Witnessing: The Essence of Meditation
Osho on Indonesian Spiritual Leader Bapak Subud
Muhammad Subuh was the founder of the Subud Movement in Indonesia which advanced the practice of ‘latihan kejiwaan’, translating to ‘spiritual exercise’ that was initially experienced by Subuh himself. Subuh’s experience came to him suddenly on an ordinary night when he felt a flash of light in his body which made him move involuntarily into various poses and actions. He felt an energy flowing within him that he could not control or explain. This encounter made him believe in God’s actions and that he was responsible to transmit the wisdom to those who sought it.
Subuh’s practice caught on significantly and people could experience the flow of energy and movement within themselves in a complete state of surrender. The movement came to be known as ‘Subud’, composed of three words: susila, budhi, and dharma. His work was also spread to USA and Australia and is still prevalent through his umbrella organization World Subud Association.
Osho talks about Subuh and latihan, “In Indonesia there is a particular method known as latihan. They use the word opening: one who is open can open others. The Master, one of the very, very significant men upon this earth right now, the Master of latihan, is a man called Bapak Subud. He has opened few people, and then he tells those people to go around the earth and open others.
And what they do? They do a very simple method. You will be able to understand it because you are doing many methods on the similar lines. One who is opened by Bapak Subud moves with a newcomer — one who is to be opened — the disciple. They stand in a closed room. The one who is already open, he raises his hands towards the sky. He opens himself, and the other simply stands there. Within a few minutes the other starts trembling. Something is happening, and when he is opened, opened to the infinite sky, to the infinite energy from the beyond, now he is allowed to open others.
And nobody knows what they do; even the doer never knows what he is doing. He simply stands there and the other is just standing nearby — the neophyte. And they don’t know… they ask Bapak Subud, “What is this?” They do it — it happens — but Bapak Subud never gives any explanation. He is not that type of man. He says, “You simply do. Don’t bother why it happens. It happens”
The same happens here. One opens. Suddenly, the energy moves around him; he creates a milieu. You are near him; suddenly you feel a surge coming up, tears start flowing, your heart is full. You open; you help another… It becomes a chain reaction. The whole world can be opened; and once you are open, you know the knack of it. It is not a method; you simply know the knack of it. Then you simply put in a certain situation your mind, in a certain way your being: this is what I call prayer.
To me, prayer is not a verbal communication to the divine. Because how can you communicate with language with the divine? The divine has no language and whatsoever you say will not be understood. You can be understood not by language, but by your being. Being is the only language.”
WHO WAS THE MASTER WHO DISCOVERED OR INVENTED THE LATIHAN MEDITATION TECHNIQUE? WOULD YOU LIKE EXPLAIN THIS MEDITATION TECHNIQUE?
Latihan is a unique method — unique in the sense that it is the only method that has come out of this century, and unique also because it happened to a man who was not searching for truth, who was not a seeker. It is also unique in that it has no parallel in any old methods of meditation. Latihan was found by a Mohammedan in Indonesia, Bapak Subud. He was not in any way involved with the other world, with life beyond death, or with life herenow. He was just chopping wood on his farm and suddenly it happened: his axe fell from his hands and he started to make gestures, postures which he had never done. He himself could not believe what he was doing and why, but the force was so tremendous that in spite of himself, he had to do it.
He went into something almost like a dynamic meditation — shouting, running, jumping, just a pure play of energy for no reason at all. And then he fell into a deep silence, the deepest he had ever dreamt of, and when he woke up in the afternoon, just three or four hours afterwards, he was totally a new man.
That happening changed him. He was no more a Mohammedan, he was no more his old personality, his old self.
He started teaching his close friends. To whomsoever he said this was a meditation, they laughed. But his intimate circle of friends were persuaded by him…”At least you should give it a try.” A few tried, a few succeeded — and this happened just thirty years ago. After the experience, one feels utterly relaxed, no tensions in the mind, no tensions in the body. And a great joy arises from your interiority, not dependent on anything outside you. You are for the first time a universe unto yourself. For your happiness, for your joy, you are no longer dependent. You alone can live on a deserted star, joyously. Slowly, latihan became a world movement. But there were a few basic flaws in it; hence, the movement has disappeared — like a fashion that has come in vogue and now it seems to be some historical fact — and it has happened just within these thirty years.
First, Bapak Subud could not explain it, or why it happened to him. He was not religious, he was not philosophical, he was not interested in the esoteric side of life. The mysteries of life had never been a challenge to him. He was a very earthly man. He simply said, “It descended upon me from beyond. I don’t know why — I have no explanation for why I was chosen.” But because it happened to a man who knew nothing about meditations, who never meditated — at least according to his conscious memory — it was natural that the method, the technique, must have some weaknesses, some loopholes. It is not a device created by a master; it is a very accidental thing.
