Where Is Your Head?
There are a few tests that I experienced with Bapak, which showed me something that was really valuable for my life. I knew, for example, that my habit of thinking was not really thinking, but a constant inane chatter in my head blocking my awareness and perception of what was and is going on, but
I was also sceptical about testing. In other words, one could say I was ‘hard headed,’ despite having very free latihans that left me happy with a feeling of well-being.
Bapak was not above or below giving one of his many children a thump to wake them up, but I was obstinate; I was not going to give up on my
scepticism until I had proof that testing was a tool for self-awareness,
self-correction and indeed self-development.
Thus it came about during a Sunday talk on the development of the human mind (Otak) in the Wisma Subud latihan hall in Jakarta with about a
hundred and fifty people seated, I am called to the front. Bapak is in his chair, relaxed as always and with a glass of water and a glass of tea put there by Muti his granddaughter. Bapak began the testing by saying that he seems to have developed the habit of taking as his example an intelligent, well-educated doctor. (Hm) So:
“Come to the front, Rachman. Relax. Where is your head?”
“Have you received?”
“No,” I answer.
“Receive again. Where is your head?”
“Have you received?”
I thank the Almighty that Bapak had the patience with me to go on, because patience is what I needed at that moment, together with a sense that something can change in me - that I can grow as a person. Whatever was happening to make me let go, it happened on either the third or fourth attempt.
Because, suddenly, I sensed my own presence in my brain. At first it seemed mostly in the front of my brain, then Bapak’s testing of me seemed to go deeper as he took anatomical slices through my brain to the mid part and then to the back. I was on a journey in my own brain. It had become a friend instead of a bother. Finally when this very pleasant state in my brain seemed complete Bapak said, “And now let your mind blend with the Universal mind.”
I cannot remember that state at all.
All I remember as I type this account some forty years later is my whole body shaking and the tears flowing down my cheeks as, by experience, my arrogance and my idea of myself had for a moment been humbled. I heard
Bapak saying, “Ya Ya, in that state you could not not even remember your
I had my proof.
There is a post script to this subjective account. A friend who was listening to this talk, given on 5 November 1978, sent me an email which prompted me to listen to it again myself and I see that I was just a small part in Bapak’s explaining about the use of the human brain and its development over
many thousands of years. Such a talk brings the spiritual and the scientific
into close proximity, a place where many scientists do not feel comfortable. I
recommend any who are interested in this subject to listen to the talk which is
in the Subud library (78 CDK 24).
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Havens of Peace
Recently I felt moved to visit the London Central Mosque, near Regents Park. It was the day of Ashura, which according to some traditions was the day when Moses guided his people through the Red Sea and God divided the
waters. I was fasting; many Muslims fast on this day as it is seen as a 'day of
God'. After I did my prayers I sat peacefully against the wall, enjoying being
in the domed hall with the blue carpet and the sunlight shining brightly through the large windows. I watched others coming in to worship their Creator, read the Quran, have a chat with a friend or just to lay down on the floor and, like me, enjoying being in this haven of peace.
What a blessing, I thought, to have this beautiful place of worship in the middle of such a big, heavy city. It felt like a real present from the Almighty. As I was sitting there I started to feel the latihan quite strongly. It lasted for more than an hour and this made me feel even more grateful to be in this place.
When later I shared this experience with two Subud brothers, both Christians, one of them told me that he'd felt the latihan strongly while sitting quietly against a pillar in the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and the other brother spoke of feeling the latihan regularly during Holy Communion.
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Deeper than Ritual
During a Subud gathering in Poio, Spain, I went with some other Subud members to a service in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. There
were several higher members of the clergy present who were passing by and had joined in. If I remember well, there were two bishops. A nun sang with a beautiful pure voice and there was the swinging of the famous botafeimero, the large metal incense burner.
The pilgrims were being welcomed and one of us was invited to say something about Subud. There was a strong atmosphere. At the end of the service we were given the wafer, and although I am not a Catholic I felt it would have been rude to refuse. When the wafer was put on my tongue and started to melt something strange happened in my chest. Something moved. I can’t say
whether I thought it was positive or negative, but something clearly happened. It definitely went deeper than a mere ritual.
