A dear Subud sister has recently passed from this life. She was rather unique, and I am reminded of a story she told once to our great amusement.
She was attending a Christian church service when she felt the latihan and called out "Allah". and then to herself "Oops." An uncomfortable silence followed, until she heard herself say, "luyah" and then "Allahluyah, Allahluyah"..
The latihan can fix anything!
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Jiwa to the Rescue
Bapak has spoken many times about managing our “inner household.” He says that over time with the process of purification our inner household will be less chaotic and increasingly directed by our true self/jiwa rather than by our nafsu/unruly servants who tend to do inappropriate things. Bapak says that as our jiwa grows stronger, it will spontaneously manage our nafsu and bring order to our feelings within. I would like to give a couple of examples of my experience of this.
One evening at home I found that a favorite blouse of mine had been borrowed by my teen aged daughter. This was strictly against the rules and absolutely not allowed! Upon discovery, I was instantly angry, but something strange was happening. My anger was not inside me, but outside of me. It was the size of a basketball spinning in front of me. Then it passed through my body from front to back and was gone. My anger was entirely gone and I felt calm and relaxed. What a relief it was. My jiwa had stepped in and handled my anger. I was then able to speak with my daughter in this calm state and get her
Another time, while at work a colleague approached me with complaints and criticisms, going on and on about it. As I listened I could feel myself becoming defensive. I could feel the pressure of the nafsu in me rising from deep within . . . rising . . . and getting ready for a counter attack. Suddenly something in me took control and totally deflated the rising nafsu, and the feeling of defensive pressure was gone. My jiwa had stepped in and handled the situation. This happened spontaneously and I was simply the observer. I was then able to give my colleague an explanation with kindness and patience.
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A Visit from Varindra
Shortly after Varindra Vittachi's wife died, he came for a visit. There was an intimate group after latihan and Varindra was transformed by his grief. He looked transparent, really sensitive, humble and very sweet. I was sitting across from him as he was sharing some of his wonderful stories. I felt
very close to him, felt a lot of love for him and he reminded me of my own
father and the whole feeling was of something special being communicated to me specifically. Like a secret being shared, a baton being passed from hand to
He talked about how he prepared himself to tell his stories, how he made himself empty and "waited for Bapak." All the while I felt that connection. I knew him a little socially but not well. At that time in my life, there was nothing to explain why I was being given that particular gift.
A few years later, having had hardly any contact with Varindra, a friend called to tell me Varindra had just passed away. I consoled her as best I could and stepped into the shower. Varindra appeared to me. I said, really now, you could have waited till I'm dressed. Typical! He was serious though and
I noticed he was holding a tight little bright red scroll, which he proceeded to
push into my chest, just to the left and above my heart. "I can't think of
anyone else to entrust with this" is all he said.
My understanding is that we experience things in a "handwriting" that we can read. I'm not claiming I'm the only person to carry on Varindra's legacy, just that this understanding was passed to me.
I would be interested to know if others have had similar or the same experience. All I can do is report what I felt to be a very real experience.
Like Varindra, I do try and empty myself and wait before I write anything, or share any of my work. It has taken all these years of experience, work and the right circumstances to put what I was given into practice. I still had to understand and know for myself first.
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A Sweet Reward
A few years ago I was a regional helper visiting a small group of Subud ladies a three hour drive away from where I lived. We were meeting in a member’s home and I would be meeting most of the ladies for the first time. Another regional helper, and a new helper at that, would meet me there. When we all arrived and introduced ourselves I noticed that the conversation immediately turned to such things as the weather and allergies. Time was short and we only had a few hours together, so I gently brought the conversation back to Subud and the latihan.
Basically, I worked the room to discover what the ladies present needed. One lady requested to test about becoming a helper, two others needed personal testing, the new helper needed to feel accepted as a helper, and a lady was there who wanted to be opened immediately. So many needs to take into consideration for our short time together!
We had a nice lunch and the ladies were very chatty, but I gently steered the group to have an applicant meeting, then a general latihan for those who were opened, followed by general and personal testing for those who wanted it. The trick was to keep things moving in a natural flowing way so that everyone got the attention they needed. I was careful to consult the new helper and suggested she ask some of the testing questions. The afternoon went well, and at the end of the day we all left feeling like new best friends.
It was on my long drive home that something unexpected happened. As I was driving down the highway I felt a gift from God enter me. It can best be described as a sweet vibration that suddenly entered my chest and glowed there for a while. I remained quietly alert as I drove down the road, and felt gratitude for this gift. Now I know what Bapak means when he says that helpers may receive a reward for fulfilling their duties.
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The Training of a Helper
At a certain point in my life as a helper, I was just about to join in testing, when I received to leave the room. I obeyed. Then I was told inwardly, to
stop taking off my shoes and asking questions. After this, I had to give up
testing for a long time, although I could do latihan with the members and talk
to applicants. I accepted that I was in training. Information, if asked for,
hadn’t ever come to me in testing or the latihan so I’d had to ‘interpret’ feelings. My receiving has tended to come unbidden; while washing the dishes or walking along; information is dropped gently on me as I live
When I could join in testing once more, I was somewhat obedience trained and had learned to wait and say only what I was told to say. That was my training. For me, it wasn’t right to interpret, but just to say what I was told to say, and so I did that. There were times when it took courage to say things that people might not wish to hear and absolutely nothing came in response to the popular type of questions such as “How is it for me if I move to Scotland?” At those times, I was a column of light with nothing to say.
