Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I’d like to briefly share this talk Bapak gave in Pamulang shortly before he passed on.. Feel free to copy.
All of Nature Bears Witness
Talk by Bapak given at his home in Pamulang, May 10, 1987
This talk was not recorded. What follows was based on the notes taken by Salamah Pope (who understood Indonesian and knew shorthand) and by Latifah Taormina of Sharif’s provisional translation. It was later published in Remembrances of Bapak’s Last Days.
Brothers and sisters, Bapak was going to greet you in the pendopo (the traditional Javanese open-ended hall) but you can see, the glazing around the sides is still unfinished, so it was too windy for Bapak, at his age, to sit there. Bapak is almost eighty-nine years old. In fact, he just had his eleventh Windu.
Have you seen the pendopo? Later Bapak will give talks there. It should be able to hold 500 people sitting down. Someone has just given Bapak a present of the chairs. but Bapak doesn’t know who sent them. (We were all sitting in folding chairs under a canopy between Bapak’s new house and the pendopo)
And what have you experienced now as a result of your fasting? How long have you been fasting? What? Only twelve days? (Bapak laughed.) Oh, then not yet.
But even in these first ten days or so of fasting you are beginning to be aware of how the nafsu operate now that they are being separated from you. For although they are not yet paralyzed, they are already being set aside.
In this way, we are more able to feel the presence of God. Not that we can get closer to God. No. It is God who can come closer to us. If we think that we can get closer to God, then that is the way to feel we are better than others and this is the opposite of God coming close to us.
Don’t think that it is you who are close to God. Such an attitude is very dangerous and can lead to bad consequences. It is God who is close to you. The moment you start to think that you are close to God, it brings into play your human heart which always wants to be better, always wants to be on top, always wants to be extraordinary. The result is in fact worse for you.
Kebudayan, human culture, comes from God. Javanese culture, European culture, and all the rest. It is awakened by God, and it is filled with the Power of God. And that is the meaning of culture for humankind. It is from God.
God’s power is such that there is not enough paper in the world to write about all of it. There is no way for man to describe the totality of the nature of God because the content is, or reflects, the nature of the universe itself.
For example, in the matter of human culture, God’s power envelops the entirety of human culture and every kind of culture. And because this is all from God, if you could express this inner content, the things you could do would be extraordinary. For example, if you made a movie, it would really be able to move people because it would be the reality. It would seem miraculous because it would be so true.
Well, if Bapak says this, then you will go away now and think, “Oh we’re special,” and again, that makes you the opposite.
These things Bapak talks about to you are things that people in Europe are hungry to hear. Where is Simon (Guerrand)? You should pay attention to this. People would really like to hear the truth like this, especially in the West, in a way that they can understand. It isn’t enough just to translate what Bapak says. Bapak’s English is almost nonexistent, and when what Bapak says is translated, it is already different. Bapak is old now and leaves it to the younger ones to tell people.
Bapak is now really very old. Most people are pensioned off when they reach 55, but Bapak is far past that age. Bapak will shortly be 89 on the Islamic calendar. Bapak is now at the time when it can be said that Bapak is facing death. Bapak’s life has two currents: life in this world and life in death.
But nowadays, it’s not so nice for Bapak. It’s not nice for him to sleep, for instance. Usually, when you are young, you like to sleep. It’s nice and makes you feel good. But for Bapak, the meaning of old age is that Bapak is empty of everything. There is no joy and no sadness, and that is how it is for Bapak; everything is empty. It just is. Pun. That’s it. But not everyone feels this way when they get old. There is a certain political leader, who is still active, and he is Bapak’s age; he does not feel empty of nafsu obviously.
Bapak feels at peace, but more than at peace. Bapak feels conscious but more than conscious. Bapak doesn’t want to say too much about this, as Ibu Mastuti will get worried. All the people around Bapak feel like this, too, very peaceful. So much so that all they want to do is sleep and not do anything! A child who is crying will fall asleep when it is near Bapak. Ibu Mastuti is closest of all to Bapak, and yet when Bapak turns to Ibu Mastuti at the end of the day to ask how her day was, she is already asleep! They don’t get a chance to talk because the moment Bapak speaks to her, it’s as if Bapak’s voice is a violin, and she is already asleep!
For Bapak, though, there is no joy and no sadness. Bapak doesn’t need anything. So one day, Bapak asked the prophets Moses and Abraham, how was this, was it OK? And they said, Yes, that’s how it is if you have received the Will of God within you.
(An elderly gentleman walked across the back of the room and Bapak looked up suddenly and laughed. “Oh so that’s what I look like!”) For Bapak it is useful to see someone like that walking, then Bapak knows what Bapak looks like when Bapak is walking. Odd. (Bapak laughed again and gestured with his hands) Yes, it’s like that, from side to side.
How is it for all of you in Ramadan? The real thing is to feel a very strong urge, a really strong feeling that you absolutely must do the fasting, an inner obligation, before the fast begins. That is the first thing to feel. Then all the details of what food to eat, and when, and how much and so on, all fall into place. You know from God’s power within you, for your guidance about all that.
