In the early sixties I had this dream, it was very vivid and crystal clear and I remember even minute details to this day. I was walking on a path along a stream with clear flowing water and there was a sort of crossing as the stream widened at one point. The trees were unfamiliar and looked like trees I had seen in movies in colder climates.
As I looked across at the other bank, a very large cat the size of a small leopard appeared - an animal with which I was unfamiliar. We locked eyes, and as it kept looking at me I started to back off and the dream faded away but remained in my memory.
Just a couple of years later I was awarded a scholarship in Canada to study air navigational aids. I assumed my dream had something to do with this long journey from a tropical country to the North American Continent. In a way, it was more of a spiritual journey for me as I visited many of the Subud centers in Canada and even New York and did latihan with groups as I traveled. I even had the opportunity to attend Subud Canada's National Congress in 1966 as an active helper with the Ottawa group. I visited a group in northern Ontario in Chalk River, and the surroundings were very much like what I seen in my dream. so I just let it go.
Time had gone by and I was living in Redwood country in Northern California and owned a beautiful piece of property with a running creek as the boundary at the lower end. I was living in a three quarter finished house with my family, a short distance from the Subud house. My children were doing well at school, I had a secure job and my wife was working part time doing her enterprise. I was much involved with football, my Achillies heel so to speak. My elder son’s team won the county championship and I was the team coach. In 1985, my younger son’s team went all the way and won the state cup, and I had hand picked the team. Life was good, perhaps too good. I had archieved the American dream in a relatively short time.
One day in the mid eighties I was driving with my older son in my truck and, as I was crossing over to a fast food place on a not too busy street, was broadsided by a car driven by a drunk driver. The highway patrol estimated that this Porsche was doing 100 mph in a 40 mph zone. My son and I were not seriously injured as we were wearing seat belts, but we had cuts, bruises and shell shock and I decided to take a couple of days off.
Often, when I had time on my hands, I would prepare some food and take it down and sit by the creek and slowly consume the food. It was so peaceful with the sound of flowing water and a Silence I truly appreciated in this busy and hectic world.
This particular day I decided to take a walk down to the creek after I’d had my meal, and I decided to walk downstream along the narrow path. I came to a place where the creek broadened and decided to wade across. Suddenly there was a flashback: Yes, this was the place of my dream many years ago. The creek with shallow water, the trees and the scene beyond were exactly the same. I almost expected a cat to appear, but no cat.
My boys were attending a high school called "Los Gatos High" and reading about its history I found a fascinating bit of information. The word Los Gatos was coined by the Spanish long ago because this whole area was full of cougars. The Valley of the CATS included the area we were now living in.
The million dollar question was whether my inner had given a forewarning as in a short time this Utopia would shatter. A more poignant question, why come all the way to a foreign land for my very faith in the Almighty and the latihan to be put to the test?
I lost almost everything, including the house and property, and was left with only my truck and two boys. I even lost my super job as the company I worked for moved to another state in the mid-west. It was a time of great suffering, all the more so as I had
do it alone.
It was at this time, roughly one hundred days after Bapak passed away, that I had an extraordinary experience which I like to call "a moment of surrender." It lasted only few minutes, and when it was over I understood the nature of surrender - something that we cannot experience through effort or any other means except as a gift that one receives for reasons unknown. From this experience I saw the immensity of the Latihan which seems to touch everything, and I understood the need to let go everything. What I did not know at that time was that the space we create by doing this will be filled again - not with what we want but with what we really need, and no one can take that away except Almighty God.
The key to all this was our capacity to forgive, no matter how unfair, unjust or unreal the situation may be. For a while I felt that my life on this earth was coming to an end. Later I understood that something had died within me and that life would never be the same.
Time has proved this to be true. Indeed, after my experience the most significant change I observed was that I now had the courage to follow my inner guidance and it seems that it is still the same to this day.
What followed is another story as I found peace and contentment and the way was made open to continue my spiritual journey by the grace of Almighty God.
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I used to have a series of rather funny receivings in the '80s and '90s which involved me being guided to get into my car and drive somewhere. Once I got into the car, 'instructions' would follow: 'Go left, next turn right', etc. There would always be a purpose to this. Like once when I lived in Australia and I followed very precise instructions which led me to the nearest IKEA store. I then received, 'Go inside' and when I was inside, 'Now go to the bargain corner'. I thought that it was all a bit ridiculous and suspected that my nafsu was having fun with me until I saw this brand new mattress in the bargain corner that only had a bit of dirt on the cover and I suddenly remembered that my mother was coming over to stay with us in a fortnight and I didn't have a mattress for her to sleep on. It was really cheap, only $15, so I bought it immediately, and said 'Thank you God!'
