An Open Letter to Ibu Rahayu
Dear Ibu Rahayu,
I am an Australian who joined Subud while travelling through Jakarta 27 years ago. I currently live in Hobart with my wife and two teenage children. In your recent talk at the Indonesian National Congress in Bandung, I felt a subtle challenge towards experienced Subud members to write and bear witness to the reality of Bapak’s receiving. I was inspired by your candour and willingness to share your own spiritual experiences and insight. In response to this challenge, I offer you and my fellow Subud associates my own extraordinary experiences as a testament to the reality of the latihan and the way of Subud as received by yourself, Bapak and other Subud members whose latihan has taken them into the realms of the soul. I hope our membership may find them illuminating and affirming to some degree.
My period of revelation and purification began in late 2016 while I was working as a teacher in a small, remote town in outback Queensland, Australia. During this time, as I went to sleep each evening, a blue spirit light would appear in my mind’s eye. I was guided to surrender to this light and was taken to a primordial place within my soul where I began to witness and experience the nature of the evolution of the human spirit on Earth. These experiences went on for many nights, lasting for countless hours. I received so much information during these strange inner ‘latihans’ that, by the time I returned to normal consciousness each morning, it felt like my soul had just read a whole encyclopedia. As weeks went on, I also experienced many spontaneous latihans during the day with various episodes of purification. Some of these were very pleasurable, while others were emotionally painful and confronting. During these spontaneous latihans, I was shown how different religions were given various methods to purify and maintain the health of their soul in ways according to the nature of their culture.
After a few weeks, at the end of this initial stage of my crisis, I awoke one morning to find the presence of two fathers in my room. The first was my parental father, who had died 5 years previously. He briefly said some kind words to me before departing. The second father was Bapak. He appeared to be assessing the progress of my soul. He made comments about the spiritual state of my body and mind, and then appeared to do some kind of work on my inner-body. Afterwards a voice said, ‘you are now one with the spirit and organisation of Subud’. I felt very confronted by this experience, because I had not been a particularly diligent Subud member and had many doubts regarding Subud, religion and Bapak. However, there was also a very stubborn part of me that wanted to genuinely know the truth regarding the existence of God, so I was determined to trust and test the latihan – to see where it would take me.
For a week after this initial visitation, when I awoke or finished one of my inner soul journeys, I found Bapak’s presence in my room. We would then go for a walk together around the neighbourhood at dawn. Initially, it felt like his soul had merged with mine. I could feel Bapak looking out at the world through my eyes, and I could feel him appreciating the countryside where I lived — he talked to me about some of his experiences when he travelled to Australia. The first time this happened I was a little scared, as I was worried that I was being ‘possessed’. Yet, in truth, I could sense that my soul was somehow giving permission for Bapak’s soul to join me, and that both of our souls were simply following God’s will.
Bapak said very little in these walks, it was more a sense of companionship. Occasionally, he would say a few words in Indonesian to me, and at some stage I did get a receiving that I needed to start learning Indonesian again and so bought some dictionaries and began translating some of his talks for practice. After a week or so, Bapak’s visits stopped or, more accurately, his presence slowly faded. Yet as a write this, I am aware that this period of our souls merging has left a mark on my inner nature – as if a part of Bapak will now always reside within me.
As my crisis continued, my purification and spiritual experiences escalated. At one point the visions and spiritual revelations became so intense that I was guided to take leave from work for a week and stay in a Subud centre on the Sunshine Coast. During this time, I was shown glimpses of a contract that I had made with the angels before being born into this body. I was also shown how, due to a poorly executed opening in Cilandak, a Jinn had accidently entered my soul and had to now be removed. The expulsion of the Jinn happened with great intensity during a group latihan the following day. Through this experience I was given insight into the necessity of Subud’s three-month waiting period and the importance for new members to have a close connection with helpers who are diligent in their duty of care.
While staying in the Sunshine Coast Subud Centre, I also had waves of being intensely scared that I was becoming some sort of prophet, and I didn’t understand why so much spiritual knowledge was being revealed to me. I felt burdened by a sense of over-responsibility to make sense of and share these experiences for humanity’s benefit. I was receiving omens, and prophecies of sorts, along with having visions of the underworld and receiving insights of the elemental nature of the latihan and its relationship to angelic forces that light humanity’s way. The only thing that kept me sane was my commitment to not judge or jump to conclusions and instead to simply surrender and work in the world as normally and respectfully as I could. Thankfully, there was also a very caring, newly opened Subud member, who was extremely unjudgmental, staying at the centre. He was like a guardian angel sent from God, and gave me someone to safely share all of my extra-ordinary experiences with at that time.
Following my week at the Subud centre on the Sunshine Coast, I returned to work and things began to settle down. However, the overall effect of Bapak’s visits and all of the spiritual experiences had made me feel an intense love and care for Subud and its members. The remarkable way in which the Jinn was removed from my soul, left me in awe of the power of the latihan and the need for Subud members to genuinely care for each in order for our spiritual training to progress smoothly. I went to the next Australian national congress as a participant, and was very sensitive to the spiritual needs of the membership. I thought that my period of purification was over, and now God may be able to put me to some good use in order to be of genuine service to Subud. However, I was mistaken.
