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Max MacArthur - My Non-Opening

Reasons for difficulty in receiving. From Long-timer, May 2, 2009. Time 23:40

Max,

You do not say how old you are. I was opened in my 20's some decades ago, and the helpers were fond of saying then that younger people were luckier to be opened as they seemed to receive straight away, whereas older people might have more "baggage" to discard before they could feel anything. This seemed to be the case. People who were 50 or over often seemed to encounter initial difficulty in receiving.


My Very "Advanced" Age. From Max MacArthur, May 3, 2009. Time 2:59

3rd May 2009

Thanks, Long Timer, for your very helpful point. I am "50 and not just over, but well over". Yes, it has occurred to me that I may have a lot of "baggage", as you put it. However, I do not smoke, do drugs, or even touch a drop of alcohol not because of principles but because I dislike the taste of anything with an alcoholic content.

Would you [or anyone else] from your experience, give me some examples of impediments to receiving the latihan? Don't worry about being tactful, because I know you're trying to help me. Thanks!

Max


From Hassanah Briedis, May 3, 2009. Time 2:36

Hi Max, thank you for your honesty in your article. I feel for your frustration and disappointment. I'd like to be able to give feedback from direct experience, but I can't, as I haven't experienced what you have.

My article on the latihan and dissociation makes an argument for my particular take on the latihan, so I'm looking at your experience through that particular lens - ie, if the latihan is a form of dissociative experience, what does that say about your response to it? It would seem that you have difficulty dissociating, ie, switching to an alternate mode of consciousness. Being able to do this is a learnt behaviour, so people who have already learnt to dissociate receive the latihan very quickly and easily - that I can say from experience within Subud for over 45 years.

So the only suggestion I could make to you is to go and learn to dissociate, and then come back and try the latihan again. By 'learning to dissociate' I mean trying out various methods that put you strongly in touch with your feelings, on one hand, and the ability to distance from them, on the other. So one would be confrontational and therapeutic, and the other would be meditative.

Another interesting way into it would be through a method like Qi Gong, which uses a similar kind of 'life force', but approaches it differently. Having said all this, it may be that you've already done other kinds of practices, but it would depend what ones.

It sounds to me like you've been exposed to all kinds of extra-latihan dogmas and add-ons, and maybe these have only served to keep you firmly grounded up in your mind - just a suggestion, obviously i don't know. If you can get into your feelings, especially confrontational one, you'll be much closer to a dissociative possibility. If you don't know what 'dissociation' is, have a look at my article or Google it.

This is just my take on it, and I imagine you'll get lots of different opinions. At least mine offers a practical strategy that might help you get in touch with the brain state that I believe drives the latihan.

Best wishes, Hassanah Briedis


From Philip Quackenbush, May 3, 2009. Time 6:13

Hi, Max,

It's nice to have you "aboard", so to speak, but, as much as I agree with much that you say in your article, I find it lacking in specifics about yourself that might give a clue or two as to what the "difficulty" may be. Despite that, I think you have three basic options. 1) to remain patient, as has been suggested 2) to continue to search for the "why" you feel you haven't been "opened" and 3) to throw in the towel, at least for the time being, if not for good, and do as Hassanah has suggested, or quit the cult entirely and seek for another "path" that gives you the satisfaction you seek (which may or may not include the "latihan" under another name and/or format.

Under number 1), I'd suggest perhaps initially standing up with the others and then doing whatever you feel like, whether that comes from your "mind" or not. In that way, if you, for example, feel like sitting back down or lying on the floor and scratching your head, that will at least get you started moving in some manner, and later on, you may be able to distinguish between the willed movement and the involuntary movement that many members assume (probably because they've heard or read that that's what the founder said, and he couldn't possibly be mistaken!) comes from the power of "God." The important thing is to feel free to do whatever happens.

Another possibility under number 1) is that you don't need any physical movement, that your thoughts and emotions are being "worked on" and all you have to do in the "latihan" is what people do in other forms of meditation ("latihan", IMO, being simply a spontaneous movement form of meditation, there being, for example, a form of taiji that's also spontaneous movement, but, in my experience, conforms or is to restricted to already-learned forms) do, which is to simply observe the passing thoughts and emotions and let them pass without attaching to them. This is often easier when you're busy doing movements, but possible, and possibly even more intense when you're still. Again, though, if you feel any urge or "guidance" to move, go ahead. As they say in New Yawk, it vould'n hoit.

