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Subud Vision - Feedback

Official Reports - Is Subud A Cult?

Readers invited to submit comments. From Sahlan Diver, November 6, 2007. Time 10:47

As managing editor of Subud Vision, I invite readers to submit comments on any official report we publish on this page. If you do so, we will try to identify the author(s) of the report and email them to ask if they wish to reply to your comments.

From stefan, December 11, 2009. Time 18:4

It was decades before I treated this as a serious question. After all, what kind of a cult enables its members to discuss openly at a big international congress whether or not it's a cult! And then makes an official report of the discussion? Obviously we're not an extreme, repressive organisation like some notorious cults. But I now see that the question is useful, because we have two values in Subud which don't readily fit together.

The first - which attracted me and many other members - is "freedom". A spiritual path which can be followed without the imposition of dogma or guru. An accessible practice which supports the idea that each of us is unique, as is our journey of development.

The second Subud value, which developed more gradually, is the reverence for the founder and the emphasis our organisation places on his "mission" and his guidance. This suggests to some a loss of autonomy and freedom, though others find it positive and complementary with their individual evolution. As a group we readily quote or paraphrase Bapak, claiming to be free from guru, priesthood and teachings. Yet we act as though there are vital teachings and a spiritual heirarchy.

This inconsistency strikes many members and enquirers as problematic. The Subud vision article "Bait and Switch" explores this problem very clearly.

I still don't experience Subud as a cult but I am realising how we can appear like one and that we can sometimes (in all innocence) act as in cultish ways. I'm positive that this lack of congruence is a major way that we lose members and potential ones. It also hurts our standing as a spiritual organisation and keeps us hidden on the "cultish" fringe.


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