A friend and I had a shared experience in 1986. We were driving at high speed through the countryside when a tyre blew out. He couldn't control the car which swerved from side to side out of control and in order to avoid a head-on collision with an oncoming semi-trailer, we drove over the embankment into empty space. As we hurtled through the air, we were both loudly shouting "Allah, Allah" in unison. Halfway down, the car noticeably slowed its descent and I looked at E. and said "Angels"!
Sure enough, the car gently descended after that, and we landed with a bounce well out into the fields below. I guess we had descended the equivalent of a four storey building. We were just fine . . . no shock, alert and thinking clearly.
On three wheels, we made our way out of there driving diagonally up a grassy slope until we reached the road above. Cars had pulled up, a crowd had gathered and the semi-trailer driver was pointing to the area where we took off into space. What a shock he got when our car slowly crawled out further down the road behind them! They made a big fuss of us and it was somehow joyful and moving. They didn't expect us to be alive, so perhaps the distance was greater than I remembered. (We didn't tell about the Angels).
One man kindly drove us to a small nearby town and told people about what had happened and how eerie it had been to see us appear back on the road when they thought we must be dead. He arranged for our tyre to be mended and drove us back to our car. While we waited in a coffee lounge, along came a Subud member whom E. had opened and who had drifted away. He was pleased to see us and joined us. As we parted, we promised to mail him a copy of Susila Budhi Dharma, which was what he requested.
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I was permanently disabled with post traumatic stress. I lost my ability to read and comprehend numbers for several months. Panic attacks disabled me from leaving the house or driving in cars, even as a passenger. Muscle tension led to neurological problems, fibromyalgia, degenerative spine, asthma and respiratory distress.
In summer that year (2008) Northern California, where I lived, was hit by a series of wildfires. For a month the smoke was so thick many of us could not leave our homes for other than brief periods. My body began to fail and I landed in the emergency room yet again. I have been fortunate to have good medical care but this time they were stumped. Modern science had saved my life again but I was sent home with little hope because they just could not find out the cause of my progressive collapse.
At home that night, deep in pain and anguish, and on a fair amount of medication, I struggled to find the peace of sleep. Inwardly I did not think I was going to die but my body was telling me otherwise. I just accepted where I was at and surrendered to God. Slowly the pain lifted and I felt my spirit lifted into what I can only describe as a dazzle of kindness, reflecting images of kindness received and given, so fast that it melted my pain and anguish. Beyond this I felt a powerful, magnetic like force that was drawing me into Itself.
Then I became aware of my heartbeat, with the memory of the huge force that is our destination after leaving this world. A fragment of this place came into me and into my consciousness and I instinctively felt as though this would be enough for me to continue to live on here in this world. It was not time to die.
Since then I have not returned to the hospital. I am by no means completely healthy and still hobble around with a lot of limitations. Yet I have been graced with just enough human companionship from a few friends and neighbors, some great healers in traditional western medicine and holistic therapies, the comfort of nature and a joyful companion dog. My mental functions are returning and as long as I listen to my body and rest frequently my physical pains are subsiding. As for what the future holds, I have no idea - one breath at a time, allowing life to unfold.
Such dreams/visions brought me a stable peace deep inside while my mind and body were disabled I am so thankful for them. They revealed places I had perhaps never been before.
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Sooner or later in our spiritual journey, and when we least expect it, we receive undeniable proof that the latihan can guide us in our everyday life. That first time it catches us completely by surprise and has a significant influence on the rest of our journey.
In my own case, it was about a year after I was opened that I had such an experience, and it came with witnesses and all. I used to get a ride to the main Subud centre from a brother who lived in the same town, and, to save time, I would cycle to his house from home.
This was the rainy season and, on this occasion, I got to his place early. It had started to rain and Aubrey arrived home late from work. It was his habit to pick up another Subud couple, and he asked me if I would take his car and pick up this couple while he had a quick shower and something to eat. His wife, Miriam, volunteered to come with me.
We duly picked up the other couple and by now it was raining heavily - a true tropical storm - and visibility was poor. I was driving at 20 to 25 mph as we approached this four way junction, and a double-decker bus was parked on the side and disembarking passengers. Suddenly, for no reason at all, as I was overtaking the bus, I violently applied the brakes and brought my friend’s 1948 stick-shift British car to a dead halt without stalling the engine. With one voice, Miriam, Ravindra and Venice began to ask, “Why did you.....” when a man dashed across the road right in front of us.
I found myself in a state of latihan and there was a strange silence in the car. Whether a fatal accident was avoided is speculation, but one thing is very certain: if I had not braked just when I did, five Subud members would have missed latihan that night.
Later, Ravindra asked me what made me stop the car and I had to give an honest answer. ”I have no idea,” I said, “It was as if my hands and feet took control and knew exactly what to do.” I had even shifted the gear to the neutral position!
