MAXWELL FRAVAL, D.O: FINDING MY TALENT — ONE SUBUD MEMBER’S JOURNEY
Maxwell Fraval was born and raised in the UK. He now lives and practices in Australia. He also serves as the World Subud Association CEO.
In 1972 Bapak visited the U.K. as part of the process of progressing the Sinar Kentjana Mulia (S.K.M.) Bank. He was in London first, and I followed Bapak when he went to Edinburgh. It was at one of his talks there that I was very forcefully struck by Bapak’s advice that we should be able to feel the action of the latihan in our work; that this latihan was a latihan of life and that all our actions should be moved and educated by the ‘life within our life”. At that time I was in the final stages of completing my training as a lawyer and I knew with absolute certainty that I would never be able to follow Bapak’s advice if I continued to work as a lawyer.
But what was my real work? Off I went to the helpers group and several sessions of testing later (about every conceivable spin-off from a legal qualification) I was no closer to what my talent was. At this point I decided that if Bapak said we should be able to feel what our true talent was that he certainly meant it. So I decided to fast on Mondays and Thursdays as a prayer that I would be able to receive guidance about my talent: how to recognise it and then to develop it.
After nine months of fasting I felt that I had done enough and that “what will be will be”. Two months later, the senior partner whom I was assisting at Lovell White & King (a big law firm in the Strand, London) became ill, so that I had to take over a matter which involved obtaining advice from a Queen’s Counsel for the Register of Osteopaths in the U.K. I remember meeting with Cmdr. Morris (a real character) who was the Register’s Secretary at the time, and off we went to counsel’s chambers. We sat there in chambers discussing a fairly arcane aspect of the law and Cmdr. Morris really waded in, allowing me to be the observer. As I sat there, suddenly I felt the latihan so powerfully that my thinking completely stopped – very unusual!! As the latihan continued, from within I was told “Osteopathy is the right work for you: follow it”. It seemed like the latihan went on for a long time but it probably didn’t last more than a minute.
As my ability to think returned I got back into the legal business that I was supposed to be focussed on. Later on after leaving Cmdr. Morris, I started to reflect on the experience back there in chambers — was this some joke...an osteopath...there must be some mistake!!!! I dismissed the whole thing as a momentary aberration. To my amazement the next group latihan the whole crazy notion returned. Thereafter for several months I kept getting indications that this really was the right thing to do; from within I was told “your wife will respect you (I was not married then, but it turned out that my wife Asmaniah has needed regular osteopathic treatments and was very appreciative of having an osteopath for a husband!!!); you will be involved in teaching; you will be able to find new ways of working as an osteopath” and so on.
Still I hesitated; was this guidance really from God or was it just my imagination. I remember the moment of decision came when there was a regional latihan down in the west country. I knew that Pak Haryono was going to be there. I thought “If Bapak’s son is there in the latihan then surely if this crazy notion is an illusion then it will be made clear during the latihan”. Well during the latihan I received “If you do not follow this guidance then you might as well not continue to follow this latihan”(!!!) At that moment I felt very weak and, from within, as I accepted the guidance, I felt “I will follow this, but I cannot do it on my own; please God help me each and every step along the way”.
So I started upon this wonderful adventure called Osteopathy in 1973.
I went back to school and did a bridging course to bring my basic sciences up to speed. I married Asmaniah in March 1974 and started my Osteopathic training in September of that year. I had applied to the County Council for an educational grant but was turned down the first and second times. I went in person to the County Council offices and talked to staff there to try to find out if there was any other avenue of appeal. They told me that it was possible to appeal in person to the education committee of the County Council. I did this and some months later found myself facing a formidable group of grey haired worthies who were all very skeptical about the sincerity of my commitment. I was delighted when they said that they would fund me for the last one and a half years of my 4 year course.
We lived off savings for the first year during which I applied to the Osteopathic Education Foundation (OEF) for a grant to help in the 2nd and 3rd years. The OEF turned me down because they had decided 7 years before (after funding several students all of whom failed to complete their training) that they would only fund capital works for the Osteopathic educational institutions.
I reapplied to the OEF at the beginning of the 2nd and they agreed to review my application. The trustees did not meet until after the start of the second year and so I had to begin the 2nd year without knowing if any money would be available from the OEF. As it happened, the Trustees of the OEF met on the 21st night of Ramadhan of that year (!) and agreed to reverse their decision of seven years before and give me a scholarship until the County Council grant started.
As an additional way of making ends meet, I did property conveyancing compressed in between my busy study schedule. Asmaniah did all the secretarial work in addition to looking after the home (with first one and then two babies whilst I was still at Osteopathic school). Subud members seemed to move for our own benefit rather than theirs (!) and through the whole time of my studies we had a reguler stream of conveyancing jobs — I became known as the ‘coin-box solicitor’ as most of my calls made in business hours were from a pay phone at the British School of Osteopathy!
Towards the end of my studies I was invited to meet an osteopath who had been in practice in Amersham (Buckinghamshire) for 25 years. Margaret Cockbain D.O. had established a practice with an exceptional reputation and had been looking for someone to take over her practice for 3 years. The long and the short of our discussions over several months was that Margaret agreed to sell me her practice (and the clinic where she had established it) and to lend me the money to buy it, interest free! This was a real blessing for us after years of barely making ends meet.