The following account was first publisheded online by Subud brother ‘Adam Sunshine’ in January 2009 at
You may also be interested in his diary of dreams and visions at
Message and Vision of Our Lady
In the past few years I have worried about increasing violence and wars in the world. I have prayed often and asked the question of God and Our Lady if it was correct for me to share the visions I had experienced with other people. I want to share a message of hope but I also do not wish to sound foolish or spiritually arrogant. I did not receive an answer to my question until recently. Late this summer I received an answer. Just before bedtime I had a vision. This was not a vision of Our Lady but rather I began to see and hear the children, those living now and those still yet to be born. They were facing me, looking me directly in the eye, knowing the possibility of living in a world of peace. Their numbers grew from the hundreds to the thousands, more than I could see. They understood. I understood. It was for them that I should share this message, that it might open the possibility for this to become a reality.
In late 1990 I resigned from my job and felt that I was to do something else but I didn't know what it was yet going to be. Shortly thereafter I suffered a serious back injury and spent several weeks and months healing. This was a very humbling and contemplative time for me. I cried when I left the apartment after being home-bound for several weeks. As I was beginning to recover, a friend of mine who ran a local foundation for children and families affected by HIV/AIDS asked a friend and I to help at their annual rummage sale. I was able to attend and helped out at the desk. When it was over I began to think about the idea of opening a thrift store so that the foundation could have a source of funds for their ongoing work. I dismissed the idea when I realized I couldn't lift or carry anything and also had no capital to open such an enterprise.
That evening, just before bed, I felt a presence in the room and a change of energy just overcame me. It brings tears to my eyes now thinking of it because it was so real, so loving, so soft and graceful, yet so strong and knowing. I saw an image of Our Lady, Mary, in my mind. She emanated a feeling of safety and peace. She told me I was to open this store for the children and that she would open the way. All I had to do was follow her guidance and it would be. It was not a command, but a choice for me. When I reflected on this I thought that this was what I was supposed to do.
Our Lady showed me where to go to look for a vacant store. I went there the next day and took down a phone number. I asked one of the other tenants if they thought the landlord might be open to renting the space at below market rent since we had no money for a thrift store to help children and families affected by HIV/AIDS. They told me he was a millionaire and a hard driving businessman, so they didn't think it was likely. I pondered that but Our Lady told me to just go ahead and contact him. I mustered up some courage, phoned him and set up a meeting. I told him what we were thinking of doing, he sat there and listened quietly, and then just said, absolutely yes. We could use the storefront, in a prime business location, for 1/3 the market rent, payable after we got the store running. We could use it for at least a year but after that if he found a tenant to pay full market rent, we would have to relocate. What a miracle!
I was stunned. It had happened just as Our Lady had shown me it would. This gave me confidence in my experience. I had experienced dreams and visions before but never anything that had manifested in the world so easily.
But now that we had been given a space I wondered what to do next. How do you open a thrift store with no money and nothing to put in it? Our Lady told me not to worry. I called my friend who ran the foundation and told her the news about the store. She said she would spread the word and see what she could come up with. I spoke with the neighboring tenant who ran a bookstore and told her the landlord had approved our using the space. Without asking for anything she said she would happy to give us shelving to use in the store. Another friend who had experience in retail said he would help run the store if we needed it. A local charity had an old van. They donated it to us to pick up donations. Someone else had a cash register they weren't using and gave it to us. Someone else had tables for displays. Pretty soon we had all the basics, but nothing to put in the store and it was due to open in less than a week. I just surrendered it to God. The foundation director phoned her network of friends. A woman donated an antique baby carriage that we placed in the window with a sign to announce the opening of the store and seeking donations of goods. The community just opened their hearts. We filled the store within 2 days with donations of art, clothing and household goods. A group of interior designers picked up our cause and gave us high quality wares to sell. I was in awe and so grateful for the outpouring of love. It was just as Our Lady had shown me and I felt the peace and presence of her as things came to fruition.
We were up and running. We had many volunteers from all walks of life willing to help us in the store. It was hard work but there was such grace. Before long the foundation had a monthly source of income and we were able to pay the bills to run the store. What a blessing! For me it was a peak experience of sorts, in that the store combined business, recycling, charity, human effort and love all touched by a humble grace and divine presence. Money from the store helped expand the foundation's programs and run a summer camp for the kids.
