Quotes from Bapak

Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo

What follows are a selection of excerpts from songs, talks, and letters on culture, and on SICA, by the late R.M. Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo whose experiences led to the founding of Subud and opened the way for others to receive the latihan kejiwaan of Subud.

From “Susila Budhi Dharma”

An excerpt from English renderings of Susila Budhi Dharma, originally received as a high Javanese poem by the late R.M. Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo at Jogjakarta in l952 and later translated in Bahasa Indonesia. The English is derived from the Indonesian version of the text.

In this way you will soon become adept at doing work that is in tune with your soul, and this will certainly make your life happy, for this skill will grow from your human soul which will have brought to life your whole inner feeling. As a result, my child, you will acquire a lasting interest in your work and your achievements will not be disappointing.

This is the true meaning of culture, for its source is the human soul, and it is received in an inner feeling that has awakened and become free from the influence of its own subordinate powers. It is a culture filled continuously with the life-force. That is why, when you reach this stage, the work you do will be a means for your worship of God Almighty.

Seen from an ordinary, outer point of view, your work will appear no different from ordinary work. In reality, however, there will be a very great difference. For ordinary work and skill are acquired by learning from someone else – or from a group – unable yet to determine whether or not the work is in harmony with the one’s identity. But the skill in work that you will acquire in this way is of a quality which has its origin in the human soul.

Later, therefore, in doing your work, you will act in harmony with yourself, both inwardly and outwardly, and so you will certainly progress in your work in a way which will correspond with the advances and changes of the times you live in.

It is therefore hoped that you, my child, will not neglect these spiritual exercises (latihan kejiwaan) for in reality they constitute a way which is easy to follow, which does not require you to isolate yourself from others, and which can bring you an enlightenment which will strengthen your soul.

Moreover, you will gain a great deal by this means and will easily achieve those things which correspond to your true needs. Furthermore, in this state – which cannot be comprehended by the thinking mind – you will always be enveloped by the life force, with the result that you will easily find the way, which will then be wide open to you, for understanding the true significance of your own life.

Plainly then, the skill in work you will acquire as a result of these spiritual exercises is truly a quality of genuine culture, for it is born and grows as a result of the human jiwa becoming free from the influence of one’s subordinate or ancillary forces.

So for that reason this culture will neither destroy human knowledge, nor close the way whereby man may worship God – for the truth is that it has its origin in God and returns to God again.


On True Culture

The following excerpts from different talks by Bapak are as they appear in Rashid Lyle’s book, Subud, Chapter 9: “Culture” (1983: Humanus, Tunbridge Wells, UK.) The book is available from Subud Publications International Ltd., Loudwater Farm, Loudwater Lane, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 4HG, UK.

During a world tour undertaken in the summer of 1972, Bapak visited Wolfsburg in Germany. During this visit, the members of the Subud group gathered together in Bapak’s presence one day and sang German and Javanese songs. Bapak also sang, receiving both the melody and the words, of which the following is a translation:

Bapak Montage VideoThere is a way for you, which is excellent,
Whereby all of you can worship Almighty God.
This is the good fortune that has befallen all of you.
This is a blessing of Almighty God upon all of you
So that all your lives are peaceful and happy
All your days.

[Bapak’s explanation of this was as follows:]

Brothers and sisters, that which is expressed in songs – in singing – is actually a part of what is called culture, or in Indonesian, kebudayaan.

Now culture, or kebudayaan, is a movement or an action of the budhi, or the inner nature of man, which in other words can be called the jiwa. So, in the olden days, when people used to sing or perform, what they did had the nature of a latihan. It had the effect of awakening the jiwa of those who listened to it. And what came out, what they did, was entirely received, something that they were moved to do from their jiwa, from within.

But this is not the situation today, because nowadays people attach more importance to their heart and mind, to their pleasure, than they do to their jiwa. So that today the culture which used to be a living culture is now a dead culture. In fact, people nowadays sing in order to sell what they sing. They pay attention merely to the heart and mind and to their own pleasure. So that, in fact, we human beings are now beaten by the animals. When animals are happy, when they feel joy, they demonstrate their closeness to their Creator by singing (at this point, a nearby bird began to sing, and Bapak continued) as for example, the birds. The song of the bird is still a demonstration of its closeness to its jiwa. But that is not the case with us human beings. What has happened to us, what we have received in the latihan kejiwaan, is something that can bring us back to the place where we were, to the closeness of the jiwa, which we used to have in olden days.