Another time I received to get in my car and again my ‘inner sat nav’ started to direct me. I ended up at a Subud couple's home and rather reluctantly followed my guidance to ring the door bell, as I didn't have a particular reason for this unexpected visit. They were very surprised to see me and said, 'How did you know that so and so are here?' It appeared that another Subud couple from abroad was staying with them. They'd just picked them up from the airport. Nobody in my Subud group knew about this. I was very fond of this couple and we all spent a wonderful evening together.
Once my faith in my receiving was being tested while driving and I received 'Drive faster', then, 'Don't stop, drive trough the red traffic light'. I was on a major road in the middle of Melbourne but there wasn't much traffic there, which was unusual for the time of day. While I was approaching the crossroads with the red traffic light at about 40 miles p/h I felt very peaceful and confident inside me and I was sure that nothing would happen. At the last minute I decided not to take too much risk though and I slowed down to about 20 miles p/h, against my 'instructions'. I did drive through the red light while looking very carefully around me. I was relieved when I saw that there was no traffic whatsoever coming from any direction! The crossroads was completely empty.
This one still happens to me, but luckily without the speeding up message. I regularly find that I am approaching a crossroads with a red traffic light and inside me this fine and subtle feeling goes, 'Keep on driving, no need to stop'. Once the words came to me 'Traffic lights are there to serve us, not the other way around'. I sometimes follow this and have been doing this for years, never driving too fast and always looking around me carefully, but only when I am driving alone. Although it has always proven to be completely safe and I never got fined, I've noticed that my passengers don't seem to appreciate this style of driving!
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When I was pregnant with my son in 1976, I received " take all religion out of the house". I don't know if I interpreted this correctly, but I gave away the Bible and Koran. I gave my boy no religious instruction and he attended a Steiner school which I don't think provided that either. Years later, when he had more conventional schooling he asked "Mum, what religion are we? What group do I go into at school?" I felt sad to have put him in this position as a result of our ambivalence; we both did the Ramadhan Fast and, though I love Jesus, had never even mentioned him. Because I embrace all faiths which wouldn’t have been helpful, I went middle of the road and said "your father was raised Church of England, love, just say that".
Well, if you asked my son today, I don't think he'd know what to say his religion is . Nor would he care. He’s witnessed miracles he knew were the result of prayer and he believes in God and once at the age of three he volunteered “Mum, I know why we don’t eat pig, it’s because if we do, we’ll come back as a pig”. Nobody ever taught him about ‘coming back’. This is such a repeat of my own childhood where we had no religious boundaries and could be ourselves.
Everything around him now is Buddhist, as he lives permanently in Asia. Raised without ‘braces on the brains’ or any form of racism seems to have given him a Family of Man world view, just as comfortable in Catholic, Mexico as he is in Buddhist, Bangkok. I suddenly remember now, that for no reason at all, I taught him to eat with chopsticks at the age of three.
I do believe that he is here to learn about the world and to find a balance between the spiritual and the material life. That he swims, as I do, more in the Inner Subud than the Outer. In fact, he has no time for the Outer Subud.-- our growing pains put him off long ago-- but the Inner Subud, I keep receiving, is alive and well. Although I couldn’t explain it to him, years before he was born I was made aware of the phases that the Outer Subud might have to go through. At the time, as a new member, I worried--until Ibu Siti Sumari (Bapak’s then recently deceased wife) came into my latihan and said “Don’t worry about the future of Subud and don’t be afraid to suffer—it will purify you”.
This helped me, and I haven’t forgotten. And although I‘ve taken a long time to be free enough to Surrender ONLY to the Power of Almighty God (which is what my latihan entreats regularly), and to grow various parts of an inner body, my son is quite a different kettle of fish. When he was 12 years old, because of illness, his stepfather did latihan beside his bed while he was asleep, and was astounded when a fully grown man’s inner got up off the bed and did latihan with him! I believe that this inner body applies to most of the next generation, some of whom are not ‘members’.