I'll never forget one boy at camp, Michael, who was 8 years old. All he wanted to do was be a normal kid and play baseball. He knew that he did not have long to live but faced his destiny with such courage, wisdom and peace. The look and strength in Michael's eyes has given me pause whenever I have faced difficulties in my own life. He was wiser and stronger than any adult I have ever met. He was able to play baseball that day at camp. He passed away just a few weeks later.
After a year of running the thrift store, living on a minimal but adequate income, working six days a week, I was nearing exhaustion. I began to question how I could continue. Our Lady came to me again and gave me the message "Seek Ye Refuge in the Garden, Restored". I didn't know what it meant at the time but it sounded good. There are many meanings really - rest in the beauty of nature, but later I also realized it meant to rest in the Heavenly Garden, restored to Grace. This was a profound message that touched me deeply.
I arranged to finally take a break from running the store and retreated to Orcas Island, near Seattle, for rest, contemplation and relaxation. I returned after a few days much more balanced and refreshed. I knew that I needed to take more time for meditation/latihan, but I wasn't sure how to do that with all my responsibilities. Again I just carried on and surrendered it to God.
A few weeks later we received news from the landlord that he had found a tenant and we would have to move unless we were willing to pay full market rent. The thrift store's revenues were modest and we could not afford to pay the full rent and support the foundation. We looked for another location but nothing seemed suitable or affordable. I meditated and asked Our Lady "what should we do?” A few days later I felt her quiet presence come to me again. She said that it was done, our work was complete and we should just let it go. I was sad but I knew it was true. She said our store had been given life for a brief time, similar to the brief but beautiful life that a child with AIDS experienced at that time. She also said that there was another message she wished to tell me and she would visit me again.
In the final days before the store closed we were still attempting to find another location to carry on the work. I knew inwardly it was unlikely but there were many people involved and they did not receive the same message I did. It did not seem appropriate for me to share the message I had received, that it was best just to go through the experience. One evening, again just before bedtime, Our Lady filled the room and my being with her presence. I became still and filled with peace, tears welling in my eyes.
Her message was "Lay Down Your Weapons". I understood this to mean to just surrender and let the store close, do not make any further efforts to continue. Once I understood this she said there was more.
I was shown a vision of what "Lay Down Your Weapons" meant for the world. Our Lady appeared all around the world, in various forms, speaking in many languages, touching the souls of children of all cultures conveying the message that it was time to "Lay Down Your Weapons". Children knew that it was time to end war and they were drawn together through this miraculous appearance to make this happen. It was an incredible vision. With the power and grace of Our Lady I knew that is was possible. I asked her if this time was now and she said "Not now," but I would know when if I listened to my soul. I also understood that to "lay down one's weapons" was more than just weapons of war, but all things human beings use as weapons to harm one another. But laying down the weapons of war was the first stage of human beings learning to lay down the other weapons used to harm each other - such as money, food, water, resources, etc. It was a step to healing and uniting mankind to a next level of living.
This happened in 1992. Since then I have not experienced any further messages from Our Lady. At times, I have felt her subtle presence and it has given me peace. I have lived an ordinary life since then, caring for my family and working in the world. But I have often wondered when or if her final vision would occur. I know that if it will happen it will occur in God's time, not mine.
The message is simple really: How do you stop war? Lay down your weapons. It is common sense. We are all brothers and sisters living on this planet provided by God. War is family abuse on a massive scale. The family can be healed. There is hope.
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I very much enjoy reading the spiritual experiences in 'Reminders,' although I felt my own spiritual experience was far too radical to share, until I saw the review of Mary Sparrowdancer's book 'Love Song' in your last edition. (As already reported, a free PDF of the first edition of this wonderful book is available directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org. – Ed.)
I found Mary's book about six years ago, shortly after I had been diagnosed with cancer. It felt like I had been waiting all my life to read this book, and it had a huge impact on me: I felt the presence of Christ around me as I read it.
I happened to be in a Retreat Centre when I started reading the book, when a woman on the retreat, who I hadn't said a word to, came to me after a few days and said she felt guided to tell me that Christ had appeared to her ten years before and had stayed with her for six years guiding her in life. I just
knew her experience to be genuine. When I returned home, I attended social
events at two local churches and met two people with whom I did share my excitement about the book; they also had had similar experiences. This all happened within a three week period, and it seemed to be timely confirmation as, since then, I have met only two people in the past five years who have shared such experiences with me.
