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Lilliana Gibbs - But what IS Subud

Dropping things that hold us back. From Stefan, January 3, 2008. Time 15:55

Hi Lilliana,

Rereading your article I'm enjoying it enormously. You compress a lot of experience and give a terrific overview of points that other Subud Vision articles raise.

The questioning and dropping of things that hold us back seems to be the most difficult part, since people are so reluctant to discard something based on Bapak's cherished words. Part of my intention is to get our organisation to update its official stance towards lesbians and gays. If we can do this I'll be over the moon, as it will be a concrete demonstration of Subud's collective ability to move with the times and evolve in understanding.

"We are Subud; we can question and change what supports who we are, and drop what doesn’t. We can become more relevant and connected to the place and times we live in, and to the wider community."

Your summary would suit me very well as a mission statement for Subud over the next 2 years.

Best wishes from Stefan

From David W, January 4, 2008. Time 3:1

Hi Stefan

You may be interested in the following from an anonymous (but known to me, and highly reliable) source:

QUOTE

In Portland in 2000, the Congress passed the following motion: "Congress adopts the following non-discrimination policy: Subud U.S.A. does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation."

There was a second motion as follows: "The non-discrimination policy adopted by this Congress should be properly presented to the next Subud U.S.A. business Congress for inclusion in the Bylaws of Subud U.S.A."

At the next National Congress, in Chicago in 2002, a resolution to amend the by laws of Subud USA to include the the non-discrimination policy (with some rewording) was "properly presented" to Congress, and passed!

The minutes of the 2002 National Congress show what passed:

The delegates passed the following Subud USA bylaw additions:

Article III: Membership

Section 1: Definition

Any person who has been admitted to receive the Latihan Kejiwaan, who has their name and address duly recorded with the appropriate Group, Center, or Regional Membership Secretary and the National Membership Secretary and is verified by the Center, Regional, or National Helpers as an active member, shall be a member of this Corporation.

No person, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status shall be discriminated against, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in any program or activity for which Subud USA is responsible.

Subud USA may, however set a minimum age requirement for applicants who wish to become members, no higher than eighteen years of age.

From bronte, January 5, 2008. Time 1:45

What a pity Subud Australia can't "pass a bylaw" like that.

Then there won't be letters from National Helpers to persons seeking their helper's card saying that they are "unsuitable because of their lifestyle". Well so be it. Bapak proposed, National Hellpersons Disposed.

Amen

From Philip Quackenbush, January 5, 2008. Time 9:10

Actually, Bronte, it was not the "helpers" that had anything to do with the resolution, although there was some muttering about including them in the process, it was the delegates. The resolution passed in Portland with only a Texas delegate, as I recall, dissenting. I wasn't there in Chicago, but I was a delegate in Portland. I find it a bit sad that it hasn't spread globally, but the suggestion of getting the ball rolling locally if any reforn is to be expected is a good one. Enough members from enough groups willing to change something eventually will reach a critical mass that can't be ignored, if there's a democratic process, which, unfortunately, still doesn't exist in some countries as a tradition.

Peace, Philip

From Stefan, January 5, 2008. Time 11:6

Hi David

Can't tell you how happy and hopeful I'm feeling, hearing about the Subud USA congress resolution:-

"No person, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status shall be discriminated against, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in any program or activity for which Subud USA is responsible."

So Subud CAN get contemporary!

I have some related questions that you (or someone) may be able to help me with ...

1> Am I right in assuming that Bapak's advice about lesbians and gays is still included in the latest "helpers handbook" and so is still being promoted to Subud groups around the world?

2> Has this practice changed within the USA following the non-discrimination resolutions of the 2000 and 2002 congresses?

3> Is there any record of how the case was presented that convinced the USA congress delegates to take this step?

4> This surely merits a big article in Subud voice. As an intermittent Subud news reader I may have missed it. Was all this reported at the time(s)? It challenges those who would make a "sacred cow" out of Bapak's words, so I wonder if it was played down or hushed up!

Stefan

From Sahlan Diver, January 5, 2008. Time 11:51

Stefan,

I have been following the various feedbacks relating to homosexuality. You mention the helpers' handbook. It seems to me that in respect of the handbook or any other officially sponsored literature there is a wider issue.

We shouldn't try to change history by pretending that Bapak's talks and pronouncements were other than they were. It is right that we have an accurate record of the talks, with translations that try to be as accurate as possible, as in the current SPI talks publishing project.

However, when it comes to handbooks, leaflets for applicants, Bapak quotes on official web sites, and so on, we should select sensitively. If, as most of us probably believe, the latihan should be accessible to all of mankind, then Bapak's wisdom in respect of the general practise of the latihan is what is most valuable. Anything quoted that is too closely tied to Bapak's own culture and religion is in danger of a) pushing people away, and b) giving the impression that we are in reality a new religion or cult with its own specific and restrictive mix of moral exhortations.

Sahlan

From bronte, January 5, 2008. Time 12:13

Oh - I did not think or mean that the Helpers had made the changes or limitation in USA. I just refered to how things happened here.

I was in touch once with a guy who was at the USA congress, at Skymont I think it was, and he had been involved with running discusion on this subject. I'd hoped to be more involved in this. But no. He's still on my mind occassionally. But years ago he wrote that he was HIV+, so God know if he is around, in Subud, or whatever, now.

I feel a need to be involved with Subud like never before in my life right now, while the Nat Congress is going on here in town, but feel just as much a barrier to it as ever, financial first, and emotional next. I have simply learnt not to trust most of the people in Subud or the way things are done. The intolerance of people all over the place has to be seen to be believed.

But the latihan bypasses all that, or I would long ago have really left it behind. In my opinion, no one can leave it behind. It is forever with anyone who ever was opened, till they die, and beyond. Just my belief!

From Philip Quackenbush, January 5, 2008. Time 14:5

Hi, Sahlan,

You wrote: It is right that we have an accurate record of the talks, with translations that try to be as accurate as possible, as in the current SPI talks publishing project.

I Agree with the sentiments (sediments?). But the SPI project is doomed to fail in terms of accuracy, because neither of the people most involved in the translations are native English speakers, a sina qua non for professional-quality translations. Consequently, there are literally thousands of errors that have been pointed out by a person who was a native English speaker with a knowledge of Javanese and Indonesian language and culture from thirty years of living in Indonesia and teaching there: Mansur Medeiros, whose corrections, quite specific, are on the Subudtalk archives in his Watch series, which was not completed because of his death intervening, but virtually every lecture (a more accurate term, IMO) that he examined has errors in it.

Peace, Philip

From Stefan, January 5, 2008. Time 17:32

Hi Sahlan,

Let's recap: Lilliana talked about questioning ideas and discarding practices that no longer serve Subud.

I announced my intention to get our organisation to update its official stance towards lesbians and gays. I tremble as I say it again!

I learned from David that in Portland in 2000, the Congress passed the following motion: "Congress adopts the following non-discrimination policy: Subud U.S.A. does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation."

I asked if the reference to Bapak's advice on homosexuality has consequently been removed from the USA helpers handbook.

Sahlan responded: "We shouldn't try to change history by pretending that Bapak's talks and pronouncements were other than they were...

However, when it comes to handbooks, leaflets for applicants, Bapak quotes on official web sites, and so on, we should select sensitively."

I don't disagree Sahlan, but I want to go further than sensitive selection. The latihan's potential is to catalyse a continuing process of development. It could take the next generation to places we haven't yet dreamed of.

But if Subud is not to become a miniscule (shrinking) religion based on the words of one visionary we need the courage to move beyond our starting points. The Quaker founders, for example, held certain conventional Christian ideas (including about homosexuality) that are out of tune with their congregation today which embraces agnostics, Jews etc. There's now a Quaker website for airing gay and lesbian issues and promoting inclusiveness and understanding. Without rewriting their history, they've deliberately moved on, and I think we need to.

I recognise that for those who idealise Bapak, this view might feel as abrasive as an insult to one's mother or father! (or more so) The role of Bapak's advice today is probably the most emotionally charged and difficult subject for latihaners to agree on, or even to talk about freely. I'm using the term latihaners in recognition that there's a substantial body of people who value and practice the latihan but are either ambivalent about or feel seperate from "mainstream" Subud.

Moving forward (if it happens) will involve talking and listening to one another about the role of Bapak's words in tomorrow's Subud, which is why I'm so pleased to be having this discussion.

Stefan

From Sahlan Diver, January 5, 2008. Time 18:26

Stefan,

I don't disagree with you, either.

I suppose I see what I described as "sensitive selection" as being an essential first step, the willingness of people to understand that, just because their religious or spiritual viewpoint happens to fit in comfortably with Bapak's, that doesn't give them a license to quote Bapak as some kind of infallible religious prophet and law-giver. By doing so they are doing the spread of the latihan a great disservice, by unconciously creating barriers to people joining, and by marginalising a substantial proportion of existing members, perhaps causing many of them to eventually leave.

The nature of the latihan held out the promise for most of us at the time we joined of not being an "us" and "them" practise, it was something exciting that seemed to transcend religious and philosophical boundaries. Unfortunately we ourselves have built on top of that a Subud culture with many smug ideas about what is and what is not acceptable "Subud" behaviour. I note that you distinguish, as many now do, between the latihan and Subud, (with the implied emphasis on the former being the good thing, and the latter being something very questionable at best)

Sahlan

From bronte, January 5, 2008. Time 23:22

I believe that Subud has one special difference from all those other belief sytems we may refer to here in this discussion forum.

Who else tells their followers or disciples to "find out for yourself"?

Well, yes I know some do.

But with the practice of the latihan some things can be more clearly felt or known. And I mean, firstly, their relationship to the latihan, not to Bapak's words only, or to bigotted Helper guidance, such as the one who stresses that sexual deviants are going to Hell for all eternity.

If "The Guidelines" say we must not do something, and we do it, there is a likelihood that we will see, or feel, a related result. No person inflicts the result on us. We hurt, or we help ourselves. We find out by our own actions if Bapak's advice applies right now, right here.

To the degree that this opinion I express actually works, that much we are free of any advice of Bapak's, except the very advice he gave that we should find out for ourselves the truth of his statements.

As to sex,there must be a few hundred thousand (opened) people who know by their own experience how much that influences their lives more after they were opened than before, if that is possible.

And some of us know we can still do the latihan despite not being perfect in that area. Because the latihan is it's own monitor of our needs, and our progress, not helpers or anyone else.

How many times have I thought, in latihan, of my own imperfections, only to find myself laughing at it all.

And I believe that is because fear of failure, fear of being wrong, or of being "not approved", does inhibit latihan, and does inhibit living, growing, and loving.

I make my case poorly, but this is how I see Subud as being for "All of Mankind"

Moralists - get lost!

From Merin Nielsen, January 6, 2008. Time 8:10

Hi, Bronte,

>> Who else tells their followers or disciples to "find out for yourself"?

When Bapak said this sort of thing, did he mean

(a) find out for yourself that what I've told you is true; or

(b) find out for yourself whether what I've told you is true or false?

(a) actually means, "You might never know it directly, but what I've told you is indeed true, regardless."

(b) actually means, "What I've told you might be true or false."

It appears to me that (a) is wholly dictatorial, albeit with a gratuitous, diplomatic turn of phrase thrown in. Yet whenever I've come across Bapak saying such things, I've taken him to mean (b), which seems more down-to-earth.

Regards,

Merin

From Philip Quackenbush, January 6, 2008. Time 9:52

Hi, Bronte,

Hi, Merin,

You wrote:

>> Who else tells their followers or disciples to "find out for yourself"?

The Buddha did, and it's been a basic principle of Buddhism ever since.

"When Bapak said this sort of thing, did he mean

(a) find out for yourself that what I've told you is true; or

(b) find out for yourself whether what I've told you is true or false?

(a) actually means, "You might never know it directly, but what I've told you is indeed true, regardless."

(b) actually means, "What I've told you might be true or false."

It appears to me that (a) is wholly dictatorial, albeit with a gratuitous, diplomatic turn of phrase thrown in. Yet whenever I've come across Bapak saying such things, I've taken him to mean (b), which seems more down-to-earth."

Would you say, then, that the phrase "accursed habit" is down-to-earth, diplomatic, and allows one to decide if it's true or not? Or bung Subuh's statement that the last chapter of the Koran is the Fatihah (he'd probably be laughed out of a mosque in embarrassment, if he were ever known to have attended one, with that declaration; even worse for the average Muslim in declaring that parts of the Koran are incorrect [which also relates to some of the things he said about "Jesus" that directly contradict what is found in the Bible: there's even a collection of his "Jesus" statements that SPI was distributing at the Spokane kongres that reveal, if nothing else his ignorance {or at least the "God" that he claimed to be a mouthpiece for}, of the New Testament])? I'd say that that the vast field of ignorance of bung Subuh as revealed in his published lectures could be a major factor in so many applicants running screaming towards the exits.

Peace, Philip

From bronte, January 6, 2008. Time 11:27

Dear me!

Am I commenting to people who DO the latihan, or who gave it up?

If the advice given by Bapak is so irrelevant, then those who find a need to oppose it so strongly should indeed be out of the door, and not writing here either.

I do not study Bapak's words any more, like I did when young. But I stil do the latihan, if only occassionally.

That is why I write, and read, here.

But if we must discard Bapak's words as untrue, then it follows, as night follows day, that we MUST give up latihan as well.

I shall not.

Thankyou.

From Yafiah, January 6, 2008. Time 12:57

Dear Philip,

Could you please let me know where I can find Pak Subuh's comments on Al-Fatihah. I am very interested to see what else he said around that theme and the context in which he was speaking. As a Sufi student and a long-standing Subud member there are many questions I am seeking to answer, especially the nature of the latihan and the role of Bapak's advice on the latihan.

Many thanks,

Yafiah

From Merin Nielsen, January 6, 2008. Time 14:33

Hi, Philip,

Sorry, but I don't understand your question about the phrase "accursed habit". What's the context? Likewise regarding whatever Pak Subuh said about the Koran. My posting concerned Pak Subuh's meaning when he advised Subud members to find things out for themselves.

Hi, Bronte,

I definitely discard some of Bapak's words as untrue, and I even 'oppose' some things he said. But I see no connection between this and whether or not I practise the latihan. (I have no plans to stop doing latihan, as I find it extremely beneficial.) What connection do you see?

Best wishes,

Merin

From bronte, January 6, 2008. Time 14:47

Merin,

I firstly wonder how your posting arrives at 1.00 am, with a time stamp of 14.22.

(Managing Editor's Note: All postings get marked with the time they are received in the Republic of Ireland, which is where the Subud Vision site is hosted from. If we marked postings with local times, the times would often be out of order, which might confuse the reader into thinking the postings were arranged wrongly on the page.)

We should, theoretically, be able to phone each other, since I am sitting here as your posting got reported.

Then we might really examine our differences.

However, as to Bapak's validity:

If he was right, we are OK to do what he said.

If he was wrong, we are heading in the wrong direction by doing the latihan he gave us. And that thought does not bear thinking about.

As to the source of his advice, usually described as "received", I did tell David W of an experience in Sydney when Bapak had to wait before he could resume talking, after I had interrupted him so I could change the tape over. It may indicate something about Bapak's source of information that some of us find strange.

Anyway, reading most of my postings here (if you're a bit of a masochist), will quickly show where I am coming from, and how I separate the latihan from Subud.

It is simply that I consider I am doing something that is not dependent on Subud, the organisation, nor on Subud, the "thing" Bapak gave us, because I believe it is a direct connection between myself and the infinite life. Just like lots of other people do, but they call it God, or the Power of God, and I usually do too. I think I don't want to pursue too much more about Bapak's "errors', unless it is a very specific quote of his. Then I might affirm my acceptance of it for myself, or admit that to me the item does not matter. Otherwise, I seem more pro-Bapak than you, Philip, or David W. So I am weak brained and thin skinned for that. Them's the breaks!

Peace and Happiness, even if only on The Funny Farm.

Bronte

From Walter Segall, January 6, 2008. Time 15:45

About accepting everything that Bapak told us: Bapak told us many things that are not in accord with the teachings of Islam, of science, and (sometimes) of common sense. it may be very difficult to accept these statements, and it may be that there are many persons who will do the Latihan without accepting all of Bapak's statements.

The late Muhammed Mansur Meideros sent literally hundreds (probably over one thousand) well-researched posts which showed Bapak to have stated things which are not in accord with Muslim teaching or are othewise contradicted by observation or generally accepted knowledge.

W.

From Philip Quackenbush, January 6, 2008. Time 17:56

Hi, Merin and Yafiah,

The reference to "accursed habit" was in reference to active homosexual activity.

The best answer I can give you, Yafiah, would be to subscribe to Subudtalk, where you can find the Watch series in the archive of that group list that Walter mentions where Mansur Medeiros goes over bung Subuh's lectures with a fine-tooth comb. He, too, was basically a Sufi, not a Salafist, and according to some reports, was not seen in a local mosque for Jummah prayer, possibly ever. He made many strange statements in relation to all major religions over the years that seem to have been a result of his culture and basic refusal to look outside of his "receiving" to get at the facts in many cases.

It may take a while to get a response to your request to join Subudtalk, since some of us have noted that the moderator may be asleep at the switch, but the procedure is the same for all Yahoo grouplists, I think, that have restricted their subscribers. In Subudtalk, the only requirement to join is that you be a Subud member.

Peace, Philip

From bronte, January 6, 2008. Time 22:33

I think I'd like the time and energy to read Mansur's research.

I recall reading some of it, on SubudTalk, but my memory is not what it should be.

I suppose I am a bit one-eyed about Subud, like a lot of other people, but I have had that one eye bashed a bit by the reality of how Subud people behave towards each other.

And I am also like a lot of other people in thinking that religion(s) don't get everything covered adequately so that they can't be misunderstood. So Bapak may have said an un-Muslim thing, yet be right. I am not Muslim, so I am not telling anyone to choose Bapak's explanation over a Muslim dogma or teaching. I probably would do so myself though.

As to science and Bapak. Who says science has it all?

They still don't know how to handle and utilise static electricity, which is as much un-harnessed as cosmic rays. I speak not as a scientist (Bapak once told me I should study science) but I am quoting a friend who last week was awarded a science degree, having studied physics and being already an electronics technician, among other things.

And science may find more correct answers yet, but it still has a lot of contradictions to deal with.

As to contradictions in Bapak's facts. Well, again, I (or "We" if you wish to include all latihan practitioners) must choose to believe in the Subud latihan, or not. If not, then I don't belong here, nor does anyone else with that view.

The link to Sufism was most helpful in putting my latihan into a broader perspective, and I hope that statement applies to many others reading this.

From Michael Irwin, January 6, 2008. Time 22:53

"No person, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status shall be discriminated against, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in any program or activity for which Subud USA is responsible."

The above is not technically inclusive of all humanity. It potentially excludes those characteristics not listed such as criminal record, moral turpitude or with Down’s syndrome. Personally I would not want to engage in a discussion as to whether a murderer should be opened or not (S/he could be in jail or had done his/her time) or whether the person is a publicly outed compulsive liar (by reputation) or whether the person is suffering a disability that might bother others (We had a Downs syndrome person in our group who seemed to benefit from the latihan).

Bronte wrote: “But if we must discard Bapak's words as untrue, then it follows, as night follows day, that we MUST give up latihan as well.” No it doesn’t. ‘Nuff said on that. However, I must take issue with the use of the word ‘untrue’. Surely the point is that we are not dealing with truth or untruth here but varying degrees of anachronistic cultural influences on Bapak’s personal description of reality. Some of that included useful observations on a particular practice we call the latihan and a whole lot of observations about how the rest of life seemed to him in matters that we may all have a current and possibly different opinion on.

From David W, January 6, 2008. Time 23:10

Hi Yafiah

"At the end of the Koran one finds the Al Fatihah."

79 CDK 4

"And then after all that, after the whole of the Al Koran, we come at the end to the Al Fatihah..."

79 CDK 6

You might also find the following pages of interest:

http://www.subud-sufism.co.uk/

http://sitekreator.com/demystifysubud/legacy_for_subud.html

http://www.iqra.net/articles/Jilani/jilani12.htm

http://www.raymondo.demon.co.uk/subud/sharjord.htm

The last includes the following account by Sharif:

"Many of the people who heard my presentation came to me afterwards, and said they would like to tell me their experience, and they obviously felt we were talking about the same thing. There were three or four senior Muslims present when I gave my talk. I was quite nervous about them because I am a Muslim, and here I was talking about something that is not mentioned anywhere in the Quran; in the past I'd been given a rough time when I've talked about Subud in places like Saudi Arabia. But interestingly, each one came up to me later and said, 'Actually, I have the same experience, because I've been a Sufi and I know this and this, and this is how we do it', and so on."

Most of Pak Subuh's Sufism seems to be derived from Abdul Qadir Jilani and ibn Arabi.

Best

David

From Merin Nielsen, January 6, 2008. Time 23:13

Hi, Bronte,

>> If he was wrong, we are heading in the wrong direction by doing the latihan he gave us.

I don't see this connection. By way of a slightly tiresome example, it's generally agreed that Einstein had brilliant insights concerning physics, but was wrong about certain fundamentals of quantum mechanics. However, that doesn't make quantum mechanics less useful. Likewise, if Bapak was wrong about various matters relating to spirituality, that doesn't make the latihan less beneficial. Trusting in the Subud latihan is surely not, therefore, a matter of trusting in Bapak's words.

Hi, Philip,

>> Would you say, then, that the phrase "accursed habit" is down-to-earth, diplomatic, and allows one to decide if it's true or not?

You've subsequently implied that this phrase was used by Pak Subuh in reference to homosexual activity, and presumably (from the context of my posting) you recall Pak Subuh saying that Subud members should find out for themselves whether or not homosexual activity is an accursed habit - which does seem like weird advice. And so to answer your question, no. My posting, however, was not about whether Pak Subuh said various things that were false. It was about whether he admitted the possibility that he said various things that were false.

Regards,

Merin

From bronte, January 7, 2008. Time 0:11

Merin,

I am not sure how much more there is to say about the rightness and wrongness of Bapak's guidelines.

Of course, those who believe Bapak received his advice from an infallible higher source won't want to read, let alone participate, in this discussion.

I just want to be able to grasp whatever I can of the guidelines Bapak offerred which may address my needs, or my understanding, without having to face a challange that they are wrong, and therefore my application of them is wrong, and an alternative way of persuing my life or my latihan is/are needed. The helpers and others already provide lots of conflicting advice for those matters.

As to homosexuality and Subud, versus straight sexuality and Subud, it is a debate straight from the narrow confines of ignorant religious practice. The one is treated as evil, or cursed, the other as normal, until it is acknowledged that sex is for procreation and nothing else. And whoever makes that acknowledgment is, for me, living on another planet from mine.

As these things are understood by each according to their own experiences, I just wish it was not discussed here, when we examine Bapak's advice. There have been forums for this dicussion, but I have never found one where there is open ness and honesty and no prejudice and Subud. The discussion I referred to at Skymont may have been, but I was not there, and I have never read anything of what people there thought or believed. There are many people who might join and benefit from Subud, but not while it appears to be so intolerant of differences, as it is.

I recall hearing one Subud person rattling off the names of several members, some of them married, who she knew were "gay", as an almost dismissive remark. Well, that was not really helpful. I happened to know she was right in three of the people concerned, but so what? They stayed in Subud, and should be allowed to stay, which of course they have.

But Subud really has no helpful advice to offer them.

From Andrew Hall, January 7, 2008. Time 1:40

Hello to all,

I think Bapak's talks are "officially" treated in Subud as some kind of scripture.

If we say that we accept some of what Bapak said, and not other things, then how do we decide? If it is up to each individual to decide, what does this say about the "belief", unspoken or not, that reading the talks can have a mystical effect?

Granted there are empirical facts, such as what is the name of the final book of the Koran, where what Bapak said may be right or wrong. Beyond empirical questions of fact, while I certainly do not agree with some of what he is reported to have said, so it is "not true" for me (and some of it I actually strongly disagree with), I agree with Michael Irwin and personally would prefer that we avoid using the labels "true" and "not true".

I would like people to consider this question - How do we bridge the divide between the Bapakites and the Latihaners on this issue, between those who feel that everything Bapak said is divinely inspired and those who feel otherwise? The wider core issue for Subud is the authority of Bapak.

