A Latihan Experience at my Mother’s Death
In his book Susila Budhi Dharma, Bapak writes that if a person does their latihan sincerely “their progress will benefit their parents, whether they wish it or not.” He adds: “It can be said that the child may be able to raise their parents to a higher level,” and “Even if it is not your intention to correct your parents’ faults their inner content will be spontaneously influenced.” When I read this, I hoped it might be possible one day, but didn’t see how it could really happen in my own difficult family circumstances.
Because of these I left home when I was only 18 and joined Subud at once, hoping it would help me to feel better and that I might be able to live a more sensible and stable life than my parents had done. Neither my father nor
my mother was interested in joining so at that time I was the only member of my family in Subud. Back then if you were under 21 you had to get a signed letter from your parents giving you permission to join, which they gave only when they heard men and women did latihan separately!
My mother was an orphan who had been brought up by Spiritualists who practiced table-turning to summon the dead, which terrified her; she was
afraid that Subud would be the same as this. Although I explained to her that
Subud was not like Spiritualism, I understood her fears and just carried on with my own latihan regardless. However, after seven years I married a Subud member and soon afterwards my mother had a strange experience.
My husband and I visited her on the way back from a large Subud congress where I had received the most powerful latihan I had ever experienced.
When we met my mother, she told us that she’d been woken in the night by three Malaysian-looking ladies wearing sarongs who told her it was now time for her to be opened in Subud. (My mother had lived in Malaya and recognised their clothing, which is similar to that worn by Indonesians).
According to my mother, the room became filled with vivid colour, even though the light was off, and she then saw me floating near the ceiling, advising her not to be scared but just to surrender to God. She said it was not a dream. This experience frightened her even more as afterwards she said she felt a very strong vibration which would not stop and she asked me to turn
it off! I didn’t know what to do about this so reported it to the local Subud group who asked her to come along and be properly opened. She refused, so I wrote to Sudarto Martohudojo (Bapak’s helper) about her experience and he too advised she should be opened, but still she refused. Sudarto advised me
not to force her to do anything.
Later, my mother developed serious mental health problems and Parkinson’s disease and became severely depressed. Her life with my father had involved her in many dangerous life-threatening situations which led to our family becoming refugees in three different war zones and there were other stresses in the marriage which had taken their toll on her over the years. Nevertheless, uncharacteristically, my father became her sole carer, refusing all help offered to him by his children and by the local authorities and charities. Still, he looked after her to the best of his ability and towards the end of her life held private prayer sessions with her, enjoining her to pray to Jesus for help and peace. This went on for two years, with my mother steadily deteriorating until
she finally committed suicide.
Of course I was devastated and as we drove to the funeral I felt even worse, and didn’t know how I’d get through it. I was particularly sad because although I hadn’t really expected the latihan to touch my parents’ souls
in the way Bapak described in his book, I never dreamt that she’d actually
deteriorate to the stage of killing herself.
As we drew nearer to the church where the funeral was to be held I suddenly had such a strong spontaneous experience that I asked my husband who was driving to stop the car. Even though I thought we might be too late to attend the service I just couldn’t bear to go any further. I was fully aware of sitting in the front seat next to my husband when all at once I felt my soul being lifted up out of my body and then I could see myself from high above, still in the car seat. I was pulled up higher and higher and then I suddenly found myself in a church filled with light. I saw that on either side of the church people were sitting in pews and they were all wearing white robes. I was then told they were my ancestors and they were dressed in white to signify they were dead and that they had come to witness the ceremony.
I then realised that leaning on my arm was my mother, looking very ill indeed, and on her other side was my father who supported her with his arm. She had to be propped up by both of us as we slowly proceeded down the central aisle of the church towards the altar. There at the end of the aisle stood a radiant figure that I knew was Jesus. His face was so bright I couldn’t look at it; from his heart shone rays of light and warmth and love. When we reached him he gave my mother Holy Communion from a communion chalice and then a
door opened which she went through alone. She had been accepted.
I was then told this was Heaven where I would go when I died and was asked if I would like to stay there now? This horrified me as I had three small children at the time and begged to be allowed to return to them. Then I
was told I could go back to my life on Earth and having made this decision was told I would live until I was at least 63 after which my work in this world
would be completed and I could then live on as long as was granted.
Afterwards I returned to my body safely and we were able to get to the funeral on time; all the time I was fully conscious of simultaneously still sitting in the car seat.
This whole experience resulted in my faith in God being strengthened and my belief in Bapak’s words that a person’s latihan can affect the state of their parents’ souls. It also happened that later on I was asked to work in a psychiatric hospital as an art therapist with patients who had tried to commit suicide. It was my job to try to help them to find happiness in life on their journey towards recovery and rehabilitation. I enjoyed this work so much I continued it for twelve years until my retirement.
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My Father’s Death
I always had a difficult relationship with my father and before his death had become somewhat estranged from him. His chaotic turbulent life in many different countries had a very damaging effect on me and my two brothers. I had left home early although I was fortunate to find the latihan when I was only 18 which healed me and later enabled me to build a more stable family life of my own.
Family life with my parents had been dysfunctional and my father’s alcoholism and hasty second marriage following my mentally ill mother’s
suicide complicated the situation further. It was like living in a
Victorian melodrama. He and his second wife lived some distance from me and my husband; travelling was difficult with our small children and I had little contact with him.
