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An Extraordinary Man

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One of the best books ever written about the Subud experience.

An Extraordinary Man

Stories of Subud members’ experiences
of Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo 1901 – 1987

Compiled and Edited by
 Emmanuel Williams (USA) and 
Ilaina Lennard (UK)

Reprinted in the UK February 2015
 by Subud Publications International

The views and beliefs presented in this book are exclusively those of the authors and can not be construed as being those of the World Subud Association.

An Extraordinary Man

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It began at the 2008 USA National Congress. People were telling stories of their experiences of Bapak. Funny, deeply touching, won- derfulstories.Iwas thinkingasIlistenedthatthestory-tellers,all members of the generation who knew Bapak, met him at gatherings, greeted him at airports, drove him across cities, cleaned vegetables for him in kitchens, sat – awake or asleep - as he gave a talk, are growing old. As I am. Quite soon we’ll all be gone, we first genera- tioners. We’ll be off in another dimension doing special latihans with fallen angels and testing for committee positions, and the stories of our encounters with Bapak will disappear. Someone should collect them, I thought. Put them in a book. Definitely.
Then I realized that this someone was me.
Oh. Right, well okay then.
So I announced my intention at a plenary and began collecting stories.
That was over a year ago. Since then the Bapak book has been a major presence in my life, and it will seem strange not to be working on it any more. Now that it’s done I’ve been wondering why this task came my way. I find three reasons that make sense to me, although there are doubtless more -
Subud is a tribe. One day, God willing, millions, even billions of human beings will be tribal members. Like all tribes, we need and seektobeconsciousofourorigins. Manyofthestoriesonthese pages tell of the early days of Subud, especially its arrival in the West.
Although I’ve been in Subud since 1961, and lived in Cilandak for 7 years, until I worked on this book, I had no idea who Bapak was, or is. I love him even more than I did. And I’ve found that, as my un- derstanding of Bapak deepens, so does my latihan. This may be be- cause, as Pak Kuswanda says, “Bapak is the latihan.” This spiritual boost is an unanticipated and very welcome gift. May it be given to you, dear reader.
Recently, a young, newly-opened Subud member told me she feels Bapak in her latihan and wishes she knew more about him. There are and will be many more like her. It’s my hope and prayer that this book will bring Bapak closer to the younger and future gen- erations of Subud members who never met him in the flesh.

This book is dedicated to them. To you second, third, fifth, tenth ‘generationers’, you rebel teenagers who shy away from Subud be- cause your parents are in it, you bubbling chortling babies destined to be opened years away from this misty morning in the Fall of 2009. God bless you all.
This book includes stories from members who never met Bapak in the flesh. Bapak is still with us.

An Extraordinary Man contains over two hundred stories of Subud members’ experiences of Bapak. The stories are organized thematically. You’ll find small sub-groups here and there – a sequence of Bapak dreams, a pair of overcoat stories, two miraculous rice sto- ries. A list of contributors is included at the back of the book.
My intention was that the book would have a choral feel - scores of voices telling their stories, one after another, each story bringing to life both the story-teller and the man they are about.
There are lots more Bapak stories out there, especially from non- English speakers. I hope someone will gather and share more of these.

Emmanuel Williams, October 2009