Concerning Subud

Chapter 8

The Completion of Man

1. The Sacred Impulses

The true man in us is not of this earth and, although he lies sleeping in the depths of our essence, he has not lost the thread that connects him with his Source. From this connection, there arise in us impulses that are truly sacred inasmuch as they are the means whereby we are drawn back towards our place of origin.

Four of the Sacred Impulses are of especial significance for Subud. These are: surrender, patience, trust and sincerity. They do not originate in the mind and the will of man, but they are operative in us only by our own consent. Their connection with the latihan has already been mentioned and by understanding them better we can come to appreciate the true role of human freedom in the completion of our nature.

By Surrender is meant not a state of passivity or irresponsibility, but the recognition that we men are not the masters of causes—that is, we cannot "do." To see for ourselves that our "doing" cannot go beyond the mechanical processes of this world and to realize that we must put aside the idea that we can set ourselves free by our own efforts—these are the conditions of surrender. In its full significance, surrender is to place oneself wholly in the hands of God—but we cannot have any idea of what this means until after we have become conscious of the link between our own spirit and the Holy Spirit. In practice, therefore, surrender means to put aside our own desire to "do" something and to allow the action of the latihan to proceed in us. This has already been explained in connection with "not-thinking." Many trainees object when they are told to "surrender" that they cannot picture to themselves how it is possible to submit oneself to a Power of which one is not even aware. What cannot be pictured or thought about is not necessarily hard to realize in practice. All that is required is that one should consciously and willingly allow all one's functions to work spontaneously and automatically. This "allowing" is the beginning of surrender.


The second sacred impulse is Patience. This is the acceptance of the times and seasons that are not of man but of God. So long as we look for or expect results, we hinder the inner working. Impatience is always a manifestation of self-will. Even if our aim is our own perfecting or the true welfare of others, we trip over ourselves if we "try to go faster than God." I have referred to the two streams of life and mechanicalness; true patience enables us to be carried safely and surely in the stream of life. All impatience throws us back into the stream of mechanicalness that leads to destruction.

Patience is a sacred impulse. As St. Paul declared, it is one of the manifestations of charity. But true patience can come only from within. Patience imposed from without is weakness.

Trust in God is both the condition and the fruit of spiritual awakening. Trust, like patience, must come from within. Trust of the personality is stupidity. The personality of man cannot trust God and indeed has no reason to do so, for the personality is merely an earthly artefact, not a creature of God.

Trust in God is the assurance that His will is accomplished in all things. Trust in man is the expectation of outward actions, but trust in God is the work of conscience. A pupil asked Ibrahim Khawwas about trust (tawakkul); the story goes on: "He replied 'I have no answer to this question just now, because whatever I say is a mere expression, and it behoves me to answer by my actions; but I am setting out for Mecca: do thou accompany me that thou mayest be answered.' I consented. As we journeyed through desert, one day an old man rode up to us and dismounted and conversed with Ibrahim for a while; then he left us. I asked Ibrahim to tell me who he was. He replied 'This is the answer to thy question.' 'How so?' I asked. He said: 'This was the Apostle Khidr, who begged me to let him accompany me, but I refused, for I feared that in his company I might put confidence in him instead of in God, and then my trust in God (tawakkul) would have been vitiated.'"

Within the working of the laws of nature, there is the manifestation of God's Will directed towards the salvation of creatures. Trust is to rely upon that manifestation without expecting the laws of nature to be violated.

The fourth sacred impulse is Sincerity. This means harmony between the inner and outer life. Concerning sincerity, I will quote a passage from the Al Hujwiri.


"Men in their dealings with God fall into two classes. Some imagine that they work for God's sake when they are really working for themselves; and though their work is not done with any worldly motive, they desire a recompense in the next world. Others take no thought of reward or punishment in the next world, any more than of ostentation and reputation in this world, but act solely from reverence for the commandments of God. Their love of God requires them to forget every selfish interest while they do His bidding. The former class fancy that what they do for the sake of the next world they do for God's sake, and fail to recognize that the devout have a greater self-interest in devotion than the wicked have in sin, because the sinner's pleasure lasts only for a moment, whereas devotion is a delight for ever. Besides, what gain accrues to God from the religious exercises of mankind, or what loss from their non-performance? If all the world acted with the veracity of Abu Bakr, the gain would be wholly theirs, and if with the falsehood of Pharaoh, the loss would be wholly theirs, as God hath said: 'If ye do good, it is to yourselves, and if ye do evil, it is to yourselves.'" (Qu'ran xvii, 7.)

