Praying for Subud
After finishing your book and reading more about Fatima, I began to feel that I should ask Mary to pray for all Subud members, that our commitment to Subud be renewed and strengthened. I also started wearing the Miraculous Medal.
In about a week, I had the following dream: I was standing in front of a table upon which were two candles, decorated with pictures of Mary and floral motifs. A voice then said, "Your request has been granted." And I understood that the experience was related to Our Lady of the flowers.
Upon awakening and researching Our Lady of the Flowers, the only reference was to the Jean Genet novel. But then I remembered Sharif Horthy's YouTube video on the growth of Subud, in which he recounted his receiving that what Bapak did was to plant seeds. And I felt the dream image was appropriate, because I believe many members are praying for the flowering of Subud on this earth.
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A ‘God Job’
Monday night latihan in the winter, two ladies turn up, me being one of them. The hall is peaceful and we begin. After a short while I begin to feel another presence in the room, and I see her even though my eyes are closed. I experience a dreadful feeling from this person. She is female and whatever she has done in her life has been very low. She walks across the hall and sits in my chair and at this point she becomes extremely large, expansive and even more menacing. I have to admit the hairs on my arms were standing to attention! I asked God to protect me and for an indication of how I should be. My body replied by standing very strong and being very centred. This continued until the end of my latihan, but the feelings and her presence remained.
Then, early Thursday morning sleep was interrupted by the presence of this female entering our bedroom, but she was far gentler. I was then shown in my half-awake state what she had done. She and two male accomplices had taken the lives of two young girls and attempted the life of a third. This third girl had managed to save her own life only upon the death of my visiting female presence. Here it ended until Thursday night’s latihan.
Two of us came to latihan. We started and the female presence arrived. She walked towards me firstly with anger but the closer she got the weaker and more remorseful she became. Finally she was on her knees, in tears and asking for help. I stood there and thought, what do I do now? I asked for God’s guidence and some angels to help me. Two angels arrived and stood on either side of me. The female presence wanted forgiveness, forgiveness from God. She didn't know what to do or how to go about it. I said, “All you need do is ask." Everything was ready, and without difficulty it was necessary for me to have a latihan for this female presence to enable this process of forgiveness of begin.
Afterwards, an enormous heaviness lifted; what had been requested had been fulfilled, and she was peaceful. Then, turning around after having talked to the young girls, she walked away. I asked the angels where she was going, and they replied that she was now on the first level of being a human being. At this, the angels and girls left, leaving me to finish my latihan. I have had no more visits from her and I feel an enormous sense of peace has descended. Thank you, God. I shall always be at your service. This happened last week, and I await the next 'God Job,' as I call them.
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Latihan in Heaven
My wife and I were on holiday abroad. We were near a place where there was a small Subud group and we decided to contact one of the members there and see if we could join them for latihan. They were happy for us to join, and the next day we went to the member's house were they used to do latihan. Besides me and my wife there were two other men and two women. Before latihan we had a chat and drank tea. I had never met any of these Subud members before, but my wife knew one of the women. I was trying to have a conversation with the member whose house it was, a rather reserved and formal elderly gentleman. Being the typical noisy extravert, I have to admit that I didn't particularly warm to him. After a while the men and women split up and after a quiet we started our latihan.
What a wonderful and unexpectedly deep latihan it was! - so different from my normal latihan. I felt as if I were in Heaven, everything around me felt so peaceful, clean, pure, and filled with God's Grace. I opened my eyes and saw the elderly gentleman standing with his arms raised, obviously deeply in latihan, and I knew that this was where this special feeling came from. This brother seemed to be acting as a channel for this special latihan. As we continued, a closeness and love started to develop for him during this latihan.
After latihan, we drank tea again with the ladies. This time I felt completely different towards this older brother compared to when I'd first arrived. We had a nice chat while all the time I felt this closeness and love for him. This man, whom I had never met before, felt like a very dear brother now and it was as if we had known each other all our lives. Later I was reminded of something Bapak had said about helpers who truly surrender in the latihan can be a channel for the members and if this happens the members will feel really close to them.
My wife and I left after warmly thanking our hosts for their hospitality and I never saw this brother again. Later that year news reached us that he had peacefully passed away a few months after our visit. Then I understood why this latihan had felt so heavenly. I was sure that it had been a foretaste of Heaven, the place this dear brother was on his way to. Bon voyage, bro; hopefully we'll meet again.