Actually, it is not just Muslims who ought to fast; everyone ought to do it. It is a universal requirement for humankind. In the same way, the latihan is too. When we fast, we find that the latihan is lighter and more powerful within us. This happens spontaneously, without force. In this way, you can feel that all your movements and all your activities are accompanied by the power of Almighty God.
Well, now that you have all come out here, you should all have a look around Bapak’s new house. It is very ordinary. Bapak has no secrets, just look around and you’ll see how ordinary it is. In fact, if something should happen tomorrow, and Bapak couldn’t be here, it wouldn’t matter to Bapak. Bapak has no needs like that. Bapak just accepts what comes. And this is just like the latihan. It is a normal part of ordinary life. In fact, if you want to live, follow the latihan.
The whole of human culture is actually because of the latihan, because culture is the latihan of life, and that comes from God.
By the way, have you heard about this? There was a man, very well known in his field, a scholar, Professor Dr. Kiyai Haji Rashidi. He used to be the Minister of Religion. He heard about Subud a long time ago but wasn’t impressed or interested. But now he is older and feels the presence more of the end of his life. He was opened in Cilandak two months ago and met Bapak a few days ago. He is now president of the World Islamic League. So perhaps he will be able to explain Subud to all the sheiks so that they become interested in experiencing the latihan.
It is odd, you know, how Bapak doesn’t read any of these learned books on Islam, and yet people come to him like this. But then, all this (Bapak indicates himself) is Bapak’s book.
The guidance we need comes by itself, if we are aware. Like this. . . (Bapak sways slightly from side to side). . . it all comes from inside . . . it is given to you . . . Now you are one with Bapak . . . how does your nose move? . . . How does your chest move? . . .Can your tongue move with Bapak’s? . . . La-illaha illalah. It is clear that the Power of Almighty God encompasses everything. It is within everything. Well, Bapak will finish here. (Bapak starts to get up and then stops and waits in his chair.) Brothers and sisters, Bapak still wants to give you some more. It’s like a Rolex watch — it keeps winding itself up. Although it is time to stop, Bapak still wants to give.
In reality, there is no such thing as time, because all of time is filled with the Power of God. And there are witnesses all around us when we receive God’s power. All nature bears witness to our acts. So what else is there to look for? All you have to do is receive it.
Feel now, how does the alang alang grass sway in the wind? How is the movement of a banyan tree? A river? A wave in the wide ocean? And how does the earth feel the movement of an earthquake? Yes, this is witnessing the proof in you. It is clear that the Power of Almighty God encompasses everything and is within everything.
Brothers and sisters, Bapak feels the condition of the world. When there was that earthquake in Sumatra, Bapak felt it. Bapak didn’t know what it was, but Bapak felt it. Bapak can feel the war between Iran and Iraq.
If there were a nuclear war, Bapak would experience that, too. He would feel the destruction and suffering and he would also feel what is left intact afterwards. All of it, Bapak would feel. But God has told Bapak that Subud will not be destroyed. It will be preserved if anything like that happens. So do not worry about it.
Do not think that Cilandak is empty now without Bapak, because it isn’t. God is there. Bapak knows you feel Bapak has left, but it really is only a few kilometers away — and in any case, it is God who fills everything, not Bapak. So the important thing to realize is that God is everywhere. In fact, the term ‘everywhere’ cannot apply to God because it implies that there are places where God isn’t. Actually, God embraces all.
About two years ago, Hardjono brought someone from the United Nations who wanted to meet Bapak. When they reached the gates of Wisma Subud, she said, “I can see this place is full of angels; I don’t need to go further.” Hardjono witnessed this. Bapak doesn’t’ know what this story means. One day they may ask Bapak to come and talk at the UN. But Bapak is old, and he will ask someone else to go.
Simon is a possible candidate to do that, but he is not yet popular like a pop star. You are a rich man, but you don’t act like a rich man, no. And this is your work, Simon to go to the UN to talk to people. That is Simon’s true work, and also Sharif’s, for example. Simon should not be a trader because he is too tight with money. Nor should he be a restaurateur, because he likes good food, and he will eat it all himself. So his restaurant will not succeed either. (laughter). Bapak has been to Europe, but the best food was in France. It was Simon who took Bapak to the restaurant there.
Well Bapak will finish now. Bapak is already tired. That is all. Thank you for coming.
(Bapak then recited the Al Fatihah and added: “All you need to know is there.”)
Bismillah-ir rahman-ir rohim
Alhamdu lillahi robbil ‘alamin
Iyyaka na’budu wa iyyaka nasta’in
Ihdinas sirotol musta’qim
Sirotol lathina an’amta ‘aleihim
Ghairil magdubi‘ aleihim waladdolin
In the name of God, the Most Gracious
The Most Merciful
Praise be to God, the Cherisher and
Sustainer of the worlds,
The Most Gracious, Most merciful,
Master of the Day of Judgment
Thee alone do we worship
And Thine aid do we seek
Show us the straight way,
The Way of those on whom Thou hast
Bestowed Thy Grace,
Those whose Portion is not wrath
And who go not astray.