Sincerity in the latihan means to be observant and conscious of the reality of one's actions, so as to be aware whether they arise spontaneously from within or whether they are tainted by imagination or imitation. But true sincerity belongs to the whole of life: it is the impulse to be the same outwardly as one is inwardly and the same inwardly as one is outwardly.

Surrender, patience, trust and sincerity are all manifestations of the Conscience that is latent in the depths of the human soul. They are sacred impulses like charity and good will towards men and faith and hope in God. These impulses cannot be simulated by the mind and feelings of man, but must arise spontaneously from within. They work in us only by our consent, but they cannot work unless they are awakened.

Through these sacred impulses man is drawn towards his source and to the place that has been prepared for him beyond all private worlds. They are the means given to us for attaining to complete Manhood.

2. The Seven Stages of Completion

The Subud Emblem symbolizes the seven levels and seven qualities of every completed whole. The ultimate perfection of every created essence requires that it should return to its Source enriched and transformed by having passed through all levels of existence and realized its possibilities.


Since man is a being incarnated on earth, his completion begins with his earthly body. The first power is that of the material soul. This is subject to the mechanical laws of earthly existence. In Gurdjieff's cosmo-psychology the material soul is represented by the lower or mechanical part of the centres of instinct, movement, feeling and thought. The material soul is earth-bound and can exist only in conjunction with an earthly body of which it is the life principle.

The second power is not, in the ordinary sense, material, or rather it is composed of substances much finer than those of the physical organism. It is the seat of the strength of the essence. When this soul power is dominated by earthly qualities, its strength is no more than the force of desire. It is polar or dual in nature. For example, it is subject to likes and dislikes, desires and aversions, hopes and fears, and all the other "pairs of opposites." When in this state, the vegetable power is not a true soul, but merely the instrument by which a man is attracted to the external world while at the same time enslaved by his own egoism. When the vegetable powers is liberated from its identification with earthly attractions, it becomes the main source of strength by which man gains mastery over his physical body.

The third power is that of the animal essence. When dominated by earthly forces—that is the state of unregenerate man—the third soul power is the source of self-will and all motives that flow from self-will. When it is purified it gives unity and consciousness by which a man becomes a stable, independent being.

The fourth is the true human power. Its principle seat is in the sex function. It is the natural human soul that is characteristic of man. When the Human Soul is purified of earthly attachments, it becomes the centre and source of the individuality, of the 'I' that is truly human. There are thus two different conditions of the human soul. The first is that of the man who has become conscious of his real human nature and in whom all the functions are harmonized. The second is that of the man who has achieved individuality and has a permanent self or 'I.'

The fifth degree is that of the complete human being. This cannot be attained by evolution from below. It is a gift of Grace that God bestows upon those human essences chosen to serve His Purposes on the earth. Pak Subuh has said that during the coming Epoch there is the possibility that seventy thousand men of the fifth degree will appear on earth. If this possibility is fulfilled, human existence on earth will be protected from all disasters that human folly might otherwise bring down upon the race.


The sixth degree is that of the man into whom the Power of Compassion has entered. He is complete within the limits of all finite worlds. It is said that if two hundred such men were present on the earth, all human life would be transformed and there would be peace everywhere. Nothing can be written of the man of the sixth degree, for his highest soul power comes from beyond the knowable worlds.

The seventh and final degree is the soul of the perfect man whose will is eternally conjoined to the Divine Will. No ordinary man can have any conception of this gradation, for the Divine Soul comes from the Source of Creation and is not subject to development or transformation.

If we accomplish the journey of self-completion, we have to pass through the various stages of training and purification. A fourfold preparation is needed before the real man—the Man of the Soul—can find a home in our essence. The fourth degree is a meeting point of the two streams of evolution and involution. By the first stream, man rises from the material world to acquire his own human soul, by the second stream the Holy Spirit descends upon man to endow him with an immortal spirit. When the two are joined and become one soul and one spirit, then comes forth the Complete Man of the fifth degree. No man can, by his own merit, pass beyond the fourth degree. The immortal spirit of the complete man is bestowed by the Grace of God.

3. Gradations of the First Stage

In the last chapter I described some of the observations made at Coombe Springs by trainees who have entered the first stage of purification. I did not attempt to assign any particular order or sequence to these experiences—simply because I do not understand them well enough.

I shall set down some of the explanations that Pak Subuh himself has given. This is contrary to his own dictum "Experience first; explanation second," which reminds me of my old friend Clarence Seyler's advice to young scientists, "Facts first, and then more facts, and theories after." Even this safeguard does not wholly suffice, for it is not easy to distinguish spiritual realities from subjective imaginings. However, even this hazard can be surmounted by patience and persistence—one great merit of the latihan is that in it we come to see ourselves only too clearly and to know when it is our own voice that imitates the tongues of angels.