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When I heard about Subud members having Subud names, I didn’t really know what to think. It reminded me of the followers of Bhagwan and Hare Krishna who all changed their names and I thought it was rather odd and illustrating a lack of personality. Maybe I should mention that I am opened after Bapak passed away, so I had never been part of the direct contact and mind blowing experiences that the pioneer members received while being around Bapak. Anyway, I had no intention of changing my name and I thought my Christian name was fine. To be honest, I was rather attached to it, maybe even proud, for the meaning was “Pearl”.
I will tell you what made me change my mind. It was during a national congress, I think the first one I attended that involved staying a full weekend in some monastery in the countryside. The ladies’ latihan took place in a very high room with stained glass windows. I remember the latihan in the second day starting off with wild and loud singing. Perhaps around 30 women filled the space with their voices, all contributing to an impressive choir, and most of them moving around at the same time. I felt such an aliveness and happiness of being together with all these souls, praising and glorifying the Almighty Creator! Standing in the middle of this space, filled with all kinds of different energies, yet unified through our worship of God, I felt the sunlight from outside falling right on me and filling my body and my awareness, until I became that light and felt one with it. I was aware of my body and at the same time felt I was much wider and lighter than my body. While this was happening I was saying: “Father” and repeating that several times. This became: “You are my Father” and expressing this filled me with such joy and awe, that words cannot describe it. I was in a different state, feeling “enlightened”, but still completely conscious of who I was and where I was. I (my normal “I”) sort of dissolved with the light and I didn’t notice the latihan had finished until almost everybody had already left the room.
After this experience, I had a different relation with my surroundings and my body than usual and I felt no need to talk for some hours. The feeling was so light and precious and I was all at one with myself. I would have liked to keep it forever! During the rest of the day, I slowly returned to my normal self, feeling deeply quiet and peaceful within. After a very lonely and at times rather depressed youth and first adulthood, the experience meant so much to me that I wanted to make sure I would never forget this gift I had received. So I thought a Subud name would be a sign of gratitude and at the same time a reminder of the power of surrender. The meaning of the name I received from Ibu Rahayu was: “Rich gift”.
Shortly after receiving this name I had a clear dream. This dream showed me that a heavy burden had fallen off my shoulders by accepting my new name. The thing is that I was named after my father’s first wife who at a very young age had died of cancer, after just two months of illness. Only a year after her passing away and leaving her husband and a three year old son behind, my father remarried my mother and I was born within the next year. From early childhood on, I had always been aware of a sad aspect in my father’s presence. In fact, I felt very sorry for him and I always wondered if he had ever really expressed his grief about this fundamental loss. By carrying the name of his deceased wife, unconsciously I seemed to have a strong awareness of my father’s inner pain of having lost his first love and the mother of his son. So after that dream I realized that asking a Subud name implied an essential step in letting go of the invisible string that kept me attached to something that happened before I came into this world, a burden that wasn’t mine. It felt like a huge relief, even though the rest of my family thought I had lost my mind and I was part of some eccentric sect.
Six years later, however, I received another name from Ibu Rahayu,
when she replied to a letter I had sent her about something else. She wrote that the right name for me was different now. It was “One who has mercy”. I really liked this a lot and changed my name again, which was easy because I had just moved abroad and nobody knew me anyway. I have always kept this last name and still am very satisfied with it. It has helped me to become stronger and more centered in myself, while still feeling wide and open at the same time. I feel very blessed whenever I consciously listen to my name.
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What’s in a Name?
In the second year after I was opened, I wrote to Bapak asking for a new name.
In those days, when you asked for a new name, it was customary for Bapak to send the first letter and then ask for TEN names starting with that letter. The letter was R. I was delighted and jotted down nine names, all Eastern, at which point I just could not come up with another name that sounded right. I finally choose a very western name that felt good starting with the letter R. When I received a reply from Cilandak, signed by Bapak, it was the western name starting with the letter R!
I had lot of explaining to do to my family, even though I already bore an English name. The Subud community, on the other hand, accepted the name without much fuss. For my part, I felt as if a great burden had been lifted and life seemed to flow smoothly.
Some years later, when our first child was born, we sent for a name and Bapak
again sent the letter R, with instructions that the father could select the name. I picked a name after testing about it.
