To Javanese people “life” is a “journey” (laku) of mankind coming back to God, The Sangkan-Paraning-Dumadi, The Alfa and Omega. The basic principal of laku according to Javanese is mystical union with God (manunggaling kawula-Gusti). God is understood as Sang Hyang Antaya that cannot be imagined at all (tan kena-kinayangapa) but emptiness (awang-uwung) or mysterious (gaib). The man's journey of coming back to God, then, must be accompanied by ascetic life to purify heart and soul from all kinds of egoism. Everybody must be free from self-profit and reward (sepi ing pamrih). This way of purification will guide them into their original being that is as a spark-fire of God.
Various conceptions of the mystery of God enable distortions and conterfeitings against the true laku to take place. This should become an important thing that Javanese should be aware of! The answers of many questions around the existence of God and man (such as: Who is God? Who is man) that Javanese wisdom has tried to find out seem to be completed from time to time. And it is possible as the Javanese are sincretic in philosophy as well as in religiousity. The characteristic has designed the Javanese culture as a culture that is easy to adapt those of others without loosing the core.
What is the core of the Javanese culture? To be honest I myself still have to find out more in the traditions I've received and lived up to now and forever. It is a sense (or feeling, rasa, taste) of being Javanese. While I am a Javanese, I am a Christian also. That's the matter. However, I feel okey since I know the faith I believe in. You know, I'm proud of being a Javanese as well as a Christian. I know how to critizise myself as a Javanese and how to critizise myself as a Christian. I am living a process of inculturation of Christian faith in a sense of Javanese. Which one is to be the prior? It's a dialectical attitude of living. That's the core of my own culture!
There are many religions exist among the Javanese. So there are many ways to live as Javanese. As a result, there are many "cultures" among the Javanese people, and they claim to be Javanese! And yes, we are!
The one thing that unites us the Javanese is the wisdom of Sangkan-Paraning-Dumadi, though each of us has specific conceptions according to the faith of each religion. And the tradition of laku itself has been interpreted and completed in each religion's tradition. The wisdom from the Javanese esoteric knowledge has preserved the moral to be completed: sepi ing pamrih, rame ing gawe, mamayu hayuning bawana. That's the way (laku) to go the journey. And as the aim of the journey is union with God, it's rather a pilgrimage than just a traveling or moreover an adventure.
The Javanese has a pretty interpretation from the pronounciation of the word "ziarah" (= pilgrimage). The wording of "ziarah" is "ji-arah", This word abbreviates two words: "siji" (one) and "arah" (direction). Thus "ziarah" (pilgrimage) is so-interpreted as "siji sing diarah" - just one determined direction - that is God, the Sangkan-Paraning-Dumadi, The Alfa and Omega of all beings! When the union happens, the universe (macrocosmos and microcosmos) would be so beautiful! How to achieve the state is a set of unending efforts to beautify the world (universe) intensively and extensively, no matter what religion!
And that will be the crown of human dignity according to the Javanese perception. ***