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During the forty days following Bapak’s death, I often sat by his grave in the old Karet Cemetery with other members. Imams intoned the Koran in rostered shifts twenty four hours a day and there was a very special atmosphere. In this quiet place, as time drifted by, ordinary thinking melted away and I could feel at one with myself.
On one occasion I was moved to sit right at the foot of Bapak’s grave. Others
were off to one side as usual. As I sat there, I felt as though Bapak gave
me an experience: a memory, a knowing, unfolded in me - it was of being present at the passing of Christ. I was being reminded. The recognition of
where I was and what I was doing touched my understanding. Bapak! I’m here again at the feet of a Messenger of God!
With a gentle shock I realised something of tremendous significance. I must have known it, yet a lot of me was still asleep and I hadn’t really known it. "Here I am again," I was saying silently. "Here I am again" over and over. At that moment, an American sister rose to her feet and crossed the enclosure and crouched down beside me. "Did you know," she whispered to me "that those of us who do the latihan have been with all the Prophets during their lifetime?" It was one of those amazing and unexpected happenings, although I often get confirmation through this kind of contact. "And here we are again," I whispered, "Here we are again."
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This experience happened around thirty years ago. My middle brother’s boy died suddenly, aged 14, seemingly without reason. Of course everyone was shocked.
The evening before my brother and his two boys, who at that time lived very close to the sea, had gone fishing. After a couple of hours, the older boy said he wanted to go home, as he was not feeling too well. So they packed up fishing and went home. At home he said he would just take a drink and go to bed. No-one was at all perturbed or anything. In the morning they went to his room and found him dead.
I had my mum in the car and for hour after hour she was broken up and in tears all the time. I was trying to be a little bit distanced from her grieving, if only just to keep my attention on the driving. While in this situation, I suddenly asked within myself: what is the reason for his death. Just as suddenly, almost instantly, I felt and saw the fingers and hand of one arm, to half way up the elbow, form between the two seats. The hand was illuminated
with light and I felt such holiness coming from it that my first reaction was
that I was unworthy to feel such holiness as was radiating from it. At the
same time, I felt the reason for his death was that he had reached the age of
puberty and would have to start carrying the hereditary sin. God had shown
His mercy to him and relieved him of this burden.
At the funeral, I felt almost embarrassed at not being able to stop smiling, for I felt such gratitude and grace towards the boy that it was impossible for me to feel any sadness and the feeling of holiness was still with me.
I did not feel I could confide this to my mum or my brother or his wife. They were not in Subud. To this day I have not told them about this experience, as I always felt it was not appropriate to do so.
Ever since having that revelation I have not forgotten my unworthiness.
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Matthew’s Tribute to Pauline
In the past I stood before the power of God, but never before the people of God. I know that God forgives easily, and also, from personal experience and otherwise, that man is not all that quick to do so. So before I say anything, I ask forgiveness for anything said that is considered to be out of place.
Pauline used to say that she was a coward as regards pain – I know that once she nearly kicked the dentist out of the window when he hit a nerve. But in all the suffering she went through in her latter days I never heard her complain once, not even at God. She accepted her situation with grace and dignity. And right up to the end, when she could, she showed she never lost the two requirements of life: her sense of humour, and her faith in God.
When I thanked the people in the nursing home for looking after her they all said . . . that lovely lady, it was a pleasure - even though at times it was extremely difficult and hard to look after her.
A few days before her end, I suddenly realised that she was no longer in our hands, but in hands that knew how to take care of her. On her last day she was breathing so peacefully and was so serene that I did not try to even wet her mouth or get her to take a drink, as I usually did. I did not want to disturb such a peaceful state. I felt then and several times through the day, when I prayed that - wouldn’t it be nice if she left this world in that state. By10. 30 that evening she was gone.
I am pretty sure that somewhere along the line she sang her own song of submission, and surrender for her demeanour spoke of that.
I used to say to her, you make me cry. Yes she did. I cried at the pain she had to go through. But that was just the foundation for her real life – as all life here is. For the Joy I cry with now is for the mercy and closeness of God, which we have known long before the present time. She was able to make other people cry too. Many years ago when we were young – and beautiful - she was a guide leader and used to play the guitar and sing to the girls.
Once she was talked into playing and singing to the entire church congregation, she sang a couple of songs and finished with Cumbaya. At the end – as the saying goes – there was not a dry eye in the house.