Under number 2, there are numerous possibilities, and it may be up to you to figure out "what's up." It's possible to be "opened" more than once. I knew a guy in San Francisco who was "opened" four times before he felt anything over a period of four years (that's more patience than most people can muster, I wot), and when he finally did feel something, he said "too little, too late" and left the cult. Subud is a fairly benign cult, so it's unlikely you'll have somebody come after you and cut your head off, which is a possibility if you become a Muslim and decide to leave (something they don't usually inform you of when trying to convert you).

Under number 3), I've been "doing" "latihan" off and on for over 45 years, and recently "received" (several times before it sank in) that I didn't need to do it any more. You may be in that category already, without ever "doing" it. I have decided to go to group "latihans" and "do" them anyway, just in case it might be of value to others (in and/or out of the cult), as the fit hits me and it fits into my schedule (I had thought of attending one this morning, but I didn't wake up soon enough; retired, y'know).

Ultimately, if "nothing happens", you can still take the opportunity to enjoy a half hour of time away from the cares of the world, which, IMO, is worth it all by itself.

Peace, Philip


From Long-timer, May 3, 2009. Time 8:45

Max,

By "baggage", I didn't mean bad habits like drug taking. I meant that at an older age one is more full of experiences, and also some people are more fixed and rigid in their thoughts and behaviour patterns and so on, and this can sometimes act as a block to instant receiving. There is nothing to do about it but just accept it might be a cause of a slow start.


From Philip Quackenbush, May 3, 2009. Time 19:46

Hi, Max,

When I said in my last post that you might move according to whatever impulse you have from whatever cause, I neglected to give an example of my own "opening", when I felt the tiniest "breeze" trying to blow me backwards on to my back, which I was reluctant to do because of the possibility of injury on the asphalt-tile floor, but once I "surrendered" and let it happen, "all hell broke loose" (though it all happened on the floor for the first six months, probably because I'd been indoctrinated somewhere by someone or something beforehand that "probationers" [that's what "applicants" were called in those days] were so "loaded down" with "lower forces" that it was such a heavy weight they couldn't "rise above" them when they were "opened"). I heard several years later from a "helper" that visited the New York group that they were ALL just lying around on the floor and one guy violently objected when he did his "normal" "latihan" of running around the hall at a canter (I hesitate to give a verbatim quote for those with tender ears [or eyes], but I will: [shouted] "Lie down, you sonofabitch, like the rest of us!").

Peace, Philip


From Max MacArthur, May 4, 2009. Time 13:4

Thank you, Hassanah, for your feedback and for drawing my attention to your article. I learnt quite a bit from your article, although quite a bit was also over my head. You are very erudite! I must admit that when doing the latihan and observing the others go about so serenely amidst the cacophony [and euphony], it did occur to me on several occasions that if non-latihan practising psychologists were to be a flies on the wall, whether they could immediately identify the “behaviour” as something they have come across either clinically, or in their textbooks.

I guess, from your feedback, you are saying that it is worth my while to learn to “dissociate” just to
receive the latihan. I’m not sure I understand the term “dissociation”. Maybe it’s because I’m unable to “dissociate”! A fish wouldn’t know what “wet” means when it has never been dry!

I am told that all the movements in the latihan are spontaneous and involuntary. Yet I think when the participants walk forward to the circle from their initially seated positions, and start off with a movement or a sound, surely that must be an act of volition.

I cannot, for the life of me, imagine that I’d obtain the latihan by just being patient. But I hope that’s the key. Perhaps you’ve hit the nail on the head and I should first learn to dissociate. But if I have to first learn to dissociate, does that not contradict what I’ve been told that one does not need to do anything to receive the latihan?

Whatever, thank you very much for your help. I learnt so much from your article!