May I suggest that it will be more helpful to refer to an actual piece of text when we say we disagree with what Bapak said. In that way, someone who up to now has accepted and "believes" that everything that Bapak said is true, will have Bapak's actual words to examine and so can decide for themself how they feel about the specific text in question.

Regards,

Andrew

From Philip Quackenbush, January 7, 2008. Time 7:0

Hi, Y'all,

Michael wrote:

" "No person, on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, national origin or ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status shall be discriminated against, excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination in any program or activity for which Subud USA is responsible."

The above is not technically inclusive of all humanity. It potentially excludes those characteristics not listed such as criminal record, moral turpitude or with Down’s syndrome. Personally I would not want to engage in a discussion as to whether a murderer should be opened or not (S/he could be in jail or had done his/er time) or whether the person is a publicly outed compulsive liar (by reputation) or whether the person is suffering a disability that might bother others (We had a Downs syndrome person in our group who seemed to benefit from the latihan)."

There's a Down's syndrome person here who does "latihan", too. Whether it benefits her, I haven't asked. As to murderers, one of the early Indonesian "helpers" (Asikin?) was praised by bung Subuh as being a good example of the action of the "latihan" as a "reformed" "hit man" for the government, as I recall.

Merin wrote:

>> Would you say, then, that the phrase "accursed habit" is down-to-earth, diplomatic, and allows one to decide if it's true or not?

"You've subsequently implied that this phrase was used by Pak Subuh in reference to homosexual activity, and presumably (from the context of my posting) you recall Pak Subuh saying that Subud members should find out for themselves whether or not homosexual activity is an accursed habit - which does seem like weird advice. And so to answer your question, no. My posting, however, was not about whether Pak Subuh said various things that were false. It was about whether he admitted the possibility that he said various things that were false."

Well, I specifically recall a lecture he gave in Santa Monica in which he said that he couldn't lie, because "God" wouldn't let him. While I was a Subietrubie at the time and accepted that, my subsequent experience has shown me that it was arrogant nonsense, especially after having so many errors of fact and mistranslations pointed out by Mansur Medeiros in his Watch series on Subudtalk. If anyone wants to follow the advice of such a "mouthpiece" of "God", they're welcome to, but I'm not about to lay down and take it any more. IMO, it's exactly the sort of lack of thinking and subservience to authority that has led to the current crisis in world affairs, where the three Abrahamic religions lay claim to the "temple mount" in Jerusalem, and the Christians that support the Jewish claim to it to build a new temple are eager to do so, which means, of course, tearing down the Dome of the Mount mosque to start WW III (Armageddon, in their view when they'll all be whisked to "heaven" by "Jesus", while the "unbelievers" will be left here to suffer the "final holocaust". Fully 44% of the US population surveyed believe that fantasy. Talk about critical mass and creating the conditions for an expectation, or "prophecy"! Rotsa ruck!

Andrew wrote:

"May I suggest that it will be more helpful to refer to an actual piece of text when we say we disagree with what Bapak said. In that way, someone who up to now has accepted and "believes" that everything that Bapak said is true, will have Bapak's actual words to examine and so can decide for themself how they feel about the specific text in question."

Good idea, except in my case, I donated all my SUBtexts to the local group's library, having no further use for them and I'm not very good at Googling. The texts or tapes of bung Subuh's lectures are probably all available from the Subud Boston online library, but the only critical analyses of them that I know of are the Watch series on Subudtalk, the general attitude seeming to be that they're "sacred scriptures" and not to be thought about, much less criticised. Just "receive", i.e. put yourself in a highly-suggestible alpha state where the critical faculty is dampened and there is the strong tendency to accept whatever is being said as true (sometimes known as "guided meditation," sometimes known as "self-hypnosis").

Peace, Philip

From Merin Nielsen, January 7, 2008. Time 10:35

Hi, Philip,

I wasn't wondering about whether Bapak was lying; just whether he admitted to the possibility of being mistaken.

He occasionally said words to the effect of, "Don't just believe me, but find out for yourself whether what I've told you is true." Pehaps I'm being too charitable, but I've always taken this to imply that Bapak accepted that he could be mistaken (read with the final phrase 'or false') - assuming that Bapak was being (at least occasionally) realistic about his own limitations, rather than disingenuous.

Hi, Michael, and Andrew,

Michael wrote:

>> However, I must take issue with the use of the word ‘untrue’. Surely the point is that we are not dealing with truth or untruth here but varying degrees of anachronistic cultural influences on Bapak’s personal description of reality. Some of that included useful observations on a particular practice we call the latihan and a whole lot of observations about how the rest of life seemed to him in matters that we may all have a current and possibly different opinion on.

Andrew has also expressed reluctance to use the terms 'true' and 'untrue' in this regard. However, I'm happy to keep referring to truth whenever we're discussing opinion about matters of fact. (i.e. In my opinion, Greenland is larger than Australia.) At other times we're discussing opinion about matters of discretion. (i.e. In my opinion, Shakespeare is bland.)

I think Bapak's manner of presenting ideas was significantly influenced by his cultural background such that he was inclined to speak in a style that many Westerners would intuitively interpret as somewhat 'loose with the truth' - except when, due to complicated circumstances, they are instead disposed to interpret it as 'divinely inspired'. I suspect that this cultural mannerism, connected with fulfilling the traditional duty of a spiritual teacher in Bapak's Javanese society, is insufficiently recognised among Subud members. To put it bluntly, by Western standards he was playing rather freely with words, concepts and explanations. By other cultural standards, however, I suspect that Bapak was embracing his socially allocated role in a relatively responsible and culturally understandable way. Certain problems about the appropriate 'attitude to words' arise partly from this discrepancy between cultural contexts. Thus a figurative statement like, "God won't let Bapak lie," should not be treated too seriously at face value.

Cheers,

Merin

From Lilliana Gibbs, January 7, 2008. Time 12:19

Hello everyone, and thanks Stefan for your comments on my article. Discussion has moved on this week, but I wanted to contribute this story which I heard recently. Some years ago in Hungary a transvestite wanted to be opened. The helpers were willing but confused, and ask Ibu Rahaju for advice – should he/she be opened by men or women?

The response was the suggestion to "ask the applicant which they would prefer".

How simple, obvious and appropriate!

I do think we take can take all this stuff too seriously, and worry too much about doing the wrong thing. We have our own capacities to make decisions, to use our best judgment, and to resolve tricky questions when there is disagreement.

Cheers,

Lilliana

From Yafiah, January 7, 2008. Time 13:11

Hi Philip, Hi David,

Thank you for the information. I have just read those two talks at:

http://www.subudlibrary.net/newreg.htm

I would like to take some time to check a few things and to reflect a while before responding but for the moment I will say that these talks contain details about the Qur'an that do not appear to relate to the reality of the Qur'an. They are not simply different interpretations either. The Qur'an has several levels of meaning but Bapak's words about the Qur'an do not arise from this kind of understanding. I will also say that maybe we should not expect Bapak to be knowledgeable about all religions. It was the latihan that came to us through Pak Subuh, not a holy book. I am, however, very dismayed with what I have read today.

It is interesting what you say about Sharif's talk, David, and the response he had from Sufis in the audience.

I want to think about all this a bit more before I add any more comments. Clarity is so important.

Yafiah

From Philip Quackenbush, January 7, 2008. Time 17:30

Hi, Lilliana, Merin, and Yafiah,

Lilliana wrote:

Hello everyone, and thanks Stefan for your comments on my article. Discussion has moved on this week, but I wanted to contribute this story which I heard recently. Some years ago in Hungary a transvestite wanted to be opened. The helpers were willing but confused, and ask Ibu Rahaju for advice – should he/she be opened by men or women?

The response was the suggestion to "ask the applicant which they would prefer".

How simple, obvious and appropriate!

I do think we can take all this stuff too seriously, and worry too much about doing the wrong thing. We have our own capacities to make decisions, to use our best judgment, and to resolve tricky questions when there is disagreement.

===

Was it a transvestite or transsexual? The distinction could be important (not that I think it is - most practices of what Subud members call the "latihan" worldwide do not separate the men and the women "exercising" - the reasons for that given by the founder are basically realistic, but unnecessary if one doesn't regard it as a "spiritual exercise", which I don't [it's just a normal physiological response, outlined in Dr. Benson's book The Relaxation Response, for one possible explanation of what it is]).

Merin wrote:

I wasn't wondering about whether Bapak was lying; just whether he admitted to the possibility of being mistaken.

He occasionally said words to the effect of, "Don't just believe me, but find out for yourself whether what I've told you is true." Pehaps I'm being too charitable, but I've always taken this to imply that Bapak accepted that he could be mistaken (read with the final phrase 'or false') - assuming that Bapak was being (at least occasionally) realistic about his own limitations, rather than disingenuous.

===

Much of this discussion revolves around the phenomenon of denial - a sort of psychological "bait and switch" that the ego uses to protect its ideas and beliefs. There is no blame to be attached to it, necessarily (everyone does it, including me), but I think its important to recognize it when it happens. Facts are facts, and calling a pink elephant blue won't change its color. Likewise, attempting to excuse what anyone says through hindsight doesn't change what they said. One is always free to believe whatever one wishes (or wishes one didn't believe), but understanding the roots of those beliefs is what I've found to be important in my own life in terms of eliminating cognitive dissonance and its associated unhappiness.

Yafiah wrote:

I want to think about all this a bit more before I add any more comments. Clarity is so important.

===

Indeed. That's the only way it is acheived, contrary to the usual attitude of many Subud members derived from the founder's lectures that thinking has nothing to do with anything "spiritual".

Peace, Philip

From Edward Fido, January 7, 2008. Time 23:54

Hello Everyone,

Good Lord! In some ways it appears as if a parallel of the de-Stalinisation process is occuring.

Do we really need to 'de-Bapak' Subud?

There is little doubt in my mind that Pak Subuh was a lot more tolerant about homosexual persons than some of the more stupid Helpers of in this country.

One of the brilliant points made in this particular article and others on Subud Vision is that we in the West seem to have constructed a 'Subud' quite different in many ways from what obtained in Indonesia.

Putting all the bulldust aside, is the latihan the same?

The problem to me is that a dead or weak latihan would encourage people to erect a dead pseudo-religious structure to compensate.

Trying to 'square' Subud with the Quran or Sufism is a bit like trying to 'square' the New Testament and the Quran. They don't square. Surprise.

I won't even buy into what I consider a total red herring: the arrangement of the Quran.

I think you have to take Pak Subuh and Subud 'as is' and work from there.

Of far greater concern to me is the question: 'Is Subud fair dinkum? Does the latihan do what is claimed of it or not?'

Regards,

Edward

From Merin Nielsen, January 8, 2008. Time 1:14

Hi, Philip,

You wrote:

>> Much of this discussion revolves around the phenomenon of denial ... attempting to excuse what anyone says through hindsight doesn't change what they said.

Any examples?

Regards,

Merin

From Helissa Penwell, January 8, 2008. Time 2:47

Hi all,

Usually when we seek out an expert it is to find out what they have to say about the topic in which they have their expertise. Bapak was an expert on the latihan and how it affects the people who do it. He was not an expert on history, religions, science, or women's fashion. I have benefitted enormously from reading Bapak's advice about and understanding of the latihan. When he discussed subjects where he was not an expert, I listen respectfully, but I also look to others who may know more in those areas.

I always try to receive for myself what I should do with what I'm reading, whether it is from Bapak or someone else. I try to feel--what is the truth and relevance of this for me.

Helissa

From Merin Nielsen, January 8, 2008. Time 3:32

Hi, Edward,

I think that a lot depends on what you mean by "de-Bapak". Bapak founded an organisation that has apparently stuck successfully to its core element of caretaking the latihan, and Bapak should be given credit on that account. As Helissa notes just above, Bapak's real expertise concerned the latihan itself and how it affects people - in everyday terms.

I think there are two simple ways, however, in which de-Bapaking would probably be healthy for the Subud organisation. As Michael Irwin has suggested, SPI (Subud Publications International) could be split off from the main organisation, which would be left to support the practice of the latihan without supporting the promulgation of Bapak's talks. (I think the availability of Bapak's talks should be maintained - but not their specific promotion. SPI and also the Subud Archives could still be managed and funded by those with personal interest in Bapak's talks.) The other straightforward change I'd recommend is the end of official helper-only meetings and helper-committee latihans. This is because the existence of a 'helper-group' tends to generate an undue sense of elite status, as well as pressure towards 'keeping the faith' in the form of individual loyalty to Bapak. I'm not fully persuaded by the case for having no helpers, but I would prefer to see helpers being membership-appointed; not exclusively helper-appointed.

Cheers,

Merin

From Edward Fido, January 8, 2008. Time 7:50

Dear Merin,

As you point out Subud in our part of the world has survived. Survived but possibly not flourished. A bit like a palm tree at a small oasis in the desert.

Pak Subuh expected and certainly spent his life trying to get Subud to expand and have some presence in the world. In this country it has basically none.

I think the concept of (emergency) Helper got translated in some people's eyes into some sort of 'office'. It was, I think, an opportunity to give something back to the organisation.

A lot of our beliefs and practices in Subud in this country seem to have very little to do with what I consider the purpose of Subud. Helpers meetings need to be brief and to the point. The curious Brisbane custom of Helper-Committee meetings is unknown elsewhere in Australia.

Subud here needs a real shakeup and blood refreshment.

We do suffer terribly from isolation in most Australian groups. Only Melbourne seems to have both the people and desire to spread out from Heatherton.

Publications and Archives are ancillary services. Necessary but not needing to be dominant.

Without momentum based on a strong latihan Subud becomes a prolonged spiritual siesta interrupted only by squabbling over nothing.

Subud is basically on trial.

Is it good or dead in the water?

Crunch time.

Regards,

Edward

From Philip Quackenbush, January 8, 2008. Time 7:59

Hi, Merin and Edward,

Merin wrote:

"You wrote:

>> Much of this discussion revolves around the phenomenon of denial ... attempting to excuse what anyone says through hindsight doesn't change what they said.

Any examples?"

Just reread the feedback page and you should be able to find several examples, including from your own and my posts. However, since it's difficult to see denial in one's own writing because of the emotional involvement with the ideas being "right", it's best to examine others' posts first.

Edward wrote:

"I think you have to take Pak Subuh and Subud 'as is' and work from there."

That's preferable, but what can one do to determine that from available material except to take that 'as is? Unfortunately, owing to incompetent translations and a lack of understanding of the cultures (several) which influenced what bung Subud said in his lectures, much of it is often grossly misunderstood and I'm not sure if it's possible to correct the effects of that without going outside the organization to do so.

"Of far greater concern to me is the question: 'Is Subud fair dinkum? Does the latihan do what is claimed of it or not?' "

Well, it certainly does something, but that can be said for almost any activity that people engage in. The real question is "what is it and what does it do?" IMO, and I've found many of bung Subuh's "explanations" to be contrary to what's happened to me in "latihan", or at the very least that what he said about it could be far more simply explained in other terms which, according to the principle of Occam's razor, could prove more acceptable to applicants that are interested in "trying on" the "latihan", especially if they don't promote some wild fantasy like going through the seven Ptolemaic spheres (that appeared in Christianity and Sufism as "heavens") as a "fruit" of the "latihan" would tend to. IMO, one simpler view of the "latihan" would be as a potentially beneficial form of self-hypnosis or a moving (and still) form of what Dr. Benson describes as a relaxation response.

From Merin Nielsen, January 8, 2008. Time 9:0

Hi, Edward,

You say that Publications and Archives are necessary, but why? The essential gist of what Bapak told us has certainly been recorded sufficiently, in various ways, to persist throughout the ages with no further effort. Moreover, I think we should not consider Subud to be dependent upon Bapak's words. They were very useful for getting Subud started, but if it cannot get by without focussing upon them, then surely Subud is being sustained in the style of a religion. This would not be the Subud I thought I joined, which was about independence from texts, thanks to the latihan.

Best wishes,

Merin

`. From Edward Fido, January 8, 2008. Time 22:12

Hi Philip, Hi Merin, Hi Everyone,

Merin, you are quite correct, Subud is essentially experiential. Which brings us back to the question Philip raises, which I would summarise as 'What, in essence, is the latihan?'

Louise Samways, a Melbourne psychologist, wrote an extremely good book called 'Dangerous Persuaders' dealing with the psychological techniques used by certain groups. In it she mentioned certain forms of mass hypnosis, well known in the East, but new in the West, which were not like the ones we normally consider hypnosis. Abdul Qadir al Gilani - the famous Sufi - was once described by a Western author as possessing mass hypnotic powers. I wonder whether the opening, Bapak's talks when he gave them, the mass testings he did and the latihan might work in a similar manner to hypnosis.

If they were/are merely a form of hypnosis then the whole edifice falls down like a pack of cards. If on the other hand there is something special about the origin of the Subud latihan, it is indeed a gift from God and works through the body with symptoms similar to those seen in mass or individual self-hypnosis - rather similar to comparing a genuine mystical ecstasy with a hallucinogenic one as the same brain centre is involved - we may be onto something.

Philip did discuss self-hypnosis and 'the relaxation response' so what I am saying is a sort of lead on from there. I am not unconvinced that a lot of lower force influence/dominated latihans, testing and behaviour in Subud are not similar to mass hypnosis. Sufis talk about 'hals' (states) and 'maqadam' (station). A state is something transitory. A station a level of spiritual achievement.

My criticism of contemporary Subud is that we concentrate on 'marvelous experiences' rather than the real hard road of submission to Almighty God which might bring about real personal life change. Where are the great exemplars of Subud in this country?

Regards,

Edward

From Philip Quackenbush, January 9, 2008. Time 7:27

Hi, Edward,

You wrote:

Which brings us back to the question Philip raises, which I would summarise as 'What, in essence, is the latihan?'

Louise Samways, a Melbourne psychologist, wrote an extremely good book called 'Dangerous Persuaders' dealing with the psychological techniques used by certain groups.

In it she mentioned certain forms of mass hypnosis, well known in the East, but new in the West, which were not like the ones we normally consider hypnosis.

Abdul Qadir al Gilani - the famous Sufi - was once described by a Western author as possessing mass hypnotic powers.

I wonder whether the opening, Bapak's talks when he gave them, the mass testings he did and the latihan might work in a similar manner to hypnosis.

If they were/are merely a form of hypnosis then the whole edifice falls down like a pack of cards.

====

Not necessarily. Hypnosis is not necessarily a bad thing. It depends on what the results are - "by their fruits shall you know". By that standard, what many were led to expect is probably a miserable failure, but it doesn't negate the benefits that may have occurred for some. IMO, it's the sometimes extreme expectations that are misleading.

Given a milder set of expectations, say, relaxation and relief from stress and worry, what cult members call the "latihan" can be of considerable help to most people in today's society, regardless if it's "special" in any way or not. It's the fantasies of "worship" and "doing God's will" that concern me, based on accepting the mere existence of spontaneous movement as "proof". It's not proof, to put it succinctly. Have you ever yawned, had an orgasm, hiccupped, coughed, or swatted a fly away from your face without thinking about it? All spontaneous movements. Try to control them with your intent. Rotsa ruck.

Peace, Philip

From Edward Fido, January 9, 2008. Time 21:57

Hi Philip,

Your last post, enlightened and humorous, cheered me up immensely.

In the last analysis I think it may well be a positive, but slightly sceptical approach to things long concretized into de facto 'Divine Writ' in Subud which might save the day.

Baby and bathwater. Well, we certainly seem to have a lot of the latter. It is also very murky. Hard to see most of the baby. Fortunately the head seems to be above the bathwater and it's still alive!

I am sure that these pages are trawled by 'concerned Subud members' who work themselves into frenzies over 'the heresies' contained herein.

Personally I find these pages helpful because they allow people to say things which are often felt but never voiced.

My gut feeling is that the next twenty or thirty years will be 'proof of pudding' time.

If Subud continues the way it seems to be following it will be dead in the water.

Pak Subuh kept saying that Subud was God's work not Man's (or Woman's).

If a real qualitative change comes I am sure it will sweep away all the parody Orientalist, Gurdjieff and 'Melbourne Theosophical Society circa 1950' nonsense and the spiritual Edna Everages and Sandy Stones with it.

Hold on to your seat. It could be a rocky ride!

Regards,

Edward

From Philip Quackenbush, January 9, 2008. Time 22:39

Hi, Edward,

You said:

"My gut feeling is that the next twenty or thirty years will be 'proof of pudding' time."

Enough time for the Old Guard to fade away.

"If Subud continues the way it seems to be following it will be dead in the water."

Dunno 'bout dead, but certainly reduced to a small school of fish out of water, and it doesn't take long for the fish to die in that situation.

"Pak Subuh kept saying that Subud was God's work not Man's (or Woman's)."

Well, I used to believe that nonsense when I believed in "God", but four decades in the cult cured me of both illusions.

If a real qualitative change comes I am sure it will sweep away all the parody Orientalist, Gurdjieff and 'Melbourne Theosophical Society circa 1950' nonsense and the spiritual Edna Everages and Sandy Stones with it.

Well, they can still be a part of the cult, but if it's ever going to be other than a cult, then they'll simply be a small part of a growing number that has a less skewed view of the universe. At this point, though, the organization, promoting as it does the skewed views of the founder, is bound to continue to either tread water or go under, since so many of his views were obviously based on ignorance from the rich but odd culture he grew up in that most people apparently either find silly or offensive, since so few remain members of the cult, either taking the "latihan" with them to practice on their own or assuming that it's not worth much because of its cultish setting.

Peace, Philip

From Edward Fido, January 9, 2008. Time 23:24

Hi Philip,

As I said previously, your posts cheer me up. Immensely.

One of the problems most of us who came into Subud have are that we are not Javanese.

Nor did many of us come out of Gurdjieff.

I think it is very much a question of 'Do not look at my outward appearance but take what is in my hand.'

An increasing number of people seem not to be taking the administo-religious organisational bullshit and doing their own thing, either inside or out.

Deanna Koontz seems to be one of those forced out to individuate.

We need individuals. Not sheep.

Most of the contributors to these pages are not sheep.

Without going overboard, I think members or ex-members individuating and getting on with their own lives heralds a new beginning for Subud.

I consider myself a 'recovering Subud member'.

After 35 years in the show I finally walked. I had tried to do so a few years previously but got lured back.

At the moment I wouldn't touch Subud here.

What I feel about the local situation is in stark contrast to my memories of contact, relatively brief, with Pak Subuh and a feeling that 'something else' exists.

Regards,

Edward

From Philip Quackenbush, January 10, 2008. Time 7:13

Hi, Edward,

You said:

I consider myself a 'recovering Subud member'.

After 35 years in the show I finally walked. I had tried to do so a few years previously but got lured back.

At the moment I wouldn't touch Subud here.

What I feel about the local situation is in stark contrast to my memories of contact, relatively brief, with Pak Subuh and a feeling that 'something else' exists.

=====

Well, it took me over 35 years to finally get a handle on what was going on in the organization and my "latihan", some of it involving rather painful withdrawal symptoms, since the "latihan" can become addicting when one doesn't have an alternate to the "fix" it offers. Because of a number of fortuitous life circumstances (which I didn't regard as such at the time, being a fairly thoroughgoing Subietrubie), I first became aware of an alternative in my job at the library when a book crossed my path on qigong and I tried a couple of the suggested "forms" during a time when the local group had dissolved because the people who came up with most of the hall rental had moved out of town, it being a rather poor group otherwise.

My marriage was dissolving at the same time, and I soon found myself living elsewhere and figured out other means of supporting myself, which included busking at an open-air market where one of the former guides to the Forbidden City had a food concession. I asked him if he taught qigong and he said yes, but I had already established a routine of going to a nearby park in a position hidden by surrounding vegetation to practice what I already had learned from the book, which was probably one of the first books on qigong to be published in the US. One day, while doing what is known as the energy microcircuit "exercise", I suddenly found myself in a situation that verified for me better than I had ever had it in "latihan" that I was one with the universe and there were no boundaries to my "self", which was both inside and outside my body, with no center. Later, when my new friend (who moved here a year after I did) gave me a lesson or two on qigong (trading them for guitar lessons), it was reaffirmed for me that it was possible to literally do anything that other beings in the universe didn't oppose. I found further affirmation of that in the book on chaos that I just recently finished.

