West Linn Tidings article


Seekers of Solace
In a world of distractions, West Linn residents Solihin and Alicia Thom radiate calmness, proving that underneath deadlines, cell phones and static, one’s life actually has meaning. Their sense of peacefulness is reflected in their book “Being Human,” which is gaining recognition worldwide. In the book, the Thoms do more than explain their ideals for achieving true harmony in life; they become supportive friends. Completing each other’s sentences, the duo says it values their four children, nearly 28-year marriage, and the ability to help others explore the inner forces that make each individual important. On a recent warm and breezy afternoon, the husband and wife team relax on their Tualatin River property, reflecting on their world travels and current book tour. “People from all kinds of different backgrounds have read it,” Alicia, 49, says about “Being Human,” the couple’s first book. “Some people read a little bit each day. It is fascinating hearing the different ways people have read it and what happens to them when they read it. Questions are answered. People read a particular section and have an experience with it.”

For the past 15 years, the Thoms have been hosting workshops for people of varying ages, nationalities, and spiritual paths. The couple are the co-founders of Ad Humanitas, an organization whose mission is to further humanity within each individual as members of a single global human community. The Thoms help people understand and make sense of the forces in one’s own life. According to “Being Human,” understanding and acknowledging the life forces (elements that exist within and around us that shape who we are) along with the acknowledgement of a divine force, will help individuals better understand themselves. Both Solihin and Alicia are Subud members, a worldwide spiritual community of people who believe in the possibility of being in touch with one’s true self and humanity through surrender to God. Subud embraces all religions, races and cultures. “God is produced or presented (in) so many nations or cultures or races. We need to see the homogeneity of man,” said Solihin, 54, a retired osteopath. “Looking at what unites us rather than what divides us whether it’s a personal level or a humanitarian level, you actually have everything you need,” said Alicia. “In this culture we’re so geared up to go outside ourselves instead of recognizing the resources we contain ourselves.”

After finishing a leg of their Pacific Northwest book tour last week, the couple will visit Russia next month for a convention. Meanwhile, their book is being translated into Russian and German. In October they hit Vienna, where they teach regularly. Their traveling began long before a book was in the works, however. Alicia grew up in the English and Welsh countryside and spent time in Indonesia. Solihin
spent his formative years in Cyprus, Kuwait, Scotland and the United Kingdom, and later, in Afghanistan. Solihin’s experience in Afghanistan, where he lived for two years as a young adult, resulted in a life-changing experience and it was when he truly learned to accept himself for who he was. He later became a Muslim. “What I recognized is a sort of basic humanity (while in Afghanistan),” said Solihin. “I recognized a complete acceptance of who I was. I didn’t see fundamentals. I saw humans going about their business. I saw good things, bad things. I saw ordinary people.” Living in Kuwait for 18 years also brought lessons learned from being friends with people who were Indian, Pakistani, Kuwaiti, and English. “I had a taste of another life and another set of people who had different structures and beliefs,” said Solihin. After visiting Lake Oswego in the late 1980s, the Thoms decided to set up residency in Lake Oswego in 1991. They lived there for seven years before moving to West Linn. “We came on a visit (from England), which was really in a way like a quest,” said Alicia. “We knew it was a spiritual journey, a very important journey.” After returning home, the pair reflected on their experiences from Oregon and a vision Alicia had of the couple working together, led them to move to America. They later used that energy experienced in the move in their book. “Americans might be more afraid of what’s out there as opposed to Europeans because European countries are so close together,” said Alicia. Their experiences living abroad have taught them more than they could ever learn in a conventional classroom. Classroom or not, books apply. “One of the main points of the book is the idea of living a parallel life, an inner and outer life together so that you aren’t just focusing on your outer life and neglecting your inner life or visa versa,” said Alicia. “When we can integrate those two together, our lives are more whole and satisfying and alive and dynamic.” “Our inner life is the ability to be guided from our creator, God, and also to be able to discriminate those elements that we don’t see that effect us as humans,” said Solihin. “What we do is we help people begin to see the different parts of ourselves that make up the whole self.” “Your outer life is all the ‘doing things’ that you have to take care of to survive; you have to go to work, you have to make money, you have to wash yourself, … habits,” said Alicia. “An inner life is paying attention to what’s going on internally; how you feel, noticing your inner response to things you experience and people around you. It’s really your connection with the divine.” A self-published work, “Being Human” has gained recognition in many different countries and the couple has been invited to make presentations at conferences in Russia, Austria, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States. “It feels good,” said Alicia. “In a way it is slow but sure, but we’re feeding it and people are sharing it with their friends and families and passing it on and telling other people about it. We hope that that will just continue to grow.” “One of the reasons for writing the book was (for the people at our workshops),” said Solihin. “They’ve got a book as an added dictionary of ideas.” “(Since the book has come out) we have had times where it feels very exciting with possibilities and times when it’s a bit overwhelming… but it’s good,” said Alicia. “The TV and radio we have done in Oregon and Washington have been really fun. We both really enjoy doing radio. We really enjoy being in conversation with someone.”

Nicole DeCosta – 08/25/04