From Max MacArthur, May 4, 2009. Time 13:55

Thank you very much, Philip, for your encouraging feedback. I don’t know if I agree with you that Subud is a cult, but that’s not important for now. Even if it is, I would agree it is a “benign cult” as you put it. I guess you can say that latihan people practise “safe sects”.

I have read about not “mixing” the latihan with other exercises such as yoga and meditation. I know that by that, Subud recommends we shouldn’t do the two simultaneously. But I also get the impression that the latihan dispenses with yoga or meditation. Perhaps I am wrong here, and I await any correction.

We have all heard wonderful and uplifting stories of survival among the Vietnamese boat people. Sadly, we don’t get to hear stories from those who drowned, or murdered by pirates, or taken by sharks when their boats capsized. I once read somewhere that only 50% made it to safety.

I enjoyed reading your feedback very much. You said that you found my article lacking in specifics. That was deliberate. I don’t know if it is against the etiquette of this site to ask for your private email address, so that when I write to you in private, you can then let me know what specifics you are looking for and I will answer them privately to you.

Regarding the last paragraph in your first feedback, I couldn’t help laughing when I read it! I have better things to do than to drive such a long way to the latihan hall and stand at attention for half an hour Trooping the Colour while the rest file past! But I’m being cheeky. Seriously, I find weeding the garden far more restful and effective if I want to be away from the cares of the world.

In your second feedback, the language used by that particular latihan practitioner was as revealing as it was chilling. Thank you for sharing that with me. There are latihans and latihans, I now know.


From The Managing Editor, May 4, 2009. Time 14:11

Max said: "I don’t know if it is against the etiquette of this site to ask for your private email address, "

Answer: It is not. Either Philip can reply on this web site giving you his email address, or if he doesn't want that published he can ask the editors to forward his email address directly to you


From Philip Quackenbush, May 5, 2009. Time 6:23

Hi, Max (and y'awl),

•Thank you very much, Philip, for your encouraging feedback. I don’t know if I agree with you that Subud is a cult, but that’s not important for now. Even if it is, I would agree it is a “benign cult” as you put it. I guess you can say that latihan people practise “safe sects”.

Yeah, well, as I recall, it meets 21 out of 25 characteristics of the list made by deprogrammers, and has been officially declared a cult in at least two countries. IMO, a religion is just a successful cult. Humans are social animals, and belonging to some group satisfies that evolution-mandated requirement, no matter how benign or toxic the group may be. Insofar as possible, one should be careful of what groups one joins. As Groucho Marx said, "I wouldn't want to belong to any group that would have me."

•I have read about not “mixing” the latihan with other exercises such as yoga and meditation. I know that by that, Subud recommends we shouldn’t do the two simultaneously. But I also get the impression that the latihan dispenses with yoga or meditation. Perhaps I am wrong here, and I await any correction.

That's just for when you do "latihan". If you end up doing yoga asanas or chi gong (IMO, the "latihan" is a "formless" form of chi gong, anyway, when stripped of its theological baggage) as part of your "latihan", you wouldn't be "surrendering" if you fought the "flow", would you? A Subud sister once taught me a form of Tibetan yoga that I practice (and intend to do more often), and, after being deprived of its regular practice during the trip to a Subud congress, I did several "latihans" during the congress and one of them consisted of the "force" putting me through the motions (effortlessly, I might add). Since, again (IM oft-considered O), the "latihan" IS a form of meditation, riding two horses at once is a good circus trick, but why confuse yourself if the aim is to lose the confusion?

• We have all heard wonderful and uplifting stories of survival among the Vietnamese boat people. Sadly, we don’t get to hear stories from those who drowned, or murdered by pirates, or taken by sharks when their boats capsized. I once read somewhere that only 50% made it to safety.

Well, you can hear them, if you want to "badly" enough, by cultivating your psychic reception, but IMO there's enough suffering in the world without seeking it out.

• I enjoyed reading your feedback very much. You said that you found my article lacking in specifics. That was deliberate. I don’t know if it is against the etiquette of this site to ask for your private email address, so that when I write to you in private, you can then let me know what specifics you are looking for and I will answer them privately to you.

I have enough email already to keep me at the pewter for too long without encouraging more, so I'll have to recline your offer. However, I think what I did tonight, as told below, will perhaps make up for that injection.

