By Ramzi Addison
I enjoyed the Freiburg Congress more than usual because for the first time I had no Subud job and I was accompanied by my eldest son and three of his kids who were living in Holland. We camped in the Black Forest with other Subud people and it was generally a really pleasant time.
One afternoon I was sitting alone in the dining hall after we had lunched while everyone had gone off to do things, and I was left sitting feeling happy and content, my mind in neutral, not thinking about anything.
Then something started to happen. It was like a documentary about climate change. I was shown that the world would continue to get hotter and hotter – and hotter and yet hotter. Our current feeble attempts to do something about this were doomed to failure because what was causing it was the way humans are towards themselves and each other. I saw that huge conflagration would arise. Wars and misery and general mayhem of the worst sort and when it all finally ended only around 25% of us were left. But the remaining people would be transformed by God so that we could start again.
I asked, “What are the chances that Mankind will be able to change themselves to prevent this happening?” The answer was “Highly unlikely”. Then I asked, “What are the chances that I could change in the necessary way?” The answer to this was “Zero.” Then the movie stopped and I went and got a coffee.
Now I have no idea if this was ‘real’ or not. But it certainly felt real and it still does. Curiously, this experience makes me feel happy. I am glad to be here on this planet at this time. I get the feeling that we are lucky to be alive now – that this is a special time for all of us. I had no real sense of when such a thing might go full gangbusters but it’s pretty obvious that it has already started. I also had no sense of where might be the safest place – will there be an ‘ark’? I’m glad I live in New Zealand, but as we all know this little country can get quite obstreperous sometimes!!
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Sharing Experiences of Doing the Latihan
By Daniela Moneta, WSA Archivist for Area III
Nobody said that the latihan would be easy. It sometimes helps to hear what others have experienced. The new Subud Archives Online website available to Subud members only has several hundred interviews made for the Memories of Bapak project (1995-2000) of members recalling their memories of Bapak and experiences of the latihan. See instructions at the end of this article about how you can have access to these interviews and much more.
One young Subud member said that after he was opened, he took a nap on the floor during latihan for about two years and later found that that was probably the only way he could have gotten quiet. One day he didn't need to take a nap and was singing and moving around during latihan.
A young hippy member recalls going up to Bapak at the airport in Manchester in 1970 not long after she was opened. Bapak was standing alone with Tuti and Usman waiting for his flight back to London. The helpers were trying to give Bapak some space -- when the young woman and her boyfriend walked up to Bapak. Bapak, through Usman, asked “Is there something she would like to know?” Her question and Bapak’s way of responding was an experience of a lifetime.
Another member said that after he was opened at his first World Congress at Briarcliff, New York, he started leafing through some Subud books for sale on a table and was astounded to find on each random page -- all the answers to the questions he didn't even know that he had.
A longtime member who was opened in 1957 at Coombe Springs, said that at the time of his opening he was told nothing about Subud, just asked by John Bennett if he and the others with him wanted to be opened into this new way. All said yes. He recalls at his opening that nothing apparently happened to him. Afterwards, he went for a walk alone in the adjoining park and spontaneously started singing hymns at the top of his voice for about an hour and a half. He just couldn't stop himself. So, he knew that something very important had happened to his life.
Another Subud member said that she was planning to end her lengthy stay at Wisma Subud after the World Congress there in 1971 and relocate to London on Bapak’s advice. She was then offered a full-time job teaching at the Jakarta International School. This was a dream job for anyone who wanted a reason to continue to stay in Cilandak. She then went to the Big House to see Bapak who was just leaving for a World Journey. Tuti took her up to Bapak’s room and she asked him about taking the job at the International School. He said it would be fine. She then asked Tuti to remind Bapak that he had earlier advised her to move to London. Bapak then said clearly in English, and he repeated it three times: “London is best, London is best, London is best.” And London was where she went and where she met her husband.
In one interview from the Memories of Bapak project, a member asked Bapak in 1959 on Bapak’s visit to Norway, “Why do people change names?” Bapak. closed his eyes and received for a while and then he said “Your name should begin with an ‘H’.“ Watch Halstein’s Memories of Bapak interview on the archives website to hear what happened after he got his Subud name.
To see the full interviews, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sometimes just hearing about other people's experiences in Subud, and the ups and downs that happen when we are opened, can be inspirational and a confirmation about what we are going through; just what a new member might need or what an older member needs to remind them of the value of the latihan. If you are a helper, you might consider directing new or isolated members to the Subud Archives Online website. See what interesting and helpful things are there. If you want to give it a try, request access at this email address: email@example.com
The Subud Archives Online website is restricted to Subud members only. It contains movies, videos, photographs, stories, interviews, newsletters, and many documents about Subud from the early days up until today and will be there for members in the future. It is a place you can go for a full Subud experience.