When the Subud group re-formed (I originally wrote reformed, but they didn't) I went back to doing "latihan" and gave up the qigong practice.

When I moved here, Hadrian (who's written an article on this site) told me about Subudtalk, and I learned a great deal about the sub rosa shenanigans of the organization from posts there, eventually officially asking to stop being a member, since I felt it hypocritical to continue as one.

When I returned two years or so later, I had tried another version of qigong that turned out to be virtually the same as the "latihan", less the mumbo jumbo, and that's the "latihan" I continue to do, "receiving" guidance and perhaps greater physical and mental health in the same manner without any interference from an imagined "God." If anything, it's been better than before. I just have to take the founder's advice and not pay attention to those "exercising" around me during grope "latihan" (or get drawn in or attached to their attitudes before and after). The other benefit for me, of course, is that I can still schmooze with the people there I want to socially, which wasn't possible much as a semi-"isolated" non-member.

What I've tried may not work for you, but it did for me.

Peace, Philip

From Andrew Hall, January 10, 2008. Time 21:41

Hi Philip,

I really appreciate your reply to Edward and the story you tell about your experience of the latihan.

I admire your sharing this and your courage to say your own truth. I am surprised that my heart feels great relief after reading it.

I hope I can become as honest and willing to talk about my own latihan experience since I find myself fearing it will be judged by others as "inferior" and "wrong".

Bravo and thank you! I hope Subud Vision and our Subud community become places to share and hear more of our individual stories.

Regards,

Andrew

From Edward Fido, January 10, 2008. Time 22:3

Hi Philip,

Many thanks for your post which I appreciated.

I have actually done tai-chi for a bit over a year. This particular school also includes lotus and lohan (qigong).

Bodhidharma - a Buddhist monk from South India - is supposed to have introduced the lohan exercises to the monks at the Shaolin monastery. (As you know all this is shrouded in myth and semi-history as in Java).

I remember, in one of his books, Prio Hartono saying something about people receiving their own martial art after being enlightened.

Pak Subuh is reported to have received pencak silat teaching from a mysterious boatman.

It all gets highly allegorical!

I think I am working through my stuff in my own way. Which is what I think you and a few other brave souls have or are doing.

It seems to be a case of 'Work out your own salvation with diligence. Buddhas do but point the way.'

Regards,

Edward

From Philip Quackenbush, January 10, 2008. Time 22:53

Hi, Edward and Andrew,

If there's anything that's valuable for a person in life that can be used in later life (and, something not entirely to be discounted from a scientific stance, though there's little, if any, "real" evidence for it, "life after death"), it has to be one's experiences. There's nothing "right" or "wrong" about one's experiences, but if someone just goes through them, whatever they are, with no attempt to learn from them, then, in a sense, one's life could be said to be wasted.

On the other hand, I wake up every morning at my age (I just did it again), grateful that I'm still on the "right" side of the grass. Having almost died three and a half years ago from internal bleeding (I highly recommend it as a way to go; entirely painless), I can tell you it's no big whoop, but there's something to be said for just being alive, so I'm not about to complain about my situation in life or Subud, but just state the facts as I see them, which, admittedly is a personal view that won't necessarily be accepted by everyone. And so it goes. But I am encouraged to find out there are people in the cult who don't just blindly accept the Party Line. Almost every week, it seems recently, there's another that I encounter. It's being open about my own attitudes, I think, that creates a situation in which others can be open about theirs.

A couple of days ago I stated somewhere on this site that I was planning on writing a book to help "save" the world. Yesterday I realized that I wasn't really fully prepared to do so, but that it didn't matter that much. By simply being who I am, at peace with myself as I am, I create what's known in chaos theory as a strange attractor which affects everyone and everything around me (getting gung ho about anything, as I did about the projected book, just creates a turbulence in the strange attractors that may become unmanageable, like a hurricane instead of a wind tunnel experiment). Enough people like that will change the world for the "better", IMO.

If there's any "real" benefit to "doing" the "latihan" that may affect the world, that's the direction in which it lies, I think, and my observation is that at least some of the practitioners of the SUBcult's version of relaxation response have gone in that direction over the years. All this preaching at each other reminds me of a cartoon I saw the other day of a woman being harassed about her body language and raising an appropriate finger in response, to which the harasser said, "Well, I see you have that part of it mastered."

Peace, Philip

From bronte, January 23, 2008. Time 1:51

All this discussion about what Bapak said, and it's relevance, seems to be ignoring one of the more important things about life and Subud.

How do we treat each other?

And how do we behave ourselves?

Is it OK for a person, Subud or not, to come rushing up to someone and, in a fierce temper, tell them they "don't belong here", "are a sick person" (i.e. mad), and so disturb them extraordinarily. Or to come rushing out into an open space, shouting angrily that "You are a liar"

Although these are experiences personal to me, are they appropriate for someone who has been in Subud for a long time?

Is that the bahaviour to be accepted by people from helpers in Subud?

And as to personal morality, sexuality, and honesty, what of that?

Is it OK to hide the facts to save face? Is it OK or not to even accept a criticism, because "one should not criticise?"

These thing matter to me more in Subud than many of the things that are being discussed under the subject of "What is Subud"

If being in Subud is about being hurt by all the self important people who also ar "in it", then long may it die.

If it is about learning to be a more caring helpful understanding human, then long may it live. Till then, I shall keep more my own counsel. I can get all the hurt I need outside of Subud, without being subject to soul-destroying damnations from the people in Subud.

As to insanity, we've seen the real thing here. And who defines it anyway?

Thankyou.

From Sahlan Diver, January 23, 2008. Time 11:1

Bronte,

Your comment seems fair to me. Of course one problem we have in Subud is that we are supposedly not hierarchical. If an incident like that happened in a Church it wouldn't be thought inappropriate if a priest took the person on one side and had a quiet word with them about their behaviour, but in Subud we don't want our helpers to be like a priesthood or our committee to be like a superior hierarchy, so who is going to deal with inappropriate personal behaviour?

In the early 1970's I was spoken to in a very inappropriate way, by a helper, which greatly upset me. Simon Sturton, who was a helper in that group, told me about an incident he had witnessed where Ibu, Bapak's second wife, had upset one of the lady members. Simon said "There's no doubt about it, what Ibu did was a mistake - she was wrong!" That made me feel a lot better - if Bapak's wife could get it wrong, it didn't seem so bad that some relative beginner of a helper could also make a mistake.

Now here's the curious thing - a year later I visited the group again and spotted across the room the helper who had spoken to me badly. I experienced a instant feeling of love and affection for the man, which I couldn't explain, until a few days later I came across an article by him in the group newsletter where he admitted a catalogue of his faults that he said he had suddenly come, through the latihan, to realise. I was on good terms with the man ever since that. It seems the latihan can make very big changes for some - for those that it doesn't, they are the losers, not you, though I certainly sympathise with the hurt such behaviour causes,

Sahlan

From stefan, January 23, 2008. Time 13:37

Hello Bronte,

I want to add something to Sahlan's response to your questions:

*Is it OK for a person, Subud or not, to come rushing up to someone and, in a fierce temper, tell them they "don't belong here"? ... Is it OK to hide the facts to save face? Is it OK or not to even accept a criticism, because "one should not criticise"?*

It's courageous of you to voice this, and very saddening that you've had harsh and judgemental accusations thrown at you by fellow latihaners. Two thoughts come to mind.

First is about projection:

I learned from my youngest step-daughter that what riled me most was her blatant expression of everything I was in denial about. Her behaviour was angry, passionate, impulsive and confrontative. I wasn't able to play the wise father role because all the same feelings were seething in me (unacknowledged then) and only barely repressed! Sometimes I "lost it" and exploded like a volcano - something I deeply regretted later. Perhaps your honesty has been a trigger for certain people to "project" their disowned demons onto you! OUCH!!!

Second is about spiritual pride:

Catholic priests have only recently been made accountable for abuse, and their organisation shamed for covering it up. I learned recently that Tibetan Buddhist monasteries sometimes hush up poisonings and dagger vendettas for fear of losing their public standing or funding. I'm sure this applies to other groups who have "an image" to maintain.

Misapplying Bapak's advice to be "harmonious" is not the only reason that Subud finds it hard to acknowledge criticism. It's also a typical organisational self-defence mechanism. Fear of loss of face prompts a short term cover up that inevitably backfires in the long run.

I notice a worldwide demand for open discussion in Subud with a serious review of our current "norms". Honest dialogue is on the rise. Repression and exclusion will no more go unchallenged. Dare I hope this will bring palpable improvements in our collective?

Stefan

From Helissa Penwell, January 23, 2008. Time 21:7

Stefan and Bronte,

One of the most important things I've learned about myself over the years is that when I react to someone in a big way, it's always because they represent something hidden within myself--something that I need to really know about (shadow). That happened recently when I became upset with a certain lady in our Subud group who has taken to finding fault with me. I had thought about it enough to work out why she has a problem with me, but I didn't understand why she got me so riled up. I took it to testing. I asked, "What does (woman) symbolize that is within myself?" Answer: "self-doubt". Well, that's big. That's exactly the issue I've been working on in the last few years: finding a balance between self-confidence and self-doubt; finding out how to maintain self-esteem along with humility; trying to find a working, interactive relationship between these dualities that keeps me moving forward and growing. I didn't need to test about what self-doubt can do when I give it too much focus; I already know that I withdraw and shut down. I did need to think and receive about the useful function of self-doubt. Everything in us has a good use, but we can misuse a characteristic and that's what messes us up. That's why we need to bring these things out in the open, up to consciousness, so that we can put all of our characteristics in proper working order, working together instead of against each other, i.e. harmoniously. It came to me that self-doubt keeps me open to hearing other people's points of view and counters ego feelings of being right. I started imagining self-doubt as a brake on my car ( my standard dream symbol for myself): it keeps me from going too far, too fast; it stops me when I'm headed in the wrong direction, or about to smash into someone else, etc. I had been fighting the aspect of self-doubt within myself because I've given it too much power in the past. But the testing, inspired by my fault-finding friend, revealed that I need to stop fighting it and, instead, invite it to the table. Self-doubt is a valuable member of Team Helissa, just as Self-Esteem has her place there.

Stefan,

Debbie Ford in "The Dark Side of the Lightchasers" (a pop-psych book explaining the Jungian concept of Shadow) recommended personifying characteristics that we wish to bring more into consciousness. I've found this technique very useful and entertaining. So, with your example, you would allow a visualization to form around your Angry-Man, and allow him to come to life. Then you begin a dialogue, asking him questions, e.g "What do you have to tell me that I need to know?", "How can I use you to help my life?", "Do I use you in a destructive way, and why?" -- that sort of thing. For me, interacting with such personifications has made the whole process of shadow work so much more real. It's also interesting to watch the initial "person" transform as "she" becomes more in harmony with the rest of my personality. When I first began this process, it was difficult and often painful, but now it's exciting and wonderful. I've experienced the benefits of becoming more whole, and with that comes much more happiness. I wonder if that's what we're doing here on Subud Vision: shadow work, bringing the unexpressed into consciousness, moving Subud toward more wholeness and true harmony. I hope so.

Helissa

From bronte, January 23, 2008. Time 23:5

Dear Everyone,

I thank you for comments about my experience.

I do not ask for yet another mirror to be placed in front of me. Yanti Lynn, a nice Subud lady in New Zealand, pointed out to me that we have our problems with others because there are problems in ourselves. Theosophists I meet with regularly point out that we create the lessons we need in our life, no matter that they be life threatening, and that we cannot change someone else's behaviour. This noxious individual who has upset me so much each time merely responded, to another person, that I should have had more strength to cope with his criticism of my latihan when he made that, at the time I left Subud first (20 years ago) caused by his comments, and others in a vicious event. Incidentally, I now rate myself as "out of the Subud organisation" for nine and a half years, reinforced thanks to yet another catastophic criticism of my latihan and life by a helper who physically prevented me from attending latihan when I tried to six or seven years ago.

Won't someone notice that it seems OK in Subud for people to tear their brother or sister to bits, and then blame the victim?

This needs attention. It is not really helpful to criticise the victim. Subud is better than that, I hope.

Latihan, it seems, makes people more open, and sensitive, as I truly felt in going to Nat Congress this month. I felt I was "there" despite not being there, the whole time before my disastrous encounter with the "angry monster" I spoke of.

An emotional stab, in the form of a fierce temper, can hurt a Subud person more than a "normal" person. Hence, at Congress, I was very "open" to harsh felings, (and nice ones), as well as being wary of encountering any, which I did.

Now please stop addressing ME, and address the issue.

People in Subud, especially some with "responsibilities" hurt others, badly, when they, especialy helpers, should know that a Subud person can be more sensitive than others.

No more responses telling me how to deal with it please! I get my therapy at the Theosophy meeting I go to. Some Subud people are just too horrible, except for some, so Helissa, don't get to include yourself in my blanket cover here, and anyone else who doesn't feel guilty about their comment, don't take offence either.

From Sahlan Diver, January 24, 2008. Time 0:8

Bronte,

I think you are right when you say "face the issue". It may be, as the other correspondents were suggesting, that person A is holding up a mirror to person B. It can be useful to recognise that, but the usefulness is quickly going to turn to uselessness if person A then gets so upset that they stop coming to the group for latihan, or stop doing the latihan altogether? Funnily enough the incident I quoted that happened to myself, and the incident that Simon Sturton witnessed happening between Ibu and a lady member, also both involved an inappropriate criticism of the person's latihan, so I sympathise with the upset this can cause.

In my reply to you, I assumed the person you were talking about was an "ordinary member", with no special function of committee or helper. That's why I implied it is difficult to know exactly how to handle that situation because the last thing we want is to encourage helpers or committee to assume a superior position and lecture other members on what is right and wrong behaviour.

However if the person in question is a helper, and the offense is caused to you through their actions in their capacity of helper, then that is a different situation altogether. I can only repeat what I said in my "Blueprint for Change" article, that until we recognise it is normal for people to make mistakes and act badly, and until we accordingly introduce procedures whereby the victims of such behaviour can easily get their case heard, without fuss, it will always be difficult to resolve such incidents.

It seems to me out of place that a spiritual movement should be quick to place the blame on the complainer and so unconcerned to get to the bottom of disputes and get them resolved,

Sahlan

From stefan, January 24, 2008. Time 0:29

"Won't someone notice that it seems OK in Subud for people to tear their brother or sister to bits, then blame the victim? This needs attention."

Hello Bronte.

Point well made and taken

So what should happen when serious hurt is caused by a Subud member? And how might we prevent it happening again in future?

Sahlan pointed out that "one problem we have in Subud is that we are supposedly not hierarchical...in Subud we don't want our helpers to be like a priesthood or our committee to be like a superior hierarchy, so who is going to deal with inappropriate personal behaviour?"

And yet doing nothing is pathetic!

I have two immediate thoughts and want to hear your (and others') suggestions:

a) When a Subud member feels unjustly treated by another and isn't able to resolve it directly with them (s)he should have the right to call a group meeting to express the grievance and to say what they would like done about it. Naturally the other party will have a different viewpoint to air, but this way the helpers and committee are not required to exercise "power". Rather the whole group -as peers and equals - tries to really get to the heart of it. Hopefully this intense, public and time-consuming process would be a learning and would deter someone from repeating insensitive hurtful behaviour.

b) I'm thinking about how to promote among Subud groups basic skills for handling conflict. Maybe we fail to address wrongs when we just don't know to do next.

Some of the simpler tools available from NVC and counselling can be developed by groups who want to communicate authentically (not just to smile and duck out of interpersonal issues!).

Stefan

From Helissa Penwell, January 24, 2008. Time 1:3

Hi Guys,

We need to have better ways to air grievances and resolve conflicts, that's for sure. Most of us could improve in learning how to maintain our personal boundaries and how to stand up for ourselves when we are verbally abused. People too often tend to treat other Subud members like "family" and apparently they aren't too nice to their family members. That's clearly a part of Subud culture that needs changing.

I hope that none of you are saying that a recommendation to use an unpleasant incident as a way to learn more about oneself is in any way "blaming the victim". Not at all! It's more of a silver lining. It's a way to gain power and change the dynamic. When we go in and find the part of ourselves that is reacting so strongly to another person, then we can work with that knowledge to eventually heal any wounds connected with it and transform the energy into something which can give us strength--strength to handle the outer situation. The first thing that happens is that we calm down and stay less reactive. That frees us to act differently with our abuser. We are more open to receiving Guidance and understanding about how we can change things. Sometimes, but not always, our abuser senses the positive change in us and adjusts himself to it, e.g. he senses that we are more in control and he has lost some power. Naturally, some abusers are just crazy and nothing changes them, ah well......... The point is that inward, positive change, like that done in shadow work, is empowering. That's why I recommend it.

Helissa

From bronte, January 24, 2008. Time 3:37

It's almost incestuous here, even if I like it.

Everyone here is being sympatheetic and trying to be helpful

But what are the people in the Ivory Towers doing and saying?

ISC where are you?

Note: For writing about these things, I got told I had written "the most horrible letter he had ever read" by one of the members of the "Royal Families "(real founding member's families) of Subud Australia, so nothing happened, and everyone who'd left stayed out, and Subud hasn't grown.

Why is this?

I've said it all before.

We can fix it, or must I say "you can"

Love to all

From Sahlan Diver, January 24, 2008. Time 7:10

Resolving Disputes

We do need to have procedures in place for resolving disputes, but we first need to distinguish the type of dispute to be resolved.

Stefan suggests holding a group meeting to hear a case between two members who have a personal disagreement. I assume he is meaning for a bad, long-term disagreement that is spilling over and disturbing other members, otherwise, it would surely be overplaying the issue to hold a group meeting as an early step. I know of a case where two members who had a long-term disagreement resolved it just by talking it through openly in the presence of another member acting as an informal moderator. Similarly, cases of members agreeing to test together about a dispute are not uncommon.

My own concern is not with personal disputes between two members, but with what I believe is the much more common problem of disputes that come about through members' actions in their capacity of committee member or helper. Such disputes, if left unresolved, can have a long-term damaging effect on Subud. However, unlike personal disputes, which for resolution first require the agreement of both parties to enter into discussion, these other disputes should be easier to resolve, because it is should be possible to put in place a formal mechanism for resolution that the offending party, in their capacity of helper or committee member, is obliged to go along with.

Such procedures do not need to be overbearing or excessively dramatic. For example, here is a fictitious group notice describing such a procedure:

"Dear Group members, As you know your helpers meet on the third Wednesday of each month to discuss helper issues. We set aside time in these meetings to hear out any member or helper who has a complaint about a helper or helpers, whether it be a complaint about the way a testing session was carried out, some complaint about the conduct of the latihan, a complaint about personal behaviour, or whatever. These discussions are undertaken in strictest confidence. We do not publish their content, but we do hope to obtain a satisfactory resolution to any matter that is raised, and also, if there is a mistake on our part, to recognise and learn from it for the future. As part of the resolution we may sometimes suggest that testing would be appropriate, but we will not insist on testing if you do not wish to test."

I agree with Bronte that it would be good and helpful if ISC would take a lead in this issue, but I also wonder, in a spiritual movement that supposedly values "harmony" above all else, why these simple considerations for the rights and happiness of our fellow members aren't arising naturally at the group level anyway,

Sahlan

From David W, January 25, 2008. Time 6:46

Subud Australia has just passed a draft dispute resolution process, for trialling.

From Hassanah Briedis, January 25, 2008. Time 9:8

Hi, I would suggest that any group considering these issues of conflict resolution would be wise to formulate a policy which is based on researched practice, as I believe is happening in Subud Australia. To do it any other way, for example as is suggested - call a group meeting to air the two sides - is playing with fire.

The reality of an ad hoc procedure is that someone will get VERY hurt. Unless mediated by a really impartial (and experienced) third party, the very common experience is that someone becomes the scapegoat, and there is subtle or not-so-subtle judgement about who is really in the wrong. Someone can innocently and trustingly go into such a group process, and come out totally devastated. I have seen it happen too many times in both Subud groups and others.

Regards, Hassanah (Briedis)

From bronte, January 25, 2008. Time 12:57

The issues have become too personal.

Hassanah, I wish you could contribute, but could also have all the information already provided by the conflicting parties, especially my stories, which need checking with people concerned, including the Chairman of Subud Australia, who surely is to be congratulated for the fact that this initiative has been taken. For decades I have heard this local group being described as a "basket case", and that too I would like to see undone, apart from all the rest.

Subud, I believe has someting to contribute to many people, and I am too ashamed of what I have seen here, let alone what I have experienced, to name Subud to those of my friends and awquiantances who want to know what my "spiritual training" is, and why I can't "move on" from it. That is not how things should be! And where, pray tell, does one "move on" to, from Subud. I firmly declare that there is no where to run!

From Sahlan Diver, January 25, 2008. Time 13:55

You could try remote arbitration as follows:

Each party chooses a representative in Subud they know they can trust not to be prejudiced against their case. The two representatives must have had no involvment in any of the disputes, nor been a member of the group(s) affected by the disputes.

The parties then write to the representatives summarising their view of the history of the dispute as clearly and as succinctly as possible, and set out what they think is necessary to resolve it.

A copy of their grievance is also sent to the opposite party.

Next the representatives discuss together to try to find possible ways forward. As part of their discussions they will also go back to the parties for further clarification, and to put forward tentative suggestions for a resolution.

Hopefully the parties will agree some way forward which can then be implemented. Maybe testing will also be useful at this stage.

I am no expert on conflict resolution, but it seems to me in Subud we need some kind of neutral process for the really bad, long-term disputes where, for whatever reason, justified or not, a locally initiated resolution is not fully trusted,

Sahlan

From Philip Quackenbush, January 25, 2008. Time 19:46

Hi, Bronte,

You said:

"And where, pray tell, does one "move on" to, from Subud. I firmly declare that there is no where to run!"

Well, I just as firmly declare that there are plenty of places to run, if you're really looking. Obviously, the vast majority of people (95-98% "dropout" rate enough of a majority?) who have come to Subud have done so in one way or another, some running screaming for the exits as fast as possible to get away from such a weird organization. I probably would have done the same if I hadn't been assured by reading Bennett's book "Concerning Subud" that it was not what it seemed to be on the outside, after my first encounter with a helper who virtually shouted at me to go away and come back next week, because Bapak was there.

I already told of what I did somewhere on this forum during a "dry spell" in the existence of the local group, when I was free to explore alternatives, since group latihan didn't exist for me or my wife at the time. She seemed to be content with her situation, but I had done latihan faithfully for almost two decades at that point, rarely, if ever, missing a group latihan, and just as rarely doing a solo latihan, so I had basically lost my regular "fix" and could have gone through major withdrawal symptoms from my addiction to the alpha states (and sometimes the theta and even delta states) produced from its practice, but I had fortuitously run across one of the first books to hit the US on qigong (or chi gong, as it was called in that book), and tried it, eventually realizing that there was no difference between its practice and that of the latihan except its outer form(s), the "inner content" being the same. I had a couple of deeper spiritual experiences than I had ever had in Subud at that time from its practice (all that without any specious overlay of worshipping 'God').

Ibu Rahaju stated in one or more of her lectures that Subud was not the only way, it was just an easy way, perhaps the easiest, and so did Pak Subuh. I agree, having found its equivalent in other venues, but in all cases except qigong (and perhaps Osho's cult's use of it, called something like "freaking out and letting go") with some sort of religious or spiritual overtones attached that alter its basic nature in some way. But if you're looking for a particular group setting and aren't willing to look beyond the social milieu of Subud, then I have nothing for it. If I were you (and I obviously am not, except for the fact that there's only One of us here), I would look elsewhere for my "fix" instead of butting my head up against a stone wall for decades (which feels so good when you stop), but who am I to give advice?

Back in the days when I had the fear of God in me (an attitude aided and abetted by my listening to the suggestions given in Pak Subuh's soporific, hypnotizing lectures and, later, by the equally soporific lectures of Ibu Rahaju), I made it a habit to ask if there was anything better than Subud for him to lead me to. Well, I've realized that there isn't anything better, but there are infinite versions and manifestations of it to be had, with or without an imaginary God. Also, realizing that latihan is simply a form of moving meditation, and not necessarily the most effective, I just ordered a free CD from Holosync to try their version of it, which appears to be the most effective version of meditation ever devised, using modern scientific methods to maximize its effectiveness, eventually (within 2 years of average practice, but maybe regular meditators like Subud members could do it sooner) allowing one to instantly go into a delta state at will with full consciousness (known to mystics as a Oneness state). If reminded, I'll let Subud Vision know about what happens to me when I have used the disc for a while. Then maybe I’ll shell out the 180 bucks for their program, which gave the world soccer champs their edge over all their competitors, and is a staple of lots and lots of corporate execs.

