Written by Johanes Koraag
Movement of Nature
Living creatures are unique because signs of life can be seen from their movements. We are moving at all times. The act of changing physical position involves movements that can be seen. Even when our bodies are at rest, there are still movements within us that are imperceptible. Our heart pumps, our blood flows, and air continues to flow in and out of our lungs.
But not only living things move. Whether we realize it or not, philosophically speaking, together with the nature in which we live, we never exist in a static state. We are in fact moving along with the planet which is rotating at high speed. The Earth rotates on its own axis once every 24 hours. The Earth has a circumference of 40,070 km, so when we divide the distance by time, we find that the Earth rotates at a speed of 1,670 km/hour. As we are moving along with the spinning Earth, we are also moving along with the Earth around the Sun at a speed of about 110,000 km/hour. This fantastic speed is the result of dividing the distance the Earth travels around the Sun by the length of time it takes the Earth to complete one revolution, which is about 365 days. The solar system, including the Sun and all celestial bodies orbiting it, is also in motion, orbiting around the center of the galaxy. Scientists have determined that the solar system orbits the center of the Milky Way galaxy at about 720,000 km/hour, moving across the universe. This all proves that the universe and living creatures in it continue to move constantly without being physically aware of it. Humans and the universe always move in the gentlest movements up to high speed movements without realizing it, and everything happens in harmony.
Amerta Movement: Moving in Awareness
The first Wednesday forum of the semester featured Emma Meehan, an associate professor in Dance at the center for Dance Research Coventry University, UK. In collaboration with CRCS, UGM and Dharma Nature Time, she has conducted research that explores how the practice of the Amerta Movement initiated by Javanese movement artist Suprapto Suryodarmo since the 1970s supports dialogue between various ethnic and religious communities in Indonesia. Meehan wanted to explore the potential contribution of the field of dance studies to global religious and cross-cultural studies. She wanted to share how her bodily experiences and creative responses have given new insights into the investigation of dialogue through Gerakan Amerta.
The Amerta Movement is the practice of Suprapto Suryodarmo, a Javanese artist who decided to understand the world through movement rather than from stasis, or, as he initially described it, ‘from the walking Buddha, not from the sitting Buddha’. As well as being influenced by Buddhism, the development of the Amerta Movement also drew influence from the practice of Sumarah, a traditional Javanese meditation practice of ‘letting go’ or surrendering. Through the Amerta Movement, Suprapto developed his approach to the movement as a living practice in dialogue with these two traditions. The Amerta Movement bases its practice on the basic movements of everyday life: walking, sitting, standing, crawling, and lying down, as well as the transitions between them, starting from observing children at play. The practice is also based on movement in nature and the study of embodied movement from the play of moving elements and natural laws.
In the Buddha’s teaching, mind consciousness must rely on the body. It cannot manifest itself without the body. And the body cannot manifest itself without consciousness. The Amerta Movement teaches its practitioners to start their movements with an awareness of their body and fully accept the presence of the body as part of an environment. After that, it continues to the awareness of the surrounding environment that is perceived with the five human senses, this is to connect oneself with the environment, including the people around.
Movement as a Dialogue Medium
In the Amerta Movement, participants are guided to become aware of cultural specificities in their movement patterns and engage in an embodied and involved dialogue of understanding cultural differences through movement, because bodily movements are the most basic ways humans communicate, which can be understood by people from various nations.
Before humans began to develop symbols used to communicate, known as language, movement was the earliest communication tool used by humans to interact with each other. The Amerta Movement offers an approach to dialogue across different cultures and religions through movements that are believed to unite people from various backgrounds, so that humanity can return to being a big family that moves together in harmony towards a better future.