I was in for a big surprise when I became a national helper and joined in testing about the general condition of the Subud groups. We’d asked about one very small group, and I found myself in a blank grey space where I heard someone screaming. It was me! Suddenly I was seeing the Ku Klux Klan; a vision accompanied by a feeling of terror. I was quite physically shaken, and no ‘instructions’ were forthcoming either. I described what I’d seen and, as the description of the state of a Subud group, it sounded ridiculous.
Later that year, three other national helpers and I travelled to that very group on our journey around the country. We arrived, stepped out of the car and proceeded to walk towards the gathering of members standing at a distance. Suddenly, a man came out with a shotgun and proceeded to shoot it off above his head repeatedly. It was terribly loud. We kept walking forward and I was made aware that certain forces were reacting to Bapak and the latihan as though it were he himself approaching. Despite the unusual reception I felt safe, still and quiet inside a bubble of latihan and the others didn’t seem to flinch either. Slowly, steadily, side by side, the four of us advanced smiling towards our brothers and sisters as though this were an everyday occurrence.
The moment had passed; everybody made us welcome, the visit was pleasant and we were looked after very well. As far as I recall we didn’t even discuss the unusual welcome. With the help of this experience, I understood that Bapak is the only helper and that we just travel around on his behalf doing latihan.
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I read in the latest Reminders about a lady who, rather embarrassingly, called out Allah in a church service. I had a similar experience when, many years ago, I was admitted to hospital for a minor operation that needed a general anaesthetic. Everything went well but in the recovery room I came to hearing a nurse saying, 'Are you a Muslim dear?' Suddenly I realised I had been singing 'Allah' unconsciously. I suppose people say all sorts of funny things in these circumstances so nothing more was made of it. However, since I was a relatively new member at the time, I was quite pleased later on to think that the latihan was already so embedded.
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I've had the same experience as the lady who wrote the Sweet Reward story. When returning home from a NH's meeting, or visit to a group, I've sometimes felt a reward in the form of a blessed and peaceful feeling.
Once I visited a group and I felt moved to ask some test questions after the latihan. I always start with asking God for guidance to ask the right questions and then making myself empty, surrendering and waiting for the questions to come. This time the questions kept on coming, seemingly out of nowhere. Afterwards several men came up to me and thanked me. They said that they had really felt touched inside by these questions. One brother said that he felt that his latihan had completely changed as result of this testing.
When later that evening I drove home, I became aware that I felt a bit strange and not quite myself. I felt rather swollen, about half as big again as normal, not a nice feeling at all. I'd never felt like this before and wanted it to go. I realised that the flattering remarks of my brothers must have made my ego swell. I started to pray to God and asked Him to please remove this state from me. I had to keep praying for nearly two days when finally, to my relief, it disappeared. I thanked God for this and prayed that I would be protected from this happening again in the future.
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A Deep Connection
Proof of the latihan comes in different ways, together with the proof that we are somehow all connected; that there are no accidental meetings is another aspect of this. An example was my meeting with Rusli, who played an
important role as an older brother in my Subud life. It seems we were often on the same wavelength, and here are two events that took place in those early days.
We met for the group latihan one Sunday around noon which was held for members coming from far away. A lunch followed and usual chit-chat about Subud. Afterwards we went our separate ways, Rusili heading north in his car and I directly south on my motor bike. But just as I was entering my home town, I had this overpowering feeling to see Rusli, so without hesitation I did a U turn heading back north, arriving at Rusli's home 15 minutes later. Imagine my surprise to see a police jeep in his driveway with two police officers talking to Rusli. The whole family seemed agitated.
It turned out that around the time he was opened Rusli had sold his 16 mm film projector to a stranger by advertising it in the newspapers. This person had been using it for illegal purposes and when apprehended had said that
Rusli had given him the films too. Since I was not aware of what was going on, I remained quiet in a state of latihan, and when Rusli was taken away to the central police station he asked me to accompany him. He was questioned for hours and finally released; the matter was dropped.
A few years later, while I was abroad following a course in Air Navigation in Canada, I developed a skin rash which got worse by the day and baffled the doctors who were treating me. Even penicillin had no effect, and after two weeks I was so desperate that I seriously thought of returning home. Eventually, the good doctor found the root cause, and at about this time Rusli had a strange experience. He was made aware of my presence and state, saying it was so real that he could smell my body odour. He tested and immediately sent an airmail letter saying, " Whatever your problems they will be over soon."
As years went by we continued to have extraordinary experiences which were very similar, and our closeness remained even though I now lived on the other side of the world. I visited him just before the Spokane world congress, the very day I was leaving for the United States. After spending several hours with him while he recounted many of his experiences in Subud, he said, “It’s time to go. I have no fear to cross the river.” After lunch I bad him farewell and as I left his home, his last words were, "I will see you on the other side." Slowly it dawned on me that this was the final farewell.
One week into the Spokane congress, we received news that Rusli had passed away.
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