This is why it is really necessary for us to awaken culture, or that culture should awaken again within us, the culture which truly originates in the human nature and represents humankind’s worship of Almighty God.

Later Bapak will show you… that in all sorts of movements that you do, if you are dancing or something like that, these movements can also be worship of Almighty God, exactly the same as if you move like this. (Bapak raised his hands for prayers and bowed.) So within us there is a way – there is a guide with us; there is the guidance of Almighty God – which makes it possible for us to act in this world according to the will of Almighty God.

We have to learn always to be in touch, always to be close to our jiwa, and to act because of our jiwa, so that what we do is God’s will for us in this world; that is, that we return once again to Almighty God. Because God has not created us in this world just like that and then left us to our own devices. God has given us the way to return to Him, and the way to return to Him is to act rightly and not to act wrongly in this world. This is made possible by the latihan kejiwaan which we have received.

The latihan moves those who follow it in the direction of integration – the integration of outer and inner, of culture and religion. True culture and worship are one, not in any limited sectarian or formal sense, but essentially. True culture is the expression of an inner feeling that has been brought to life, and is closely related to self-knowledge and the realization of a person’s true talent, made possible by the practice of the latihan:

…. You will soon become adept at doing work that is in tune with your jiwa, and this will certainly make your life happy, for this skill will stem or grow from your human jiwa, which will have brought to life your whole inner feeling….

It is that which is truly called culture, for its source is the human jiwa, and it is received in an inner feeling that has risen free of the sway of the ancillary forces. It is a culture filled continuously with the life force. That is why the work you do will be a means for your worship of the Almighty.

Seen from an ordinary or outer viewpoint, the nature of your work will not differ from that of normal work, but in reality it will be far different. For ordinary work and skill are acquired by learning from someone else, or from a group, and one is unable yet to determine whether or not the work is in harmony with one’s identity. But the skill in work that you will acquire is of a quality whose source, as previously explained, is the human jiwa.

Later, therefore, in doing your work, your outer and inner can never be otherwise than in accord, and so you will certainly progress in your work in harmony with the advances and changes of the times in which you live….

Plainly, then, the skill in work acquired through the latihan kejiwaan is truly a quality of genuine culture for, of course, it is born and grows because the human jiwa has become free of all the influence of man’s ancillary forces. So for that reason, this culture will neither destroy human knowledge nor close the way to man’s worship of the Almighty, but rather is another requirement of that worship, for in reality of course, it comes from God and thus to God it returns….


On the Relationship between True Culture and the Latihan

Brothers and sisters, the word kebudayan or kebudayaan (Indonesian for culture) comes from budhi and daya. You know the word budhi already from the symbolic name of our spiritual association, Susila Budhi Dharma. Daya is the force of movement or action, the working force. Hence, kebudayaan is really a force, a force of life expressing itself and manifesting outwardly, but originating in the jiwa.

But, brothers and sisters, we should not blame anybody because culture, whose real source is the jiwa, has now generally become enjoyment instigated by the influence of heart and mind.

So what is produced as culture today has no lasting quality and comes to an early end. The original culture, which is still enjoyed and appreciated, is a different matter. And now it is beginning to be popular again, enjoyed by the general public, as in the instance of the wayang. (the Javanese shadow puppet play.)

Wayang was created through the awakening of the jiwa (soul or inner content) and hence truly comes from kebudayan, that is, from budhi and daya.

Bapak would just like to remind you that what brings in profit at the present time in America and Europe, and here too, are the so-called cultural performances that do not originate in the jiwa. If just for the sake of making money, giving this kind of performance is quite all right and fitting. But we do not only want to make money, brothers and sisters. We should be able to show real culture, coming from the jiwa, so that the performances not only attract the hearts of the onlookers but make them really aware of their lives. Thus, although they only watch and listen, they can learn to improve their conduct and change their wrong ways and behavior.