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An Experience with Money
My husband and I had already booked a holiday in France and paid
for a two week stay in a little cottage in the mountains.
Then I read an announcement in Subud Voice about a zonal gathering to take place in Alicante. I was strongly attracted to the idea of going there for what would be our first Subud gathering abroad, but it happened to be at the same time we had planned our visit to France. It would be unthinkable to just lose the payment we made, go to Spain instead and spend even more! I decided to make a little advertisement and hang it on the wall in our local supermarket. If we could ‘sell’ our holiday, we would attend the Subud gathering.
Only ONE hour after I put the ad out there, we received a phone call from a family who were in the habit of paying a yearly visit to exactly the same area in which of our rented cottage was located during the time we had booked it. They were delighted to take over our reservation as it saved them some formalities and we got all our money back. We immediately arranged our trip
to Spain which brought many things of great importance to both of us.
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The Christmas Spirit
There is a stately four story building in the Queen Anne style that lies between the Palace of Hampton court and the village of Hampton. On one side it looks over Hampton Park with its green swards and its many sycamore beeches and chestnut trees. On the other it has a lovely rose garden, which stretches down to the ever-flowing river Thames. It was owned by a certain Lord Bearsted, but then became public property during the War and eventually a 35 bed
obstetric hospital. It is known now as Bearsted House.
It became my home for six months as I endeavoured to learn the art and science of good GP obstetrics. I had only one night at home a week. I was perpetually tired as I could be called for a birth at any time of day or night. My registrar and my guide for advice was in Kingston Hospital five miles away and sometimes separated at night by the Thames Valley fogs. My consultant
was a useless Irishman taken up with his private practice, whose standard piece of advice was to “Give her a touch of morphia, boy!”But it was a wonderful privilege to witness so many births and to hear the cries of so many newborn babies. We apparently appear from nowhere and at the end of our lives we disappear into nowhere.
Or do we?
One evening in mid-December, I went out into the garden to take a breather. I was very tired. I looked down across the rose garden to the Christmas lights strung along the banks of the Thames and began thinking about the meaning of Christmas and the cynical use that business made of it with carols sung over and over again into a meaningless melee.
I suddenly asked myself,” I wonder what Christ was really like?”
My walking was brought to a stop and a sensation, a kind of vibration, began in the pit of my stomach. It went on and on until all tension, all worry and anxiety had gone. This sensation then rose through my chest and then on through my throat doing the same as it had done in my solar plexus. It
eventually reached my brain, whose activity was brought to a complete
standstill. Shortly after a sensation of total bliss like golden rain descended
on me, and my views on Christmas have never been the same again.
Beneath the stress and rush of Christmas shopping, through the cacophony of carols sung over and over again and outside the requirements of religious observance and beneath all the sometimes forced present-giving there is a certain something. It is called the Christmas spirit. Is this a recognition within us that there is indeed a Higher Power who wants us to be happy and that to be so, we need actively to love both each other and ourselves?
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A Conversation with my Tongue
After reading about body testing in the last edition of Reminders of Reality where the writer recalled testing with Bapak about his brain coming alive I was prompted to share the following experiences:
When I’d been in Subud for about seven years Bapak came to London where I was living at the time. The day he arrived I fell over and fractured two fingers in my left hand. Later I was to discover the significance of this injury which led to my meeting Bapak’s wife Ibu Siti Sumari and to some beautiful experiences I had with her in the house where the party was staying. The fracture was very painful and I couldn’t move my fingers at all because they
hurt so much. However, in the latihans I had during this visit I was able to
move the fingers freely without any pain as if they had a life of their own. I
concluded that this might be because in the latihan my fear of pain was
paralyzed because it came from my heart and mind. Although I was aware that this was an experience mainly on the physical level, I was very grateful and
afterwards found I could move my fingers again painlessly outside the latihan as they soon healed.
