urgent and more demanding of your attention. One day, those unresolved problems will resurface.

Robert:    Then, how can we tell if the problem we’re facing are finished, but unresolved, or entirely resolved and concluded, Mbah?

Mangun:  It’s when you have stopped thinking about the problem, without the need to put it to an end. Or when you have no other, more urgent, matters to replace it.

Robert:    I don’t get it, Mbah.

Mangun:  Now, let’s try to analyze this problem from the very beginning, and unearth new perspectives. When you find your yard littered, you’re angered. At that moment, you should have asked yourself, “Why am I angry?” The answer must be, “I don’t like a dirty yard.” And when you continue asking, “Why don’t I like a dirty yard?” You would find the answer: “Because I prefer my yard to be clean and tidy.” I presume you won’t mind if I say, “You’re angry at seeing a dirty, littered yard, because you find pleasure in a clean, tidy one.” So, may I conclude, “Your pleasure in a clean, tidy yard had triggered your anger at finding it littered”?

Robert:    A-ha! Very interesting! But it’s quite difficult to accept such reality, Mbah. Doesn’t this mean blaming ourselves for other people’s wrongdoings?

Mangun:  Hehehe… You’re absolutely right. In communal living, there’s no doubt this sounds rather awkward. Hadn’t I told you once, that good people have the tendency – and bear the risk – of being labeled “idiots”? When you clearly assess the situation and comprehensively understand the problem, you will come to insight, rather than self-blame. The situation is entirely different. Self-blame tends to evoke the sense of guilt and demands a resolution. There is nothing wrong in your wish to have a beautiful, tidy yard; but then, you find a problem rising from your anger at finding a littered yard. That’s where things take the wrong turn.

Kampret: So, when I’m angered on finding a littered yard, the cause is my wish to see a clean yard. Why am I angry? Because my wish for a clean yard isn’t granted. In other words, I may conclude that pleasure is the cause of anger. I start to get it, Mbah. But, what should I do to gain these pleasures without triggering anger? Aren’t these pleasures capable of turning into anger, any time?

Mangun:  Hahaha… smart question. And complicated at the same time. The trick is just do what you have to do as long as you’re not hurting yourself.

Tukiyem: Now, now, you’re at it again, Mbah. Using words we could hardly understand.

Mangun:  Hard? It really isn’t hard to understand, Yem. When you wish to have a clean yard, you can do anything, and think of any ways, to make it clean. But when you get angry, that’s the point where you’re “hurting yourself”. Perhaps you could make a sign board on your yard to prevent people from littering, or place a huge, easily spotted trashcan in front of your house, or hire someone to clean up your yard. But the fastest, easiest way to clean up your yard is simply grab a broom and start sweeping until it’s neat and tidy again.

Kampret: Hahaha… the fastest and easiest way, indeed! I completely agree. If we want our yard clean and neat, just get the broom and sweep it clean. No need to think of it any further.

Robert:    A very interesting analogy, Mbah. But I’m not so sure this solution can solve boatloads issues of anger.

Mangun:  Of course it might differ from case to case. Yet even so, basically you can find the same pattern.

Robert:    You call it a pattern? Some kind of absolute, machine-like process, occurring within the highly complex human mentality and emotions?

Mangun:  Yes, a pattern! We all live in line to some kind of pattern. Even our mind and mentality, they also move according to a pattern.

Kampret: Wait a second, where’s our discussion heading to? Aren’t we discussing about anger?

Mangun:  True, we are discussing about anger. But to reach the bottom of it, we need in-depth observation.

Tukiyem: I agree with all of you. But what if we thoroughly discuss about the previous analogy first, to wholly absorb its meaning, before gradually dig deeper to the core? Just to keep all of us on the same page, and keep our minds untangled. It’s difficult for me to understand matters when we jump from one point to the next. Let one idea sink in first, before carrying on to the next. Even when they do have a connection, I still see them as a leap, and blurring our insight from understanding the matter clearly. I’m sorry if my mind is not as quick as yours.

Mangun:  Hehehe… Tukiyem has a point. Let’s just return to the previous analogy, the littered yard.

Tukiyem: Oh, by the way, I also have my own problem at the office. My boss is often mad, lately, at finding so many employees taking leave while there are tons of urgent work to be done.

