A Heart as Wide as the Ocean & Other Things

1st January 2005

In the early hours of Sunday 26th of December we saw the first pictures on television of the terrible 9.0 earthquake that had occured off the west coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Later we saw how the earthquake had set off a series of massive tidal waves which were bringing devastation also to the towns and villages on the coastlines of Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India, Thailand and Malaysia. The early estimates of 7000 people killed has now risen to well over 150,000.

I awoke at 2am on the morning of the 27th December and while sitting up in bed felt a sudden jolt and quickly had to steady myself. Was that an earthquake? Later in the day we found out that there had been an earthquake—a small one of 4.3 on the Richter Scale—40 miles north of where we are in California. This is something that happens every so often as we live on the so called, Ring of Fire, that arcs all across the Pacific to Indonesia. Here on the West Coast we not only have earthquakes but volcanoes as well, one of which, Mount St. Helens, erupted in the early 1980's. Our earthquake seemed like an echo of the greater one unfolding so far away across the Pacific and an indication of an invisible but no less real earthquake rippling through human consciousness at this time. realise that our world has changed in a dramatic way.

Like many people, I find myself speechless in the face of this catastrophe, yet realise that our world has changed profoundly in the space of a few days. The world's atmosphere was already stained by the war and its aftermath in Iraq, but that disturbance was caused by men and governments. This new disaster in Indonesia was not caused by any human agency, and shows us how little we really know of the world and its workings. We live, not in a dull, mapped-out and jaded world, but in one steeped in mystery and ringed with secrets. I think this does show us that ultimately, our world is not run by governments and corporations but by an invisible "something else", and that that "something else" needs our help and co-operation to bring about the unfolding of this beautiful world.

One of the partners in the Undiscovered Worlds Press, Prio Hartono (now in the next world), was Javanese. Prio was not only a partner, but a respected elder brother in the Subud spiritual association. It was through his charismatic presence and books—particularly, The Mystical World of Java that the other members of UWP came to an appreciation of the rich culture of Java and Indonesia. In the early 1990's we planned to publish all of Prio's books, including, Inner Wisdom which had been long out of print. We did manage, however, while we were living in Denver to produce a limited edition of, The Mystical World of Java. Prio came to stay with us for a couple of weeks and the four of us, stitched and bound, 12 (beautiful to my mind at least) copies of of The Mystical World of Java, each with their own slip cover. This limited edition was important, as it now meant the book, "existed" in the world.

However, illness, and a series of life problems, prevented us from making progress in our publishing enterprise. Our publishing enterprise then became dormant between 1991 and 2003. Although we had been on the Internet for simple things like email since 2000, we at first did not see that we would be able to publish our books on the internet. Like many people, we still thought of books as the paper and cardboard affairs that you hold in your hand, and we found the concept of books available to read on a computer none too attractive. Yet we began to find that we were reading more and more online and gradually we became reluctant converts to digital books. Perhaps this process was hastened on in our case by the fact that we had lost our precious library of over 700 hard searched for and hard earned for books in a disastrous move from an RV (recreational vehicle) to an apartment! However, by the end of 2003 we were beginning to warm to the possibilities of publishing our own books online and we began to look more closely at websites and learn a little HTML. We saw that maybe—just maybe, that we would have another opportunity to go forward with our publishing project.

In the latter half of 2004 we had an interesting experience. It was as if an invisible entity had moved into our apartment and was trying to get our attention. A number of things happened too much to write about here, but it was as if the "Other Side" drew our attention to The Mystical World of Java and telling us it was time to make it known, by making it available on the Internet. It was as if Prio was still with us as a partner in the publishing. This experience gave us the energy to go forward and we put up our website on the 15th November 2004. I think it strange the way that we made The Mystical World of Java available just before the earthquake in Indonesia. Perhaps those on the "Other Side" are able to see what is in our future? The earthquake has brought Indonesia to people's attention and perhaps people will now be more open to its rich culture. I wonder what Prio would have made of the present situation? I came across the following in his, The Mystical World of Java:
"In the history of Java in the old days, when the country faced difficulties such as famine, plague and other disastrous events, the king and queen would refrain from food, sleep and pleasure and turn themselves to God for guidance and help. This action is called "prihatin" or "topo." A king or queen, who only indulged in pleasure, was certainly not in a position to help their country. On the contrary, their over indulgence might even bring disaster."
This is strikingly similar in spirit to the fasting undertaken at the time of the Great Fire of London in 1666, so that the nation could ward off future disasters.
"ORDERED, by the Lords Spiritual and Temporal in Parliament assembled, That the Lord Bishop of Exon be, and is hereby, desired to preach before the House of Peers in the Abbey Church at Westm . on Wednesday the Tenth Day of October next; which Day is appointed by His Majesty for Fasting and Humiliation, in Consideration of the late dreadful Fire, which wasted the greater Part of the City of London ."
Quoted from: House of Lords Journal Volume 12, 25 September 1666.

Animals & the Sixth Sense

Pak Subuh, the Indonesian founder of the Subud Spiritual association often mentioned in his talks to Subud members that human beings should be aware of what is going on around them, so that they can sense danger coming and take the appropriate action. This requires that we be alive in our "inner-self" so that we may receive guidance or indications from the Power or Light of God. This is not something complicated or exotic but may manifest simply as a hunch or a feeling to do or not to do something. It is interesting that Sri Lankan wildlife officials have said that although thousands of people have been killed by the giant waves, no dead animals have been found. It appears that animals sense what is about to happen and move away from a danger or catastrophe. That inner sensing is something that has largely atrophied in human beings.

Signs & Portents

Signs & Portents is a novel that Stephanie started in the early 1980's and which we have both added to bit by bit over the years. Our novel pictures a world that is experiencing great—sometimes, catastrophic changes. We saw that dramatically changing world, far in the future, but as the earthquake in Indonesia has shown, it may be nearer to us than we thought! Here is a brief synopsis:

"Our present world is unraveling. Perhaps that is the nature of "worlds"; given time, they all—sooner or later—start to unravel. Ancient kingdoms, once blazing with glory, now sleep forgotten beneath the sands. Our story follows the fate and destiny of a small band of individuals who in ancient and modern worlds, individually and collectively, have sought a path through the chaos and dangers of their times, seeking to find a place of safety—a refuge."

We are uploading the first 7 chapters of Signs & Portents. Please see the Books page on our website.

A Heart as Wide as the Ocean

This phrase floated into my mind this morning as I awoke a little before 4am. It was a phrase often used by Pak Subuh, founder of the Subud spiritual brotherhood in his talks to Subud members. He said (my words) that if we pray to Almighty God for anything, it should be for, A Heart as Wide as the Ocean. It came to me, that the human response to what is happening in Indonesia and other places is very encouraging. The hard shell of nationality—whether English, American, German and so on—has shown signs of dissolving in this present crisis, revealing the much more authentic depths of our common humanity. In the world that is fast approaching, we will need more than anything else, a living faith in the "One Above" as well as having or aspiring to—A Heart as Wide as the Ocean.

Articles and Stories

In our Articles and Stories section on the website we have added, a selection of poetry by Lukman Clark and a beautiful story, In This Broad Valley by Raymond Foster.

Rachman Hopwood

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