Subud Vision - Feedback
I too have done latihans where i received to be on the only bit of carpet in the hall in front of the only heater. The church hall in Lyme Regis, to name names. I was opened there. Since then my groups have been the mansion at Glensevin, Wales; Lewes Hall a delightful place known by everyone in town. Apparently there are ten yoga groups there, a children dance class has been there for two generations. And now i live at Loudwater, which is refurbished, clean and full of flowers, well kept gardens, stream running by; a beautiful place in anyones standards. We have less than ten months left on the lease and we are working hard to find a way to buy the property or probably lose it forever. We created a wonderful latihan space here from old cow sheds 35 years ago, and we believe through our efforts, we will retain the property, and can be proud of what subud members have achieved.
I also think Loudwater is a special place & have stayed there & visited a number of times. Perhaps you remember the grand occasion of the Mediaeval Fayre in the 70's! So it's good to think of the positive, but what can we do to improve the situation in those groups with a large number of people on their list & yet only a handful attending Latihan & who do not spend any time together after Latihan? I too hope with all my heart that Loudwater will be retained; it is a beautiful example of what a Subud premises should be like.
We had a huge list of members at Loudwater before the last address list was made. Loads of them never came to latihan,(including ex group and regional chairs, helpers who founded Loudwater)i'd never met them in a year of being here. We phoned them up and asked them if they wanted to be on the group list still. Then we got used to the fact that actually we are a small group and thats ok. The group at Loudwater were burned out from trying to run the place, and you have to expect that. The way subud properties have been run in England is as a group enterprise. Thirty years after Loudwater was built from a shell, by members giving up their weekends for years; local members don't have the same motivation to spend their time running the place. The result can easily be run down properties with little to interest or appeal to people from the outside world. Properties are the only enterprise subud Britain has and our only asset. And yet despite our organisations repeated emphasis on enterprises they are run pretty amateurishly. I don't mean to criticise the efforts of the managers of our centres or the trustees and executive. They do the best they can, and there are some reasonably good latihan venues in Britain .
The subud halls that for me work well are where the managers are paid. There is though, or has been previously a reluctance to pay people. When i was a trustee of subud Britain,the mention of people being paid for managing or working on properties was grumbled about. When the work is voluntary there is no motivation to increase user occupancy,by marketing or upgrading the premises; it will only make more work for the harrassed volunteer.
Subud Britain has a property portfolio worth several million pounds yet has only a volunteer as its property officer. Property is the main issue on the trustees agenda at every meeting,and each meeting a bunch of well meaning amateurs try and wade through details they are usually ill equipped to follow.
With a paid national property officer liasing and supporting paid group property managers/letting/ bookeepers and encouraging income generating premises, Subud members and trustees could get on much better with their main activity of spiritual training,hopefully one day in properties suited to their needs ie. fabulous, large latihan halls.
Your article got me thinking about how we do or don't make people feel welcome. Not long ago I was latihaning as a visitor in a big impressive Subud hall (I won't say where). The group members were friendly and welcoming. I wasn't there long so it may have been lack of familiarity, but I experienced the building as rather soul-less. I couldn't find a nook there where I felt "at home". Where was the sofa, the kettle or the café, the colourful artwork, community noticeboard or children's drawing?
Not long ago I was visiting Subud Lewes centre (Sussex UK) and found the group equally welcoming but also found the building very "cosy". There was a yoga class leaving when I arrived - a happy buzz about them - and signs of a morning creche. My sense of it was of a relaxed and well-used community resource.
I've been thinking of Subud's online info. for the public. At the moment I don't experience our websites as very welcoming. I'd like there to be a "virtual Subud house": colourful, lively, informal-looking and interactive - attractive to a range of users. I've only a little experience of site design, and hope that this might develop as a multilingual Subud worldwide project, in tandem with making our actual Subud properties more congenial.
Best wishes from Stefan
Looked at the Subud site again and agree entirely with what you say. It has a rather academic appearance, is rather repetitious & wouldn't welcome Bob Geldorf. We need to find someone with good visual skills for the graphics & reduce the verbiage.
