During Congress a Subud brother had died in hospital and his ex-wife asked if we could do a latihan for him. So we did; there were six of us and the latihan only lasted for about ten minutes. We felt in a wonderful state of bliss and inner peace during those ten minutes, surrounded by God's Love. When we sat quietly afterwards I felt as if I had just returned to earth from a short trip to Heaven. We all felt like this. During the eight days of Congress I probably must have done about ten hours of latihan all together but I would have happily swapped them all for those ten minutes!
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Two extracts from The Dawning
During World War II, F had been a forward observer for an American artillery unit on the drive north through Italy. His job was to go ahead of the main force, spot enemy concentrations and radio back their position so that the heavy guns could zero in on their targets. Climbing alone through a mountain pass one day F rounded a bend in the path to find himself face to face with a solitary German soldier, probably engaged upon the same sort of mission. It was a case of kill or be killed, and a hand-to-hand fight between the two combatants was unavoidable. F triumphed, but at a psychological cost that one can scarcely imagine, and the horrific memory of this fight to the death haunted him from that day on.
At his Subud opening in Boston, Massachusetts, decades later, F found himself reliving the entire experience, but this time both he and his opponent were bathed in sheets of silver rain that transformed both of them. Thereafter, the traumatic memory of the event was entirely healed within him.
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The second incident concerns W, whose opening I witnessed in southern New Mexico where Maria and I started several new Subud groups in the early 1990s. W’s story is a beautiful illustration of the truth of what Bapak said about the latihan also lifting up and benefiting both our forebears and our descendants.
At this first latihan, Walter stood stock still throughout the entire half hour, seemingly experiencing nothing. After the latihan, he left immediately, clearly not wishing to talk. A week later, during our next visit just this side of the Mexican border, W took me aside and asked, “Would you like to know what happened during my opening?”
“The first thing you have to know is that my dad and I had had a falling-out, so that when he died about a year ago we hadn’t spoken for some time. I felt real bad about this.
“Then, six months ago, my son was killed in a road accident and the same thing had happened. We had had a disagreement and hadn’t spoken for a long time. You can imagine how I felt about all this.
“During my opening, though, I saw Dad sitting in a chair with my son standing beside him. Both of them were smiling and holding out their arms to me, and I just knew that everything was okay between us.”
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In the late fifties, Mas Prio - one of Bapak’s early helper-ambassadors to the West - talked extensively on the subject of ancestors, how much attention the Indonesians paid to pleasing them and how often they would give salamatans (social get-together) on their behalf.
Years later, Bapak commented on this subject to our dear brother RJ while he was going through a very difficult time in life and still living in Sri Lanka. These are Bapak's exact words, "Subud is very difficult because we not only have to raise ourselves, but also our ancestors for seven generations before us." During this conversation, he also said that our latihan will touch those who come after us for seven generations and that it is very likely that one of our ancestors had already received the grace/latihan and so paved the way for us to receive the latihan.
I was very sure that it must have happened in my case through my maternal side as all my relatives on that side were very gentle and religious people. Many years later I tested about this and to my surprise received with other helpers that the connection came from my father’s side. Such is the mystery of the Grace of God.
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Two meetings with my father
Around 1980, twelve years after the death of my father, and about six years after I had been opened in Subud, I had the following experience. Roughly once every two months my telephone would ring at four o’clock in the morning. This lasted for approximately a year. Each time I was just about to get out of bed to pick it up it would go silent. I have to say that I was never quite sure whether the telephone had really rung or whether I had dreamed it.
Then, one night, I found myself dreaming that I was flying through a dark space. I was not alone, I could feel that there was someone flying behind me who guided me in the right direction. Somehow I wasn’t able to look behind me to see who it was and I also had the feeling that I wasn’t supposed to. I remember thinking something like “this is strange, I am not sure if I like this.”
After a while I saw a little light in the distance and gradually a landscape emerged below me. What I saw was flat, barren land near a sea. It was a dark night and the weather was stormy, the whole feeling of the place was miserable, lonely and depressing. As I got closer it became clear that the little light came from a telephone box. In it was my father, he wore the same black suit in which he had been buried and he looked exactly the same as around the time of his death. He stepped out of the telephone box because he had noticed me. By this time, I had stopped flying and was hovering about three yards above him at an angle. He looked slightly bemused to see me. Then he said to me: ”I would like you to pass on a message to your mother. Please ask her to forgive me.” Then he said: “Has she sold the car yet?”
The next thing I knew was that I had woken up and was lying in my bed. I looked at the alarm clock and it was four o’clock in the morning. After this experience the four o’clock phone calls ceased.
I told my mother about the experience and conveyed the two messages to her. My mother is a practicing Christian and interested in spiritual experiences; she is not in Subud though. I told her that I could understand the first message but not the second one. During his life my father had never been able to overcome the death of his mother when he was a child. This experience had left him with a deep sadness and loneliness that later turned him into a workaholic and an alcoholic. Although a quiet and peaceful man, his alcoholism had caused suffering to my mother.
My mother, however, clearly understood both messages. She told me that around the time of my father’s death he had asked her to forgive him but she had told him that she couldn’t. Also she said that during that time my father owned a large American car that he had wanted to sell, but he hadn’t been able to get a good price for it. Apparently, this had been on his mind a lot.
It was obvious to me that twelve years after my father’s death he hadn’t been able to move on and was still trapped in the thoughts and emotions he’d had around the time of his death. He seemed to be confused and not to have realised that he was dead. I also believe that the desolate landscape that he was in was a reflection of his inner state. He had wanted to contact me and the only way he knew was by “phoning” me.
About four years later I had another experience. Again, in a dream, I found myself flying through a dark space. After a while I saw a landscape appearing below me. It was a lush forest full of beautiful trees. It was morning and the sun was shining. The impression was that of late spring. I stopped above a clearing where I saw an old-fashioned sawmill near a small waterfall.
There I saw my father again. This time he looked about ten years younger. He wore light coloured carpenter-type clothes and was working with wood in some manner. He looked cleaner, happier and less burdened than when I’d seen him four years before. The feeling in this place was one of healing and nurturing and very much of a “new beginning”. Again I was hovering about three yards above him at an angle and he gave me the same bemused look as in the first experience. That was all. I woke up and, as usual, it was 4 am.
I assume that I had been given these experiences to show me what effect my latihan was having on my father and that thanks to me he was able to progress. Also, perhaps, it was a reminder to me never to neglect the latihan. Needless to say that I feel incredibly grateful to Almighty God for this.
Many years later, when I was living in Australia, I unexpectedly felt the urge to make furniture out of wood. I’ve always been a bit of a handyman but I’d never made furniture before. I decided to make all the furniture for my son’s bedroom. This took several months and I really enjoyed it. All the time I had this subtle and slightly mysterious feeling that I was connected to something - as if something else was taking place at the same time on a different level. There was something clean and pure about making this furniture as well.
One day I mentioned this furniture project to my mother. Her reaction surprised me. She told me that my father, when he was young and before he had become a businessman, had loved making wooden furniture and that this had always made him happy. I hadn’t known this. I’ve since heard of another Subud member who unexpectedly found himself doing something that a deceased relative really liked doing and had been good at. Ibu Sumari had told his mother that this meant that this relative was “doing latihan in him.”
During a recent kejiwaan day we tested with a small group of men, what the state of our fathers was before we were opened, after 5, 10, 20 and 30 years and how it is now. Bapak had done this testing in the past.
We could all feel the enormous benefit of our latihan to our fathers - how they’d progressed as we’d progressed. We felt deeply touched by this experience.
When we tested the effect after 30 years I really had the feeling that my father had been opened and was doing latihan. When we were sharing our receivings I thought I’d better keep this to myself because it might sound a bit pretentious. To my surprise though, several of the other men had had the same experience. They too had felt that their fathers were doing the latihan!
These experiences with my father have made me more aware of the fact that we are not only doing latihan for ourselves but that our ancestors are very much dependent on our spiritual progress as well.
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I was in latihan, but somehow standing on a rocky hill top along with many others standing on "their" hill tops as well, facing the same way, waiting for the sun to come up. Some I knew, but hundreds of others I didn't. We were all wearing robes of two colors mainly, mine were white and gold. There were thousands of angels floating around us in the air, and we all took turns and sang our own songs, like we sing in the latihan, one after another. When someone sang his/her song, angels came up to that person and did some kind of a ritual. Like with me, they have exchanged my flesh and blood heart for a diamond or crystal one and gave me a crown also made of crystal or diamond. They did the same thing to all of us there. The best part for me was that underneath me, in a tiny cave, my one year old daughter was asleep, also wearing a robe - hers was dark purple and pale lilac; the colours were meaningful. It was a lovely and grand latihan.
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Back in the seventies, a young student trying to make extra cash by doing market research rang at the door of the home of a Subud family. The woman of the house opened the door and after he'd explained what he was doing she let him in. They sat down and he went ahead with the questionnaire. After a while the Subud sister started to feel a bit uncomfortable because the student's attention seemed to be kept being drawn by something above her head and he also kept looking around the sitting room. In the end she asked if there was anything the matter. "Well", he replied, "There is this beautiful blue light around you and it's also in the room. I just wonder what it is?" (Later he explained that he'd had spiritual experiences since he had been a child and that he sometimes would see things that most of us can't.)
The Subud sister then told him that perhaps this had to do with her and her husband being Subud members, and she briefly explained to him what Subud was. He was very impressed and immediately decided that he wanted to be opened as soon as possible. She then explained to him where the Subud house was, to which he responded, "Aah, it's that large white building near the lake, is it? I often drive passed it on my way to university and I've always wondered about the meaning of that big ray of blue light that comes from the sky and goes into the roof!" He was opened three months later.
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Here are some of the things that I remember about the unusual young man who came into Subud because he saw blue light around a Subud sister and her house. H had had spiritual experiences ever since he was a child, being able to see things that most of us can't see. Shortly after he was opened he showed signs of crisis: he had a whole series of experiences and he also became extremely sensitive to those around him. After four years of struggling with balancing the spiritual and the worldly side in him he decided that he had to give up on the latihan because he'd concluded that for someone like him, who had such a strongly developed spiritual side, it was too much, and he found that he couldn't concentrate on his studies enough. From then onwards H distanced himself from the more spiritual side of life and focused completely on his career, which took off like a rocket. He developed several successful computer programmes, became the youngest IBM manager in Europe and is currently head of IT at a large government institution in Holland. Some Subud members are still in touch with him and it seems that he still deeply respects the latihan and the Subud Brotherhood.
H's opening had been very powerful, so much so that one experienced older helper said that it was one of the strongest openings he'd ever witnessed, and H himself was deeply touched by it. Right from the beginning he was very impressed by the latihan. He told us once that he could see, when the group was doing latihan, that a light would spread from the Subud Hall all over Rotterdam. However much he was impressed by the latihan, he wasn't – unfortunately – very impressed with most of us Subudmembers. He couldn't understand why people who'd been given this tremendous gift weren't more spiritually developed, and were still so obviously, to him, influenced by the lower forces.
This sensitive brother seemed to be able to see and feel what was going on in people. He had the habit, whilst in conversation with you, of looking just above your head, watching what he saw there rather than listening to the words you spoke. I remember the, in retrospect, rather hilarious occasion of his first visit and introduction to the Rotterdam Subud group, not long before his opening. Rumour had spread about his ability to see through people. We were all sitting in a large circle in the main sitting room after latihan when H came in and was introduced. He sat down and whilst sipping on his cup of tea looked slowly around the circle, gazing briefly above the head of each one of us. I don't think I've ever seen a group of people looking more uncomfortable!
H. seemed to be very aware of the different forces in himself and others and over the years he'd developed a parallel system to the Javanese material/vegetable/animal/human forces system that Bapak used. He'd made codes using combinations of letters and numbers to name these forces, and I remember him mentioning "SS1234" regularly as a particular force present in people. He had a chart on one of the walls of his flat on which he'd written all these codes in different colours and with lines connecting them to each other. When he learned about the life force structure that we in Subud are familiar with, he immediately recognized it as superior to the system he used and started to replace his codes with "material-animal", "material-human", etc.
One of the things H taught us was how careful we have to be with negative feelings. He was very sensitive by nature and became even more so after being opened. It was obvious that he experienced the feelings of those around him in a different way than most of us. To him, it was if feelings were pretty solid forces that were thrown around all the time. Once, I saw him cringe when someone exhibited a rather arrogant attitude towards him. He reacted as if he’d been stabbed by a knife and was quite upset for a while. On the other hand, he would praise someone who was sending out a positive feeling and would say things like, "That's a beautiful feeling, that's really nice!" I have to add here that H, like all of us, most certainly also had his shortcomings and was by no means perfect. He himself, though, would have been the first one to admit this.
I have many fond memories of this brother and I am grateful for the things he taught me. I hope one day our paths will cross again and I look forward to that.
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I can really relate to what H said about the dangers of putting out negative feelings, feeling as though someone had stabbed him with a knife. My own experiences bear this out. For example:
1. We were testing for a new chairman, then asking the helpers what they received. I defered to the other helpers as I suffered deeply from my receiving. Perhaps I was unable to speak. Or more likely I could not give an answer which came out gently enough. Because of intense pressure from the members and helpers I made a stab at it. What I said was something like "my receiving is a no because of a disturbance within M". At this center we had a man and his wife who were the original helpers from decades before and they could put out very angry feelings. For some reason many members considered them as friends and followed them as Subud mentors. Partly because of their strong following, the group was about ready to lynch me. At any rate the feelings from the testing as well as the hate from the two helpers and their mentored friends were really hard to bear.
2. Another situation was when this helper pair's daughter caught up to me at the house exit and started ripping into me about something I didn't understand She did this with great anger just like her parents. This hate went in me so deeply that it stuck. I think it went in deeper than my level of worship, as I was led to worship deeper. Her personality was now the content of my feelings. To me this was totally unsatisfactory. I continued to worship deeper and deeper as the weeks went by until at three weeks my worship was deeper than her feelings. This was three weeks where my total attention was on deepening my worship.
3. In another Subud house I attended latihan prior to driving to Oregon, a seven hundred mile trip on a Friday night. All through the latihan I felt terrible suffering, knowing it came from another member, but not knowing who. After latihan the helpers wanted to do some testing and insisted I stay. We talked briefly before the testing. I told them that some man had a disturbance in his feelings. At that, the man spoke up. I needed a cleansing but the helpers wanted to help the one with disturbance and I wanted to leave as soon as possible. Eventually, everything was concluded and I left.
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