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Merin Nielsen - Absurd Subud

Hope?. From Edward Fido, January 9, 2009. Time 23:52

I think Merin, the sad thing is that, in what is the Postchristian West, what I call Parody Subud has become classified as a New Religious Movement, thereby placing it well in the loony fringe category to many who might otherwise be interested.
Mainstream Christianity, Judaism and Islam seem to have been somewhat underwhelmed by its advent. It usually passes under their radar. When it does come to their attention the reaction is usually unfavourable.
There are a number of reasons for this. Subud really came out of left field as far as English speaking and most other cultures go. Javanese spirituality, apart from possibly a few Dutch researchers, was virtually unknown outside its place of origin in 1957/8. The Gurdjieff Fourth Way of John Bennett, who hosted Pak Subuh's first visit then, was notoriously secretive, inbred and hierarchical and communicated in an almost unintelligible spiritual gobbledegook.
Most religions also have their own spiritual ways, such as Christian mysticism; Hasidic Judaism or Sufism. A new spiritual way would be regarded with great suspicion. Particularly if it were considered to have anything to do with Magic or the Occult.
There are few members of Subud Australia involved to any extent in religion. Most who are tend to keep it quiet for fear of ridicule. Most 'Subud Muslims' in Australia do not know how to wash themselves prior to prayer, let alone pray. Every normal practice (the Sharia) seems to be bypassed on the understanding that Subud members possess the inner reality (the Haqiqa).
Anyone claiming to possess the inner reality of a religion would be regarded with amazement by its normal adherents. Particularly if they seemingly came out of nowhere.
Jesus was, I think, regarded in similar fashion by the religious authorities of his time. But Jesus had the goods. He showed that. I am unsure Subud, as displayed in many places, does currently do so.
Christianity would probably not have spread amongst the Gentiles and become a major world religion were it not for St Paul.
My personal feeling is that Subud collectively needs its Damascus Moment. It is only when one is blinded by light that one can, metaphorically, absorb it and be totally renewed.
The Subud of the laager - tiny, enclosed, incredibly defensive, hierarchical and secretive - is being found to be wanting. Has been for years.
The objections to it you and others raise in Subud Vision and elsewhere are all perfectly valid.
Pak Subuh seemed to be working on the old Sufi adage: 'Do not look at my outer appearance but take what is in my hand'. What is valuable, enduring and life changing in Subud is not the pseudo-religious construct built up over the past 50 years in the West but the latihan. The spiritual exercise itself. That needs to be set free.
It seems that people need to free themselves first before Subud collectively throws off its shackles.
Damascus has, I think, occured. Quietly. It needs time.



From Philip Quackenbush, January 11, 2009. Time 7:22

HI, Merin and Edward,

A couple of quick comments, or asides, if you prefer:

The only Subud member I'm sure was part of the original Gurdjieff movement (not the Bennett offshoot) apparently gave up one mysterious society for another with an equally charismatic persona. I recently came across a couple of online reductions or working analyses of the goals and methods of Gurdjieff by another Bennett, Michael William (or William Michael), who has over 50 "videos" on You Tube and virtually no followers, but I've ordered one of his books from Amazon, because, despite being unutterably dull, he has a valid number of points, as far as they go, that can be followed by the average village idiot, if the idiot doesn't fall asleep trying to follow his line of reasoning.

Second, I think it's important to always keep in mind something that is not clear, or even mentioned in the official history of the cult, that it started out as a martial arts club, with no particular "spiritual" pretensions, and as the founder pointed out in a NY "talk" cited in one of Marcus Bolt's articles, the "latihan" (training) is not properly called spiritual (kedjiwaan), but a training for living (what the original Indonesian term was, I don't know, but the translation may be faulty anyway, because some of the translators are not native English speakers, the language from which most translations into other languages are made [hopefully by native speakers of those languages], nor sufficiently familiar with Javanese culture and/or language that can have a profound effect on the correctness of the translation in many instances).

Oh, yes, and finally, the "spiritual" pretensions and exclusivity attitudes of some Subud members seem to be largely based not only on the "talks", but also on their refusal to go "outside the box" to compare the "latihan" with other existing phenomena in the world, in the belief that the founder was right in stating that the "latihan" contains everything. I, for one, would not want such a member to do brain surgery on me while "receiving" what to do from "God," instead of having (and using) at least a rudimentary knowledge of surgical procedures and how the brain functions gained from several years of medical school (even the best neurosurgeons are still in the dark about the functions of many areas of the brain, but scientific research is gradually "filling in the holes").

Peace, Philip


From Bronte, March 22, 2012. Time 0:44

Edward makes points about the connection between Inner and Outer spirituality or religion, and refers to Paul/Saul's "Damascus Moment"

I am glad there is no such thing for Subud, or at least none I can see.

The rationalist thinkers who have analysed the history of the Christian religion, and expressed their opinions about that man, have left me no alternative but to reject ALL religion, including my own, so I thank God for Subud latihan, if not for Subud.


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