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Rikard Seeberg Andresen - Subud And Sumarah

No, not "receiving through" ..... From y, June 10, 2009. Time 13:0

Re: "Sumarah members are supposed to receive through their pamong or group leader, who constantly coaches them step by step during the meetings and meditations." (p.2)

Not correct in my experience. The guide simply vocalises their own receiving as part of the process of helping others centre on their own receiving. One does not follow, rather simple hears without focusing - i.e. as with any other background sounds etc. I've never come across the idea that others receive vicariously through the pamong. Any receiving is direct experience as per Subud's claims.

However, if my memory serves me correctly, the few meetings I attended (as a western person) were always with a male guide and without regard to gender in those attending(i.e. mixed), although men and women may have sat separately in the room.


From y, June 12, 2009. Time 21:4

I might add after reading some of the other comments on this site, especially by Quackenbush, that one could easily reconstruct the Subud 'identity' as stemming from a 'common ancestor' within the Javanese culture.

I'd hazard a guess that Sumarah is closer today to the original pre-European adaptation of what has become known as Subud. The current apparent unsustainability of Subud (outside Java?) may well relate strongly to evolutionary shifts in Western culture and social-economic demographics which no longer see value in anarchist-like latihan out pouring sessions and donating hard earned cash to maintain the travel habits, and budgets, of a self-defining 'elite' class who believe they are helping (i.e. rather than helping the poor of the world who need it).

Is Subud systemically desirable? One would perhaps say "yes" based on its claims and those other similar systems that seem to perform a social function (e.g. Sumarah).

Is Subud culturally feasible? That I think is the question to be pondered. Perhaps it was when the upper middle classes of Europe and America indulged in their dreams of 'spiritual' advancement through the innovative practices of M. Subuh. But perhaps its future is less certain, and may involve some degree of returning to its Javanese roots by way of cultural adaptation to more seemingly orthodox systems such as Sumarah and its "guided meditations".

BTW: "systemically desirability" and "cultural feasibility" are terms used in the Soft Systems Methodology (See works by Peter Checkland) to help diagnose the "situation of concern".


From Philip Quackenbush, June 13, 2009. Time 10:14

y = Is Subud culturally feasible? That I think is the question to be pondered. Perhaps it was when the upper middle classes of Europe and America indulged in their dreams of 'spiritual' advancement through the innovative practices of M. Subuh. But perhaps its future is less certain, and may involve some degree of returning to its Javanese roots by way of cultural adaptation to more seemingly orthodox systems such as Sumarah and its "guided meditations".

If the cultural roots include "guided meditation," then leave me out. I just was commenting at a non-dual discussion meeting I attended last night about the dangers of following any "guided meditation," because when one is in an alpha or even lower-frequency-dominant brain state, one is very suggestible and prone to accept any nonsense that might be offered. The one supposed virtue of the Subud "latihan" over such "guided meditations" is that the process is only guided by one's particular inward needs (call it "God" or "God's power" if you must), and, IMO, even the "opening" should be devoid of any "opening statements" that only serve to fixate one in a particular attitude which subsequently may have to be discarded to get on with the process, and may be just that much harder to discard because of such statements.

Peace, Philip


From z, June 13, 2009. Time 16:58

Perhaps it comes down to trust and technique. The suggestion was "guided meditation" may be more acceptable as a formal description. You are perhaps preferring to believe the suggestion that your "self guidance" is divine guidance: that is a characteristic of Subud thinking I believe. Perhaps in essence there is no difference other than adaptation to the environment, and that level of harmonious adaptation is perceived and experienced as .... I'm not recommending methods: just commenting on them. I see little difference really -- but then that is my preference.


