One Sunday in 2006, I was doing latihan at the Muhammad Subuh Centre, Kalimantan, and during the latihan, was suddenly taken over to the summit of Gunung Merapi, the most holy of volcanoes located just outside Yoygakarta in Java. There were thousands of angels up there at the summit, as far and wide as my eyes could see, and I was told that they were there as there was going to be a natural disaster and many people would die. I was also told that each of the angels was assigned to a person and it had already been determined who would live and who would die, so even if two people were sitting right next to each other, one may live and the other die. I was taken there to be a witness but I didn't know after the latihan, whether it was real or not.
A few days later, a big earthquake hit Bantul in Yogyakarta and 5,500 people died. A part of me was sad, but another part felt very quiet, as I had witnessed that this was already planned and the angels had already gathered beforehand to oversee it. A few more days passed after the quake, and as I was doing latihan, I was instructed very clearly : "Pray for your descendants who died in that earthquake", I did as I was told, but then after the latihan finished, I realised what I had been told didn't make "sense" in the normal way. My descendants are my children, and they were alive and living with me in Kalimantan. I didn't have any descendants in Java...
Then an inner reminder came to me of a spontaneous latihan experience I had twenty years earlier of some of my past lives, and how in one of those lives (around 1,000 AD) I was living there in that same area of Central Java as a man in a position of privilege and wealth who had several wives and many children. Then what I was told about praying for my descendants started to make sense. (Descendants from a previous life time). For the first time, I suddenly realized that if I have lived other lives in different parts of the world, then people that I meet today anywhere in the world, whether friends, or total strangers, could be my living descendants. I suddenly understood how someone from the other side of the world could be a blood relation not only from this biological present body, but from many previous bodies I may have inhabited over millennia. And it was that awareness I was shown in the latihan that made me realize how much more connected we are than we know.
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One night I had a dream which had a particularly unusual clarity about it. At first everything seemed normal and very pleasant; I seemed to be on holiday, it was warm and sunny and relaxing. In the next scene though I was in the unfinished concrete shell of a tower block on the top floor. I was in a townscape but I was high above every other building and looking out of one of the rectangular gaps where a window would later be put.
Suddenly, in great contrast to everything up to that point, I saw a missile coming alongside the building from my right. It was its incongruity that struck me the most. It just didn't belong in this place and I couldn't immediately adjust to its presence. It passed the building but then changed direction and headed straight towards the corner of the tower block but at a lower floor. It was at this point that I became deeply shocked as it became obvious that it hadn't strayed into this landscape as if by accident but was there on purpose on a path of intentional destruction. It just didn't belong in this place, this wasn't a war zone - something was very wrong.
As the missile struck the corner of the tower a few floors below mine I braced myself for the collapse of the ground beneath my feet but all that I could feel was a warmth coming through the concrete to the soles of my feet and I realised that the building must be on fire.
I woke up feeling very disturbed, this was no mere nightmare I knew that. I concluded that it was a warning that something terrible was going to happen but that I would only be slightly effected. However, the worry and disturbance stayed with me for about a couple of months, until I saw the footage of the twin towers attack on 9/11 and realised that this was what the dream had been about. There seemed no reason why I should have had this premonition though, as I had no connection with New York or the U.S. in general. However when I told an American friend about it she said that a number of her friends had had very similar experiences to mine.
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My prayerful experience of guidance into Subud, "to a group and a purification process", came not from a vague, unspecified being, but clearly from beloved Jesus.
Jesus was much present in a healing group that I began to attend, where I recognized in some people a quality that I discovered later was from something called the latihan. At the time, I was living on an island harbor connected by a ferry to Victoria where this group used to meet in a lovely mansion. One evening, after only once attending the very pure atmosphere of an event at the mansion, the persistent feeling of Mother Mary seemed to be guiding me to the manor again. I finally gave in and ran down to the hourly ferry but it left before I got there, chugging out into the bay until for some reason it reversed and returned to the dock. I got on for a lovely sail, took a bus from the landing into Victoria and somehow remembered my way back to the mansion. In the gold of a flowery summer evening I passed through the gardens into a back room just as a voice spoke within the room. I confess it was through "channelling", but not by trance so much as in what we would call a latihan-like state: words softly saying, "I am Mother Mary..." uttering a message my mind cannot remember. Suddenly a profound atmosphere of timelessness moved me to tears. I felt as if all the generations of women before me were my sisters, each life a rich effort and experience, however it may have fallen short. I could only love my mother and my grandmothers for what they were and forgive them their frailties in complete reverent and affectionate rapport with them. I was utterly filled with the sweet essence of oneness in all time. For hours this rapture embraced me.
That was my prelude to Subud. When I saw Subud seperate men and
women, therefore, I fully appreciated the concept of ancestral linkage as an
inclusive gender identification, not an exclusive factor.
After years of believing my emotions were in quiet control, I became engaged. Anger emerged in the relationship, deep anger. In a beautiful spot in nature, I prayed for and received guidance about my irritable behavior. I was wondering about the definition of God's spirit within and a voice within me guided me to open my eyes. In front of me a yellow butterfly danced in the air. Tears of love filled my eyes. I was told that the purification of anger from my maternal side was deep and that I would meet a group that would help me through this.
