A Response to On Ancestors
By Rohana Darlington
Thank you for a very interesting edition of Reminders of Reality. I particularly enjoyed the article about ancestors, especially as we are now in the month of the ancestors preceding Ramadan. It resonated with me because ever since I joined Subud I’ve had many different experiences about my ancestors, and I too, found these to be both spiritually educational and personally liberating.
The recollection where the writer asked in Latihan for her Christian ancestors to be helped by Jesus reminded me of an experience I had at a Subud Britain Congress years ago in Bideford, Devon. During a group Latihan with a large number of Subud members, with my inner eyes I saw a crowd of serious-looking people, all dressed in black, looking around at us receiving our Latihans. I felt these were some of my ancestors who had lived many years ago. They approached me and their leader looked very suspicious and told me they had seen a great light among we Subud members and asked me what it was. I was immediately moved by the Latihan to say aloud, “Welcome in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Redeemer,” and opened my arms widely to greet them and to dispel their suspicion. To my astonishment, they then seemed reassured and vanished.
In the next Latihan I was made to lie face downwards lengthwise on the floor in a position of abnegation with my arms stretched out above my head and my legs stretched out as far as they could go. Suddenly, I felt footsteps treading over my body and felt people walking over my back, using me as a bridge. It felt as if they were these ancestors who had decided to enter into the light engendered by the Latihan. I never saw them again but felt they belonged to a strict Puritan sect.
I’ve had other interesting experiences about my ancestors of various different faiths, including English Protestant and Catholic Christians and also some about Austrians who followed the Hasidic Jewish faith. Some of these experiences have spontaneously occurred immediately after family deaths, whereas other visitations happened during a group Latihan completely unexpectedly, to inform me how a deceased ancestor was getting on in the afterlife. Another happened during a general group Latihan when a deceased ancestor whispered in my ear, informing me of details of my heritage that I had no previous knowledge of. I come from a family riven by damaging religious bigotry. This was one of the reasons I joined Subud because in the Latihan we can all worship God together with no dogma and without having to argue about theological creeds.
At the beginning of this month of ancestors I had a strong dream. In it, somebody approached me with a big box of documents and handed it over to me, saying, “You need to have this because you’re the only one who can deal with it.” I looked inside the box and saw it contained archives describing my family history. I’m the only member of my family in Subud, and so I await Ramadan which is soon to begin with great interest…
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Ancestral Influences in a Time of Isolation
By Mashud Darlington
In the period of enforced isolation due to the Covid19 virus I’ve become increasingly aware of influences from my ancestors. Influences that flowed into my inner being at the time of my physical conception from my forebears, some of whom were religious people. This seems to go some way to explain the mystery of why some people are attracted to the Latihan and some are not.
In my family there was only an oral tradition of Quakers many generations earlier, while in my wife Rohana’s family Evangelical Christians were a major presence in the recent past.
Confirmation of my ancestry came later, in my mid-twenties when Rohana, at the time my fiancé and later my wife, came to stay overnight with my parents before attending a Subud wedding. During the night, she was awakened to find that at the foot of her bed a group of people wearing old-fashioned clothes were trying to attract her attention. One of these, a man, tried to convey a message to her. A woman standing next to him became impatient, and tried to force him to get his message across quickly. Rohana was so startled by this that she switched on the bedside light and they all disappeared. Later, disappointed that she had not been able to discover what the message was, she wrote to Sudarto Martohudojo, an experienced helper living in Indonesia at the time, working for Bapak answering Subud members’ letters.
Sudarto replied that the experience was genuine and that these people were my ancestors who had come to welcome Rohana into the family. They wished to tell her that she should warn me never to leave Subud or neglect my Latihan. Later, my older brother, the only other person in the family to join Subud, gave up the Latihan and degenerated spiritually, behaving in ways that distressed these ancestors. As my Latihan deepened and came to influence my thinking, I began to understand something that I had read earlier in a newspaper. An actress, in an interview, said, “If you have children, you will recognize aspects of yourself in their character, but they will have other characteristics you do not recognize and may not like.”