From Philip Quackenbush, June 14, 2009. Time 10:1

If you've read much of my drivel, you've probably become hip to the fact that I don't hold to the Party Line when it comes to the standard SUBtheology. One's supposed "self guidance" can only be considered "divine" by me insofar as the entire universe may be "divine," since, if it's regarded as coming from what Jung called the "collective unconscious", that would pretty much include everthang (as they say in Taxes) as potential data. Regarding the "latihan" process as adaptation to the environment may leave out one's supposed "self" as part of the total environment. I'm not suggesting that I'm right here; it's just that my personal approach is usually to run something up the flagpole to see if the breezes will catch it, and, in the case of "guided meditation", it's been my experience that I have to be careful who or what's guiding me, or I may find the wind blowing in a direction that is not to my liking, even to the extent of ripping the flag to shreds.

Peace, Philip


From x, June 14, 2009. Time 11:49

Quackenbush: "... it's been my experience that I have to be careful who or what's guiding me ...".

x,y&z: Sounds a healthy attitude and correct approach to me. I think that watchfulness is exactly what is being described and encouraged -- at least that is my opinion (although I obviously hold a very similar world view as yourself).

I actually had some exposure to Sumarah techniques in the late 1970's -- including in Java. It has only just occurred to me that maybe this explains why I could not "get it" with the Subud opening thing when I came across it in the early 1990's. They all kept on saying I was opened ... and I'm waiting for the show to start ... Duh!!!

However, I confirm again that one is not being guided per se in what I experienced. One can simply hear another person vocalising their own experiences. Perhaps it helps, perhaps not. Imagine if Mr or Mrs Subud "Helper" had to walk through their receiving as a public service to members -- I'm thinking there would be far, far fewer of them leaning on the corporate purse. It is exactly this feedback process that you describe as desirable that is provided by such group activities -- qualitative evaluation is very very active and there is little room for pretenders to the throne. The few sessions I went to were just small mums and dads sessions by normal people in normal daily lives and careers. Nothing like a Moonies rally or American charismatic hoopla session for people seeking an emotional substitute to real receiving.

Nothing is perfect and it seems to me that perhaps the Subud approach avoids some of the downsides of this guidance system approach. However, then again, maybe that 'guidance' role is a missing aspect that is deflected and transferred to other more neurotic 'Helper' activities. The Subud 'no leader' option may in fact (once the fearless leader had departed the stage) in fact be a cultural feature that leads to other more devious means for covert control and influence creeping in.

If the little 'kings' (or queens) have no cloths -- then let the people judge for themselves. In Java, participants vote with their feet until they find a gathering to their liking. Judging by the exit rate and polls -- much like Subud!

Again, I note: this is my opinion and experience, and not meant to sell Sumarah, rather for reflection on, and by, Subud. My hypothesis (and by chance experience it seems) is that the common Nashqbandi ancestoral roots (and penchant for experimentalism -- e.g. Subud and Sumarah) allows practitioners of either to sample the other with out fear or prejudice. Fear of pondering this freedom is the doorway to cultism. Unfortunately I cannot speak of the more intimate cultural/organisational sides of Sumarah.org as I never got that closely involved: they may be in the same (or worse) boat as Subud.org for all I know!


From Philip Quackenbush, June 14, 2009. Time 13:13

I hadn't thought about it, but perhaps the only reason that Subud retains the small percentage of people who walk through the swinging doors (that swing both ways, like in a formula Western flick) that it does is because it's the only game in town that's known to most of the membership. If there wasn't so much insistence on the exclusivity of the "latihan" being only available through so-called "openings", even more applicants would go their merry way until they found something more to their liking (not that that's necessarily a "good" thing; what appears to be a "good" thing at first may turn out to be a major deception for the enquirer [not the Enquirer, which has a major deception on virtually every page, but certainly has more entertainment value than most Subud groups, IMO]). Anyway, as the Hindus have been pointing out for thousands of years in their Vedic litachoor, we live in an illusion, so we might as well enjoy it, like a 3D, surround sound, smellovision movie on your TV. It's just harder to change the channel to a preferred movie.

Peace, Philip


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