Later, after I’d been in Subud for over fifty years, I had the following experience which showed me that our body parts can indeed have a life of their own. Because I had continued with latihan for so long I was now able to
experience the life of a body part even more clearly. This time it was to do
with my teeth. I planned to visit a country where I couldn’t speak their
language and where English was not commonly spoken so I decided it would be prudent to go to the dentist first. I wanted to make sure there was nothing
wrong with my teeth that might cause me to have to visit a non-English speaking dentist on holiday. My dentist X-rayed them which revealed nothing wrong and said it would be fine for me to go on the trip.
The holiday went well with no teeth problems but soon afterwards to my dentist’s surprise I developed excruciating pain at the back of my mouth
and behind my eye, a terrible headache and a painful swollen lymph gland under my jaw. My doctor was most alarmed as my blood pressure (usually normal) had gone sky high to the extent she thought I might be having a stroke and blood tests revealed severe blood poisoning. I was warned I might have to be admitted to hospital immediately as an in-patient. However, an emergency visit to my dentist revealed a tooth abscess somewhere at the back on my mouth, but it was too painful to open my mouth wide enough to locate the exact position of the infection and I was told to return in a couple of days to have a full inspection of the tooth and to have whatever treatment was required. Meanwhile I was dosed up with a variety of antibiotics prescribed by the dentist and by the doctor.
However I decided to attend group latihan the evening before I was due to see the dentist again as by then I was feeling better in myself although the pain in my mouth was still so severe I could hardly open it and still couldn’t distinguish which tooth needed to be dealt with. During the latihan I had the following experience:
My tongue moved on its own volition and pressed itself against one of the molars at the back of my mouth. I was very surprised to feel no pain as my tongue showed me this was the site of the abscess and I should point it out to the dentist the next morning. Then to my astonishment my tongue explained
that it was fully alive because I had always done my latihan throughout my life. It said that the offending tooth would soon be OK and that I had to have this painful experience as part of my purification. My tongue told me that every cell and part of our body has to come alive and be clean before we die and although it was sympathetic to my pain I had to understand the necessity of this. My tongue then explained to me that even saints have to be purified before they die and that is why when the bodies of saints are sometimes exhumed no traces of decay or corruption are found on their corpses as they were already purified before they died. The next day the dentist located the abscess and my tooth was cleaned and filled and I’ve had no further trouble with it. Of course I didn’t explain to the dentist about the conversation my tongue had had with me the previous evening!
Strange though this experience was I was grateful that the purification process of the tooth flare-up happened after I went abroad and before I moved house. Presently I live in walking distance of excellent medical and dental services but am just about to move to a more rural location at the opposite end of the country where I have yet to register myself with new services. Had the abscess happened after I had moved house or while I was abroad the outcome might have been much worse.
Finally, a body parts experience of a more pleasant nature. All my life I’ve loved making beautiful textiles and when I work on them it often happens that I feel my hands are alive and that they feel really happy when I’m making my creations with their help. It seems strange that hands can be happy because of how I use them! It seems that they, like my tongue, have a life of their own and are glad to help me in my life on earth.
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Best Birthday Present Ever
The first time I saw the spirit of a dead person, I wondered if I was looking at an angel. But angels look lighter than souls who have passed over, and as I relaxed I could see that it was my friend’s Uncle Bill, who had recently died of cancer. I had only met him twice, but we share the same birthday and I had felt a connection with him.
Communicating with someone who has passed over was a new experience for me, and, telepathically, he asked me to buy his wife some flowers that day. I wondered if it was the anniversary of his death or of their daughter’s, who had died the same year. At first, I said no to his request. After all, I barely knew the woman and to arrive at her doorstep with flowers just seemed too weird. But then my spirit took over and I said yes. I asked him how she would know they were from him, and he started singing ‘Raindrops are falling on my head.’ Then he was gone.
I phoned my friend and asked if it was his aunt's birthday or perhaps an anniversary. He said he wasn’t sure, so I asked him to phone her. He called me back and told me that it was indeed her birthday and that the song was the one Uncle Bill would sing while putting the children to sleep or doing odd jobs around the house. She cried and said that it was her best birthday present ever.
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