The first act in the drama of purification is enacted upon the level of our earthly existence. If experiences belonging to a higher world come, they do so only as fleeting glimpses that we must learn to assess at their true value. They are signs of things to come, not evidence of attainment.

In the material world, are reproduced each of the seven conditions of the soul. For example, Pak Subuh speaks of saints and prophets of the material world. Solomon represents the archetype of the prophet of materiality: he had great powers, but all came from the material forces. Pak Subuh called him once "the prophet of the successful man of affairs!" Those who are satisfied with earthly existence can, through the latihan, pass through all the seven gradations and acquire health, wealth and power, but remain attached to the earth and must return to it again and again.

The second stage is beyond sense experience. It belongs to the world of the Vegetable Essences. This world is the first of the Abodes of the blessed. Three transitional stages lead from our earthly existence to this Abode. Each of these three spheres corresponds to a particular condition of spiritual purity, when a man ceases to be affected by material forces. Only when the power is liberated from the material forces can the soul enter these heavenly realms.

The energies of the First Abode are much finer than those of the world of material objects and they can be perceived by man only when his senses are purified. Although a man may have the qualities that correspond to this world, he cannot enter it until he is prepared. Thus there can be men whose soul qualities correspond to the second and third degrees who are nevertheless wholly dominated by material forces and therefore can know only earthly existence. We have therefore to distinguish again between levels and qualities. Failure to make this distinction can lead to mistakes regarding the stage which a given person appears to have reached. The Sufis distinguish between hal or state and makam or station. In conversations with Arab and Turkish Sufis, I have tried to get explanations of these two words, but was never fully satisfied that they were understood. One of the remarkable features of the latihan is the light thrown upon the obscurities of various systems and teachings. It has undoubtedly helped me, more than anything I have met, to understand Gurdjieff's cosmo-psychology, but it is equally illuminating in the new meaning it brings to all mystical literature. It is by an accident of birth that Pak Subuh has chosen the Sufi terminology to describe the stages of the Subud path. Systems are like maps—they are amusement for the man who stays at home and dreams of travel, but a very real help to the man who journeys through unknown country.


I make these comments here because it was only through the latihan that I came to realize the all-important distinction between a quality or hal that can be experienced and a level or gradation or makam that can be one's home or Abode. Many people are deceived by "experiences" and imagine that they are evidence of attainment of a higher level of being. The makam or station can be occupied only if one has the necessary powers—that is the organs, limbs, modes of perceptions and a body of the requisite fineness of substance to be able to exist upon the level in question.

This is illustrated by the transition region between the first and second worlds. This region contains three stations or 'heavens.' These are often described in mystical literature. When I have read about them I have passed them over as incomprehensible. In the latihan, the reality of these intermediate regions is unquestionable. More than one trainee has 'seen' the first heaven as a vast expanse of blue ocean, and has realized that it could not be entered with one's ordinary body. The value of such experiences is enhanced by the fact that they occurred to people who had never heard of these Abodes and their significance. The possibility of entering the intermediate stations or heavens while still on this earth depends upon purification.

4. The Purification of the Feelings

I shall write about my own experience of the second stage, without wishing to suggest that I know anything of its completion or of the experience of higher worlds.

The first recognition that something was beginning to change in my feelings came when, for several days, I found myself almost uninterruptedly in a state of self-observation. Not only could I see myself as I then was, but I could not help doing so. Moreover, I could see my past life as a whole, with all the mistakes I had made, and the harm that I had done to myself and to others. This was an indescribably painful experience, and I had no idea when it would end. At that time Pak Subuh was still in Indonesia, and I was so desperate about my condition that I wrote to him for advice—the first letter that I had ever attempted in the Indonesian language that I had begun to study. His reply was to the effect that this stage was necessary and would soon pass: by the time I had received his letter, the experience—in that form—was over. But I began to live in a state of 'separation' in which I was aware of two distinct lives constantly present in me. This coincided with a great increase in sensitivity, so that I found that I was aware of the bodily and emotional states of people who were near me, or even about whom I happened to be thinking.


I received at this time one of the greatest blessings of my life—that is, to find myself liberated from the exasperating sexual attraction that Gurdjieff calls 'type and polarity.' I write of this personal experience because to me it was clear proof of the purity and rightness of the Force that works in the latihan. For years I had wrestled with this problem, and although I had learned more or less to discipline by external behaviour, I had never found the way to be free from the inward action of this force. The freedom that is received through the latihan is entirely different from the weakening or mortification of the sexual impulses that is achieved by ascetic practices. On the contrary, the natural powers are brought to life and invested with an entirely new quality. The difference is that they acquire an inherent discrimination that automatically stops them from flowing outside their legitimate channels.

