COMMENTARY by Husein Rofé
on the
by R.M. Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo

Chapter V


Unlike the other cosmic levels, that of man is dual, since the physical envelope pertains to the realm of this world, while the Divine content has eternal qualities. It is not possible for this content to be received, unless the vessel has first been emptied of its worldly qualities; this can normally only occur after marriage. When we discuss the spiritual condition of the true man therefore, there is a question whether we mean the vessel capable of containing a certain new content, or that content itself, which is in fact the higher human aspect. (I use the word human to imply the qualities of the complete man, since those dominated by lower instincts are not really human, insofar as their essence is concerned).

The concept of the incarnation of the Divine Presence has been referred to by such names as Baptism with Fire, or the coming of the Holy Spirit. Many people contact such a Sacred Force as a transcendant quality, but only the Complete Man can know it as immanent.

This higher aspect of Man is not physical, and it does not therefore contact other influences via sensory stimuli; but the physical vehicle, which is different from that of animals, and represents (as perceived by spiritual sight) a network for the interaction of the four factors of the cross of matter, can be affected by the qualities of other human beings, as well as by the three inferior types of essences which we have discussed.

Such factors fuse with similar elements in our own nature as a result of spiritual initiation on the one hand, or sexual relations on the other. We have already noted how the qualities which affect us produce an increasingly powerful effect at successive levels, but that, since these effects involve progressively deeper aspects of our being, they are less easily perceived from external evidence.

In the same way that we possess our lower centres as part of our equipment for life on earth, we require the correctly-used fourth centre for our own complete Self-integration: this normally means that sexual union, under ideal conditions, can be of predominant significance as a means to fulfilment. From the male point of view, the co-operation of woman can have a greater effect on ascent or degeneration than any other single factor in the world; to the female, man may bring about consciousness of higher realms than can be known without such help (provided such a man is spiritually evolved).

It may be stated that consummation of the sex act between man and woman is a marriage from the cosmic point of view; and such marriage implies that, whatever else may or may not occur, there will be an exchange of psychic essences as a product of the union. This means that the woman receives a modification of her inner condition through the influence of the man, and also that, if there are several men involved, she will become conditioned by a confusion of conflicting stimuli.

We saw in the last chapter how a varied diet makes it hard for us to achieve Self-awareness; but plurality of husbands or lovers is a much greater source of degeneration for a woman. Every man who goes to such a woman will absorb, in addition to her own psychic qualities, those of all the men she has known before. In reality, after the first union, little of the original content of the parents continues to pervade the soul of the woman, since the new essence in the husband now fills her being. For this reason, women abandon the surname of their father at marriage, and take that of the husband.

The consequence of heedless promiscuity with degenerate partners is therefore far graver for women than for men, since the fine hereditary qualities may much more rapidly be extinguished. This is one of the reasons why chastity has always been considered more important in the case of women, and why nearly all cultures give a place of honour to virgins. In the modern world, where little spiritual knowledge is publicly known or accepted, the very basis for an ideal marriage is frequently ignored.

Since such union normally produces children, an inauspicious choice subsequently handicaps these, and their misfortune is then perpetuated (with interest) in succeeding generations. It is hardly surprising that, in communities where traditional inspired teaching is at a discount, and where there is little perception of inner states, the society is frustrated, while the increase of juvenile deliquency becomes a matter of concern to the public. The remedy for such situations is to be sought within, and when a sufficient number of people sincerely seek to purify their own nature, there is already hope for a more ordered society.

It has been explained that the soul in a human being is normally of one of four grades, and that the true human soul is relatively rare. Hence we find that men and women with souls of different grades meet and marry. Although there are some important exceptions, the children normally partake of the same spiritual essence as the father.

Ideally, marriages should take place between partners of approximately similar essence, though it is generally true that the higher the essence of the partner, the more fortunate we are. Since, as many religions teach, the married couple become "as one soul", the sexual union involves a fusion of spiritual qualities as well as an interchange of psychic ones.

We have mentioned that different plants and animals produce effects according to their essential qualities, and we may note that, when human beings affect each other, the basic character is also involved. This character, in accordance with an ancient tradition common to astrology and mediaeval medicine (as to the works of Aristotle) is classified in the work Susila Budhi Dharma in terms of the four elements: earth, water, fire and air. These are of course related to the classical bilious, phlegmatic, sanguine and choleric humours.

The medicine of the Middle Ages was based on the theory that sickness involved their disequilibrium, and that cure depended on restoring the balance. Spiritual discipline accepts the same principle but recognizes that the problem to be solved is not purely a physical one, hence the true physician must be found within. As a great deal of literature exists on the subject of character classified according to the four elements, the reader anxious to familiarize himself with the views of Muhammad Subuh on this matter is recommended to consult the original.

