When I was a bachelor I used to live in a nice apartment. The problem was, keeping it clean. I thoroughly disliked anything to do with household chores. Because I didn't like living in a dirty place either I forced myself each Saturday morning to clean and tidy up the place, but I usually did this with a feeling of great dislike. Once, in the middle of one of my bad tempered Saturday morning cleaning activities, unexpectedly this gentle grace came over me and inside me I heard the words ' You don't have to do it like this, you can clean from a different place in yourself and do it while being moved by the latihan.' What then followed was an example of this that I was given, and I continued the cleaning with a wonderful loving and gentle feeling which came from inside. Also I was shown that if I did things -anything- from this place in myself then I would truly love and respect myself. Wow, I thought, I surely needed that lesson! I was very grateful for the experience and thanked God.
After I had finished the cleaning, still feeling the gentle blessing that had come over me, I went downstairs to open my letter box. In it was a letter from a dear Subud sister who used to live close by but now lived abroad. I couldn't believe what I saw when I started to read the letter. 'Nowadays,’ it said, ‘I find it so much easier to do things from the right place in myself, even cleaning the house I often do with a feeling of surrender and I feel that I am worshipping Almighty God while doing it.' Knowing this sister, I believed that what she wrote was true. I had noticed in the past that she would often do household jobs with a certain grace, particularly cooking. As a result of this her food usually tasted delicious.
I wondered if the experience that I had been given was because of the letter in my letter box, and that it had passed on to me the grace given to this Subud sister.
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At a time when I was going through many changes both inner and outer, I had an experience I’d like to share. I started out on the day in question with an anxious, uneasy feeling: almost weepy. I asked for a clearing latihan but the feeling persisted. I visited a Subud friend and talked about it , and an unexpected awareness began to emerge. This was, it seemed, connected with the part of my ancestry which is Jewish. My mother was Jewish and my father was Christian but because of their social and political beliefs, we were an atheist, communist household.
I then received that my Jewish ancestors were ‘sitting on me’ and that they were jealous. I asked inwardly whether I could lift them. “Yes” I received, “but they want to be carried rather than lifted.” “Should I do latihan for them?” I asked, “Yes, but alone.” After this I did another clearing latihan and it came to me: my Jewish grandfather, a pious Hassidic Jew had died 30 years before and nobody had arranged for the Kaddish Prayer for the Dead being said for his soul! Then in a great release, I wept and wept.
I contacted a Rabbi and explained that I am a Muslim, that my mother is non-practicing Jewish, about Subud and the need I was feeling to have Kaddish said for my grandfather. He was willing, but there were problems and each time I tried to move forward, it just did not flow so I let it go.
Two months later, a Subud brother died and as he was a Muslim, and I had known his wife many years, it fell to me to help wash his body and organise things generally at his funeral as a link between the Islamic society and Subud members. The following night, after leading the prayers at their home, I sat down next to a Jewish brother, Ike Isaacs of blessed memory. I was feeling peeled like an onion from the Zhikr and very close to my latihan. Suddenly I found myself asking him whether he knew the Khaddish prayer. I explained briefly—neither of us felt like going into the theology of it—and within seconds he had covered his head with a handkerchief to observe the tradition of respect and said “let’s go”.
Out in the garden, we stood just the two of us. Ike said, “Repeat after me…” and out came the Hebrew phrases; barely understood, half remembered from hearing my grandfather during my childhood. Halfway through, I felt as though I was in a different time and place and the words came through as latihan.
Only in Subud would you find yourself saying Jewish prayers during a Muslim Selamatan. It was very moving. I pray that my prayer for my grandfather’s repose may help him, the rest of the family and my children and their descendants.
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A couple of years ago I began to experience being 'talked to’ in occasional latihans in an entirely new way. I felt I needed to remember what was said, so started writing down
anything that I felt I should. This is the first one I recorded.