• Regarding the last paragraph in your first feedback, I couldn’t help laughing when I read it! I have better things to do than to drive such a long way to the latihan hall and stand at attention for half an hour Trooping the Colour while the rest file past! But I’m being cheeky. Seriously, I find weeding the garden far more restful and effective if I want to be away from the cares of the world.

Point taken. One member of another SUBforum once suggested that you can get the same benefits as you get from the "latihan" with a good night's sleep.
Since the basis of the "latihan" is a good alpha trance (which most people don't get enough of to suit them in the programmed rat race that the "bad guys" encourage to create economic and/or psychological slaves of them, consequently the appeal of the boob tube and the "latihan") and a "good" "latihan" will keep one going without as much sleep, as will any "good" alpha trance, I tend to agree with that assessment.

• In your second feedback, the language used by that particular latihan practitioner was as revealing as it was chilling. Thank you for sharing that with me. There are latihans and latihans, I now know.

Yes, and some of the short ones can be considered "better" than the long ones, and who you do them with can make a difference, as well. That said, if you don't feel you're getting what you need in one group, if possible, try another.

Now, to the main point of this reply:

This evening, I did a "latihan" specifically for the purpose of providing a "presence" of the "latihan" for anyone who's having trouble "receiving",
If that seems arrogant that I would consider myself capable of taking on such a "burden", so be it. Like I said in a recent post to the svi discussion group, I no longer feel any need to "do" any formal "latihan", personally, and I decided to try doing one for the general benefit of anyone who needed my influence (not affluence, there's little enough of that) from the "latihan" farce (excuse me, "force"). The result of that was that I felt virtually nothing, but it was a chance to relax for a half hour. This evening, however, my "latihan" was the most active I've had in years, so there was definitely something going on.

So, assuming that that something was effectively valid in its intent, here's the specifics of why I think it will work for someone:

(See next post for the specifics; it may be too long here to satisfy the 80-line limit)

Peace, Philip


From Philip Quackenbush, May 5, 2009. Time 7:22

Okay, here's the poop on what I was talking about in my last reply:

A number of years ago, my father died, and I seem to recall either doing a "latihan" for him before it happened or some other form of energy transfer that I had come across. It didn't keep him from dying but may have allowed him to stay alive long enough to say goodbye to his favorite granddaughter. Anyway, that's when I first became convinced of the possibility of "effect at a distance."

Subsequent reading in lay virgins of quantum physics made it clear why it could work, but I hadn't done anything further on that score. Basically, there is no such thing as time or space, only the illusion of them created by our sensory equipment and mentation. In terms of eternity, there is only now (and this is the only now [and place] there is, so enjoy it, already).

Anyway, I'd been a "helper" for a couple decades when I quit Subud for a couple of years, and when I came back, I "received" that I should offer myself as a sacrificial lamb on the altar of "helpership" again, but the group didn't want or need me, and I felt that I should be available when needed, but not sure how that might happen, if ever.

You may be aware of the "remote" "testing" going on by phone around the world here and there, but what I did tonight is a bit different, in that it is not only a case of nonlocality, but nontemporal, as well. So, here's the story:

You have two options, as I see it, to possibly "receive" the "latihan" this way, based on what the founder of the cult suggested "helpers" to do in such cases (no apparent movement), which was to stand near the person while doing "latihan" (energy induction, like in a transformer). [I did it once for a guy who said he hadn't moved, and he did.] One is to imagine me standing next to you for about a half hour (and feel it as much as possible, like when you feel someone staring at you from behind and turn around and find out that you're right). Another is to imagine yourself in the room with the group that I was with tonight, zeroing in on the time and location and standing next to me.

The location is the basement of 1101 Spring St., Seattle, which you can Google on your pewter, if you have one. The time is between approximately 8:15 and 8;45 P.M., Pacific Daylight time, May 4, 2009, which is probably between 3;15 and 3;45 A.M., Universal (Greenwich) Time, with about a 10 minute "quiet" preceeding and following the "active" portion of the "latihan."

