After the perfect holiday on the Gower, having shared laughter, love and latihan I was feeling very contented and relaxed. I arrived with the attitude that I would help where I could, as I felt Congress would be all a bonus after such a special time.
Once settled in – tent up and arrivals desk duties under my belt, - I trotted off to latihan during which I had the fleeting knowledge that the daughter I had lost in miscarriage (at only three months pregnancy in 1996) was present. She was my longed for daughter, and was conceived when I hadn’t been with my now husband for very long. We married the following year and had three sons in fairly quick succession and I rarely thought of what might have been. I knew that the lost baby was a daughter and had named her Harebell – in flower at the time and so very delicate and special to me. Some years later, a lady (who was a medium, although not the reason we were together), told me there was a girl sat on the floor playing who wanted me to know she was alright. I asked the lady how old she was, and I knew it was my Harebell, so it didn’t surprise me to have this feeling that she was present in my latihan.
The following day I thought I would slip along to a kejiwaan session and joined a group of four women. It was a wonderfully satisfying session for us all and amongst other things, moved into discussing the world of spirits and souls who needed help moving on, and I wondered to myself why my daughter hadn’t moved on. It then occurred to me that she would have now been 18 had she been born, and perhaps she wanted to be opened…. I listened to these thoughts and popped up to the helper’s desk the following day and asked if perhaps I could just clear this up. We tested firstly if there was anything we could do to help her/or she needed us to do. For me, this felt like lifting a huge boulder and quite impossible! We next tested if she would like to be opened and (again for me), she was pleading to be opened and so we opened her. I felt, and probably looked like I was bailing out water and then suddenly everything changed and lifted and we knew the opening was complete. I felt the loving presence of my mother on my right (who died in 2003) and Harebell on my left – this felt completely natural - the continuation of the female line in Subud. This may have been somewhat unconventional testing, but it felt very positive, and so I thought the job was done.
However, the following day I was in latihan and found her there again and telling me her name was Salama and that she wanted my forgiveness for not being born. She simply couldn’t go through with it. It hadn’t occurred to me that anyone made a choice about such events. I very rarely shed a tear during latihan, but I found myself howling. At the end I couldn’t stop crying and a kindly friend suggested I go for more help and so back to the helpers desk I went. The same lovely helper appeared round the corner. I knew I had to let go (not that I had thought I was hanging on) and so we asked for a short latihan to enable me to let go. It was the most unusual receiving for m: My arms felt pinned to my sides (I usually move them a lot!) and then I started to blow – deep exhales from deep down (I thought I might hyperventilate!) – then I let out two huge sneezes and laughed as I knew it was complete, as did my helper. It was like she was inside me – but who knows…
I am very grateful to have been able to follow through this process that unfolded and share it with my angelic helper, and now share it with others. I cannot imagine where else it could have resolved so beautifully but at Congress and I feel blessed to have had such an opportunity and have a feeling of calmness/peace since. I hope it may help others.
PS Salama means ‘Peace’ according to most sites I found on Google
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The Gateway to God
Farhan (7 yrs) and Hadiya (4 yrs) always ask me to pray with them when I put them to bed. Farhan recently watched a documentary about black holes that had a dramatization of our solar system being engulfed by one millions of years from now, and he's been worried about the end of the world ever since. He woke up in the middle of the night a few nights ago really afraid, so lately he's been asking me to pray with him a little more than usual.
Two nights ago Farhan asked me to pray that God and his Angels protect him and take away his fears and allow him to be at peace. I asked, "You've heard me mention the word latihan before, right?" “Yes”, he answered. "Well, there's a very special man named Bapak who was the person who passed the latihan on to others, and he's very close to God. He died almost 30 years ago and I know he watches over us too. We can also ask him for help.” We spoke a little more, prayed together and then he went to sleep.