Pak Subuh insists with unusual firmness upon the sanctity of marriage and upon the terrible harm that results from any kind of sexual promiscuity. I could see for myself that this is not only fundamentally right, but attainable in practice without difficulty or hardship by those who follow the latihan and succeed in entering upon the second stage of purification. It is impossible to describe the sense of gratitude with which one becomes aware that one is free from the action of forces that are so disturbing an influence in human relationships.

The force of sex belongs to the human world; that is, the fourth power of the soul. It is the first of all the human powers, since it enters man at the very moment of conception before his physical body begins to take shape. Although it belongs to the essence, it manifests in all worlds. In the material world, it is simply a force of attraction between men and women and it is without discrimination. In our present age, when people are almost wholly under the influence of material forces, the power of sex has become divorced from its true human significance. It is hard to imagine a much greater blessing for contemporary humanity, than that a means should be given for the purification of the sexual power and the restoration of marriage to the sacred place that it should occupy in the life of man. I am sure, not only from my own experience, but from that of several others, that the latihan does in fact lead to this result.

During the same period, I observed in myself the process of liberation from 'like and dislike.' This is another of the polarities that dominate in the material world. To find oneself drawn to some people and repelled by others is a terrible slavery from which it is hard to free oneself by one's own efforts. However clear to our minds may be the need to be free from personal preferences we can attain this only when we are in a state of inward quiet and detachment. This can be achieved through spiritual exercises, but only for a time.


When the effect of the exercise wears off, we return to our usual condition of inward agitation. We get a taste (hal) of detachment or non-identification, but we do not reach the Abode (makam) where it is a natural state. In the second world, the polar forces of attraction and repulsion are replaced by the triadic relationship of affirming, denying and reconciling impulses. Liberation from like and dislike is far from indifference or apathy. On the contrary, the qualities of situations and of people stand out more vividly than ever before. The difference is that a reconciling force is present that enables one not only to see the positive and negative aspects of every situation, but also to see beyond to the place they occupy in a larger whole.

This is put rather abstractly. The experience itself cannot be described. It is to feel the duality and conflict in all things, and to see quite clearly that beyond the duality there is a harmony that takes away its sting.

Peace of mind and a cheerful heart are not small blessings. These are the first-fruits of the second stage of purification. When Pak Subuh arrived with his Indonesian helpers, we were all impressed by their constant gaiety and the unruffled calm with which they met the chaotic conditions of the first weeks. We could see that these qualities were the outward result of an inner state, or rather of a station, that they had reached and passed. Later we saw that this Abode is one where there is genuine liberation from like and dislike. It is the true non-attachment that is one of the aims of every discipline and system of self-perfecting followed by man.

5. Freedom from Fear

Attachment to the material world is the principal cause of human fears. Men are afraid because they depend upon supports that have no foundation. The personality of man can find safety nowhere. It must therefore constantly suffer, unless it is able to forget its fears. In order to forget, it turns to what seems secure, since it is visible and tangible: that is, to the material world under whose influence it was formed, and to which it really belongs.

Therefore, people are afraid of one another both individually and in the mass—that is 'public opinion.' They depend upon external possessions and are afraid of losing them. They are dimly aware that their personality cannot exist out of this world, and so they fear death. When the great life force enters the body it drives out fear, but the personality continues for a long time to be the centre of initiative. Consequently, many fears remain until the personality becomes wholly passive.


This is attained only in the second stage of purification. If we could see into the heart of man we would find many fears that are deeper than the personality. These come from the realization that even in our essence we are still blind to reality. We do not know who we are, nor where we are going. Even that part of man—his essence—which is not destroyed by death, is blind, unconscious and helpless. Dying in that state, it is lost and bewildered, and must inevitably be drawn back into some form of earthly existence. To die consciously has always been the aim of people who had any understanding of the real nature of man. But the consciousness that is needed at the moment of death must be of the essence and not of the personality, and unless that consciousness is present, fear of death is inevitable. When I was at school I was made by my headmaster, Lionel Rogers, a true mystic at heart, to learn by heart Robert Bridges' Lines on a Dead Child, which I quote, probably inaccurately, from memory after nearly fifty years:
"Ah, little at best can all our hopes avail us
To ease this sorrow, or cheer us when in the dark
Unwilling, alone, we embark,
And the things we have seen and have known
and have heard of—fail us!"
These lines were somehow a formative factor for my understanding. Two or three years after I learned them I was severely wounded in France on 21st March 1918, and I certainly then had the experience of leaving my comatose body and entering into a state of discarnate consciousness. In this condition, I was quite unaware of the presence of other bodies, but I could perceive the inner experiences that were proceeding in people near by. I then saw without doubt that the fear of death comes from the illusion that our real existence is dependent on our bodies.

