Escorted Into Space
About 30 years ago it was the custom, for a short time, in my Subud group in California that when a person was opened they began their first latihan with the helpers and then the rest of the women were invited in for a general latihan, along with the new member. On this occasion the latihan was
very strong. Although I did not feel any distress, suddenly I was aware of
Bapak's presence in the room. And in an instant I was transported out of the
room and was alongside Bapak, far away from the Earth. Looking back at the
Earth it appeared as small as an orange in a vast area. Then I was suddenly back in the room in the midst of the latihan again.
The experience was so unusual I might have doubted it happened except for the memory of also being in a deep and quaking latihan state for days afterward. I have no doubt of Bapak's love and caring in removing me from the room at that moment, for whatever reason unknown to me. And the beautiful memory of viewing the Earth from so far away often helps to keep everyday problems in perspective.
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Bapak Says ‘No’
A Subud sister who passed away some time ago told me this story. In her country there was a well known psychic who was able to see things from
people's previous lives. One day she decided to go and see him as she had always been curious about past lives. As she sat opposite him while he was trying to see things about her past lives, he suddenly said to her: 'I am sorry but I am not allowed to tell you anything. There's an Indonesian man with a black hat standing behind you with his index finger on his lips indicating that I should not say anything. This man seems to be a high spiritual authority and I am not allowed to go against him.' So she never found out about her previous
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This story is not mine but is rather wonderful, and I hope the people concerned won’t mind my sharing it, although I’m not giving any names or places. It was told by somebody who has since died.
There was once a woman who had never married and was part of a very religious, conservative family, in a rather conservative country many years
ago. She was also an older, independent woman. One day, she discovered she was pregnant and the father of the child was not able or willing either to recognise the child or support her.
It seemed there was nothing for it but to have an abortion, although the night before going to hospital, she prayed “Please dear God, I don’t want to do this, please help me.”
Very early the next morning, before she could go to hospital, her mother called. “Whatever it is you are going to do today, don’t do it! I saw the Virgin Mary in my dream, clear as you and me. She said, your daughter is set to do something terrible today, don’t let her. You must help her. What was it you were going to do today?”
So, they sorted everything out and with her mother’s protection they found a plausible story to satisfy society and the family and save face. The miracle baby grew up to be a wonderful man.
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Just wanted to let you know that I have one lovely similar experience to the fellow who kept feeling he knew someone a long, long time ago.
I know people say that often, but I too, like this man, have had that experience with one dear Subud sister. I saw her in a prayerful
position in a latihan and felt truly that I knew her long long ago. In
this life, whenever we happen to meet, she is very protective of me... It is
interesting, and I really appreciated hearing about this man's
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Guilty As Charged
It is said that the angels told the Prophet Muhammad about the behaviour of his followers. There are several stories about this in which the Prophet responded to the bad behaviour of certain people. I sometimes wondered
if this was the case with Bapak too, and with Ibu Rahayu as well, because many years ago I had an experience with this.
Not far from where I used to live was a large supermarket which was part of an international chain. One day they introduced a new system of selling nuts there. On display there were several containers with different sorts of nuts with scoops in them. You could scoop your nuts in a bag and weigh them. This assortment of delicious nuts looked so attractive that some customers
couldn't resist putting their hand in it and putting some nuts in their mouth. I
have to admit that I too did this sometimes and I found out that a well-known
Subud brother who lived in this area did the same.
This went on for several months, until one day we played Ibu's latest talk in our group. At some point, to my astonishment, I heard Ibu say: 'Ibu knows that there are Subud members who steal. You should realise that the angels see everything, and even when it's a small thing, it is still stealing.'
After the talk the Subud brother and I looked at each other sheepishly and I
never helped myself to some free nuts ever again.
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Shaikh ‘Abd A-Qadir Al-Jilani
After being opened in 1964, I had very little interest in religion of any sort – my attitude basically was that, since I’d been blessed to find what was the very essence of all religions, what would be the point of taking one up? So it continued for 17 years and I continued to find the latihan deeply satisfying. Then in 1979 came a latihan experience out of the blue, part of a series of experiences that were intense and lasted about 6 months, where I was shown that in fact I did need a religion, that it was the necessary outer corollary of the inner worship and that the religion God had chosen for me was Islam. You might say it was an offer I couldn’t refuse! So I didn’t.
Sometime later, in the early 80’s, I was reading one of Hussein Rofé’s books, ‘Reflections on Subud’, in which he described many of his experiences and conversations he had with Bapak, and it caught my eye somehow that Bapak had told him that this 11th century (CE) Saint of Islam had also been bestowed the same latihan directlyfrom Almighty God as he (Bapak) had been given. I determined to find out more.
As it happened, in 1986 I had to go to the UK to attend a meeting at Anugraha, and later I went and visited the curator of the British India Library in Blackfriars, Dr. Salim Qureshi, to whom I’d been introduced by the Imam of the mosque in Woking, Essex. From him I was able to obtain several of the works of the Shaikh
in microfilm format. So, that is how and when Al-Baz Publishing got started, and at this point there are over 20 books available on the list.
What I also did, in almost every book of the Shaikh’s that I published, was include as a Publisher’s Preface a sort of a ‘Message in a bottle’, that described very briefly in Islamic terminology what Subud was – i.e. the haqiqa, and the benefit of attaining the contact, or opening, as we know it and of following the latihan. As a result, many Muslims have come to Subud.