Last night, when I was putting him to bed, we started talking about God again, and he began asking questions about Bapak. I told him the story of how Bapak first received the latihan that special night when he went out for a walk, how the light entered his body from above and how he went home and laid down to die, not knowing what was happening. I explained that he didn't die, but instead was made to sit up, walk into another room and pray, and that this sort of thing went on for hundreds of nights until eventually, he was able to pass on this same experience to other people.
Without missing a beat, Farhan instantly said, "So Bapak received the Gateway to God?! Bapak is the one who received the Gateway to God, and it's meant for the whole world.”
I was so surprised! These words! Where did they come from? "The Gateway to God" -- how perfect!!
I told him his Granddad and Nana had met Bapak and that I did as well but I was only 4 or 5 years old. He said "Wow, I have to ask Granddad and Nana for a picture of him. I want to see him!" "Well, let's just look on my phone!" I said. I picked up my phone and searched for 'Bapak Subud' and up came some pictures. "Wow, he looks like he's a president!" Farhan exclaimed. I asked him if he meant that Bapak looks like the type of person who would be a president or if he meant he looks like Obama. He said "He looks like he's the type of person who would be president.” I can only imagine that to a 7 year old, a president must be the noblest of the noble, like a king!
We spoke some more about Bapak, and then I asked him if he'd ever heard of someone named Jesus and he replied, "No.” (My wife and I haven’t talked to our kids about religion yet.) "Well, Jesus is a very special person, kind of like Bapak. Jesus is also very close to God and we can ask him for help too," I said. Farhan answered, "I thought Jesus was just a bad word!" Too funny!
Such an amazing conversation I had with my little one! I will never forget it.
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A Brush with Death
Though this happened many years ago, I sometimes remember this experience in the waking hours of the morning with a sense of gratitude and much more. I have shared this experience with only a very few Subud members.
The year 1971was a very special year for me, for reasons other than the world congress. In the country in which I live there was an attempt by the far left to take control by armed force and it failed. In the process many innocent people, especially the young, lost there lives by the thousands. There was dawn-to-dusk curfew, together with all the chaos that goes with it. For the diehards we had early latihan or some even slept at the Subud house overnight. Such were the times, and my job required me to have a pass with photo ID, so I could travel on the road at anytime of the day.
My mother-in-law was terminally ill, and one evening my sister-in-law called and asked me whether I could deliver her mom’s dinner to the hospital, which I gladly agreed to do. I arrived on my motor bike late in the evening and collected the dinner and used my mother in law's car to deliver the dinner at the hospital. On my way I had to go through a security check-point and there was a strict procedure to follow. As I drove through I told one of the security people that I would be back within ten minutes and would not therefore follow the entire routine. This was okay with them. Ten minutes later I came by again, going on the opposite direction, and instead of stopping as required at the first barrier set with red cones and a small space for a car, I drove through very slowly. The first indication that something was wrong was when I heard on the PA - HALT ! In my excitement I made a mistake, and instead of stopping dead on the spot I pulled the car over to the side of the road – an error which I later found out this mistake saved my life!
I then followed strict instructions in accordance with the security pass:
cut the engine, switch off lights and get out of car with arms in the air, and walk slowly towards the security post and produce ID card. The security post was still some forty yards away. I remember this very well as I walked and I became very calm - a clear stillness within me in a state of latihan. I thought I was going to die, having heard many stories about an MD who had been shot because of not following the strict instructions, about a bus load of people escaping the terrorist being shot at by the security forces who thought they were terrorist, etc. These thoughts flashed by, yet I felt so calm and without fear, even though I thought this was my last walk.
I asked forgiveness from the Almighty and the only other thought that entered my mind was that my first-born son will never know his father.
I walked up to the checked point and looked at the Sargent in charge. He checked my pass and by now I realized what had happened. The unforeseen, the unthinkable, had happened: THERE HAD BEEN A CHANGE OF GUARD!
