Pray with the Children
I have found that through the latihan I have begun to get a glimpse of understanding of both Islam and Christianity. The Muslim prayers have become important to me. I have experienced that they can come with blessings - as can the Holy Communion. Bapak said that the sharia side of the religions helps us to direct our heart and mind to God in our daily life and that without it our heart can become proud and arrogant and lead us astray. This is something I have underestimated most of my life but can relate to now.
I was never a practicing Christian but since, to my total surprise, I became a Muslim, following unexpected inner guidance, I feel I am becoming more and more Christian! I know other Subud Muslims who have experienced the same. I know a sister who, after she'd been a Muslim for several years, also converted to Catholicism. She feels that she is both Muslim and Christian, and I can relate to this. I once read an article by a Christian non-Subud woman who'd studied Islam sincerely and was very positive about this religion. She said that through Islam she had learned to understand Christianity better and felt more at home in her religion now.
Here are some experiences I’ve had with going to the mosque.
I have learned to feel when it is right for me at a particular time during the week to go to the mosque, and especially whether to join in with the jama't, the congregational prayers. I used to feel disturbed sometimes, or get a terrible headache after joining in. Nowadays I tend to be okay because I seem to be able to feel the guidance of my inner in this. When it doesn’t feel right to join in I go. As Subud members we are sensitive and one sometimes can pick up things from others.
I particularly enjoy going to the mosque in between the jama't. I love the peaceful atmosphere in the large carpeted hall and often feel the latihan when I pray there by myself. It’s also nice sometimes to read the qu’ran afterwards or listen to someone reciting it, providing they have a nice voice. We have a lovely big mosque where I live, which has an informal atmosphere. It’s also nice to have a chat or go for a coffee with a few fellows.
Last month I was at my local mosque and was just about to go home. I felt the latihan quietly in me after my prayers, when men started to arrive for jama't. I didn't feel like joining in because I felt it would be too risky; I didn't want to go home feeling disturbed again. To my surprise my inner seemed to tell me to stay and join in. So I stayed, but waited till everybody stood lined up, trying to feel where I should stand. I felt drawn to the left side of the hall, behind everybody, where I started a new line. In no time several young boys popped up out of nowhere and soon I was surrounded by them. While we prayed together I could feel the lightness of these children who didn't carry the heavy stuff with them that we adults do. I had such a light and joyful jama't, feeling the latihan and smiling inwardly. Ah, I thought, this is the way to go: pray with the children!
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Opening the Door
When I was a relatively new helper, I was made aware during latihan that one of the members was having a strong but difﬁcult experience. I knew the mother of this woman had recently passed away. Next thing I know, I “ﬁnd” myself in a house where the mother is on her knees in one room and the daughter is doing her latihan in another room. The mother seemed to be in some distress and was asking for help.
There was a big, heavy door between the two rooms and I walked to the door and opened it. It was very heavy and I held it in place for B. to get to her mother and help her through her latihan! I found the experience very humbling and instructive. After the latihan B thanked me, saying: “You were doing something, I could feel it. I’m not sure what but I’m feeling a lot lighter.” I didn’t feel to tell her what it was that I experienced; I was very, very shy then, something that has changed with the latihan!
Why was it humbling and instructive? Well, I knew that I had been given the grace to “help” and that being a helper means all you have to do is show up. There was no way I could have come up with a recipe on how to be a helper or come up with a solution to B’s need without God’s help. Opening and holding that door was neither my decision, nor my idea, nor something to take credit for. It was something I was given the strength and the wherewithal to do. No guarantees that I could repeat something like that. I wouldn’t know how to, anyway.
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So Much For Judging!
I know a Subud brother of whom I am quite fond, although occasionally I have been disapproving and judgmental about his lifestyle. Once, though, I had a dream about him, a dream in which he was about a foot taller than me, despite the fact that in real life we are nearly the same height. In the dream he came up to me and gave me a warm hug, during which I could feel his inner close to me. His inner felt big and wide, and it was clear to me that the meaning of this dream was to show me that this brother was spiritually higher than me. I've stopped judging him since.
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After about ten years in Subud, I began to have doubts about what I was doing in the latihan: Was it the truth, the real deal, or had I been wasting my time for the last ten years? So I prayed to be shown if the latihan was really from God.
About four years later, I was invited to attend a healing session at a spiritualist church for a back injury I had sustained many years before. At one point, the lady got up and said that the colours gold and mauve were very important, whereupon a man stood up and said that this was correct but that as a science teacher he did not believe anything unless he saw it for himself – ‘as with the man in the back row.’