This is true culture. Cultural performances produced from thinking, studying and other considerations are different. A person watching and listening to them can become quite confused. That is to say, he may forget about his home, a woman may forget her husband, the husband may forget his wife. The performer is also affected, and so may go astray, and when the play is finished, the actor or actress may go off with someone who has watched the performance, or chase after someone who has listened to it. That can be the result. Bapak says this only as a reminder, but maybe you have been able to receive and feel for yourselves that in your performances you have not been influenced a hundred percent by the heart and mind but already perhaps twenty or thirty or even forty percent by the jiwa. If someone acts as a clown and this comes from his jiwa, then he will make people laugh if he just stands there. This is true culture.

Take an example of Indonesian culture, Indonesian dancing. In the old days, this dancing was done in a kind of Samadhi (trance induced by meditation) so that when the dance ended, everything in the dance – the movement of his blood, his blood vessels and inner feeling – had united into one flow, into a state of calmness, tranquility, and awareness.

So it is true to say, real culture had its origin in and was born of the spiritual, as for instance dancing, the Indonesian art of self-defense, and other arts….

Bapak has spoken about Javanese and Indonesian dancing. Maybe there are brothers and sisters here who understand the introductory notes of the gamelan orchestra. ‘Ketuk, kempul, ketul, kenong, ketup kempul, ketuk, gong. When the gong sounds, it means to be ready, that is ready to face God. So again: ‘Ketuk kempul, ketul kenong, ketuk kempul, ketuk gong.’ The sound of the gong symbolizes a feeling of bliss. Yes, the sounds have an inner significance.

Clearly, the arts of dance and self-defense in Indonesia and maybe dancing in Europe and America, including South America, also have an inner significance. But nowadays, people no longer know this because in modern life they are so very much influenced by what the heart and mind understand.

[Then Bapak went on to explain why it is that the violin has a certain shape, like the human body.]

This signifies that it gives expression to sounds coming form the jiwa. So the voice originates from within, from emptiness. [Bapak makes sounds like a violin.] …But people do not understand that this sound comes from deep within. The sound does not originate in this physical body. So look for that which is inside you. If you can find it you can make any kind of sound or note that you need.

You have already had the truth of that proved through the latihan which you follow or practice. If you come to a moment of quietness and emptiness, and let the latihan be active in you, then out of that emptiness can come sounds like this. [Bapak sings a melodious sound.]…. This great and high latihan kejiwaan is therefore a boon beyond price for you. Through the latihan kejiwaan of Subud, you will be able to reveal whatever man requires.


Subud and the Arts

The following is excerpted from Mas Usman’s provisional translation of Bapak’s talk to members in England, 24 March, 1967. It first appeared in The Subud Journal, Summer 1967.

Culture and art, as was known by people in the past, was an expression of the deeper inner. The wise people in the past said, ‘When you really act according to the qualities within you, you become aware of certain vibrations, the vibrations of the great life force.’ They did not say where this life force came from. These vibrations of the greater life force within man have made men build a certain culture and art, as for example, singing and dancing. Men at that time where very close to the power of this greater life force. In those times, singing and dancing was a form of worship.

Later on, with the progress of the science of man, this culture was mastered by inventions of the mind of human beings. Human beings were influenced by the growth of the world, and by the progress, with all its luxury and temptations, so that the situation of man has become less pure than in olden times. But culture has also become something of a creation not from the inner or by the inner. It has become a creation of the human mind and human cleverness.

The more the human mind advances and develops, the more vague the real culture will become in the world, so that actually the culture and art of today is completely the creation of the human mind, penetrated and influenced by the worldly influences of the present day.

If, for instance, there is a violinist among you, through the latihan he will develop more and more. He will be able to play the violin in such a way that he will touch the audience. They will feel as they listen to him a certain wakening within.

A long time ago, a friend of Bapak who was very ill spoke to Bapak and asked for a medicine, a cure. Bapak said, ‘Well, I can’t give you any medicine. I am not a doctor, and I don’t keep a drug store, but well, I will try and help you.’ So Bapak started singing, as you have heard just now. After Bapak had finished his song, this man, who was rather ill, said to Bapak: ‘Well, I feel very much better. I would say that I’m completely cured now.’ So this is to show that the power of God, when it works within you, may also cure people. You perhaps will also be able, by singing, to cure some people – if they are not dangerously ill.