If you're clairvoyant, the image that you can zero in on to be sure you're "there" is that of a guy in the center of the room in a Buddhist (?) prayer position (not a lotus) in the middle of a bunch of fake Persian rugs, but he arrived late, so that might only allow you c. 15 minutes.

If you're clairaudient, you might hear one guy chanting "Yes, God", another doing a Islamic/Sufi prayer mix, another bellowing incoherently, and/or me doing a "positivity" chant of stuff like "Yes, yes, yes. Right. Okay. No, it doesn't matter. Uh-huh. etc., etc."

If you're neither, you can just sit and/or stand there calmly (preferably in a place where you can be alone and feel comfortable to eliminate as many distractions as possible), imagining (visualizing, if you're good at it) all that going on at that location and at that time. Rinse and repeat as necessary. Relax and enjoy.

Peace, Philip


From Sahlan Diver, May 5, 2009. Time 9:13

Max,

I don't like to say anything against Phlip's very kind attention to detail in your case, but I would be a bit cautious about trying to receive entirely on your own. There have been instances of beginners going into latihans that they couldn't stop without the aid of a helper. That's probably why once people have been opened they are advised to wait 3 months before doing any latihans at home on their own. I am not saying don't do what Philip suggests, just that it would be a good idea to have a sympathetic helper or experienced member present at the same time,

Regards

Sahlan


From Hassanah Briedis, May 5, 2009. Time 10:17

Hi Max, dissociation is pretty much a universal experience, and yet most people wouldn't use that word to describe their experience. They'd be more likely to say 'spaced out', 'in a dream', 'highway hypnosis', 'feeling really weird', 'out of my body', and so on, depending on the circumstances that caused them to temporarily dissociate. You could describe it as a psychological response to some environmental stressor, or a kind of self-hypnotic state, whether deliberately or accidentally induced.

I really don't know why some people take to latihan (or its equivalent)so easily and some don't. But I do believe that there is a process that happens within the brain that is the mechanism for humans to have the subjective experience of religious or spiritual awareness. And that the brain can be trained to switch into that state more easily, and that the more you exercise that function, the easier it gets to slip into it.

What I found when I went and trained as a creative arts therapist, was that the students who came from backgrounds of creative art, drama and music, were adept at entering those states, through years of accessing their creative unconscious. We used to do group exercises that honestly looked and felt just like the latihan we do in Subud.

So when I suggested you go and do something to learn to 'dissociate', I wasn't specifically thinking of an alternative spiritual practice, but more perhaps of something creative that might get those 'unconscious' juices flowing. It's really about getting in touch with one's inner self, which can include psychological as well as spiritual parts of self.

Thanks for putting yourself on the line! Good discussion!
Cheers, Hassanah


From Philip Quackenbush, May 5, 2009. Time 18:20

Hi, Max,

I pretty much agree with what Hassanah says. I had a "latihan" a couple months or years after I got started doing it in which I literally felt like a switch was being turned on. For me, it's in the heart area, but for someone else it might be in their big toe, so I don't want to put any suggestions in your head as to how to "do" your "latihan"; a lot of what happens in "latihan" is probably a result of what people are led to expect or is expected of them, anyway, hence the Islamo-mania seen in so many groups and "coming out" in their "latihans"). But after years of "practice", I can go into alpha trance instantly, just by turning that "switch", like turning on a light switch. That's perhaps one of the reasons I no longer feel the need to "do" "latihan", because I have the option of "achieving" that state any time I feel like it, without having it visible in any outer manifestation that might freak someone out. Since my intent last night was to "do" a "formal" "latihan" with the group for the "standard" full 30 minutes, I couldn't help but be aware that the "helper" "on duty" was looking at me with a somewhat jaundiced eye, and might have actually kept saying "finish" if I didn't stop when the rest of the group did, since he probably was aware that I'd been coming in at the end of a group "latihan" for several months, bopping away for a minute at the most and then splitting the scene (which I haven't done the last couple of times I've gone).