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Afterwards, he came up to me in the back row and confirmed that he could see a gold and mauve light all around me. In this way, I felt that my prayer had been answered and that the latihan was truly the right path to Almighty God, since when I have never doubted that Subud was for real.
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No Longer an Orphan
When my father died in 1968, I thought my world had come to an end, and when my
mother died thirty years later, I began to have the feeling of being an orphan. One night I went to bed and fell asleep with this feeling. At one point, the telephone rang and when I looked at the clock it was 2 a.m. I picked up the phone and someone on the other end yelled abuse and when I hung up the phone, I went into shock.
After a while, I calmed down and fell asleep and I had a dream in which Bapak, wearing
a golden crown, came right up to my face and then left. Then Mary, wearing a golden veil and dress came right up to my face and then left. When I woke up in the morning, the feeling of being an orphan had gone and I knew I had a Mother and a Father.
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I experienced something rather magical today. In the evening, my five year old daughter and I went for a walk to shop, and as we came to a busy crossroads I noticed that the traffic lights were out. I was just explaining the situation to my little girl when two cars passed us, closing on the main road without slowing down. At the same time, on the main road itself, a tram was fast approaching and showing no sign of slowing down.
We were standing about five meters away from the vehicles, and my heart sank as I saw the first car come to a halt, forcing the second car to stop behind it right across the tram line. I couldn’t help screaming and held my child close and covered her eyes. I was positive we were about to witness a fatal accident and that nothing could stop the tram hitting the little black car, which was stationary across its path. And then . . . nothing happened! I was watching closely as it all unfolded before my eyes, not missing one second.
The tram continued on its way, with the car now just barely off the tram line. It was now further down the road, standing still; it had not moved a bit, not for a second, and yet had still somehow changed places. It was like a time lapse, in that the position of the car had changed in a way that my eyes simply could not perceive. The car stood there for a few more seconds, the driver perhaps as puzzled as I was, or maybe just acknowledging that – miraculously - he was still alive.
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My Father’s Visions
My father was opened in Subud and said he experienced nothing, yet when he was ill and involuntarily fasting he had a series of amazing visions. He had an apartment some miles inland behind Table Mountain, and he saw people building a wall outside his flat, one storey up, when an Indonesian gentlemen came into his flat and made prostrations. Outside he could see the Voortrekkers passing by in their wagons; Edwardian dressed ladies floated into his room and sat opposite him, and he could see through Table Mountain to the ships beyond. This went on for two or three days, all while he was fasting
On one occasion, his housekeeper, Milly entered from the other side of the lounge as my Dad was waving his stick at some Eastern looking gentlemen. She could see nothing. On one occasion he saw these people sitting at his table writing on what appeared to be clay tablets. Cats and lions wandered about his room, and my father even stroked a cat on its back, and it responded like a real cat would!
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The Lord’s Prayer
I grew up in a good and loving, but not religious, family and spiritual matters were never discussed. Though I attended a Church of England primary school the prayers, songs and stories we were taught seemed sweet and innocent, devoid of heavy theology. However, at secondary school Religious Education became an academic subject just like any other and that, together with the compulsory regimentation of morning assemblies, put me off Christianity. As a protest, for I realised argument would be futile, I stopped repeating the Lord’s Prayer in assemblies. I told no one of my action and was never discovered. However, I was genuinely interested life’s mysteries and sometime later, after joining Subud, embraced Islam. I’m not sure why I did this, maybe there was some peer pressure; also I felt drawn to the power and direct simplicity of Muslim worship. In any case, I learned a great deal, not only about that religion but others too, including Christianity. It helped me see the connections between all religions.
Then, about ten years later, I went through a great crisis during which I lost everything; wife, family, home, job, money and even my car which was written off in an accident. For a long time things were very tough but the latihan and many good Subud friends helped me through. One day, quite spontaneously, I found the Lord’s prayer repeating itself in my head. It was like a revelation because each time a new gem of understanding seemed to reveal itself. The prayer acted in many ways – as a reminder of God’s grace, a kind of invisible rosary, a talisman or protector, as a mini-Bible, and so on.
Over the years the Lord’s Prayer has continued to reveal itself – very plain and simple yet also eternally profound. Maybe it’s just my version of the Muslim prayers which are carried out five times a day. I often wake in the night, for example, and find myself mulling over Christ’s words from two thousand years ago and marvel at their effect on myself and millions of others all over the world.
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