I must say that the Discussions index is very well set out. You can come back to some subject which you'd left months ago, because it had become so balls-achingly boring for you, pick it up again, and bore/annoy everyone else to death once more. It's all so clear and easy to use.
Anyways, re latihan halls: this is a cry of pain. My group (Faversham, but it insists on calling itself Canterbury because that sounds much more impressive, home of Christianity in Britain, etc)has a little hall which has two floors. We men, of course, have to latihan on the downstairs floor,which has much less space than upstairs. In fact it is horribly cramped, and I dread doing latihan there because it is so confined. We own the property- hooray! But it is damnably cramped - gloom and pain. I miss the rented, and far more spacious, premises we used to have. Sacrilege. Moral: if you are going to own a property, it is absolutely no use if you haven't got enough space for latihan.
Hi, Hossanah, (et al)
(Personal note: I still am looking for a way to get the harp music you paid for at the Spokane Congress to you; it's undergone several revisions and additions and is currently imprisoned in my old computer's Zip file at the moment).
The local group here has both a house and a rental facility. Frankly, in my opinion the rental facility is better for doing latihan when there aren't too many people, but the house would have potential for more space downstairs if the downstairs kitchen area was either used to expand the space or made more accessible through a door in the hall wall, neither of which is very likely. Even then, it would only add space for maybe three or so active latihanners (a six to eight-foot space squared the often recommended area for each practitioner, and seldom achieved, one of the main reasons, IMO, that members leave the organization or seldom attend group latihans). More than twenty people sociallizing in either hall seems a bit crowded, so you can imagine how crowded the latihans are with that many.
Having read your article and the comments so far, I have a rather radical solution to offer, though it may take decades to implement (if ever) globally.
That is, to include outdoors practice of the latihan. This is not as radical as it at first may seem. Keep in mind, first of all, that before the organization existed, the original practitioners of the latihan were, or included, a martial arts group that most certainly "used" the latihan in their demonstrations and/or contests, and that there was a period when the repression of religions and "spiritual" groups under the Japanese occupation of Java was so severe that the only way that the practitioners could "do" latihan was while riding bicycles through the local area for all to see.
At the Spokane World Congress, the main organizer was urged by the local TV people to give a sample, and, if I remember correctly, her "sample" may have appeared on the evening news (I seem to remember that the men's group latihan was also filmed briefly one night before the "helpers" got rid of the sudden bright camera lights). Also, for what it's worth, in my opinion, there is no difference between what Subud calls the "latihan" and what the Chinese call ziran (original, natural, or spontaneous) qigong (I've done both, demonstrating the supposed latter to a taiji class that I once attended, to the approval of the instructor; the only perceptible difference between the qigong and "my" then "latihan" was the lack of vocalizations, which can also happen in the qigong sessions). Finally, there was a Subud Summer camp in California once where we "did" latihan on the side of a hill, and I "did" one on a trail in the forest one day, both exhilarating experiences for me, at least.
This is not to say that indoor spaces should not be kept for those who prefer them and for socializing, but it could be beneficial in the long run to acquire venues where there is a large back yard, say, or an open field or nearby park (millions upon million of Chinese do their various martial arts practices in the parks, and I'm currently going out with a Chinese-American woman from Hong Kong who's looking for a house with a large enough space in it to do her taiji comfortably inside, though it's known to be advantageous to do it outdoors, so it cuts both ways). The only difficulty I foresee in outdoor group latihans would be the noise factor, but the decibel level of them has generally diminished considerably over the decades (in the 60's in San Francisco, they could be heard across several city blocks, including on the steps of City Hall; fortunately, government business was shut down that late).
After a couple decades experience as a "helper", in my opinion it's time to get rid of the fear of doing some sort of "damage" to "unopened" people, or going against the "will of God" by "doing" latihan in the presence of the "unwashed" (what better way to present the practice than by showing it to others, with the caveat that everyone's practice is/will be different?). I recall the story a (then) national "helper" told me maybe thirty years ago of "doing" latihan with a member on a large hospital ward and wondering if it might affect the other patients and staff on the ward. In response, she "received" the words, "What business is it of yours"?
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