Peace, Philip

(Editor's Note: This post has been edited to remove unecessary quotes, spelling mannerisms and incomprehensible initials and to simplify extremely long sentences.)

From Hassanah Briedis, January 25, 2008. Time 22:27

Good on you Philip !!! I love your spelling. I too have found other practices that can give rise to a state like latihan, in my training as a creative arts therapist. Surprised I was. And it felt really good to see people out there happily tapping into a life force, without giving it a name or claiming all kinds of labels for the experience. Just was, naturally, when you connected with your inner life.

My experience with Qi Gung was not a happy one, though I never tried it myself. But a whole group of my colleagues in therapy got into it, and I watched the same thing happen to them as I had witnessed in Subud - a giving up of their own capacity for reason! A gradual conversion to fanaticism of belief, and a separation from others.

Hassanah

From stefan, January 26, 2008. Time 0:6

Hi Hassanah,

I want to respond to your report "I watched the same thing happen to them as I had witnessed in Subud - a giving up of their own capacity for reason! A gradual conversion to fanaticism of belief, and a separation from others."

That must have been the pits for you. I'm guessing that if you told these friends (into Subud or Tai Chi) about your concerns they would have a way of seeing it that made you seem like the only one with a problem.

I feel a bit shocked. I'm wondering if you find most Subud people self-deluded and insular to such an unhealthy degree, or is this the extreme end of the spectrum? Is this fanaticism - do you think - why so few newer members stick around?

I'm wondering now if my wife hadn't left Subud whether I (we) could have become more completely Subud identified. We might always have been saving up for the next congress, longing to be with people who "speak the same language" and finding ourselves more at sea in the big bad world. Is that how it all goes wrong?

What's the remedy for folk who entrench themselves in a narrow idea of Subud?

Yet I noticed that many of the friends I caught up with in August (having not been to a big Subud shebang for 10 years) seemed to have become more "rounded". Less starry eyed or fanciful, work and projects more realistic and integrated (environment, community, non-Subud friends).

How is it that some of us seem to be able to value the latihan and yet keep growing and questioning? I don't mean this as a rhetorical question. What is it that decides if one's autonomy will shrink or develop?

Stefan

From Merin Nielsen, January 26, 2008. Time 0:8

Hi, Hassanah,

Please excuse this question, but are you mixing up qigong with Falun Gong? The first is a largely secular exercise system whereas the second is a religious organisation which claims to incorporate qigong. (Both involve practices that might give rise to states overlapping with latihan.)

Regards,

Merin

From Hassanah Briedis, January 26, 2008. Time 3:18

Hi Stefan and Merin,

Stefan, I understand your questions, and I really appreciate the way you choose to word them - not confrontationally, but really open to asking and listening - thanks. It's a big question you are asking - and any quick response is going to be provisional and insufficient to the importance of it. I think back on my own time of being a fanatical and narrow-minded Subud girl and then woman, and the big awakening around the experience of Totok and the Melbourne group. What I witnessed then was that at the back of an insular fanaticism was fear, insecurity and a pack mentality. It was necessary to be right - absolutely right - about one's belief system, because any cracks threatened its stability, and the whole system might fall apart. I can only assume that when that is the case, the system must be essentially flawed, or challenges to one's reality would not be a threat. I think of the metaphor of the solid brick house, it cannot sway in the wind or bend. It can only change position catastrophically - by falling apart.

That is only one perspective on what is no doubt far more complex.

Merin, I'm definitely referring to Qi Gung, not Falun Gong. We have a 'guru' here in Melbourne, a woman who probably began as just any practitioner, but as people flocked to her and began to hang on her every word, she gradually assumed guru status. What did it for me was when the great Tsunami happened in Asia. After that event, my friend was talking about it, and said (recognize this?) "...... (name)said that the tsunami was caused by a build up of (certain) forces in those people's lives (etc etc)" I just stared in disbelief that my formerly intelligent friend was falling for this, only because her it was her Qi Gung teacher who was saying it. I mentioned plate tectonics and continental shelves, but it was a waste of time. The rot had set in.

Hassanah

From Andrew Hall, January 26, 2008. Time 15:8

Hello to all,

I would like to respond to several of the recent posts.

First, Hassanah's experience with Qi Gong. I can appreciate her reaction to what she sees happening with her friend and others. But I don't think this guru shtick is intrinsic to Qi Gong. I practice a type of Qi Gong but I am not under the spell of any guru (maybe that's my problem!!). Qi Gong is an art and science that has been developed in China over several thousands of years and there are now probably many, many hundreds of types of Qi Gong. I consider Tai Chi as a moving form of Qi Gong.

Nor would I want us to stereotype Christianity based on the behavior of fundamentalist sects. Not only is this a grave disservice to the many, many Christians who are the farthest thing from fundamentalists that I can imagine but our revulsion may close us off from learning what we can from this major world religion.

Secondly, to Philip and his quest to show us that the latihan is not all that special and he's going to show us a better, cheaper and faster way to get to the "latihan state." I guess my first question is why do we assume that there is one type of latihan? Philip has his latihan, and good for him, but I'm not sure how close it is to mine. For me, I use the latihan as a form of worship. During latihan, I feel I am being shown how to worship. What do a I worship? I call it Loving Creative Spirit, my own personal name for G--.

Thirdly, to Stefan and his question about how to deal with close mindedness in Subud. This is an issue very dear to my heart.

I think one way is to openly talk about what happened in the past, so that whatever lessons we can learn from these mistakes and disasters are not forgotten in the present and are transmitted to the young. For instance, Hassanah refererred to the story of Totok and Subud Melbourne. I think this story is an excellent example and it should be told and retold, not in a way that tells people what to think or arouses fear but told in a way that encourages listeners to think and talk about it, so that we can be alive to when we see fear within ourselves and those we are with.

On a very practical level, I would suggest that local Subud groups post the following notice so that everyone can see it as they come in from the street:

"As members of Subud, we are individually responsible for our decisions and our actions. We approach each other with understanding and compassion and we do not encourage nor accept the surrender of our individual responsibility to another."

I hope this is helpful.

Andrew

From Hassanah Briedis, January 26, 2008. Time 22:59

Hi Andrew, yes, I take on board what you're saying about Qi Gung. Thinking about it further, I remember that all the people who I witnessed move their allegiance from a basically psychological approach to a 'spiritual' one, were all novices in the world of mysticism & spiritual practices. What they were offered by the woman in charge was so amazing to them, it was like a new world. Whatever happened after that was a two way process, and I think that's exactly what happened in Subud when Bapak came to the West. It's a parent-child interaction, and what one hopes is that the child eventually grows up, but in the case of spiritual movements, that can take a generation or more. Cheers, Hassanah

From Philip Quackenbush, January 26, 2008. Time 23:5

Hi, Hassanah, Merin, and Andrew,

Hassanah said:

"My experience with Qi Gong was not a happy one, though I never tried it myself. But a whole group of my colleagues in therapy got into it, and I watched the same thing happen to them as I had witnessed in Subud - a giving up of their own capacity for reason! A gradual conversion to fanaticism of belief, and a separation from others."

Well, there are many types of qigong, and taiji constitutes several (the long, short, and medium(?) versions, to name just a few) forms. The one I'm "doing" (or it's doing me) is ziran, or "original" qigong, which is entirely spontaneous, and IMO is identical with the "latihan" with no concepts attached to it. There was a post on Subudtalk a couple years back that described it, as found by a Subud member from Oz or New Zealand when he was in China, and I decided to try it. Having no further input to tell me how it was done or what I should experience, it has remained more or less "pure" in my "receiving" of it, and its effectiveness compared to the "latihan" with all the Subud theological concepts attached to it seems to me much superior to the latter.

I'm sure that what others "receive" "doing" it would be quite different from what I "receive", just as the "latihan" (which again, IMO, is virtually the same physiological process) is "adjusted" by the current condition of the body, including hormone balance, weaknesses, etc., to the needs of the individual. IMO, the process loses effectiveness in direct proportion to any beliefs about it that may be attached to it, including (and perhaps especially) those "explained" by M. Subuh, which I've seen put many Subud members in great confusion during my years in the cult, including myself, rather than lessening it.

Thus, IMO, just "doing" one's "latihan" and ignoring not only those "doing" it around you (as suggested in the "opening" statement) but any opinions ANYONE may have regarding it (unless asked for, which, IMO, is not recommended) could be of supreme importance in producing a useful and transformational effect of the process in one's life. After all, if one has, for example, the belief that the "latihan" is something that's a "gift of God", then one can have the fear that, like any gift, it can be taken away by a vengeful "God" that doesn't approve of your "sins" instead of just letting it happen without that fear.

Peace, Philip

From Andrew Hall, January 27, 2008. Time 1:33

Hi Philip,

I would like to avoid any language that judges yours or another's latihan as "inferior" or "misguided" and my feeling since I sent the last posting is not good. I am not coming from where I want to be.

I don't want to limit your options or my own options or anyone else's freedom by using language which judges what a correct latihan is.

I can only speak for myself and what I experience and feel, as can any of us. We are not authorities about or over one another.

I feel that the talk in Subud about surrender in the latihan has resulted in our not paying enough attention to what I see as the beauty and need for "intent." Phew!! How's that for a sweeping judgement?

I prefer using the word "intent" to the word "devotion", because some people might object to devotion as carrying too much baggage. I am happy to use devotion in the sense that I can accept using it, but I don't like using the word "faith" because that carries too much baggage for me.

It is my choice, and devotion or intent is something that I choose to do. I am not doing it because someone else tells me. As you say in your last paragraph "if one has, for example, the belief that the "latihan" is something that's a "gift of God", then one can have the fear that, like any gift, it can be taken away by a vengeful "God" that doesn't approve of your "sins" instead of just letting it happen without that fear."

Amen to that. I hope you don't put me in that camp! I want you and all Subud members to be free to decide, each for ourselves.

Best,

Andrew

From Philip Quackenbush, January 27, 2008. Time 9:28

Hi, Andrew,

Even though I was responding in part to your post, there was nothing personal intended in my comments. If I got specific as to personalities, I might end up stepping on someone's toes (or even breaking one or two). In the case of the founder of the cult and his daughter, I have little choice, since, IMO, it's many members' attitudes towards what they have said in their lectures that is the main stumbling block to effecting any meaningful structural reform in what is still a cult by several criteria, so criticisms of those lectures are vital, IMO, to producing the needed changes.

Peace, Philip

From stefan, January 27, 2008. Time 10:28

Hi Philip,

"still a cult by several criteria"

You mentioned reverence for the words of founder and daughter as a limiting factor. Seems that about half of Subud take issue with Bapak's advice while the others are longing to promote it ("Wish more people would come to Bapak's talks") I'd be very interested in your take on which aspects of Subud are cultlike and are there any aspects that aren't?

Hassanah,

Thanks for responding to my question. The question of encouraging peoples autonomy and independence of mind rather than snagging both into an organisational whirlpool seems to be central to Subud's (possible) future

Andrew,

I like your suggestion about having a notice up at all Subud groups (A bit like a health warning on a cigarette packet?) putting it more flippantly I'd say "Keep your wits about you and don't believe all you hear!"

I also like the word "intent". You asked awhile ago if the term "higher ideal" would express the mystery to which you or I direct our surrender in latihan (without using the much abused G word). Well I'm still looking for words that chime for me. I have a "sense" of a loving and wide consciousness infusing me during latihan - but no mental picture or concept. My intellect can't reconcile this deeply nourishing experience with harsh and heartless world events (an old conundrum).

Enjoying this discussion.

Stefan

From David W, January 27, 2008. Time 15:25

Hi Hassanah

I think there's an interesting pattern to your recent post. The first paragraph critiques people in being TOO RIGID in their thinking. The second paragraph critiques them for being TOO OPEN MINDED (i.e. too accepting of new ideas.)

I'm not saying that these two critiques cancel each other out. Rather, I think that they are both true, but this apparent antithesis deserves some reflection.

Best

David

From Hassanah Briedis, January 27, 2008. Time 23:31

Hi David, I think the issue may be one of timing - chronology. Perhaps people who are craving something to fill the existential hole, jump enthusiastically into a new-found experiential spiritual system and tend to embrace it fervently, natural enough! But their very innocence and lack of experience is a potential danger, and an experiential exercise requires that you experience, not think or analyze.

Gradually they give up their analytical powers and also fall prey to the hypnotic methods of the leader (a very common approach in these systems), further encouraging them to accept ideas blindly. But (and I'm just thinking on my feet here, so open to debate) MAYBE the problem is that there is an essential disagreement within, as one very useful part of self has been silenced and squashed. That part of self knows things are not right, but the new groupie/disciple HAS to justify its needs and craving for something to give life meaning. Thus we have the development of a fanatical narrow-mindedness, a refusal to hear anything against the system that in some ways has made the self so happy.

Waddaya think? Hassanah

From Andrew Hall, January 28, 2008. Time 3:23

Hi Hassanah,

I prefer to avoid using judgemental language when decribing the psychological mechanisms that result in Subud members being true believers.

The very human needs that are getting met are the needs for assurance, transcendance or spiritual experience, certainty, belonging, safety, and excitement. And those needs are just the ones that pop into my mind at this moment.

I think the young people who joined Subud in the 1960's and 1970's were getting all these needs met.

For some of the members that I know, I wonder if Bapak was some sort of replacement father for them, since their own father was sometimes absent or the relationship was toxic. Mind you, that's just my speculation. If this is what was/is happening, it is because these needs are very real and deserve to be respected and Bapak helped people meet these needs.

On the other side, being a true believer can end up with other needs being neglected, such as our needs for autonomy, independence, self-respect, freedom, and creativity.

The problem and the trap for many people who lose the faith is that after they lose the assurance and safety they once felt, they now may feel guilty for neglecting their other needs for so long and avoiding dealing with their misgivings.

That can give rise to a bitterness that is hard for others to bear. This guilt can be expressed by criticizing Bapak and we do see this happening.

But I think the more common pattern that I see is that people need to retain their faith in Bapak and instead direct their criticism at everyone's favourite target in Subud, the helpers.

I see other members in Subud who are losing their faith and expressing this very passively. They don't trust the organization and they avoid the helpers.

Many Subud groups are places where people live parallel lives and try to avoid anything other than minimal contact with each other.

Or am I being too one-sidedly negative?

Andrew

From David W, January 28, 2008. Time 3:30

Hi Hassanah

I'm reminded again of Len Oakes explanation of the psychology of charismatic followership, which you can find here:

http://www.sustainedaction.org/Explorations/followers_and_their_quest.htm

A few select paragraphs:

"To summarize thus far, the followers have great works that they hope to achieve, agendas laid down in their infantile nuclear selves that they hope to express. They actively seek a vehicle for this expression, in faith that such expression is possible. They meet and come to trust the prophet as a suitable vehicle for the expression of their great work. From the leader is drawn the courage needed for a difficult task. Like the analysand who creates a transference neurosis with the analyst, the followers project their ultimate concerns onto the prophet. The prophet is thus little more than a catalyst or a symbol for the followers, who are really having a relationship with their own selves, or with their ultimate concerns, rather than with another person. Of course the leader has an independent existence, which may confound and surprise at times, but the followers are unlikely to think too much about this."

"A striking thing about the followers is how little they seek to know about the leader’s background. Few ever ask searching questions and critically evaluate the answers. They prefer to let the leader’s daily example serve as the testimony of his truth, and hence as a vehicle for their great work. To question too closely would be to disrupt the pleasant flow of here-and-now fusion. The followers are attempting to live their ultimate concerns, to enter into an active, personal relationship with these concerns in daily life."

...

"Outsiders often criticize the extreme commitment of group members. But what is really happening is that leader and followers are conspiring to realize a vision that is falsified daily. For the cult is not paradise, and the leader is not God. Hence the follower is embattled; to squarely confront the many failings of the leader and the group is to call into question one’s own great work. Only by daily recommitting himself can the follower continue to work toward his ultimate goal. Each follower works out a secret compromise, acknowledging some things while denying or distorting others. Clearly this is a high-risk strategy that may go awry. In discussions with followers one often senses that in some corner of their hearts they keep a critical eye on the many inconsistencies of the group. Most can reflect on their extremes, such as being led into antisocial behaviors because of their dependence. Sometimes they feel bad about this. Later they might wonder "How could I be so gullible? All the warning signs were there, so why did I ignore them?" Outsiders wonder this, too. What is overlooked is the deeper agenda that the follower joined for, and that required the leader’s support to perform. Perhaps, paraphrasing Ernst Kris, we might describe followership as surrender in the service of the ego (Kris 1952); that is, an act that appears to be regressive but is freely willed and somewhat controlled, and that constitutes a temporary strategy in the pursuit of a higher goal."

The way I read this, the follower wants to embark on a program of great personal transformation. In order to get the courage to do this, they need to project their ideal onto a living person. [Elsewhere, Oakes describes the characteristics that person must have in order to be a suitable screen for the projection.] At some level, they KNOW that the there's a self-deception involved in this, but they suppress that knowledge because the creation of the delusion is important to their project, and they push away external evidence or critique that might break the spell, for the same reason.

It's like watching a movie. To enter into the world of the movie, you have suspend disbelief; and you get irritated if someone says, mid-film, "Hey, it's just a movie!". But if the movie is telling a story you feel you need to hear, that's what you do: first suspend your critical faculties, and then push away any thing or input that would bring you out of the movie-created world.

Best

David

From Philip Quackenbush, January 28, 2008. Time 6:56

Hi, Stefan,

You asked which criteria for cults that Subud fulfills. David ran through one list on Subudtalk a while back, and it scored about 21 out of 25, as I recall, with a couple of iffy hits. I just Googled cult criteria and came up with several lists. I'll let you do the same and make your own decision as to how many of the shoes fit. IMO, it's a bunch. It may not be possible to pare down the cult image of Subud to the outside world completely, and it's already officially listed as a cult in at least two countries, if not more, but certainly with sufficient structural changes in the organization and an official website that doesn't almost trumpet the fact with considerable orchestration behind it, it might help, and, as they say in New York, it vouldn' hoit.

On a personal level, I try to be honest about its cultic nature so those who wish to be cautious about adopting the jargon and attitudes of the cult-prone can know that up front, but there's always people that don't want to hear the truth because it might destroy their fantasies, so I generally don't make a big issue about it except where it seems to be important, as on this forum.

Peace, Philip

From David W, January 28, 2008. Time 7:23

Hey folks

Can anyone offer me a working definition of these two words:

SPIRITUAL

TRANSCENDENT

Here they are from the dictionary:

spiritual |ˈspiri ch oōəl|

adjective

1 of, relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things : I'm responsible for his spiritual welfare | the spiritual values of life.

• (of a person) not concerned with material values or pursuits.

2 of or relating to religion or religious belief : Iran's spiritual leader.

transcendent |tranˈsendənt|

adjective

beyond or above the range of normal or merely physical human experience : the search for a transcendent level of knowledge.

• surpassing the ordinary; exceptional : the conductor was described as a “transcendent genius.”

• (of God) existing apart from and not subject to the limitations of the material universe.

Now in these terms, what do the following mean:

SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE

TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCE

It seems to me that to make sense of them, you have to have a cosmology which in which the world if fundamentally divided into two realms: "spiritual" and "physical". I don't have such a cosmology. I realise I can't make sense of these terms, because for me, there is just experience.

Best

David

From David W, January 28, 2008. Time 8:6

Hi Philip, Stefan,

I can't remember which "ruler" I ran over Subud at the time, but I dug up this one by the academic Eileen Barker. Barker is very sympathetic towards cults, and is for that reason targeted by the anticult movement as a "cult apologist", as you can ascertain by googling: eileen barker cult apologist. For that reason, I have high confidence that this is a neutral list. My appraisal in parentheses at the end of each point.

http://www.spiritus-temporis.com/cult-checklist/eileen-barker.html

* A movement that separates itself from society, either geographically or socially; (YES)

* Adherents who become increasingly dependent on the movement for their view on reality; (SOME DO)

* Important decisions in the lives of the adherents are made by others; (YES for those who ask B or R for naming, career or marriage guidance. Just the fact that anyone does is a bad sign.)

* Making sharp distinctions between us and them, divine and satanic, good and evil, etc. that are not open for discussion; (YES... given that any discussion is "from the mind")

* Leader who claim divine authority for their deeds and for their orders to their followers; (YES)

* Leader and movements who are unequivocally focused on achieving a certain goal. (YES, for those who subscribe to "Bapak's Mission".)

Over the last 20 years, most of these have declined.

Best

David

From David W, January 28, 2008. Time 8:11

PS: The funnest and funniest "cult checklist" is this one:

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult_q0.html

It's amazing what people get up to.

Best

David

From Michael Irwin, January 29, 2008. Time 0:41

Regarding David's search for a meaning of 'spiritual' and 'transcendent'. I am concerned here only with a meaning for 'spiritual'.

I found the dictionary meanings frustrating because they didn't suit my needs for use. The two uses referred generally to a feeling of commonality between people as in 'the spirit of the gang was low' or to anything that was not physical, that is, measurable, such as magical spirits, or any unfocussed but positive feeling of me and my relationship with the universe. (Even though I'm not addressing the meaning of 'transcendent' directly, that unfocussed feeling is transcendent in that it goes beyond the self.)

In reference to the latihan, for me the meaning has come to mean the direct experience of nothing or blankness (no thoughts, no memories, no visualizations) and with that an awareness of being aware or the knowing experience of nothing.

Michael

From Philip Quackenbush, January 29, 2008. Time 0:49

David wrote:

"PS: The funnest and funniest "cult checklist" is this one:

http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-cult_q0.html

It's amazing what people get up to."

Well, I got up to about 5-11, but I seem to have shrunk a bit since.

Peace, Philip

From Andrew Hall, January 29, 2008. Time 22:50

Hi David, Stefan and everyone,

I have some difficulty talking about Subud as a cult although I agree there are certainly some of characteristics that Eileen Barker lists that can make a case that Subud is cult-like in some respects.

I especially dislike the anti-intellectual bias in Subud, the avoidance of discussion and debate based on the idea that this is "from the mind." This really seems to do us all a great disservice.

However, as I say in my previous post, I prefer to use language that avoids judgement and recognizes that people were and are trying to get real human needs met by joining and staying in Subud. I certainly find this non-judgemental language much easier to use when I talk about Subud Vision at my local group. I've found that talking about how Subud resembles a cult tends to shut people down. Small wonder, eh?

And I don't want to use one set of words here and then another when I'm at a Subud event. It bothers me when I find myself doing that.

(I am very curious about the initial attraction and eventual disaffection of John Bennett from Subud, and I wonder if the estrangment model that Len Oakes describes would apply to Bennett.)

My thinking at this time is influenced by Anthony Bright-Paul's book "Stairway to Subud" which I have been reading online. I marvel at the impact that the experience of the latihan had in 1957 on the people who had been studying the Gurdjieff work. I can't imagine two experiences that are more different.

Speaking from the viewpoint of 2008, I see the new Subud members in 1957 being swept away by the experience of the latihan and, most important, buying into the explanation of the latihan (along with all of Bapak's cultural baggage) that came with it.

But since Bapak was talking about "Almighty God", I guess it seemed alright to think he meant the same thing as a person in the West means by it. After all, he kept talking about Adam and Abraham and the prophets. How could Bapak mean something foreign to Westerners?

The result is that Subud members from the West entered the world of the nafsu and jiwa and the forces and looked to Bapak to explain everything that this meant. It really was extraordinary. If I get a troubling diagnosis from a doctor, I make sure I get multiple opinions and try to figure out what it means. But the latihan experience seems to have been so powerful and the impact of meeting Bapak so riveting that Subud members felt it was all that mattered. No need to look elsewhere and might it have seemed disloyal?

I certainly feel that Bapak was genuine about everything he said. But in hindsight I think it was terribly wrong for the Western members to abandon the Western tradition of intellectual freedom and inquiry and think that they could inhabit the very rich psychological world of the Javanese and live their lives by it!

