At the time that this happened, my husband Lawrence and I were living in Northern Ireland, and we were driving home from the group latihan, which took place in Belfast. It was the time of the Troubles, but we were so used to it that we seldom missed our group latihan and did not often even think about the dangers.
On that night, as we were driving home, we came to a crossroads, but just as we were crossing, an army truck coming from the right shot over the road. It was going fast, and we were hit so hard that one of the soldiers was flung out of the truck and up into the air. I can see him still.
Our car was a write-off, but we ourselves were completely unhurt. We didn't even feel shaken by the experience.
When the police came they were amazed. How come we hadn't been killed or even injured? How come we were not, at least, somewhat shaken? We did not know; we felt quite relaxed as we explained what had happened.
At the time it all seemed quite ordinary, but of course it wasn't - we had nearly been killed!
I tell this story because it shows that sometimes we are helped and protected by the latihan even when we aren't aware of it. In our case, what happened was extraordinary, but at the time we were not aware that it was anything special. It just felt quite 'ordinary'.
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I have had many amazing instances of the healing power of the latihan, and I will tell you about one of them. A good male friend of ours - not in Subud - had been admitted to hospital with a burst appendix and severe peritonitis had set in. He had been in and out of hospital for a few days with abdominal pains, but because he was very overweight, no one could diagnose that it was appendicitis. He was sent home with pain killers. However, one night he was rushed back into hospital with excruciating abdominal pains and the doctor then decided to operate, saying to his wife that he suspected cancer and she should be prepared for the worst. It was then they discovered that his appendix had burst a day or two earlier. He lapsed into a state of unconsciousness after the operation: a seriously ill man, every organ in his body had failed - his liver, kidneys etc. - and he was kept alive on machines.
After three weeks of being on the machines, the doctor spoke to his wife and family and said that they should consider taking him off the life supports as even if he came out of this, he would be brain dead and would be like a vegetable - there would be no quality of life for him. The family was reluctant to do this.
My husband and I visited him in the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital and saw our good friend lying there, connected to all kinds of machines. I just stood there and felt the latihan, put one finger on his arm and whispered to Almighty God “Show me a miracle God, if it is your will that this man should live, please heal him and give him a second chance at life”. I thought no further about it and went home. The family was still considering whether they should take him off the life supports, although many friends pleaded with them not to do this.
The next day I rang the hospital to enquire about his condition. I was told there was a very slight change for the better in his blood count. To cut a long story short, the “dead” man very, very slowly came alive, and after months of rehabilitation was sent back home. He was not brain dead, and the doctors who handled his case were quite baffled and called him their “walking miracle”.
He lived for another eleven years! I have never ever let on to him, his family or anyone else, other than my husband, about my whispered prayer, in a state of latihan, which was answered by Almighty God. This is my little secret!
There have been several other instances in my life which have proved to me what an immeasurable power the latihan is, and how incredibly lucky are we who have received it.
Praise be to Almighty God!
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When I was 16, I went through a phase when I was quite depressed. I was thoroughly unhappy with the world around me and I couldn't see the point of life. I kept thinking, 'Is this all there is? Surely there must be more.' Both my parents were rather liberal Christians, and I used to go to church when I was younger. Going to church had never done anything for me though.
Then, one day, something extraordinary happened. I had just come home from school, gone to my room as usual and closed the door behind me, when suddenly, completely unexpectedly, an invisible force pushed me down and I found myself prostrated on the floor like in the Muslim prayers. At the same time I started to weep deeply while saying, 'I want to surrender to God, I want to surrender to God.' The whole experience lasted for about five minutes, and when it was over I felt really embarrassed. I hoped that nobody else in the house had heard it, but, luckily, no one seemed to have noticed anything. The words 'I want to surrender to God' were strange to me and totally outside my normal vocabulary.