The Sergeant said, “Sir, I gave orders to shoot as soon as you got off the car, but when you pulled to the side and followed the instructions strictly as per orders I had a feeling somehow that you were confused. So I changed my orders. It’s your lucky day; drive carefully. I thanked him and agreed it was my lucky day.
As I walked back to the car, the clock started ticking again. The missing time does not belong to this world.
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The Freedom to Choose
I was fascinated by the recent contribution from a father whose seven year old son spontaneously described Bapak as receiving the 'Gateway to God'. The father wrote,
"I was so surprised! These words! Where did they come from?"
I find that strange words, way beyond our level of understanding, pop up sometimes, borne by the latihan from some realm beyond us. Here is an example that happened to me, some years ago. I chose to do something wrong. Consciously, knowing it was wrong, I chose to do it anyway. The next morning, as I was waking, in that fuzzy zone between sleeping and waking, these words came to my mind; "It is given unto every man to cast his own shadow".
Although these words appeared in my mind, they did not come from me. My reaction was the same as the father in your recent story - I was so surprised! Those words! Where did they come from? Certainly not from my mind!
The first thing that struck me was the biblical tone and language. I don't normally sprinkle my conversation with words like 'unto'! Also I am a woman, so why would I talk of myself as though I was a man? As I reflected more deeply on the words, and the context in which they arose, it seemed they contained a deep message for me.
It brought to mind the doctrine of free choice. We are given the freedom to choose right actions or wrong actions. These choices are freely made, but they carry consequences. The words reminded me that each of us 'casts our own shadow' based on the choices we make.
The words first sounded ominous, but then I realised the statement was absolutely fair and evenly balanced. Whenever we stand in the light we caste a shadow. The shadow records our actions, it is a silent witness that reflects faithfully what we do.
Those words, wherever they came from, have stayed with me. I am grateful for such a graceful reminder of the implications of choosing to do right or wrong.
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Dispersing the Clouds
First, in latihan, I was again asked a question. What can you do as a member of Subud? The answer I gave – I bear witness to what I have received in the latihan – and tell and live the spiritual truth that is Subud. That is it – simple.
Then in my latihan a visual image came into my consciousness – of light grey clouds - and the understanding that when I was opened it was as if a wind started to gently blow. And over the years it has begun to blow strongly enough to make breaks in the clouds every now and again, so the sun can shine through - enabling me to see more clearly and for everywhere to be bathed in the sunlight. Gradually the wind has become stronger so there is more sun than there are clouds - so I am in more light. But because of this it is more noticeable when clouds do go over the sun and then it seems much darker. So I can see the dark and light more clearly; in my self, as well as everything else.
I had a period in the middle of the latihan when I had a real awareness of the reality of the latihan. I suddenly felt this great relief and had the inner realisation that this was because all the baggage I usually have with me had been taken away – for a moment - and I was free. That was enough; I didn’t need anything else. Knowing that I was free of my baggage at that moment was enough.
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Recently I was standing at the top of the staircase in our house, thinking how complicated this staircase was, divided as it is in parts and connecting several rooms and a landing. Suddenly I found myself falling down the stairs, but strangely, without any fear or emotions. To my surprise I saw two large hands who pressed against my hands and a fraction of a second later everything was back to how it was before I fell and I was standing at the top of the stairs again. It all happened so quickly. I looked around me to see if anyone had witnessed what had just happened but no one did. Everyone else in the house was busy doing their own thing.
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A Subud Moment
On the first anniversary of my husband's death I visited a favourite spot to scatter some of his ashes. When I got there nothing seemed right. It was drizzling and the picnic place was closed as there were workmen replacing the tables. I turned away feeling foolish and went and sat on the damp beach looking out at the grey sea. All around me the large cobblestones were wet in shades of grey, white and creamy brown. I thought at least I could take a couple home to put on my husband’s rock garden. As I glanced about to choose, a small bright stone suddenly caught my eye - in contrast a dark red/brown. I stooped to pick it up and found I was holding a small heart shaped pebble which fitted into the palm of my hand.