A Letter of Advice to Artists

A letter to the California artist, John (formerly Dale) Panopoulos from Bapak

May 5, 1976
Dear Dale,

This morning I had an opportunity to ask Bapak about your question, that is, where do artists, sculptors, etc. fit into the Subud enterprises picture.

Bapak said that all the things Bapak has said about Subud enterprises apply very much to artists. The point is that painters or sculptors can of course work by themselves and try to sell their work – but they may not always be successful. For this reason, it is preferable if they form a cooperation and work together. Each one does his own work but the ones who are successful support, help and teach those who are not yet successful.

In this way the artists can not only help each other with their development as artists but also those who., for instance, understand more about the marketing side can assist the whole group.

Bapak also emphasized that for the non-artistic functions in such a cooperative enterprise you should not hesitate to employ competent non-Subud people if really suitable Subud members are not available. For example, for accounting, administration, marketing, etc. So you should not put off starting such a co-operative just because all the necessary people do not exist in Subud.

I hope I have been able to convey Bapak’s reply clearly enough.

Your brother,

Culture has been Reborn (when SICA began in 1983)

Remarks made by Bapak at Anugraha on the occasion of creating the Subud International Cultural Association (SICA) and selecting its first chairpersons. 15 August 1983.

Kebudayaan, the Indonesian word for culture, is made up of two words, budhi and daya.

Budhi means an idea conceived from the grace of Almighty God, and daya means force or work. And this embraces the whole field of art, so that your activities in the cultural field will include not only the dramatic arts, like dancing, but also the visual arts, painting – like the paintings done by our brother Richard.

If culture truly arises from a calm and peaceful inner feeling that is not influenced by the nafsu, it can become a kind of symbol or an indication of things before they have happened, as in the case of Rembrandt who was surprised at his own ability to paint in this way. So an artist can depict what will happen to human beings in the future.

Clearly, culture is concerned with human beings, so that a man can know the real direction for human society, for his nation and country, through the receiving from the peace and calm of his inner feeling.

So, culture is very large and very wide, and the real culture arises from the latihan kejiwaan of Subud. Culture has been reborn through the existence of the latihan kejiwaan of Subud – and it is still small, like a seed that has just been sown, which is about to develop and come to life….

[Translated by Sofyan Brugger]


The Breadth of Culture

From Sjarif Horthy’s provisional translation of Bapak’s talk with members on June 14, 1986.

Brothers and sisters, what we receive is always a function of what we are, and of our own capacity at that moment. Bapak has told you of his own experience where, after Bapak received the latihan, Bapak was saying his prayers (because Bapak as a Muslim still of course says his prayers) and then Bapak found that after he’d finished saying his prayers, he suddenly started to dance. And Bapak of course initially found this surprising: because Bapak knew that the form of dancing that Bapak was doing was part of the Hindu and Buddhist cultures, not part of Muslim culture. But Bapak could feel the happiness and the joy and the satisfaction of doing that kind of dance. Bapak understood that for us Subud members, it is actually fine to receive to dance in the latihan and to worship God by dancing. You yourself will have received this. Subud embraces everything. Subud embraces all culture. There is no objection at all for us as Subud members to experience in our latihan, even if we are Muslims, dancing like the Hindus or Javanese dancing or things like that.

Similarly, you will probably have experienced, if you are English, that in the latihan you may sing in English. But it can easily happen that at some point you start singing in French or in Arabic. There’s nothing wrong with that. It shows you that human culture is universal, that human culture is one totality.

Truly, brothers and sisters, once you have begun to experience this, it’s very difficult for you to become fanatic about one nationality or one religion, or to become bigoted. It becomes very difficult for us Subud members to hold to prejudice. Bapak gives an illustration of Bapak’s own singing, Bapak’s own receiving, of which Bapak says ‘Well, it’s the singing of an old man, so maybe it is not as it should be,’ but as Bapak was singing, Bapak explains that this singing comes spontaneously. All Bapak has to do is to follow it, and it comes by itself.