I also agree with Hassanah that the "latihan" is a natural state, and the only reason more people aren't in it as the need arises, from the physical needs of the body, emotional "clearing", or "relaxation" of the beta-wave state that most people think is the only "real" or useful state to be in, is because they've been conditioned throughout life to maintain a "heavy hand" on the "tiller" to avoid "too much" alpha or theta trance, because that takes them out of the control, to some extent, of those who would have them be slaves of one sort or another (if one is in a deep enough trance, even being burned at the stake means nothing and isn't even felt, as you may know from stage demos of hypnosis, the "latihan" being a form of self-hypnosis, IM oft-considered O).

So, I apologize for not mentioning the standard warning to "beginners" that Sachlan pointed out, but I suspect that someone who "goes into" "latihan" (i.e. alpha or theta trance with associated spontaneous movements that the body, freed from the dominance of the controlling "thinking" or "ego", can create to bring itself into some sort of balance) and "can't" get out of it may just either have weak mental control ("will power", the only "will power" needed for "latihan" being that to enter the state and to leave it, the latter being a bit more difficult, since the alpha state is highly suggestible and has weakened "attention" in "normal" terms) or simply needs the extra time to "flip out" to achieve the balance, and "helpers" may have committed themselves to "staying with it" until the person finishes their "latihan" (which they will, eventually, whether from fatigue or death [in extremis, and who's to say that that's a "wrong" result], but in practical terms, that isn't possible). I've heard that, in Cilandak, they used to have a "crisis cage" that they put people in who didn't "come out" of "latihan", but that's not acceptable in most cultures, hence the need to set up protocols to prevent the "outer world" from putting them in the booby hatch for what has been described in the UK as "Subud psychosis" (did the "helpers" where you are mention that as a possible downside to the practice in the cult?).

Peace, Philip


From Hassanah Briedis, May 6, 2009. Time 6:31

Hi there, since Phillip has raised the issue of 'subud psychosis' and problems with people not being able to stop their latihan, needing helpers to help them stop etc., I will put my penny's worth in here as well.

Max has been exposed to all kinds of Subud mythology, dogma, add-ons etc, and this is one of them, in the sense that what we're talking about is a phenomenon that's been experienced in Subud since day one, but which remains as 'one of those unexplained things'. Explanations of course will be put forward about spiritual crisis, and that's a valid perspective. However it's not all that helpful, since very few people know what to do about it.

My take on it (sorry everyone) is again a psychological one. The psychological level of human experience is sorely ignored in Subud, to its great detriment. A crisis, or inability to come out of the latihan state, is usually experienced by someone who has a huge and unresolved backlog of feeling, or trauma, or interpersonal baggage, or etc. The ones I have known in my own time in Subud, turned out to be women who had been sexually or physically abused, or been traumatized in some other way. The function of the latihan in opening up these unconscious layers can be overwhelming to a psyche that has bottled everything up for decades.

To me, this is just so basic, so obvious, it is amazing that Subud as an organization still hasn't acknowledged at least the possibility that this is what a 'crisis' is.

Anyway, that again is my input. Cheers, Hassanah


From Philip Quackenbush, May 6, 2009. Time 7:36

Hi, Hassanah,

GOOD show! It's about time somebody did something about "crisis cases" other than use the term to describe the actions of someone they can't deal with. I'm in total agreement with what you've said here, having experienced a couple (or three or four) "crises" myself, which were only resolved over a period of time varying from a few hours or days to a month or more. The resolution always seemed to involve some sort of reality check, i.e., something I hadn't faced that was creating mental or emotional (or even financial) conflict in my life at that time. The worst case of labeling something as a "crisis" was when someone I knew was told that someone he knew was "just in crisis" (and would get over it, as I recall) by Ibu Rahayu, when even me with my minimal medical knowledge recognized that the person had had a personality-altering stroke. Last I knew, the personality change hadn't changed back. Some day its very possible that Subud or some of its practitioners will be sued for such off-the-cuff "diagnoses" and the possible proceeds from the suit may bankrupt the entire organization. Of course, the organization could escape that possibility the Heaven's Gate way, when there wouldn't be anybody left to sue. After all, the Hale-Bopp comet according to standard SUBmythology propogated by the founder of the cult in at least one of his lectures might have a profound effect on somebody under its effluents (er, influence).

Peace, Philip


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