She also loved books especially History novels. Once she got her nose into a book it was extremely difficult to prize it out. I used to think she had a thing for Henry the 8th with the amount of books she read about him and his wives. I hoped that her fascination was not strong enough to want to have married him - she well knew the consequences of that.
People always say such nice things at funerals, so maybe we ought to attend one every day. Wanting to be different I shall say Pauline was both a liar and a thief.
She lied about not being able to cope with pain and a thief because she stole my heart.
Pauline has been and gone and done it now, leaving the baggage of this world behind – her soul has gone flying high, high, high, into the sky. From God she came and to God she returned
Who could be sad about that?
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What’s happened? Where is this? How did I get here? I stood rooted to the spot. All around me was light – over, underneath and all around me, but I could see no source of the light. I couldn’t see what I was standing on – if indeed I was standing on anything. I might have been floating on air for lack of any sensory perception. My heart pounded – I was filled with fear.
‘God help me!’ I cried. I closed my eyes, and saying ‘God help me,’ over and over again, I took a small step forward – and opened my eyes.
I was in a small, comfortably furnished room. Through the window I could see bare trees, and ploughed fields with a light dusting of snow on the furrows. There was a coal fire, which gave out the only light in the room. A figure sat in a low armchair beside the fire. ‘Mummy!’ I cried, and sank on my knees beside her. She took me in her arms and rocked me, crooning, but not speaking. Gradually my fear subsided and my heartbeat steadied. I raised my head and looked into her eyes. She took my head in her hands and planted a big kiss right in the centre of my forehead, just as she had always done. We giggled. Then I sat down and leaned against her legs, and she gently stroked my head. I half closed my eyes and looked into the fire, imagining wonderful scenes, which changed as the coals shifted. (see Pictures in the Fire, below)
How long did I sit there? – was it minutes, days or millennia – what did I see? Did I really see those scenes from my childhood; the years in Cornwall, and the school days; my first job; courtship; marriage and motherhood – or did I dream?. I only know that in that quiet place, with my mother’s hand on my head, I reached a feeling of peace which is indescribable.
Eventually, I got to my feet, and, taking my mother’s face in my hands, placed a kiss on her forehead. We smiled into each other’s eyes and slowly, slowly releasing hands I walked from the room.
I found myself in a garden. What a garden! The colour the scent; the beauty were almost overwhelming. Violets grew with Dahlias, Daffodils, and Roses. Michaelmas Daisies, Foxgloves, Lilies, Honeysuckle, Crocus. Bees buzzed among the blossom, and the birds sang their hearts out. There were gravel paths and herb beds, a fishpond and a waterfall. Overhead, the sky was an electric blue, with here and there a cottonwool cloud.
From the far end of the garden a figure was running to meet me – it was Vivienne. She wore a short-sleeved white T-shirt and a blue cotton skirt – and she looked about 18 years old. I ran to meet her and we hugged each other very tight and shed a few tears, then sat on a bench holding hands, and silently drinking in the peace of the place. Did I tell her all that had happened since she left, or did we converse on some ethereal level, perhaps through our hands? How long did we sit there? There was no sense of time in this place. I only know that she knew all there was to know about me and I knew all there was to know about her. She fully belonged to this place. There was no sadness in her for the family she had left behind, because in some way she was still with them.
We strolled along the paths and came to a walled garden. On the south-facing wall were grapes and peaches; and there were all manner of fruit trees. We each plucked a peach and strolled around the garden as we ate. When we reached the door at the far end I realised that Vivienne would not come further with me. We hugged, and I walked slowly on, looking back over my shoulder to keep her in sight for as long as possible, then I went through the door.
Pictures in the Fire.
I stood on a cliff top. The wind was rough and was off the sea. I stood braced against it. I looked down, down to the waves crashing onto the rocks far below. I was standing on the cliffs overlooking Porthcurno Bay, the Logan Rock jutting out to sea on the far side. I saw barbed wire stretched across the beach and understood that I had gone back in time to the 1939-45 war.
I was possessed of strange powers here. I turned inland and could see a group of children walking along the road about two miles distant. I say ‘walking’, but they were running, skipping and jostling each other in play as they made their way from school. There were six children, aged six to thirteen years – Pauline (me), her brother Albert and Sidney who Albert billeted with, and three of the Jones family who were billeted with their mother in a big house against the cliff at Porthcurno.
