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Ramon Kubicek - Boushma

Subud Petrification. From Sahlan Diver, October 18, 2007. Time 23:48

Ramon

To quote from your article "We rationalize our misconduct and sloppiness and give it special names like “crisis” and “purification”. We separate ourselves from the world by suggesting that ... being “opened” our inner natures are moved by divine guidance and so our stubbornness is actually strength, our indolence is surrender, our judgment of others is really perception, our feelings about life are not just feelings, but “receiving” direct from the source. However, were that to be true, surely there would be more concrete evidence, other than people’s intense convictions."

For those members who read and are happy with Bapak's explanations of the lower forces, isn't all this an example of the lower forces being supremely clever? They want to usurp the human soul's rightful place, but rather than just persuade us Subud members to be idle, judgemental, arrogant in a normal, average-Joe way, they give us a special "spiritual" justification for it all. We can behave like this "because it is meant", "because we must be patient", "because it's all part of God working out his plan for Subud", "because we should just mind our own business and do our latihan diligently". So the great potential threat to the supremacy of the lower forces, the latihan, which should be a source of life, growth and individuality, becomes a means for petrification, to make Subud a dead and constricted thing with very little long-term prospects, outside of the imagination.

From Marcus Bolt, October 19, 2007. Time 9:15

That's a neat way to put it, Sahlan. And interestingly, I read in 'Bapak's Advice and Guidance for Helpers' (1988 Edition) that the real meaning of 'opening' (where DID that odd word spring from?) is 'to release or relieve the pressure of the nafsu always exerted on the self...' (Ibid: Page 62) And, as we know, it's the lower forces that detrimentally use the nafsu (passions) - it's OK if the jiwa uses them. That's my take on the 'cosmology', anyway.

Secondly, great use of the word 'petrification'. It stems from the Latin petrus, a rock. (Calcification would be good, too). In other words, it's the bad old material forces turning hearts to stone. Bad, that is, in the sense of being in the wrong place, just as weeds are flowers in the wrong place and animals are vermin when they get in the larder.

Ain't nothing bad, essentially, in a cathedral, a great piece of sculpture, money for our kids' education and so on.

From David Week, October 19, 2007. Time 9:58

Hi Marcus

I believe the word "opened" comes from Silat. As you know, Pak Subuh was a Silat practitioner.

QUOTE

In contrast, the concept of being ‘opened’ suggests a more ‘egalitarian’ model of power. Rather than being the preserve of a particular potent individual, power exists as a potentiality present in every person. To be opened refers specifically to the process whereby one who has already activated their ‘inner power’ assists another in doing the same. Consequently contemporary inner power groups such as Nampon, Prana Sakti, Hikmatul Imam and Satria Nusantara exhibit more democratic forms of social organisation, with a greater emphasis upon individual effort and achievement. The role of the guru is more that of a guide.

http://wwwlib.murdoch.edu.au/adt/pubfiles/adt-MU20040210.100853/06chapter4.pdf

From Marcus Bolt, October 19, 2007. Time 10:10

Ah, yes. I now remember, when I was first in Subud, Richard Engels explaining to me that we are like sealed, clay vessels, containing water, but bobbing on the ocean. When we come to Subud. the opening drills a hole in the container so the inner and outer water can merge.

Well, I bought that big-time at the time, but now see it's one metaphor amongst many. ('Whatever you think, it's more than that,' to quote the Incredible String Band circa 1967). Yet another description of the elephant by the blind men?

I see and take the point that the word inplies something 'more egalitarian', but that makes as subtle a difference as some of the England football coach's game plays.

From Zebedee, April 18, 2008. Time 20:19

'Opening' is a bit older than that David! Try the Quran. First Chapter. Al-Fatiha means "The Opening". It's being open to God, beginning our journey back to the source.


From David W, April 19, 2008. Time 2:20

Hi Zebedee

Al-Fatiha does indeed mean "the opening", but it refers to the fact that Al-Fatiha is the first book of Al-Qur'an. It's the first book because it's the shortest--the books of Al-Qur'an are arranged in order of length.