Wrong from this vantage point, but very understandable. If I were there at Coombe Springs, I probably would have done the same thing. But I wasn't and we can all now profit by figuring out what happened and what could have been done differently.

My need is to manage living in two worlds, the world of the latihan experience, and the world of the intellect where we use our minds to fully engage with life. I am in the latihan when I do latihan and afterwards I am fully in this world. I don't think mixing the two worlds has worked that well for Subud.

Best,

Andrew

From Philip Quackenbush, January 29, 2008. Time 23:31

Hi, Andrew,

Judging by the titles of the later chapters, it looks like it isn't the usual fawning tribute to the cult, so I plan to read it from the pdf I downloaded, but I can understand why it didn't get re-published by SPI if it doesn't adhere the official Party Line all the way through.

Peace, Philip

From bronte, January 29, 2008. Time 23:42

"My need is to manage living in two worlds, the world of the latihan experience, and the world of the intellect where we use our minds to fully engage with life. I am in the latihan when I do latihan and afterwards I am fully in this world. I don't think mixing the two worlds has worked that well for Subud."

I think this is not an exclusive Subud matter. Neither is the terminology so frowned upon here as "Eastern" so alien to the Western mystical traditions. Was Bennett so ignorant that he "got it wrong" in making the connections he did?

The very idea that latihan, as experienced in Subud, can be part of the moment by moment life work does not seem alien to me. It is just that the quietness involved seems to be too subtle to make the connection with the dynamic latihan we mostly seem to experience when it is a "focused" activity, done on its own.

I occassionally try to "feel the latihan" as I do something else, and it seems to be there, participating in the activity I am doing. So maybe it is an act of "quietening the mind", and therefore similar to qigong, or to Western meditation. I still do not find it necessary to reject so much of Bapak's explanation.

Of course, being first in contact with Subud in 1961 may be the difference. I can't apologise for that, or the possibility that the un-felt influence of Subud that year enabled me to pass all my final year school exams. That was just a bonus.

As to "reasoning" in Subud. Well, my rantings for years have pointed out that I find Subud people most unreasonable in dealing with conflicts. They just won't admit that black is black, or in other words that something happened that needs fixing, by talking about it, and facing the facts, as just happened again here.

From Helissa Penwell, January 30, 2008. Time 0:46

Andrew,

My experience after 40 years of latihan is more in line with Bronte's--feeling the latihan moment-by-moment. I am constantly fascinated to observe how my innerself is training my thinking and emotions to work in harmony with it. So, as in latihan where we are moved to do this or that, I may feel an emotion coming from my center, and not as a reaction in the normal way. Or I may react to a situation in the normal way and then experience feedback in the form of a kind of sickening sensation that originates in my inner-feelings that sends a red flag up that my reaction is not right and I need to adjust it. That generally means that I have some self-reflection and adjustment to do. On the other hand, I am often aware of having an emotion and behind it is the flow of a calm energy that buoys me up and carries me forward, and that signals that I am in harmony with my innerself. Things work out much better for me when I stay in harmony and self-correct when I find myself out of harmony. (Others might say "in harmony with the Will of God" here, but I'm trying to stick with psychological terms according to the preferences of the present posters on SV.)

Life has gotten even more interesting since the latihan's influence has reached my intellect. As with my emotions, thoughts come to me bypassing the usual channels. I'm much more creative than I ever was in my younger days. I can't wait to hear what I'm going to think next! The same feedback system is also working on my thinking: when I am thinking thoughts out of harmony with my deeper self, then I start feeling a fingernails-on-the-blackboard feeling; when I am thinking in line with my innerself, then I feel confident and the ideas flow easily and I can express myself well. The latihan has only served to improve my intellect, so I'm having difficulty tuning into what you are saying about there being a problem.

To sum up-- the latihan is always working in me to bring all parts of myself into a working harmony, a functioning whole. So it's not a situation of the innerself versus the heart and mind. The innerself functions more as a director, working through and with the thoughts and feelings, bringing life and energy to them. All parts work together. I hope this helps and hasn't added to the confusion. It's often difficult to explain in words what is mostly experience.

Helissa

From stefan, January 30, 2008. Time 6:39

Hi Helissa,

You describe some of the integrating effects of the latihan over time (for you). I like the way you phrase it in two ways so that those who aren't comfortable with attributing things to God are not excluded.

I'm interested in collecting brief accounts of the latihan's effect for web-publication and wonder if I might quote you (I'd check with you again before publishing it)

Your description meets two needs for me - one is to have personal accounts of the latihan's effect on daily life. The other is to leave the interpretive part open-ended; not biased towards or against a theistic perspective.

I get a similar feedback from what I've come to think of as my inner feeling. My thinking's a lot clearer than it used to be but I don't know for sure if that's a latihan effect (I suspect it is). I've discovered innate abilities that others appreciate (cooking, massage, dance and choreography) that arise from being able to "let go" as I've gradually become accustomed to do in latihan. This is complemented by what I learn in the normal way, but the joyful spontaneous part seems to arise "by itself" and adds an original quality. I have non-Subud friends who work intuitively and am not at all claiming this as something exclusive to the latihan - just that latihan seems to help me to access it.

Stefan

From Hassanah Briedis, January 30, 2008. Time 7:58

Dear Helissa, what a great description! Thank you, and well said. There is almost nothing in your description that I would change to reflect my own experience. A word here or there perhaps, but essentially you've put it in a nutshell. If this inner-outer feedback system is combined with careful self-awareness, one has an excellent system by which to live. Which is what I do. Due to my psychiatric illness, I can't do group latihan any more, even if I wanted to, but it doesn't seem to matter at all. It all seems to be internalized now, after 45 years in it.

with regards, Hassanah

From Andrew Hall, January 30, 2008. Time 13:21

Dear Helissa and Bronte,

Thank-you for responing to my post, by talking about your experience and how you feel the latihan has benefited you.

I feel very enriched, Helissa, by your talking about how the latihan has integrated into your daily life, especially how your innerself lets you know when you are doing things out of synch with it, and how you respond.

It meets an enormous need in myself for understanding how to deal with similar messages, coming from what I think other traditions might call the Silent Witness.

I really think your response is one of the more valuable posts I have seen on Subud Vision. Thank you.

Best to all,

Andrew

From Helissa Penwell, January 30, 2008. Time 20:45

Stefan, Hassanah, and Andrew,

Thanks for your kind words, and thanks especially for sharing some of your own experiences with using the latihan to improve your lives. I hope we can continue to do more of this on SubudVision.

Helissa

From David W, January 31, 2008. Time 10:27

Hi Hassanah

In your article, you described what you saw as "a fundamental link between the latihan of Subud and the psychological process known as dissociation." How do you relate then this dissociation, to Helissa's personal report, which you like? What's the connection between the two?

Also, what does it mean to have internalised a dissociative process? Or is that not what you meant?

Best

David

From David W, January 31, 2008. Time 11:14

Hi Michael

I wonder if you can sharpen your language a bit--provide a bit more detail--in your description of your latihan experience.

For instance, when you say "no thoughts", I'm guessing you mean something like "no internal monologue". But is my guess right? "No memories" can easily conjure up an image of someone who can't remember where they are. You clearly still have that kind of memory in the latihan.

Care to expand?

Best

David

From Hassanah Briedis, January 31, 2008. Time 11:57

Hi David, no, it's not what I meant, but I see how it could be confusing. So I"ve had to think about it to figure out what I do mean.

If you look at Helissa's description, it's not so much about 'being in latihan' as about using the heightened awareness that the latihan can develop, to monitor responses to one's environment, one's decision-making, one's interpersonal interactions, and so on. Helissa says "my inner self is training my thinking and emotions to work in harmony with it". She goes on to describe reacting to a situation in a normal (ie, perhaps unaware) way, and then becoming aware of a sickening sensation that alerts her to the fact that some part of self is definitely NOT happy and needs attention.

The opposite, as Helissa describes, the calm and centred energy, is not necessarily dissociative. In fact my experience of it is that it is the opposite - it is a grounded sense of self, combined with an ability to be present in the moment, at peace with oneself, etc. For some this may evolve through doing latihan, but I can only speak for myself. For me it has evolved through doing long and hard work on myself, and some of this work has made use of the techniques I learnt as part of doing latihan. Those techniques are what I have internalized. Examples would be the ability to instantly switch into a self-reflective or self-aware mode, and the ability to instantly move from a cluttered mental state to a quiet and still state. And I think there are many other skills involved.

I also identify totally with Helissa's description of the effect on the intellect. I find myself having insights and thoughts that are really helpful to others around me. It's not that I would describe them as 'where do they come from, I didn't know I knew that' - no, obviously it comes from my store of knowledge and wisdom. But it just seems to flow out without preparation, and often, a few minutes later I can't remember what I said.

Anyway, I don't see any of that as 'being in latihan', but as having developed a deal of in-tunement with oneself. I like your questions - you keep me on my toes!

Hassanah

From bronte, January 31, 2008. Time 12:12

Everyone seems to want to see Subud as an objective experience, as far as I can tell. We want to actually see and understand the connection between what we feel as latihan, and the results.

Hence the feeling described by Helissa, which helps her choose the action that follows. And Hassanah seems to rationalise her experiences rather well, I thought.

But I had beliefs before I came to Subud which require me to expect things from an "unknown country", to use a term from an old book on mystical or metaphysical things.

The connection I made between passing my final year exams and the visits to stay outside the latihan premises is not an easy one for me to make, though psychologists or professionals in the appropriate areas may simply say it is the result of some mental or emotional change resulting not from something strange about the latihan, but within my own psyche. Likewise the time I "received" latihan while I was with friends, and found myself making helpful, positive, comments, which fitted a need in the situation, quite recently.

I remain very puzzled by the way Subud people interact so poorly, yet feel always connected. When an ex-member tells me he feels the latihan in my presence, I prefer to look for a more mysterious explanation than sheer rationality.

In all this, I am saying that I think we need to leave room in our thinking and feelings for things in Subud which are beyond any understanding, but are nevertheless real and valuable. We must leave room for the mysterious, even the miraculous.

As well as the plain idiotic.

From Philip Quackenbush, January 31, 2008. Time 22:5

Hi, Bronte,

You said:

"I remain very puzzled by the way Subud people interact so poorly, yet feel always connected. When an ex-member tells me he feels the latihan in my presence, I prefer to look for a more mysterious explanation than sheer rationality.

In all this, I am saying that I think we need to leave room in our thinking and feelings for things in Subud which are beyond any understanding, but are nevertheless real and valuable. We must leave room for the mysterious, even the miraculous. As well as the plain idiotic."

While being open to experiencing whatever happens to one (does one have any choice in experiencing what one experiences other than the attitude one takes towards the experience?), it seems to me that it's still necessary to question the mysterious and "miraculous" and to label clearly what seems valuable or idiotic. Without such questioning and labeling, it's been my experience that little "progress" is ever made, because one remains in a state of uncertainty and perhaps uselessness, if not a burden, to oneself and others. Eventually, by doing so, much of what remains beyond one's understanding becomes quite understandable.

So, the "latihan", then, can be useful in "clearing out" one's mind, but then how one uses it and what one puts back in it, so to speak (because past experiences will always be with us, despite such "clearing out"), will then be determining factors in whether the "clearing out" has been of much further value.

Also, I think it may be useful here to point out that the "latihan" is only one of many factors in life that may achieve such a "cleansed mind" effect. Products in the body from poor nutrition or toxins can negate much of the clear thinking that might result from practicing the "latihan", for example, and leave one in the realm of what's been called "magical thinking", especially if you're surrounded by so many people that practically eat, live and sleep with that type of thinking, which was so prevalent in the "early days" of the organization in the West. That's why I'm somewhat careful of what I eat or drink after "latihan", since the usual sugary pastries and caffeinated drinks that are often available then can easily "bring one down" from a state of mental clarity and a feeling of physical well being that the spontaneous movements with little or no interference from the conceptual mind (in the frontal lobes of the brain) that the body undergoes can bring about.

These, I think, are some of the factors that are far more likely to determine one's degree of "spiritual" "progress" than any imagined overcoming of Medievally-conceived "nafsus", which conceptions probably hinder more than help such "progress" (I'm reasonably certain that they did in my own case, spending years searching for non-existent qualities in non-existent quantities instead of studying the known characteristics of physics and biology [which have now moved so far beyond what they were when I was born as to boggle the mind; certainly far beyond the Javanese imaginary "nafsus"] to apply to my life).

Peace, Philip

From David W, February 1, 2008. Time 4:24

Hi Andrew

What specific traditions refer to a "Silent Witness"? I'm not familiar with the term, and can't find any reference to it. (Google searches are drowned out by a BBC program of the same name!)

Best

David

From Andrew Hall, February 1, 2008. Time 23:5

Hi David,

I remember the term 'silent witness" from when I was attending a Quaker meeting in the early 1990s, before I joined Subud. There seemed to be an ongoing debate among Quakers that I met about the value of talking about what happened during their worship and just letting it speak for itself. Terms like silent witness, receive, opening, and gathering (among others) had very special, numinous meanings beyond the ordinary meaning that we understand in everyday speech. I came to understand silent witness as a special grace that could be received in your heart.

I'm no expert on Quakers, but this is what I was talking about.

Best,

Andrew

From David W, February 2, 2008. Time 4:40

Hi Andrew

There seem to senses of the "silent witness" in common usage.

One is as a noun, as a component of a person's internal experience, in the same way that Helissa's "innerself" is a component of her internal experience. This sense of "silent witness" appears to come from yoga, to be a translation of the word "sakshi", and to have been popularised by Deepak Chopra.

The Quaker sense is different. For them, "silent witness" is a verb. The sense of "witness" is as in "to bear witness", as in the Christian sense. Silent means literally that: in silence. "Silent witness" is not part of the psyche: it is an act.

A funny story from this Quaker page:

http://www.fum.org/QL/issues/0401/raising_Quaker_children.htm

"We feel the silent witness of our ancestors is not enough for the current generations... The old tradition of expecting osmosis to carry a vital faith from one generation to the next will not work. One of our favorite family stories is of our learning from our two-year-old that religious instruction didn't happen by osmosis. He told us that he thought silent grace was to cool the food."

Best

David

From Mike Higgins, February 2, 2008. Time 6:14

David W. asked you, Hassanah (Briedis), the question I would have asked about your response to Helissa Penwell's report, to which you replied: "If you look at Helissa's description, it's not so much about 'being in latihan' as about using the heightened awareness that the latihan can develop, to monitor responses to one's environment, one's decision-making, one's interpersonal interactions, and so on."

Hassanah, With all due respect, this statement seems completely contrary to the conclusions you reached in your article. In the article, you described dissociation as (1) a means of restricting or shutting off ones thoughts and feelings (which sounded unhealthy). Now you are implying that dissociation (i.e., the dissociative practice of the latihan) can (2) help one develop a heightened awareness that has constructive effects. Which is it: #1, #2, or both? Thanks - Mike

From Merin Nielsen, February 2, 2008. Time 8:30

I'm butting in with reference to stuff 6 months old, but on 2007-07-08 I submitted feedback on Hassanah's article that to me seems relevant to Mike's query to Hassanah; re possible benefit of dissociation.

Merin

From Hassanah Briedis, February 2, 2008. Time 10:57

Hi Mike, again, the confusion is understandable, and comments can seem contradictory, because, as both David and Merin responded back last July-August, the latihan and its (hypothesized) dissociative aspect can be both constructive and dysfunctional. However, your description of what I said is not quite correct. I didn't describe dissociation as 'restricting or shutting off one's thoughts or emotions'. I describe dissociation as being a disconnection between thought and emotion - well, actually between identity, memory and consciousness, as if the wires that normally connect these brain functions together into one integrated circuitry are disconnected.

I also say in my article that the latihan can, as a consequence of this dissociative characteristic, be used dysfunctionally to distance from difficult emotions, and avoid things that need to be dealt with. It can also lead to judgemental attitudes, such as 'cleansing latihans' being interpreted as being about the other's heavy stuff, rather than owning one's own.

I've checked through my article, and nowhere do I suggest that doing latihan was all bad, in fact I mention that it protected, and possible saved me. But that it also perpetuated the dissociation, making it impossible to heal from my psychiatric disorders.

I think Subud people, and other people who practise spiritual exercises, develop some very useful and positive qualities and life skills. My concern is when these powerful mystical practices are over-used to a point where dissociation becomes a habitual condition, and, as David has pointed out, can become addictive.

Happy to talk further about the ways in which these life experiences assist a healthy and functional lifestyle in the present, since I think that's one of the agendas behind our discussions on this site (though there are others of course). Hassanah

From bronte, February 2, 2008. Time 13:17

Dear Hassanah, and others,

I wonder if anyone can rightly "blame" Subud for anything.

If we joined Subud, we did not want to entirely have any of the alternative lifestyles, religions, patterns of thinking, that the world offers.

Possibly because we already had disassociative behaviour.

If Subud in any way anabled us to express this more fully, it may not be right to "blame" it for some harm.

If we found it contribute to our coping, then we have something ot be grateful for.

My story of my school days, which I did not mention included failing my first year at secondary scvhool, obviously indicates tht I brought problems to Subud, and my writings, I hope, suggest that Subud helped me cope, just like religion helped me cope, somehow, with the death of my mother when I was five, and the consequent marriages of my father etc.

I may complain about Subud people calling me "mad" as happened last month.

But I am not going to blame Subud for all my faults, nor for the faults of the behaviour towards me and each other by people who fall down in their efforts to be the best human beings they can.

And don't many Subd poeple hope to be that?

From stefan, February 2, 2008. Time 17:34

Hi Hassanah,

I'd very much like you to explore and say more.

I was seeing a psychologist when I was aged 4 (I seemed to dwell in a fearful and tearful world of my own) and I think that a degree of disassociation, coupled with an intense fantasy life was my way of surviving childhood. However the fantasy element was out of control and often resulted in nightmares.

My teenage mood swings and perception shifts were intense too. I became good at "appearing to fit in" which is probably why I wasn't advised against being opened in Subud (though bordering on bipolar and shizo, I suspect),

At the time I was opened I firmly believed that the material world was unimportant (I hadn't a clue about self-care or money and rarely even washed!). I have always thought that Subud helped me find a path towards a more grounded sense of reality in which I was less afraid of organising my life. However, thinking about your article, I also see a resonance with my dissociative habit. My yearning to transcend the seemingly crass and painful world of matter had become a spiritual longing.

I was resistant to hearing any advice from Subud's founder (or anyone, in fact) but after a while Bapak's way of looking at things helped me to see a connection between material mastery and spiritual exploration. It had never occured to me before.

Bronte, I'm grateful you shared something about your childhood, and feel my heart going out to the five year old grieving for his parent and having to accommodate uninvited adults in your home life. When you express understanding for those who behave badly I'm heartened too. Are you saying that it's the inappropriate behaviour that needs to be confronted, while attempting to understand rather than blame the individuals who act hurtfully?

Best wishes from Stefan

From Michael Irwin, February 2, 2008. Time 18:40

David,

You asked me: "For instance, when you say "no thoughts", I'm guessing you mean something like "no internal monologue". But is my guess right? "No memories" can easily conjure up an image of someone who can't remember where they are. You clearly still have that kind of memory in the latihan.”

You are, I think, referring to my sentence: “In reference to the latihan, for me the meaning has come to mean the direct experience of nothing or blankness (no thoughts, no memories, no visualizations) and with that an awareness of being aware or the knowing experience of nothing.”

If you want to substitute ‘no internal monologue’ then I am tempted to say OK so long as that phrase includes visualizations by invention or by memory. Perhaps my description of ‘nothing or blankness’ needs sharpening. If I look at an artist’s canvas before the artist has touched it with paint then nothing is ‘on’ it in spite of the fact that the surface of an unpainted canvas can certainly be seen. The visual content of a blank (black canvas) inside my head can be observed in the sense of being looked at and knowing that there is no content to comprehend. Nevertheless I know that the act of looking is taking place just as I retain the sense of my continuity – memory in that sense. If you define thought as including that awareness of the blankness, then that is not what I mean. If I was unaware of that blankness, I would be unconscious. All that is left then is being aware of being aware. The blankness is, however, palpable, that is, there. The problem in latihan for me is getting to that state of being aware of being aware and then sustaining it while – and here is the latihan bit – also letting it go without falling into those freshly emerging and attention grabbing thoughts, visualizations and memories. It took me a long time to get to the point where I could sustain blankness, even longer to sustain paying attention to the fact that I was paying attention to that blankness. That process requires ‘will’. Now the problem is, having got some control over that process, how do I let that control go so that my will-less attention can turn to whatever emerges while continuing to observe passively and without comment (thought). I have not yet succeeded and it may be a false path. However, I once felt that way about sustaining blankness, something I can now do. The whole exercise seems like a combination of Russian dolls that are themselves magnetic bottles.

By the way, in all the above my awareness of my physical body is not blank. It is there. But just as I learned early on to let it do what it wanted without any controlling comment, that attitude of allowing and being in its movements informs my attitude to the more difficult task of rejecting attachment to thoughts, visualisations and memories and perhaps permitting something to emerge from the blank of those very, now passively observed, intuitions, understandings and perhaps pictures. That is my, perhaps misplaced, hope. Significant testing results, for me, are most likely to be the experience of those intuitions, understandings and pictures.

Now, the question is, “Is what I’m doing the latihan?” There is no question in my view that the result of doing the latihan in the way I describe has produced benefits. I am more serene at my core even when having a bad day. I can quickly refer to myself when I need to by which I mean that I can go quiet and blank briefly as needed to ‘center’ myself. And I have less need than before, though the need was never strong, to resonate with the state or activity of others around me. I can more easily remain detached but not shut off from others. All the internal stuff that life demands we experience is still there but I can more often than before, observe it rather than be taken over by it, however imperfectly. So if those are not delusions – and they may be – then doing what I think is the latihan is worth it.

I found the previous words of Hassanah Briedis resonated with my understanding: “…a grounded sense of self, combined with an ability to be present in the moment, at peace with oneself…”. Also: “…long and hard work on myself…” For me the latihan is hard work. “…the ability to instantly switch into a self-reflective or self-aware mode, and the ability to instantly move from a cluttered mental state to a quiet and still state…”

Michael

From Mike Higgins, February 2, 2008. Time 19:26

Hassanah said: "I've checked through my article, and nowhere do I suggest that doing latihan was all bad..."

True, you did not, but you did say that dissociation has a dis-integrating effect, i.e., is not conducive to psychological integration. This is contrary to your statement (in your response to Helissa'a report) that the latihan may help one develop a heightened awareness that leads to greater integration.

Perhaps if one is not psychologically integrated (true of most people?), the latihan has the effect of reinforcing or promoting one's current neurotic condition, and if one

is relatively integrated psychologically, the latihan may become a tool for greater integration?

So then, as Bronte suggested, this becomes problematic: if you can't live without the latihan, it's a warning that's it's become a crutch rather than a productive tool for you (the plowshare becomes a self-immolating sword). Unfortunately, the people who have a negative (counterproductive) attachment to the latihan are the very people who are most likely to promote it and become involved in Subud's organizational politics, ergo Subud's present condition? Thank you, Hassanah.

Helissa (Penwell), if you're still there, I have a question for you: You said you'd been doing the latihan for 40+ years. How long had you been doing it before you developed the "inner knowingness" you described? Was this something that developed very gradually over time or what? Thank you.

From Mike Higgins, February 2, 2008. Time 19:41

To Michael Irwin: Michael, I think you would find the following book to be instructive, it is congruent with your experience of the latihan: 'The Philosophy of Consciousness Without an Object' by Franklin Merrell-Wolff (former Stanford Math professor). The book is based on his direct experience of transcendent states of consciousness. I found it to be very helpful. His other book on the subject, 'Pathways Through to Space', is good too.

From Hassanah Briedis, February 2, 2008. Time 22:8

I'm struck by what seems to be a contradiction, one that is expressed by either pointing out seeming inconsistencies in my descriptions of experience, or by expressions of confusion about 'whether Subud is good or bad or both together'.

