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Hassanah Briedis - The Latihan of Subud, Dissociation and the Neurology of Spiritual Experience

The Benefits and Risks of Dissociation. From David Week, July 22, 2007. Time 4:25

Hi Hassanah

I keep returning to your linking of the latihan with dissociation. It explains a good deal for me.

I came across an article recently that referred to dissociation as a weakening of the psychic glue that holds our parts together. The positive aspect to such a loosening of the glue might be as preparation for change. The negative is that without the right structure to hold that change, people can just slump into inactivity, as I've seen some do. I think this echoes what Dirk Campbell and Selamah Pope have said, about the importance of simultaneously pursuing an 'outer' discipline from one own cultural background: one's own religion, or a psychological discipline. I don't think that falling asleep listening to Pak Subuh's Javanese stories will do it for most.

Your insights on dissociation also highlighted, for me, the degree to which dissociation seems built into aspects of the Subud worldview and culture.

For instance, there is the commonplace belief or "explanation" that we have jiwas which are asleep, and need to be "awakened" by the latihan process. This belief is probably inherited from Pak Subuh's Sufi training, and perhaps Gurdjieff's as well, since they both drew from the same well. This can lead members to place high significance on otherwise dissociated body movements, thoughts, feelings and external events, and to construct them into coherent "indications", taken to be messages from this awakening jiwa. The positive side to this is: it can lead them to make some brave steps in their lives, and to express some unexpressed parts of themselves. The negative: sometimes that bravery is not accompanied by forethought or reflection, and sometimes those unexpressed parts have been suppressed for a reason.

Also striking to me is the degree to which many members have dissociated their lives into two domains: the Subud domain, and the rest. Many operate under two names. They hold beliefs and undertake practices that they are open about within Subud, but neither talk about nor practice in their other lives. In the short term, it can make sense for people to split their lives in this way, often to "try out" new behaviours and personas before integrating them. But it seems to make less sense when it goes on for decades, and appears to be a permanent schism.

I'm reminded of a long time friend, who told the story of looking down in his file drawer one day, and seeing there that he'd kept for decades a file divider: "Subud Friends" and "Non-Subud Friends". He pulled it out that day, and put an end to the division.

I guess what most interests me now is the fact that dissociation is part of normal human function, and only becomes a problem in extreme situations, such as reaction to trauma. Understanding more of this normal function of dissociation might allow us to understand the normal function of the latihan, as well as the dangers that you point out.

Best

David

From Mike Higgins, August 6, 2007. Time 21:8

"This can lead members to place high significance on otherwise dissociated body movements, thoughts, feelings and external events, and to construct them into coherent "indications", taken to be messages from this awakening jiwa."

Construct them? I have received concrete information and guidance in latihan that has helped me understand and resolve a problem or concern I was faced with, whether this comes form my "jiwa", higher self or whatever is really irrelevant. Of course if people are going into a dissociated unconscious trance state rather than doing the latihan, it is unlikely they would either receive or recognize such guidance. "Just only by the results" as Dr. Bronner used to say.

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