Bapak first sings in Javanese. And then Bapak sings in Arabic. And Bapak says in singing what he sings now in Arabic, he only has to follow what comes out, and Bapak himself doesn’t know what it means. But Bapak can find out what it means just by asking. So when it is time for Bapak to know what it means, then Bapak is given the knowledge. Bapak’s song means that human culture is truly wide, and that the totality and breadth of human culture is within each one of us and can be received up to the point of our own capacity, both in cultural expression and in the understanding of it.…


Bapak on Culture and SICA

From notes taken at an SBIF meeting with Bapak in Cilandak in July of 1984. These notes are transcribed from tapes of these meetings and from notes of same. Sharif Horthy was translating. Bapak’s comments at the beginning were in response to Richard Engel’s reports of SICA’s first year.

Bapak: Yes, luas. (luas is Indonesian word for wide, expansive.) Yes, as Bapak has said, Subud embraces everything. All religion. All culture. It’s general.

Yes, Bapak agrees we can make much money for Subud through this cultural work.
You can also link this with the film industry in California. That is a good place for it.

As you talk, Bapak can feel that in fact this is the way Subud will spread. Subud can provide content for it. And conversely, Subud can make a lot of money on it.

Project Sunrise is a vessel for culture. So is the Purnama project. [To Richard Engels and Ismana Latifah Myerson directly] Listen to Bapak’s talk to the Japanese on the Purnama project.

Even here, in Indonesia, people are looking for a source for culture.

Bapak once again defined Budhi, the root of the Indonesian word for culture, kebudayaan. [Budhi – life force; Daya – action]

Budhi is an extraordinary power which in its working includes all culture, including social work. So Budhi in its flowering gives rise to all culture and in its understanding, includes everything.

The reports from members attending this meeting resumed. Abruptly Bapak interrupted these reports to add more about what he was receiving that moment about Subud cultural endeavors:

Bapak feels happy to hear the reports we are giving. Bapak sees the beginning of a picture as Subud should develop.

We reach God through painting, through sculpture, through acting. We reach God in all these ways.

Bapak sees pictures as we talk of all sorts of things that can happen.

If it is possible to make a book about the development of Subud – that in itself can be a source of much money.

Everyone is wondering how we can put an end to all the things going on in the world today. And we have it. If such a book can come out, then that will help.

Then people wanted to know more about this “book” that Bapak was describing. They wanted to know if this book was Harlinah Longcroft’s history or one of Rasjid Lyle’s books. Bapak replied:

No. Bapak’s book is wider in scope. Harlinah is doing the spread of Subud from the kejiwaan. The book Bapak is talking about is interesting to the whole world. No, it is not Harlinah’s book. This book, when people have read it, they will want to come into Subud.

SICA’s job is to do a film of this book.

No, Rasjid Lyle’s book is different. This book talks about reality. This is what is happening and where it is going. Rasjid explains the content. Bapak’s book is different; it talks about the reality. Rasjid’s book relates to the future.

Bapak’s book is now, what is happening. It will show Subud is a big organization and that there is every kind of thing in it.


What is Culture?

[Editor’s Note: The following exchange of letters reflects very early translation work that may seem stiff to modern readers. So try to feel the content of the letters as you read. Please also note that the English words man, mankind, and brotherhood are translations choices for words that are not gender specific in the original Indonesian.]

A letter from H.T. to Bapak; reprinted from Subud News USA, November/December 1969. Subud USA News reprinted it from a much earlier edition of Aneka Subud.

Jakarta, February 24, 1954
Dear Bapak,

Please allow me to ask the following question: “Seen from our Subud brotherhood point of view, what is meant by cultuur (Dutch) or culture?

What is termed as cultuur here is not kebudayaan (Indonesian for culture) because, according to my Professor Held, it is not enough to translate it as kebudayaan, since the latter accentuates more the various forms of art, which are themselves narrower than cultuur. Cultuur does not only contain forms of art, but also everything belonging to beyond the realm of instinct. The content of cultuur is teaching.

Prof. Held does not want to give a clear definition of cultuur because, according to him, this is impossible. He speaks of cultuur as sociale erfelijkheid (social heredity). But erfelijkheid is also not quite the exact word since it gives more emphasis to the lichamelijke erfelijkheid (organic or bodily heredity); it is not biological heredity, but a heredity that covers all the knowledge and experience existing beyond the instinct. In order to embrace this understanding, he uses the English term, social heredity.