To try to make sense of my own apparent inconsistencies I've looked back over the previous posts. Helissa, in her original description, used the word 'latihan' to describe the influence that she feels has led to her sense of harmony with and within self. I wouldn't use the word latihan any more, since I don't do any 'stand up' latihan and haven't for 16 years. But I have a keen sense of an inner self that has been trained and developed both by earlier latihan experiences and later therapeutic experiences. Stefan refers to it as his 'inner feeling' and also describes having learnt through doing latihan to be able to 'let go'. He also comments that the latihan seems to have helped him learn to access his intuitive self. I think it is quite useful to use the word 'training' as part of the description of what the latihan of Subud is, because it does train us to be able to move quickly between different states of consciousness, and this is a useful skill. I'm not saying anything controversial here, because Bapak frequently referred to it as a training. If it is a training, then it means that its function is more complex than simply a passive 'receiving' requiring no personal input or responsibility.

What I can say now, is that I am aware of 'inner movement', a sense of an inner presence or heightened sensitivity, as well as an inner calm and quietness, and that these states exist without my 'being in latihan'. When asked earlier about being contradictory, I stated that the work I have done on myself (therapeutically) is at least partly responsible for the peace I now feel. What percentage of the strength and self-awareness is due to the years of 'doing latihan', I don't know, but I believe that the latihan training did have some good effects. It's just that it perpetuated such an imbalance in my life that it became in the end more of a liability than a help.

So, to try to answer your puzzlement, Mike, my response to Helissa stated : "If this inner-outer feedback system is combined with careful self-awareness, one has an excellent system by which to live." The inner-outer system I was referring to was Helissa's description : "how my innerself is training my thinking and emotions to work in harmony with it." What I like about Helissa's description is that it places the responsibility for well-being firmly within the self, and describes a pro-active attitude to self observation and self-correction. It is what I would call an integrated approach, because it combines the spiritual maturity with psychological maturity.

These things are not easy to put into words, especially in this feedback box which is separate from the feedback posts. Don't know how much sense this makes!

Hassanah

From bronte, February 2, 2008. Time 23:5

Dear Hassanah,

I recall, only a few years ago, volunteering to help our (locally based) National Chairman with the national Address list. She accepted, and I was given some information to work with. All this can be shown by emails still in my possession. However, the local group 2 "official" refused to co-operate, saying that I was "no longer a Subud member".

Well, in administrative matters, the must be tasks that require non-members to assist sometimes, and computer work like address lists can fit in that category.

But, as many a person has ponted out, you don't stop being a "Subud Member" merely by ceasing to attend the group latihan.

But do you stop being a Subud person by stopping doing the latihan?

Maybe?

And if not doing "it", are you, or am I, entitled to comment on the value and benefits of the latihan?

Or on the flaws of it?

I know, having had my second group latihan in 9 years, at congress last month, that my latihan is as real for me as ever, and as strong.

And I must, just must, be amazed at the statement that you "have not done a real stand-up latihan in 16 years."

Please, I beg you, I implore you, go again to just one group latihan, THEN tell us all how it was.

I feel almost like an alien writing about my Subud and my life experinces. But I do keep my personal latihan alive.

I have even had latihan with at least one other member about once a year on average. One of those, in

Brisbane in August '06, seemed to free up something in me that stayed "better" ever since. But an indefinable "something".

The people here may think of me as having "left", but I could never have been less "left" the Subud latihan if I'd just been opened.

And I certainly do not feel like any outsider intruding into the life of Subud people, with all my comments, hopefully searching out the good, and the reality of whatever latihan is all about, for anyone.

I want to comment on some things concerning the latihan itself, but please forgive me a little if I first address the fact that I am (mildly) shocked to read that Hassanah has not participated in group latihan for so long. At least, in her case, she does not have to talk of having doors closed to her, or being taken out in the kitchen and given a reprimand by the helpers for even trying to attend group latihan. That is an interesting experience to go through.

From Helissa Penwell, February 2, 2008. Time 23:37

Hi Mike,

I remember that for about the first ten years after being opened I used to go through my day and periodically stop and check in with myself to feel the latihan, to feel whether I was staying on track, or to receive Guidance. That became easier and more natural over time until about ten years ago, and then there was a significant change. At that time I made the BIG decision to take steps to overcome the nagging depression which had been following me the whole of my adult life. It was pretty clear by that time that waiting for the latihan to take care of it wasn't working! I had some skills to tackle the problem myself since I graduated with a M.A. in clinical psychology and maintain an active interest in the field. I also get a lot of clear Guidance that comes in words and pictures (kind of like having my own built-in therapist). I put myself on an intense self-help reading program to get some ideas about how I could help myself become happier. I was already on a walking program, but I made improvements in my diet and added some supplements known to affect brain-chemistry, e.g. certain amino acids. I realized I had far too much negative self-talk, most of which was repetitious and untrue. Books on cognitive-behavioral therapy and Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now" and others helped me become aware of why I needed to turn down the noise. Having done latihan for 30 years gave me the ability. I also tested about the root causes of my negativity. I was brought face-to-face with painful childhood experiences that had affected my whole outlook on life. I was lead to experience a life-changing technique to heal these experiences-- a kind of latihan/testing session which would start with me remembering the painful experience and end with me having a new, wonderful healing one (as though I were reliving the past and rewriting it). Spiritually I began to see how the forces that made up my personality were contributing to my sadness. Specifically I realized that it was my dog-force that was the source of my depression, and to overcome depression I had to take more control of that particular energy. I'd been made aware of the forces and had been learning about how they functioned for a long time, so dealing with this was within my ability (not easy, but do-able). Of course I continued to do latihan regularly throughout this process. I received nonstop Guidance about which books to read and what changes to make. I felt the force of the latihan moving through the whole of the process, speeding it up and facilitating the break-up of old habits and creating room for a new personality to form. It truly seemed to me at the time that the old adage "God helps those who help themselves" was true. Once I set my intention and began to do the work to help myself become a happier, healthier person, then I was helped at every turn, often in seemingly miraculous ways.

So, the result of this psychological odyssey is that I am no longer depressed. If I do get sad, then I recognize the signs and have skills to turn it around and prevent myself from slipping into The Pit. But, even better, I am much, much quieter in my thinking and feelings. That quietness has allowed me to be more self-aware so that I can practice using my innerself to provide feedback concerning the thoughts and feelings that I do have, as I described in my previous post. I agree with Bapak's observation that we can't speed up our latihan. What I did was work to remove the kinds of thinking and emotional reacting that were obstacles to my receiving, so that I can maintain a quieter and clearer state on an ongoing basis.

Helissa

From Mike Higgins, February 3, 2008. Time 4:35

Bronte asked: "But do you stop being a Subud person by stopping doing the latihan? Maybe?

And if not doing "it", are you, or am I, entitled to comment on the value and benefits of the latihan? Or on the flaws of it?"

I think those are reasonable questions. However, personally, I no longer see any difference between my private and public (group) latihan, although there definitely was the first few months I was in Subud. Also, I always thought that the point of any spiritual/psychological training was to become a more integrated, aware individual and there is likely to come a point when the particular training, e.g., the latihan, no longer helps you do that, at which point wisdom would dictate that you let go of it. Of course we are the only ones who can know if and when we've reached that point and we must be relatively free of prejudice or attachment to recognize it. I mean, you don't stay in school forever, at some point you must graduate lest you become a professional student.

Are non-latihaners (is that a word?) entitled to judge the merits or flaws of the latihan? Well, I'd say they're entitled but their opinion about it would be suspect since it is mainly a subjective experience. Rather like someone without biofeedback experience explaining the health benefits and dangers of it. But how much experience of the latihan is enough? And if your response to it and/or to Subud members was primarily negative, can you have an objective opinion about it?

Thank you, Hassanah and Helissa. Helissa, I won't ask why it took you 30 years to take that last important integrative step. It seems we change when we're ready to and no sooner, but in retrospect it is easy to look back and say, "Jeez, what a fool I've been, what took me so long?!" Take care - Mike

From bronte, February 3, 2008. Time 4:58

Please,

No way can I consider that the latihan of Subud is something we can "finish with".

It is not, in my opinion, merely a "school", from which we graduate.

Far, far from it, a hundred billion miles ffrom it!

My own opinion is that it is a nourishment, without which we starve, spiritually, and that most people on this planet are therefore "starving" of the needed spiritual food, hence the fact (at least I can use some "facts" in my writing) that the planet is undergoing a total slow destruction of all life forms, at the hands of these sleeping, spiritually "unfed" human beings.

Most religions deny that they are "un-fed", because THEY provide the link to God that their believers need.

Well, that may be so, but the evidence of our need for a different, and indeed a better, way of living is so clear that evn science knows it, without any help from religion, or mysticism, which is the category in which I place Subud.

So, forgive me if I reject the idea that latihan can become in any way "dispensable". Call it what you will, but we poor human beings are not really adequate in our mental and physical capacities to even survive as we are much longer.

Oh - and just read a few news services if the scientific, pseudo religious opinions I am expressing are not sufficiently convincing.

Meanwhile I think, in Subud terms, I live on dry rations, as an "outsider", but I feel safer from the wolves that way.

From Sahlan Diver, February 3, 2008. Time 11:24

Bronte uses this phrase in one of his posts above:

"But do you stop being a Subud person by stopping doing the latihan?"

I would like to raise some points about the concept of a "Subud person".

Sjahari Hollands was proposing in his Subud Vision article, and in discussion on the feedback pages for that article, that Subud members could identify and agree on a set of "core principles" that describe and/or define the latihan. I would say one such core principle would have to be that a person's progress in the latihan is not under the ownership or control of any organisation. The converse of this is that, in theory at least, any organisation could spread the latihan, not just Subud, because the latihan is, from a spiritual point of view, "untouched and untouchable by human hand".

Therefore, if there is a definition of a "Subud person" then this cannot just be "a person who does the latihan", because how would you then distinguish between a Subud person and someone who does the latihan without wishing to be a member of the Subud organisation.

Does the definition of "a Subud person" then imply a conformity to some set of religious ideals, behavioural rules or cultural norms? If so, this is not good because (a) Subud is not supposed to be a religion or teaching that provides its own set of moral codes or standards (b) the latihan is supposed to develop one's individuality, not create clones.

There is one fundamental way that being a member of Subud and practising the latihan interact and that is that Subud provides the possibility of group latihan through organising rented or purchased accomodation. It is generally reckoned to be better to do latihan with others, though obviously there can be many special circumstances such that it is better for some individuals to do latihan away from a group.

However, organising occasions and places for meetings does not require any special wordly or other-worldy skill. Another organisation or organisations, not just Subud, could equally well do this. So again it seems that Subud should not need to be a significant part of the equation, the important thing being the practise of the latihan and the effect it has on one's life (and after-life).

I am not suggesting that having an organisation or organisations such as Subud is unimportant or unecessary. What I am saying is that we should not allow being a member of such an organisation to intrude into personal matters of conscience and spirituality. By way of illustration, would we talk about being a "yoga-person" or being a "tai-chi person"? True we do talk about "being a Buddhist" or "being a Christian" but those latter are religions with creeds, teachings and so on - the phrase is acceptable. The latihan by contrast is more akin to a technique, like yoga, and additionally claims to involve no teaching,

Sahlan

P.S. The identification in members' minds between Subud and the latihan I suggest comes in a very large part from phrases in Bapak's talk, such as "show that you are truly Subud", which could be taken to imply an inseparable connection between the two, though I don't believe that Bapak meant it in that sense, it was more an exhortation to put the latihan into practise, to use it in a way that would show the evidence of the benefit of the practise of the latihan.

From bronte, February 3, 2008. Time 11:50

Wonderful Sahlan!

I like it.

After all, the many "Subud People" who fiercely claim that title, and fervently support The Oganisation, may not indeed recognise me or others who do not attend "Their" organisation as "Subud People", as I have explained, and found.

And just how many people "out there" are diligently practicing the latihan they received from someone in Subud, whilst having nothing whatever to do with Subud?

I had to interview an applicant for Subud a decade or so ago and we saw nothing of him after he was opened. He never intended us to.

So now I must ask myself "What is it that makes the difference, or the connection, between people who are practicing the latihan", knowing that I must include these many unknowns in my thinking.

And I write this merely to show that I respect the existence of those people, and have a hope that they may also contibute to the benefit of the world, and that they, and I, shall be helped, and possibly improved, by the practice of latihan.

My comments about the everlasting need for the spiritual help in order to be a bettter human being remain unchanged.

From Merin Nielsen, February 3, 2008. Time 12:19

Hi, Sahlan,

Your observation above is extremely important and useful to note. I am a latihan practitioner first, and a Subud member second. I'm very, very grateful that the organisation exists because I can (a) practise the latihan in a group format, which in itself seems beneficial; (b) gain perspective on the latihan by hearing about other practitioners' many and varied experiences of it; and (c) turn to other practitioners for advice and occasionally help with issues relating to the latihan. (Other practitioners include Bapak.) Thus I greatly value the organisation, but it's benefit is based on that of the latihan. Without the latihan, Subud would be nothing, but without Subud, the latihan would still be potentially wonderful. In the future (or maybe even now), there could well be other organisations which provide equally useful or perhaps better access to the latihan, or something similar, and fellow practitioners.

Cheers,

Merin

From Andrew Hall, February 3, 2008. Time 14:5

Hello,

I've just checked this page and read the recent posts by Michael, Hassanah and Helissa. Gosh, I feel so nourished and encouraged from reading these!

I can relate to the personal struggles and efforts they talk about and I feel humbled by the generosity and integrity they show; Michael with his stunningly clear description of how he really "does" latihan, Hassanah with her resolute courage and modesty and whose article started this discussion, and now Helissa who tells us about her struggle with depression and how she "used" the latihan to deal with it.

Forgive me for being so gushy but all this is inspiring to me! I know several Subud members who are living with depression and I hope they can take heart from Helissa's story.

Thank you so much, everyone.

Andrew

From Michael Irwin, February 3, 2008. Time 23:16

I quote the following from a recent group newsletter. I think it has relevance to my last post here.

““Bapak was asked the following question: “Some members have great difficulty in putting aside their minds during the latihan. What mental attitude has to be built in so as to stop thoughts, feelings and desires during the latihan?”

Bapak replied: “It is not necessary for you to prevent thought, just let it be! Because gradually you will experience the separation between thinking and feeling, and then the thinking which is constantly at work will stop by itself.””

If you read my article and my previous posting: “From Michael Irwin, February 2, 2008. Time 18:40” you will know that I have had difficulty putting my mind aside, if the definition of ‘mind’ is what I assume from reading the question above. According to Bapak’s reply I have been working unnecessarily hard. Indeed, I wonder about that possibility often. That is why I mentioned constantly reverting to the need to just surrender the state of blankness and its attendant ‘being aware of being aware’. While pursuing the path described, I have also wondered along the way whether people with other mental characteristics need to do what I do. Perhaps not. Perhaps for me quelling the dominance of endless thinking is my primary obstacle. I don’t seem to have to deal with letting go of emotions or of memories or flights of visual fancy. Others may have those obstacles to letting go and not ‘thoughts’ like me.

I find it interesting that Bapak describes a process of separation rather than quelling. As I said before, learning the difference between my body moving from my will and moving on its own was an early experiment for me. The distinction was clear very soon. I have tried to draw a parallel between how I know that distinction about my body and what I hope will be a similar distinction about my mind. I just hope I’m succeeding and not off on some tangent.

Michael

From bronte, February 4, 2008. Time 0:4

Hey Michael!

I think your understanding has been expressed in the saying "let Go and Let God". I might try it sometime myself I suppose.

With no apologies to all those who dearly disbelieve in God!

From Hassanah Briedis, February 4, 2008. Time 6:40

Hi Michael, I say this with a big grin!! Your problem is that you don't know how to dissociate! When you learn to dissociate, you'll be able to easily do what Bapak suggests is the goal. Isn't it interesting that he actually uses the word I've been saying is operative - separation of brain functions. (Don't make the mistake of thinking that emotions are not a brain function, because they are.) :-)

Hassanah

From Merin Nielsen, February 4, 2008. Time 9:24

For me, the exercise seems to involve 3 simultaneous processes:

1) throughout my being, to let spontaneous activity arise, without cognition of its origin;

2) to sense what occurs, but via no cognitive function such as labelling, characterising, representing, summarising, monitoring, judging, evaluating or assessing; and

3) throughout my being, to refrain from deliberate activity.

During my latihan, I often discover that processes (1) &/or (3) are not happening, but (curses!) to make this discovery means that process (2) is not happening either! Perhaps process (1) includes a fourth, hidden process -- even though I have no cognition of the origin of all the spontaneous activity, maybe there's a further, essential, non-categorised process in which my being just happens to be engaged whenever latihan is occurring in full swing.

Cheers,

Merin

From bronte, February 4, 2008. Time 9:32

Merin

Dare I suggest that the 4th process is what happened when Subud helped me pass my exams.

From David W, February 4, 2008. Time 10:33

Interesting parallel:

QUOTE: “Bapak was asked the following question: “Some members have great difficulty in putting aside their minds during the latihan. What mental attitude has to be built in so as to stop thoughts, feelings and desires during the latihan?”

Bapak replied: “It is not necessary for you to prevent thought, just let it be! Because gradually you will experience the separation between thinking and feeling, and then the thinking which is constantly at work will stop by itself.”

ANOTHER QUOTE (FROM MEDITATION INSTRUCTIONS):

Sit comfortably. Sitting in a chair is fine. If you are used to sitting on a cushion on the floor—and can do so easily—that is another possibility. Sit reasonably upright, but do not strain to achieve any particular posture. Wear loose, comfortable clothes. Loosen your belt if it is tight. Close your eyes almost all the way, so that a little light enters but you cannot see anything clearly. When thoughts come – let them come. When thoughts go – let them go. If you find yourself involved in a stream of thoughts, let go of your involvement with them. Keep letting go of involvement. Remain uninvolved. Just let go. Whatever happens – let it be as it is.

...

In meditation, you are exposed to the nature of your relationship with thought. A startling idea? It may not have occurred to you that you have a relationship with thinking. At this early stage, you may be shocked at the torrent of thoughts which appear as you attempt to count to 21. It may seem that meditation causes you to think furiously – more than before – but this is illusory. Meditation simply allows you to see more clearly the thinking that occurs constantly. Everyday mind is abuzz with endless thoughts. (To see whether this is true, check your experience periodically through the day.) This onslaught of thoughts – which seems to distract you from meditation – should not be discouraging. It is completely natural. It is the way your mind has been – all your life. The ordinary activity of meditation has simply revealed the ordinary mind that was already there.

...

Initially, in meditation, it seemed that the stream of thoughts was continuous. With increasing experience, thought-addiction diminishes and you begin to notice moments of ‘gap’ between thoughts. When you cease to pursue thoughts – rather than forming a continuous train, they start to appear individually as figures against a background of empty space. During the next few weeks, we will transfer attention from observing thoughts to observing the space within which they arise. This space is initially only visible as brief moments of ‘gap’ or silence. With continuing practice, gaps lengthen. The nature of the space becomes increasingly visible. It becomes evident that this creative space—from which thoughts arise—is always present. Even when thoughts appear continuously you will be aware of the space within which they occur.

From Hassanah Briedis, February 4, 2008. Time 11:6

David, what an interesting description. Thanks! Because of being brought up in Subud, I have never read anything at all about meditation. What you quote here is particularly interesing because it actually explains what the process is and what the goal is. I'm not suggesting it's better or worse than the Subud way of explaining, just different, and interesting.

I think I interpreted the word 'feeling' in Bapak's quote according to its normal usage, synonomous with emotion. It probably refers to 'inner feeling' or 'latihan'. If so, I wonder what the parallel is between Subud's inner feeling and the empty space between thinking, in meditation.

Hassanah

From David W, February 4, 2008. Time 12:4

Hi Hassanah

The word that Pak Subuh used, which gets translated as "feeling", was "rasa". Rasa is a very special, rich word in Java, and Paul Stange has written a paper on its meaning: http://www.sumarah.net/logicrasa.html

I strongly recommend this paper to everyone on this list, in interpreting what Pak Subuh meant by "inner feeling". The paper begins with the concept in general, and moves on to describe how the "logic of rasa" works in Sumarah practice. As some of you know, Sumarah was an early offshoot of Subud. In its early days, Sumarah practiced the latihan. Pak Subuh wrote to Rofé confirming that their latihan was the same as the latihan of Subud. Later, the practice of Sumurah evolved into something else.

Nonetheless, I think that Stange's explanation of how rasa works in Sumarah practice is a far better explanation of what Pak Subuh meant than any of Subud's English translations. Our translations appear to made with little apparent reference to what the words mean in cultural context. Without that context, it's almost impossible to get the meaning right. Stange, on the other hand, is an anthropologist, who really understands the culture from which words get their meaning.

I'm very curious to see what you, Michael, Helissa, Andrew and Stefan might make of "rasa", in terms of describing your own experiences. (Sorry if I missed anyone!)

Here's an extract from Stange:

QUOTE: In Indonesian the word 'rasa' means 'feeling', referring to the physical sense of it and to emotions; in the more spiritually resonant Javanese it also means 'intuitive feeling'. Rasa is at once the substance, vibration, or quality of what is apprehended and the tool or organ which receives it.

In this context the sense of rasa I am concerned with is that of the 'organ' or agent of perception, or if you like the 'function', of 'intuition'. Within Sumarah rasa is considered an organ or constituent of our psychology in precisely the same sense that thought is. In fact it is commonly said that 'mind' is the tool through which we register and process information received through the five senses from the 'outer world', alam lahiriyah, while rasa is the tool through which we apprehend inner realities, that is alam batiniyah.

Sumarah practice begins with relaxation of the physical body and with the stilling of the senses and thoughts. In itself the shifting of attention from outer events and thoughts to releasing the tensions within the physical body implies a shift from thought to feeling. Stillness of the senses and thoughts means, in Sumarah terms, not 'turning off', 'freezing', or 'repression' but rather an open and receptive state within which attention is not focused on sensory perceptions or thoughts. Instead 'attention', the point at which we are aware, is supposed to enter into rasa so that there is not simply increasing awareness of feeling but rather awareness through feeling. 'Feeling' in its turn may in the first instance mean awareness of physical sensation within the body, but that gross level rasa becomes progressively more subtle - it shades through inner physical sensation into awareness of the emotions and ultimately into rasa sejati, the absolute or true feeling which is itself mystical awareness of the fundamental vibration or energy within all life. UNQUOTE

The "space" between thoughts is referred to in Buddhism as the "mind like sky" or "big mind". Thoughts our clouds, which attract our attention, but behind and holding the clouds is the sky, which is both empty and vast. Is "rasa" the "mind like sky"? I think it's dangerous to make such cross-cultural identities too quickly--that's the Western hunger to for reduction and essentialism at work. Better to take each on its own terms, and appreciate them separately. Nonetheless, I think that there are strong--and unrecognised--Buddhistic strands in Pak Subuh's talks.

Compare 'rasa', above, with Jack Kornfield brief essay on "A Mind Like Sky: Wise Attention Open Awareness":

http://www.shambhalasun.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1594&Itemid=244

Best

David

From Philip Quackenbush, February 4, 2008. Time 15:56

Hi, Bronte, Hassanah, Merin, David, Michael, et al,

Well, I'm gonna charge in here like a bull in a China shop (maybe a water buffalo or yak, since we're talkin' Eastern here) and suggest that bung Subuh's quote is essentially correct, except when "feeling" is translated from "rasa" it adds unneccesary complication to the process of "latihan" as a form of meditation, as does the assumption (repeat, ASSUMPTION) by bung Subuh, often iterated in his lectures, that what's operating in the "latihan" is the "power of God" from its appearance (repeat APPEARANCE) of spontaneity, whereas the spontaneity is just as determined as other actions by what's known in Buddhism as "dependent origination," and dumping cultural and religious assumptions into the mix, again, I say, reduces the efficiency of the process of "latihan."

If one is to attempt to separate the "forces" involved, then that automatically produces a mental action, because it's the nature of the mental faculty to separate, or analyze, stuff into its component parts, that reduces the effectiveness of the "latihan" in overcoming the sense of separation as the "mind" is set aside (but still "happening" as in all other forms of meditation (which I'll reiterate as much as necessary to get the point across, that the "latihan" IS meditation, too).