I have been a Subud member for 40 years now, and Subud has meant everything to me - very much my way of life as well the most powerful form of worship I have found. At the same time, I have always strongly believed that God is a living God and therefore I felt it was important to keep an open mind to any way God may see fit to speak to people or be present with us.
I was guided to embrace Islam when I lived in North America and I was deeply inspired by reading the Quoran. As the years passed, I started to feel drawn back to the church. There were passages in the Bible that I felt deeply moved by, and in hindsight they seemed to be a preparation for what I was one day to experience, in that many of these stories related to Jesus appearing, after the Resurrection, in flesh and blood to people, yet in different guises so that they did not immediately recognize him. I also found the story of Jacob wrestling with God deeply inspiring.
I was diagnosed with cancer about seven years ago, which, after an operation and some other treatment, culminated in a terminal prognosis, with two years to live. I lived alone and had little support at that time, and I am ashamed to admit that despite my belief that suicide is the greatest ingratitude towards God who had given me life, the idea of drowning myself in the sea was very much on my mind. It was my habit to often walk on the beach late at night which is only a few hundred yards from where I live, I enjoyed this quiet time very much.
One evening at 11pm I was on the beach when I noticed a young man in his twenties walking his dog along the prom. He was approaching me and I was close to a small cafe, so being cautious at that hour I allowed him to pass and then continued past the building. Within seconds, I saw the same man reappear at a distance of a long block ahead of me and also 100 yards out, waist deep in water. My first reaction was to wonder whether he was going to do exactly what had been preoccupying my own thoughts. His small dog was barking at me and even though I did not feel threatened by the dog it kept me pinned to the spot until the young man walked out of the water towards me.
As he greeted me his right hand was raised in the classic 'Peace be with you' stance, but his words, referring to the barking dog, were "He means no malice." I walked on about 25 yards and looked back at him, and, still considering him to be a rather eccentric young man for walking in a cold English sea in October (although this didn't seem to bother him in the least), in a somewhat motherly fashion I said, "What about your trousers?" He just replied that he'd put them in the wash. I walked on further to a stony outcrop to look out at the spray of the waves as they hit the stones. Once again I looked back and saw that he was sitting on the stones at a comfortable distance from me. He looked at me and I remember feeling a kind of comfort in his look.
Months later I shared this experience with a spiritual man I know, and he asked me, "Were his trousers wet when he came out of the water?" Flabbergasted, I realized that they were not. I was so amazed by the whole situation at the time it hadn't even occurred to me, despite my remark to him about getting his trousers wet in the sea.
As the months passed, I wondered about this experience. Part of me believed it was just a crazy young man, but the other part of me couldn't figure out how he had moved such a distance in a blink of an eye. Eventually I emailed Mary Sparrowdancer and shared what had happened. She told me not to doubt it and explained that it was happening to people all over the world. It just seems, for whatever reason, He has decided to come back and help people. Mary said, "Whatever he said will be significant for you." I thought about him saying 'The dog means no malice,' but it didn't seem to make any sense. Six months later, I awoke one morning and a realization about the whole experience just hit me. I suppose I could finally accept that He really could have visited me; his remark - ‘They mean no malice’ - meant ‘Forgive them for they know not what they do.’ And I remembered the look of comfort and realized that I had not thought about going for a 'final' swim from that moment on.
A year later I saw him once again close to that same spot on the beach. This visit was brief, and he delivered a small piece of advice about my health and then disappeared into thin air.
I should also mention that the cancer just disappeared into thin air too.
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"I woke this morning with a strong sense that I will be going to New Zealand
to see Ibu speak. It makes no sense. It's like I know I am going, and yet of
course, I realize it is not possible".
As best I can recall, this was what I blurted to my mentor Mahmud Nestman, when I reached him by phone. It was a crazy notion, even to me.I was not a Subud member, nor a spiritual seeker. I don't behave impulsively, and I already had plans for January that did not include a trip to New Zealand from Canada. I realized the idea was irrational and I waited for it to pass, or at least fade.
Subud was something I had heard about only recently, since transitioning
from a business career to that of a counseling student in 2005. Mahmud, a
long time Subud member, was one of my earliest teachers. I had been
studying/training/apprenticing with him ever since, and through this close
association, I had learned a bit about his spiritual path. As much as I
respected him, I found the idea of latihan more than a little strange.