When he says that the content of culture is teaching, he limits his opinion by his explanation that animals also learn by way of imitation. But animals only learn face to face: that is to say, they only learn from what they see. For example, if a chicken sees another scratching for food, it imitates by doing likewise; whereas man does not only learn from what he sees around him but he also acquires 6the knowledge and experience of previous generations. Thus, herein lies the difference between man and animal – that is, in social heredity. We have never seen a dog, he says, endeavoring to make its young understand the experience of its forbears.

It is clear from the above explanation that scientific terminology is in a way unusable to define exactly what is contained in man’s mind and feelings with regard to abstract realities. And from this, I have come to the conclusion that science is unable to reach the essence of the abstract objects, such as culture.

Cultuur, according to Prof. Held, is not a thing – and yet it is something that exists. In order to explain “this something that is not a thing but in reality does exist,” I feel that Bapak is more able to do this than the leading scientists of the western world, because something that is not visible and yet does exist belongs beyond man’s tangible world.

I am writing this letter in the hope that Bapak may give some time to the clarification of this subject. According to my own conclusion, what is meant by culture is contained in the meaning of haditz (tradition), not only in the sense of the Prophet Muhammad’s tradition, but haditz understood as social tradition.


Bapak’s answer to H.T.’s letter:

As described in your letter of February 24, such is indeed the understanding of the scientific scholars. What now goes by the name of cultuur has become in its nature a study worked out and taught by means of the mind. Therefore, the nature of culture does not differ from the nature of all other sciences.

But for us, as it is looked upon from the spiritual point of view, that which goes by the name of culture is, in reality, a truth which comes about as a result of the threefold unity of: (1) its existence; (2) its use, or function; (3) its working or manifestation (result). It is this threefold unity which really should be the basis for knowing or acquiring the fruits of a genuine existence, for the essence of what we know as culture can only be achieved through the union of the three.

For the above reason also, that which has culture is not man alone, but the nature of material objects also which, though they may appear to be soul-less or inanimate; do not differ in their essence from man’s situation in this respect. It is true that man in this world is unable to know the true situation of the material society in its own sphere. The reason is that man’s physical organs are not of the same nature as material life. At the same time, material objects do not appear to have limbs and organs as man has.

For this reason, man is unable to think about the existence of material objects in the correct way. Moreover, man changes and fashions those material objects according to the dictate of his thoughts only. This makes it impossible for him to understand the true situation of material objects when being acted upon by man’s thoughts in this way.

Thus, it is clear then, that although those material objects appear to be lifeless, in truth, they also have life, and the reality of this can be proved by their usefulness from which man can benefit. Moreover, modern man has already been able to know the secret that is contained in the substance of material elements by the use of microscopes. This enables him to see a quality of life (that is, moving and vibrating) in material objects.

Indeed, the nature of life is very fine and invisible. Just to know that which exists in the nature of material objects, man has already had to use an immensely powerful microscope. But how much more so would one have to magnify in order to know about that which exists in the life of plants and animals and, furthermore, in the life of man himself.

Therefore, in order to understand the material existence, one needs to enlarge it a hundred million times – to know about plant life certainly needs an even more powerful microscope. And to know about the nature of the life in man – it is utterly impossible to design such an instrument.

The work of the medical profession concerns and reaches only the physical organs of man. These physical organs are only in the nature of a cover for the nafsu (functions in man for worldly purposes), and the nafsu are still a cover for the consciousness of the soul, and this consciousness is again a cover for the nature of life itself. If one reaches this inner consciousness – say for example, like someone going inside and reaching the inside, although being with one finds oneself also being without and also further than all that lies outside – it could be described as something very difficult if one wants to enter, but very easy to find the way out.

Thus it is that the above description as a proof of reality to man that all conditions, visible or invisible, are embraced by the Power (dzat) of Almighty God.