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I strongly believe in praying. So often in my life my prayers have been answered. The Qur'an teaches us that God will answer most of our prayers, but not all, and that the reason for this is that God also wants to test us. I know several people, in and outside Subud who have had the same experience with praying. Lately I visited the Shrine of the Virgin Mary in Walsingham, Norfolk, UK, where I was touched to see so many tiles on the wall, placed there by grateful believers, giving thanks for when a particular prayer had been answered. Bapak mentioned the importance of praying many times. He told us to 'ask' God to improve our latihan and make us progress, and that without asking we might get stuck. He also said that praying directs us and our latihan towards God and that without it our latihan hasn't got direction. Nowadays my wife and I follow Ibu Rahayu's advice and as helpers we pray just before the latihan that God might grant the members to receive the blessing of the latihan.
I've had several proofs of the importance of praying for others. My grandmother visited me once, surrounded by a blue light, to thank me for praying for her, about three months after she'd died. I was able to visit my father in the afterlife twice and was shown how my latihan and my prayers had helped him progress. Some years ago I'd received in a dream that I had to pray for a Subud brother, who'd left Subud, to return to the latihan. When I neglected praying for him after some time, I received again in a dream that it was of vital importance that I should continue. Last month he emailed me saying that he'd gone back to the latihan and how happy it made him. My son worked in the music business, was using drugs and was sucked into a very unhealthy lifestyle. My wife and I, my wife's family, who are in Subud, several Subud friends, plus my mother and her church group prayed for over two years that he might find the way out of this. One day our son had a freak accident, as a result of which he nearly died. When he recovered he'd changed completely, talked about God, started praying and left the music business and drugs behind him. He was opened and goes to latihan nowadays.
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Encounters with Three Religions
In my early teens I fought fiercely against the concept of God. One day I stepped carelessly off the pavement, there was a screeching of brakes, and a big lorry came to a standstill by my left elbow. As this happened, I yelled out: “Christ!” This came out spontaneously. It was not a swear word! Afterwards I was unable to deny to myself that I had called out to God in a moment of peril, that something within me clearly believed in God and - worst of all – that this was expressed in Christian terms.
After many years of latihan, I was confirmed, and as a regular churchgoer I
regularly recite the creed, something that my teenage self would have been horrified to foresee. As I have explained in a previous article (‘The Christian Religion’ Reminders of Reality) I can do this wholeheartedly, from an understanding that has developed within me of the inner meaning of the Christian narrative.
I went through an uncomfortable period of feeling very antagonistic to Islam, which many Subud members were adopting at that time. I was stranded in Kuala Lumpur waiting for a plane to take me and about a hundred other UK Subud members to the 1971 World Congress in Jakarta. With time on my hands, I took a bus in order to have a look at the National Mosque, only to find that it was closed that day. There was a small grill I could peep through at part of the interior. As I did so I had exactly the same feeling I have in England when I walk into an old church or cathedral, a feeling that this is a place where God is worshipped. In that instant all my antagonism dropped away and I am happy to say it has never returned.
Many years later I was in Thailand at the time of the Songkran Festival. I went to see one of the ancient temples in Chiang Mai and found that the golden Buddha image had been brought out of the temple and placed in the courtyard. A line of people were waiting their turn to pour scented water over the image, and it felt right to join in. Standing in the line I had the same feeling that I have when going up for communion. As I poured my cup of water onto the head of the Buddha I understood the meaning of the ceremony - washing away the dust so that the true human soul within us can shine forth in our lives.
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At the Door to Heaven
I dreamed I was at the door to heaven. It was a plain white door and I was holding on to the handle, feeling a sense of weariness and relief, thinking and saying to myself “Finally”. I did not open the door but rather looked back and called to my dog, Lance, waiting for him to join me before we both went in. This looked like the same door I saw Jesus holding open for Toby dog who ran in through the door with his usual smile and happy tail wagging. That dream was a day or two after Toby died in September, 2012.
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