Hassanah's point, too, that the emotions are a function of the brain should be written in gold letters above the door of every "latihan" hall, IMO, to get rid of the notion that they're being separated during "latihan" from the rest of one's sense of "self" (again, set aside, but still operable- the whole brain continues to function at all times, but at various degrees of intensity, as seen on brain scans; if it didn't, it would mean part of it had died).

So, Michael, to get back to your concern (or was it Merin's? I'm having difficulty remembering all the points and who made them), if your "latihan" stops manifesting in physical motions that can help the "clearing" process because of the possibility of shifting the awareness from the thoughts and emotions to what's actually happening to your body and keeping it there, at least for a bit, then you could try some of Tony Crisp's suggestions for inducing spontaneous movement in his online book. He's a Subud UK member (or at least was) who was accused of "stealing" the latihan when somebody found him apparently teaching it in his classes before he was officially "opened" in Subud. If they work for "ordinary" people, they should work for cult members as well.

In any case, just take your time in "latihan" relaxing and letting your cares slip down the drain, so to speak, whether you have any manifestations that you have previously taken to be the "latihan" or not. For that, you could resort to Dr. Benson's relaxation response (a non-moving meditation, usually) of repeating a word to keep the "thinking mind" busy, or simply watch your breath without making any effort to alter it, the only form of meditation that the Gotama (Buddha) said works for everybody. Enjoy.

Peace, Philip

From Mike Higgins, February 4, 2008. Time 18:7

"It becomes evident that this creative space—from which thoughts arise—is always present. Even when thoughts appear continuously you will be aware of the space within which they occur.;\"

Yes, the "creative space" is pure awareness, so then meditation is (becomes) the practice of focusing on the source of awareness, being aware that one is aware so to speak. Eventually, one can do this at any time, at which point one has transcended or integrated the practice of meditation, and your Subud brothers and sisters may inquire as to why you now seldom, if ever, come to group latihan. A warning: DO NOT tell them! They are likely to accuse you of hubris.

From Philip Quackenbush, February 4, 2008. Time 20:18

Hi, Mike,

You said,

"Yes, the "creative space" is pure awareness, so then meditation is (becomes) the practice of focusing on the source of awareness, being aware that one is aware so to speak. Eventually, one can do this at any time, at which point one has transcended or integrated the practice of meditation, and your Subud brothers and sisters may inquire as to why you now seldom, if ever, come to group latihan. A warning: DO NOT tell them! They are likely to accuse you of hubris."

Well, at that point it could be considered that you might become a "real" "helper" for those around you in group "latihan" by virtue of your creating a strange attractor, as the chaos theorists might name it, that could have a "positive" effect on others. I suspect that's why some of the "enlightened" leave the cult, having realized that their strange attractor isn't penetrating the rocket-resistant armor of Subud theology of those around them that might be helped by it, and it's easier to take it out into the whirl, where others might benefit from it. I further suspect that's at least part of the reason that the Buddha went out begging along with his disciples, giving back to those who gave them food something far more valuable: his "being."

In my case (assuming that we're right about this), it's just easier to go four blocks for group "latihan" a couple times a week than to clean up my apartment to give me enough space do really bop full blast when I feel the need to. And it allows me to hang out with some people that I like. But, like you say, don't tell them. You might end up losing all your Subud friends that haven't gotten that "far" yet. Maybe the reason they call it satori in Zen is cuz those guys usually "get it" sitting down. Maybe the Subud version of it should be called standori (or beginori?). Too bad the founder of the cult seemed to be stuck in his fantasies and never got that "far." Maybe we should pray for him? Naah, he's dead, innit. The dead are not affected by what we do, are they? Another assumption in the realm of unprovable belief, no matter how loudly touted by the cult's founder.

Peace, Philip

From Hassanah Briedis, February 4, 2008. Time 23:16

Hi Philip and all,

You offer a useful explanation here of why some people end up wandering away from the group, I think it's well put, I always appreciate it when someone manages to encapsulate an experience that subjectively is difficult to put into words - often because it's just too close. But I think what you're saying here is probably true.

The problem I have with the concept is the danger of judgementalism, and a couple of the words you use, even though you put them in "quotes" are still problematic. One of my HUGE complaints with many spiritual systems is the hierarchical language that is habitually used. The concepts of higher and lower, and more or less advanced, but particularly the comparisons that are based on vertical levels. So the wording - "enlightened" and "haven't got that 'far' yet" - presses my buttons. Given your way of expressing yourself, Philip, you may have been using them ironically! You probably were, and maybe for the same reason that it affects me.

But it doesn't alter the fact that, yes, I wandered away from the group because I found I could do more good out in the world and I felt I was hitting my head against a brick wall in Subud. Through the process of therapy my heart was opened (NOT through the latihan) and I began to feel love for everyone, and didn't want any longer to be judgemental and separate humans into hierarchical levels and make judgements about who is good and who isn't. My work took me eventually into a psychiatric hospital, where these attitudes of equality work well for my relationships with the patients.

Bronte, I think it was, was shocked to hear I don't do 'standori'(ha ha) latihan any more, and someone else described the experience of feeling as if the latihan is there all the time anyway. That's how it is. For me, the experience of being in group latihan became one of feeling suffocated. I described it as swimming in a 'cosmic soup', and it was souplike in the sense that I couldn't distinguish my boundaries - I felt as if everyone was like peas and carrot cubes swimming around in a broth - the broth was the air between us, but connecting us. I needed to be separate, to feel separate and find out who I was. I guess the identification with the group had been going on since childhood, and it was no longer (if it ever had been) healthy for my growth.

Might have wandered off the point, maybe not. Cheers, Hassanah

From Mike Higgins, February 5, 2008. Time 1:30

Hassanah said (in response to Philip's comments): "The problem I have with the concept is the danger of judgementalism, and a couple of the words you use, even though you put them in "quotes" are still problematic."

But the irony is that when you realize that awareness is the essence of who you really are, you also see that it is the essence of who everyone else is too, whether they know it or not. You know that you are nobody special just like everyone else or, put another way, you are no more special than anyone else. This knowledge destroys the "cult of personality" because as the Taoists suggest, "Those who say, don't know, and those who know, don't say" (if they are wise).

Yes, it can be hard to tell when Philip is being serious, can't it? -{ :?) Probably the zen trickster in him. But beware of those who don't have sense of humor about this spiritual stuff. - M.

From bronte, February 5, 2008. Time 2:58

Hassanah, you wrote :-

" I guess the identification with the group had been going on since childhood, and it was no longer (if it ever had been) healthy for my growth."

Ha! Now do I understand why you and I lose by not doing group latihan?

Bapak, at some point, said that group latihan makes us stronger. And if it is a pain to be with the Subud people, then perhaps it is because are not strong enough. But do "they" need the benefit of our presence? ( I know some think I am a pain to be with, but that is another story)

Even my father, not really sympathetic to Subud, once said I should go to latihan, and that because I felt bad about myself, the world, and Subud, somehow. He died in 1976, so go figure that one!

I still, out of sheer cussedness if you like, would love to hear how you respond if you do attend a group latihan. That's if they will let you that is! After all, the fuss and rigmarole I got the two times I "returned" to latihan had to be seen to be believed. I still have the leter written when I accpted the invite to join group 2 a year or so after "running away" from the "horrible people" in group 1.

And of course I have written of the effort to attend group 2, after a few years gap, and being taken away from group latihan and given a good dressing down by one of the helpers. A bit like I got, in Melbourne, from one of their visiting National Helpers for sticking my neck out about the pain and suffering that had driven so many of us away from Subud. Oh, nothing's changed for the better their either.

It's amazing what it takes to keep or get people "out" of Subud. One would think it was a torture-chamber, instead of a place of healing, catharsis, and revival (did I really write that?)

From Helissa Penwell, February 5, 2008. Time 4:50

David,

Those were interesting parallels between the meditation instructions and Bapak's. The advice, "When thoughts come – let them come. When thoughts go – let them go. If you find yourself involved in a stream of thoughts, let go of your involvement with them. Keep letting go of involvement. Remain uninvolved. Just let go. Whatever happens – let it be as it is" sounds the same as I've heard over the years when helpers talk to applicants. I probably paraphrased that myself a time or two. One obvious difference between meditation and the latihan is that most all forms of meditation go on to instruct the meditator to concentrate and focus on one thing or another (mantra, breath, visualization, etc.) in order to still the mind. We find that such focus interferes with receiving the latihan, and that a letting-go surrender is the preferred state. The other difference is that we receive the connection with the inner vibration at the beginning, whereas that seems to be the goal of meditators (and there's no guarantee that they will receive it). At least that's my understanding of it.......

I read Strange's article on rasa, and I was comfortable feeling that he described something in my own experience. That's what is important, after all, isn't it-- that we each experience it? We can call it this or that--rasa or inner-feelings-- but it's the living it that counts. If one isn't living it, then you won't really understand it anyway.

I didn't tune in with the Kornfield article as much. He seemed to be describing stopping and noticing life through different lenses--narrow, medium, wide. I didn't get that he was describing an awakened self and the awareness wasn't an active and dynamic energy--more passive and observing. Well, that was my feeling in this case, and that doesn't apply to how Buddha experienced "mind like sky", or some other Buddhist, for that matter.

Anyway, interesting reading. Thanks.

Helissa

From Philip Quackenbush, February 5, 2008. Time 9:4

Hi, Mike,

You said,

"Hassanah said (in response to Philip's comments): "The problem I have with the concept is the danger of judgementalism, and a couple of the words you use, even though you put them in "quotes" are still problematic."

But the irony is that when you realize that awareness is the essence of who you really are, you also see that it is the essence of who everyone else is too, whether they know it or not. You know that you are nobody special just like everyone else or, put another way, you are no more special than anyone else. This knowledge destroys the "cult of personality" because as the Taoists suggest, "Those who say, don't know, and those who know, don't say" (if they are wise).

Yes, it can be hard to tell when Philip is being serious, can't it? {:?) Probably the zen trickster in him. But beware of those who don't have sense of humor about this spiritual stuff. - M."

One of my basic principles that I've developed over the years is a sort of "laugh meter" regarding "spiritual" "leaders". If they have no sense of humor, run as fast as you can from them. One reason I was taken in by bung Subuh was because of his apparent sense of humor, but if one looks at his laughing or chuckles closely, it can be seen that it's mainly in reference to put-downs that he's uttered. Again the "we (but me especially) are holy", everbuddy else is damned syndrome (expressed often in his lectures as "those who are loved by God" vs. those who are not).

Of course, once one is enlightened about one's basic nature as awareness (and everybody else, the latest science in both physics [quantum mechanics, the Copenhagen interpretation] and biology [cellular awareness as seen in numerous experiments and intercellular functions of an organism] confirming that it's the basic nature of everything that exists, and nothing exists without it), there is no judgment possible if the resultant attitude goes "deep" enough, so none of that really matters any more. It's just sad to see so many people taken in by the scam artists, who can be seen as such on the rather amusing site of Guru Ratings (although it has its biases, just as cult watch sites do), which includes, of course, none other than the grand and glorious founder of the Subud cult.

While it's true that many forms of "meditation" involve the "will", or intention, the "latihan," in concert with other forms of "let go" meditation, does not (or shouldn't, if it's "really" the "latihan") does not, so the argument that it's not meditation cuts no ice with me.

I suspect that doing the "latihan" when one is already in a dissociated state can only make things worse, as I've experienced and noted when I've admitted it to myself, so a caution against excess "latihan" certainly seems to apply, but those who would benefit by restricting their indulgence in alpha (and delta or theta) states are the least likely to heed that suggestion, so it's likely that the cult finds itself in a Catch-22 situation in that regard, and may never resolve it except perhaps by absolving itself of any responsibility to the members if they go into "Subud psychosis", or crisis.

It's possible that the founder of the cult may have been somewhat aware of that possibility himself, since he noted that "opening" a person before completing their schooling could make it difficult or impossible to do so, since kids generally do what they like in preference to what might be more responsible to themselves and others that they don't like, and his assumption was that they'd like it, obviously.

Well, I've wandered rather far afield from the original point I was trying to make, so it's time to stop, which is what I "received". Now it's your mission to prove that I didn't, isn't it? This message will self-destruct in five seconds.... poof!

Peace, Philip

From Merin Nielsen, February 5, 2008. Time 10:12

Mike said: "... the irony is that when you realize that awareness is the essence of who you really are, you also see that it is the essence of who everyone else is too, whether they know it or not"

Philip said: "... once one is enlightened about one's basic nature as awareness (and everybody else, the latest science in both physics [quantum mechanics, the Copenhagen interpretation] and biology [cellular awareness as seen in numerous experiments and intercellular functions of an organism] confirming that it's the basic nature of everything that exists, and nothing exists without it)"

I'm curious about exactly what 'awareness' refers to in this context. I don't understand the connection drawn between 'awareness' and 'you' / 'basic nature'. So I don't agree with it. Any justification, please?

Cheers,

Merin

From David W, February 5, 2008. Time 12:2

Hi Helissa

I think that the biggest different between meditation and latihan is that in the former you sit still, and the latter you move around. Another is that latihan is much easier to do than meditation.

The meditators I know tell me that Subud's description of meditation is incorrect. This accords with my reading, and what I hear from non-Subud meditators. For instance, in meditation you are not told to focus on a mantra in order to still the mind. The instruction you first quoted--about letting go, letting go, letting go, and just being aware of what's happening--is the most central.

And the path of latihan is not without own instructions: Pak Subuh had specific a suggestion for quieting the nafsu, which was to do prihatin. He also advocated one form of meditation, which is the Sufi dhikr. Ibu Rahayu most recently advocates forming certain intentions before starting latihan: so even in their recommendations, there's more to it than just letting go.

I am hoping that we will soon have more correct descriptions of meditation, written by experts, published in Subud Voice. Within that broader, correct definition, I believe that latihan can quite accurately be described as "spontaneous, moving meditation."

I don't think that your comparison between meditation and latihan with regard to vibrations is accurate. This makes it sound as if in latihan you get something straight away which Buddhists work years to get. This is incorrect. "Receive a vibration" is not something that Buddhists aim to do. Rather, by exercising their awareness through meditation, they work to separate their buddha-nature, their mind-like-sky, from the chatter of the monkey mind, and from "grasping": attachment to things. Their objective is enlightenment, which is to see things as they really are, and in so doing become a compassionate human being. Their purpose is to achieve budi and susila, and to follow the dharma (these are, after all, Buddhist terms).

Latihan has a similar stated function: to separate the rasa from the influence of the heart, mind, and nafsu. As with meditation, this is just the beginning, not the end of the latihan path. The end of latihan is to become al-insan al-kamil: a perfect human being. In the Javanese system, this separation is accomplished by tuning in to "inner vibration", rather than by active awareness.

In both "systems", the result may take years, if not lifetimes. As has oft been said, there is no sign of perfect human beings in Subud. I find the same to be true among the Buddhists that I know. This ordinariness and human frailty bothers me not one whit. I'm not sure that I really like the idea of either bodhisatvas or perfect human beings--nor believe in them. Perhaps they are just "useful lies" or "imagined ideals"—"skilful means" to keep us going, until we no longer need such notions.

Best

David

From stefan, February 5, 2008. Time 17:34

Several discussions here are giving me rich food for thought.

One is about the nature of the latihan, and of meditation, and whether A is a form of B. Experiences of the latihan are so diverse and individual. Likewise - speaking with friends who meditate - those of meditation. As in dreams we forget some of the most compelling and significant latihan episodes, but hope that subliminal processing and integration is resulting.

Now I want to refer to Lilliana's article from which these discussions sprouted ... she talks about Subud's "norms", one of whichthem during my Jewish childhood I began to think of as the "Chosen People" assumption. In Judaism it's overt - I'm sorry but you shiksers (even if you do latihan) just ain't chosen.

Yahweh, our God, said so Himself so just believe it!

Funny though 'cos even among the chosen, some are far more chosen than others. I don't just mean "pork Jews" and those who "marry out" who are just beyond the pale, but those who follow the wrong rabbi. Oy, not to mention uncle Hymie who - you won't believe it - DRIVES to our synagogue on Sabbath! (I let his tyres down last week. I know God will be smiling)

I have great affection for my family, and many aspects of my birth religion, and particularly Israeli songs and dances, but the aspect that has always felt stifling to me is being one of the "Chosen" because of the dismissive attitude it creates about learning from others and respecting their ways. My family and fellow Jews are forever pointing to famous Jews as if to prove the point that we're gifted, special, God's Chosen.

All this background because Subud, which aims to be accessible to people of all faiths or none, based on individual discovery rather than doctrine, also has Chosen People tendencies. Because they're not overt they could be called "norms" (cf Lilliana's explanation).

Is this one reason why some of us feedbackers are throwing in derogatory sounding terms for Subud (the cult) and it's founder (bung Subuh)? Is it to challenge the self-important, smug assumptions that many of us cling to despite the evidence that large projects have tumbled, and the membership is aging with most newbies leaving, our "mission" to recue humanity from inhumanity doesn't show any visible sign of moving forward...?

Bronte, when you implore someone to try a group latihan again I sense a great desire to help a fellow human expand their options. Just as I regularly notice myself longing to help and advise people. But I remember how often when I've been on the receiving end of such heartfelt concern I've felt insulted, because the other shmuck thinks they know what's best for me (just like my grandmother did and my school head and my rabbi) whereas I could tell THEM a thing or two!!! So I'm not saying that I don't voice my views but I try to remeber to really check out and learn first how another person sees things, and if I really want to speak my "advice" to put it in a way that shows respect for their intelligence and autonomy. Dammit this sounds like me giving advice - ah well, you're hearing it from one of Yahweh's chosen!

This theme came up for me strongly 20 years ago when my wife decided she'd outgrown Subud. At first I thought I knew what was best for her soul and that she'd taken a wrong turn. At the same time the strength of my discomfort made me question what was going on inside me. I noticed how Subud-identified I'd become and the self-limiting "norms" I'd absorbed.

Those who are writing about "standupihan" - I love the joke. Even so I'm a little wary of jumping from one fixed assumption to another. Maybe your latihan progresses from lively to serene, while my latihan progresses from a tranquil one to an athletic sweaty one with loud shouting. One surprising thing I learn during latihan is that outer activity and inner stillness can be complementary.

Thanks everyone for these postings, for going into specifics and including personal accounts.

Stefan

From Philip Quackenbush, February 5, 2008. Time 19:0

Hi, y'all,

Merin asks,

Philip said: "... once one is enlightened about one's basic nature as awareness (and everybody else, the latest science in both physics [quantum mechanics, the Copenhagen interpretation] and biology [cellular awareness as seen in numerous experiments and intercellular functions of an organism] confirming that it's the basic nature of everything that exists, and nothing exists without it)"

I'm curious about exactly what 'awareness' refers to in this context. I don't understand the connection drawn between 'awareness' and 'you' / 'basic nature'. So I don't agree with it. Any justification, please?

===

I dunno if justification is the right word to use here: perhaps clarification, which I'll attempt.

The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, if I remember correctly (and it's apparently the most widely accepted interpretation of how the bizarre phenomena of the quantum scale operate), is that the way the wave collapse happens (what actually occurs among an infinite number of possibilities of positioning and speed of a particle) is dependent on the observation of what occurs. In other words, what one sees or experiences determines what is (or awareness determines what exists).

In microbiology, Bruce Lipton, who taught at a Canadian medical school, cites an experiment in which bacteria were put in a Petri dish where they had food that was indigestible to their species. After a short while (a couple days, as I recall), they started eating it (i.e., evolved, or mutated). In other words, evolution is not a result of survival of the fittest, as Darwin postulated, but of the choice (which can only be a product of awareness) of the evolving species to adapt in that manner.

How that applies to one's individual life, then, as I see it, is that what we experience is what we are choosing to experience. Thus, all views are valid to the one holding the view, and the view itself is a creation of the one holding the view. We are, so to speak, in a vast "soup" of awareness, and "we" are just small potatoes swimming in the soup, but the temperature of the surrounding soup and its consistency are a result of how we perceive them. Paradoxical, apparently, but that's how it is from an individual viewpoint, and that paradox resolves when seen from a universal perspective.

Thus, it doesn't really matter what viewpoint one holds or experiences, or, rather, it only is "true" for the one holding or experiencing it, and becoming one with the "soup", and realizing that one is only a tiny manifestation of that universal awareness which creates that which it is aware of allows one to "widen" one's awareness, perhaps not to actually become that universal awareness, which would negate us as individuals (which is what we ain't, anyway, the separation illusion [that occurs as the infant brain develops being useful for survival as a species] being that which "mystics" and "saints" are trying to overcome throughout history [but, paradoxically, doesn't have to be overcome, because "we" are not separate from the "soup" to start with], but to at least reduce one's sense of separation enough that the impulse to become "one with everything" is abated enough to live without fear and with love and compassion for all that one experiences [since we're creating it as we go along, so why not enjoy what we're creating?]).

Is that sufficiently confusing, or did I leave something out?

Peace, Philip


From Philip Quackenbush, February 5, 2008. Time 20:4

Hi, Stefan,

Just FYI, I read somewhere on the Net that the tribal god of southern Canaan was Yahweh, and the tribal god of northern Canaan at the time the Torah and all them books were supposedly written was Baal, so natcherly the "Isrealites" wanted to protect their real estate with the magic of having a powerful god to protect them (just like Israel is now trying to protect its real estate by claiming some imagined "God" told the Jews it was theirs forever and ever, amen, hallelujah -- a contract isn't a contract unless both parties to it can prove their existence, which the Jewish scribes were able to persuade others through the magical "word of God" that the peasants didn't know was the product of the scribes, and only that, like the Great American Novel).

The major gift of the Jews to the rest of humanity, in my view, was when they developed the concept of a tribal god into a "god of all gods" and then finally the "only God", which tended to be unifying at the time when tribal cohesion was important for survival against the imagined "spirits" and "devils" of the weather, etc. The problem with that is that they never got to the next step of realizing that there are NO gods, nyet, nada, just us folks doin' our thing. But, then, the Jews are not the only people who got stuck in a paradigm that has been subsequently shown to be dysfunctional for a society, which is increasingly becoming global, rather than tribal, and requires a less magical view of what is actually the way the world works if the species is to survive its own idiocies, let alone the usual bunch of natural disasters that have almost involved its extinction twice, according to recent findings in biology and anthropology.

Peace, Philip

From Mike Higgins, February 5, 2008. Time 20:39

Merin said, "I'm curious about exactly what 'awareness' refers to in this context. I don't understand the connection drawn between 'awareness' and 'you'/'basic nature'. So I don't agree with it. Any justification, please?"

It is a difficult concept to articulate, not sure that I can. I could give you analogies, e.g., your finite consciousness is a neuron in the consciousness of an infinite brain, or your personal identity is a wave in the sea of the supreme identity, and the neuron or wave can become aware that it is a part of the greater body of awareness. Actually, I can recommend Alan Watts' book, 'The Supreme Identity', to you. It's the best explanation of this concept I've ever read.

I will disagree with a statement that Philip made in his quantum mechanics analogy, "In other words, what one sees or experiences determines what is (or awareness determines what exists)." No, I'd say that what you observe determines what you make of it and thus your response to it, not what it is. To quote Neils Bohr, the father of quantum mechanics (I paraphrase, don't recall his exact words): "People think we are explaining reality, not at all... we cannot! We are simply attempting to establish what can rightly be said about it."

Helissa said: "The other difference (between meditation and the latihan) is that we receive the connection with the inner vibration at the beginning, whereas that seems to be the goal of meditators."

I agree with everything that David said in response to your statements but I just want to say that responding to the "inner vibration" and being intimately aware of it are two different things, just as awareness is different than Self awareness. As David said, the latter is the goal of meditation, and in my opinion, of the latihan too. -M.

From Helissa Penwell, February 6, 2008. Time 0:36

David,

I just spent some time posting a reply to you, but when I went to copy and paste it to the feedback section it disappeared!!!

Arggggggggggggghhhhhhhhh!

It should be in "drafts", but it isn't. My brain can't retrieve it. Oh well, there's plenty of other topics going on. I'm sure we'll get back to whatever is important at some other time.

Helissa

From Andrew Hall, February 6, 2008. Time 3:59

Hi to everyone,

I found David's pointer to the Paul Stange paper about Sumarah practice to be very interesting. Becoming progressively aware of the shades of feeling, first the physical feelings, then the emotions, than more and more refined feelings, it sure sounds to me like someone who might be describing the latihan.

