By Raphaela Ripareti
For the last couple of year or so, our Subud group has been meeting at a church where we rent space for Latihan once a week. One evening this past October, I arrived a little early and sat in my car facing the building for a while as I waited for others to arrive. My husband came in a separate car straight from work so I was alone. It was already dark outside and, by Santa Barbara standards, on the chilly side. I observed that off to the side of the building, where there was a table with chairs and a floodlight on, there was a homeless lady with a big cart with her belongings working on something by the table. I remembered the pastor had mentioned someone in the neighborhood who liked to come there to read books from the Free Little Library, a book box for neighborhood sharing, that is installed there. She took no notice of us as we entered into the side door a little bit later to go do Latihan.
During Latihan, the thought came to me to ask who she is, and the answer immediately followed. I received something of her youth and her incredible beauty, long wavy hair, a full feminine body. The kind of beauty that is truly a gift from God. Then my Latihan simply continued and I didn't think of it again until we were all getting in our cars ready to go home. Then I saw she was still there and I had the feeling to go meet her. I told my husband that was what I'd go do so to just go on home and expect me a little later.
When I walked up to her it took her a little while to even realize it was her I had come to talk to as she was going about her business preparing some food. Then when she did realize it and really looked in my eyes she gave a big smile and welcomed me into her space. She asked what we did at the church and I said we met for our spiritual practice. She asked what practice, and I said something about non denominational worship and surrender, whereupon she asked what the name was of our group. “Subud,” I said. "Ah, I know Subud" she said, "I used to be in Subud a long time ago when I was young" (in the '60s and '70s, as it turned out).
We talked for close to an hour, each sharing a wide range of personal experiences and finding much common ground. It was an incredibly uplifting experience that left me feeling just full of goodness and blessings for many days after. She reads a lot, and writes, and is such a deeply spiritual person with a wealth of wonderful experiences. It turned out we also had other friends in common in the Santa Barbara area and she has spent time in the mountain community where we live. Her experience of Christianity is similar to mine, and her experience of healing as a Divine gift is as well. Just kindred spirits all around; what a special blessing it was to meet each other. She expressed the same joy about it that I was feeling.
Of the content of our conversation I will share just one more thing. It concerns the reason she left Subud despite the fact that she had been dedicated to the Latihan and had felt close to the community. At the hand of a fellow Subud member, she suffered great harm. She was unable to overcome that disappointment, to the point that it colored her entire experience of Subud and she felt compelled to walk away from it. She continued her spiritual journey in churches and other spiritual communities.
I had mentioned a book to her that I thought she'd enjoy, and I told her I would come put it in the Free Little Library for her the next day. I did, and I saw her there, briefly, as I dropped it off. I noticed that a burden which had been less apparent the night before, was much more apparent in her then. Prayers welcome! She herself, too, is praying from the bottom of her heart for complete healing. Her name is Suzanne.
- - - - -
The Three Different Types of Latihan
I found Pak Musa to be an interesting old fellow, and when I visited him earlier at his house (eight of us went), he would send the members one at a time to do latihan in a small room while he went on talking with the others. Then when that person returned he would send another, then talk to the one who had just returned about what they experienced in latihan. The young Javanese members who I went with all 'heard' him within telling them when to stop, but I had to be told by the outer voice!
He then told me to return and do the latihan sitting this time - to just receive it sitting - because the first time I was doingit rather than receiving it.
He said that the latihan experiences of value are those that usually occur when we are just receiving, as in sitting receiving the vibration.
When we get up and move around and do all the actions that we do in group latihan, then this is mainly purification or growth, but both these are usually different from the state where we receive the blessing or witness type of experiences. These we get after the soul has grown, and become somewhat purified. That is why it is important that Subud members who have been in Subud for sometime should now start to sit and receive like this more often.
Of course doing this - sitting and receiving - does not mean we will automatically get experiences of the 'big' type, but even just receiving the latihan strongly in this state is a very real kind of blessing.
In previous times only revered holy men or saints could do this. So we are already far more blessed to be able to receive like this than many members actually realize. As we come to more fully appreciate this we will be more diligent in praying and receiving each day.