The sense of "opening" of Al-fatiha is the same as the English sense of "the opening passages of a book"--i.e. the beginning. It has nothing to do with the Subud or Silat sense of "opening".

You should also know that the idea of a "journey back to the source" has nothing to with Islam. There is no such story in Al-Qur'an, nor is it held by practicing Muslims. The "journey back to the source" belief comes from Neo-Platonism, was taken up into Sufism, was passed along to Pak Subuh ether by his Sufi teacher, or perhaps by the general teachings of Javanese "ilmu", or "spiritual science".

Islam and Javanese "ilmu" are distinct religions. I think it's important we respect Islam as it is, as understood and practice by a billion people over 1400 years. We should not take bits and pieces of it as supposed justification for our own practices and beliefs. To do so is disrespectful, and opens our association to justifiable criticism from Muslims who certainly know their own religion better than we know it.

Best

David


From Philip Quackenbush, April 19, 2008. Time 9:10

Hi, Sahlan,

You said,

Ramon

To quote from your article "We rationalize our misconduct and sloppiness and give it special names like “crisis” and “purification”. We separate ourselves from the world by suggesting that ... being “opened” our inner natures are moved by divine guidance and so our stubbornness is actually strength, our indolence is surrender, our judgment of others is really perception, our feelings about life are not just feelings, but “receiving” direct from the source. However, were that to be true, surely there would be more concrete evidence, other than people’s intense convictions."

For those members who read and are happy with Bapak's explanations of the lower forces, isn't all this an example of the lower forces being supremely clever? They want to usurp the human soul's rightful place, but rather than just persuade us Subud members to be idle, judgemental, arrogant in a normal, average-Joe way, they give us a special "spiritual" justification for it all. We can behave like this "because it is meant", "because we must be patient", "because it's all part of God working out his plan for Subud", "because we should just mind our own business and do our latihan diligently".

===

Yeah, but for those who aren't happy with the founder's "explanations", all these "explanations" strike one (me, anyway, as one of perhaps a few) as rationalizations to get out of approaching something rationally. For a worker in the field of psychology, for example, a "crisis" could be any number of temporary or semi-permanent or permanent mental derangements, and to give "crisis" a three-tier classification, as the founder of the cult has done, may be highly simplistic (I think it is). If it gets bad enough, just throw the guy in a "crisis cage" (which I heard existed in Cilandak - did it ever and does it still?).

If somebody had seriously flipped out on my watch as a "helper" (I fortunately was never in that position, though it happened when I was not present at the Subud house here when I was a "mere" committee member instead of an active "helper", as I recall), I would have called the people in the white coats to come and "observe" him. I recall a situation where a member in our group had what seemed to me to be a clear organic dysfunction that the current "helper" hierarchy's top dog declared to be a "crisis." Will the organization ever learn to function rationally with "testing" in place? I'm beginning to seriously doubt it.

Peace, Philip


From Sahlan Diver, April 19, 2008. Time 10:9

Philip,

Your reply seems to be have strayed off the point of what I was saying to Ramon, but I will address the different point you make in your posting.

I think it is a distortion of what Bapak actually said to suggest he was trying to reduce all psychologically abnormal behaviour to being one of three kinds of crisis. It's clear that his advice on crisis refers to a specific phenomenon that can come about through practising the latihan and which is a symptom of a temporarily speeded up and strong period of purification, during which a person may behave in an abnormal and sometimes worrying manner.

One assumes Bapak gave the advice on crisis to warn us not to confuse this state with mental illness. The problem is that, instead, we have made the opposite mistake of thinking that cases of genuine mental illness were just crisis, as in the example you quote. This mistake can be easy enough to make, as the presence of mental illness is often not obvious to an untrained eye. I know of someone who tied up the helpers in testing about their state for 15 years, with nobody suspecting mental illness. It was only because a visitor by chance happened to observe the person behaving extremely strangely that the problem was then properly identified and treatment sought through medical channels.

