Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Death of a shaman, death of a tribe....

Sibin Aus, shaman of Pertak in 2004 & 2009 (portraits by Antares)

Sibin Aus (also known as Sudin), resident shaman or dukun of Kampung Pertak (a Temuan village located 44 miles northeast of Kuala Lumpur in Ulu Selangor) died in his sleep on 9 January 2011. His sister-in-law found him lifeless around noon. When I said goodbye to him around 2:30pm his body was still warm.

My guess is that Sibin was around 79. He told me he had served with the Royal Malaysian Police during the Emergency period, which means he must have turned 18 in 1950 or thereabouts.

Sibin was one of the most enigmatic Temuan elders I have had the honor of befriending. One by one they have balik pulau (returned to the Isle of Fruits or paradise) since I relocated to the area in early 1992. When I first met him Sibin was living with a medicine woman named Awa Anak Lahai. She threw him out eleven years ago and hasn't spoken to him since.

Sibin was a bit wayward but quite harmless. The kids enjoyed teasing him whenever he was intoxicated (and he invariably was). He always took it goodnaturedly, even when they called him Berk'ot (smelly and unwashed) to his face. After his old lady threw him out, Sibin sometimes appeared at my window in the wee hours, singing sad songs in his distinctive raspy voice. I would invite him in and make him a cup of coffee. But after half an hour he would start singing his drunken lament all over again and I would have to physically throw him out so he wouldn't wake everybody up.

In the last ten years I have watched Sibin's health deteriorate to the extent that more than a few times I believed he was already a goner. Once, about five years ago, I was sitting by the river when I spotted him wading unsteadily across the rocky stream. He collapsed midway through and landed face down in the fast-flowing but shallow water. I rushed over to haul him to the opposite bank where I propped him against a rock.

"I can see my dear mother," Sibin muttered, as if in a visionary trance. "Yes, yes, I'll soon be joining her..." and I noticed a glazed look on his face, eyes focused on some distant horizon. "Don't budge from here," I admonished, and went off in search of help. A couple of villagers came down to the river to assist Sibin. He managed to get back on his wobbly feet... and then he trudged off into the forest.

Rasid Aus in 1996 (Antares)
No sign of him for a couple of weeks... and then Sibin would be spotted merrily bouncing along the road, looking ten years younger and glowing with vitality. I guess he did have some ilmu (magical knowledge) and knew how to rejuvenate himself and repair his alcohol-ravaged liver.

Whenever I bumped into him, I would wave and he'd come over and say, "I shake hand you!" We were actually quite fond of each other, in a comradely sort of way. After all, Sibin was among the Temuan elders who readily accepted me as a friend and colleague right from the outset. His younger brother Rasid subsequently became my stepfather-in-law.

In the early years when I was in the habit of constantly asking questions about Temuan folklore and terminology, Sibin proved an invaluable resource, though I never knew when he was serious and when he was merely pulling my leg.

With Sibin's passing, an era of childlike innocence and indigenous wisdom has ended.

The present crop of Temuan males are so vastly different from their grandparents' or even their parents' generation. Growing up watching brain-deadening TV programs piped in from the urban capital, these kids I first befriended when they were in their early teens have since grown into sullen, surly, resentful, unfriendly and xenophobic adults - no thanks to the constant indoctrination and official propaganda they are subjected to by the Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (Orang Asli Affairs Department) who are past masters of divide-and-rule management strategies.

Alcohol abuse has become far more serious ever since one of the villagers decided to start selling cigarettes and cheap spirits from home. In the old days, when they had finished all the booze, they had to ride 8 miles to Kuala Kubu Bharu to obtain another round of drinks. Now they only have to stagger a hundred yards down the road. For RM10 they can get at least three bottles of rotgut.

After a few rounds they seem to get possessed by demons and begin to brawl amongst themselves. They literally turn into Orcs, making a huge racket on their motorbikes, setting off cherry bombs and, even worse, hurling empty bottles into the river so they will smash on the rocks and pose a serious hazard to others. Some have become so demented they routinely poison cats and murder dogs that chase after their motorbikes. Anyone who can kill a cat or dog in cold blood is perfectly capable of killing another human being... it's absolutely tragic.

