Pak Subuh

Out of those men mentioned here, whose veils obscuring their divine nature have been to some extent removed, Pak Subuh is the only one still alive in the body (1970). He was born on 22nd June, 1901 in Semarang, Java. During his own life, that influence which has expressed through him, has become a world wide experience. This movement is called SUBUD, and is dedicated to passing on to those who seek it, the same influence that Pak Subuh has passed to them.

In his youth, Pak Subuh sought out numerous spiritual teachers. He went from one to another until he met Kjai Abdurrahman, whose pupil he became, though the teacher would give him no practices to perform, and no initiation, maintaining that his initiation (inner revelation of wider consciousness) would come from a non-human source. Pak Subuh eventually left this teacher, but sought no more. He married at about the age of twenty-six, and while no longer seeking a guru, as a Moslem he still practised his religion.

Then to quote H. Rofe, his first European pupil: “One night, about the year 1925, he was out walking alone when he had a vision of a bright ball of light above him, resembling the sun. While he was contemplating this vision the ball touched his head and he began to quiver and shake as if attacked by the ague. He recalled the predictions of his early death, and it seemed to him that he had now reached the fatal age. He returned home, lay down on his bed and prepared to die peacefully. But as soon as he lay down in a state of complete relaxation a strange force raised him up to a standing position beside the bed and impelled him to go through the ritual of the Muslim prayer, quite independently of his own will or intention.” This, apart from the leading to prayer, is almost exactly like Ramana’s experience at sixteen, but it is the release of this force, or inner power, outside of the human will or intention that Pak Subuh passes on to his pupils, and is passed on to others in Subud.

At the time of this experience he was employed as a book-keeper by the Kasjumi Muslim political party. Each night after the first, through surrendering to it, this power that Pak Subuh calls the Universal Life Force, led him through many spiritual experiences of a cleansing nature, for a 1000 nights. At the end of this time he had a climactic experience. His consciousness in a vision ascended to the sun (source of life—Prana), and he saw that the sun only reflected its light from beyond our solar system (Prana or life force is only an aspect of our dual being, it has its source beyond duality in the unconditional). In the centre of the sun yawned a great hole through which he was about to pass, when a voice warned him that if he went beyond, he would not return to his body. This he should do, as he had a task of giving something to the world. Gradually his awareness returned to the body, which had been cataleptic, but which now gradually revived.

From that time on he was completely changed, his ego having died to his divine self. Although at the time he had six small children, he was bade from within to cease work to give his life to the inner work. When his relatives kept on at him to think of his wife and children he ignored them, but his wife, upset by their criticism talked with him about this decision. He said, “It was a Divine command that I should no longer accept paid employment from men; the onus of caring for our welfare has been assumed entirely by God. Have faith and you will see that we will be well provided for; we shall lack nothing essential. But if you force me to choose between God and you, then we shall have to part.”

That was in 1932, when Pak Subuh began passing on to others the spiritual current he had received. Again it is interesting that Ramana also used the word current. Like those who came in contact with Ramana, Sai Baba or Dr Carver, Pak Subuh found that it was enough for him to stand or sit quietly in the presence of those who were totally relaxed for them to feel the stirring of the force within them.

H. Rofe says that “The training implies the growth of new organs which can apprehend what is already present but unperceived: it does not mean that something formerly absent will arise.”

The movement of Subud that has grown out of this, through Husein Rofe, has spread throughout the world. Although Pak Subuh is a Muslim, the movement has no religious training, dogma, or philosophical tenets that have to be believed, it is open to all. It is only necessary to be able to completely relax, and give way to that which arises from beyond one’s own desires, mentality and self. It does however, imply the being of God, or a divine source though it does not attempt to define this. In Indonesia, a prominent communist argued that Subud must be a hoax, as it suggested the presence of God, which was disproved by science. After the man had finished his long talk, Pak Subuh asked simply, “Do you want to know the Truth, whatever it may be?” The outcome was that the man said he did, and agreed to open himself to the force. He was thereby so profoundly shaken by his experience, that he came again and again, and became a devoted member of Subud.

Long before Rofe visited Java in 1950, Pak Subuh had prophesied that the movement would spread around the world. Even before 1937 he told this to his pupils, and said that before he died he would have 200,000 pupils. Yet even when Rofe first met him, he had only about 50. Now they can be counted in thousands. As with all the great teachers from whom a movement originates, Pak Subuh says he gives nothing that is new. That which is experienced, has always been, in the life of men. And, like Sai Baba or Ramana, to receive the grace of the guru, one still has to surrender self-will.

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