Subud Vision - Feedback
To be fully "religion-neutral", mightn't we also have to drop the name "Subud" and the Subud symbol, both of which have strong specific religious origins, the name being a contraction of some religious concepts, and the symbol representing the levels of the various higher and lower forces?
Is it possible that the strangeness of the symbol might to "outsiders" seem off-putting and alien, maybe even threatening, in a way that a standard commercial or organisational logo is not?
Yes, I think the symbol is over-the-top, potentially very off-putting, and completely unnecessary. Symbols in themselves can be terrible, sometimes even poisonous. In that light, however, one possible virtue of the Subud symbol is its great complexity, making it difficult to reproduce.
The name "Subud" is not a problem for me. As the organisation's founder, Bapak scores special status, and it seems reasonable to defer to his choice of name - since there needs to be a name - especially given that Sanskrit, the lingo of derivation, is obsolete and thereby has neutral (while perhaps venerable) connotations. The religious or theological content of Susila Budhi Dharma is quite open to interpretation, such that it's pretty innocuous.
Here are the problems with the name as I see it
1) It's very awkward to pronounce. English-speaking non-members read it as sub-ud, with the u's pronounced as in "bus".
2) It seems to encourage members to immediately launch into an explanation of the name, bringing in venerable terminology and thereby creating the impression that this is something pious and linked to specific religious philosophies, i.e. it's another one in the same class of factors working against the general acceptance of Subud, that you complain about in your article.
3) According to a comment on Subud Vision, I think from Salamah Pope, Bapak said if the name didn't work in the West it could be changed, so we are not necessarily deferring to Bapak by sticking to the name.
1) I find it funny (haha) when people pronounce it different ways. After all, it's not very important how we say it, so why not accept variety? Some physicists say "quark" as in dark, others as in walk, and typically this is treated as a lighthearted game.
2) Yes, true, although the sense of piety is not so much in the name itself as in the attitude of some Subud members towards it. It's this sort of attitude that represents the source of difficulty. We could surely keep Subud (Susila Budhi Dharma), without the associated burden of religiosity, if only it were generally treated as no more than a quaint nod to metaphysical niceties.
3) Given this point, maybe a new name would be best, although reaching a consensus would be awkward, considering so much sentimental attachment to the old name. The issue might best be approached as if we had an entirely fresh organisation which had never been named before. Perhaps the task is worthwhile, but it's likely to be politically wearisome.
I tend to agree with you on (3) - too big a step at this stage anyway, and maybe you are right about (1), but I still take issue on point (2) -- just the use of certain religious concepts in explanations may put people off, given that we are not supposed to be another religion. It would be OK if we could avoid such explanations, but this is difficult given that people naturally ask where the name, Subud, comes from.
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