Laura Romano — Mai 12, 2021

Cocok is an Indonesian word of Javanese origins. If you look it up in the dictionary, it has many meanings indeed.1 It means fitting, suitable, just right, similar, identical, in accord, compatible; to agree, tally, jibe, correct, right, precise, exact, fitting, to appeal strongly, to be to one’s taste, suit. The interesting aspect of this word is the way it is used by the Indonesian people in their daily lives.

Basically, cocok is used instead of good or bad, right or wrong. In other words, an Indonesian person will always tend not to say »right« or »good,« but to use the word »cocok« (suitable) because of the deep belief that something that is good for one person at a particular time can very well be bad for another, and something that is right in a certain culture or tradition can be considered wrong in another place. The word suggests avoiding the dualistic juxtaposition between right or wrong, good or bad, rational and irrational, because on a macrocosmic level, everything has its place.

From a more spiritual and cosmological point of view, the use and choice of the word cocok, while not conscious, is part of a different level of awareness where we learn and practice avoiding judgments, not so much because judging is wrong or bad in itself, but more because »how do I know?« And indeed we know little about the reasons, the motivations, the causes that are behind a certain way of being, acting, feeling, or thinking of someone. We don’t know, because we see very little of the full picture.

To sum it up and put it simply, we may say that this word can apply to almost anything: a food can be cocok or not, so could a hat, a place, a weather, a color, a person, an opinion, an idea, a plan, a house, a husband, or a wife. To develop a higher and heightened awareness, cocok is indeed a precious word, and it would be good to use it as often as possible as an alternative to right and wrong. Using it gets us beyond only and always thinking and behaving according to our concepts and judgments separate

from the other, and rather learning and practicing being open to the idea that, as an old Javanese saying goes, »That which is good is not necessarily right; that which is right is not necessarily true; that which is true is not necessarily appropriate; that which is appropriate is not necessarily real.«

A word like this could help bring us toward peace, tolerance, acceptance, and yes, cocok would be very cocok in these times of conflict and confusion.

  1. Cocok (1) similar, identical, in accord, compatible; to agree, tally, jibe. Keterangan Pemerintah – dengan keadaan, yang sebenarnya. The government’s Statement (of Policy) is in accord with the real situation. Pendapat saudara – dengan pendapat saya. Your opinion is similar to mine. (2) correct, right, precise, exact, fitting. Arloji saya tidak–. My watch doesn’t keep good time. (3) to appeal strongly to, be to one’s taste, suit. Kalau –, boléh anda beli. If you like it, you can buy it. (4) to be effective, have an effect, produce the desired results (as of medicine, etc.). Obat ini sudah diminumnya, tetapi tidak –. He has already taken this medicine, but it has had no effect. (5) to agree, have an understanding between/among. Kita semua – untuk mengemuka- kan keberatan kepada yang berwajib. There is an understanding among all of us to propose the objections to the proper authorities. (6) to fit, be suited, suitable, serve/fulfill the purpose, lend itself to the purpose, go well (with s.t.). Perkataannya – de- ngan perbuatannya. His words fit his deeds. Kunci ini – dengan lemariku. This key fits my cupboard. Tanah itu – tidak untuk tanaman tembakau. The soil is not suitable for growing tobacco. Rumah ini – sekali untuk rumah makan. This house lends itself very much to a restaurant. (7) in proportion (with). Hadiah sebanyak itu sudah – dengan jasanya. Such a large gift is in proportion with his services. – dengan ukuran cita to come up to. (8) to come true. Ramalannya –. His prediction came true. (9) to get along well (of people)

    Alan M. Stevens and A. Ed. Schmidgall-Tellings Stevens: A comprehensive Indonesian-English dictionary, Athens, Ohio 2010.

Laura Romano is a teacher in the fields of languages, yoga, and meditation. She also has experience in commerce, fashion, and interior design, as well as in garden landscaping. Romano was born and raised in Italy and has a master’s degree in philosophy. Since 1979 she has been living in Solo, Central Java, Indonesia. There she got in touch with the Sumarah meditation tradition and many of its teachers. Since 1995, Romano has been teaching Sumarah meditations outside Indonesia, mainly in Europe. She published a book on the subject, Sumarah – Spiritual Wisdom from Java, which is available in English, Italian, and German.