My fiancé and I were both opened and moved to LA and many a sublime latihan there was followed by rage on the confusing way home, but eventually the anger - and my engagement - dissipated. "Receiving' really helped balance my temper and when I married outside of Subud I noticed the difference if I slacked off on latihan. Just yesterday, my husband encouraged me to go to latihan, saying "You're nicer when you go to Subud." He even told me once he was ready to be "Had', which I found out meant "opened', and I pray that he will have the courage to submit to the latihan some day. A great test helpers once facilitated was to experience the influence latihan had made on members' anger over five, ten and 20 year increments.
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The spiritual path is beautiful, ugly, profound and ordinary all at once. It comes full of elusive aspirations, emotional dramas, transcendent bliss and everything else in between —Michael Mackintosh
My husband once told me never to tell this story because people would think I was mad. However, since reading Mary Sparrowdancer’s book Love Song of the Universe, I feel emboldened to share it.
In 1984, I was a part-time volunteer working in a spiritual project which was attempting to ground some very high energy: in other words, an international project. All sorts of profound and miraculous experiences were happening to the people around me - wonderful phenomena. I looked on in awe. I now realise that my own experience was no less miraculous. It just didn’t seem significant, because it involved—wait for it—cockroaches.
Cockroaches became my private messengers, my hidden guides, my personal fairies. I don’t know the right word for their role, but I’m sure there is one. It started while I was doing some overtime word-processing one night at the project. I felt tickling and a huge cockroach was trying to crawl into my shoe! I screamed in horror, jumped out of my shoes and onto a chair--I’ve always had a horror of big cockroaches. A Subud sister came in and tut-tutted, “Oh, these cockroaches are becoming quite precocious”. As though talking about a neighbour’s cat!
After that, the cockroach experience was a regular phenomenon. I was too embarrassed to share it with others who were having exalted experiences such as Jesus walking through the room and coming into the latihan. I kept my cockroach experiences to myself. There were many scenarios: for example, while I sat up in bed reading, a giant one flew in and crawled down the back of my nightdress (lots of screaming).
Then, while doing transcription from a tape recording, a little one went round and round the circular table and came up to my hand touching me with its tiny antennae. It happened in front of a friend who grinned approvingly. I didn’t flinch that time because by then, as long as they were small ones, I was starting to feel honoured by their lack of fear. When I played Bapak’s gambang music they became extremely precocious. One way or another, I had extraordinary exposure to cockroaches for about a month.
Then came the day when my cockroach affliction went public. I was sitting in the back seat of a bus with several other passengers, when a small one crawled out from behind and climbed along the window beside me. I pretended not to see it. I’m sure others could see it, though, and I was silently begging it not to get too friendly. I don’t know why, but that would have been the ultimate humiliation for me. Fortunately, it just sat there swaying its tiny antennae near my face, like an embarrassing relative you pretend you’re not with. It sounds pathetic, but there was something loving about it.
Eventually, seeking guidance, I borrowed a book about St Francis of Assisi knowing that he had felt a deep kinship with all creatures. I found no clue in the book, but after reading about St Francis, the whole experience stopped.
There’s an interesting sequel to this story. At the time all this cockroach experience was being forced on me, I was secretary to a man with whom I would not have dreamed of discussing such a thing. It would have been beneficial if I had talked to him though, because 13 years later I heard from a friend who knew him well, that he had once told her he had been St Francis of Assisi in a previous life!
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Another time I became aware that I could be given a change of inner state. The experience started with an early morning dream. I was told to draw the face of St. Francis of Assisi. I followed the instructions and drew an image of his head and face. When I awoke, the latihan was flowing through me strongly. I had no idea what it was all about. I had not been an especially strong devotee of St. Francis. Later in the morning I went to the garden to check some newly-planted flowers. As I bent down, I noticed, not far away, a little bird. I knew it was strange that the bird was willing to be so close to me, because it was a wild bird. When I stood up, it flew to the nearest tree. I went over and started to stroke its back, which it confidently let me do. For those moments the quality of St. Francis had been made alive in me.
From The Man From The East by Istimah Week (page 14), published 1996 by Vantage Press, Inc., New York
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When we arrived at the large conference hall there were several hundred people waiting for Bapak. I was judgmental about the pushing crowd and didn’t identify with its fervor.
Then I saw him. It’s very hard to describe that first impression in words. He showed up through the crowd as a wide still space. Time stopped. The world stopped. Suddenly everything else simply faded away. The pushing and chatter ceased. There was a clear light in the room, full of stillness and soft power.
This indescribable presence walked slowly through the crowd. He moved with easy grace. He didn’t look unusual in his conservative western suit, quite ordinary in fact. But there was a feeling in the space around him that transfixed me, more like a gentle pour of light from the pitcher of Heaven than lightning.
That moment is etched in my memory to this day.
From Soul Lightning by Aminah Raheem (page 36), published 2005 by