The children heard a bus coming and climbed onto a stone walled hedge, and waved to the driver and passengers as they passed. I could see that Pauline was clutching her dress at the waist, and realised that she was holding up her knickers! Oh, that wartime elastic!
Just as they were about to descend into the valley, the terrible wail was heard. The children screamed and took to their heels. Pauline froze to the spot, ‘Don’t leave me! ‘ she cried, and Albert ran back, grabbed her free hand and pulled her along. Suddenly the wailing stopped. The silence that followed was almost tangible. They all looked at one another, then laughed nervously as they realised that the wail had been the air-raid siren – probably a practice run. Too late for Pauline – her knickers were wet now.
When they reached the end of the valley road, the Jones’s carried on to Porthcurno and Pauline, Albert and Sidney walked on across another field to Sea View. Pauline looked into the Dairy. Her older sister Ella was there, washing down the equipment after the milking. ‘You are late. Where have you been? You’ll cop it! Get indoors quick!’ she said. Pauline crossed the yard and went into the house. Mrs Hocking met her at the door. ‘Where have you been? Why are you always late home? You have wet your knickers, you naughty girl. Get upstairs to bed – no supper for you,’ and with that she slapped Pauline’s legs and pushed her towards the stairs.
Pauline went slowly upstairs, sobbing. She went into the bathroom and kicked off her knickers, then went into the bedroom she shared with Ella. Still sobbing she sat on the bed. ‘I hate you!’ she said over and over again, but not so loud that Mrs Hocking might hear. Then ‘I want my Mum!’ She wailed loud enough for anybody to hear! Ella heard her from the dairy. Mr Hocking heard her as he drove the cows back to the field.
But nobody can cry forever. Pauline went over to the dressing table and leaned close to the mirror. It was a three-piece mirror; the two sidepieces were hinged. She pulled the two sidepieces close to her face, and then she could see her face many times over. She rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue, trying various ugly contortions all of which she would have liked to direct at Mrs Hocking. When she tired of that she took up her rag doll and began to sing to it - ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow.’ She choked a bit on that. Then, ‘We’ll meet again,’ and ‘Wish me Luck,’ and ‘Always.’ With each song her voice grew stronger, until she had quite forgotten the slapped legs and no supper, but was wholly wrapped up in singing. She had a strong singing voice, and picked up tunes quickly. She sang just as she heard, so ‘We’ll meet again’ sounded like Vera Lynn, and ‘Wish me luck’ like Gracie Fields. It was odd hearing these voices come from a six-year-old girl.
But what’s this? Mrs Hocking with two paying guests, standing outside the bedroom door, listening to the free concert, They smile at each other; saying things like ‘Well, I never.’ and ‘Extraordinary.’ I wonder for a moment if this business of sending Pauline to bed isn’t done deliberately, for it always ends up with her singing - - -
The cliff disappears and I am standing at the front of a class of 11-12 year old girls, uniformly dressed in green gymslips with red girdle, and white blouses. They are each in turn reading a passage from the book Ballet Shoes. When Pauline stands to read, I see that she has become a tall, shapeless girl. I can see that she enjoys reading, and she reads well. As she sits down, her teacher, Dr Batchelor, says ‘Thank you, Pauline. Well read. You have a slight speech impediment don’t you. Next.’
The girls turn to look at Pauline – some with compassion, but others with a smirk; some wondering what ‘impediment’ could mean, but feeling sure it couldn’t be anything very nice.
Pauline was thankful that she sat at the back of the class. She hung her head and wished she could disappear. She was very conscious of being a ‘Plain Jane’ – but had been encouraged by being told often that she had a ‘nice voice’ and to hold on to this as her ‘redeeming feature’.
I made to go to her; wondering if in this dream-like state, I could make some contact, when I saw her still shapeless at 16 – working in an office with a middle aged lady, and a man in his late thirties.
Pauline typed invoices and statements, and answered the telephone. She was learning shorthand, and occasionally her boss dictated letters. The office was a walled-off section of the factory floor. Immediately outside the office was the packaging/dispatch department. Beyond that was the area where the goods were ‘finished’ and boxed. There was nobody in the factory or office of Pauline’s age. Most were late thirties to sixty. Some craftsmen were over eighty years.
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