We should not add to the mistake of thinking a mentally ill person is in crisis, the equally wrong mistake of labelling a genuine latihan-induced crisis as being mental illness. Instead the helpers need to be better informed. This is just one more reason why helpers need a training course in ancillary skills. It is not enough just to think they will be fit for the job because they can receive in the latihan,

Regards, Sahlan


From Zebedee, April 19, 2008. Time 10:19

David, the Al-Fatiha is the first book of the Quran just as an opening is a members first Latihan. The Al-Fatiha isn't the shortest Chapter, and the Chapters are not arranged in order of length. For the shortest, try chapter 110, which comprises only 3 verses.

I think you'll find that Islam is actually a broad and diverse religion. And Sufis most certainly are within any category you refer to as Islam. In fact, groups like the Muslim Brotherhood which have spurned the Islamist governments of Palestine and Turkey, in addition to numerous terrorist groups, are in fact derived from Sufism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muslim_Brotherhood

For a Journey to the Source in the Quran, try chapter 70 verse 4:

"(Whereby) the angels and the Spirit ascend unto Him in a Day whereof the span is fifty thousand years."

Or 84 verse 19

"That ye shall journey on from plane to plane"

Or 64 verse 3

"He created the heavens and the earth with truth, and He shaped you and made good your shapes, and unto Him is the journeying."

All Pickthall's translations. A very traditional rendering. Me-thinks you underestimate the ocean of breadth that is the religion of Islam!


From David W, April 19, 2008. Time 12:9

Hi Zebedee

You're correct on the order, and I was wrong. The verses in the Qur'an are arranged roughly (there are exceptions) from the longest to the shortest, not the other way round, as I mistakenly said.

My point is simply this: Bapak was a Silat practitioner. The language and practice of spontaneous Silat is coherent at many places with Bapak's language. It is therefore highly likely that he took the terminology from Silat. There is no evidence that he took the language from the Qur'an. (He never, for instance, referred to a member opening as the member's "al-fatiha".

As to the diversity of Islam: sure, it's diverse. But the birth, life and death of the moral person in Islam are fairly well described, and agreed upon in both the Sunni and Shia traditions. You can pluck a few phrases out of the Qur'an, but that means nothing. I get my information from practicing Muslims living in Muslim communities, and from Muslim scholars who are respected by those communities.

I don't know where you're getting your interpretation. Where are you getting it?

Best

David


From Zebedee, April 19, 2008. Time 12:40

On the contrary, the Quran is the definitive source, but then that is a difference between Shia Islam and Sunni Islam, in traditional Sunni scholarship verses of the Quran can be 'Abrogated' by later teachings, for example fundamentalists will say that the verse "There is no compulsion in religion" is overruled by other teachings that apostates must be executed. This isn't so in Shia Islam, verses of the Koran cannot be abrogated. You can also see in Turkey the trend of scholars taking a flame thrower to hadiths commonly used by fundamentalists to justify barbarity. Islam is a very dynamic religion. And this isn't even beginning to count the difference between Wahhabis and everyone else.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7264903.stm

Not sure what you mean by 'my interpretation' - but can I ask what source you use for saying what 'Silat' was like prior to 1920/30? We mustn't get cause and effect muddled here. The USA, for example, was a very different place in 1980 compared with 1950. There was huge, revolutionary change in Roman Catholicism between those years. The same must be true of Indonesia in 1920 compared with 1950, a lot happened during that time, independence etc.


From Philip Quackenbush, April 19, 2008. Time 12:43

Well, Sahlan,

The founder did state that there were three forms of "crisis", and I may not be "spiritually advanced" enough to tell the difference between "crisis" and mental abberations, but the so-called "crises" I've witnessed and experienced (yes, I've had some) were perfectly ordinary mental/emotional disturbances. The so-called "crisis" that the founder talked about in Cilandak at the world congress, that of knowing what everyone at one of his lectures was thinking could certainly be described as a mental aberration, if not an outright fantasy of heroic proportions. I suspect at this point that he cited it (or simply imagined it in false recall as he did on other occasions that could be verified that the information was false) to impress the audience that he was "high" and they were "low", but, then, I've pretty much gone beyond skepticism at this point in regard to most of what he said, remembering the noting by a psychiatrist Subud member of the fact that people who hide their socially unacceptable (within the society they exist in, of course) sexual activities (after being presented with the evidence for that in his case) are generally congenital liars and not to be trusted with anything they say.