For the same reason, without forgetting the experiences that we have had in our spiritual exercises, we have come to the conclusion that that which possesses culture is, in reality, everything – material objects, plants, animals, and so on. Therefore, if a man has been able to acquire what is called culture, he will instinctively come into contact with other forms of culture belonging to his fellow man, and also with the culture that exists in material objects, plants, and animals. Because of this, in our spiritual exercises, we experience instinctive movements of that kind.

Yes, it is right to say that we are unable to be aware of this at the beginning, because beginners are only at the level of the physical world – with skin, flesh, muscle, bone and marrow and blood, all of which exist on the level of nafsu, and which is still far from what is called the world of the inner consciousness, with all its faculties of understanding. It is still an even greater distance to arrive at the nature of life itself. Nevertheless, although the level of nafsu is only the first phase of our spiritual exercises, it is of a nature that is not easy to understand or think about by means of our ordinary minds. Therefore, this can be referred to as something intangible.

This, in fact, is quite true, because it is a realm which cannot be entered with the understanding of the thinking mind. On the contrary, it is necessary that the working of the mind should cease or come to a standstill, as you yourself have experienced in your exercises. So this in a way does conform to what has already been said by people: “It is nothing, and yet it is something that exists.”

In a continuation of this, when the latihan has penetrated deeper – that is, beyond the physical level, reaching the nafsu, and from the level of the nafsu, to the inner consciousness – only then will one be acquainted for the first time with one’s true self and be able to revive the culture of one’s own soul. This is called in Arabic, khasfi, or in Dutch, gave (gift). In reality, the manifestation of art or culture, which originates from within the soul – in other words, the khasfi or gift of the individuality – is nothing but a genuine attribute of the self, or latent capacities belonging to the true self, which were acquired at the time a man came into existence. Thus, it is true that this is not anything strange or extraordinary, because it is an eternal right of the individuality.

The same is true with that which exists in animals – say a cow. Again, that which is called its culture may be its habit of butting, or its power to pull. It can also be its meat and milk, because of their use for man. But the name, “cow,” is one given by man and does not originate from the nature of the animal itself. The same is true about its butting and its power for pulling which are again the product of man’s understanding, whereas this does not correspond to the animal’s own self-awareness. Likewise, the fact that the meat and the milk are food for man is completely incomprehensible to the animal.

So it is clear that man’s view on all this cannot touch the reality of culture, and what he has found and calls culture is in truth outside it, a culture conjured by human thought. The same is true about the being of man himself. He tries to acquire culture within him by means of his mind. It is certain that it will be impossible for him to succeed, for this culture can only be acquired through study or from the tick-tock of his mind. In other words, this is a dead culture, for with it a man is unable to live a happy life.

So it often happens that man, with the progress of his culture, cannot become happy inwardly and outwardly; but, on the contrary, he becomes confused and disturbed in his feelings. Such is the fruit of the cleverness of the mind. The cleverer the mind, the further away it is from that which is genuine. Therefore, quite a number of learned men are unable to be aware of true culture. In reality, man should and must be aware of his culture. For he, with his culture and its development in him, will become a man who is useful; for it is through its development that he will come to be aware of the way in which to employ himself and to find the right place according to his use.

Therefore, a man who has culture of this kind in him is in the position to know right from wrong. Because of this, he will not place himself in a position where he will not be fully used, even though this place may appear to be very desirable. On the other hand, he will not be in any way half-hearted in going and placing himself anywhere so long as that place is in accordance with the use of his existence, even though it may appear to be undesirable to other people. The way to acquire or to arrive at this culture, as Bapak has already explained above, is to do your latihan by being empty of all thinking; in short, as you usually do your exercise.

As to culture’s relation to the social tradition haditz, this is due to the fact that haditz is an account of the Prophet’s life, and the name Muhammad already corresponds to a way of right behaviour in human society. To make it clear, the name Muhammad given to a man already explains that the man truly possesses culture, so that it is the correct name for him, and it is right and proper that he should have been named Muhammad. For the same reason, the name Muhammad is truly the name of a man in whom the qualities of a truly human being are to be found.

That is all for the time being and Bapak hopes that this little explanation will give you and others some satisfactions. Amen.

From Bapak

Subud Symbol

SICA-USA, the Subud International Cultural Association is the Cultural wing of SUBUD USA.

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