Immediately after the experience I felt peaceful and strangely satisfied. The depressed feelings were gone. A couple of months after this experience I started to feel a deep need to look for a spiritual path in my life. It was like a seed had been planted. The next two years I feverishly read all sorts of spiritual books, but nothing that I read satisfied me. It all seemed so theoretical to me. Plus, a lot of the paths that these books described seemed to require superhuman willpower or extremely high intelligence. I possessed neither. One day I'd had enough of it and I said to myself, 'What I am looking for doesn't seem to exist.' I decided to give up and end my spiritual quest. I marked the end of this phase in my life by getting very drunk that night.
When I woke up the next morning, to my surprise, I didn't have a hangover at all. On the contrary, I went for a walk in the park and I noticed the same satisfied and peaceful feeling that I'd had straight after my experience.
About two weeks later I was in my local library and I walked through the religious/spiritual section that had been so familiar to me for more than two years. 'Well', I said to myself in a rather melancholy way, 'This is over now, I don't need this stuff anymore,' whereupon an old copy of what had been my favourite spiritual magazine caught my eye. I thought that I'd read all the old copies but realised that I hadn't seen this one before. My curiosity beat my scepticism and I couldn't resist flicking through it. After a few pages I saw this wonderful photograph of a smiling Indonesian. 'Pak Subuh,' it said underneath. 'What a beautiful smile and what an honest face!' I thought. 'Surely, whatever this man is involved in must be something truly good.' I then eagerly read the article about Subud that accompanied the photograph and I could not believe what I was reading. 'This is it!' I kept saying. 'I've found it, I've always known that it existed, and now I've found it!' I was radiant with happiness and wanted to tell the whole world about it.
The article referred to Bennett's book 'Concerning Subud'. I ordered the book from a bookshop and when I read it I became even more convinced that this was what I'd been looking for. I found out that the nearest Subud group was in Rotterdam and made an appointment. Three months later I was opened. This was in 1974. During the applicant period I had a nice experience. One evening I was talking after latihan with some young Subud members when this mysterious feeling of recognition came over me. I then realised that I had found 'my people'.
Often in my life, since I was a child, I'd had this uncomfortable
feeling that I wasn't with the right people. I could never explain this, but something in me knew that there were other people somewhere in the world who were more like me and whom I would feel much more comfortable with. I felt so fortunate that I'd found them, and, after 38 years, I still feel like that!
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Once I went to Portugal to attend an international Susila Dharma meeting. The latihans during this gathering were extraordinarily powerful and many of us got rather 'spaced out'. After the meeting I stayed for a holiday. One day I unexpectedly got an asthma attack. It was so bad that I was taken to hospital where I was given medication. I had to stay in bed and after a while I gradually got better. I used to have asthma as a child but it went when I was in my early teens. It was very strange that after about 15 years it suddenly had come back. This experience happened 30 years ago and I've never had asthma since.
A week or so after I was back home I had the following experience: I dreamed that I was flying through a dark space. After a while I saw a light above me and I was drawn towards this light like being pulled by a magnet. When I entered the light, to my surprise, I suddenly found myself in an old fashioned late 19th century doctor’s surgery. The doctor was waiting for me with a scalpel in his hand in the middle of the room. He said to me 'What took you so long?!' and before I could do anything he took my hand and made a small cut in the top of my left thumb. The next thing that happened was that a bright golden ray of light, like lightning, came from above and entered the small cut in my thumb. I could then feel the light go through my left arm into my chest.
Then I woke up. It was around 4 am and I was in a latihan state. All the time I felt this ray of light flowing into me. It was a state of wonderful blessing that lasted for several hours. I felt very grateful to Almighty God for being given this.
The experience of the stream of light entering my left thumb and flowing through my arm into my chest, lasted for about ten years. It kept on flowing. After the first three days or so it gradually became weaker and weaker though and after a while I got so used to it that most of the time I wasn't aware of it.
The funny thing was that during Ramadan about a year before this experience I cut myself in the top of my left thumb with a saw while doing woodwork in the Rotterdam Subud house. I still have a small scar there in my thumb, at exactly the same place where the doctor cut me.
My feeling is that this experience was part of a powerful purification in my heart and feelings which had started with the strong latihans in Portugal and that the asthma attack had been the beginning of it. As it happens, my father suffered very badly from asthma his entire life.