Before the birth of our second child, I went into the foetal position on the floor during latihan and kept repeating a name beginning with the letter H. I was
aware that this had something to do with the unborn child, and I wrote to
Bapak immediately. Bapak confirmed that it was indeed the name I could use if the child was a male, while also sending another name just in case the child
was a female. That’s how my two sons were named.
Looking back, I believe that without the new name my life in two foreign
countries would never have been the same and my children’s may well also
have gone a different way.
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An Angel Says Goodbye
I have been given to witness many a miracle since I was opened
in Subud some 40 years ago. On Sunday afternoon, 23rd December, 2001, for example, I was on the sofa in the lounge looking across the room through the door into the kitchen while listening to Christmas carols playing on the TV.
I was fully awake, in full consciousness and sober, listening to "Amazing Grace," one of my favourite Christmas hymns, when an angel suddenly
appeared from nowhere in the kitchen
I knew that the angel was none other than Djuwita, my niece,
then living in Connecticut in the U.S. That was the understanding that was given to me. She was wearing a white robe, facing away from me, and then she started walking slowly away from me towards the kitchen window. I only saw her from behind. I did not see her face, but I could feel her serenity, her inner peace and calm. Then she disappeared and I knew that she was walking "Home" to the "Pantheon of Angels.”
I felt that Djuwita is leaving this mortal world, and the message that came through was that she had come to say good-bye to me. But how could I tell my niece and my brother in the U.S. of that experience? I simply couldn’t, not at least until events unfolded.
Needless to say, therefore, I had to keep this receiving visitation and its message to myself. I couldn’t possibly share it with my niece or with her parents, who were also living in the U.S. Yes, it was a privilege to have a visit from an angel but it was also a responsibility and a burden to keep it secret from my relations. Also, it saddened me to know my niece, who had been
spiritually attuned to me since she was a young woman, was going to leave.
My niece passed away prematurely eight months later, aged 50, on
6th August 2002, after a period of illness. She was survived by her husband and three daughters; one of 18 and twins of 13. In the intervening time, before she passed away, she and I had a lot of meaningful communication of a spiritual nature. I was also able to tell her of her visit to me as an angel in December 2001, and in one of her letters to me, dated 21st May 2002, she wrote:
“I am surrounded by angels. God has sent you all to me. Each angel has unique gifts to offer. One brings the wonderful gift of laughter. Another has a face so full of love that without a spoken word she soothes one. One of my angels has healing hands, and a soul full of compassion, wisdom and empathy.”
I have no doubt she is already in the company of angels in the “Pantheon of Angels."
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Sometimes, as if through a misty curtain of flowers and light, I can still see her. Her name was Sumari. Siti Sumari. But I called her Ibu. She was very special. Not like a movie star or somebody famous. I don’t know how to put it into words, but it was something lovely and light that you could feel when she was near.
I didn’t get to see Ibu a whole lot as she lived in Indonesia, and I lived in California. But we both travelled and visited each other’s countries. Late one summer, when we were both visiting a place called Skymont, in Virginia, I spent almost a whole week with Ibu.
She told me stories every day, and when I had to dress up for something, I would come show her what I was going to wear. And later, we would go for walks, and she would take my hand and tell me more stories.
In all her stories, there was always someone who was ordinary on the outside, but very “special” inside. What made them “special?” They never complained, they were always grateful to God, and, as Ibu would say in her
gentle sing song way, “Every minute, every hour, every day, they ask God’s
Asking forgiveness, for Ibu, meant asking to be clean, to be returned to one’s real self instead of being all cluttered up with ideas of trying to be like somebody else. It wasn’t about breast beating and wailing about guilt. It was a way of receiving God’s grace.
By November, the glow of summer had gone. It was a cold, damp, Northern California winter. I was missing Ibu terribly. I was also experiencing many difficulties in my life. Test after test. Many times, out of the blue, I felt like Ibu was asking me to come visit her in Indonesia, but I would rebuke myself for having such thoughts — as if I could “receive” such a message from afar, as if Ibu would send a message to me of all people. And then I would ask
forgiveness for being so prideful.
In February the word came. Ibu had died.
Oh no! I felt terrible. It felt like the bottom dropped out of my world. It dawned on me that she had indeed called me, but I had dismissed the message and had not gone. I cried and cried and cried.