And yet, I suddenly had an overwhelming belief that I would be attending the
Subud World Congress in New Zealand. The shift had begun when I read a copy of the SUBUD VOICE just days before. It was the first time that I had read this periodical and quite unexpectedly, I experienced something powerful.
After reading an article about Ramadan that had caught my original
attention, I found myself fully immersed in an article by someone named Ibu
Rahayu. I was captivated, spellbound even. After reading every word of the
SUBUD VOICE and wanting more, I borrowed some Subud books from Mahmud and delved into them. I was hooked.
Two days later, I placed the call to Mahmud, after waking to the strange but
powerful notion about Ibu and New Zealand. As is his nature, Mahmud was
composed, yet intrigued by my experience. He encouraged me to trust whatever process was emerging for me. He then boarded a plane to Indonesia for theRamadan fast. In so doing, my Mentor, and the only Subud person I knew, was fully unavailable for five weeks.
For the next ten days or so, I read Subud books. Wonderful, inspiring tales
written by people I had never heard of, such as Varindra Vittachi, Salamah
and Abdullah Pope, and Istimah Week. I read biographies of Ibu Rahayu, s
father, Bapak, the first person to receive the latihan, who then traveled
the world passing it on to others until his death in l987. I did little
other than read Subud books. Nothing else held my interest. And then I
contacted a Helper in Vancouver to begin the three-month Subud application
Throughout the process of reading and meeting with local helpers, I never
lost my knowing that I would hear Ibu speak in New Zealand. I also
maintained a simultaneous realization that this was impossible. Even if I
could work my way around the other obstacles, there was simply no way my
husband Bob would understand and support such a trip.
However, Bob had been behaving in a manner which surprised me when it came to Subud. Normally, I would have expected him to ask many questions about me reading unfamiliar books and attending weekly meetings. An organization with a name like Subud, a practice called latihan, and members who often adopt new names would normally raise some concern for him.
Typically, he would want to caution me around the possibility that this
could be a cult, looking to manipulate followers and take their money. But
Bob seemed quite disinterested. Even so, I imagined if I approached the idea
of traveling to New Zealand to hear an 80 year old Indonesian woman speak to crowds in a foreign language, his interest could certainly be piqued. And if
he (or anyone I knew, quite frankly) had questions, I had no answers. At
this point, I could not even recall what it was that Ibu Rahayu's translated
talk in the SUBUD VOICE had pertained to.
And so I remained in the knowing I was going, and realizing it was an
impossible place. And for some reason, I trusted the state, without needing
it to be resolved. And then the door opened. It was September 7th, one day
before my birthday and Bob asked me what I would like as a gift. It was not
a significant birthday, and I imagine he was half listening as he asked the
question. This was when I heard myself say, “There is only thing I want. And it can be both my birthday present and my Christmas present. I want to go to New Zealand in January for the Subud World Congress.”
And then, the strangest thing occurred. After asking a couple of questions,
Bob simply agreed.
He simply agreed. And in that moment, two things became crystal clear to me: God was holding my hand and this journey was meant to be.
I was opened on November 27th, and experienced 5-6 latihans prior to my
arrival in Christchurch, New Zealand. I was about to enter a very profound
and meaningful ten day spiritual experience. There would be daily latihans,
joined by hundreds of women, and ordinary miracles, coincidences and
synchronicity would abound, together with evening talks and testing with beautiful Ibu available, in the undeniable presence of God.
The most profound incident was the day I encountered Ibu Rahayu coming out of the dining room. After being entranced and impacted at a very deep level by listening to her speak in a large group environment, suddenly she was
standing right in front of me. She was accompanied by family members/supporters and was holding the hands of two people on either side of her. I felt a great intensity as our eyes met.
Suddenly feeling very small, I broke my gaze and looked down. As I did
so, my eyes fell to her hands and I noticed her releasing them.
Next I have the memory of her walking very slowly toward me. Perhaps we were both walking toward each other, I am not sure. And then she put her hands on my shoulder, ever so gently and kissed me on one side of my lips, and then the other. I was in a slightly altered state, barely able to do more than stand there and receive what felt like a great blessing.
The next thing I remember, I was sitting on a bench outside of the dining
room watching Ibu walk away with her group. She didn't stop again, and soon she was out of my sight. Though she was no longer with me, her beauty and her essence remained.
I will hold this memory for the rest of my life. Later, when I shared my
experience with a Subud helper, she said that Ibu Rahayu would have known I came to New Zealand to see her. I like to think this might be true.
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