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The State of Subud
By Ramzi Addison
At the recent zonal thingie in Jakarta as NZ KC (Nov 2019), I also attended the last part of the WSC meeting as an observer. I was struck by how negative we have become about Subud: falling numbers, ageing membership, not enough money, etc. This song has been playing for some time now. I thought maybe it's time we changed the tune. Why do we assume that where we are is wrong? Why not have a different assumption - like we have succeeded. Like this is what we were supposed to do.
Then I started thinking about how I got into Subud . God put his finger on me and said this is something new for mankind - now go and find it. And in one way or another this is how it was for all of us.
Now I know God is not stupid. He knew exactly who I am and what I am capable of and so he knew that I, like the majority of my brothers and sisters, am a feckless and weak being, not really capable of doing very much. So when he led us all to the latihan he could not have expected that much.
I remember, years ago, Ismana and Haryono visited here as IHs and we had a meeting with all the helpers. They proceeded to tell us that the future of Subud lay in the helpers' hands and so on. I raised my hand and said, "With respect, if the future of Subud depends on people like me, we might as well fold up our tents now".
I simply can't accept that kind of responsibility - the idea is quite ridiculous. And now many years later, I feel this more strongly. The future of Subud, of Mankind, of this planet, is up to God. I believe. I know, that for all my weaknesses, my only strength is obedience. If I feel the way ahead - if I feel the will of God for me - I have always obeyed. Even when I have been really scared or aware that this seemed very irresponsible in normal terms. And I am lucky enough to have found a woman who has always been with me in this. It would have been very difficult if she had disagreed. But I would still have obeyed.
One of the problems we have, I believe, is that we don' t take the latihan seriously. We seem to think it's okay to do it once or twice a week in the hall and then get on with real life. Rohanawati's words seem to be a very strong confirmation of this idea. We should put Subud first, before everything else. When we don't do this it demonstrates our lack of understanding and appreciation of what a miraculous gift we have received.
But I am just a little lad with big feelings about stuff - and I don't pretend to know what is right for Subud. But I do really feel very strongly that the future of Subud and mankind is in God's hands; we just have to do our best. And maybe this is what we were supposed to do.
If we want to know where mankind is at just look at the leaders we elect. They represent us - this is who we are. When we point the finger at Trump we are really pointing them at ourselves - collectively. Here's a quote from Bapak. Someone asked him how a cowboy actor like Ronald Reagan could become President. Bapak said. "No-one becomes President of the United States by accident."
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By Martin Loyd
Sylvia Lord once told me how she was among the Subud members saying goodbye to Bapak at Heathrow after one of his visits to the U.K. She left him sitting comfortably in the lounge surrounded by the farewell party and went downstairs to the toilet. At the bottom of the staircase she encountered Bapak walking towards her, and she blurted out "What are you doing here?" Bapak just smiled.
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A Psychic Attack
An item in the last Reminders of Reality reminded me of this incident. At a time when I was a national helper, Bapak's daughter Ibu Yati visited my country and asked me to drive her to visit an isolated Subud group in a country town several hours away, which I was happy to do. It was intended as an informal visit, we stayed for the day, met all the members, did latihan, had a late lunch and then drove home.
I hadn't discussed anything about this group with our visitor and those readers who are familiar with Bapak's family know that they see and sense everything that is necessary, tend not to ask questions and don't need us to report to them. This small group was unusual in the sense that the membership, rather than being served by its committee and helpers, seemed to be under the control of the hard working married couple who had started the group and who from its beginning, had looked after everything like controlling parents. (It had even been reported that if one wasn't liked by them, one was discouraged from attending latihan there.) However; none of this was discussed with Ibu who was quiet and reserved as she didn't know me at all.
As we finished the latihan, Ibu said quite loudly to me that X (the wife) should retire as a helper. That was it. No discussion, everybody heard it and as X happened to be a very assertive and determined lady, it was somewhat controversial. As I recall, there was no further discussion about it between Ibu and I, apart from being given the simple instruction to take care of it.
A few nights later, in the wee small hours, I was woken by a very painful experience, which I can only describe as a psychic attack. I woke my husband, who was also a helper, and explained that my back was being hit painfully by a sword. That was the only explanation I could give of what I was experiencing. I fetched some oil and asked him to please help me by rubbing my back. I lay on my stomach across the bed with a bare back, the light from the hallway was shining onto me through the open door and he told me afterwards that in that light, he could see white streaks across my back, which guided him as to where he should rub. This back rub removed all pain and the experience ended.