On return from Congress, I attempted to stay connected with some members I had met with at Congress while continuing to work in outback Queensland. I thought about starting a Subud enterprise to support family relationships, as this was a natural passion, skill and interest of mine. Yet, I found my school teaching responsibilities and isolated location quite challenging. Then one day at school, an interaction with my regional supervisor unleashed a tremendous amount of hidden emotional pain that had been building for a couple of years. I had to excuse myself to regain my composure. That night, my heart began to ache deeply in a way that I had never experienced. I suspected it was the beginning of a new wave of purification. I needed to be sure there were no dangerous physical side effects – so I called an ambulance and was taken to hospital to run various tests.
My heart was fine. However, I took a week off work to come to terms with whatever stress was now coming to play. As the week continued, I was sending in work each day for my students. However, after a few days, it became harder to turn on the computer and look at the screen. By the end of the week, it became impossible to look at a screen without experiencing intense emotional pain in my head. It appeared my mind had reached some kind of limit and it was now shutting down. I took a plane back to the Sunshine Coast to stay at my family home and give myself space to heal whatever was now arising.
It was during this period of de-stressing, that the next wave of spiritual experiences and purification began. As before, a blue light appeared as I went to go to sleep, or when I awoke in the early hours of the morning. I would then surrender to this light and my consciousness would be taken to different places within inner realms of my soul. Where before my spiritual experiences appeared to be at an earthly level, this time it felt like I was being shown inter-planetary dimensions of our spirit. Over many nights, my soul was guided through our solar system where I witnessed the inner nature of the planets and how these affected our human personalities. I also was shown the celestial beings of our solar system which the life on ours and the other planets appear to provide energy to. At times during these journeys, I came into contact with various prophets including, Jesus, Abraham and some hindu deities whose names I can’t remember. During the day, I was guided to read parts of various religious texts such as the Bible, Quran and Bhagavad Gita to gain a better understanding of my spiritual experiences. I was amazed at the profound truth that they pointed to, and was also confronted because I had never been a very religious person.
As with my previous period of earthly spiritual revelation and purification, every journey I was taken on required some kind of test, where I would have to face fear, let go of pain or be willing to experience a holy communion which required a degree of faith and trust. I was also shown aspects of my life where I had acted poorly and so when returning to my worldly consciousness, I had to make an effort to change my behaviour and thinking towards myself and others. Because of the inner purification, when I did behave poorly, I felt the pain of my mistakes immediately and was compelled to ask for forgiveness and make amends. I found this an on-going process of conscious misbehaviour and correction very humbling and, at times, confusing. On one hand I was experiencing amazing spiritual insights and revelation. On the other, I seemed to be making more painful mistakes than ever. In truth, I realised my inner purification was making me more sensitive to daily mistakes that I would previously have made without knowing.
It was through experiencing so much heightened emotional pain, that I became fascinated by the concept of emotional intelligence – which for me relates to the awareness of how our emotions point to unmet needs, dishonoured values and misaligned goals. Through becoming more sensitive and responsive to what we, and those around us, are feeling and thinking, we can more readily meet our collective needs in a way that honours our humanity and creativity. I had not been able to return to my previous work as a teacher, so I decided to explore developing a Subud Enterprise based on this idea of emotional intelligence. The concept seemed to integrate many of the personal growth models I had studied and practiced previously and now was being directly informed by my spiritual experiences. I began researching what had been done in this area scientifically, while also preparing for our family to move interstate to Hobart in the New Year.
On our arrival in Hobart in 2018, now 18 months after the original phase of purification and revelation began, I was hoping I would be able to settle down and get to work restarting my career. I was also hoping that the last wave of purification signified the end of my crisis. I was mistaken once again. After attempting to re-enter the workforce as a teacher, it became obvious that this was not the right path for me. A few weeks into a contract, I had to resign due to an intense feeling of being disconnected to the needs of the children in the class. I simply was not the right person for the job. With my spare time, I decided to finish my Masters of Education in Social and Emotional Learning, as this would aide in my establishing my emotional intelligence enterprise.
It was during this phase of study and unemployment that my third wave of spiritual experiences began. Unlike the first two stages, as I went to go to bed or awoke in the early hours of the morning, there was no blue light guiding me. Instead, there was a vibration that moved up and down my body, with a maelstrom of celestial lights in my mind’s eye. After a while I would see and feel a path open before me and I was taken to far reaches of the galaxy and cosmos within. Sometimes, it felt like ascension, where I would travel to the upper most realms of the heavens. At other times, I was taken down into the deepest core or womb of creation. My mind tried to come to terms with a myriad sublime feelings, places and heavenly beings that I met along the way. I came in contact with many entities that my mind found difficult to fathom: lords and ladies of light, the heavenly father and divine mother, the goddess and god heads and celestial grandmasters to name a few.