Later, when I was slowly recovering and regaining the use of my paralysed left arm, I remembered Bridges' poem, and saw how true it is that the "things we have seen and have known and have heard of fail us," but that we have something in us that is unseen, unknown and unheard of, and that this will never fail us. Only, we need to be conscious of it, if we are to be delivered from fear of the unknown.

I refer to these early experiences of mine because they are directly linked with much that happened to me in the latihan forty years later.


I can only describe the state as one of complete clarity as to the continuity of consciousness after death, and the realization that it is the greatest blessing to be able to leave this life and enter into the next—providing one is ready for it. I was able to say, with full assurance of its truth, that my happiest day on this earth would be my last. Constantly to remember one's death, and to know that one is ready for it is, I believe, a characteristic condition of the latihan. With this, comes the end of fear of any of the forces of the material world.

6. Further Stages

I am not qualified, from my personal experience to write about the third and fourth stages. These are the purification of the intellect or understanding, and the purification of the consciousness, that is of the true 'I' or self of man. These stages open the way for man to higher worlds that are far from any ordinary human experience.

Nevertheless, before we reach a certain Abode we are given a taste or glimpse of what it will contain, and I can write of the states that I myself have witnessed.

The first observation concerns language. Several years ago in The Dramatic Universe I wrote about three degrees of authentic language, of which the second belongs to the world of Being and is symbolical. I said that symbols can convey an unlimited range of meanings, and differ thereby from signs that can have only one meaning. Signs belong to the realms of science and philosophy, whereas symbols belong to the realm of consciousness and being. I added that the third and highest language is that of gesture, which is the direct expression of the will. I do not know how I came to make this distinction, which I certainly did not understand very well at the time.

In the latihan, about the time Pak Subuh arrived in England, I began to see various symbols; some familiar, some quite new to me. Some of these symbols seemed to have a universal meaning—as, for example, when I saw the disc of the sun with the Cross in the midst of it, shining more brightly than the sun itself. Several times I was able to tell Pak Subuh about what I had seen. In nearly every case he showed me that the symbol was an indication of my own state, of my own progress and of my own future, and not a revelation of objective reality. As soon as he gave these explanations I saw that they must be right, and yet I had not seen them for myself.


From this I came to understand in a new way what Gurdjieff had taught about higher emotional centre. I realized, for example, that the language of this centre is symbolical, and that it's power lies in telling us about ourselves, our state and our needs. I will only give one example of a 'personal' symbol. Once in the latihan I put out my hands and felt that a globe had been placed in them. Its surface was as smooth as glass, and I turned it over and over to make sure it was perfectly spherical. Although my eyes were closed I could see that it was perfectly transparent, like a crystal. It was heavy and yet it had no weight. As I was wondering what it meant, I opened my mouth and this great globe—as large as a pumpkin—entered my mouth and I swallowed it. I could feel it inside myself gradually being absorbed.

All this had no meaning for me whatsoever, but the same evening, after latihan, I was able to describe it to Pak Subuh. He said that this was to show that my understanding had been purified and that in future I would be able to see the true meaning of ideas presented to me from outside or from within.

Soon after this, I saw a number of symbols that referred to Subud. Once I saw an angel appearing from beyond the sun and bringing a message to the earth, and I understood that this meant that the origin of Subud was from beyond the Solar System. At another time I found myself lifted far above the earth into the space between the earth and sun. I saw the earth below me as a tiny ball, and then I saw that a great force was taking hold of the earth and shaking it. This I understood to mean that the Power that had sent Subud to the earth was great enough to shake it to its foundations. Whenever such visions have come to me, I have felt myself entirely detached and unmoved by them—almost as if I were being shown pictures in a book that did not concern me personally at all. As soon as the symbols withdrew, the latihan continued as if nothing had happened.

Many times I realized that what was shown to me could not have been expressed in words without being far too definite and committal to be right. Symbolism is not only a powerful language, but also a protection against misunderstanding. A symbol may have many meanings, but we can only apprehend them in so far as we are ready to do so. Verbal communications can be very misleading, for words always seems to have a definite meaning that the mind can grasp. True symbolic language is altogether beyond thought and it must lose the greater part of its content when it is translated into words.