Mohammedans cannot explain it for the simple reason that Mohammedans, Christians, and Jews don’t believe in a series of lives; they believe only in one life. That cuts their wings, that cuts their time, and there are many things they cannot go into because of their religious conditioning. The past life does not exist; hence, to go into it for an explanation will be absurd — where are you going, there is no past life! And the wonder is, they don’t have another answer. Why should it happen to Bapak Subud who has no qualifications at all? The only explanation is in his past lives. Past lives and the theory of rebirth is not just a philosophical hypothesis in the East — it is based on the experience of thousands of years, because there were happenings which were impossible to explain without the hypothesis of a past life. Bapak Subud may not have any religious qualities but he must have worked upon himself, his consciousness, in some past life. He must have come to a point very close to the goal.
But unless you achieve something, when your death occurs all that you have learned will have to be learned from ABC. But if something has matured in you, if meditation has not been an abortion in you but you have given birth to yourself, then let death come. Your consciousness will carry the work on yourself from where you are leaving in this life, and you will remember it.
The method of latihan is simple: you have to stand in a room, just to stand loose as if you are just a coat hanging on the wall, so relaxed. And wait. You are not supposed to do anything, you have simply to wait. Things start happening to most people. Hands start moving, somebody starts rotating his head, somebody starts jogging, somebody starts dancing. Somebody starts singing. Somebody starts speaking gibberish, a language that does not exist. After half an hour, they lie down and just rest — the exertion is great.
They do latihan sessions twice a week, at the most thrice a week.
It is a catharsis. You throw out all kinds of anger, jealousy, greed — all the muck that you are full of, you start throwing it away — and when you come out of latihan, you are clean; you feel the freshness of the early morning, the crispness of the air. Not only has it refreshed you, renewed you, it has given you a new sensitivity.
The same roseflower looks so psychedelic… it is no longer ordinary, it is radiating with color. It has a certain aura around it. And in the same way, the whole of ordinary life suddenly takes a change, because you have a new pair of eyes, a new heart to feel, a completely clean mind to see as clearly as is humanly possible.
The movement died down because of faults in the method. And it was beyond Bapak Subud’s capacity and understanding to find those faults, because this was his only experience; he had nothing else to compare it with. And to him, it happened; those faults were not a deterrent to him. But many people doing latihan have gone mad. That was the reason why the movement slowly slowly died out. The people who have not gone mad are just on the borderline. A few people, certainly, have attained to meditation, but of the lowest kind. They feel silent, they feel a certain togetherness; they are more rooted, more centered. But more than that… they have not experienced anything of the beyond. They have not come in contact with the gods, the god of truth, the god of love, the god of beauty, the god of bliss. They are absolutely ignorant of what spirituality really means. They are in a kind of limbo. Latihan has created a certain space in them which makes it clear to them that this world is not enough. But remember: it is a negative feeling that this world is not enough. This world is denied, negated, but the other world is not visible yet. The person is in a difficult situation. This world does not appeal to him, he has seen something superior; but just to remain in the small space that latihan has created is boring. It has no excitement, because it is not like a river, continuously growing and becoming bigger, reaching the ocean to become the ocean itself. Latihan almost creates a pond which goes nowhere, which simply dries out, evaporates. And only mud, a muddy puddle is left behind.
Dynamic meditation has everything that latihan has — and more, because it is a device, deliberately made, considered from every possible angle, not to harm anybody in any situation. Latihan is almost a primitive thing in comparison to dynamic meditation, which has everything of latihan plus. In latihan, you have to do it in a small group. Women and men are not allowed to do it together in one room. From this point the mistakes of the method begin. It is the old fear, the old Mohammedan mind — why can’t women and men meditate together? In fact, they should only meditate together, because while you are meditating, you need the presence of the other which is your other half. It does not matter whether the woman you love is present. What matters is that feminine energy is available, male energy is available. If they are both available, the total effect is of wholeness, and the mind which starts feeling even a little bit of wholeness cannot go mad. Madness means you are in fragments, you are a crowd. There are many of you; even you cannot recognize who is the true one.
Latihan gives no idea of what is going to happen. You need not believe in that but you should be aware of it, because as it starts happening, if you have been aware beforehand, you will not be scared. You will know: this too will pass away…I would like to remind you of the story because sometimes, if it hits the right place in your heart, it becomes a tremendous help in your evolution of consciousness. A king was getting old and of course, worried and concerned about death. One day, he could not sleep the whole night long; he was continuously thinking of death. He has killed thousands of people himself; he has been a great conqueror — what has happened to him? Why has he become so cowardly? The death of the other does not matter to you, but your own death matters.
In the morning, he called his wise men and asked them: “If I fall into a situation where you are not available to advise me and I don’t see any way out, I would like you to make a small suggestion that I can put under the big diamond in my ring.” The ring was made with an opening device, so he could look underneath the diamond and read the message.
They were at a loss. This was something very difficult — just one sentence, for millions of situations. How can there be one answer for all the questions? Only a man like me can say, “Yes, not only that — there is only one answer for all questions; there cannot be even two.”