If anyone would like to read a bit of what the Shaikh had to say, feel free to visit the non-commercial site I set up in his honor, at www.albaz.com/shaikhabdalqadir and click on the link that says, ‘List of books from which excerpts…’ and then select from some of the discourses from his various works.
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A Blessing from the Shaikh
Since I first read the Shaikh’s 62 discourses in The Sublime Revelation, translated by Muhtar Holland and published by Al-Baz Publishing, I have always found them very enlightening and useful in my everyday life. Although I always feel personally very far from being able to attain the high standards set by the Shaikh, nevertheless the advice he gives has helped me a great deal over the years. The fact that I met Muhtar Holland and Ruslan Moore (who founded the Al-Baz publishing company) in Subud when I was very young seems to me, now I am old, not insignificant.
The following experience happened to me during latihan. It occurred just before my mother-in-law’s funeral which my husband, as her only
surviving child had the responsibility for arranging. Family members were due to arrive from all over the country and as the months preceding her death had been extremely stressful due to various serious and unresolved family issues I was not looking forward to this event.
After my mother-in-law’s death I and my husband had been responsible for clearing out her house and the room in the nursing home where she had died and where we had kept vigil over her body before the funeral. We had also been responsible for caring for her during her long illness with Alzheimer’s and for sorting out her financial papers which were in disarray.
I attended group latihan as usual a day or two before the funeral and after a while I felt the vibrations of a figure standing in front of me and suddenly the words: Shaikh ‘Abd Al Qadir burst out of my mouth. I became aware that the figure before me was the Shaikh, and just as I was registering this, I became aware he draped a protective all-enveloping robe over me and told me I was his daughter. That was the end of this brief experience, but when the funeral took place I felt as if I was under the Shaik’s protection and was able to get through what was a very difficult event, psychologically, feeling calm and peaceful. This is the only experience I had ever had of the Shaik in latihan but I know I can always read his talks if I need uplifting in my day-to-day life.
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My father was a devout follower of Muhiudeen Abdul Qidir Jailani, so much so that a few weeks before his passing away, my father was unexpectedly
woken up one night and he found the Saint standing in front of him, turban and
Soon after that incident, my father told me that he does not expect to live long. He said the Saint’s appearance was a sign that he will have to leave this earth. Sure enough, just like that, a few weeks later he met with an accident and passed away.
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An Intense Vibration
I am indebted to Ruslan Moore of Al-Baz for drawing attention to latihan-like activities taking place during al-Jilani's meetings, as recorded in contemporary accounts. For example: 'Then the Shaikh would say: "Now the talking [qal] is over, and we are ready to receive the spiritual state [hal]!" The people present would immediately feel an intense vibration, and they would experience the spiritual state and the rapture of ecstasy [wajd].' And, 'Finally, Shaikh 'Abd al-Qadir said: 'Let us have done with the talk [qal], and let us now return to the spiritual state [hal]: There is no god but Allah! [la ilaha illa 'llah]. Muhammad
is the Messenger of Allah! [Muhammadur rasulu 'llah].' All the people in
the audience were shaken with an intense vibration, and Shaikh Jamal ad-Din ibn al-Jawzi was moved to rip his clothes to shreds.' (From Necklaces of
Gems, trans. Muhtar Holland, Al-Baz).'
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Completing the Circle
Once I felt quite unexpectedly moved from within to embrace Islam. There are six mosques in the place where I live and I wondered which one to choose to go to, and see the imam. I tried to feel guidance while looking on the websites of the mosques and one seemed to jump out, although the website didn't give much information. I made an appointment with the imam and while talking with him I mentioned that I used to read the works of Abdul Qadir al Jilani in the past, not sure if he would appreciate this, since not all Muslims approve
of Sufis. To my surprise a big smile appeared on his face and he said, 'Well, this mosque is dedicated to the saint and many of us here read his works!' He then showed me the name of al Jilani which was written in Arabic above the door of the main entrance.
So this mosque became my Islamic hangout. I have learned to only go there when I feel moved from inside to do so, and when I do, I usually feel the latihan when I do my prayers there.
One afternoon I felt moved to go there again. After I'd finished my ablutions I
went into the main prayer hall to do my prayers. There was nobody else there and I was struck by the deeply quiet and peaceful atmosphere which filled the space. The sunlight was shining through the windows and surprisingly no sound seemed to enter the hall from outside except the lovely singing of some blackbirds. As I stood there, about to start my prayers, a deep latihan feeling came over me. I prayed several rakats but the urge in me to want to do latihan became stronger and stronger. I prayed for guidance and protection, and in the hope that I didn't do anything wrong, I started to do my latihan, repeatedly saying 'Allah hu akbar, Allah hu akbar,' which such joy and happiness while moving around the prayer hall. I did keep my eyes open though, just in case someone came in! After about 10 minutes my latihan stopped and I felt calm and peaceful. On the way home I wondered about the meaning of this experience. I certainly didn't want to make a habit of doing latihan in the
Somehow, though, it had seemed so appropriate, and of course, since this was a place of worship dedicated to Abdul Qadir al Jilani, the very saint who had received something similar to the latihan, 900 years ago, it felt like the circle was complete. I couldn't help thinking that, although the imam might not have
approved of this, I was pretty sure that the saint would have.
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