This Is How You Will Be
This experience occurred at exactly the midway point of Ramadhan, 2003 – 10 November, the 15th night.
It happened to be a group latihan that evening, and, what with the fast and a particular feeling of Grace that day, I was in an especially quiet place as the latihan began. The latihan itself was deeper than usual, but seemed to come to an end after about 20 minutes, so I sat down thinking that was that.
Immediately, however, I was stood up again and a new phase began. The personal ‘I’ was completely set aside and I was possessed by what felt like a great Being from another realm. The experience was way beyond my normal receiving or worship; it was totally proactive – a state that I tried to describe in my journal at the time as feeling felt like “a highly trained spiritual warrior, ready for action.” This state lasted for about ten minutes, and back then it was a little scary to sustain such a condition for that long. At the end I was told, “This is how you will be when He comes through, full of Light and Power.”
Because the state was unlike anything I had ever experienced in nearly 50 years of latihan, I took to calling it The Presence.
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One night I had a dream in which someone handed me two eggs. I said, ‘I am going to show Bapak,’ so I handed them to Bapak, whereupon he smashed one of them with such force it just seemed to explode in mid-air. He then picked up every part of this egg, put it in a bag and threw it out.
He then opened the other egg and inside were the most beautiful colours - some sparkling, some I could not recognise. Then Bapak got up and left, and as I walked past his room I noticed that his door was closed.
Ever since this dream, I can be in a room some nights with the door closed and all of a sudden it will open. This has happened a number of times, and each time I embark on what feels like the very difficult inner experience of searching for my True Identity. This calls for the exercising
of as much awareness as possible in trying to behave myself and coming to the
point of letting go with courage so as to able to live from ‘God’s Will.’
Although I do not find that this is easy, I feel that it is why we have been put on this earth.
This is the path I must hope to follow, despite the fact that it brings with it the, for me, frightening prospect of letting go of ‘self-interest.’ Sometimes I ask myself whether I will cease to exist if all my self-interest goes? The answer is always, ‘No, because then you will have your True Identity.’
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Like Laundry on a Rock
If I ever have had any doubts about who is running the show then this is a good reminder.
My husband was overseas and I was alone in the house, as I have emphysema and can't fly now. I fell asleep in the afternoon, which in itself is very unusual, and awoke to hear myself saying, "God is almighty." But as I fully came to I had absolutely no idea who I was, where I was and how I had gotten here. Some part of my brain tried to make sense of this strange environment and
my place in it. I stood up and wandered around this unknown house and was
curious about who else might live here.
As no answers were forthcoming I went outside, hoping the mystery might be solved. During this time it was with interest, not anxiety, that I viewed my new world. A wander around the property past fruit trees and dams and swimming pool, etc., brought me no closer to solving the riddle.
Then I remembered that I had a phone, located it and looked down the contact list. I vaguely recognised the names and chose one at random. When the call was answered I recalled who these people were. I spoke to the husband,
explained my dilemma and asked if he might just chat about nothing until I came to myself, whoever that was. Gradually it all came back to me: my marriage, the name of my husband and everything else. I then hung up.
The following day I was rushed to hospital with a nasty infection and shivered and shook and vomited all over the doctors. The rigors continued for about fifteen hours and I was exhausted. "God,” I said, “This is beyond a joke, take me now," and spontaneously burst out laughing, as I knew full well I had volunteered for this. This is a good example of Bapak telling us that when God cleaned us it was pretty rough, like banging laundry on a rock.
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In my earlier years I was very introverted and awkward with others. I relied
on reading and observation to steer my way through life. During one of his
visits to Britain, Mas Adji (Bapak’s grandson) quickly picked up on this and, in his inimitable way, started to work on me.
It all sounded so simple. “Just talk to people; they won’t mind. Use any opportunity to practice with people. Talk to people at the bus stop, for
example.” The very thought filled me with anxiety. Doesn’t such
behaviour just raise suspicions in most people? Anyway, I accepted the
medicine and persevered, with no adverse reactions.
A little later I was with Mas Adji one evening in Manchester, when he
suggested we go for a walk. I never thought of him as someone who enjoyed
recreational walking, especially on a dark evening in town. Sensing that I
was being tested or checked out, and encouraged by some previous successes, I decided to show him I had taken his advice to heart and determined to find an
opportunity for casual conversation.
Before long we encountered a man who was trimming a tree which overhung the pavement. I dutifully engaged him in conversation and he seemed pleased I had complimented him on his work. I was starting to enjoy the encounter when I noticed Mas Adji was backing away as if to withdraw his encouragement and let me stand on my own two feet. This emboldened me no end, so I continued, not pausing to think how odd it was for someone to be trimming a tree so carefully at night time.
Eventually I thought I had better not ignore Mas Adji any longer, so I took my leave. Adji made off without delay and without glancing back or speaking.
I had hoped he might say something like, “Well done!” and he must have
picked up my hope for some sort of comment. When we were a good few
metres away he looked at me saying, “Why did you speak to him? Oooh, ghosts... He had ghosts all around him.”