22.10.2010. First, I felt/heard the words “What is Subud?” - as though someone had asked me the question. I said, “It is a gift - a gift that, when you agree to be opened, you have accepted not knowing what it will be; an unexpected, freely given gift. This gift, when it is given, is one especially for you. It is a unique gift and what you do with it - if you accept it - is now your responsibility. For most people it is a very fragile delicate gift that needs to be handled carefully. First the layers of coverings have to be taken off to reveal exactly what the gift is and as an individual you have the choice as to how you do this. Tear the wrappings off roughly - so maybe damaging the content - or take more time and do it carefully to prevent any possible damage. And when the wrappings are all removed we have to learn about/understand what it is inside and what we are going to/or are supposed to do about it. It might be something we haven¹t seen before so that we have to learn what it's for, what to do with it.”
As I was saying all this, I was realising that this gift we are given with the latihan is an awareness of our self and also the tools to uncover who we really are, our true individuality - which is, in most of us, submerged beneath all its wrappings of the different life forces.
In a way, it is all a prelude to the gift - the power of God, which has room to manifest itself once we have removed all the wrappings and discovered/created an empty clean space. That is the real gift. Then there is space for the power of God to act through us.
Because the gift we have been given when we have removed all the wrappings is nothing! Complete emptiness, and if we are lucky - and play our part - from this, the power of God has the space to work in us. But most of us find that there isn¹t complete emptiness: a lot of things are also occupying the space that ideally should completely contain this original gift.
I have read what Bapak says about this emptiness in his talks, but here I was shown a reality for my self. The ideal.
Then I went into another space where I was aware of a quote from Bapak, which I had been reading previously, where he says we should try to latihan as humanity, not just as us as an individual and this seems to have started a process in me that is ongoing.
As for differences of opinion you may have among you, if all of you are always obedient to what is received in the latihan, free from the thinking and desires, there will be no misunderstandings. None! So, if there are misunderstandings, and people do not get on, it means that they are still using their desires, heart and mind. There is no such thing as not getting on among us, there really isn¹t, because what we receive in the latihan is one current from God to human beings, not to A, B or C, but to humanity.
So if you are in the latihan you are not there as Mr A. No. You are there as humanity, which is one. If you are in the latihan as a separate individual you will not be able to receive rightly. Your nature in the latihan should be that of humanity in general. It is important that you, that your inner feeling is as wide as this world. Then you can receive various things that are for humanity, and not just for yourself. In that way you can know the secrets of any place and any person. 63 BCL 10
On 12 September 2012 I had another latihan which expanded on the original experience.
I was reminded of the previous latihan where I was told that the latihan was a wrapped gift I had been given. Here I was shown it was a bit like the children¹s game Pass the Parcel. You unwrap a layer and there is a gift there .If you are lucky you get the gift, but maybe not. The temptation is to just be satisfied with this gift if you get it, and forget or don¹t realise there are many more layers to be uncovered with more gifts among them. Until, if you stick with it, you get to the last of\the wrappings when the final, in our case priceless, gift is revealed: the possibility is of finding out who we really are,
and then having the chance to fullfil our purpose on earth and eternally - according to God¹s will. In Pass the Parcel, this gift in the middle is often a gift that is shared byeveryone - which seems also very apt.
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In the Rotterdam group we always used to test whether it was right to open an applicant after the three month waiting period. Once we had an unexpected experience with this.
To date, we had always received that it was right to open an applicant, so that we saw this as a bit of a formality - until one day to our surprise we all received that it wasn't right.
A. was a young Finnish violinist from Helsinki, living in R'dam.
He was the boyfriend of a Subud sister and a stable and happy
fellow. After the three months we tested how it was to open him.
We unanimously received, 'No.' How was it to do it a week later, two weeks
later, a month, two months, three months later, etc? All were
negative. We were puzzled. Then I thought, 'Hold on, maybe it is not the time,
but the location which isn't right.' I knew that he visited Finland twice a year
and was going there in four weeks time. So we tested how it would be if he
were opened in Finland in four weeks time. We all received a
resounding 'Yes!' Strange, though.
I wrote to Subud Finland and received a reply saying that he
could be opened in Helsinki during his stay and that they would contact him. A. was disappointed though that he had to wait for another four weeks because he was eager to be opened.
He went to Finland, and after some time, returned radiant.
He told us that he had been dubious about the phenomenon
of testing in Subud and had doubted our receiving that he should be opened
in Finland but was now convinced of the value of testing and that our receiving had been very right.