Kampret: Your boss wants every single one of his employees to come to work every single day. Fact is, a whole lot of them are absent. It’s only natural if he’s upset.

Tukiyem: So what’s the wise solution for the matter, then?

Kampret: Let him deal with it on his own! Why should you bother yourself with his problem?

Tukiyem: I was just giving us an example. What are you complaining about? Besides, I work there. There’s nothing wrong with me being concerned about my workplace.

Kampret: I know, but…

Mangun:  Now, knock it off. No quarreling here. You two are a good-looking couple. But when you’re upset, your faces redden and grow ugly. And, hey, don’t you dare eat all my cassavas!

Tukiyem: Hehehe… Our bad, Mbah.

Robert:    Hahaha… Come on, stop joking around. If it were my problem, I think what I would do is mobilizing the rest of my employees.

Kampret: Hang on. These case-by-case solutions we’re discussing aren’t actually touching the core of this problem. How do we stop anger? In my opinion, these solutions still leave behind some sort of annoyance, Mbah.

Mangun:  That’s true. I’ve promised to discuss the matter thoroughly, haven’t I? And we’re still exploring what’s causing anger at the first place. Well, it’s early evening now. Didn’t you say you want to talk about it until daybreak?

Kampret: Ah, I got carried away just now.

Mangun:  Good. Now, listen carefully. Let’s start over and put aside all those analogies for the time being. We’ll get back to them later.

Think of anger as a disease. First of all, we have to realize we’re suffering from some kind of illness. Yet at the beginning, we don’t even know we’re ill. After it can be felt and we see the symptoms, such as pain or fever, we then conclude that we’re ill. Since it disturbs our comfort, we instinctively try to get rid of this nuisance. Now, perhaps we believe that the way to free ourselves of this disease is by taking medication. What we will do afterward is trying to find the medicine. However, seeking the medicine involves finding out the underlying cause of illness. We can’t take random medication, can we? To find out what kind of medicine is needed to heal the illness, we must take a thorough look into the disease itself. What are the characteristics? The causes? The supporting factors? Afterward, we may conclude the type of illness. Once we know for sure what the disease is, we will be able to find the remedy.

In my opinion, that’s the way to solve problems. We need to have such organized structure of thinking to resolve matters accurately and ethically. It’s a good thing that we’ve already concluded the disease tonight. Our disease here is “Anger”.

What if we start from the very beginning, from observing the emergence of the anger itself, as well as its symptoms? From this point, we will be able to observe more detailed causes of anger, both the direct and indirect ones. Didn’t you say you want to discuss more than one cause?

We might even question the most underlying issue of this matter. Why do we think of “Anger” as a disease that must be cured?

Kampret: I agree. Better start from the very beginning, of why we need to discuss all night long to talk about “Anger”. How much this anger has become a disturbance in our daily lives?

Mangun:  Ah, now you sound like a laborer demanding his right.

Alright, let’s start from the very beginning. Why do we need to be cautious of anger? What are the downsides of anger? Of course we don’t need to talk of its benefits. Aside from wasting time, it will be contrary to what we’re going to discuss tonight.

First and foremost, anger blurs the true reality. The idea to seek for ultimate truth will evaporate once emotions take over. Concealing the truth is one characteristic of emotions. And when you no longer care about the truth, what do you expect from your life?

Kampret: Could you please give us an illustration, Mbah? So we can find a solid ground in grasping your explanation.

Mangun:  Every single time an unpleasant matter arises, and emotions take over, the idea to seek the truth is already concealed by emotions. And these emotions demand compensation in the form of anger toward the problem-causing subject, without any willingness to understand the real situation. When your yard is littered, and you’re blinded by emotions, the only thing you want to do is lash your anger at the litterer. Your mind no longer wants to consider other possibilities such as why the person littered your yard? Is it true somebody deliberately threw trash on the yard? Could there be a strong wind that blew trash all over the place? Or a dog carried people’s leftover food from elsewhere and took it to your yard, causing the mess?

When many employees went absent, your boss was overwhelmed by anxiety, because he feared the projects wouldn’t be completed on time. He might also be calculating the loss he must suffer afterward, and got angry. Anger demands compensation. The demand for compensation, without doubt, blocks other thoughts that might rise, for example: is my employee’s family alright at home? Are the people – who have been assisting me all this time – in good shape? Could there be something unfortunate befalling my subordinates?

