Subud Vision - Discussion

Michael Irwin - How I Latihan

Disappearing in the Latihan. From Mark Penwell, February 11, 2008. Time 18:23

How I Latihan

I was opened in January of 1968. The group in Sacramento was very small at that time, with only one regular man, an elderly helper, who offered very little information about the latihan during my applicant period, and seldom mentioned Bapak. After our opening my wife, Helissa, and I would often travel to the San Francisco Bay area where we could do latihan with large groups. My latihan was at first very quiet and peaceful, a welcomed twice weekly pause from a busy life and a stressful job as a School Psychologist. After about a year, I began feeling more than peaceful, sometimes quite excited or elated, but still in a quiet way, but no great receivings.

In 1971 the World Congress was held in Cilandak, Indonesia. Having no children yet and enough money for the trip, Helissa and I went. We were there for about a month, during which time there seemed to be latihans about every other day. One afternoon the men were gathered in the dome hall for latihan. Bapak entered, we all stood, he said some words in Indonesian, then said, “Begin”. After what seemed like only a few seconds, Bapak said, “Finish”. I was confused and wondered what was wrong, so I just stood where I was. Then I noticed the other men were walking back to their chairs and putting on their shoes. Still puzzled, I walked back to my chair and took my watch out of my shoe. Half an hour had passed!

I don’t remember this happening again in Cilandak, but it has been happening a few times a month ever since. Helissa says that I “disappear” in latihan, and neither of us have ever heard of anyone else having that experience. I mention it to applicants, so the other men in our group have heard about it many times. I never know when I am going to “disappear” in latihan. Nothing before or after is unusual. No one has ever told me that I do anything odd or different during latihan, and I have done latihan with some of the men here in Sacramento for over 20 years.

My normal latihan still consists of that peaceful, elated feeling, along with receivings of visual scenes, sometimes like mini movies. Sometimes I receive concepts and ideas, which can be related to daily experiences or have no apparent connection to anything going on in my life. When related to daily experiences, it's often an idea or indication as to how I should go about doing something that I am faced with, not always important stuff, sometimes just a different way of going about something routine. Helissa and I often say, “How do people get through life without receiving guidance?”

I have never been able to receive anything about the “disappearing” latihan, why it happens, or whether or not it benefits me in any way. I assume it does. It has become so ordinary that I hardly think about it, but I would be interested to know if others experience it.


From Philip Quackenbush, February 12, 2008. Time 17:50

Hi, Mark,

I haven't "received" any "disappearing" "latihans" per se, though there are time warp events where a "latihan" will seem to go on for longer than the proscribed (by the "finish" people) half hour, or shorter. I've come to accept, at least intellectually, that time is a mental construct and somewhat biologically determined (i.e., the alteration of biological processes can alter one's time perceptions, for example, by one consciously losing contact with the biological "clock" contained in the cerebellum that seems to operate on the light/dark 24-hour cycle [the cerebellum having 80% of the neurons in the brain, densely packed together, and therefore, like a computer chip, probably able to process data at a much faster rate than the neo-cortex]).

The disappearance of the "self", however, would more likely be related to a shutdown, or lessening, of activity in the temporal lobe, as seen in research on meditators who lose not only a sense of time but their personal existence. Like the Zen monk said to the hot dog vendor, "Make me one with everything." That effect I'm more likely to "receive" during a quiet period (i.e., sitting meditation) than the active phase of movement, but it's not a regular thing, like what you seem to be describing. There's a technician attached to a well-known neuroscience lab who has created a helmet that will induce such effects, but it costs a bit to buy one, whereas the "latihan" is free (though not as reliable, perhaps) and, IMO, would produce them more often in practitioners if the theological overlay that most members get indoctrinated with when they're applicants were discarded, which you seem to have missed, producing an anecdotal case in point.

Peace, Philip

From Mike Higgins, February 13, 2008. Time 7:0

Hello Mark, I am unclear what you mean by "dissappear." Do you mean you lose all track of time and/or self? What, if anything, do you remember experiencing during your disappearing latihans?

If I attended one of the latihans at which you dissappeared, would I open my eyes to see that you had vanished from the room? [just kidding -{:?) ]

From Mark Penwell, February 15, 2008. Time 2:47

Hi Mike,

That would be some latihan if I disappeared physically. None of the men over the years have ever said that they've noticed me missing. What disappears seems to be time. It isn't the same as when we fall asleep and are not aware of time passing. The best way I can think of to explain it is to make this comparison. During a "normal" latihan I am aware of my body moving and walking, and of the other men. The elated feeling and the visual and conceptual receivings are overlaid on that awareness, not masking it. Like having a conversation with someone but being aware of the sound of a TV in the room. During the "disappearing" latihan, I am aware of my body and the other men, I am not consciously aware of elated feeling or receivings, and there is no awareness of time passing. The latihan time goes so quickly I have no memory of thoughts or feelings during that time. This may be one of those things that can't be fully understood unless it happens to you. But then we are constantly telling applicants that we cannot fully describe our latihans to each other, we all have different experiences.


From Mike Higgins, February 15, 2008. Time 8:14

Mark, I would consider the state of consciousness you described as the aim of the latihan (and meditation). I have experienced it for varying periods of time, but it generally doesn't last for the entire latihan, i.e., 30 minutes or more. In fact, if I do not attain this state at all, because I have allowed myself to be distracted by feelings, thoughts and/or visions, I consider the latihan to have been unsuccessful.

Can you tell me what draws you out of this state of consciousness? Do you just naturally return to your usual state of awareness or does an external stimulus nudge you out of it? Thanks - Mike

From Mark Penwell, February 17, 2008. Time 5:19


I just naturally come out of it, it is difficult to describe. I am aware of myself, and others around me, just not aware of the passage of time.


From Merin Nielsen, February 18, 2008. Time 12:12

Hi, Mark,

It might involve suspended transfer of contents of short-term memory to long-term memory.



From Mike Higgins, February 19, 2008. Time 9:13

To Michael Irwin:

Michael, does Mark's "disappearing act" state of consciousness sound similar to the "void" state you cultivate? For me it requires focus - an act of will, as you have suggested - but Mark's experience sounds more spontaneous.

Michael: No, I don't disappear. My latihans vary in perceived length of time and can fly by but I don't vanish. My experience in no way invalidates Mark's.

I recall that you expressed doubts as to whether this void state is progressive - whether it can evolve to something more. I suspect it can, mystics have suggested this, e.g., Franklin Merrell-Wolff and Aurobindo Ghose spoke of progressive grades of unitive consciousness. Perhaps we will see...

Michael: I hope that more is to come but so far nothing. I came to the conclusion some time ago that the latihan as I have known it is not the mystical state. Having had a tiny mystical experience, I have something to compare it with. My perception is that the void may be the anteroom to the mystical room. If that is true the problem is finding the door and possibly the key. Since the mystical state seems to only be spontaneous, I must just wait. Whether the latihan increases the chances, I don't know.

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