In a way, what has happened in Kg Pertak over the last 20 years pretty much reflects what has happened to the rest of the country. It's almost exactly like what happens to Underland when the Red Queen seizes power in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland.

The following is a brief excerpt from my book, Tanah Tujuh: Close Encounters with the Temuan Mythos (Silverfishbooks, 2007). I dedicate it to the memory of a trueblue Orang Asli shaman...

Tuhan & Iblis (God & Devil): Creation & Design

ACCORDING TO SIBIN AUS, the first humans which Tuhan made were like patong (dolls) with no discernible facial or bodily features. They were, if truth be told, extremely crude and primitive. Iblis (or Hablis, as Sibin pronounces it) came along and shook his head. “Not bad,” he said, “but I have a few suggestions, if you don’t mind my interfering.”

Tuhan raised an eyebrow and stroked his chin. “Well, show me what you have in mind.” Iblis set to work and soon the human was endowed with eyes and ears and nose and mouth and fingers and toes... and genitals.

Tuhan had to concede that Iblis had truly succeeded in making a good thing even better. “Great stuff,” Tuhan said, patting Iblis on the back. “From now on, let’s work as a team. I’ll handle the Creation, you take care of the Design!”

And this is why Manusia, while essentially godly, is also always somewhat diabolical.

Sibin's account resonates with the universal myth of the Hero Twins, who appear in Mesopotamian lore as Enki and Enlil (Enuma Elish); in Mayan cosmomythology (Popol Vuh) as Hunahpu and Xbalanque. The Hero Twins manifest as Gilgamesh and Enkidu in Mesopotamia; Castor and Pollux in Greece; and as Romulus and Remus in Italy. Norse legends have Loki and Thor in the rĂ´le of the Hero Twins. Leonardo da Vinci’s famous twin paintings, Virgin of the Rocks, mysteriously depict the Holy Infants as a pair of royal twins; and, closer to home, the Jah Hut tribe of Peninsular Malaysia attribute the creation of Adamic man to the rival deities, Ebrahil and Peruman.

But why twins? Is there a long-forgotten truth to be gleaned about bi-polarity as the basis of creation? Does our Sun have an invisible twin? Does the Milky Way galaxy have a twin in Andromeda? Is this why everyone seems to be in perpetual search of a Twin Flame?

[First posted 10 January 2011]

Monday, February 27, 2017

Alternate Realities Revisited ~ by Paula Peterson

MODERN DAY MYSTIC: Awakening to Alternate Realities

"Reality is merely an illusion, although a very persistent one." ~Albert Einstein

"Reality is just a crutch for people who can't cope with drugs." ~ Robin Williams

Many find it difficult to believe that "ordinary" people can have mystical experiences. Just like some of you reading this, I have experienced such events ... and yet, to avoid being categorized as a "looney" I have kept much of it to myself or briefly shared a few stories with trusted listeners.

After all, super-sensitive folk who hear voices that no one else hears, see visions that no one else sees (angels, ascended masters, elves, fairies, spirits, star-people, spaceships, strange lights, etc.) and feel energy or vibrations that no one else feels are often perceived as kooks - even labeled schizophrenic - while some end up being institutionalized when talk of such topics are too openly and too often discussed in the presence of the wrong people.

As if threatened by the unknown (or sometimes even envious of the mystic), the non-experiencer will often resort to ridicule, debunking or harassment of those who are brave enough to tell their stories. Because they believed strongly enough in their experience to tell about them, the lives of some very fine and honorable folk have been severely damaged and their reputations unfairly shattered by vicious skeptics and debunkers. I personally know such individuals and have, myself, been subjected to cruel and ignorant ridicule.

Many have a personal or collective investment in keeping things the way they are. They may employ extreme methods - or engage in subtle, indirect manipulation - in order to maintain control, secure a state of comfortable existence and manage their version of reality. From individual to entire governments the agenda is the same: to oppress or eliminate whatever threatens a reality that appears to insure a sense of control and security.

It seems that the vast majority in this culture still cannot accept that there are other planes of existence not ruled by the "laws" and perceptions of this physical world nor easily and comfortably explained through use of logic. Doors flung open wide to greater enlightenment are just as quickly slammed shut when the fear of closed-mindedness reduces a mystical experience to a fabrication of an overactive imagination.

