Harris Smart tells a story…
What is Susila Dharma?
Often we think it is a substantial organization somewhere in Canada that does marvellous social welfare work, supporting humanitarian activities all round the world.
It is our most successful “wing”, our flagship and our shop window to the world. Something to be very proud of. We hear all too often of our “failures”. Here is our success.
But what can I do that is Susila Dharma? I don’t run a social project. Well, of course, I can support others with my good will, my prayers and my money.
But what else can I do? I believe that the secret is to try and live every moment of your life as Susila Dharma. The world is constantly presenting us with opportunities to express Susila Dharma in my everyday life. Susila Dharma is an attitude, an attitude producing action.
I want to give you one example of this.
A few months ago I went to Wisma Subud for the Gathering and I was most fortunate to stay with Pak and Ibu Kuswanda who live a few minutes walk from the compound. They live in a charming cul-de-sac where the three houses are all owned by Kuswanda and members of his family. I call it the Kuswanda Family Compound. Wisma Kuswanda.
Kuswanda is a marvellous man. Three times chair of Subud Indonesia and very close to Bapak, he also rose to a high position in the Indonesian Department of Forestry. He is extremely warm, friendly and humorous. He knows lots of jokes.
He has written a very good book of incidents and insights from everyday life. It will be published soon and to accompany the publication I intend to do a long article about Kuswanda.
But right now I just want to write about one event, one relationship, which exemplifies for me what I mean about Susila Dharma being an “every moment” attitude and action in our lives.
Pak and Ibu Kuswanda gave me a lovely room all to myself and then I asked Kuswanda, “What should I do with my clothes that need washing?”
Kuswanda said, “Give them to the maid.”
So I wandered around but could not find any maid. There was a boy there, but no maid.
I went back to Kuswanda and said, “I could not find the maid. There is a boy there, but no maid.”
Kuswanda said, “That is not a boy, that is the maid.”
Kuswanda’s maid is quite a tomboy. She always dresses in jeans, has short hair like a boy, rides motorbikes and hangs out as one of the boys. When she goes back to her village in Central Java, to see her family, she rides her motorbike there and back.
I grew to like this maid very much. She was always so helpful and I saw how wonderful she was in so many ways. How caring she was, for example, in looking after Kuswanda’s grandchildren.
Recently I wrote to Kuswanda and I said, “Kuswanda, I must ask about the maid? How is she? She struck me as the most wonderful and interesting person. I am sure that in all of Java no on else has such an unusual maid! At first I thought she was a boy. It took me a while to figure it out. She is so kind. What a nice maid! Love, Harris”
I have conveyed the content of your letter to my tomboy maid, Kartika. I am sure she is very happy about it and appreciate what you said about her. She did not go home for the Idul Fitri holidays, knowing that all of our maids (including my daughter’s) went home. She preferred to stay and take care of us.
Now that all the maids have come to work again after their holidays, she is still undecided about when to go to her village and see her parents. Seems that our house has become her home.
I was most touched by your message and so happy that you passed on my message to Kartika. She has really become part of your family hasn’t she, with love on both sides.
Many people would reject her because she seems eccentric – they could not imagine what a good maid she would make – but you saw her value! It shows how we should not judge people by external appearances but always look for the gold within them. love, Harris
And so it goes…
I smile at the poor harassed girl at the supermarket checkout and she smiles back and for a moment feels a little less worried, a little more cheerful, a little more hopeful, a little more relaxed. Someone has noticed her. Someone has taken an interest in her. Someone has cared enough about her to smile at her. Someone has acknoweldged her, not as a robot behind a cash register, but as a human being
The world is constantly presenting us with 1000 opportunities to commit acts of Susila Dharma. Every act of hospitality, every kind word, every generous gesture, every friendly smile… acts of charity, acts of love, acts of Susila Dharma.
PS: I wrote to Kuwanda asking his and Kartika’s permission to publish this story and for a photo of Kartika. He wrote back…
I’ve made a printout of your draft and give it to my wife and tell Kartika about it. Both, as well as I, are very happy about it
I have to find a way of transfering Kartika’s photo from her hand phone into my USB so that I can send it to you.
Your writing inspired me. Up to now I have only one interpretation about the Latihan, that Subud is me. Now, you introduced me into a new dimension I have not been aware of, that Susila Dharma is my daily actions as a Subud. Yes, I have been doing it all the time withour being aware about it. I just noticed that my love for everyone has grown and so has theirs to me. Thank you for giving me the chance to discover it. Love, Kuswanda
I wrote back…
Kuswanda…you are my inspiration! So glad I am yours too! Look fwd to the pic, love, Harris
A final word from Kuswanda…
Herewith a picture of Kartika taken by my daughter with one of her two retriever dogs. Taking care of the two dogs is one of Kartika’s routine, sometimes giving their breakfast first before serving mine and my wife’s. Love, Kuswanda