“Sometimes when the plant grows, the pot breaks.”
In 1972, two years after being opened in the Subud International Brotherhood, I attempted to practice the fast of Ramadhan. The previous year I had tried and failed to do the fast of Lent. I was doing this because fasting had been recommended as a way to spiritual growth because it quietens the passions and puts the lower forces in their rightful place as servants.
The Ramadhan fast felt very different to Lent. Abstaining from food and drink between sunrise and sunset was not difficult, but keeping negative or critical thoughts at bay was hard as was reducing sleep and rising to eat breakfast before sunrise.
After the first ten days while I kept to the tenets of the fast, experiences started to arise --this is not easy to describe—but it was as though seeing with the inner eye instead of the outer and the accompanying feeling was that I was to be a “witness.” It seems that I was to go through the rest of this fast being exposed to a holographic newsreel of the Spanish Inquisition! I am not psychic, I do not see things, this experience was all new to me but I accepted it and the Inquisition was with me daily until the end of the fast. No explanation forthcoming.
Then at the end, I was also shown the future of Subud. I saw the outer shell of Subud –the organisation—overshadow all and try to becomeall without our noticing it happening. The Inner Subud became separate from the Outer Subud like a secret path. I was also shown how there was a time when the true innerkernel of Islam had had to be practised in secret or risk execution once the Prophet had gone home to God.
I didn’t share these experiences until recently not even with my spouse who would have been sceptical but I’ve never forgotten them. They’ve stayed inside me all these years as though waiting. Although at the time I vowed never to do this particular fast again, during the next forty two years I did it many times (and once it literally did mewhich was bliss) but never again was I called upon to witness that holographic newsreel.
The experience had left me worrying about the future of Subud until one evening a few months later, while doing latihan at home, Ibu Siti Sumari (Bapak’s wife who had died the year before in 1971) came to the helper I was doing latihan with and gave her a message for me: “Don’t worry about the future of Subud and don’t be afraid to suffer it will purifyyou.” This stopped all worrying and so, when the opportunity came to do Ramadhan the following year in Cilandak, I was delighted.
Ramadhan 1973 was the first year that many Subud members arrived in Indonesia from overseas to participate in the fast. Every possible space was made available and my husband and I were accommodated in Pak Usman’s office. I loved the atmosphere of Cilandak and was grateful to be there.
Then the fasting began. After a few days, I became aware of something in me which surprised me. Not only did it (I) not wish to turn to God, but there was a fight going on. As though something in me was actively fighting for its worldly existence. I wondered what on earth I was doing there and became convinced that not only was I not a spiritual type, but that I was more of a shallow satisfaction-of-the-senses type of person. Let me out of here!
Whereas at home I’d been a sensitive and happily committed Subud member longing to be connected to the Divine, now because I was fasting I was besieged by forces which were frankly wanting out. I’d promised myself never to do this fast again, yet here I was doing it and I was just too new in Subud and too ignorant to realise that the ego and the lower forces were severely threatened and in revolt. At least that is what I later surmised.
Soon I was very ill. I lay in fever and diahorrea for weeks. A maid was instructed to bring hot mandarin juice daily and I don’t remember eating at all. I became terribly sensitive to the condition of others but fortunately very few members came to visit. Faridah of blessed memory who was running the guest accommodation, came and explained to me: “There are three kinds of illness here, (1) The doctor comes, (2) People do latihan for you and (3) You are left to survive it or not, according to God’s Will.” By this time I had no attachment to an outcome either way.
I’m told that my husband was absolutely frantic because I was number three and he had been advised to keep away for my sake. I remember a lovely elderly couple, helpers from my country, came to show me the antiques they had just bought and it was as though they were from another planet. It was an interruption and I felt myself waiting for them to depart so that I could get on with my journey towards death.
Then one day I knew that I was slipping away. Giving up the ghost. Suddenly my younger sister was in the room behind me. She loudly shouted my pre-Subud name. She pulled me back with a great jolt. In my delirium I looked around for her but there was nobody else in the room. I had returned fully to my body and the very next day was on my feet again, completely well; weak, quiet and peaceful.
My walk had changed. I walked around the compound feeling and observing this. Everything about that walk was different from the way it had been before. I never walked in the old way again. I wondered was I so encased in concrete-like forces that it had taken near death to crack them open? Perhaps so. I have always believed that Bapak in his house right next door during all of this, was a participant in my release.
As a postscript to these fasting experiences, after thirty five years of belonging to Subud and attending group latihans as well as one or two on my own every week, I began to feel something pushing me out of this organisation. It was an uncomfortable feeling. I spoke about it to one of the helpers and the experience stopped.