I was still crying two days later. But as I lay in my bed I felt Ibu come into my room. Not in the way you could see a person, but in the way you can feel a presence. And she sat in the chair near the bed. It was a chair my grandmother had covered in a fabric full of tiny pink flowers. Ibu very much liked pink.
“Why are you crying?” she asked.
“Because I won’t ever see you again, “ I sobbed. “Because I didn’t come when you called me.”
"You mustn’t cry,” she said. “Ibu loves you.”
I blinked up all my tears and turned to look at her, for when she said that, I felt all full of rose petals — a kind of feeling I’d never had before. But when I turned, I couldn’t see her at all. And then I thought to myself. “Now you are really losing it. You think Ibu is sitting in that chair and talking to you.”
“No,” Ibu said laughingly. “I am really here. And to prove I am here, I will tell you a story.”
This is the story Ibu told me:
Once there was a woman who lived with her young son in a little house way out in the country. And they were very, very poor. She had no husband or family to take care of her, and her son, while he was a very good boy, was still too young to earn a living. So the woman had to do everything all by herself.
Now because they lived way out in the country near the edge of the forest, the woman couldn’t go out and get a job like people do nowadays. There was no town nearby, no neighbors to turn to. No, she just had to make do with what she had, and that wasn’t very much.
But the woman was a very good woman, and never complained about her situation. Every day and every night she prayed to Almighty God and thanked
God for what she had and asked God to help her live a right life. And then she
would sing God’s praises and go to sleep. And in the days, she would scrub and clean and play with her son. And somehow, there was always enough.
But then things got harder, and there were days when there wasn’t enough to eat. But still, the woman didn’t complain. She would just give more of her portion to her son and work harder to make ends meet.
One day there was a knock at the door. And when she opened the door, an angel appeared before her.
“God is very pleased with you,” the angel said, “and he knows your need. So he is sending a special gift so that your troubles will be over, and you will never have to worry again.” And with that, the angel disappeared.
The woman got very excited and quickly called her young son to tell him what had just happened. What could it be that the angel would bring, they wondered. And they danced around imagining what treasures the angel might bring so they would never have to worry again. They laughed and joked about the wonderful things they would do, and thanked God for their good
The next day, the angel returned. He again knocked at the door, and she ran to the door to open it.
“Here is your gift,” the angel said, placing something before her, “the gift God promised you.” And again the angel disappeared.
Slowly the woman went forward to see the gift. It was a
cabbage! Not a golden cabbage, not a silver cabbage, but a plain, ordinary
green cabbage. A very nice, full, green cabbage with nice crisp leaves, but
still a cabbage!
“Why, this is just a cabbage,” the woman said to herself. She wondered how such a cabbage would end all her difficulties. And as she took it in her hands, she thought, “Even if I am very careful, the cabbage would only last for three days before it would be all gone.”
She began to wonder if she’d heard the angel correctly in the first place. Maybe he wasn’t even an angel. Maybe this was some terrible joke.
But then, she caught herself doing this and stopped, “I am complaining to God,” she said to herself. “I am sitting here thinking that I know better than God rather than accepting the very gift God chose for me.” She quickly begged forgiveness for being ungrateful.
“Well, we have no food,” she said to herself. “And this cabbage will certainly feed us for a while. So I shall wash the cabbage and cook it, and thank God for taking care of our needs.”
So she went to the sink and began to wash the cabbage ever so carefully in the cool running water. As she peeled the leaves back from the cabbage, she began to sing.
But when she peeled the leaves from the cabbage, she suddenly discovered that there, inside the cabbage, in its very heart, was a wondrous jewel, and it was full of light.
The woman began to weep for joy, for this jewel was far more precious than a diamond that could be bought and sold in the market place. This jewel was a gift from God. This was a gift that would always belong to her, that she could keep inside herself, a gift whose light would shine outside. It was a gift that could never ever be stolen or taken away.
And indeed, the woman's troubles were over, and she knelt down with her son and praised Almighty God.
“You see,” said Ibu at the end of her story, “Sometimes God sends us a gift, a gift that seems very ordinary — so ordinary we might not even notice. But sometimes, what seems very ordinary is truly very very special.”
And then she was gone. But I knew she had come. And she gave me this story, and I still have that rose petal feeling.
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