However, it was during his final illness that I had an experience that I would never have thought possible considering our relationship. One day there was a knock on my front door and to my surprise on the doorstep was a lady who told me she was the new regional helper who had just arrived in our region. She had found my address in the Subud Directory and had felt compelled to visit me. I invited her in and explained that I and my husband were just off to latihan in the small group in the country we belonged to at that time but she was welcome to join us.
This group consisted of several elderly ladies who all invariably had silent latihans although they were very sincere and respectful of the latihan. I and the visiting regional helper joined in this latihan. Suddenly the ladies burst forth into beautiful singing and a powerful energy swept over us. In this latihan I saw a very large air balloon and was made to embrace it and attempt to push it upwards. It was extremely heavy and I did not think it would ever get airborne as it was so heavy. Nevertheless I was made to continue to struggle with it and at last as the singing reached a crescendo I felt the balloon break free and observed it floating high above us. The ladies said they had not had such a strong latihan for ages!
After we finished latihan we all went home and as soon as I got through the door the phone rang. It was my sister-in-law who had just had a phone call from the hospital who had told her my father had died at exactly the time we were having the latihan. As this happened in the days before mobile phones and we had not been informed by the hospital that my father’s death was
imminent. We had no expectation that he was about to die. I felt that as the only Subud member in my family at that time I had been used to help him leave his body and the regional helper’s latihan had added power to our little group. She had no idea my father was so ill.
Later on I had a series of other latihan experiences with my father when I was shown the progress his soul had made after he died.
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A Test of Surrender
One Saturday morning I was awakened by an unusual feeling in my chest. It felt like my heart was being squeezed for a few seconds and then released. It was coming about once a minute or so. There was no pain and I felt calm. I wondered what was happening and what I should do. Maybe it would just go away, or maybe it was prelude to a heart attack. Should I go to the hospital to have it checked? A heart attack would be very inconvenient right now. I lived alone and had just moved to a new city and started a new job. I was in my 50's and very healthy with no previous heart problems. As I lay in bed mulling what to do, the heart squeezes continued. To relieve my quandary I surrendered it to God. Immediately I saw a burst of bright yellow stars over my bed which dissipated like fireworks do. Ah, the heart squeezes stopped. I was fine and shortly got up and joyously began my day. I understand this experience to be both purification and a test of surrender.
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A Subud Mother's Day
I was in my senior year in college, married and planning to have a baby after I was graduated. but had kept receiving a baby in my arms in latihan. This went on for weeks, then the word "bai" came, (pronounced ba-eee). I knew it was Arabic, and, sure enough, when I got home that night from yet another latihan of receiving about a coming baby, the Arabic dictionary said "Bai. baby". That was not enough to convince me. So the next latihan, I received quite loudly in English so as I might not miss it..."BABY!!!!!"
I continued to ignore this interruption in my well-laid plans to become pregnant in line with my intention to do so after graduation. Okay, but
the next latihan I was receiving all the regular indications - arms holding a
baby pose, etc - when suddenly I stopped where I was, eyes closed, quiet and
then I heard it: The voice. The angel. She said, so sweetly, "Don't you know.....that babies are from God?" at which I burst into tears and cried and
cried (couldn't believe I didn't believe enough) ~ until I suddenly stopped
crying, and the voice of the angel came back, saying, "God is trying to give you a gift. Are you saying you don't want it?"
As soon as the latihan was over, I got my husband and we went straight home. Michael was conceived that night for sure, because the next day I went right back on birth control devices to ensure I would have my own plans for when I got pregnant.
Thank God I did not get my way.
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The Inner Wisma Subud ?
In 1973, when I was in my thirties, I had a dream that stayed with me despite the fact that usually I cannot ever remember dreams. Before going to sleep that night, my husband and I had had a heated argument which was very unusual for us. Usually we lived in a cold war situation.
In this dream, we knew that Bapak had called for us to come to Cilandak and we flew there in our bodies. Bapak was waiting for us at Pak Sudarto’s home dressed very casually and when we arrived he was leaning on ‘Darto’s fridge, watching TV. Cilandak seemed deserted, though Marjam Kibble was somewhere in the background and Pak Harjono and Ismana were around also.
First Bapak told us off for fighting then he gave me a job which involved deciding who should be allowed to come to stay at Wisma Subud. Bapak
then demonstrated what would be required of me by holding each envelope of
request in his hand, without opening it, then receiving yes or no from the
content within. I assured him that I could not do that (I was only open three years at the time), but he quickly made a gesture as though batting that self-doubt away.
Then he carried me high in the sky so that I looked back at the earth. We were very, very far up in the air yet I could see Wisma Subud. However; it was not the one we knew. This Wisma Subud was a huge longhouse like the ones we see in jungle societies. It was labelled with one of those little flags that we see at feasts with the names of specialty cheeses on them. Also, from on high, I could see other places with name flags like Hari Krishna, Yoga and various spiritist practices around the globe. Our longhouse was huge even from so far
That was in 1973 and in those days there was not much talk about Borneo where Dayaks live in longhouses, but nowadays I could perhaps be forgiven
for believing that the inner Wisma Subud is now located in Kalimantan.
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