Two years later it began again more strongly as though my presence was, in fact, threatening to somebody or something but I surrendered all to God. I became the secretary on a Subud committee and once again the ‘pushing me out’ experience stopped. I must confess that I chose this particular committee because the Chairman was respected and quite powerful outwardly and inwardly though he wasn’t at all aware of that, so I deliberately tucked myself in behind him for protection.
Six years passed during which time I stayed on committees for this very reason and during that period clearly received to move towards “prayer healing.” I attempted to find such a group but there wasn’t one in my city. Then finally I realised that I shouldn’t any longer be in Subud at all! It had never occurred to me that it was actually my inner attempting to push me out of the only life I’d known since the age of 27 and now here I was in my 70s. No wonder I resisted. After this receiving was verified, I went to group latihan and as I walked in, my inner firmly stated “This is the last time”. And so I left Subud.
Now I do latihan alone usually around 4am and instead of mixing with Subud members, I mix with ‘all of mankind’ which I hadn’t done before.
To bring things back full circle to that Fast of 1972; it wasn’t until I had officially resigned with a goodbye email to the committee, that I had a receiving which, if it didn’t provide an explanation as to why I had that experience so many years ago, it did at least reference it.
I clearly received:
“The Inquisitors from all of the Inquisitions came to Subud to be given another chance”
I knew then that I had done latihan with some of them for forty four years.
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Dancing with Bapak
After my husband died, I had a dream in which there seemed to be hundreds of people standing in a huge ballroom. Then the crowd of
people divided and Bapak walked down the aisle.
He came up to me and then we began dancing around the ballroom as if there was no tomorrow. It seemed like a waltz, but it wasn't. It just felt as though I was part of him, dancing as one. And after that dream I never felt lonely again.
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My Experience of Bliss
When this Sublime Feeling comes to visit my heart I do not need to know why.
It is unconditional.
I wish the Time would freeze,
I am ready to die at the very moment,
but also I am ready to live for a thousand years.
I wish the whole world could share my feeling.
My heart would say, "GOD - I love YOU" endlessly.
My heart would say, "GOD - THANK YOU" endlessly.
Received early morning sometimes in1991,
Put into words Sunday, 26 March, 2000, at
2.00 O'Clock in the morning.
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I had a few visions when I was fairly new in Subud. That was over twenty years ago. Since that time I have had none. It is interesting that I can see more in them as I write them down now than I was aware of at the time.
They had these things in common: Firstly, they were instantaneous, or happened outside time while I was awake and going about my daily life; Secondly, they contained densely packed information that was presented symbolically, so meanings could be found when reflecting on them later; Thirdly, they were moving (not static) images that were bright and had crystal clear details but had no sound or background scenes; Lastly, the subjects were felt to be alive and their light and colours came from within them seemingly as an innate part of their aliveness.
I think they were messages from a small but growing place of clarity in my soul for my heart and mind to learn from. I admit I could be wrong about this. However, consider that we are sometimes surprised by the content of our dreams and it is not unusual to believe that they come from a mysterious section of our own minds. They can be compelling dramas drawing on themes and impressions from our waking lives that are as though written, produced and presented to us without our conscious knowledge or consent - but we agree they arise from within ourselves. The three visions I write about here were likewise surprising to me and also show no signs of coming from outside myself. They can be analysed like dreams too, due to their symbolic nature. I therefore believe they were important messages from the eternal part of myself to an earthly part of myself, to provide education and instruction.
After a description of each vision I will explain what it means to me. I will also share what comes to my mind when considering its various elements. This intuitive approach is what leads me to an explanation that feels true to me and is relevant to my life.
One vision was of a very worldly item: a cement mixer! The machine was of the type that looks like a large drum on a stand, but it was gold and the drum was very rounded in shape. The drum rotated and then a lever at the side moved and the drum tipped to pour out its contents. A large blob of living, velvet-smooth, rich-red coloured, opaque and weighty material slowly emerged from it and then fell to the ground. It retained its rounded shape as it landed but spread out slightly. In this mass were large jewels of various colours and kinds. The red blob and the jewels radiated light from within and I felt that they were alive.
The red and weighty blob is suggestive of flesh - meaning the message is about me, a flesh and blood person. The round drum is reminiscent of a cauldron - a vessel in which ingredients are mixed and changed during cooking to form something new and better than the sum of its parts - this infers spiritual growth and transformation over time. The gold, jewels and rich red in the scene signify royalty or nobility. Lastly, concrete is mixed and poured into trenches before foundation walls are constructed when building houses. This shows that a foundation was being made that was of excellent quality for what would be a fine house - meaning a strong and secure human being. The implication regarding myself is that not even the foundations of a noble person were yet complete, but good work had been started.