That's about the limit of my recollection, as translated to me in English by young members who did not have perfect English, so hopefully I got the gist of it right.
I found Pak Musa to be a really gentle and humble man with quiet humour and very self-effacing. Although he was poor, it was not poverty that determined his self effacing manner but his Javanese humility. In fact, he never seemed aware of the difference between his outer condition and the outer condition of others - being more concerned with inner things.
He died in May 2011.
While we were with him, he drew illustrations depicting the three different types of latihan:
The first showed a person doing the normal group latihan, with lines representing the latihan all round him, sort of swirling in an undefined and enveloping fashion, so that all parts of him are becoming purified by the movement of his body and organs and feelings under the purifying impact of the latihan.
The second represented the latihan going to both the head and chest, which Pak Musa explained was the receiving of a man whose ‘inner eye’ has been opened. This occurs when one enters the realm where the human force begins to predominate in the person – if not all the time then certainly when the forces become ordered within the self under the influence of receiving the latihan.
The third illustrated how the latihan works when one is sitting quietly receiving it, as it is then directed into the person. Most so-called Subud experiences occur when one is sitting in such a quiet and receptive condition of surrender, rather than in a group latihan.
Apparently, he said, Bapak also used to do drawings like this in his explanations to members when he was in Jogjakarta and Semarang, when members used to do latihan at his house.
- - - - -
When I Think Of Bapak
By Chairani Gregson
Sometimes when I listen to Cavatina or Somewhere In Time, I think of Bapak.
I am a child – dancing, singing, running through long grass, feeling free. Then I hear Bapak calling me and I run back to my Beloved Father who loves me.
And at last I know that the blocked channel of love within me is starting to clear.
- - - - -
Becoming One of Bapak’s Helpers
I became an empath after my opening and for that reason I dreaded ever
becoming a helper because it might mean going into hospitals and doing
latihan there. By empath, I mean that I take on the physical and emotional feelings of others. Like being biologically psychic. But God shows us what he expectof us by what he puts in front of us, and eighteen years later I spent many years working as a Human ResourceConsultant, where I interviewed at least a thousand people, felt their mental and physical conditions which stayed with me only briefly and I became stronger because of it.
A few years after being opened, I had indications that helpers work was
headed my way when three separate crisis cases, one after the other,
received that they had to come to be with me. Funnily enough, all three
swore me to secrecy about not involving the helpers in our group. I didn't
do Latihan with them, I didn't do anything with them. I just let them hang
around the house and do the eccentric things that people in crisis seem to
have to do. Extraordinarily, when their time of being with me was up, my
three year old son ordered each of them out and they went! I still dreaded
becoming a helper as I was like a prawn without a skin and it might involve
going to sick members and hospitals. People in crisis didn't affect me at
all. I've since found out that I'm borderline Aspergers Syndrome so perhaps that's why they were comfortable with me and I with them.
Then in 1981, in the USA, Bapak gave a talk (it's in All of Mankind) saying
that world-wide, at least 50% of the members in each group should be made
helpers. Something like that. Two dedicated helpers or office holders
from Japan were traveling to some western groups and they were asking, as
they went, whether Bapak's directive had been heeded. Just two weeks before
they arrived at my group, I was struggling with a strong feeling that I
should be a helper. Nobody had asked me to, or perhaps even wanted me to,
but there I was, feeling that I should, unable to face it, conscious of my
lack of surrender etc, etc. Struggle, struggle. From this moment on, I
decided to call this nafsuish condition "Living with the brakes on."
As a result of all this, in an attempt to surrender, it burst out of me to
the helpers group one night, that I was willing to become a helper. This
rather precocious statement was received with reserve as usually one waits
to be asked! Then, very soon after, along came our lovely brother Ichiki
and sister Saoda. They asked politely and publicly "Have you made any new
helpers?" "Not yet," they were told, but I was presented as somebody being
considered for the task.
In those days, it was not a harmonious helpers group, which left the way
open for one dominant personality--an elderly lady--to keep the peace and
run the show. She ran it well, but parochial attitudes prevented her from
letting in 'outsiders' (I was from another country.) Our Japanese visitors
departed, things settled down and there was no more talk of new helpers.