These impulses arising from different forebears in the previous three or four generations have been very difficult to separate from the impulses of my authentic self. It should be unsurprising, really, that since these arise mainly from approximately fifteen male and fifteen female forebears that issues of vocation, religion, class, nationality or even gender have become so controversial a subject recently.
It was only as my Latihan deepened that I’ve begun to have moments of clarity, authenticity and an infinitely precious feeling of freedom. To recognize who I really am, rather than being pushed and pulled around by impulses that appear to be from myself but were really reacting out the desires of my forebears.
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Create a Loving World by Building Caring Local Communities
By Elizabeth Flanders
Six or seven years ago, I began having visions of our world in chaos. It was very disturbing, so I tested with a friend and national helper. I received a state of profound peace, like nothing I had felt before. My friend received when the chaos came, I would be able to stay peaceful while others were in panic. I also received several times afterwards, “You are a messenger of peace and the natural world will help you.” Nature has become very alive for me. The nature spirits send me lots of love and encouragement.
Soon afterwards I received to support my local community. I saw that we would not be able to count on our national government and life needed to centered locally. I was asked to be President of our local St. Vincent DePaul and was invited to be on the board of our local Community Foundation. I saw the synchronicity and accepted both.
Now, I am part of those on the front lines supporting those most vulnerable in our community during this crisis. SVdP has an emergency hotline and food bank. The Foundation is not only raising money, but spearheading community organization around a variety of needs such as food and medicine delivery to the elderly and ill. I am also working with our local immigrant population that can’t access government support.
I experience daily how this world is created out of Love. As Pope Francis said, “Rivers don’t drink their own water and trees don’t eat their own fruit. Living for others is a rule of nature. We are all born to help each other.”
Our culture has forgotten this natural law and we are now ill from our own toxicity. No other species fouls it’s own habitat. We humans now have an opportunity to correct our course and learn to live in harmony with each other and the natural world. Our survival depends on it.
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An Experimental Opening
By Robert Goonetilleke
Each Subud member must feel that their opening is unique or special, and of course it is very much so, though there was a slight difference in mine. I was opened in February 1958 by a Subud member who had done latihan for five or six weeks. His sole motive, I later found out, was his curiosity, Could he pass on the contact to another human being like BYM claimed?
The man who opened me was my neighbor, a newspaper sub editor who from the time he was opened talked about Subud to everyone he knew. He was in the prime of his life and our age gap was about fifteen years. What brought us together was our common interest in classical music. On that fortunate day in February, he was walking past our garden when I happened to be outside. He hailed me, and, waving an LP, said he’d got something special. “Come over after dinner,” he added.
At about 8.30 that evening, therefore, I dropped in at his home with high expectations. His parents were opened by now, and the entire conversation was about Subud, the latihan and a bit of Subud gossip - interesting, but boring for a young fellow of my age. After about an hour, the others retired to bed and my friend showed me the LP. It was Beethoven’s Violin Concerto beautifully played by Kullenkempp, an unknown artist to me at that time. Afterwards, my friend said, "Why don't you try this latihan? If it works, you are lucky; if it doesn’t, you can forget about it. You have nothing to lose.” Bless him forever, he added, “This comes from the power of God and you have nothing to be afraid of, which really put me at my ease.
“Let’s try it,” I said, and he asked me to remove my spectacles and wrist watch and the leather slippers I was wearing. Then he asked me to stand in front of him and close my eyes and relax. He went into latihan immediately and I could hear words and other noises issuing from him. I opened my eyes and could see that he was moving his body and arms. I closed my eyes again and relaxed, and after a few minutes felt a huge current going through my entire body. My arms went up and I rose on my toes and might have fallen forwards if I hadn’t pulled back and open my eyes, whereupon whatever I was experiencing stopped.
