Silat Esoteric Spiritual Core
No system of traditional Silat is complete without strong spiritual training. Known as “Kebatinin” or “Llmu,” it is considered very important so that the student may be prepared for the violence and consequences of real combat. Some confuse the spiritual aspect of Silat with the common spectacle of street magicians as evidence of spiritual power and mastery.
These spectacle include stunts such as eating razor blades and crushed glass, putting needles through different parts of the body, lying on beads of nails, etc., and are used to impress the uneducated and to justify the art’s potency.
However, true spiritual training is difficult work on the inner self, it is the search for those truths which lead to humility and a reverence for life. There is no room for mysterious tricks and mystical illusions in real Silat. If a student learns to depend on mysticism he doesn’t understand, then he learns to depend on something outside himself, and to depend on something outside of himself is to weaken his own nature.
True spiritual Silat strengthens the individual will and knowledge so he can rely on himself. Emphasis on mystification usually indicates the absence of true knowledge and understanding. As Pendekar Paul Dethouars, of the Serak system says, “The truth of combat is hard enough to understand, so why mystify and create more obstacles to it?”
One aspect that is surrounded with the mystical is the use of amulets, prayers and rituals designed to induce invulnerability and protection for the student should he find himself in danger and be forced to use his skills.
These methods are unique to each teacher and style of Silat, and are private and never exposed publicly. Amulets and prayers in all the styles have a common function of a physical reminder of the student’s connection to the real mystery, the Creator, the Infinite, the Cosmos.
This physical reminder can also help reinforce the particular belief system he has been taught. For example, if he is wearing an amulet of tiger’s stone, or the tooth of a tiger, then that is a physical reminder that when he uses his Silat he becomes like a tiger in his attitude and takes on the fighting attributes of a tiger. Tenacity, great courage, daring ferocity becomes his mental state.
All methods of Silat involve the understanding of a particular belief system, particular to the style and the master teaching that style. The belief system may be based on the teacher’s own religious background and he may use that as a basis for his philosophical teachings, morality and ethics, along with his personal experiences of life. If the teacher’s religious background is Hindu, like many teachers on the island of Bali in Indonesia, then the philosophy and spirituality of his system will reflect that religious view.
Many Silat teachers are Muslim, so their spiritual system reflects the tenets of Islam. More recently, with the arrival of Europeans in Southeast Asia, some teachers have embraced Christianity, so their philosophical and spiritual teaching reflect Christian ideals. This is very common among the Filipino Escrimadors of the central and northern Philippines where Catholicism is very strong. Some teachers will not accept a student into the higher echelons of their spiritual teachings unless the student embrace his teacher’s religion.
Other Silat masters are more tolerant and liberal using other criteria to judge a student’s character. The end result of all systems regardless of religious orientation is a belief system for the student, that produces the heart of courage, confidence, and the will to fight on the side of truth and justice. This is a tremendous base and back up for the Fighting techniques he has learned.
Not all of the philosophical teachings of Silat systems is based on a particular religious point of view. The physical techniques of Silat also provide for the study of the esoteric philosophy of Silat. Much of the physical truth of traditional Silat leads to the development of a philosophy of life. The parallels between the physical concepts and the mental-spiritual concepts are important for the study of life.
Some examples of this would be that just as the student works hard to refine his physical technique, so he works hard to purify his character strengths and weaknesses, his relationships with others and his relationship to the Creator.
Just as he devotes himself to the study of the locks, take downs, sweeps, and weapons, so he devotes himself to the review and examination of his own life, i.e., in all areas; mental, spiritual, career, financial, social, family, physical and spiritual. The old timers say they can tell a lot about a person just by how he practices his Silat. If he hurries through his solo exercises all the time, then he is probably going to hurry through his work in life, leading to sloppiness and poor results.
The teachers of traditional Silat are ever vigilant! Every detail is important! Every effort is a step forward! When a sufficient number of steps have been taken, success or achievement is the result. The student may have finished the curriculum and may have known it for a long time, but only when he begins to THINK, LIVE, and above all FEEL, that which is taught him, then and only then will he KNOW the real contents of the lessons he has been taught even though he may have physically and intellectually known the facts of the systems for years.
The lessons and knowledge is of value only when it is actually applied. As progress and development proceed, the student reaches down within himself and gradually comes into consciousness of this understanding. Learning the traditional Silat, is never easy, if it was it couldn’t be worthwhile. Just as in life, things that one had to work very hard for are valued and appreciated. Things that come easy are never valued for long.
There is an old saying among Silat people that goes, “You do not choose Silat, Silat chooses you!” By the nature of the difficult work necessary to master the art, the art itself selects its worthy initiates and ultimately transforms them.You might also like: