Today, Rohana and I received an invitation to the wedding of one of our bridesmaids of 50 years ago. Her father, Lambert, was my best man: someone of great artistic talent, with a tempestuous character to go with it, who set high standards in his work. We became close friends when I was in my early twenties, although the relationship began with a powerful impulse to punch him on the nose. We were able to say things to each other which we could not to anyone else.
After a very stressful five years trying to put into effect his receiving to design and build an International Subud Centre, he had a stroke and died. Two years later I had an experience while I was working in Saudi Arabia.
I had not opened myself to my latihan for about two weeks and one night I dreamt that I was dead. Not nice dead. Horrible dead! Nothing alive in me. Hell really. I woke up and straight away went into latihan. At such times it goes deeper than usual to find my own self again. Hooray! 'I’ was alive again, and straight away I lay down on the couch and went into a deep sleep.
There I had a real dream. I was sitting, chatting and laughing with Lambert. We felt really close as brothers, and there came a point when I said to Lambert, "This is strange, you and I talking together like this, because you died two years ago." At this somewhat impertinent comment he vanished, and I woke up feeling the hair on the back of my neck and a slight shiver in my body.
The Koran mentions that the life of the soul can be compared to a long journey of a caravan that crosses a vast desert, and that our life on this Earth is like a night's stopover in an oasis. Seeing the graves of many old friends and family this gives me comfort as I sense the truth of it, particularly as I become more conscious of all my own failings.
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My non-Subud homoeopath in Sydney told me that healing spirits such as doctors and nurses on the other side come to him and move his hands about firmly now that he also does body work. I was delighted for him.
One day I went for treatment for my back, and after the session finished he told me that he’d been surprised to see his deceased mother whoosh in and when he’d said "Hello, Mum, what are you doing here?" she told him that she was there to speak to me. Well! I'm intuitive, but the departed could be tapping me on the shoulder and I wouldn’t have a clue! Why talk to me?
I thought it over on the way home in the train and contacted him. "What did your Mother want to speak to me about?" I asked.
"Oh, she said she wanted to ask you about Esalazarus - I wrote it down intending to Google it later," he rolled the two names together like one long foreign word.
"Esa is Jesus,” I explained, “Did I know about Jesus and Lazarus? Did I tell her anything?"
"Oh yes, you told her all about it"
To say I was lost for words is an understatement. I’ve read the Gnostic Gospels, but am not au fait with The Bible. Fancy my Inner Self giving out information like a Citizen’s Advice Bureau!
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I was heartbroken when my 26 year old non-Subud friend committed suicide. The last time we’d spoken I’d wanted so much to give him a hug, but for some reason didn’t.
Then one night I had an out-of-body experience. My soul went to where he was. It was reddish and many people were there. A couple that had died the same night he did was there too - a young man who, in a jealous rage, had shot his girlfriend and then himself, not far from where I lived. They were
with him, but not really. He had a spirit guide, an old lady with long grey
hair. Then he saw me and turned into an older man, then back to his younger self. I could see that there was no age in this place, just souls who had lost
their way. I asked his forgiveness and then he said “Don’t give up on the next one,” and I said there was no-one else in my life. Then he said “There will be.” What a gift he gave me that night. We embraced and in a split second he was torn away from me. Like something out of a movie. We were ripped apart, and I knew that was the end of our brief encounter, but at least I gave him that hug I had wanted to give him the last time we spoke.
I do look forward to the possibility of our paths crossing again some day; at least I am praying so…perhaps in God’s vast, forgiving Heaven.
(This contributor is a professional writer/actor/singer; her website is at www.soulucetfilms.vpweb.com.)
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The longer I live the more I am convinced that there is this invisible world and that sometimes we are permitted to have a glimpse while we live in the visible world. My maternal grandma used to tell her grandchildren about seeing visions and of course we thought she was coo coo! That is the way children think, but as we grow up often life will show us the truth. After I joined Subud and received the latihan I gradually changed my view with good reason.
Attending the World Congress at Wisma Subud and meeting with other Subud brothers and sisters, for example, certainly left its mark.
An older Subud brother from San Fransisco shared the same hut. One evening, when we had time after dinner, we were shooting the breeze and getting to know each other, and he told me he worked at the SF city mortuary. Gradually, he told about some encounters of a different kind while working there, how he would see people hanging around the building when he worked late and alone. We swapped stories as the evening progressed and I shared a few of my own encounters, although they were nothing like the ones he had experienced much of the time when he was at work. It was commonplace for him to see these ghostly people, both newcomers and older ones. Some of the old ones were chained and walked around like zombies, and he speculated that they came from the Spanish era. What was most amazing was that he took all this in stride and did not show any fear or nervousness about these encounters, while my hair stood up straight just listening to him.
He told Bapak about his strange encounters in the morgue, and Bapak had advised him to be aware of the latihan all the time he worked there, adding that, through his latihan, he may be able to help some of those souls that were hanging around there.
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One day I was moved to lie down and to do the latihan. With it came clear consciousness and a blissful feeling. I was inwardly separated - an observer. As the feeling and the separation intensified, my self was suddenly beside me. He was a very large figure, several times life size, towering over me to the left and above. He looked down on me, knowingly, as apparently my self had always done. I looked up at him in awe. No recognition was necessary, as it was me, but I was amazed. I was wonderful to meet him. There was so much more to him than I. He was more real than I. Being me, he knew all about me and was constantly aware of what I was doing. When moments later he was gone, I was left thrilled with the wonder of the experience. My reaction was to want to find his plane of consciousness, but gradually I had to accept that I could not. The important thing was that I was changed by the experience. I was reassured of a substantial and eternal dimension to my existence, even if I was usually cut off from it.
(From: A Life In Subud by Raymond van Sommers, published by Dawn Books Australia, 2003/4, page 147)