There is, certainly, far more in the further stages of purification than to receive new means of communication. The third stage is essentially that in which our motives are set free from personal elements. For example, there is in man a sacred impulse to serve. Often people come to some form of spiritual training for the professed reason that they wish thereby to learn how to do the Will of God and to serve their fellow men. This profession may be quite sincere, within the limitations of the personality that makes it. In the latihan, the trainee begins to see himself as he really is, and he is obliged to acknowledge the impurity of his motives. In the first stages, self-observation affects his feelings and thoughts about himself and perhaps diminishes his self-assurance, but it does not touch the source of his motives—that is, his own self-will. It is not until after the purification of his lower nature that there begins to arise in him a deeper consciousness that enables him to get inside his own motives. This is the only way in which he can be liberated from his self-will and so prepare himself to become a true normal man—that is, one who acts in everything from a full awareness of the reason for his own existence. Then all motives are subordinated to the single motive of achieving manhood and the 'man' becomes a conscious individual, no longer a collection of warring motives hiding a sub-human self-will.

To be a man one must become one whole. This may seem simple, but it is far removed from any condition that we know. On this earth, men are not men, but only shadows of shadows. In the latihan, we begin to see our own insubstantiality, and realize that we would not exist at all if we were translated into the world of the true man. In that world, it is necessary to be oneself wholly and without admixture of any sub-human elements. Until this requirement is satisfied we should find ourselves like Peer Gynt standing before the Button Moulder, compelled to admit that there is no one to answer to our name.

7. The Way of Completion

Our life here on earth in the midst of material objects is the lowest to which human consciousness can descend. That which is below the earth is a negative world out of contact with all reality. When man descends into that world he loses every semblance of human nature.

The transition from earthly existence to that of the second Abode requires a completely new equipment of organs, faculties, functions and consciousness. Man in his physical body is an earth-bound creature.


He has in him the materials from which a second body can grow, but they have neither form nor function. The arising of the second body is an immense transformation of the whole nature of man. He is no longer mortal within the limits of earthly existence, but can enter the next life conscious of the way before him. He can see and hear things that our physical eyes and ears cannot perceive. These possibilities have been tested and demonstrated to the Subud trainees, who discover that in the latihan they acquire an entirely new sensitivity to impressions that leave no trace upon the senses. All this is connected with what I have called the 'resurrection of the body.' One of the most impressive features of the early stages of Subud is the speed with which trainees begin to be aware of the appearance of a new life within the body, and can verify for themselves that this new life is endowing them with powers that seem almost supernatural. Indeed, in the literal sense, they are supernatural, if we understand by 'nature' this visible world of material objects.

Pak Subuh has many times enabled selected trainees to verify for themselves that existence in the second Abode is entirely different from the world we know; the second body of man is composed of materials so fine that it cannot be injured by material agencies. For example, it cannot be burned by fire. Once, when this was being confirmed by test, I understood how the martyrs who had received the second body were able to enter the fire unmoved, and to pass through death with no disturbance of their inward serenity and without any loss of consciousness.

It is hard to realize that the second body, so often and so lightly spoken of as the 'astral body,' is really a complete independent organism that must be equipped with its own organs of perception, its own functions and its own consciousness. Contrary to what is so often asserted in theosophical literature, the second body does not exist in the ordinary man who has not earned it. It must be conceived, developed, born and matured before it can have an independent existence. Without it, the soul that enters the heavenly regions is completely lost, and must inevitably return to the earth and re-enter a body of the first kind.

For man, the way forward is from world to world, until he returns to his Source. In each world, he requires a different body and new instruments to fulfil new functions. Beyond the second body, anything I might write would be mere hearsay. There is no small risk of distorting into nonsense, what one has heard but never in any degree experienced.


I shall, therefore, not attempt to write about the third and fourth bodies of man, but all teachings that have authentic knowledge agree in affirming that man must require four bodies before the soul is ready to receive the divine gifts of Spirit.

8. The Relationship of the Sexes

The complete human being is achieved through the fusion of the male and female parts of the soul. The myth of Adam represents the undivided state as primary, and the separation of the sexes as subsequent. This is a symbol of generation, for at the moment of conception the parents are united, and the power of sex acts by way of fusion of the male and female gametes. Sexual differentiation is subsequent to the fusion. Thus not only is the force of sex the first to enter the human essence, but it is also that which reunites the separated parts to produce the androgyne fourth gradation of the human essence. This prepares the place for the entry of the power and attributes of the perfect human soul.