Returning to the question of the interplay of forces between male and female, we may note that it is a comparatively easy matter for them to become aware of the qualities present in each other, since, at the time of union, these two souls can establish a contact without the participation of the lower centres. This temporary emancipation from subhuman qualities, at a moment of fusion with human ones, is the reason why love has always been exalted by poets.

When such a state is attained a condition of 'unearthly bliss' is experienced, but this is unknown to those who seek partners merely to assuage their own physical desires. The beauty or sordidness of the sexual act depends on our approach to it, but in order to experience its highest aspect, we must be able to perform it while insulated
from our own animal desires.

It is not easy to understand how such a union can come about, but this is one of the potentialities at the disposal of the man who has learnt to subject the three lower centres, and whose marital relations, like all his other actions, can be the result of a Command from Above, instead of an urge from below.

It is to be understood that, while postulating sex relations as a sacrament and form of worship when performed under ideal circumstances, we are recommending a life of chastity, not of promiscuity. By chastity however, we mean ideally a married existence (the partner having been selected for spiritual reasons), in which union occurs exclusively in obedience to a law that is only known when we can free ourselves from passion. We are therefore discussing matters which are quite unfamiliar to the masses of humanity, and have been experienced by very few persons: but nevertheless this distant ideal is of significance to those whom training has fitted for it. It implies the superiority of the married state over that of celibacy, when such a union is a chaste one, and not an excuse for satisfaction of the appetites with the blessing of the clergy.

What has been expounded is not a doctrine to be experimented with, in the hope of testing its validity, since this would automatically involve a wrong approach and therefore result in harm. For ideal results, and to offer the children the best possible opportunities, the chastity of both partners is particularly recommendable during periods of pregnancy, and it is most inadvisable that the husband should have connections with another woman at this time.

We have already seen the harm that can result from overindulgence in certain kinds of food. When we come to the question of the forces in woman and their effect on man, the position is more complicated since we require to be able to sense their essence before being committed to marriage. It is common in modern Western society for men to marry women who are no longer virgins, and it is therefore important to have some idea of the state of their inner being, which cannot be known except through the development of appropriate psychic organs. Such matters are of especial concern in lands where bigamy is illegal and divorce is hard; the requisite understanding is to be developed through increasing ability to isolate the Self from thought, imagination and desire, at the time when such perception and guidance are required.

Those who are still unmarried when they approach a spiritual discipline are in many respects more fortunate, since they have time to cleanse themselves and to develop skill in choosing satisfactory mates. In order to do this, they will of course need to exercise restraint and patience. The excuse that they need the company of other women while awaiting marriage shows lack of understanding of the problem, since this very indulgence will retard and prejudice the chances of meeting their true affinities.

It is a sad aspect of modern civilization that schoolmasters teach their classes in some countries that occasional relations with chance partners are actually beneficial, provided no disease is, contracted. For those who feel too weak to dispense with all forms of surrender to their sexual urges, Muhammad Subuh considers infrequent masturbation a permissible, though certainly not a recommendable, form of relief, since it is less harmful from a spiritual point of view; and to those who assert that they must have union with a woman in the absence of marriage, he replies that they should at least find a regular mistress, and treat her as a wife in all but name, rather than visit prostitutes.

Such counsels form no part of his views on ideal existence, but represent concessions to those who lack adequate control, with a view to ensuring minimum harm, according to the prevailing conditioning of the persons in question. If such advice is followed, there are better chances of acquiring in the future the ability to eradicate the consequences of misdemeanour.

A constant preccupation with sexual satisfaction at the expense of more noble interests is the sad fate of those youths whose parents have indulged in promiscuity. This is particularly the case where the father has been accustomed to passing liaisons with a number of women before marriage: even when a pure partner is chosen to bear the children, the prospective father is already an unwitting focus for assertive animal forces which have encroached on his original state. With no suspicion of his condition or the consequences, he communicates it to his wife, and, in addition to an inner degeneration which develops in her, a babe is born to bear the burden of its father's sins.

It is hardly surprising that this child will himself be even more attracted than his father to the pleasures of the flesh, when he attains his majority, and the damage is liable to increase with each suceeding generation. We see therefore how hard it is for the average individual to acquire true Self-knowledge, on account of his hereditary inadequacy; and the most that many can hope for is to be able themselves to produce children with somewhat better chances, so that these may again improve the family strain. When their turn comes to marry, they are less likely to do so on account of physical considerations irrespective of the inner qualities desirable in a wife.

It is important to remember that, through another human being, we contact not only human forces; in fact, when such a person has become merely a framework for the operation of bestial or satanic elements, it is these that we assimilate; thus it is that many young persons are easily led astray by attractive temptresses, who have become vehicles through which the lower powers may ensnare those with a higher content. The harm to the human being in question is tremendous, and he rarely even suspects the nature of the qualities to which he is exposing himself.

