A Thousand Days
“The departed soul will linger at home for three days... As they usually cannot communicate with the members of their family – since most people’s “spiritual senses” are not yet developed – they get bored… Hence a selamatan is given on the third day, when the departed soul leaves the house to go out… Another selamatan is given on the evening of the seventh day after death because the soul comes home then, prior to beginning to wander to explore the new environment in the hereafter… But on the fortieth day after death, the soul again comes home, and another selamatan is given... The departed will also come home to see the family on the hundredth day, and then on the first and second anniversaries... The last visit to the house and family will be on the thousandth day after death…”
(Notes taken from “Remembrances of Bapak’s Last Days” – Prio Hartono: SPI 1987)
I used to think these traditional Javanese beliefs were at worst a kind of animistic superstition (like the ubiquitous western myths of animals visiting, photos falling off the wall and clocks stopping at the moment of a family member’s death), or at best ancient social wisdom to help the bereaved through the grieving period, now echoed in the stages of contemporary grief counselling. And, having studied psychotherapy, I am aware that the trauma of bereavement can conjure delusions… and like the ‘phantom limb’ phenomenon experienced by amputees, for the grief-stricken, absence has a palpable presence. But now, my fifty years of latihan make me see that the experiences I’ve had since my wife died in 2016 are of a different quality, holding a deeper truth and are remarkably similar to the Javanese tradition…
On the third day after her death, I felt my wife getting into bed with me, snuggling up and giving me a hug. I am ashamed to admit the event cold-shiver scared me, which is odd, because I welcome and long for such ‘supernatural’ experiences in latihan, but somehow,
perhaps because of not being in the right receptive state, my childhood fear of ghosts kicked in.
Around the seventh day, I walked into our bedroom and switched on the light. My wife was lying in bed and I heard her softly moan at being disturbed and saw her shift position. I remember an upsurge of joy, my mind saying, ‘She’s back! It was all a dream…” A second later, I realised it was just the duvet folded over her side of the bed – or was it?
One afternoon, a month or so later (40 days), while suffering the profoundest grief and crying a tsunami of tears, I did latihan, begging Almighty God for contact, understanding, something, anything. I suddenly perceived my wife, dressed in white, hovering on the periphery of my awareness, and as my arms reached out towards her, I felt the merest touch on my fingertips. Then came the understanding that this was a one-off special, the utmost that
could be experienced, a true grace.
Two months later (100 days), I wrote the following email to a friend: “Yesterday, while cooking supper a feeling of happiness engulfed me, and I felt R was in the kitchen with me, and we were about to have a laugh, as we always did over supper at the end of the working day… then, when the reality of her absence hit yet again, I had a good cry and after went into a neutral state… the best I can hope for at this time. But it’s so very boring having no one in the house to pass the time of day with. When you have a long-term partner, there’s always something to talk about... family, grandkids, Subud, work, creativity, finances, events, what’s for supper, what’s on the box tonight… so I keep the conversation going, albeit one way…”
On the first anniversary of her death, I was at Loudwater Farm, standing on the bank of the River Chess where we’d buried her ashes. It was a hot sunny day and I just stood there at peace doing an inner latihan and recalling our time together. Again, I became aware of her presence surrounding me, and she seemed to tell me that she was ‘like light; integrated into the waveform, but could still be an individual particle at the same time’. Finally, she reassured me that ‘all was and will be well’ and then she left.
I was in Freiburg at the World Congress for the second anniversary. Not having a role, the days were spent wandering, trying to keep cool in the oppressive heat, looking for something palatable to eat and a friend to chat with. Sitting outside of the Messe on my own, my mobile suddenly trilled. It was an old friend I hadn’t been in contact with for some fifteen years. He had found and called my home number and an app I didn’t even know I possessed had redirected the call to my mobile in Germany. He didn’t know my wife had died and in the re-telling of the story I broke down in floods of tears – and then I seemed to be in her presence again and one-way conversed with her for most of the rest of the day.
On the thousandth day, my grandson Aaron and I did latihan together at 11 a.m., the time of her death. This was probably one of the deepest latihans I have ever experienced over my fifty years of membership. I had been feeling, during the weeks running up to this event, a deep remorse turning to guilt over how I hadn’t made clear to my wife while she was alive, and over our forty-four years of marriage, how much she meant to me, how much I appreciated and loved her, wondering if I’d even made the ‘good enough’ standard as a husband and so on – exacerbated by the fact she died so suddenly and we never had that chance to make amends and say our goodbyes.
Half way through the latihan, I was made to stretch upwards as far as my body would spine-crackingly allow, then becoming aware that my wife was ‘lifting the burdens of guilt and grieving’ from me. When the latihan came to an end, my grandson and I sat quietly for over half an hour, both feeling, we later shared, a blanket of pure love covering us. Towards the end of this quiet, my ‘wife’ (in inverted commas because she now seemed more integrated into the ‘all that is’ and less of an ‘individual’) told me that death is nothing to fear, it is like sliding into a different state, akin to a snake shedding its skin…
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The Unfiltered Latihan
Some spiritual experiences are not easy to put into words and share, but it
can be helpful to others if we do so. We are fortunate to have Reminders of
Reality for this purpose. Thoughts are energy and when we think of others,
then that energy goes forth to them. For that reason, I prefer anonymity.
I'm a 79 year old man, opened in the UK in 1967. After seven years I asked
Bapak about my name and also about where I should be living. I then moved
overseas with a new name. Lately, in the midst of a quiet and contented life, I've been experiencing so much synchronicity, so many mini-miracles, that life has become exciting and special. Accompanying this have been occurrences which I just accepted as signs of ageing. For example, I'd go to think something and the thoughtjust floated off before I could think it.