The relationship between the sexes is thus not only the foundation of human existence here on this earth, but also the means whereby the completion of man is realized. This need not imply that the way to completion of man is closed to the man or the woman who does not wish to marry during their present life here on earth. All that it does imply is that the unification of the male and female elements of the soul must be accomplished either before or after the death of the physical body.

Here I should refer to some misunderstanding of Pak Subuh's position, owing to his insistence upon the sacred character of marriage and the part it plays in the completion of man. It appeared from this that those who did not marry were in a hopeless position, and it was even suggested to us, before Pak Subuh's arrival, that unmarried women beyond marriageable age should not be accepted for Subud. In his early talks in England, Pak Subuh gave special attention to married couples, and impressed upon them the mutual need of husband and wife. It was not until later, when we remarked on the very striking progress made by several unmarried men and women, that he gave a further explanation. He said that if the wish to serve God is stronger in a man or woman than the wish to marry, and if the wish to marry disappears automatically in the latihan, then it is possible for such a person to pass through all the stages of preparation in this life and come to the unification of the soul—that is, to meet with their true spouse—after death.


He added, however, that this is no justification of the monastic life in general. The monastic vocation is exceedingly rare, and it happens too frequently that Christians and Buddhists (the two religions in which monasticism is widespread) enter the solitary life in imitation of the Christ or the Buddha. The two situations are quite different, and Buddhism does not greatly concern us here. Jesus Christ was and is eternally the perfect Man Who possesses the complete sevenfold nature that is in the origin of Creation itself. Jesus, alone among men, was born with the complete soul in which male and female is undivided. He, therefore, along among men, had no need for marriage in order to fulfil His mission here on earth. He represents, not only for professing Christians, but for all men of all faiths, the ideal of human purity and perfection. But this does not mean that He can be imitated. Indeed, it is blasphemy for man born of woman to suppose that he can imitate the life of the incarnated Son of God. Jesus having come to the world with the complete human soul received also the Divine Soul from God, and so was in a true sense both Son of Man and Son of God. All conditions were, and are eternally, not merely different but infinitely different, for a Man already complete and perfect in both the human and the divine worlds and for one who is upon the way to the completion of his human nature and preparation for the Grace which was already in Christ before He came to the earth.

Therefore those who suppose that the virginity of Christ and His Mother Mary is in any like human virginity are in grave error. Their virginity was present in them because they were already complete, whereas human virginity is the rejection of completion. The refusal of marriage can only be justified when it is made with the humility of one who is conscious of his inadequacy, not with the arrogance of one who deems that he has chosen the 'better way.' When the inferiority of the unmarried state is fully recognized and accepted, it need not be a bar to progress any more than all the other defects that are present in human nature and human life on earth.

The relationship of the sexes is entirely different in different worlds. In the material world it is a blind attractive force without discrimination. In the vegetable world, it is the polarity of type and essence. In the animal world, it is the transformation and purification of motives. In the human world, it is the unification of the soul. In ordinary human experience, the three higher modes of sexual relatedness are unknown. But by the law of sevenfoldness all seven qualities are repeated on all levels—hence ordinary men and women can experience some of the qualities of the fuller relationship, but not possess their essence.


From this arises all that sadness in the lives of men and women that comes from seeing glimpses of the unattainable. The full glory of the married state is revealed only to those who can reach the fourth stage of human completeness and discover for themselves what is meant by the words: "They shall become one flesh."

The completion of marriage certainly requires the procreation of children. Since nearly all men and women living on earth are spiritually unborn, they can have children only upon the material level of existence—that is, under the laws of this earth. Ideally, a man should wait to have children until his own soul is awakened. The reason for this is that at the moment of conception—as already described in Chapter 4—the essence is open to every kind of influence. A pure state in the parents is the only protection against the entry of sub-human soul substance. This is not the only reason why parenthood can be right only when rightly timed. We need to be protected against mechanicalness, which we can visualize as a great stream that flows from the past through the present into the future, carrying with it the consequences of all future events. We have no power to arrest this stream or change its course. But the higher parts of the soul are not subject to the laws of cause and effect.

This is why Pak Subuh has said that the latihan is a frontier through which the stream of causality cannot pass. It is literally true that the iniquities of the fathers are visited upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. The terrible scourge of the past threatens the health, happiness, character, and the very possibility of completion of our children and grandchildren. Many a parent can dimly sense the tragedy of the situation but see also that he is powerless to change it. One of the greatest blessings of the latihan is its powers to obliterate the past and set us and our children free to enter the future without the burden of sins that they themselves have not committed. The purification of the sexual life belongs pre-eminently to the fourth stage of completion—that is, the truly human stage. It is only when they are truly human beings that husband and wife can be joined in the full union that is the reality of marriage. Indeed, it is only to such a marriage that the words "Whom God hath joined, let no man put asunder" truly apply. Such people are blessed in their union, and they are blessed in their children, in whom a human soul can arise even before they reach the age of responsibility.