When my friend opened his eyes, the first thing he asked me was, “Did you feel anything ? To this day I do not know why I said it, but I replied, “Nothing,” and went into total denial. Was it fear or an unwillingness to get further involved?
I do not know. I thanked him and walked away.
There ensued a month of what I would now say were Subud experiences, which eventually brought me to Subud proper. Looking back, all I can say is there is a time in our life when it is right to come to Subud, a time when the miraculous journey begins and it is difficult to drop out when the proof is undeniable. For me, the time was indeed right, for here I am now an old man of 83, and still doing the latihan .After my recent last birthday, I found myself praying, thanking Almighty God for the blessings of the great grace of the latihan that I have received in this lifetime. Amen.
I was attending evening classes at the Colombo Technical College and used to get back home past 8 pm. Those days there was no TV and all we had was reading and the radio for news and entertainment. It was my habit to read late into the night lying on my bed. Often I used to feel something like a buzz in some areas of my body, like very small current passing through. It was soothing and I just let it happen. It was
nothing like the first experience, yet it persisted whenever I was quiet. I was aware of a change, something unusual.
After about a month I got home one evening to hear my parents in a heated argument. Most unusually, I said in passing to my father, "You are always right and everyone else is always wrong." Back then, a Sri Lankan child would never say a thing like that to an elder, and especially not to a father. My Dad seemed to forget whatever was going on, and he said to me, "What did you say?” He walked towards me, his arm across his body and would have back-handed me without any hesitation. He was a tall and strong fellow, and I gave all the mental commands - run, escape, etc - but my body did not respond.
Instead, I stood my ground calmly and something strange happened. I felt the latihan strongly and started to move my arms and mumble words. My Dad walked up to me, looked at me, shook his head and walked away.
It is absolutely certain that the latihan touched him, and many months later he told one of his buddies, "There is something in this Subud"
This proof, this undeniable proof, is what brought me to Subud.
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One Thing Leads to Another
By Robert Goonetilleke
The next youngest fellow after me in Subud Sri Lanka in 1958 was a medical student in his second year at the Medical College. He used to be very regular, a very quiet person and a loner. After a while, the caretaker at our first Subud House at Torrington Place reported that this young chap (whom we will call Z) was coming to the Subud House often and doing latihan on his own. To begin with, he did not think it was unusual, but when he found out that Z had forced open a window to get into the hall when it was locked, he reported the matter to our Chair, Dr. Ravindra Weerakoon.
The helpers talked to him and noticed something odd about his behaviour. But, having no experience of what we now know as crisis, it was decided that Z should be allowed to do more latihan. As the latihan came from the power of God no harm would befall him, right?. By good fortune, one of the helpers had the presence of mind to cable BYM in Jakarta and ask for advice. The prompt reply was to STOP all latihan and that a helper should be with him always until his behaviour became normal. I believe more instructions were received later by phone.
Z was the only person from his family in Subud, and when the young fellow recovered, his family packed him off to stay with close relatives in the northern part of he country. In the meantime, some form of communication developed between his uncle and a prominent member of the Subud community who was known to him. This uncle, a charted accountant working for a reputable firm in Colombo, came to the Subud house one day on a latihan day. He had a long talk with Chairman Ravindra and left, and Ravindra told us later that he had come with the intention of suing Subud. Ravindra in turn had given him a long explanation about Subud, and the accountant left, albeit still huffed up.
We were caught off guard the next time he turned up at the Subud house and said that he wanted to join Subud. He duly served the three month waiting period and was opened, and I was one of the witnesses at his opening. He remained a loyal and dedicated Subud brother who served Subud well.
It was my privilege to do a latihan with him for the last time before he passed away.
The story will not be complete if I do not add that during BYM's visit to Sri Lanka in 1967, Z turned up the Subud House, met Bapak and left. No one had informed him that Bapak was in Sri Lanka. I never saw him again, but his uncle informed me that he had moved abroad, had married and was doing well.
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