Thus, anger blindfolds our mind from any positive thoughts that might be true behind an occurrence. When somebody is speeding on the streets without taking heed of his own safety, there is a possibility that he’s basically a reckless person. But there is also another possibility, for instance he just received a terrible news that his mother direly needs blood transfusion at the hospital and she needs a donor who matches her blood type. You can never know the truth when emotions blind those thoughts.

Tukiyem: It happens a lot, Mbah. And when the truth is revealed, regret comes way too late. Especially when it’s something really serious and important. The regret can grow even deeper.

Mangun:  Alright. Next, this anger demands compensation. By compensation, it needs an object – an object of compensation for anger. When this anger emerges and develops, the demand for compensation also grows greater. Could this enormous demand for compensation be dangerous?

In certain situations and at certain level, it can be highly dangerous. You could take a wrong decision and cause yourselves a great misfortune in the future. This is the kind of situation often used by wily men to gain profit, whether it comes as persuasion or subtle insults. People often refer to this kind of behavior as “Playing with Emotions”.

Another situation, which is just as dangerous, is “Misdirected Vengeance“. When you direct your anger to the wrong person, the situation may trigger a long, tiring, never-ending dispute, because both parties have equally strong reasons and both of them are misled. When emotions are thrown into such dispute, you can only imagine what would happen! And then, there’s this “Lacking Stamps Compensation”.

Robert:    Lacking stamps?

Mangun:  Yes, lacking stamps.

Kampret: What on earth is that, Mbah?

Mangun:  A compensation that’s not sufficient to be delivered to the addressee. When the anger cannot be compensated toward the directed object, it gets put on hold, but not dismissed. It sticks on you everywhere you go. More often than not, you take this anger home with you.

Tukiyem: A-ha! I see. It seems to me that I might be a victim of this “Lacking Stamps Compensation.”

Kampret: Now, when someone is often ‘Moody’ and pouting without any apparent reason, what do we call it, Mbah? Double stamps compensation? Who’s the victim, then?

Robert:    Hahaha…

Kampret: What, Bert? What’s so funny?

Robert:    Oh, let’s not get too carried away. I’m laughing since I now understand that I, too, am a victim of this “Lacking Stamps Compensation”, hahaha…

Mangun:  Hush! I don’t see what you lot are being proud of, realizing you’re victims.

Kampret: Well, actually it’s quite annoying, to be honest.

Mangun:  Knock it off already! No need to explain any further. I guess by now you’ve understood the danger of anger, haven’t you?

Tukiyem: Yes, Mbah.

Kampret: Understood, Mbah.

Robert:    Clearly, Mbah.

Mangun:  Now after you’ve realized that “Anger” is dangerous for you, it is only logical for you to free yourselves from it. To determine what medication or what way you should take to detach yourselves from Anger’s claws, you need to dig even deeper to understand about anger.

Firstly, you need to know the cause of this anger. The most related cause is “displeasure”. There are some reasons behind the emergence of displeasure. The most dominant of all is “Pleasure”. Generally, we always want to live in pleasure. So when this pleasure is interrupted, or even unfulfilled, displeasure will occur.

It is as I explained previously. People’s unfulfilled wishes is the cause of anger. When these pleasing thoughts cannot be embodied in reality, displeasure will rise. If the displeasure is weak, it will only appear as mere “Sadness”. But when it’s strong, it will trigger our emotions and explode as “Anger”.

Do you follow me thus far?

Robert:    Basically, we all wish for a pleasant life. When we’re trapped in a situation in which we fail to achieve pleasure, we will be sad. And if this sadness continues, we’ll get angry.

Kampret: Precisely! That is also how I conclude it, Mbah, more or less. I don’t even need illustration to see and understand your point. But it leads us to another complication. Even though it’s part of the fact and reality in our lives, I’m still having a hard time believing it.

If these pleasures indirectly trigger sadness, then we’re facing a contradictory situation. Is life nothing more than a stage for paradox? Whether we realize it or not, each and every single one of us struggles with such situation, every day, all day long. This fact really bothers me. Don’t we put all our strength and effort every day, all day long, only to find these pleasures?

Mangun:  And have you ever counted how many times you’re pleased and how many times you’re sad in a day?