We cannot leave the subject of the sexual relationship without making clear the position of those who treat the sexual relationship lightly. In the sexual act there is a contact between the male and female essences, and whether it is made in wedlock or in wanton promiscuity it leaves its mark upon the essence.


Since woman is the passive or, more correctly, the receptive element of the complete soul, the results of the contact are stored up in her. She, therefore, inevitably must suffer if the relationship is broken. Men who take advantage of the receptivity of women commit a grave injustice, for which soon or later they must atone. That these are no empty words can be seen in the latihan, when men whose sexual lives have been irregular have to pass through a period of purgation before they can be liberated from the results. But in this earthly existence where the material soul is dominant, it is not men but women who chiefly suffer the consequences of broken unions. The mysterious laws of the interpenetration of essences act in such a way that, if a man comes into sexual contact with a woman who has had many irregular relationships, he picks up the influences of the other men, and his own state is thereby poisoned. We were given a vivid picture of a wealthy Japanese whose sexual life had been deplorable, and who when he came to the latihan began to throw out the characteristics of many men he had not even known.

It must therefore, be understood that it is equally disastrous for men and for women to allow themselves sexual irregularity. Nothing traps us more helplessly in the stream of mechanicalness, or does more to diminish our potentialities, than to allow our essence to become contaminated with the results of other people's lives. This we do when, without discrimination, we come into the essence-contact that is inseparable from the sexual act.

Thus it is rightly said that the power of sex can be the greatest curse of man, and that it can and should be the greatest blessing. By sex our humanity can be degraded and by sex it can be perfected. As long as people are still in the early stages of purification, they must be protected against the power of sex. For the complete man sex has no longer any outward force, for the cleavage of the male and female elements has been healed.

When I started to write this section, in a suburb in Munich, where I have come to be with Pak Subuh, I would have said that to my knowledge no man had opened any woman but his own wife without incurring serious consequences. I had never heard of Pak Subuh himself opening a woman, not because of possible harm to himself, but because she might place her trust in him and not in God.

By one of the countless strange coincidences of Subud, it happened that I had to speak to Pak Subuh about some letters I had received, and while I was with him an old German woman of seventy-eight years came into the house and asked to see him.


Although we were all snowed under with work, he went and spoke to her, and learned that she had been for five years a widow, was totally deaf, and could not sleep for terrible noises in her head. She begged him to help her. We wrote on a sheet of paper that Pak Subuh is not a healer, but she sat weeping in her chair, moaning that she must go mad if the pains continued. I could see that she was already afflicted with senile dementia. After testing her condition, Pak Subuh at first advised that she should drink the juice of a tamarind every evening. When he learned that tamarinds are unobtainable in Germany, he told her to close her eyes. Then without any explanation, he stood before her and opened her, with myself and two other men, who had been trying to interpret for her, standing by. After about fifteen minutes she was opened. When told to open her eyes she said the pains had gone. An American trainee drove her back to her house, where she was to renew the latihan by repeating the Lord's Prayer each evening before going to bed. I should add, that during her opening I myself felt without doubt that a contact had also been made with her dead husband. I also remembered the saying, "Thy faith hath made thee whole."

9. The Three Higher Constituents of the Soul

The complete man, or man of the fifth degree, is not a product of evolution alone. Pak Subuh has repeatedly emphasized that the fifth power is a superhuman soul. It does not belong to the human world, but descends upon man from above, when he is ready and when he is needed. It has already been noted that 70, 000 men endowed with the fifth power of the soul could arise in the world in the coming Epoch. Beyond the fifth level is the far higher, truly Sacred Essence of the compassionate soul. Pak Subuh has said that one such soul could save a million others. The seventh and highest spirit comes directly from God: it is the soul that distinguishes the great Prophets from all other beings who have appeared on the earth.

We have thus a complete scheme to represent all stages of evolution possible for the human soul. In its ultimate perfection, the soul is sevenfold. But the lower souls can be taken up and left like clothing. The three higher souls are beyond individuality, and can enter into many human forms at once. The soul of the Saint can enter into thousands of people and bring them into that profound unity of will and consciousness that is the Communion of Saints.

I have already written too much of matters that are beyond my understanding. I have included these hints chiefly to give some meaning to the statement that the way of perfection for man leads on and on without limit.


Copyright© 2007, Undiscovered Worlds Press