They were worried and puzzled, but one old man suggested something and that appealed to them, so they brought it to the king. He was not to see it — the condition was that he was not to see it. He was not to open it just out of curiosity. He was to open it in a real danger, when there is no other possibility for him, when he cannot figure it out, when he’s simply stuck and knows nothing about what to do. Only in such emergencies, when life is at stake should he open the ring and read the message.
And by chance, the time to read it came very soon, just after fifteen days. The neighboring country invaded. They had been invaded by this king many times, defeated many times. They were boiling with anger and violence and humiliation and insult. For ten years, they had been training their people and this time they were determined: “Either we take over the kingdom of the enemy or we are not going to come back home alive.” And when somebody, even if he is beaten, has such an idea in the mind, he’s no longer weak. He is far stronger than your strongest people. They fought as the king had never seen anybody fight… because the king and his soldiers were just fighting to defend, but the enemy was fighting to gain self-respect. They had lost their integrity, and even at the cost of life it had to be regained — even if the whole country dies!
The king lost the war. Somehow he escaped to the mountains on his horse, but the enemies were following. He was alone and he could hear many troops of horses following him and the noise was coming closer and closer. He was running as fast as the poor horse could run, because he was wounded, almost at the point of death. But the greatest difficulty came when they reached the end of the road — that road was not going anywhere! It only came to this spot where tourists used to come. It was a very scenic situation, but it was death to the king — he could not go anywhere. Underneath, there was a rocky valley thousands of feet deep. If he jumped into it, he would be finished. And he could not return because it was a small road….
Then he suddenly saw the diamond shining in the sun, and remembered, opened the diamond, read the message. The message was very small but very great. The message was: “This too will pass away.” Just let the idea sink in your heart: This too will pass away. So there is no need to be worried. In life, there is nothing permanent. Everything is changing. You could not have thought, fifteen days before, that you would be in this situation. You cannot think what your situation will be after fifteen days. Don’t be worried: This too will pass. Everything passes by.
It had a great effect on the man. He relaxed, he forget all about those people following him. He said, “I have never come to this spot. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful spots around the capital and I might have missed it if I had not been defeated by the enemy. This beauty is worth losing the whole kingdom for.” He enjoyed the beauty… and after a few minutes he became aware that the noise of the horses and the enemy coming was receding: “Perhaps they have moved into some other part of the mountains, but certainly they are not on this footpath.”
He gathered his armies, he fought again. He won his kingdom back, and when he was received at the elephant gate of the capital, the whole capital was just festivity. Everybody was rejoicing the victory. Flowers were being thrown on the king from every house, from every place. People were dancing, singing, playing on their instruments. And for a moment the king said, just inside himself, “It is not so easy to defeat me.” And he saw a subtle ego arising with all this reception and celebration. Again, the big diamond was shining in the light and he remembered it. He opened it. He read it again: “This too will pass.” He became silent. His face went through a total change — from the egoist he moved to a state of utter humbleness.
If this too is going to pass, it is not yours. The defeat was not yours, the victory is not yours. The death was not yours, the life is not yours. You are just a watcher. Everything passes by. This is what is missing in latihan. There is no place for the witness, for the watcher, and that is the essential part of meditation. Latihan prepares the ground, but never sows the seeds and then waits for roses and lotuses. And nothing comes up — just wild grass. Meditation has two parts: one, a cleaning part. You are going to invite the greatest guest into your life. Clean the whole house, make it pure, fragrant, make it an aesthetic phenomenon inside you. Catharsis is perfectly good and right, but it is incomplete. After catharsis begins the real work. When you have cleaned the ground of weeds and wild grass, then is the time to sow the seeds of flowers and wait for the spring. Latihan is gone. It will be remembered in the footnotes of history but it has lost its grip. And the problem, the reason why it had to go was that it was only the beginning part of meditation. I have given you many meditations, but each meditation is complete in itself.
This is an excerpt from the transcript of a public discourse by Osho in Buddha Hall, Shree Rajneesh Ashram, Pune.
Discourse Series: Sermons in Stones
Chapter title: This too will pass…
20 December 1986 pm in
Osho has spoken on Mystics like Dadu, Farid, Gurdjieff, J. Krishnamurti, Kabir, Nanak, Meher Baba, Patanjali, Swami Ram Teerth, Rumi, Sahajo, Sai Baba, Saraha, Socrates, Tilopa, Zarathustra, Omar Khayyam, Kahlil Gibran and many more in His discourses. Some of these can be referred to in the following books/discourses:
- Sermons in Stones
- Come Come Yet Again Come
- The Hidden Splendour
- Beyond Enlightenment
- The New Dawn
- The Sword and The Lotus
- The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
- Socrates Poisoned Again After 25 Centuries
- Yoga: The Alpha and the Omega, Vol 1
- The Path of Love
- The Book of Wisdom
- I Celebrate Myself: God Is No Where, Life Is Now Here
- Zarathustra: A God That Can Dance
- The Perfect Master
- Sufis: The People of the Path