This was a big lesson about the power of anger and how it can hurt others. I received in my understanding that it had come at me from X who had perhaps gone to bed angry and might even have been asleep during the whole painful experience. Soon afterwards X was hospitalised with a heart attack, recovered well, retired, and mellowed.
Could I have avoided this unpleasant experience? Only if I'd declined to be the driver that day. I'd been told years before that the testing for X had been slanted the way she wanted it, because, although nobody felt it was right, she had threatened to leave if she wasn't good enough to become a helper like her husband and the helpers had decided to keep the peace by letting her have her way.
So now, twenty-two years later, it had fallen to Bapak's daughter to receive to go there and relieve her of what may, in fact, have been a burden preventing spiritual growth.
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Growing up in Subud I refused to believe that I was connected to my ancestors or that I had any responsibility to purify their mistakes. Perhaps it was because I had been removed from the land of my ancestors at birth and taken across the world to grow up in a culture far removed from my biological ancestry. I felt no connection to the Anglo Irish Scottish heritage that my physical body consisted of. I believed that the soul of each person was responsible for themselves and their actions, and if what I was told was true, then it seemed very unjust and unbelievable that God would be that unfair to dump the mistakes and junk of dead strangers onto me.
So, despite the words of Bapak and Ibu Rahayu, I still refused to believe, or more like I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t understand why if my ancestors had done bad things, somehow I had to suffer to put their mistakes right, to purify them and to lift them up.
So it was with disbelief when I was 22 years old and staying in Cilandak before the month of Ramadan that I had my first encounter with an ancestor. Bapak had just moved into his new house in Pamulang and I attended a group latihan there. I unexpectedly encountered a huge red-haired burly Scots man.
As I sat quietly after the latihan, my first response was, Ugh… Who is that?
I was 'told' he was one of my ancestors. I put it out of my mind because I didn’t believe it or understand it, but for weeks afterwards I felt this burly man sitting on my shoulders, literally like a ‘dead’ weight. I slowly came to understand that his presence was with me because he wanted help.
I tried to ignore him and continued to deny that I had anything to do with my ancestors, but still, he persisted to sit on my shoulder for several weeks. I didn’t want him there and in my quiet moments, I was told that the only way I could get him off my shoulders was to pray for him. And so I did, and surprisingly it worked. He left me alone after that.
Many years later, during the month of the ancestors before Ramadan, in my latihan I witnessed a very long line of my British ancestors. I didn’t know how to relate to them, and in that instant in my latihan, I spontaneously called out to Jesus “Jesus, these are your people. Please help them”. I was not a practicing Christian, but it was a very direct call for help. As the latihan continued, I felt the presence of Christ embrace them with love, and carried them off and out of my latihan. Afterwards, I recalled what happened and once again, it was clearly a case of me not willing to take any responsibility or to feel any connection to that long line of British people who happened to be my biological ancestors.
Time passed and I married and had children, and slowly the latihan was teaching me the reality of the words of Bapak and Ibu Rahayu that I had resisted for so long. My children came from my body, but were not ‘me’. They clearly had their own individual souls, but they certainly had physical features and characteristics of myself and my husband.
I was slowly taught to understand the connection to my ancestors. It was from them that my physical existence owed its existence. I wouldn’t have been born without them and so although I still felt my soul was ‘mine’ and nothing to do with them, I was being shown through the latihan that I owed a debt to them. Their existence, their life and their death, created the possibility of me having a physical vehicle so I could be alive today.
I was shown through my own life, how life is messy, that it’s difficult to live a ‘perfect’ life, that life is unpredictable, and how we all make mistakes. Slowly I was taught through my latihan a feeling of love and compassion and gratitude for those that came before me, the suffering they experienced, and the significance of praying for my ancestors.
They had made mistakes and so had I, and to pray for them, was a gift of love to them. I was taught that to pray for them and ask for God’s forgiveness for them and myself, was actually for my own benefit. If they were lifted up to the light, through God’s Love and Mercy, then so would I and my descendants also be helped.
Bapak explained many times, how we are a result today of the actions and characteristics of our ancestors, how their deeds are so intertwined and woven into our beings that we are often unaware of the influences and forces that shape us. We share their faults, but we usually are not aware that they are even faults. He explained how God works on us through the latihan to untangle all those messy threads we have inherited so we can begin to know our true self.
Ibu Rahayu also explained in a talk how we shouldn’t ignore our faults as those things we think are small and harmless can become woven into our beings and get handed down through the generations. She was referring to having a bad temper and how that could be inherited.
I didn’t know if this was true or how it worked, but by now I was much older and had been humbled through enough life lessons and experiences in my latihans to trust that she and Bapak knew much more about the spiritual that I ever would, even if I didn’t always understand or want to believe their words.
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