One day after returning home from latihan, I was reading a book late in the night while lying on the bed, head up against the head board and pillow behind. It was past 11 pm and I was quite awake, and there was an
awareness, a feeling, of the latihan like a very fine current in my body.
Next thing I knew I was up near the ceiling; I could actually see my body lying on the bed with the book fallen to one side. Wow! I wondered if I could move, and, sure enough, I could move around the room hovering just below the ceiling. There was this feeling of absolute quiet, peace and detachment from everything, together with an awareness of existence free of all fear. It was unreal, in that normally you have a sense of fear as long as we have this body. But it was no longer there, and the thought entered my awareness that not even a bullet could harm me. Could I wander around outside? I thought to myself, and before the thought entered my mind I was outside. The sense of freedom was unreal, although after a while there was a feeling of uncertainty, more like a shadow than fear itself. What if I could not get back?
Something then happened that I cannot understand or explain to this day: it’s as if there was a blank space, because the next thing I knew I was back on the bed. The lights were on and the book lying on the bed. Nothing had changed except that I felt cold, although a feeling of warmth soon returned. It was more like a feeling of bliss and it lasted for a long long time. I was wide awake and half expected to take off again! Closer to dawn. I switched off the lights and went to sleep.
Something had happened beyond my normal understanding, but I had not lost awareness for one moment, During the OBE experience, I had little or no
awareness of the passage of time. The whole experience was so real, it was like taking a walk down the street where I lived. The result was that it gave me a kind of courage to walk the razor's edge in later years. I had a natural
reaction not to share this experience with others however.
A few years later another Subud member from our group also had an out-of body experience. He was older and wiser and only shared it with a few close Subud friends. He had one remarkable quality till he passed away a few years back: he never missed latihan. If he did it was not more than a dozen times in over fifty years.
In the mid-sixties, my good friend and Subud brother Rusli visited Cilandak for the first time during the Ramadan fast. Back home again, he told me that one night he had done latihan and was lying on a mat in the main latihan hall, just feeling the latihan, when he wondered about his family and life back home. Suddenly he felt a separation and the freedom to move; he followed his feeling and in a short time he was at his home thousands of miles away. He was inside the house , hovering above, and could see his wife preparing tea. He playfully touched her, shocking her, so that she nearly spilt the tea! (Some time later I was able to verify this for myself.)
As Rusli was talking about his experience, I realized how close it was to my own, except that he had traveled a few thousand miles. Amazingly, his exact words were, "I would not have cared if someone put a sword through me," mirrorring my own reaction.
Next day he told Bapak about his experience. "You have been blessed with a gift,” Bapak commented. “If it happens again, do not wander too far as you may not find your way back!"
Over the years I met several Subud brothers and sisters who had similar experiences, although you do not have to be a Subud member to have such
an experience. While living abroad in the early 80s, for example, I met with a
bad motor vehicle accident when I was hit by a drunk driver travelling at over
100 mph. While recuperating, one of my work colleagues visited me and told me about a nasty road accident he himself had experienced. He almost broke his spine, lost all feeling below the waist, and experienced an OBE while he was been operated on, during which time he was able to observe the whole thing. As a result David became a seeker, and back at work I casually told him about Subud and the latihan. David and wife joined Subud and are still active to this day!
The young son of another Subud member also had an OBE in his early teens, although he took his time and got opened later in life after he had children of his own.
It is my strong belief that there are no accidents in life, a conviction that arises from my latihan experience that even being here during this time period was no accident.
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This is a part of a longer dream.
A Subud event was being organised and I wanted to see what the place was like. I walked into this subtly lit room: it was massive, felt like a yurt in shape and was decorated in lovely silvery greys; the very high ceiling was a deep vibrant blue with gold stars shining in the blue. Round the edge I could just see decorated tables with beautiful food set out - the space was vast.
I stood in the middle of it all, soaking it in, amazed by its immensity.
Suddenly I was aware of a dark haired, Arab-looking man dressed in dark clothes [I can’t remember what they were like except that they definitely weren’t a suit and tie.] I would say in proportion to my size he was maybe 30ft tall and had a certain indefinable presence. He was walking towards me saying ‘Do you like it?’ I said it was all amazing,truly beautiful.
Tipping my head back to look up at his face, aware by then that he was so enormous in size and presence that his head was almost up to the stars above, I said ‘You are either very big or I am very small.’ He looked down at me and said in a lovely warm compassionate voice, ‘You are not very small.’
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I too had an out-of-body experience during latihan, where I floated above myself at the ceiling of the dance studio we were then renting. I was shown what the life before and after this one are....just as your earlier contributor described: Alive and entirely free of fear.
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In Crisis Veritas
Recently reported experiences by a helper remind me of a funny thing that happened when I was a new helper at the Central London Group in the late eighties. I was scheduled to take an applicants’ meeting one evening and, as was usual then, we had a group of about five or six men interested in learning about Subud. Unfortunately the other helper due to attend with me had not turned up and, a little nervous about handling what could sometimes be a lively discussion on my own, I approached some guy I did not know sitting in the kitchen. 'Have you been in Subud a while?' I asked. 'Yeah, sure,' he replied. 'Would you sit in on an applicants’ meeting until the other helper arrives?' 'OK,' he said. I then briefed him to let me do most of the talking but speak honestly if asked a question. As it turned out the guy was brilliant, giving excellent and informed responses. In fact, as the other helper failed to appear, I was really glad of this unknown member’s participation.
Later, when the scheduled helper did turn up, he asked me how I'd managed on my own. When I told him what had happened he was shocked. 'Don't you know, that chap is in crisis?’ He said. ‘He shouldn't really even be in the house!' Maybe not, I thought, but he was still really good with the applicants. As Bapak said, members in crisis often have great insight and wisdom. It also reminded me that no one is better than anyone else in Subud and that a helper’s badge does not confer seniority.
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A Timely Reminder
Once I had an extremely powerful latihan during the Night of the Ancestors in the month before Ramadan. I kept weeping and asking God for forgiveness. Afterwards while I walked out of the latihan room I heard a voice in me say 'God is big and you are small'. It seemed that I needed to be
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Asking for Forgiveness
Almost thirty years ago, I underwent surgery for removal of my gall bladder. The surgery required that I be anaesthetized. After the operation,
the surgeon came to me in the ward where I had been sent and told me that during my operation I had been calling out to God for forgiveness.
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