Note: If you're looking for an official Subud website, check out www.subud.org. Views and issues discussed on the Subud Vision site and diverse, sometimes controversial and do not necessarily represent Subud members' views as a whole, nor the views of the editors.
David Week, member of Subud Australia
"I'm a second generation Subud member. My first memories of Subud date from the Briarcliff Congress in 1963, when I was eight years old. Two years later, we moved to Cilandak. Because I grew up in Subud, I accepted everything about Subud without question: its history, beliefs, aims and claims. But after I finished high school in Indonesia, and moved to Berkeley, I started to notice that Subud's internal reality didn't really match the reality of the world. Subud folk, I saw, often made worse decisions than others, despite claiming to have an inside line to God. And the spiritual universe sketched out in Pak Subuh's talks looked awfully similar to the universe of the religion of Java, as described by anthropologists and Javanese alike. "
"I feel Subud has great potential. It has good people, a good and unique exercise, good intentions, high levels of religious tolerance, community, and solidarity, and a lot of dedication and commitment. I feel that if we can develop a more realistic picture of ourselves, the world, and our place in it, we have something to contribute. I currently work in the field of international development, through my consulting firm Assai. I have served in Subud as helper, group chair and councillor, and am currently the Chair of Subud Australia."
Sahlan Diver, member of Subud Eire
"I have been a Subud member since 1972. Twenty years ago, a change of work led to my providing consultancy to over 40 companies, large and small, where I observed at close hand a variety of project management styles ranging from excellent to downright appalling. This experience showed me the importance of good management, and led to a conviction that something was seriously wrong with the way Subud members were "doing Subud". However, my own ideas for change in Subud remained undeveloped until I had a sudden and totally unexpected receiving to "Get out and stay out!" of the official Subud organisation in Ireland".
"I subsequently formed the alternative organisation, Subud Eire, in 2002, with the intent of providing a model for good governance in Subud. Through this I gradually became introduced to more and more members who had serious misgivings, but who had mainly kept quiet because they felt criticism wasn't welcome in Subud. I am currently the National Coordinator of Subud Eire. Previously my main involvement in Subud activities was through cultural events, including taking a 20-piece Subud jug band to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1975."
Marcus Bolt, member of Subud Britain
After gaining an Honours degree in Graphic Design and a Post Grad qualification in Education, London born Marcus Bolt worked alternatively as designer and art teacher until turning freelance in the early 90s. He currently works as a designer, artist and writer. He has authored two books ('Saving Grace' (2001) a book about his 30+ years as a Subud member, aimed at enquirers; 'Monkey Trap' (2004) a psycho-spiritual novel and 4 books of 'Subud humour', co-authored with Dirk Campbell. He is currently working on a book about the psychoanalytic techniques of Alfred Adler in which he trained as an Adlerian Counsellor. Marcus is married with two daughters and three grandsons, and was opened in 1968. In his spare time, he takes photographs like Buddy Rich and drums like Cartier-Bresson.
In 1994 he and his wife Rosalyn became live-in caretakers of a Subud centre in the UK. Their experience of being summarily dismissed from this post after 10+ years, the inner difficulties that ensued and the subsequent healing process were what prompted him to write an article for Subud Vision. The Subud Vision editors then used Marcus skills and experience in book production to help manifest the Subud Vision 'book of the site'. Subsequently, they asked him to become an editor and he agreed, saying, 'I am honoured to be asked, and accept. I feel in Subud there is a need for such a well organised forum as Subud Vision – a safe space where members can air their genuine concerns without fear of being shouted down, sidelined, or written off as being "in crisis".'
Merin Nielsen, member of Subud Australia
Born 1961, raised and still living in Brisbane, I joined Subud in 1980. I have had committee roles in two Subud groups, and edited the Subud Australia newsletter in 1991-92. Never having been a helper, I have seemingly always been worried about the extent to which Subud drifts toward religion-hood. I have an arts degree in professional writing and have done professional proof-reading, including one year for a government department, a published novel and some student doctoral theses. Currently working part-time and studying part-time for a science degree, I enjoy philosophy and bushwalking.
Rosalind Priestley, member of Subud Canada
"My husband and I were opened in 1966. I was a helper for about twenty-five years and in the late 1990s I edited and produced a little cultural newsletter for Subud Toronto called "Meeting-place" and then the Subud Canada national newsletter. During the time that I was an active helper, the discouraging experience of constantly losing new members made me think a lot about what isn't working in Subud. I joined Subud on the understanding that there was no teacher except the latihan, and over the years I experienced more and more difficulty accepting certain aspects of Bapak's advice, especially the bits relating to women and gays. Eventually I came to question ALL the established views in Subud. Radical skepticism seems to be basic to my nature and I have re-embraced the agnosticism of my youth."
"I have a specialist degree in English literature and an M.A. in Chinese literature, and, more importantly, three children and three grandchildren. I am somewhat addicted to sudoku, cryptic crosswords, solitaire and computer games."
Michael Irwin, Canada
"Born in 1936 I have lived all my life in western Canada. I obtained a BA in 1958 in English and History and an MA in Theatre in 1967 both at the University of British Columbia. In 1962 I obtained a high school teaching certificate for the province of British Columbia. Apart from a decade as a farmer and four years as a teacher, I have been a theatre technician most of my life. I was raised in a theosophical environment and have always been interested in mysticism, searching the 'spiritual marketplace' during my early twenties for organizations, books and people who had similar interests. Having found Subud in 1962 I have exercised regularly since. I have worked extensively on committees: twice chair of Subud Vancouver, once chair of Subud Canada, years as Committee Councillor for Canada, member of the SBIF Board of Trustees (precursor to the WSC) and co-author of the WSA Constitution. Since the sale of the Bank Susila Bakti in 1986, I have served as SBIF Trustee (the original trustees for the Bank's beneficiaries) and subsequently on the boards of the BSB Residual Assets Trust and the BSB Trust Co. (BVI) Ltd."
