Subud Vision - Feedback

Helissa Penwell - Latihan Communities and Organization: a Dialogue

Sharing Without Conditions. From stefan, February 14, 2011. Time 17:58

I enjoyed this dialogue very much and Ibrahim's letter to Bapak of long ago. There's a key idea Helissa and Ibrahim are proposing which I would like to highlight. Up till now we have generally talked in terms of an individual who becomes interested in the latihan. Whereas in fact the global spread of Subud came about largely because of the intenational spiritual network of Gurdgieff people. Today there are far more networks of spiritual explorers such as the New Thought movement. They connect spiritually inclined people who are no longer comfortable with the concept of God but are interested to attune with the oneness and interconnectedness of all experience and to create positive links with others which allow people of diverse faith backgrounds to explore Unity together. The latihan could well fit in with and enhance such a group - or, as Helissa says, a yoga group. If we are willing to share it with those who already have a group identity rather tan try to incorporate them into a "latihaners" club I could see the latihan spreading far and wide. Latihaners clubs would then become widespread and commonplace. This can include sessions for "purists" who don't want to attune to Oneness or practice yoga first. But first, surely, comes the networking and sharing without conditions...

From Sahlan Diver, February 14, 2011. Time 18:25


There is an interesting point here which was touched on in the discussion. You are proposing networking and offering the latihan without conditions. In a sense that goes without saying in that if you open someone, say, in a yoga club, you then have no control over what that person might do. They could if they wanted offer to immediately open all the other people in their club.

Subud provides a lot of support for the latihan in terms of 1) encouragement for people who don't immediately receive much, 2) theoretical explanations (leaving aside whether these are good explanations) which can reassure newcomers trying to make sense of their experiences 3) a social network of long-term practitioners. It may be that without a solid support system the latihan introduced to other groups might dissipate. So there is probably a need for a support organisation which supports the practise of the latihan, but which, unlike Subud, does not expect practitioners to become members of itself.

The question then arises does this organisation offer the latihan without conditions? I think not. For this reason. Imagine a group that took on the latihan and then started mixing in the idea that you couldn't progress in the latihan unless you also studied the teachings of the group's founder. You'd have all the same problems of peer pressure to conform to a line of thought like you do in Subud. An organisation trying to support and widely spread the latihan would be defeating its purpose supporting that kind of group.

Personally, although the idea of introducing the latihan to existing groups is attractive and worth trying, I think there is much more potential for widespread growth if the latihan can be offered "as-is" free of association with any ideas or practises.

From stefan, February 14, 2011. Time 19:28

Sahlan, you wrote: "Imagine a group that took on the latihan and then started mixing in the idea that you couldn't progress in the latihan unless you also studied the teachings of the group's founder." Ha ha! That's very easy to imagine. It's called Subud. It's our org's well intentioned idea of maintaining cohesiveness and somehow protecting the latihan which walls Subud off and creates cultish sounding taboos. I'm inclined towards Helissa's view that having some psychological support framework is an advantage to latihan practitioners. (Because we've seen many go off the rails!) I don't think it matters whether it's Buddhism, Psychosynthesis or a members forum. In my ideal org I would want to promote the idea that there are many ways a person can ground themselves and find peer support while opening up to deep disorientating changes that the latihan can facilitate. If "we" (the host org) disassociates from other groups who may incorporate latihan into their practice we miss out on a huge opportunty to be part of a much freer and wider latihaners network. It's up to those of us who want the latihan to thrive to share it readily and point out that there are multiple options and choices. Individual latihaners can then choose their own framework (if they want one) and preferred peer group.

From Sahlan Diver, February 14, 2011. Time 21:13


That was precisely my point. You wouldn't want to end up encouraging a lot of groups that had the same problem as Subud, i.e. to fully fit in with them you'd have to subscribe to a set of beliefs, whatever those beliefs happened to be. And in this respect Subud is actually quite tolerant in its approach compared to the control that some groups might exert. I think I am right in saying that in Osho, to which an ex Subud memeber took the latihan some years ago, you only get to do the latihan once you have got to their third grade or level.

So although I am not against your suggestion, I can't enthuse about it as much as about the idea of a dedicated dogma-nuetral organisation. It seems like you are talking about psychological support ONLY being possible through people sharing a belief system or an interest in another activity, such as yoga.

From stefan, February 14, 2011. Time 22:0

Hi Sahlan,
I don't think we're saying the same thing. The idea I'm toying with is of hosting a wide and diverse network of latihaners and to consider them all "kosher" and equally part of the latihan network. They may be a vegan only society or an exclusively gay and lesbian group or a group of Dominican nuns, or rabbis or a health centre or an Osho community but all would be acknowledged and listed as groups in which a person may experience the latihan. Subud groups with all their quirks would, of course be eligible for inclusion.

Whereas I think your picture is to have a kind of "pure core" of latihaners who are attempting to stay clear of extraneous beliefs or conditions. Subud and most existing associatons would be ineligible, as groups, to be part of such an association. Yes?

I do see value in fostering a kind of pure core but I'm more excited about cultivating the latihan link with the vast community of existing groups who do have particular ways and beliefs. Diversity and flexibility rather than uniformity, would be the key feature of such a latihan org.

From Helissa Penwell, February 14, 2011. Time 23:42

I envision a minimal organization, basically functioning to register the groups and maintain a website. Only groups that provided the latihan as we know it (possibly with the exception of having men and women doing latihan together) would be allowed to join or be listed. The idea is that you should be able to go to any group and experience the same kind of latihan (such as we have between Subud groups) and not the latihan mixed with another practice. The group's life and beliefs outside of the latihan would vary, as we've been saying.

The website would contain the information on each group that you'd need to know to pick one for yourself. Besides the usual information about time and place, it would have a short description of its beliefs and practices outside of latihan. It would inform you whether you needed to be a member of that group in order to be welcomed, or if you needed a special invitation to attend latihan with them, or if their latihans were closed to outsiders. You would be able to find groups that were willing to open people and what would be involved, e.g. whether there is a waiting period, and so on. The website would develop a questionnaire to include relevant information, developing it as it went along.

The website would also include feedback from latihaners, so that people who attended the various groups could report back on their experience, as well as whether or not the group was accurately describing itself. If people were saying that the group in question was not really doing latihan or somehow changing it, then that could be checked out, and, if true, the group would be dropped from the website.

The website would have a "search" function, so that you could look up groups in a particular local, or find a group with your interests, e.g. vegetarian group. Maybe having a 5 star-rating system would be going too far--haha! Anyway, this is just a broad overview. It would have to be worked out as it got going.

From stefan, February 15, 2011. Time 7:10

Hi Helissa,
I like what you say. Part of what I'm exploring here is the idea of promoting and spreading the latihan via existing networks. This is what Rofe did in Japan and what Bennet did via the Gurdjieff international conference in Coombe Springs UK and Varindra Vittachi with his spirital study group in Sri Lanka. This approach produced much of the early spread of Subud but has never been tried since we accepted Bapak's advice not to publicise Subud.

From Sahlan Diver, February 15, 2011. Time 14:39

I am sufficiently persuaded by this discussion that I will be dividing the new web site into three distinct sections (1) reform in Subud (2) promoting the latihan via existing networks (3) forming a new dogma-free neutral latihan organisation. The needs of each are sufficiently distinct that a separation is needed, though obviously there will be many ideas and principles that overlap.

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