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David Week - Becoming Normal

Struggling with the Subud culture. From Amanda Bolt, July 30, 2007. Time 20:46

Thank you David, a really well researched and written article that hopefully can make a real difference to the Subud 'culture', a culture that I struggle with for all the reasons you have articulated so clearly.

From David Week, August 18, 2007. Time 1:8

Hi Amanda.

Thanks for the nice words.

The impetus for all the research was to deal with that same struggle in my own life: where did this strange culture come from? Another question, that I am now looking at, is how a bunch of nice, good-hearted , intelligent people become so dissociated from the world around them. How and why did they construct a bubble? What was the positive intent?

These questions are, for me, just necessary background for understanding where we are, so that we can better understand, both personally and collectively: where to now?

Best

David

From manuel, August 4, 2011. Time 20:28

Brother David, of course, one can see you are clever and well intentioned. You want to see Subud free from oscurantism, fanatism and any kind of aspect that could make it look weird to modern minded people.So do I.
But, although I agree, of course, with many of your opinions, I cannot agree with your sayings concerning Bapak. Bapak was a Javanese and he talks like one. Certainly, if he had been an american he would have talked like one, and his sayings would have looked quite strange to arabs or hindues.
The mistake-if there is one- is not Bapak´s, when he talks as a muslim javanese . The mistake is ours (oxidentals) when we start acting as javaneses¡¡¡
Bapak always encouraged us to put our faith in ourselves and not in him. If there are Subud members who venere Bapak it´s not Bapak´s fault.On the other hand, to pretend to erase from our Subud practice Bapak´s guidance is taking things too far.
¿Are we so afraid of being considered a cult that we should hide away Bapak´s talks? Whoever is interested in Subud can visit a latihan hall and will find there is no picture of Bapak in it, and Cilandak is not our Mecca, where we are supossed to look while receiving.
I am a catholic, but I enjoy Bapak´s explanations of Islam and of javanes traditions. I don´t see any conflict between my religion and Bapak´s talks.
Sometimes, it looks as if we are in a hurry to modernise Subud so that it can be easily accepted by the clever and "open minded people" from our oxidental culture. We believe that, by erasing from Subud it´s javanism and it´s islamism we would, at last, have millions of members around the world.
The latihan is an experience, a receiving. The influence of the javanese culture in Bapak´s talks is because he was a javanese.Any person who is free of prejudices can understand that the founder of Subud couln´t talk in a different way than his own culture. It is easy to put Bapak into context, so that each one of us can take from his talks what each one considers to fit with his experience and beliefs.
Maybe, we should explain people interested in Subud something like:"You are are an american. You don´t need to become a javanese" , but Bapak doesn´t need to become an american either¡¡¡¡¡
Let us leave Bapak as it is. Let us develope into better persons and then, only then, our example may show a proof to other peple of the reality of Subud. I, myself, after 40 years in Subud, am still looking for that proof in myself and will keep doing until I dye.
Your brother in Subud, Manuel.
(Saludos de Chile¡¡)


From Merin Nielsen, August 5, 2011. Time 3:28

Hi, Manuel,

You say: "Bapak always encouraged us to put our faith in ourselves and not in him. If there are Subud members who venere Bapak it´s not Bapak´s fault. On the other hand, to pretend to erase from our Subud practice Bapak´s guidance is taking things too far."

From this, as an individual, you seem to greatly value Bapak's advice – including his advice against putting faith in him. I strongly respect that you value his words. On the other hand, you say that WE should not erase Bapak's guidance from OUR Subud practice. But 'we' and 'our' are words that indicate maybe you are speaking on behalf of other Subud members.

You ask: "Are we so afraid of being considered a cult that we should hide away Bapak´s talks?"

Here, you imply that the talks should not be hidden. But nobody is saying that the talks should be hidden. The suggestion is – the talks should not be OFFICIALLY endorsed as spiritually valuable.

So I ask – why have any official (organisational) emphasis on the talks of Bapak? To be interested in his talks on a personal level, as an individual, does not create any problem. Official promotion or endorsement of them, however, causes the Subud organisation to resemble a cult or religion.

If a number of individual Subud members (or even anyone outside of Subud) gets together PRIVATELY in emphasising the value of Bapak's talks, that is fine, providing that their interest remains private and is not imposed on any other Subud members. Unfortunately, however, our Subud organisation (at group level, national level and world level) actively supports disseminating the talks of Pak Subuh (and Ibu Rahayu).

Meanwhile, our Subud community tolerates the prominent internal promotion of his talks. Obviously, our Subud community does not tolerate the prominent internal promotion of talks or spiritual views that come from anybody except Pak Subuh (or Ibu Rahayu). This clearly means that the Subud community and organisation, overall, recognises Pak Subuh (and Ibu Rahayu) as uniquely 'special' in some spiritually significant way – and this also makes Subud resemble a cult or religion.