"Having emerged from years of nose-to-the-grindstone committee work, by 1996 I was free to begin to drill down into why we Subud members behaved the way we do in an effort to discover the source of my extreme discomfort with certain practices revolving around testing, particularly its use in committee matters. Along the way on this continuing exploration, I have become convinced, both within and through dialogue, that finding our deepest assumptions about life determines how we construct our thinking about it. At root, what do we believe? At this point I remain an agnostic. I am interested in science, democracy and why standing on one's own feet within the Subud community seems to be so hard for Subud members. I have only a cursory interest in the outer forms of any religion but have become increasingly curious about the influence of Bapak's Javanese cultural roots on traditional Subud cosmology."
Stefan Freedman, member of Subud Britain
I am 56 years old, a married guy with three grown up step children. My grandparents were Russian and Rumanian jews who came to England to escape persecution. I was opened in 1970 and Bethan and I live in Ipswich, Suffolk, but work with adult groups worldwide. My rich and varied work, plus the remarkable travelling life that goes with it, came about through my “unfolding” as a result of the latihan, and testing played a useful part in this. Recently I have written my first book called “The Cat’s Whiskers”. My dance web site is at www.worldance.org. I became involved in the Subud Vision project as a result of writing several articles for it, and also organised and co-facilitated the two Subud Vision discussion events at the ThankYou 2007 gathering in England.
Ramon Kubicek, member of Subud Canada
I was born in Canada (raised in Montreal) but had many of my significant spiritual experiences in England during the five years I lived there. From about the age of 18 I was seriously involved in spiritual search and worked with Gurdjieff groups and Sufism. I was opened in 1972 in Bristol. For many years I struggled with what I saw as a narrow-minded and cultish view of spirituality at the grassroots level of Subud, but I accepted the available circumstances and tried to work on my own flawed attitudes. In the 1980s I relocated to Canada, worked for a time as a helper, but still found myself frustrated by various aspects of Subud culture. That being said, I never wanted to replace the latihan, nor did I want to convert anybody to another way of thinking.
My own professional background has included a number of different creative endeavors such as writing/publishing two books on art, documentary film scripts, work in media, fiction, and fulltime teaching at art colleges and universities in Vancouver in the areas of film studies, art, design studies, and literature. I’ve worked on art & healing ventures and the therapeutic uses of movies (as consultant and lecturer).
These days I am very interested in helping to counteract general cynicism (most of my students are 18-25) and helping to keep alive students’ own feeling of hope and creativity. For example, one general question I have introduced into groups has been “Can Imagination Make a Difference?” in looking at serious world problems. I work too much at different jobs, which has negatively affected my group participation, so a chance to serve through Subud Vision is welcome.
Andrew Hall, member of Subud Canada
Andrew Hall joined Subud in 1993. He was in his early forties and saw a listing for Subud in a local directory of alternative health and spiritual groups. It reminded him of the first time he saw the Subud name, twenty years before, in the early 1970s, in a book by Jacob Needleman called The New Religions. The description in the book had intrigued him the first time—the latihan seemed a fairly straightforward practice that allowed each person their own subjective experience. Time to find out more, and so he dialed the number. Since the time he was opened, Andrew has done both committee and helper work. Andrew wrote two articles for the launch of the Subud Vision project and has contributed many times to the feedback pages. He was invited onto the editorial board in April 2008.
Helissa Penwell, member of Subud U.S.A.
I first learned about Subud in Husain Chung's psychodrama class when I was a graduate student in psychology at Pepperdine University. I knew immediately that it was something I had to do. After graduation my husband, Mark, and I started our applicant period at Hope St. Hall in L.A. with all its hippy-dippy, pot-smoking craziness. However, within a month we moved north near Sacramento, and we continued with that very different center and its older helpers, former Gurdjieff members. That was '67, and we've stuck with it. The latihan is at the center of our lives. Our two daughters are opened. Group life has been both a source of fun and satisfaction and one of aggravation. I love the individuals in Subud, but I worry about how we function as an organization and whether we are becoming too inflexible and stuck in the forms of the past.
All along I've focused on bringing the latihan into my life. I'm still interested in psychology, and I've found testing to be particularly helpful in doing Jungian Shadow work, as well as in exploring and healing childhood wounds. Right from the beginning I was taught from within about the forces, e.g. I would dream about an animal alongside humans who were manifesting that animal's force in their behavior. Gradually I've come to better recognize the different energies that make up our personalities and how useful they are when they're controlled and how destructive they can be when they're not. From early childhood I started remembering past lives, and awareness of new ones pop up all the time. I like to ask for guidance about how a particular life is revealing itself in my present one and what I need to do to complete any karma involved--what's the lesson. I have a sense of a whole "village of people" who live in my innerself. Every time a past life, or a force, or some buried part of myself becomes more conscious and begins to act in harmony with all the rest of me I feel more whole and alive. It's all so exciting and entertaining, and I see no end to it. I've been greatly blessed to find the latihan and to experience the awakening that it brings. I wish more people had the opportunity to be opened.