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

And I thought dissociation was healthy..... From gordon j, March 8, 2010. Time 0:14

I found this article very helpful. I would decribe myself as a Subud enquirer ie I am not a member though perhaps in the process of deciding if the Latihan is a gift I should receive. I realised that I often disasociate with feeling angry with family by doing as the author's father did , retire to my room and sit in silence. Something clicked as I read and realised how unhealthy to suppress the anger as if to fear it. The challenge is to express it contructively and perhaps then retire.

An interesting question is also posed,

"The question of whether we are creating the experience of God or alternatively, registering the effect of God's presence in us, is not one that can be answered as yet."


From Philip Quackenbush, April 1, 2010. Time 22:25

Hi, Gordon,

Perhaps the answer to your situation is to USE the latihan, something that's been discouraged by the founder and most "helpers". By that, I mean to see what happens in your "latihan" and analyze it to see what it may mean to you. Since, as Hassanah points out, the "latihan" is a dissociative state, or can be (in the only scientific study I've heard of [but not confirmed that it actually took place], people in "latihan" were found to have a strong alpha component to their EEG traces, an altered, or "trane" state of consciousness from the usual "waking" state) it's very important for those who tend to be dissociative anyway to not "do" it to excess. I think that may have been my case during the first few years (possibly even the first few decades) of my being a member.
I remember one member a few decades back who quit the "latihan" for a number of years and later came back, having internally "solved" his "problem."
Since there is virtually no monitoring of one's state during "latihan" (something that does exist in some form in Pangestu, a related practice only available in Indonesia), it becomes necessary for a "latihan" practitioner to monitor his or her own state to be sure he or she is not going "off the deep end". Personally, I find that my "latihan" currently lasts only a few seconds or a couple of minutes, usually. Any forcing of it beyond that generally results in too much "woo-woo" state, with all sorts of virtually insane imaginings. A good example of that sort of state manifesting would be the incoherent ramblings of the founder during many of his "talks", who once supposedly said that he was "in latihan" all but 15 minutes a day. The "latihan" may be a "gift", as you say (the founder of the organization considered it a "gift from God"; I consider it to simply be a normal state of consciousness that's been suppressed in most people since infancy by societal pressures), but it's a "gift" to be cautious about, though generally not harmful, if not overindulged in.

Peace, Philip

Peace, Philip


From gordon, April 2, 2010. Time 16:26

Thanks Philip I appreciate your thoughts. I should point out that I have not yet been 'opened'. I am a contemplative and take time to decide on something. That makes me think do you think openings occur without the occassion ie being present in the latihan? Thanks , gordon


From Philip Quackenbush, April 2, 2010. Time 20:21

Hi, Gordon,

Yes, "openings" definitely occur spontaneously. I can think of at least three instances that I know of. Plus, what Subud calls the "latihan" is available all over the world from other sources, it's just "packaged" differently. For example, the Hindus generally "get it" from a guru, called "shaktipat", there was (and may still be) a Catholic priest in Indonesia who conducts masses that consist of "latihans" of up to six hours in length, and the "latihan" in Israel is referred to as Kaballah, since the word in Hebrew means "receiving". The idea that there's anything "special" about the "latihan" other than the "packaging" (men and women separately, indoors, etc.) IMO is absolute nonsense. The Chinese (millions of them) do it outdoors, under the name original chi gong (spontaneous chi gong, as opposed to formalized, such as various forms of taiji). As a contemplative, you may have already experienced it in some form, but the contemplatives that I know of generally don't move (much), whereas the "latihan" offers a venue in which movement can be free and is actually expected (but not a necessary component if that's not what's happening to the individual), including vocalizations. I, personally, was "opened" years before I became a Subud member at a meditation session of Yogananda's cult, though it didn't occur to me that it was the same thing until years after I'd been practicing the "latihan" in different cities. The restrictions on it in the Yogananda cult are what you'd expect: sitting in meditation rather than freely moving about, if that's the fit that hits you at a given moment. Again, I'd suppose that the Christian manifestations would probably have Christian overlays of some sort, just as the "latihan" often manifests in its practitioners in Muslim or pseudo-Muslim ways (the mispronunciation, in terms of "pure" Koranic Arabic, of "Allah", as a simple example). It's difficult to give up what we've been conditioned in life to think, feel, and believe, especially a belief in "God" (whatever that word may mean to the individual), but that, IMO, is precisely what's required to experience what's Real, and is usually the process of many years of practice, regardless of what form it takes. The Beatles probably expressed the process best in their song, "Let It Be." After several decades of "doing" the "latihan", I'd say the advantage of doing it in a group (which is where formal "openings" take place), is that you're "in the field" that's created by mutual practice (like a bunch of monks sitting zazen), which makes it a bit easier to "get in the groove", but if you're not near a group, realizing that time and space are mere mental constructs will eliminate barriers to feeling at one with others (or even the universe).

Peace, Philip


From Hassanah Briedis, April 3, 2010. Time 0:18

Hi Gordon, I'm glad that you found my article of interest to you. It's been a while since I wrote it, and neuroscience keeps opening up our understanding of the brain's functioning.

I was opened in Subud without an official opening - if you would like to know the details I'm happy to share them, but only if you are particularly interested - there are enough Subud stories floating around without my adding to them! I will say however, that I had already learnt to dissociate very successfully, so it was probably easy to receive the contact. But I am very clear that the Subud latihan was quite different from the other dissociation I was experiencing. It was probably just routed through the same pathways.

I'm also very clear now - more so than when I wrote the article - that I was very fortunate to receive the latihan, despite its later drawbacks. Time has allowed me to observe the difference between my life and those of other people who had the same kind of childhood trauma, and I attribute that difference in a large part to the latihan, the solid structure of the Subud community and the solid values of the people in it.

My main advice, should you decide to be opened, is to make sure you stay grounded in your sense of who you are and what you believe, unless changes come from within you. Everything externally suggested - be cautious!

Best regards, Hassanah


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