You say: "Sometimes, it looks as if we are in a hurry to modernise Subud so that it can be easily accepted by the clever and "open minded people" from our oxidental culture. We believe that, by erasing from Subud it´s javanism and it´s islamism we would, at last, have millions of members around the world."

Any wish for a large, grand or famous Subud, with lots of members, is just egotism. There is no need for Subud to be large or famous. However, it is the organisation's responsibility for the latihan to be more available to people. But the latihan is automatically LESS available to people if Subud (the latihan's caretaker organisation) resembles a cult or religion. Subud being large or small isn't important. Subud being more open – that is important – because the latihan is NOT Javanese or Islamic, and the latihan does NOT involve recognising anybody as spiritually special.

You write: "It is easy to put Bapak into context, so that each one of us can take from his talks what each one considers to fit with his experience and beliefs."

Here, you still seem to suggest that Bapak's talks should be seen as valuable – presuming that each of us can take something valuable from them. That presumption is fine for an individual to believe. However, if our Subud organisation officially holds up the talks to be important, then it is holding up TWO SEPARATE THINGS – (1) the latihan and (2) Bapak – as spiritually valuable.

These two things should not be held up together. Holding up the latihan (making it available) is the proper function of our Subud organisation. But holding up Bapak as important, in addition, causes Subud to resemble a cult or religion. This deters people from noticing or considering the other thing – the latihan – and therefore makes it less available.

Kind regards,
Merin Nielsen


From manuelito, August 7, 2011. Time 16:24

Dear brother Merin, finally, I got your point. I must recognice I have felt very surprised reading your opinion and others concerning Bapak. For me, Bapak and Subud have been indivisible for all this years.
Maybe a solution would be to explain Subud somehow in the following way:" Subud is a spiritual experience. Not at all a cult or a new religion.
¿Who is Pak Subuh and what place does he has in Subud?: Well, he had the first hand experience and share it to others. That doesn´t meen he is our prophet or our lider in any way.
¿Why does he gave talks and what attention should we pay to them?: Well, Bapak travelled a lot and, of course, he talked about his experience and of many things. Is up to you to read them or not.Many Subud members value them highly, but it´s not a condition that you also value them. You can develop in Subud and in your latihan without reading them, if that is your choice.You don´t need to put your faith in Bapak, nor the helpers, nor the organization, but rather believe in your own receiving."
Well, brother, ¿how do you feel that?


From rochanah, August 7, 2011. Time 17:45

Ahhh Manuelito: I think you did a pretty good job of "getting" what Merin is saying. For 35 or so years I was part of the "Bapak-cult" side of Subud. Then through personal experiences (in and out of latihan) realized that some of what Bapak was saying was plain wrong. Then I heard and saw things in his life that made him no better or worse than any of the many spiritual gurus available in the wide field of spiritual consciousness. After five years of inner struggle, I freed myself of the subud identity..though obviously I still love my subud brothers and sisters whom I have known for almost 50 years. There is a feeling of freedom and "opening up to the world" which has been a tremendously wonderful experience for me.
Still, I enjoy reading this and other subud sites once in a while.


From Michael, August 8, 2011. Time 4:41

I found this exchange most heartening.


From manuel, August 11, 2011. Time 15:37

Some comments about "the Bapak cult":
The experience in the Subud way, as I have felt it, goes more or less as things go in life.
-When I entered Subud, at 20, of course I very much needed a father figure, who made me feel secure and could asure me I wasn´t loosing my way, in the same way a boy expects his father or teacher to do.I decided Bapak was that figure.
-Later, when I "grew up", I started taking my distance and questioning many things, in the way a young man starts questioning his father or teacher.It´s the moment when one wants to find the truth by oneself.
-Years go by and the reconciliation comes:"although my father hasn´t got all the answers for me, although he is not the perfect man I once supposed he was, and even made some mistakes,and probably frustrated or hurted me in some way, I love him and I am grateful for all I have received from him".
Looking things this way , I don´t feel the need "to kill the father", as is said in psichology.
I love Bapak and feel very grateful to him, but I don´t feel at all a member of Bapaks "cult", and never have.
Perhaps many brothers and sisters who belonged to that "cult" in the past, (or their parents did), feel frustration and resentment for the "lost time".
I dont feel that at all.Subud is by now part of my DNA, and I love it with all it´s shortcomings. (Of course, we need a lot of improvement¡¡¡¡)
We don´t need to burn our parents so to get rid of our dependence to them,¿do we?.
With love and respect,
Manuel


From Merin Nielsen, August 12, 2011. Time 3:5

Hi, Manuel,

Exactly so. It's plain that many Subud members have had feelings about Bapak such as you describe. But clearly not all of us. Moreover, newcomers to the latihan will be less likely to have any such feelings, and much less likely to feel comfortable in the company of people who openly and prominently express this veneration toward Bapak, or in an organisation that apparently supports this veneration. Accordingly, if Subud is to make the latihan more available, it needs to change in relation to this matter, as I said earlier in this thread.

Regards, Merin


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