This in no way, of course, precludes the fact that the "latihan" which he introduced to so many people is still a useful practice for physical, mental and emotional health when done with sufficient caution. Of course, it is available from numerous other sources. The main value of its practice in the Subud organization seems to me to be its format, which tends to be freer and more comprehensive than in most other forms I've heard of other than, perhaps, its ancient Daoist (and modern) practice as spontaneous qigong.

I am currently exploring an Australian (?) system of meditation that is scientifically based and could possibly be used as a means of measuring
the "depth" of a Subud member's "latihan." I'm only beginning it, though, so it may be several weeks or months before I'm able to give a more useful report (if I'm still on this forum by then and still have the interest to give a report at that point). After only one session, though, I can report tangible positive results - of quicker mental and physical ability connected with the writing of this post than I had in writing the previous one to you before I did the session.

Now it's time to go do another session of Tibetan yoga, originally recommended to me by a Subud sister from LA, that I stopped a while back and has had incredible benefits since I began it again a week ago or so. If that's "mixing", maybe you could call me The Mixmaster. Naah, that's a company's trade mark. I may be on the fringe, but I wouldn't want to infringe.

Peace, Philip


From David W, April 19, 2008. Time 13:20

Hi Zebedee

My principal source on Silat is this study:
http://wwwlib.murdoch.edu.au/adt/browse/view/adt-MU20040210.100853

I just noticed now that the supervisor was Paul Stange, who wrote extensively on Sumarah (with references to Subud.)

I appreciate what you say about changes over time, but also that in doing history we make hypotheses and test them out. My hypothesis is that Pak Subuh got his language and ideas from his various teachers, and we know something about who they were and what their background was. We also know that thought he did not cite his sources, he often said in passing "what is called in religion"--meaning, one presumes, his own religion, not someone else's. So between these we can start to look into the historical influences. The Silat hypothesis is the best one I have going so far.

I like the Turks. I love Istanbul. Someday, I may go live there.

You might also be interested in Hassan Hanafi, at the University of Cairo, who has a number of interesting suggestions for the interpretation of the Qur'an. There's also a Sudanese guy, who I saw speak in Aceh... but I can't recall his name.

No matter what text it is, there is never one unambiguous interpretation. The big difference is between the people who know that... and the people who don't want to know that.

Best

David


From David W, April 19, 2008. Time 13:29

...to which I might add:

This is a very nice piece on the interpretation of the Qur'an:
http://www.libforall.org/programs-islam-state-civilsociety.18.html

QUOTE: If we intend to do something which will hopefully be useful to revitalize Islamic thought, the first issue we must confront is crystal clear: how do we position ourselves vis-à-vis the text? If we recognize that the Qur’an and the Sunnah (prophetic tradition) are none other than a bundle of texts, the question immediately arises: What should we do with these two great texts? The question I raised at the beginning of this article relates to the demand for balance between “obeying the teaching” and “changing it in accordance with progress”; between being authentic and simultaneously modern. This in turn evokes another question: is it right to abandon the physical substance of the text in order to keep pace with progress? How far can the religious text be taken in terms of a literal understanding? At what point do we say “good-bye” to a literal interpretation of the text? Where, with a peaceful heart, can the literal meaning of the Great Text (Qur’an and Sunnah) be abandoned and substituted by another, non-literal interpretation which is more appropriate and consistent with contemporary human needs? UNQUOTE

This is paralleled rather neatly by the Catholic theologian Thomas Sheehan, whose lectures I am listening to right now via iTunes U. (He's at Stanford.) He says in Lecture 1:

QUOTE: "If we take these things [verses from the Gospels] literally, and spell out the literalism, it becomes ridiculous. That is to say it makes us laugh. But they're not meant to be taken literally. You're supposed to know what the Apocalyptic cosmos was that Matthew lived in. You're supposed to know, 'Oh, this is a signal to me of what it really means that Yeshua died. It's not over, we couldn't have seen it all happen. But let's tell ourselves myths and legends, which bring to mind what it means.' I think we're the only ones who are dumb enough to take it literally. But don't think that the original writers in that community were that stupid." UNQUOTE

D


From Zebedee, April 20, 2008. Time 10:16

My hypothesis would be that when he says 'religion' in the abstract, he means religion in the abstract. He never says:

'it is said in religion you must get circumcised, never drink alcohol, and pray 5 times a day'

Rather, if he is talking about Islam specific ideas, he says 'in Islam'. When he says 'in religion', he talks very generically.

On viewing a random talk from the Boston library -

"You see, we have to learn to stand on our own feet. We have to learn not to be dependent upon other people, because the world is changing all the time. We have to be able to depend on ourselves, and this actually is what we are taught in religion. We are taught, in all religions, to be able to arrange our own selves; at least 50 per cent we have to be able to arrange our own self, our own life and not depend on other people." - 77 LON 4

You see - completely generic. If you didn't know he was a Muslim, or an Indonesian, you couldn't guess from that passage. He could be talking about the American dream of self reliance, he could be talking about Robinson Crusoe, he could be talking about the heroic soviet sniper Vassili Zaitsev as depicted in the film "Enemy at the Gates" who through bravery and self reliance defended Stalingrad from the Nazis. It's not being limited to any culture in any way, shape or form.

Another example:

"If you are able to know the right measure or attitude as a merchant, you will fix your profit at just the right level. It is true that as a merchant your aim is purely to make a profit; but if you have once received the guidance of God within you, you will be aware of the amount of profit you can allow yourself, so that not only you profit, but the one who buys from you also profits. And just as you feel happy in making your profit, the buyer will feel happy because he knows that he has got a bargain. This is actually very important because this is the effect of the guidance of God within us.

"In religion the same thing is taught. We are taught not to be profiteers if we are, for example, in the field of merchandising, or merchants. We are taught that we should not take a profit that is greater than what is right. In Islam, for example, profiteering or usury is actually a sin or forbidden. In religion this is only a rule - this is only something that people say - but for us in Subud this arises spontaneously within us so that, at the moment when we are selling something we will be aware not only of our need as a seller, but we will also be conscious of the feelings and the needs of the buyer." - 77 BRS 4

As you see, first he says "In religion", then he gets specific and says "In Islam" - because in the first case, it is the case in many religions that you're not meant to exploit people. Christianity has a long history of thinking about what constitutes a "fair price" - I know this because I've studied the history of economic thought. Even today Pope's criticise capitalism and socialism in equal measure - just look at Pope Benedict's recent trip to Washington where he said the world economic system was failing the poor.

So Bapak first says what he knows religions have in common, then gets specific - "In Islam, for example, profiteering or usury is actually a sin or forbidden."

So, from the same talk:

"Always this power of God, this power of life, is there within us. If we train ourselves to be attentive to this, and to feel it for as much of our life as possible, then gradually the power that moves you within the latihan will also begin to envelop and to be present in all your actions throughout your business, throughout your life, in your everyday life.

"And because of this, because you will then be accompanied by this power, you will experience something like a guide or a teacher within you which will lead you and give you understanding of all your various activities. It will be as though you will become aware that within you, you are followed by something like a teacher or an advisor, so that you will never be far from guidance and advice for your everyday life. And automatically, then, your life will not stray far from what is right. In other words you will not go far from actions which are excellent and the best possible.