By forcing an extraordinary experience into the limiting confines of trite and easily managed explanations, one is robbed of the power of the mystical event to inspire and awaken its beholder through awe and wonder ... and a potential breakthrough to deeper unity with the divine is missed again.

This is why the urban mystic of industrialized, high-tech, First World cultures often chooses to conceal extraordinary experiences and are content to simply allow these events be known only between himself (or herself), their chosen Higher Power (God, Jesus, Great Spirit, Buddha or whomever) or a few trusted individuals. Those living in less advanced countries are fortunate in that a large segment of the population - mostly those still living close to the land and the spirit of nature - still accepts the supernatural, mystical and unexplained phenomena as another part of life - and an important one. In those cultures, the mystic in the form of shaman, currandero, healer, sage, medicine man, etc., is a respected member of society.

Thankfully, the more advanced societies - like America - are witnessing increasing numbers of folks who do believe - or want to believe - even if they themselves don't have these experiences. Perhaps this is true because the hopes and dreams that we were raised upon - which emphasized accumulation of possessions; personal fulfilment and accomplishment through monetary gain; cultivating intellectual and academic status; and a myriad of other material pursuits - has finally reached the saturation point for many of us: we have found that in striving for the accoutrements of a mundane, material world that we have become "spiritually bankrupt" and sadly lacking in miracles and deep soul fulfilment.

Seeking deeper, more meaningful experiences that unite us with a Higher Power through re-uniting with the inner, mystical-self is becoming the new adventure. The inward journey abounds with discoveries just as rich and juicy - even more so - than any experience of the external world.

And so it serves us greatly to embrace stories of mystery and awe ... not because we're gullible ... but because such stories have the power to instil wonder and awe and bring our over-busy, chattering, analytical minds to a screeching halt - which can then give way to a quieter but more compelling voice that whispers, "What if it's true?"

What if it really IS true .... then what? Will our world seem less predictable? Will we feel less in control of our reality? Will we have to question our beliefs and all the things we were taught while growing up? Will we feel less secure with ourselves if the mysteries of the unknown remain unexplainable? Will it really be all that bad for us if we are simply left with a wondrous feeling of awe in the wake of a mystical experience?

What if we really are being visited by advanced civilizations from other worlds that wish us no harm? What if these advanced civilizations use telepathy to communicate instead of the spoken word? What if some of these same visitors recognize the benign and peaceful intelligence of dolphins and choose to hide their ships in the quiet depths of the ocean?

What if these advanced civilizations were simply observing while waiting for earthlings to stop being so disrespectful and hurtful towards each other, the animals, the forests, the land and all living things? What if they were waiting for us humans to stop fighting so much before revealing more of themselves to us?

What if visitors from other worlds are to play a significant role in helping to raise the consciousness of humankind and lead us into a more peaceful, productive and fulfilling future? Its entirely possible when we are willing to think "outside the box" of the old paradigm.

Of course, I could go on and on with the questions ... its fun to contemplate the possibilities. Posing such questions is also another way to trigger a shift consciousness since a deeper part of our awareness will try to rise to the surface in the attempt to answer: not with the usual answer that comes from beliefs taught by a disbelieving society - but an answer that comes from an ancient, abysmal and long forgotten aspect of ourself that "knows."

The unexplainable and the mystical happens everyday - in small or large ways - in some area of the world. We may call these events miracles, super-natural or extraordinary (extra-ordinary!). Or we may simply accept them as another part of life that is just as real and significant as any other part of life.

After all ... we can order plain, ordinary pizza or we can order a cosmic pizza with an extraordinary array of tasty items - both known and unknown! Maybe we'll suffer momentary mystical "indigestion" as the mix clashes: the familiar with the mysterious. But it is guaranteed that the first burst of amazement will remain in our memories forever as a moving experience that left us changed ... to become an experience we can draw from for inspiration and wonder forever after.

Paula Peterson

Spirit Grove by JJ Leduc

[First posted 1/11/11 @ 11:11PM, reposted 10 May 2014 & 27 March 2016]