It is clear then that the danger to men on the spiritual path lies not in women as such but in the essences which may be present in particular women. The same risk from the point of a bride involves qualities which may be present in her husband, against which she should not be defenceless.

Celibacy is no solution to this problem, since integration normally requires the interchange of psychic forces between man and woman; the practice may be compared to vegetarianism or a life of voluntary renunciation of worldly goods. Such techniques all recognize the danger to the individual of the forces present in the various kingdoms; and yet, to close the avenues to all of these in turn will certainly not lead to their mastery, which is the true purpose of human existence.

It is therefore necessary to maintain a contact with the Divine essence within, since that alone can cleanse us of the taint to which we expose ourselves when we approach the various factors in the world. We reach this essence when we are able to effect an insulation of the Self from identification with the thoughts, desires and emotions; it is therefore most valuable to have such an opportunity, since there is no doubt that we shall expose ourselves to undesirable elements, and that we shall suffer the consequences, unless we know how to carry out the necessary purification.

Once we have achieved this, we shall find that all the previous hindrances have now become our faithful colleagues or servants, and we shall henceforth co-operate with them to mutual advantage. This will not only permit a blessed existence for ourselves, but will assure our children yet unborn a fortunate destiny also. Those who are able to encounter the necessary techniques to achieve such results, without having to abandon their normal home and occupation, are particularly favoured, compared with the hardships to which most aspirants were called upon to face in traditional disciplines of bygone ages.

True solitude is to be found within, and man does not need to depend on particular localities in order to know that which he carries about with him wherever he goes. Further, many traditional scriptures which refer to revelations received in the wilderness, on mountain-peaks or by river-banks, are allegorical and enshrine teachings which it was not desirable to make public in former days.

Many spiritual guides have taught in parables, when they have been obliged to speak in front of mixed audiences; the nature of their messages is often such that they are not meant to be reasoned about, but rather to be treated as objects of quiet meditation so that true comprehension may flash through from the intuition. Many are led astray because they believe firmly in the literal sense of such tales.

The story of the Syrian captain, who was angered by Elisha's advice to bathe in the Jordan, illustrates the common tendency to place faith in the weird and wonderful, and to distrust the apparently familiar and commonplace. Unusual ends are expected to be attained by following unusual paths, and the very novelty of the unknown attracts many people to the oddest of disciplines, encouraging them to yet greater effort.

Books about spiritual techniques, and the attitude with which we approach them, are examples of influences reaching us from other men through the written or spoken word. We shall never obtain from a book more than a reflection of our own past experience, since what we read must be related to what we already know.

It should also be clear from the foregoing arguments that the mind is often an unreliable instrument, particularly when it has not been trained to critical analysis. Unconsciously we tend to accept what is in harmony with our own feelings, and reject that which repels us. Books may claim to take us to the Truth, and yet only if the Truth is already present can we assess such writings appropriately. Further, we not only evaluate what we read, or hear from others, in a subjective manner: we also cunningly justify the call of the baser instincts by mistaking impulse for intuition. If our criterion is to be the intuition, we must be able to identify it, and this again calls for training in inner discrimination.

It is common for people to attach great significance to books as a source of guidance in spiritual matters: the older these are, the more they are revered, owing to the weight of centuries of consensus as to their value. Yet their very age is a barrier to understanding, since they were composed when men thought and lived in a very different manner from our present existence. Hence so many people who devote daily moments to devout perusal of ancient scriptures eventually convince themselves, by constant thought and emotional projection, that the events related took place in a manner quite inconsonant with the historical facts.

Since this danger of misunderstanding is already present when dealing with historical situations, how much greater is the risk run by those who uncritically attribute reality to myth or legend! Unconscious self-identification with the heroes or heroines, in books which are themselves the products of other minds, can only lead us to realms of fantasy, while under the lamentable impression that we are following paths of glory, and we charge at windmills of our own making, in the manner of Don Quijote. (Note: The mass of mankind is divided into two classes, the Sancho Panzas who have a sense for reality, but no ideals, and the Don Quixotes with a sense for ideals, but mad." Santayana: Interpretations of Poetry and Religion.)

The symbol is ever mistaken by the masses for its corresponding reality, and this tendency is at the root of all idol-worship and trust in talismans. Hence the creations of men's hands eventually acquire the reverence of other human beings who bow down to them and solicit their intercessions; charms are carried around by those who unwittingly place greater faith in pieces of wood or stone carvings than they do in the Divine soul within themselves which is indestructible.

Some Prophets, foreseeing the danger, have forbidden the representation of "graven images", the cult of saints; but the simple and the ignorant, who cannot comprehend abstractions, find emotional solace in the sense of security afforded by household gods and lucky charms. They little suspect the far greater source of security which lies dormant in their own breasts.