Tukiyem: Is that important?

Mangun:  Of course it’s important. It helps you to truly understand that – in reality – you are being “tossed and turned” by pleasure and displeasure, every day, all day. If only you would spend a little time to meditate on life within a single day, you will find out the fact that pleasure and displeasure come and go in turns. You have to quickly understand this circumstance, if “Peaceful Living” is an urgent goal to you.

Kampret: That’s it! “Peaceful Living!” Isn’t it also a pleasing condition? And if it’s not fulfilled, we will drown in sadness.

Mangun:  In my opinion, peaceful living is not a pleasant life as much as it’s commonly considered. It tends to imply a peaceful living condition. Not noisy! It tends to be rather flat, in fact. No emotional outbursts. Even peacefulness is hard to be felt. The way to understand this situation itself is also quite unique. When you’re not complaining, then you’ll find peace.

Robert:    Could it be asserted that we find it peaceful when nothing happens?

Mangun:  Precisely! When nothing happens, everything is at peace. More or less so.

Tukiyem: Before this discussion goes any further, I want to return to Kampret’s objection. When everyone seems to compete to gain pleasure, all the sudden the pleasure turns into a source of sadness. If this really is the fact of life, then it’s a difficult joke to understand, Mbah. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who finds it hard to grasp this fact, but people beyond this house will also frown at it and won’t bother to think about such ridiculous idea.

Mangun:  One of the characteristics of ultimate truth is that it’s concealed from what you so called common sense. You call a quiet thought as unhealthy, but when people have loads of wishes, you call it normal. Also, when someone has no desire, you call him weird.

Now, let’s try to understand this through a really simple illustration. If we take a good look around, we’ll see so many discrepancies. For example, the corruption cases taking place in our country. If we see it at a glance, we find it to be nothing short of normal. It can happen in any country. Now listen carefully. I’ll show you the discrepancies and ridiculousness of the matter.

We all know it’s extremely difficult to be a civil servant, due to the wide gap in proportion between the number of applicants and the available vacancy. This situation encourages applicants to do anything, including the most ridiculous methods, such as calling shamans and bribing others, only for them to become civil servants. After they have gained the position, they will tread the career path very slowly, unlike the fast-paced career growth in private sectors. And after walking through the long and winding road, few will finally find their way to hold strategic positions.

We all know that aside from being sentenced to jail, a corrupt officer will also be dismissed from his position and has his name blotted out from the registry of civil servants. From the psychological side, a corrupt officer and his entire family will suffer social burden. Not only they’ll be shamed, they will also be classified as untrustworthy people. Of course they will find a lot of obstacles for the rest of their lives.

But now, I’m asking you, why do many officers still won’t give up their corrupt ways? Have they lost their mind? Or are they too dumb to see the two previously stated realities? Between the difficulties they have to go through for the sake of gaining a position, and the risk they will face for being corrupt, don’t you think choosing corruption is the most insane option one could take?

If you were officers and civil servants with common sense, you surely wouldn’t take such a ridiculously stupid decision, will you? However, could you guarantee the sanity of your mind?

I believe it’s not the question of sanity nor insanity. Neither is it knowing nor knowing the reality, but that’s the fact. A whole lot of us are deliberately “Ignorant” of reality, turning a blind eye toward the real truth.

It’s pretty similar to what you’re facing on a daily basis. You don’t want to accept the fact that people could get ill, grow old, and eventually die. This denial shows from your constant prayer for health and protection. When your beloved ones pass away, you tend to drown yourselves in sorrow, crying for days. What standard of sanity you need to understand such situation? How dull can you get to refuse this reality?

Is this normal enough for you? If you really do think of such condition as normality in daily life, then it is only natural for you to have a hard time accepting the fact that pleasures can indeed trap you into grimly saddening situations.

Kampret: Excuse me, Mbah, but… could we take a short break? I’ll try to digest it in the quietness of the night. I feel my chest has grown a bit heavy, and my mind disturbed. I don’t think we should continue without a pause.

Tukiyem: Yes… I think I also want more ginger brew. Anyone wants some more coffee?

Robert:    Another cup for me, Mbak.

Kampret: Just brew some coffee for everyone, Yem. Excuse me, Mbah. I’d like to take a short stroll.

Mangun:  Ah, sure. I also need to go to the washroom.