"Brothers and sisters, this is no different from what has been taught in religions because in religion you are taught that man must be like this and like this and like this and like this, and you mustn't sin and you mustn't do this and you mustn't do that. But in religion this is all still theoretical; and because it is all still theoretical it is not certain that it will be carried out, because while something is a theory it can easily be driven out by another theory or supplanted by some thinking that goes against it. This is not so in our latihan kejiwaan, because in our latihan kejiwaan the teaching or the morality arises spontaneously within us. It arises as the movement which you receive in the latihan kejiwaan which you have just now practiced. In other words you have just now reminded yourself what it is like - so you are still aware now what it is like - that it arises completely spontaneously within you. So this teaching which exists in the latihan kejiwaan of Subud is alive and spontaneous and brings with it a feeling of lightness and satisfaction and happiness." - 77 BRS 4

He's talking about the human conscience, and because he knows this is not limited to Islam or any other religion, but instead is an idea present in lots of religions, he says "in religions". With regards to 'Silat', the similarities seem entirely superficial, the use of the world 'exercise/training', you might as well say Subud is derived from an American Corporation's human resources department. After all, the way we spontaneously receive in the Latihan is so similar to the 'Synergies' that businesses strive to achieve, where 1+1=3! Of course, this is a criticism of the nonsense that management gurus get away with, and not of Subud.

My point is that these are not Javanese or Silat themes, but human themes, spontaneous movement is common in a huge range of religious and non-religious settings. Just because the language Bapak used was similar to what you hear in Silat does not mean anything except they were both from Java. In so far as you see similar ideas today, there is a strong possibility that Bapak influenced the Silat movement in the 1920s and 1930s. Otherwise, the ideas Bapak talks about are common human themes about the receiving the spirit.


From David Week, April 20, 2008. Time 12:3

Hi Zebedee

Let's look at at this statement:

"You see, we have to learn to stand on our own feet. We have to learn not to be dependent upon other people, because the world is changing all the time. We have to be able to depend on ourselves, and this actually is what we are taught in religion. We are taught, in all religions, to be able to arrange our own selves; at least 50 per cent we have to be able to arrange our own self, our own life and not depend on other people." - 77 LON 4

It's true that this is a very generic statement. As a statement of what all religions teach, it's false. That's hardly what any religions teach. (I can't think of one.)

For instance: Buddhism. Buddhism teaches that all beings are interdependent, and that "self" is an illusion. In none of my readings or dealings with Jewish, Muslim or Christian people have I ever heard or read such stuff as the above. The Abrahamic religions are not about "standing on your own feet." Maybe he was addressing Subud members?

Let's take another: "If you are able to know the right measure or attitude as a merchant, you will fix your profit at just the right level. It is true that as a merchant your aim is purely to make a profit; but if you have once received the guidance of God within you, you will be aware of the amount of profit you can allow yourself, so that not only you profit, but the one who buys from you also profits."

This you suppose to be universal teachings of all religions? This looks to me like both religious and business ignorance, and you can see by the catastrophic results that befell people that did business with Pak Subuh, that he was not speaking from any personal experience or expertise.

"In Islam, for example, profiteering or usury is actually a sin or forbidden."

The man started a bank. Interest is forbidden by Islam.

And whereas he went from being an impoverished local dukun living on a dirt floor to a wealthy man dealing in millions, the members who invested in his businesses at worst lost all, or at best got their capital back with no profit at all after decades when it was used by others.

Pak Subuh was nether very learned nor very literate. His office held no books. It's clear he know little about any religion outside the limits of his upbringing. His statements about mainstream Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Judaism show no knowledge of these religions. (And that's only half the world's faiths).

He had the range of knowledge that one might expect of a Javanese upper class gentlemen raised in a remote region of the Dutch colonial empire between the wars. It's unrealistic to expect that his statements about "religion" in general would bear any relation to reality, and they don't.

From the rest of the your post, I gather that you believe that Subud's particular beliefs and concerns are "universal". I think that prima facie six billion people do not agree with your view of their religions. Our books are unsellable. Our "applicants" skip out after two years. Our members deliberately hide the contents of these "universal truths" from their neighbours. (Is it because the truths are too wonderful, or the members, in their inner feelings, a little too knowing about the difference between true and false?

Pak Subuh's parochial religious idea, though they may be presented with a rather grand tones, are in fact just that: a limited, parochial view. Many people in Subud have unfortunately convinced themselves into thinking that their little movement represents the "inner reality" of all religions. I'm sure that's a great belief for making oneself feel very, very important. And making oneself seem very, very important is a good formula for getting people to stand up and leave the room: which they have done.