His opening had been a wonderful experience for him and his
Finnish Subud brothers. It appeared that there had been only two men active
in Finland where there was just one group, the one in Helsinki. No men had
been opened there in more than ten years. The news of a coming opening
had spread and had brought several men back to latihan who hadn't been for
years. It had been a joyous occasion and a very powerful latihan.
Afterwards he had celebrated his opening with his brothers and sisters
with cakes and drinks. A. now knew that whenever he went to his home country he had brothers there to do latihan with and that they would welcome him with open arms.
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This is a sharing about three people in Subud. Like the fairy tale of the three pigs they found shelter and safety in coming together in a strong house. (My friends who have shared with me, please forgive my choice of stories here.)
So I won’t say the first pig, but rather the first brother, was isolated by great distance, though not in a straw house. The second brother self -imposed his isolation in the belief he could help the world better alone. The third had not felt much in the latihan and had reservations about its usefulness.
The first brother, isolated by distance, became aware after 21
years his inner was starving and he reached out by phone and started
simultaneous latihans. After four more years he made himself move to a group. He was closing in on 90 years old. He left a very comfortable
existence. It was not easy to learn new people and geography at that age, yet
his need to grow overwhelmed every other need.
The second brother did not associate with others in Subud for 14
years. Slowly, his latihans became weak and eventually no effort was made to do them. By the end of that time “the mind did not believe in any after life.”
But, oddly, he found himself trying group latihan “one last time” to see
if he “had made a wrong turn years ago”. His reasoning was that his feelings
towards his wife were maybe not as good as they had been 14 years
previously. In the final 30 seconds of that latihan he obtained the clear evidence he needed to become regular with the group latihan. He cried for two years after his return and then his Subud life continued and grew normally.
The third brother stayed away for 37 years. He had not found where the benefits were in receiving the latihan. A childhood friend said “Just
go twice a week for a year and then decide. Don’t worry about thoughts during latihan. Simply go and suspend your judgement of the latihan and its effect on your life.” Six years later, he is very grateful that he took that advice and treasures the group latihan, despite all the heart stuff that all of us
sometimes bring to the group latihan.
All three brothers are now regular and feel very fortunate to
have been graced by Almighty God with another chance to grow the inner life
through group latihan and to return toharmony with their brothers and sisters.
So why did the group latihan have that effect? I don’t really know.
I remember reading that Ibu likened group latihan to candle power in a
dark room which throws off much more light than one alone. I also remember her talking about “mutual aid”; something to the effect that every human on earth has inner strengths and weaknesses and the latihan passes around the inner strengths. These explanations seemed plausible to me.
My own experience is that it also works on my weaknesses as well making
me aware of their existence in a gentle persistent way and with help at timesto
let them go. It has been greatly beneficial for me to participate in the “wider” latihan with “mutual aid”.
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For the last three months, I've followed inner leading and reduced my commitments to latihan, painting, healing group and one volunteering situation.
Gone are the mahjong, choir, radio broadcasting and sundry
volunteering activities. The more empty the diary, just contentedly at
home alone, the closer I am to feeling 'on the beam' for the way my life is
meant to be lived (at this time.)
There was no choice and I didn't mind. It felt quite easy
Today, after preparing for latihan, I was sent to the bookshelf
to a little book which I had not looked at for years. It's a daily
devotional which somebody gave me long ago and it must be four years since I was last prompted to look into its spiritual message for each day of the
As I pulled it out, I noticed the bookmark … it was at today's
date! And here is the message:
The Way of the Spirit
The joy of meeting Me should more and more fill your life. It will.
Your life must first of all be narrowed down, more and more,
into an inner circle life with Me and then, as that friendship
becomes more and more engrossing, more and more
binding, gradually the circle of your interests will widen.
For the present do not think of it as a narrow life.
I have My purpose, My Loving purpose, in cutting you
away from other work and interests, for this time.
To work from large interests and a desire for great activities
and world movements, to the inner circle life with Me, is really the wrong
That is why, so often when through all these activities and
interests a soul finds Me, I have to begin our Friendship by cutting
away the ties that bind it to the outer and wider circle.
When it has gained strength, and learned its lesson in the inner
circle, it can then widen its life, working this time from within out,
taking then to each contact, each friendship, the inner circle influence.
And this is to be your way of life.
This is the way of the Spirit.
Man so often misunderstands this.
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