I have often wondered if, when Bapak talks about thoughts and feelings, whether his cultural background shares the assumptions of the modern Western understanding about the mind and brain, thoughts and emotions. I think most of us just assumed that he did. I mean, we all have thoughts and feelings, right?

I practice tai chi and study Traditional Chinese Medicine. The ancient Chinese did not really make a distinction between mental and emotional functions or between the brain and the heart. It is all called the heart, the "seat of happiness", and is responsible for both thoughts and emotions.

In terms of my own latihan, feeling the blankness of awareness, similar to what Michael Irwin talks about, is not what I experience in latihan. My latihans are usually teaming with activity. This experience of blankness comes to me as I sit quietly before and after latihan. And it is during these times that I have sometimes felt that I receive guidance about my life.

More broadly, my approach to the latihan and other spiritual practices like meditation is to consider them all a technology of the human psyche and nervous system. It is really an empirical question whether a particular spiritual technology or technique works for you or for anyone else. That may sound severe for someone attached to what Bapak says, but I hope that people can find this idea liberating.

For myself, at this point it is more worthwhile for me to read about other people's experiences, their failures and dead-ends as well as their successes, because I can relate to it all.

I cherish the personal stories that people are telling on this page and elsewhere on Subud Vision. I wish that my introduction to Subud and the introduction that applicants now get included these. When we explain the latihan to outsiders and restrict ourselves to quoting Bapak, it does not admit that there are personal differences and approaches in the latihan. I think Hassanah's story is so worthwhile for others to hear. Not to make them fearful, but so they can appreciate that Subud people do not think we have all the answers.

While I'm on this topic, I remember being told at first about how one can receive guidance from the latihan, but the explanation was that guidance came in the latihan, not afterwards. Reading Helissa's story makes sense to me. Suddenly, I wonder about all the times I've racked my brain trying to figure out the meaning about what had happened to me in latihan. Was I barking up the wrong tree?

Finally, some thoughts about meditation for Helissa. I have done and do mantra meditation. In my practice, it is about letting go and letting the mantra appear or sound, then being aware as it disappears and becoming conscious of the stillness behind it. When thoughts intrude, as they do, and I become conscious that this is happening, I do not try to suppress them, I just gently surrender them and return to the mantra. I do not think meditation can work if it is about forcing anything. I think it is plain wrong to say that mediation instructs someone "to concentrate and focus ... in order to still the mind." It is so much more than that.

Lastly, I really have a problem with your statement that people doing latihan can receive a connection with the inner vibration at the beginning while that's the goal of meditators and they may never get there. Really! It's wonderful for those who do the latihan and feel the inner vibration at the beginning but I think it's pretty obvious that this doesn't happen for everyone.

We are all pilgrims on this road together. The divine is within each of us. Subud is one place among many, a place where the door is always open for those who come and just as open for those who leave. I do not want to close any doors, because I can always learn more in this lifetime.

Best,

Andrew

From Helissa Penwell, February 6, 2008. Time 4:52

Sorry, everyone.

Rereading my short comments on meditation, I can see that they do not reflect my overall understanding of it. I wasn't really trying to start a debate about the subject. And please ignore my references to "vibrations"-- I also see that I didn't express myself well there either. I wrote a new, longer post explaining all of that in more detail, but, alas, it disappeared. I'm taking that as a sign that I should bow out of the topic and rejoin you on another, perhaps where I can get off to a better start.

Thanks,

Helissa

From David W, February 6, 2008. Time 6:1

Hey Helissa:

DON'T GO AWAY!

:-)

David

From bronte, February 6, 2008. Time 6:51

Stefan

"But I remember how often when I've been on the receiving end of such heartfelt concern"

I know. Been there. Done that.

I think all the time I am doing it. Always trying to get eveyone else to do things my way. They've done so much my way, my direction. They've kicked their legs in my direction often, as I have received a lot of well deserve kicks in the arse. But then some....

I usually hope my opinions won't hurt anybody, and usually try to complain about other peoples' opinions and actions that have hurt people other than just myself.

As to persuading someone to attend latihan, there have been many attempts to get me back to latihan. I am actually grateful for the successful attempts that got me to congress for a few hours, and to latihan there, no matter that I had to endure yet another kick in the arse fom someone who thought I needed it (because I am mad?????)

I was not, am not, just hoping to do a favour by imploring someone to attend latihan, but to hope that, when it happens, I might be told of the wonderful changes found, and how not-nasty it was. That's how it was for me in latihan, if not all the time with the nice people I met again, or for the first time, such as David W, at congress.

Peace.

Bronte

From Hassanah Briedis, February 6, 2008. Time 7:22

Hey Helissa, don't take it too seriously. I would hope on a freewheeling site like this no-one has to be perfect, no-one has to perform. We're all just 'chewing the fat' and hanging out. David's right, stick around. Hassanah

From Sahlan Diver, February 6, 2008. Time 9:29

This comment is addressed to all who are contributing to this page.

Andrew says: "I cherish the personal stories that people are telling on this page and elsewhere on Subud Vision."

It is clear from the feedback that these personal stories and insights are popular, so I am wondering whether we should set up some special area on the web site for this kind of conversation, to separate it from the discussions about the development of Subud itself. We are currently working on a major revamp of the web site, the deadline for which is 8th March, so I would be interested to hear if people have any suggestions or comments on this idea,

Sahlan Diver

Managing Editor

From Stefan, February 6, 2008. Time 11:47

Hi Sahlan,

I'm a person who thought I had no time or patience for any free-for-all chat site. Surprisingly I'm drawn to the refreshing sense of exploring dimly lit corners together that has ignited this "happening" page. Personal, philosophical, psychological and spiritual musings are offered laced with empathy and humour. What would we call it if it became a dedicated place?

From Sahlan Diver, February 6, 2008. Time 11:58

Stefan,

Why it probably works is because our editing guidelines do not permit a put-down atmosphere, so maybe, because of this, contributors feel freer to talk about experiences of a personal nature.

However, I would like to see a special area created on the web site for this kind of exploration, otherwise there is a danger it might detract from the original purpose of the venture,

Sahlan

From Hassanah Briedis, February 6, 2008. Time 12:3

Hi Sahlan - ha! So we've been caught behaving like a chat site, have we?? Well, I agree with the last posting, I don't like chat sites, but I am very much enjoying the discussion happening here, attached to a SubudVision article. Yes, we have wandered further than the brief of Lilliana's article, but the territory we've strayed onto is that of one (or more)of the other articles.

I understand your diligence in trying to keep the site in order, but I have misgivings about too much order and control, when the discussion happening is positive, and is, in its own way, working through some important issues. I can only suggest that you allow discussion threads to stay attached to articles, as I have a feeling that they may otherwise disintegrate and lose their value. I can't explain it exactly, but it's somewhere in the region of the saying "if it aint broke, don't fix it"

Hassanah

From Stefan, February 6, 2008. Time 12:6

Hi Bronte,

Thank you for accepting my comment about being "helpful" - which was in itself exactly the sort of well intentioned advice that can be so annoying! Maybe this genuine desire to help is one of the things that makes Subud helpers hard to live with! If only we all could get better at listening and hesitate before "helping"...

You say you have received a lot of well deserve kicks in the arse, and that people sometimes perceive you as mad. Your feedback entries show someone who spontaneously expresses thoughts and feelings, and is willing to consider that they may be wrong. This seems very sane and is quite refreshing.

I learned recently from a Quaker that one of their key maxims is:

"consider that you may be wrong".

I don't usually like maxims but find this one impressive.

With all good wishes from Stefan

From Sahlan Diver, February 6, 2008. Time 12:27

Reply to Hassanah

Just to reassure you, the article feedback scheme will remain intact on the new version of the web site, due on March 8th, albeit with many improvements which we will announce at the time. Neither will the editors be interfering with the content of the feedback for the articles. What I was proposing was adding an area where people could initiate discussions on general matters of personal experience, which may only be indirectly related to the published article content,

Sahlan

From Stefan, February 6, 2008. Time 12:58

Hi Sahlan,

When I asked "what would we call it" I wasn't meaning to be facetious. I really like your suggestion and want to find a name (label) that evokes the wide range of personal reflections and insights we're seeing on this page:

From Andrew Hall, February 6, 2008. Time 22:23

Dear Helissa,

I wonder if my last posting sounded severe in the way I responded to your comments about meditation and vibration?

I do have a tendency to take life a mite too seriously.

Reminds me about the two rabbis who were in shul one morning, standing side by side and praying. "Oh Lord, forgive me, I am useless," they intone together, repeating it over and over, bowing their heads each time.

Their voices are loud and carry out through the open door onto the street. Moishe the rag picker is driving by on his cart and hears the constant refrain, "Oh Lord, forgive me, I am useless."

Inspired, Moishe jumps from the cart, runs into shul, stands besides the rabbis, and joins them as they intone 'Oh Lord, forgive me, I am useless."

Startled, the two rabbis look at Moishe and then at each other as Moishe keeps intoning, "Oh Lord, forgive me, I am useless."

One rabbi shrugs and says to the other, "Look who thinks he's useless!!"

Pause for applause.

Helissa, please forgive my prickly sensibility!!! If you want to see a sign in this, may it be my totem animal - a hedgehog - whose sense of wonder and lightness I definitely need more of.

Take care,

Anddrew

From Helissa Penwell, February 7, 2008. Time 0:14

Thanks for caring, you guys.

You know I did start to get concerned that I had pushed some Hot Button Issue, and that I might have accidentally set myself up to be the target for people's pent up anger on this topic. I decided to back-peddle a bit and wrote a nice, long post to that effect. I was fine until the post disappeared; it was so bizarre that I thought I better stop and figure out if there was a lesson lurking there. One lesson-- to be more careful about making off-hand remarks on touchy subjects.

When we aren't face-to-face, it's often so easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and our own agenda that we forget that there's real (sensitive) people reading our posts. I'm going to try and be more aware of that in the future. I really like what Hassanah says about feeling free to be imperfect and make mistakes. After all, that's the way we learn, isn't it? This is such a wonderful opportunity to talk about and listen to meaningful ideas. I wouldn't leave it easily. Thanks again for reaching out; I am touched by your kindness.

Helissa

From Merin Nielsen, February 7, 2008. Time 7:46

Hi, Mike and Philip,

Thank-you both for answering my query, but I still can't see a link between awareness and any essential reality.

Philip -- yep -- sufficiently confusing for me! I think the Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics needs no reference to observation, with lots of QM activity going unobserved as far as Bohr was concerned, though Lockwood's Many Minds Interpretation might be relevant. And that we experience what we choose -- I wish. I realise that these matters are subtle but I find it hard to come to terms with the premise that awareness can somehow determine its own contents.

Mike -- I'm afraid that, to me, such analogies are poetic rather than concrete (which is cool).

'Awareness' seems to be a state that animals and humans can possess, like motion or warmth or hunger or joy. More specifically, I'd suggest that being aware means to be 'aware of' something. For instance, I could well be in some state of awareness of my cat, or maybe even 'mind-like-sky'. Clearly, I don't subscribe to any notion of awareness as fundamental to reality, since it appears to belong to sentient creatures only. Mike distinguishes Self awareness, but 'self' in this context is another peculiar concept that I don't understand.

Best wishes,

Merin

From Philip Quackenbush, February 8, 2008. Time 21:25

Hi, Merin,

Well, my reference to QM may not be entirely accurate. It sounds like you may know more about it than I do. I'm operating from the impressions of a layman. But wasn't it Bohr who said if you think you understand it, you've haven't understood it, or something similar? Nevertheless, when approached from the wave collapse aspect, there seems to be no logical explanation for the dead/live cat paradox other than awareness precipitates the collapse. And cellular awareness (which of course isn't on the cooperative level of the billions of cells in the brain that produce "self"-awareness, located in the left temporal and prefrontal cortex, but awareness, nonetheless) is the only logical conclusion from the self-evolutionary and self-regulating functioning of cells. But that's the value of the "latihan" and similar meditative processes, IMO: they allow such logic to be either bypassed or integrated with the intuitions of the right brain. And I've found that the "deeper" I go into looking for the fundamental nature of the universe, without and within ("Jesus" is reported to have said, BTW, in the Gospel of Thomas, that the "kingdom of heaven" is within and without), awareness seems to be the only unchanging, "real" aspect of existence. I am aware of my existence. Beyond that, as H.L. Mencken pointed out, is folly (his term was funnier, as usual, but that's what pops into my mind; I'd say speculation, or the unknown; I think this computer may be here, but that could easily be a projection of my mind; in practical terms, it is here, of course, but ultimately all I know for sure is that "I" exist, i.e. "I" am aware of existing [but when looking for my "self" it is nowhere to be found]). We know, from physics and biology that we only experience the past; what we "see", for example is what took place in the "outer" world a fraction of a second before we became aware of it, and the stars we see are possibly billions of years in the past; so, the only reality for us is what we're aware of. Enough. If this paragraph gets any longer, I'll be accused of attempting to outdo Henry James, especially since all writing, when you get down to it, involves some aspect of fiction, whether the writer's aware of it or not.

Peace, Philip

From David W, February 9, 2008. Time 0:38

Hi guys. I just read an article about how when x-rays were first discovered, spiritualists got all excited about them being a "passage" to the Other World. That died. These days, QM seems to be the rage, and gets translated into New Age slogans like "everything is connected" and "nothing is real". Oddly, physics journals don't seem to pick up on this discourse at all.

Do you know what a path integral is? Can you write the wave fundtion? Do you know what renormalisation is? And if not, do you really understand QM? I don't.

Best

David

From Merin Nielsen, February 9, 2008. Time 3:21

Hi, Philip,

You wrote:

>> ... there seems to be no logical explanation for the dead/live cat paradox other than awareness precipitates the collapse. And cellular awareness (which of course isn't on the cooperative level of the billions of cells in the brain that produce "self"-awareness, located in the left temporal and prefrontal cortex, but awareness, nonetheless) is the only logical conclusion from the self-evolutionary and self-regulating functioning of cells.

Well, there are literally millions of journal pages concerning the QM wave collapse with no obvious consensus of opinion on the matter. I'm not into biology at all, but if there were some 'only logical conclusion' about the phenomena you've mentioned, then surely it would imply a worldwide Machiavellian conspiracy of scientists keeping it under wraps -- which could be another story.

>>... awareness seems to be the only unchanging, "real" aspect of existence.

You seem to be assuming the possibility of awareness without contents (or Merrell-Wolff's "consciousness without an object"). This idea is intriguing, but I'd be happier to say simply that what exists is what exists, and we're aware of some bits of it.

Hi, David,

It isn't really odd that physics journals tend to ignore most of the discourse connecting QM with New Age concepts:

http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Quantum/qmeta.html

Over the past couple of years I've done three 3rd year university courses in QM, and a course in the philosophy of modern physics. Over the next 18 months I plan to do three 4th year physics courses. (You're being generous with Dorothy Dixer's!)

Regards,

Merin

From David W, February 9, 2008. Time 3:37

Hi Merin: I had no idea! (Seriously: I didn't.) Best, Dorothy.

From Andrew Hall, February 10, 2008. Time 2:48

Hi Merin,

I'm fascinated by the idea of quantum entanglement. I mean, what could be more New Age-y than quantum entanglement! But I know pretty well zip about physics or anything about quantum mechanics. I came across this guy - Milo Wolff - who has this idea that electrons are a spherical standing wave which extends to infinity. Does this idea makes sense to you?

http://www.quantummatter.com/space_resonance.html

The one thing that I can comprehend is that matter is almost entirely empty space, but I'm not sure what to do with this. I doubt my nervous system can sense the space within the atom but my at least imagination can have fun with the idea.

When we talk about the idea of awareness, I feel more grounded in talking about this. You said earlier to Mike that self awareness is a concept that you don't understand (I think). If we describe self-awareness as the capacity of "awareness of being aware" and the capacity to use intention to create an awareness (for example, using a smile to create positive feelings and choosing to direct this energy to a specific place in the body), does this describe self-awareness in a way that you feel is useful? What I am trying to do is distinguish human awareness from the awareness of animals.

Cheers,

Andrew

From Merin Nielsen, February 10, 2008. Time 5:22

Hi, Andrew,

When it comes to studying QM, there are some gurus and there are the grunts. I'm just a grunt, and can't help much with the tricky stuff, and don't really want to try. (Have you read the article by Stenger, that I linked to above?) I've browsed the article by Milo Wolff, and it seems interesting enough (reminding me of Cramer's Transactional Interpretation of QM). Before taking it any further, though, I would look to see if it has had any positive feedback from within the physics community. Has it been cited anywhere? If it is original, good material, then it almost certainly would be reviewed prominently. One reason for the scientific journal system, of course, is to filter out worthwhile research from the plentiful wild and woolly conjectures that are out there. This system can occasionally be restrictive or blinkered, but it's the best we've got, and so it's necessary for ideas to get processed within the scope of the currently established discourse. I'm curious about the content of that website, so will check to see if Mr.Wolff's work is recognised anywhere.

You wrote:

>> If we describe self-awareness as the capacity of "awareness of being aware" and the capacity to use intention to create an awareness... does this describe self-awareness in a way that you feel is useful? What I am trying to do is distinguish human awareness from the awareness of animals.

Is this kind of self-awareness useful? Potentially, for sure, and I'd say that it is one kind of ability that distinguishes us from (almost all) animals, since I think it involves the 'symbol processing system' mentioned in recent feedback to the article, "Do We Really Need a New Explanation of the Latihan?" But the concept and feeling of 'self' (as in I-myself) seems like a rather different matter subject to another discussion.

Regards,

Merin

From Philip Quackenbush, February 11, 2008. Time 6:14

Hi, Merin,

I din't realize I was talking to a pro (semi-pro?) physics ist. Thass nize. I was kept from taking even elementary my dear Watson physics in high school, cuz I couldn't take it and chemistry at the same hour, the only time available, so everthang I've larn't 'bout it is by the scruff of my neck (being carried into the box for Schrödinger to think about my fate). Anyway, I looked at that link Andrew gave and it occurred to me that the major problem with understanding quantum physics is its mathematical complexity if he's right. There are googols and googols of electrons around, and, if they're all being or emitting standing waves, that's a whole bunch of complexity right there that's beyond the capacity of even modern pewters to deal with. Then, factor in the other particles, the hadrons consisting of rotsan rotsa quarks, and you have virtually "insoluble" complexity, if the usual model of even a single atom is anywhere near correct.

When Lorenz came up with what was probably the first strange attractor trying to figure out weather patterns, that was complex enough, and weather is still largely unpredictable beyond a few days, or even a few hours in some cases, so I don't wonder at the results of the double slit experiments too much, but my intuition tells me there aren't any such things as particles, the universe is all waves waving back and forth at us. I think it was Einstein that talked about wavicles, or wave packets. The big problem, then, seems to be that waves are virtually never linear, and nonlinear equations that describe the chaotic aspects of wave motion, again, are usually too complex for even current computers to solve, or even aid in solving.

Getting back to the idea of awareness being the fundamental quality of the universe, though, it would seem that, if that's so, that awareness might increase as a result of the complexity of certain systems, and animals such as dolphins and humans are the most complex systems known on the planet. I read a book called The Big Bang Never Happened a few years ago in which the author, a Swedish cosmologist, as I recall, or supporting arguments from such to the author, pointed out that biological systems are antientropic, that most animals have more complexity in them (and therefore, perhaps, more awareness) than entire galaxies. When I see current research in microbiology and animal studies seeming to affirm this, I have to wonder whether there isn't more to be learned from studying ourselves than the world we supposedly inhabit (could be it's only a projection of our minds [now it's time to define mind, children], or the "universal mind").

A quote of Einstein's I ran across today seems appropriate here. "Imagination is more important than knowledge." Couple that with Muhammad's hadith "Knowledge is more important than religion" (which, IMO, is mostly imagination, if not entirely so), and what do you have? I'd say that the religious fundamentalists may have been taking the wrong fork in the road for too many centuries, and it's time to imagine something more "real", which is what physicists and biologists seem to be doing, or at least trying to do. The Hindus could be right in placing consciousness as the foundation of the universe, but it could be just as likely that its an epiphenomenon of "matter", or wave activity. Certainly, the sensing of sound is definitely a result of waves impinging on the eardrum and transmitted through the inner ear to the auditory cortical area. Without that mechanism, most of us would hear nothing (although some animals "hear" with the vibrations on their skin or tongues). And we don't become aware of hearing something until later in the neural transmission of impulses, recognition of what we're hearing even later in the process. So, there's a lot of aspects to be considered in the "question" of consciousness, which is why science is only starting to get some answers about the subject.

Peace, Philip

From Merin Nielsen, February 11, 2008. Time 14:21

Hi, Andrew,

As far as I can tell, Milo Wolff is connected with just a single journal article from 1956. Not a good sign. He might be a genius, but there's just too much risk of time wasting when following up the work of somebody who's officially so obscure -- blinkered as this attitude might be.

Best wishes,

Merin

From Mike Higgins, February 13, 2008. Time 6:17

The quantum consciousness metaphor is this: The physical objects we apprehend are collapsed quantum probability waves. It is Consciousness (with a capital C, i.e., the mind of God) that causes them to collapse into the particular forms with which we are familiar. If we could identify with Consciousness, even if only partially, our usual subject/object dichotomy would disappear, to a greater or lesser degree, depending upon our degree of identification with it (Consciousness). This is the state of awareness reported by mystics. That is to say, when one has intimate knowledge of Consciousness (God), one realizes that only Consciousness is real/eternal and subjects/objects are the fictitious product of separative (ego based) awareness.

I have a talk (2 MP3's) by quantum physicist A. Goswami in which he explains this concept in detail and in fact refutes the arguments against it. If anyone here would like copies of these MP3's, I will upload them to yousendit.com, so that you may download them from there. You will need to e-mail me though so that I can add your e-mail addresses to the download link list. Would it be alright with the moderators if I posted my e-mail address here? Or is there another way that you can give my e-mail address to those who are interested? Thanks - Mike

From Mike Higgins, February 13, 2008. Time 6:32

Andrew said "If we describe self-awareness as the capacity of "awareness of being aware" and the capacity to use intention to create an awareness."

Yes, the other important corollary to the "quantum consciousness" idea I described is that, as co-creators with God (our consciousness being a reflection of his greater conciousness), our intent affects reality, i.e., exactly how the quantum probability waves will collapse. Michael Murphy, of Esalen fame, has done and is doing some fascinating studies on how people's intent "creates" (or co-creates) their reality.

Also, I wanted to say that Dr. Goswami, the physicist I mentioned, performed a fascinating peer-reviewed double blind experiment which demonstrates that our consciousness is (or can be) "nonlocal" just like quantum wavicles.

From David W, February 13, 2008. Time 8:33

Mike: Re double-blind, etc: citation please? Best, David

From Mike Higgins, February 13, 2008. Time 9:46

I think I got carried away with adjectives there, David, couldn't find the study, it probably was not double-blind. He has written a few books, but they are considered controversial (except for his quantum mechanics textbook):

http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~dmason/grad/fac/goswami.html

From Philip Quackenbush, February 13, 2008. Time 16:48

Hi, Mike and David, et al

Goswami's book The Self-Aware Universe is sitting rot here on the desk next to my keyboard (on the MIDI musical keyboard, in fact), now that you mention it. He came up to give a talk at the lo-cal lintpicking bookstore that I missed. I was in the process of starting to read it again when something mysteriously moved it where it is now (my disembodied etheric hand?). Anyway, he presents a fairly good argument for his Hindu/physics-inspired thesis, and I'm tempted to buy into it, though my skeptic bells will continue to go off until I either understand it as being valid or not. The idea of consciousness, or awareness, being the root cause of the universe is the only one that I've run across that makes some sort of sense to me, although the chicken/egg dichotomy still rears its messy head to leave me in the darkness of outer space, so to speak (is it or is it not turtles all the way down that are supporting the Earth, and what about the Causeless Cause, anyway -- Kant there be a solution?). At least I no longer am seeking the answers with any worry about survival after death, having accepted my life as it is without any, or virtually no, qualms.

Peace, Philip

From Mike Higgins, February 14, 2008. Time 2:38

o.k., rather than respond here in this thread to the primary points raised in this discussion, I've decided to start a new thread. Hope to see you all there on the next page...

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