Religious Harmony in Kotesan, Prambanan Subdistrict, Klaten

Title : Religious Harmony in Kotesan, Prambanan Subdistrict, Klaten: A Study of Interreligious Dialogue in Buddhist Perspective
Author : Heriyah (CRCS, 2005)
Keywords : Religious plurality, Common Ground, dan sincretism
Religious plurality is an indisputable depiction of Indonesian people. To maintain a kind of interreligious dialogue Indonesian people need a comon ground or common sense functioned as a precondition to bring together any differences as well as to create interreligious dialouge. We also used to find inclusive, exclusive, and even pluralistic characters highlighted by those people who get involve in it. All religions has their own concept of Transcendent (the Ultimate Reality), the different ways they see the reality of life, but share the similar end: expecting the happiness. Interreligious dialogue takes place in daily theological, philosophical, and practical lives. In this context, daily life dialogue is far more important in order to create the harmony among religious people. All religions supposedly have particular teachings of compassion, tolerance, help and respect of each other by which they can create a kind of mutual dialogue and harmony among religious people within a multicultural and multireligious community.

Kotesan village is one of multireligious and multicultural communities in Indonesia. There we can find four great religions: Buddha, Hindu, Christianity, and Islam, and one school of belief called the Saptha Dharma. After all, Kotesan people are mostly affected by the tradition of Hinduism and Buddhism as well. A dialectic process between religion and local culture becomes so far a means for dialogue as well as creating the harmony among Kotesan religious people, including the Buddhists. Buddhism teaches not only the doctrines of compassion (metta) and liberation from craving (vimutti), but also meditation practice to eliminate the selfish ego (anatta). All of these teachings have long become Kotesan Buddhists’ worldview and the way they behave in daily life. In addition, the way Kotesan Buddhists deal with daily life conflict, including religious conflict, is based on the law of karma, which in turn leads to Kotesan nonviolent daily life. Nevertheless, the practices of Buddhist’s syncretism, acceptance, adaptation, and response to local culture contribute significantly to Kotesan pluralistic and harmonious life. Religious and local sacred rites (namely slametan) have opened social rooms for interreligious dialogue as a means of creating the harmony of religious people.

The data collecting process in this field research is carried out in two steps: first, direct observation; and second, interpreting the information obtained from key sources through in-depth interview. In addition to this kind of data, much secondary information from any literatures, documents, articles, media news, which pertaining to the Buddhist practice are also employed in order to get the thorough depiction as well as the appropriate understanding of the subject being studied. By this method, the study finds that Buddhists’ openness to others and local culture, in my point of view, could be a representation of religious harmony in Indonesia which is characterized by the strength of ancient culture as a model of interreligious dialogue in Indonesia.

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