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This experience occurred on Bapak’s birthday in Wolfsburg during the Subud World Congress in 1975.
It was a hot and sticky [thundery] day and we had just returned from a birthday celebration with Bapak at Wendhausen. There was a large freshwater lake near where we were staying and this was very inviting. Sitting at one end it seemed not too far to the other side [distances being deceptive] and I decided to swim over. The water was very cold and I made it to about half way across when I realised that I would not have enough energy to make it to the other side [too many late nights probably!]. Unfortunately there was no merit in turning back and there was no one around to alert to my difficulty, being too far from my friends on the bank. Treading water was not an option either as there was little buoyancy in the cold fresh water and I would only be wasting more precious energy. Therefore I had no option but to carry on.
About two thirds of the way across I was really reaching the limits of what I was capable of and have never before or since felt so depleted of energy. At this point I started to leave my body. This was a very real sensation but difficult to describe. Actually it was quite pleasurable but when this started to happen I was ‘told’ from within, very clearly, that I was not allowed to let it happen and that the way to prevent it was to focus my attention or awareness on the sensation or feel of the water against my skin. This very precise instruction was accompanied by a very calm or quiet feeling but I knew it was very important - presumably because it wasn’t my destiny to drown at that point! Applying this conscious focus onto the sensation of my physical body did indeed stop the occurrence of disassociation and also at that point I seemed to receive a little more energy. The last part of the distance was an enormous effort, and in particular the effort to be present in my body.
I made it and the experience showed me that we have an understanding and guidance within us which can [and does] look over us and protect us, sometimes in very practical ways!
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About a year ago I went into hospital for a simple procedure, a colonoscopy. When I got there, after doing the fasting and drinking of copious amounts of fluid, I was feeling a little faint. They checked my blood pressure which was low, but went ahead with the procedure anyway. I awoke feeling very floaty. My heart was fibrillating: beating really fast, very faint and erratic. My blood pressure was extremely low and fluctuating.
I closed my eyes and felt myself leave my body. I was in space. It was vast open space like a clear, soft blue sky. There was a sun. It was not our sun; it was the most exquisite sun - impossible to adequately describe. Prismatic. Soft. Glowing. But the most beautiful part was that it radiated a love so divine that I bathed in it and felt it encompass me.
After a while I turned my head. Behind me was the earth. It was quite a large ball, but obviously at a distance. What I saw was the energy of earth rather than how it looks from space. Instead, I saw dense grey shapes of the weight of suffering and the material nature of the world.
I looked back at the sun.
The emanating love of the sun told me, or I understood, or was given to understand, that when we die we drop off our worldly sufferings and dualities and meet this "Love" with our own inner nature of "love". I could really feel the process of dying from our bodies, as a journey from the earth's atmosphere while leaving our personalities until what was left was that spark of our soul self as it was pulled up and into the sun where, while remaining intact, it merged with this great loving Oneness.
I could really feel the truth of all this and I felt myself drawn to merge with this Sun that was Divine Love. But I was not allowed to go there, and, as I was sent back, I was told I could experience this sun on earth: that I could have the sun within me and through me on earth while alive (as, I believe, we all can). I understood that the knack is to be love/be the light. Then it is like the tree that has fruit and can nourish others who come and pluck the fruit, or the light that shines in the dark.
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I read the Bapak quote below sometime after the following experience, and it rang a big bell with me. It happened during a general testing session in the week after we had just finished doing a full Lenten fast - for the first time. We usually fast during Ramadan each year, but this year for some reason decided to see what fasting in Lent was like in relation to fasting in Ramadan.
After one question in the testing session – quite out of the blue - I had the experience of feeling and seeing every part of my body beginning to fill with a light 'liquid' that slowly filtered through every pathway in my body down to the finest, so that every minute part of my body filled with this
'substance.' It seemed to go on for quite a time, and then I found I was looking down at my self and out of the right side of my body at waist level I could feel something slowly and painlessly emerging and as I continued looking down I could see something unbelievably sparkling/glittering emerging from my side - so bright it was hard to look at and see the detail.
As I continued looking, I gradually realised that this sparkling/glittering looked like the crumbled wings of a dragon fly or butterfly which was emerging from my side and these 'wings' were gradually beginning to unfurl.
At this point I was suddenly aware across my eye level, like a banner, of the words THIS IS THE RESURRECTION' in very large letters. And that was it.
It was very overwhelming and profound, and at the time I felt this was to do with having just finished the Lent fast. But, a little later, I read the following in a Bapak talk and it added another layer to the experience, another piece in the jigsaw.
'The movements you receive in the latihan are the beginning of the resurrection, that is, the coming back to life, of your human soul [jiwa]. Your human soul has been asleep for a long time - Bapak takes the most recent stretch of the road - since you were born on this earth until now you are old people, or young people.'
58 SFO 4
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