Raymond van Sommers

A Life in Subud is an intimate account of many of the most important moments in the development of Subud, the international spiritual movement founded by Bapak Muhammad Subuh of Indonesia.

Raymond van Sommers, as a young engineer searching for the meaning of life, joined J.G. Bennett and the followers of the Gurdjieff system at Coombe Springs, England, where he supervised the construction of that striking building, the Djamichunatra.

In June 1957 he was among the first to receive the latihan, the spiritual exercise of Subud, when Bapak arrived in England. Two years later he was invited by Bapak to come to Indonesia to help establish the International Subud Centre at Cilandak. He designed the ten-room guesthouse which was Bapak's home until Bapak's own house was completed in 1966.

Raymond was one of the original partners of the architectural and engineering firm PT International Design Consultants (IDC) which was a pioneering and successful enterprise in Jakarta.

The memoir records spiritual experiences of great interest, and is illustrated with 115 photographs, most of which have never been published before.

The Australian writer, Blanche d'Alpuget, comments:

A fascinating story that begins in a painter's studio in Australia and finds its way through the jungles of New Guinea and Africa, to Europe and Indonesia A Life in Subud recounts, without any shouting, the adventurousness of a man fully living the spiritual life. Raymond van Sommers, in a disarmingly gentle voice, has written a book that Subud members will find inspiring, as will many others who have never experienced the latihan.

Paperback 243 pages (June 2004)

Publisher: DAWN BOOKS, PO Box 531 Northbridge, NSW 1560 Australia

ISBN 0-9751159-3-6

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What is Subud?

An encounter with public radio in Australia by Raymond van Sommers, author of A Life in Subud.
It was 11 October 2005 and I had just met Rachael Kohn, a well-known presenter from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Radio National, Religion Unit. We were in the lobby of ABC Head Office building in Ultimo, Sydney, at her invitation that I take part in an interview for her weekly program The Ark. The subject was to be What is Subud? based on the personal experiences in my book, A Life in Subud.

'I see you have my book', I said, 'have you read it?'

'Oh yes, I always read the books that I present on my programs.' she replied.

Rachael's voice was reassuring and as we got out of the lift at the second floor she drew my attention to the spectacular arching roof of the atrium above, recalling my interest in the engineering during its construction.

A moment later we were seated in a recording booth with the co-producer adjusting the microphone to suit our voices. Before I had time to think about the content of the interview Rachael was reading the first of her questions from a list. She was clearly interested in the unusual aspects of Subud but as we proceeded I found the opportunity to say something about the origin of the movement and what we experience in the latihan.

In 25 minutes it was all over. She expressed her satisfaction with the interview so I assumed that we had said something about What is Subud appropriate to a non-Subud audience as she saw it.

The program went to air 12 days later on 300 frequencies nationwide and to 50 countries via Radio Australia and a transcript was placed here.

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