After that I tried to pick my conversations more carefully, but at least I did keep taking the medicine.
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Knew Him Before
Often on our way to Kandy we need to drive round the lake where the Hotel Suisse is located on the hill overlooking the lake. Kandy is the ancient capital of Sri Lanka and the hotel which was built over hundred years ago, still has the old world charm. If my eyes stray towards the hotel as I drive by, it is not unusual to remember our dear brother Abdullah Pope who is no longer with us. By strange circumstances, Abdullah was born in this very hotel in the nineteen twenties.
I first met Abdullah at the World Congress at Wisma Subud in 1971. With two other helpers i was involved in testing about enterprises and Abdullah was big on enterprises. We met over the years at Subud gatherings all over the world and only had time for the usual Hello and Hi! In Spokane, I told him that I was moving back to Sri Lanka, and during the Bali world congress in 2001 I spotted a notice that Abdullah would be giving a talk on enterprises that I was moved to attend. After the talk, I walked up to congratulate him on a very revealing talk, and as we shook hands he asked me if I had a few minutes to spare to talk to him. I said ‘Yes, of course,’ and hung around till everyone had left and he had put away the PA equipment.
We sat down in a corner and right away he asked me how I was doing in Sri Lanka after my return from the U.S. I replied that it was a little rough, but that since I lived in the suburbs of Kandy I was fairly safe. We were of course
referring to the terrorist activities and the war that existed in the north of
the Island. I even told him how one Sunday when a truck bomb went off at the Temple of Tooth, I made it to Colombo for latihan against all the odds. As we
were talking, I had the distinct feeling that I had met this person a long time
ago, even in another lifetime. At this point he told me that he had once applied
for citizenship in Sri Lanka, the country of his birth, (dual citizenship is possible) but the authorities had turned him down which truly surprised him.
He then went on to tell me about the extraordinary events that followed at the time of his birth in Kandy, Ceylon (SL); how his mother had fallen very ill at childbirth and hope that she would survive was zero because medical help was minimal. In fact, his mother had what we would now call an extraordinary Near Death Experience, in which she found herself leaving her body and in a very short time arriving at her family home in U.K. Here, as she sort of resigned herself to her fate, a voice had instructed her to return to Ceylon if she wanted the baby to survive. She did this and slowly regained consciousness and after some time her health returned to normal. I listened with absolute fascination as he talked about his mother’s experience, which in reality was a chapter from his own life.
I was to meet Abdullah for the last time in Perth, Australia, where he had settled down, when I visited with the IH group for the Aussie National Congress. He put us up at the hilltop farm and now he had plenty of time to shoot the breeze. One day I had got up early and decided to take a walk at the farm. I ran into Abdullah on a path and as we walked back the same feeling overcame me that I had known this person a long long time ago!
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Month of the Ancestors
Some people, both inside and outside Subud, have the experience of being visited by their ancestors during the Month of the Ancestors, the month
before Ramadan. Once during this month I had a dream in which I was visited by my grandmother and her oldest sister. Both had passed away many years before. At the time I was without work and was doing the housework while my wife had a job. My grandmother and her sister were displeased with me and they said: 'So, you're doing the housework? Well, you're pretty lousy at it! You like talking, that's what you do a lot. Go and try to make money with talking!” Later I found a job as a teacher.
For many years I always used to get irritable and angry during the Month of the Ancestors. My wife would recognise this and say, 'Has the Ancestor Month started, darling?' Once, I shared this experience with a dear friend who said, 'I think this means that you should really pray for your ancestors.' I had done this before occasionally, but not taken it very seriously. I decided to take his advice and prayed for my ancestors several times a day, as sincerely as I could.
Half way through this special month is the 'Night of Destiny,' when it seems that we can be of particular help to our ancestors. It is also said that this is when Almighty God might forgive our sins and also that we can receive indications about what is going to happen to us in the next twelve months. Several Subud members have experienced dreams in which they were
visited by an ancestor during this time.
It is traditional in some Muslim cultures to fast on this day, which is what I am used to doing. At this particular time, I was in latihan most of the day and following a strong inner wish to pray and pray for my ancestors. I prayed that God might forgive them and might guide them to the right place in the afterlife. I felt really blessed doing this. Later, I noticed that for the rest of this month the anger and irritableness had completely disappeared. I assumed that my ancestors were happier now.
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My father was 15 when he was sent to New Zealand from his orphanage in
the U.K., at which point he lost touch with his brother who was seven years
Dad worked in a remote part of NZ and only went to Gisborne (nearest city of 20,000) about three or four times a year. On one of those visits he was walking down the street when he saw a guy coming towards him, and he thought, "Strewth, he looks like me!" They walked past each other, then Dad slowly turned and looked at himself in the shop window to check that he did indeed look like the other guy, then turned to look after him. The other guy had also stopped about ten yards away and turned round. He came up to Dad and said, "I'm George Rawlings," and Dad said, "Good God - I'm your brother!"
So that was how they came to meet again, seven years after my father left the orphanage.
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