Letter to a member in England
Pewarta, March 1970
Copyright © 2007 the World Subud Association. All rights reserved.CodeNumber:70TJK3 ProvisionalTranslationForSubudMembersOnly
To a member in England In reality, Lent and Ramadhan have equal value. Christians feel that fasting in Lent is very important for them because it is derived and adapted from what was done and experienced by Jesus Christ.
You say that Jesus Christ carried out the religious observance of fasting in the wilderness for forty days at the time of Lent. This may be taken to mean that Jesus Christ fasted during this time so that his inner feeling might be swept clean of the influence of the nafsu causing darkness (wilderness) within.
For Muslims, the religious observance of fasting in the month of Ramadhan is the same. This too is derived and adapted from what was done and experienced by the Prophet Muhammad.
It is told that the Prophet Muhammad fasted in a cave at that time (this too means in darkness ). He carried out the religious observance of fasting in the cave so that the inner feeling could be swept clean of the influence of the nafsu causing darkness. It is therefore said that the revelation that he was to be the Messenger of God came to him in the cave. In other words, it was then that he received the first command of the One God.
This is Bapak’s explanation concerning these two religious observances of fasting, as seen from the spiritual point of view. So Bapak feels that Lent and Ramadhan are of equally great and high value.
Furthermore, any individual Christians, or Christians in general, may follow the religious observance of fasting during Ramadhan if they wish to do so, because, although this is not usually customary for Christians, if the fast is observed it is also a method whereby the influence of the nafsu, which always constitutes a temptation and a hindrance to the quiet of the inner feeling, can be separated and swept away from the inner feeling. Conversely, it is the same for Muslims who wish to carry out the religious observance of fasting during Lent.
Now, of course, you ask: how is it for us or for Subud members?
Bapak would like you to know that, because our brotherhood of Susila Budhi Dharma consists of members of various nationalities and religions, it is best for each member to observe the fast of his own religion unless he wishes to observe another as well.
Concerning the explanation you may want about prihatin: This actually is cutting down one’s pleasures in eating, sleeping and other enjoyments. For, if one practices prihatin, the heart is accustomed not to be deceived all the time by the nafsu. If the nafsu, which arise in the heart and mind, are not given their way so much (that is, if one restricts the pleasures of eating and sleeping and restrains the nafsu of anger and greed which drive away all contentment) then the nafsu will automatically weaken, and a feeling of patience, surrender, trust and sincere submission will become manifest.
Prihatin may be practiced by anyone wishing to do so, anyone who hopes to become a person of patience who surrenders with trust and sincere submission to the Will of Almighty God. Usually when a person can really carry this out his situation will be one of well being and happiness.
This kind of prihatin may be done by way of fasting every Monday and Thursday, without saur (that means without eating in the middle of the night) or by cutting down on one’s food every day; for instance, if one is accustomed to having beefsteak and potatoes, then one eats only potatoes and vegetables, provided one does not take too much of these either. One can also cut down on sleep; not sleeping often with one’s wife and not sleeping before midnight.
This is done in the hope that one’s life situation, or one’s lot in life, may improve; also so that one’s inner feeling, which still continues to feel dark or hindered by the influence of the nafsu, may become calm and quiet and the influence of the nafsu, which always interferes with the calm and quiet of the inner feeling, may be avoided.
This is why Bapak always says that a good and noble life can be achieved only if one really practices prihatin beforehand. It must be remembered that even Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad did this. How much more does an ordinary person need it. One should not be quick to complain so often, or to feel despair just because one lacks things in life, nor should one feel overjoyed if one happens to have unusually good fortune.
This is Bapak’s answer to your question. Bapak gives praise and thanks to Almighty God and hopes that you will accept the above explanation in a good way.