All experience is interpreted in terms of our own subjectivity, and if artists are identified with the lower nature, this condition will certainly be reflected in their art. The more we can emancipate ourselves from attachment to such forces, from emotional attitudes to what we portray with pen or brush, the greater the value of our creation, and the artist who aspires to greater heights would do well to give attention to his inner condition: a change in the level of Being cannot fail to produce a corresponding modification of Self-expression!

The spiritual discipline which can bring this about does not take us away from ourselves, but rather removes from us those veils which obstruct the true light and prevent portrayal of the best we have to offer. Once we can effectively isolate the Self from the thoughts and other disturbing factors, our art becomes the medium for the expression of Divine inspiration, and when this state has been truly achieved, such activity becomes a form of prayer, and produces a profound effect on sensitive persons who contemplate it, since it reflects a state of inner reconciliation, and harmony with the universal pattern.

It is claimed that the Subud training can help almost any human being towards attainment of the desired inner condition; but although the Divine activity, which manifests especially in moments of Self-isolation from accessory forces, is entirely adequate to cater for individual requirements, these vary greatly on account of hereditary conditions. Different persons will therefore report varying sensations, and speed of development will not be identical. The controlling factor is, however, All-Wise, and the dosage prescribed by the Physician within is according to need and capacity.

Antidotes frequently produce symptoms of new pains, and such sensations arise during this training; they are however normally of short duration, rarely recurring regularly for much more than a month, and not often manifesting for more than a few hours. They should be welcomed as evidence of a corrective and curative process; their nature is seldom such as to disturb slumber or diminish appetite for food, and doctors are at a loss to identify their cause. Such signs of inner catharsis are actually a guarantee of future good-health, the combustion of harmful vestiges of hereditary disharmony.

It is not normally necessary or practical to attempt to "do something about" these manifestations, unless they are particularly painful. Similarly, we do not need to assist the evidence of inner activity by additional techniques which the mind may suggest; such an approach indicates misunderstanding of the very nature of the problem. It has been repeatedly stated that progress is according to capacity to receive, and it will certainly be much slower where the body is diseased, or in cases where the hereditary qualities are especially unfavourable.

As the training continues, and the organs of apprehension become progressively purified, it is noticed that the quality of sensory perception is also modified and develops new potentialities; as these arise, the restricted capacity of former perceptions is recognized.

Increased understanding can be obtained from attention to sensory stimuli at the moment of contact with our corresponding organs. This is an example of how our subordinate qualities may assist us in acquiring Self-awareness; thus it is that the very factors which formerly proved detrimental now act as faithful servants, and their co-operation facilitates the task in hand. The training will provide evidence of how we are at some moments expressing our true natures, while, at others, the inferior inner qualities are operative.

The latter case is much the more frequent in the early stages, since these are more prominent in the consciousness of most persons, until adequate purification has been carried out. Nevertheless, we are normally so unacquainted with the character and number of the forces within us that what we manifest is often regarded as quite alien, and may provoke doubts in beginners as to the Divine origin of the training. When the practice is terminated however, we note that we nearly always resume our normal feelings and attitudes in a matter of minutes.

Progressive disidentification enables us to stand aside and see the lower' instincts speaking within us as distinct from ourselves. Once we begin to acquire this feeling of duality, to see the speaker as sometimes distinct from the hearer, we gain some control over the forces which formerly dominated us, since we have become conscious of their existence, and recognize their impact.

Such knowledge is essential if we are to canalize these forces effectively. There is a tendency in modern psychiatry to discuss whether we should express or suppress impulses, and the partisans of the different schools of thought advocate their views with fervour and conviction. True liberation and peace is however to be found in the canalization of our instincts, rather than in seeking to eradicate them or in yielding to their demands: the paths of hedonists and sybarites, monks and ascetics, will not lead to ultimate satisfaction, because these persons fail to see the need for true canalization, and their approach to aspects of the Self is therefore an incorrect one.

The reconciliation between the Self and its accessories, true Self-integration, will enable us to work and perform our worldly duties in harmony with our inner nature. This aptitude will, in its turn, cause the results of our activities to be blessed and give satisfaction to others, which means that our undertakings will produce success. Our lives will then represent true and ideal Self-expression, in the full meaning of the word, and we shall manifest the highest potentialities in ourselves as facets of the Divine Spirit. Our existence on earth will no longer violate cosmic laws, since we shall find incomparable bliss through living in harmony with them, and we shall no longer be subject to forces which lead astray. If Divine Grace enables us to reach such a state, our presence on the earth will ennoble it, and when the time comes for us to go, we shall know an even fuller existence, and a peace which passes all human understanding.


© Michael Rogge, 1959

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Brought on Internet on 2nd of March 2001. Revised 22 August 2010

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