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For a few years now I have been suffering from varying degrees of anxiety. At times, particularly before being 'opened', I felt unable to 'do life' and remember spending one painful night crying in bed, asking God to allow me to die as I could no longer go on - a moment that I strongly believe eventually brought me to the latihan. At other times, even after being 'opened', I’ve felt my anxiety taking me over on numerous occasions or, at the very least, its consciousness being lodged in the back of my mind like a heavy weight stopping me from living.
One day I decided to test about it. I am sure many people have experienced the same receiving on things of this nature; however, I hope to share it as a reminder and a message of hope to those going through hard times. I received that my anxiety was an extraordinary gift sent to me from the Divine in order to further my inner development. What struck me the most was that the appropriate attitude towards my anxiety should be one of extreme gratitude - a gratitude stronger than one I would feel if, for example, I received a brand new car or house. Whenever I experience anxiety, I try and remember this receiving and remember that what feels 'bad' for the outer often ends up being beautiful for the inner.
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In 2004, I had a casual feeling to read about Java and its history and the right books just fell into my hands. I immersed myself in them for weeks, even making notes. I didn’t question it, because it’s like me to suddenly explore the unknown. ‘Tangents’ my mother called them.
Afterwards, something strange seemed to take me over. I became quite immersed in the political feelings surrounding the upcoming elections in Indonesia, although I have no interest in politics and keep TV - especially news - to a minimum. The experience I was having involved Java’s past history and I felt as though President Sukarno, (the first President after the Dutch, 1902 - 1970) was concerned about and had an unusual message for the demonstrating students. He was making himself known to me. In my mind, I was starting to fondly think of him as Bung Karno as his people once did. He seemed to be saying to the unrest — and this is right off the wall—that Prince Diponegoro (the1800s hero who tried unsuccessfully to liberate his people from Dutch rule) would step in, so the election outcome did not matter; just be calm. I felt his protective concern for the students. But I was not in Indonesia, had no connections there and I could hardly phone Wisma Subud and say “Bung Karno says tell the students that no matter which party gets in, Diponegoro is on it.” OK, right!
I was stuck in the middle and so energised that it kept me awake. Too much reading, I thought. Why had I studied Prince Diponegoro anyway? I didn’t know what to do with all this dialogue, this feeling and the urging it brought. It wouldn’t go away. I was quite ‘driven’ and my temperature kept going up. I thought “I’m having some kind of nafsu revolution”. (That I might be having a crisis never once occurred to me.)
So driven was I, that I flew to Jakarta! No plan, “Just go there and be,” I told myself. OK. It occurs to me as I write this, that it does have the flavour of crisis. This “just be” strategy has worked for me in the past, though. I’ve changed countries on instructions like that. On arrival, I sat on the verandah at the Cilandak guest house. The only other occupants were two young Indonesian men who kindly helped me upstairs with my suitcase when my room was ready. As I was unpacking, I noticed a small black case had been left there. I opened it seeking the name of the owner and, Oh my God! That case was full of T-shirts printed with pictures of Sukarno and his slogans to free his people!! What was it Albert Einstein said? “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining invisible”. Wow! Synchronicity and I are old friends, it could be my middle name, but what an amazing thing to happen to someone who’s allergic to politics and had to travel to the situation from another country!
Well, of course I went in search of the two young men, who were having a meeting on the verandah. They were students and you can guess what the meeting was about. Yes, I joined the meeting. Fortunately, they had good English because I have no Bahasa Indonesia. I told them of my weeks of preoccupation and imaginary dialogue with Bung Karno and about the hero Diponegoro, and they were round eyed. That I, an old lady, had flown there because of it, was stunning for them. They did take on board the message about keeping cool and agreed to spread the word throughout the student bodies of Java, that Diponegoro would sort things out. Then they shyly asked me whether I’d like a T-shirt. Would I? By now I was most definitely a Bung Karno fan! They were delighted that I wanted one.
It’s gone now, but I had that T-shirt hanging in the wardrobe for many years and smiled whenever I saw it. And I think the students were protected during that turbulent time. I hope so. The whole experience left me convinced that President Sukarno was Diponegoro reincarnated to the country he so loved.
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