Then along came the national helpers including one strong lady who had lived
in Indonesia for years, who could see and feel the lay of the land. They,
too, were following up Bapak's directive and like the sacrificial lamb,
yours truly was brought forth for testing. It was impossible for me to
test properly in an atmosphere where resolute feelings, and thoughts of
others were going through me like radio waves. Besides I already had a "no"
in my heart and mind. Also, quite apart from my hospital phobia, who would
want to be in such an uncomfortable helpers group? It is hard for me to
receive properly if there is already a "no" or a "yes" in me and in that
atmosphere it was not easy for me to empty myself before testing. I
certainly had a "no" in me, and the local helpers knew what was expected of
them, so to my relief, we all got "no." Five nos.
But we had reckoned without the national helpers! Quite apart from frankly
expressing their doubts about the validity of this testing, they indicated--
through the feelings-- their personal respect for me, bless 'em. What a
day! I was now between a rock and a hard place so unwelcome, I was pushed
into that helpers group as a candidate helper and we were all uncomfortable.
It was a kind of hell for me. I felt as though I, a free spirit, had been
put in a cage. Severe depression followed. Prolonging the candidacy was a
mistake--my mistake-- because a great weight lifted as soon as it was over
and at last I became a helper. It had been yet another purification.
My first duty as a helper was going to the hospital alone and doing latihan
with one of our members who had recently come out of a coma. Clearing
latihans, (which I think of as separating latihans), were done in the
hospital toilets. My duties also included latihan with a crippled and
depressed lady in a nursing home during which on one occasion, the birds
nesting under the eaves outside the window woke up and joined us in song.
More clearing latihan in toilets. I found that it wasn't too bad at all, as
though a nice blanket of protection was now around me. A blessing really.
Quite soon, the senior helper said her time had come to retire; then another
lady's husband passed away and she needed to retire, then the other two just
left! I was alone. The only helper! Testing in two more candidate helpers
wasn't hard, but none of us were at all experienced. There was a little
blue book, but we didn't look in there; instead we received what to do by
testing and trusting. Then an emergency situation happened: a charismatic
member broke away and started her own group in the very next street to Subud
There was talk of her telling the people who went with her, that she would
receive new names for them and when we found out that she was about to open somebody, we brought in those trusty big guns, the national helpers. Their way of dealing with the situation was "Back to the group in one week or
you're out of Subud". It worked and they all returned. I looked into the
renegade leader's eyes and saw a reptile's eyes. Thank God they all came
right within a few weeks!
Because we were so inexperienced, we did too much testing one night, and
after that, I literally had to lie still for days afterward, because it
brought on something which could have distorted my limbs like rheumatoid
arthritis. My joints burned and the pain was excruciating. A good lesson;
wrong testing is bad for the body.
After a few years, I started to receive a 'tertiary education' in the
latihan. This was an absorbing of information rather than hearing lectures.
I hadn't asked for this, but deep down I had wanted it. As the years went
on, talents were developed and I followed up these experiences in the outer
world by studying for diplomas and certification so that what had come
inwardly could now be used in daily life. The outer life had to grow in
order to stay in balance with the inner life. I felt that all of this
development was connected to being a group helper.
Now I'd like to share something which gave me some courage and
After that awful no/yes testing day when I became a candidate helper, one of
the local helpers later shared with me what had happened to her during the
testing: After she announced, like all of us, that she' d received a "no",
she heard Bapak's deep voice inside of her say, "Now test again". She then
received "yes." (Because the national helpers had already intervened, she
didn't need to reveal this, but I needed to hear it.)
All in all, the whole experience of being a helper made me strong and
because of it I never doubt that something that can be dealt with by asking
before latihan, by truly trusting God and leaving it to the invisible
helpers Bapak sends. We earthly helpers are but channels. I always ask
Bapak to send his helpers to any latihan I attend and I know others who do
the same. Bapak's grandson Mas Adji once gave me this advice: "At the end
of the latihan, say finish to yourself and don't let it dribble on because
that's when the lower forces try to hitch a ride. And always thank Almighty
God for the latihan, then say ‘Bapak, please bless me.’"
- - - - -