The Kingdom of God was incomprehensibly vast and complex, all I could do was to continue to surrender and allow myself to be guided to whatever I was meant to be shown next. I read once in one of Bapak’s talks that anyone seeking to understand the spiritual realms is headed for a massive crisis. I whole-heartedly agree with this assessment. I had a sense that God was continually challenging my sceptical mind, asking how much more do you want to see and experience before you believe in my existence?
As with my previous stages of purification and revelation, this last wave of journeys lasted three to four months. At some points I was able to verify some descriptions of the heavens made by Bapak, which previously I had found inconceivable. While at some level I was in awe of what I was experiencing, at another level I was having to stay calm and have faith that there would be some ultimate purpose to it all. Whereas before I was scared of becoming a prophet – now I was simply scared that I was never going to be able to relate to the world in a normal way again. The inner journeys altered my consciousness so that during the day, while still being able to go about my daily household tasks – I was occasionally being drawn into alternate dimensions and seeing visions of other realms. For example, one evening while looking at a sunset, suddenly a parade of spiritual animals streamed across the horizon. Extinct dinosaurs of past ages pranced across the sky, as if it was a hidden daily ritual whereby the Earth remembers the whole of her creation since time began. Having such experiences made it difficult to feel ‘normal’ and ‘relatable’ especially in the middle of a bustling small capital city such as Hobart.
Thankfully, I have an amazing wife and family who supported me through this time, and a few close Subud friends that I could talk to. Despite the confronting nature of these experiences, there were always insights, blessings and purification that led to a very gradual yet real improvement of my character. These small yet tangible results gave me encouragement and proof that I needed to continue to have faith and trust where the latihan was taking me both inwardly and outwardly. Yet there were also times where I became somewhat cynical about my life. What I really wanted was to become whole and to live purposely as a human being, and to be of service to others in a meaningful way. At times I was scared that the latihan and Subud was having the opposite effect, that I was becoming estranged from society and increasingly dysfunctional. However, these moments passed, and when I rationally looked at the evidence, my fear was unfounded. In truth it was my unexpressed fears and doubts that were causing my dysfunction, not Subud or the latihan.
It’s been five months since I have had any intense soul journeys, and now two and half years after the crisis began, there is a definite sense of normality returning to my life – though there are also many profound changes. I am more peaceful and in touch with my life’s purpose than I have ever been. My family is happier and more harmonious than I have seen them for a long time. And they too are more at peace with who they are and where they are going. My wife has experienced more success in her career than she has previously, and our relationship has matured to one of an extraordinary quality of loving-kindness and respect. I have become a secretary of a small local Subud group in Hobart that I love dearly, and have made some deeply nourishing and inspiring friendships. Of course, there are no guarantees that I will not have to deal with misfortune in the future. And there are still many challenges that lie in front of me regarding establishing a new career and enterprise. But right now, I’m thoroughly enjoying life and trusting that, with the latihan, Subud, faith in God and an evolving understanding of social and emotional intelligence, all will be well.
In conclusion, the Subud way has not been an easy path thus far — yet no path worth travelling is. And neither is my journey over. In fact, I feel like my life is now only just beginning. In terms of bearing witness to Bapak’s claims, the evidence of my life and spiritual experience suggest that the latihan truly is an awakening and training of our soul, so that it can more readily purify and guide us in this life and the hereafter. I have read hundreds of Bapak’s talks, and nothing that I experienced in the realm of my soul contradicts what Bapak has shared, though the language I would choose to explain it may be different at times. I would like to clarify that nearly all of my soul journeys happened within my inner feeling of my body. Except on a few occasions there was never a sense of ‘leaving my body’. Yet despite never leaving my body, there was definitely an experience of travelling incomprehensibly vast distances ‘ascending’ and ‘descending’ through various dimensions and realms. This is a paradoxical state of consciousness that my mind still finds hard to accept.
Regarding the efficacy of our practice, I have come to believe, provided we are willing to make an effort to learn from our experiences in the latihan and the world, our character will gradually become one of Susila – noble and pure – and our work will gradually grow to genuinely benefit ourselves, humanity, the heavens and the Earth. I do not believe this process happens by itself, but rather it takes a huge amount of self-honesty and willingness to listen and learn from whomever God places in front of us, both within and outside of Subud. It also requires us to practice the latihan in the spirit of ongoing outer and inner training and purification, rather than simply a form of spontaneous worship.
I feel grateful to have been given this challenging yet rewarding path, and look forward to connecting with other Subud brothers and sisters who are taking personal responsibility for discovering the true nature of their latihan. I hope the sharing of my experiences may arouse some curiosity, faith and commitment to realising the potential of our spiritual practice and organisation.
Finally, I would like to thank you, Ibu, for your recent talk that inspired me to write down the summary of my experiences. If they wish, members may access this article via the following link www.soulquestad.com/living-subud. On this website they will also be able to view specific descriptions and illustrations of some of my journeys into the heavenly and spiritual realms of the soul. I will also present this letter to my local Committee-Dewan and send a copy to Subud Voice as they may wish to publish a part of this letter with a link to the complete text. If you have any advice regarding any of the above, I would gladly receive it.
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