Then a week ago, I sat in a chair at home to relax and feel quiet when I
suddenly found myself on 'the other side'! This wasn't alarming at all and
I was gently and lovingly sent back here, but now I know that this is not
yet my time to die. All of the above seems to have been a preparation for
what happened yesterday:
At my local Subud group, I'd no sooner stood up to receive, when whoosh – the Latihan just spontaneously took off and took over. I sang and sang in what felt like pure worship of God but so powerful and seemingly independent of me was it, that I literally could not tell if I was singing loudly or softly because IT was singing ITSELF (as though I wasn't present.) The whole half hour was like that.
By Wow! What a surprise. After 52 years of Latihan - many of them spent as
Bapak's helper locally and internationally - I was gifted with a totally
'unfiltered' latihan. I hadn't even known my latihan was filtered. We
were told long ago that we could ask "Is there more?" But all these years
I've been quite content to plod on with what felt like a satisfying Latihan.
Thank you Almighty God for the Latihan and thank you Yang Mulia Bapak for being the channel for this Grace to come to all of mankind.
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The Walking Latihan
By Maurice Baker
Reading Lucas Horton’s piece about his ‘walking latihan’ reminded me of a similar experience. Not long after being opened in 1968 I attended a party hosted by Subud friends. It was very enjoyable, but around ten in the evening I felt a strong urge to leave. However, having no car and being unfamiliar with the buses in that part of South London, I set off to walk the seven or eight miles home. Soon my walking picked up pace and felt like I was walking on air, propelled as if by a strong latihan. Not only that but I began singing in a clear joyful voice, something like ‘helaina-helaina’ over and over until I finally got back.
At that time I was not married or in a relationship, but a few months later I met someone who later became my wife. Our first child was named Helena by Bapak (pronounced Helaina – we checked). It seems I had received the name and even, possibly, experienced something of her inner strength and joyful character during that late night walk.
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A Deeper Connection
By Martin Lloyd
I spent my formative teenage years in Aberdare, one of the South Wales mining valleys. It was a great place in which to grow up. Due to its location it allowed me to develop my interests in mountain walking, rock climbing and cave exploration. It also had a strong background of both Chapel and Church. I suppose I grew up with a belief in God: it seemed quite natural. I remember I would say the Lord’s prayer at bedtime, plus a few extra requests for this, that and the other!
But, I remember one particular bedtime that left me with a question. After the usual prayers I somehow felt that it was not good enough to just lie in bed and pray. I can remember thinking that there should be something else – a deeper connection, somehow. I remember relaxing and saying something like – ‘here I am, do with me what you will’. That particular bedtime occurred during the mid to late 50’s. Just a few years later I was opened in the Cardiff group.
As a lead-up to that, my cousin, Michael Thomas, a stalwart of the Montreal group for over half a century, was working in London in 1957 when Bapak arrived at Coombe Springs, where he was opened. Later, his parents were opened and they attended the Cardiff group. A couple of years after that I visited them fully expecting an intelligent discussion about Gurdjieff and Ouspenski. Instead, they said there was now something else, and it’s called Subud…!
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I realised that I was reading your newsletter instead of joining the 8 o'clock East Coast (U.S.) regional latihan, so was kind of in latihan as I read it.
The chicken story was such a wake-up call to never ever forget to honor our food as we consume it. I've been becoming more and more vegan - was always vegetarian - but while indeed savoring the food, and being grateful for it, I think I have been forgetting to give actual thanks to my baked pumpkins and quinoa . . . and what a surge of joy when I did!
It sounds hilarious, but those are really powerful presences in nourishing the body when you think about it. I've always been kind of perplexed about Bapak's chapter in Susila Budhi Dharma about chicken forces, but it sounds like it might be time to re-read .
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Early on I wondered why Bapak warned so strongly about thinking bad things about others, such as he did in this passage: "You must not think bad things, which is something many people enjoy doing. It has no direct effect upon themselves, so they go an doing it. For instance, you may like to think about someone who behaves badly. In fact, for people who are still young and who have yet to have children, or who may still have more children, if they even think about such people - even if they only think about them - then although they do not realize it this will result in an effect upon their own being, and then their future children may turn out precisely like the people they have been thinking about." (83 CDK 3)
I did not actually doubt this, but it also did not sink in very deeply. For example, it did not occur to me that bad thoughts about public figures are harmful until I learned that lesson in way that, although it was just a dream, was really convincing to me,. In 1979, the Shah was forced to leave Iran, and without even studying the facts with care, I somehow jumped to the wrong conclusion that the Shah had left behind his son, the Crown Prince, to face the music. I went on to ask the question of myself only: "How could a man put his son in a position like that!" The upshot was a waking dream in which the Shah was extraordinarily upset with my having attributed such a heinous act to him. The force of his rebuke was overwhelming, but I clearly deserved it, so I felt remorse and apologized, and asked forgiveness, and that, I believe, was a privilege. This was quick karma, and that is actually good karma.
At the risk of inducing culture shock, I will share another brief but entirely mellow encounter with another public figure. After his death, John Wayne appeared (it was just another dream) and said, "I wish I weren't famous."
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Peace on Earth
At a time when there seems to be so much strife in so many parts of the world right now, it so happens that we had a long and profound quiet before the meal at a social event in Subud New York. As we opened our eyes I remarked to a brother sitting opposite me on how powerful the quiet had been
“It felt somehow as if we were part of a massive prayer for peace on earth,” I said.
He said, "There IS peace on earth."
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