The first part of this write up is compiled from various talks of Bapak
Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo, a native of Jakarta
and the founder of Subud
In his talks, which he gave quite regularly to Subud members over the course of close to fifty years, he often spoke of the two paths of spirituality. These paths are illustrated by two sons of Adam, the first human being.
The first son was Sayid Anwar. In his life, he chose to follow the way of his father Adam, which exemplified simple surrender to the power of God. To be a normal human being, and seek simply to have a good life. This way, Bapak explained, was the way of the Prophets: Abraham, Moses, Idris, Jesus, and Muhammad, and all those other cool dudes of the spiritual strata.
But the second son, Sayid Anwass, he looked at life, and he wished to gain more though effort, by the excertion of his own will. And also, he looked on the path of his brother and his father, and he found it lacking in something. Perhaps he thought it too easy. Perhaps he was, in a way, disillusioned with the thought of surrender. Perhaps he looked at himself and thought: 'I am human. I am enough. Why do I need to rely on something else, even if it be God?'
He walked away from his father and his family, and he began to perform austerities. He did not eat, he did not sleep, he did not breathe -- not for a day or a week, but for months, even years. As the story goes, he practiced these austerities on the earth, on land. Then, as he gained more and more strength, more and more mastery over himself and his elements, he sought other challenges. He went into the sea. Then into the air. At last, he did the austerities of fire: he even went into the sun to perform samadhi, as the Indian tradition puts it.
And because God gives to man what man asks for, because God gives to man according to his strength, and because Anwass was very strong, he received what he wanted: to be more human than human. Immortality was his. Indeed, it is said that Anwass will not die until this world -- the material world -- is dead.
He was also able to create something that is impossible to create. He created a heaven and a hell of his own.
The day came when Anwass looked upon himself, and all that he had achieved, and he took it upon himself to change his name to Sang Hyang Sis, (which is the equivalent to the Greek Zeus). He became the father of the dewas, the gods.
All of the pantheons of earth, of man, began with him.
I first came across this story in one of the compilations of Bapak's talks entitled "Children of Adam", and right away it struck me as one of the stories of humanity. Whether or not it is literally true, it made a sort of sense of this thing called history to me. Bapak said that the children of Adam, when they are spoken of, represent qualities that we hold within ourselves. It is instinctual for us to apply our volition to spiritual matters, even though, as the Holy Books declare, that is not necessary. All that is needed, when it comes to God, is to let God take over, and it is this life, this body and earth, that is the proper receptacle for our will and work, not the realm of the spirit.
About six months after reading the story of Sayid Anwass, I began reading a lot of Aliester Crowley, the British Magician, founder of the O.T.O. and author of an impressive demi-library.
At the heart of Aliester's magickal workings is a book that he received/wrote at the turn of the twentieth century in Cairo, Egypt. The book is titled The Book of the Law, and it happens to be one of those books where the story behind it is much more accessible than it is itself. Mr. Crowley (may somebody bless him) has extensively detailed his experience of receiving and dealing with the Book of the Law in his "Confessions" and Part Four of his "Book Four".
At the core of the Book of the Law is this phrase:
Do what thou Whilt shall be the whole of the Law.
Love is the Law, Love under Will.
This shows that Crowley’s theory, his theology is based not on surrender, but on volition. That is easy enough to see. In his books on practical magic he all but embraces austerities – he was famous for being able to ingest prodigious amount of drugs, regulating himself to small degrees, and then slowly upping the dosage, just to test himself. I have also found a disturbing treatise on inflicting wounds on your arms with a razor blade whenever you think or use the word “the”, for example, in order to train yourself to the utmost.
Allegedly, The Book of the Law was dictated to Crowley by a being who called himself Aiwaz. Aiwaz? Sayid Anwass? The same? If not in name, then certainly in practice.
If we allow, for a moment, that Aiwaz and Anwass are indeed the same entity, and accept Bapak's story as something more than a metaphor, and accept Crowley's experience as more or less genuine, then it would seem that the realm or the world of the gods, or dewas, is still something that is very much alive, and close to us. And furthermore, that the gods, or dewas, actually decend from the same stock as normal human beings. That is, they are related to us.
Bapak has mentioned that the gods dwell in the Astral Plane, but that this Astral Plane is not the same as the true Heaven, the Heaven as experienced by Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammad. It is a shadow place, the astral world, and may certainly be sought after, even acheived or actuallized in quite substantial ways. But in remains to be decided if that place is as good or desireable as the Higher Heaven.
And that leads us back to the question of which path is better: surrender or will? Worship or Magic? The ability to throw fireballs around and fly through the air, or simply being human, happy and content?
It may be that our choice between these two basic paths is made in smaller ways than we think, simply by acting in the way we tend to. We are, after all, each taken where we want to go. That is the nature of free will. That is the nature of life.