In another vision I was looking at my own head, from in front of my forehead. A vertical slit opened in the centre of my forehead from the hairline to the brow. The skin at either side of the slit rolled back, creating a lens shaped hole. Inside the hole was a pitch black void. I was swiftly moved in through the hole into my head. The darkness inside was alive all around me and had a strong personality - it was powerful and its nature was exultant, unrestrained chaos. It was highly amused by me. I knew it saw me totally, inside and out, and knew all about me, seeing the things I hid from myself and others. I knew that it regarded me as weak and pathetic, as unaware of my shortcomings and of how ridiculously wrong I was in my understanding of myself.
This was an introduction to my shadow (in the psychological sense). Sexual symbolism points to a union of opposites within myself: There is the bright, known, ordered, outer (male) world of my rationality entering through an opening suggestive of female sexual anatomy into my dark, unknown, chaotic, inner (female) world of wild instinctual awareness. These two halves together - as in the yin/yang symbol - create a whole; a well balanced human being. In other words my conscious self was being introduced to a relationship with and appreciation of the underworld within myself. I also understand this vision to mean that there was much darkness in me where the light of God still needed to penetrate.
A third vision was of an ancient Egyptian style mummified human body. I viewed the mummy from one side and it was lying on its back and facing upward. The wrapping around the body was not cloth; it was thin white paper that crinkled and moved on its own. There was a gap in the wrapping over the chest area and living blue flames that were cool rather than hot moved and danced in there and they did not consume the fragile paper. The head of the mummy was also alive, it was not wrapped and it was not human - it was the long head of a dog, dark and slim like the head of the ancient Egyptian god Anubis. Its closed mouth seemed to have an amused and good-humoured smile, and its eye was a human eye that communicated friendliness, and a calm and trusting patience towards the burning process it was undergoing.
The spiritually rigid and dead condition I was then in (like a mummified body that was alive) was being burned away and I was being cleaned, renewed and enlivened in a process that would not damage me as it transformed and repaired me - this was the action of the latihan inside me; The living paper wrapping symbolises the delicate skin surrounding a living body, meaning that the message of the vision was about me; The cool flames in the heart area signify the ongoing work of freeing my heart from hot and damaging passions; The human body having a dog's head shows I was not yet fully human spiritually but I should however attend to and follow the human qualities (the human 'I') within myself (the 'human eye' that communicated calm, trusting patience) rather than other lower qualities within myself that sometimes laid claim to being the 'I' within me - in this way I could accept the processes of purification and inner transformation that were being worked in me. Finally Anubis is referenced - a god associated with guiding people to the afterlife, with mummification rites (preparation for eternal life) and with weighing the heart of a dead person to ascertain their purity of soul (only pure hearted souls ascended to a heavenly existence while impure souls were eaten by the goddess Ammit). In conclusion it seems that I would fail an inspection of whether I was a good human being or not unless vital work was carried out on me first. On a practical level it showed me that painful emotions, regrets and awareness caused by spiritual purification were happening for a good reason, and that spiritually things were progressing correctly so there was no need to fear.
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Most of us have at some time experienced strange coincidences, and I often wonder what they are really all about. Are they Reminders of a Different Reality, perhaps? I would like to tell you two recent ones of mine.
The first occurred when I was on my way to my local supermarket, using a Walker to help me along, as the wind was so strong that day. But just as the Walker was climbing a rather steep bit of kerb, it fell over. And so I fell over too.
I lay there on the road, wondering what to do, I was not hurt but I just could not get up! There was no one to help me. The road was completely deserted. But then I saw a man in the distance and to my great surprise he was someone I was constantly bumping into! He soon got me back on my feet, of course, with me quite amazed that of all the people who might have walked down the street just at that moment, it had been he!
And then there was another coincidence. I had to go to the dentist, which meant walking about half a mile to catch the bus - and again it was a very windy day and I felt a bit scared that the wind might make me lose my balance.
But anyway, I managed and got to my dentist, and then after it was over I went back to the waiting room to book another appointment, thinking to myself of how I would now have to get home by bus and then brave another windy walk to reach my front door. But just as I was leaving, a woman in the waiting room said "Would you like a lift?"
I was delighted of course, but where did she live? I did not want to take her out of her way.
"No problem," she said "I see you every day, because I live right next door!"
I had never seen her before, but off we went with me so thankful and amazed at what had happened. It was as if the Almighty was even looking after someone as small as me! It was like a sign that told me I never needed to worry. His help would always be there!
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