Rachman’s Article about the Cilandak World congress, 1971.

 

This is part of a recent article in the Subud Archives called ‘Loooong houses and Shoooort Articles’ about the Subud World Congress in Cilandak, Indonesia, 1971.

Rachman Cantrell has been a photographer since 1964 documenting Subud events and people and he has taken hundreds of photos of the people, events and the buildings of Cilandak and Jakarta in 1971.
Fortunately, he was able to document almost all of the congresses starting with the 1967 congress in Japan to the most recent one in Germany.)
Here is his story about the World Congress in Cilandak.

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

My beautiful picture

In the seventies various enterprises were developing in different parts of the Subud world. In Indonesia, a building was under construction in Cilandak where Bapak lived. It was a large dome-shaped building which was to house the meetings for the Subud World Congress which was to be held in Jakarta in 1971. My wife and
I had gotten married, started a photography business, had a couple of children, and had bought a house by this time. It was the miracle of Subud that all that had come about! We had decided to go to the congress along with a lot of other Americans on the west coast. Someone had chartered a flight out of L.A. which turned out to be the biggest airplane to land at the Jakarta Airport! Other Subud people came from all over the world and together we numbered about two thousand. It was one of the biggest events ever held in Indonesia up until that time. One of the Indonesian government members had
arranged for us to go directly to buses from the airport so there was no waiting in long lines to go through customs!
Driving into the city from the airport was quite an experience in itself. People were lining the streets to
watch us go by in our buses. They had never seen so many foreign people at one time! We were all tired from the twenty plus hours on the plane, but riding through the streets of Jakarta and seeing the enthusiasm of the people was invigorating!
The sights and smells of this beautiful country were intoxicating! A cooling rain started as we drove into the Jakarta suburb of Cilandak and ‘Wisma Subud’, the Su bud compound. As strange and different as it seemed I also felt like I had arrived at home.
Cilandak was like an enchanted village, with large bamboo houses that looked somewhat like the popular idea of Noah’s ark. These bamboo structures were designed by a Su bud architect and were amazing in their simplicity and functionality. There was also an open bazaar area with handmade bamboo stalls where people sold batik material and clothes, wood carvings and many other things created by the local people. There was even a bank set up so people could exchange money, and all kinds of restaurants and places to gather to talk, eat and drink. It was like a small city within a city, but it had a special atmosphere that was palpable. The domed latihan hall was still under construction when we arrived and was only finished in time for the official opening of the congress a few days later. My wife and I shared a tiny cubicle in one of the bamboo structures that was open on the sides to allow a flow of air during the hot days. It was somewhat private but one could hear the immediate neighbors through the thin bamboo walls. One night we heard one adventurous couple in the act of making love!
The President of Indonesia came and gave a speech at the opening of the congress, and the army even provided an uneasy security. We were not used to being around military personnel and the tank-like vehicles were a novelty. Fortunately, that did not interfere with the spiritual nature of what was going on.
One day there was a ‘Subud Olympics’ and various games were played! There was a tug of war with many westerners showing their physical strength, games with the kids and several volleyball games. The security guards were the champs!
One day Bapak did an inspection of the buildings and grounds. He walked to most of the bamboo structures with family and a large crowd following him! It was like a joyous happy parade!
One unique experience that seemed to be shared by many attendees was the curious feeling of going out of the compound and feeling the stifling heat of Jakarta and coming back inside and noticing a cooling of the temperature. This did not make sense physically, so the only explanation seemed to be that the spiritual quality of this place had an actual material effect in time and space that was experienced by many people. It is something I was never able to understand, even though I experienced it myself!
What I remember most was the interplay and interaction among the many different Su bud people from all over the world with their distinct characters and natures. We were all different, different races, religions, countries, cultures, with our own ways of thinking, feeling and doing things, but here we were, acting together as one family of
humankind and actually seeming to enjoy being with each other.
Each country was asked to perform for the gathering. I remember being somewhat jealous of the Germans who did such a beautiful job of entertaining with choral music. Everyone sang together and wore similar costumes. I learned later that the well organized and disciplined Germans were led by an American conductor!
The Americans were so unorganized, full of individual talent, but difficult to put it into a group activity. It was a monumental task to get us to do anything together, but we finally did actually pull it off and perform. The other countries did their own unique performances that gave us all a glimpse into their culture and nature. It was amazing how different outwardly we could be, but still have the feeling of being part of a family!
The latihans were strong and powerful and Bapak gave many talks and testing sessions to deepen our latihans. One night there was a Wayang Kulit (shadow puppet) play with a Gamelan orchestra that lasted all night. It was relating the birth of Bima from a white elephant, one of the Pandawa brothers in the Mahabharata, and who seemed to symbolize a material development or change within the Subud organization. I am sure there were other meanings but that is what stands out in my mind.
The performance lasted all night and people were lounging around in the big latihan hall, in clusters, like family picnics, some sleeping, others eating, and even others rapt in the spell of the music and story. It was a magical night and one to be remembered!
Then it was time to go home, and we left reluctantly, with a feeling of love for our brothers and sisters and for the country of Indonesia. It had been a remarkable and blessed time, and an experience of a lifetime for most of us!

Link to all the photos from the 1971 congress here:  https://goo.gl/photos/TDeciE9gofNzfFR99

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