I don't know where "receiving the spirit" comes from (sounds like some version of Pentacostalism?), but most Muslims, most Jews, most Hindus, most Jains, most Buddhists would not buy into your idea that this is what their religion is all about. It's what Subud, which is a kind of Christianised Kejawen, is about. Unfortunately, this particular cross holds little appeal to anyone.

I think this the way forward is simple: stop attaching a bunch of parochial beliefs to the latihan; stop treating Pak Subuh as a some kind of multidimensional superbeing; treat both of these tendencies in Subud as exactly what they appear to be: nafsu, ego, puffed-uppiness, holier-than-thouism.

I'm convinced that it's our aura arrogance that has led the vast majority (99.9998% to be precise) of humanity to turn their backs on us, led to the continuous and ongoing failure of our enterprises, led to the mediocre quality of our institutions, and to our shrinking and ageing population.

I think Pak Subuh was a talented fellow, who did Subud and its members some good. I don't think we should bash him up. Nor do I think we should invest him with divine powers or putting him up on some kind of altar, and pretend that he was what he was clearly not.

Best

David


From Zebedee, April 20, 2008. Time 15:46

You seem to be changing the subject now, David.

One needs to read or listen to the talks of Bapak, at the same time being aware of the context or the spirit in which they are given.

It is necessary to differentiate between "moral/spiritual" advice and business advice. Have you read any Adam Smith? I suggest you compare and contrast the difference between "Wealth of Nations" and "Theory of Moral Sentiments". One concerns economics, and the other morality. Adam Smith writes differently about each. In Moral Sentiments, he says we should be nice and kind to each other. In Wealth of Nations, he condemns government interference in the market, says no good ever comes of people who aren't out to make profit, and says prices must be set by demand and supply. Life is about reconciling these two.

Otherwise, when it comes to "receiving the spirit", yes, it's Christianity, but it's also a whole range of religions. Most religious people, who believe that the whole human race are a family, are actually very interested in what links their religions, so I think it is quite wrong to imply they are not.

I think when you say "I think that prima facie six billion people do not agree with your view of their religions. Our books are unsellable", this is really getting to the core of our issue here - Subud is not about making money. When Bapak gave us the Latihan, he explained it was about surrender and worship, and receiving from God.


From Sahlan Diver, April 20, 2008. Time 20:2

Zebedee,

This has been a very interesting discussion between you and David, but I think you are misunderstanding his use of the phrase "our books are unsellable". I am sure that what he meant by that was "nobody is interested in reading about Subud". He is not proposing we try to get rich by writing and selling books.

There were some parts of your last post that the editors had to remove. If we have changed the meaning of what you were trying to say, we apologise. Normally we contact the contributor to discuss any changes with them first, but emails to the email address you supplied us with are being returned as an invalid address. We respect a contributor's wish to remain anonymous, so if you don't wish to give a valid email address, that is OK, but we will not be able to contact you first if we want to edit any more of your postings,

Regards,

Sahlan Diver
Managing Editor


From David Week, April 22, 2008. Time 17:27

Hi Zebedee

Z: One needs to read or listen to the talks of Bapak, at the same time being aware of the context or the spirit in which they are given.

D: I don't think so. The "spirit" in which they are given can be very subjectively interpreted. I think it's far more important to understand the cultural and historical frame in which they're given, which can be checked and cross-checked. Without that frame, Subuh's meaning is easily misunderstood. A classic example is the Christian parable of The Good Samaritan, which uninformed pop interpretations read as meanig "you should be kind to people in trouble," but which in cultural and textual context reveals the original intention, which was "love those those whom you most despise, because they are your neighbour."

Another issues is that REGARDLESS of the spirit or context in which they are given, we need to assess what contribution Subuh's talks make to the conversation of humanity? A good example is Subuh's story, which you quote, of the person who sets the profit margin so both buyer and seller are happy. This is good and attractive principle, but in fact it's neither original, nor profoundly explained. The idea of "win-win negotiation" or entering into business arrangements in which both parties are looking past the transaction, to long-term mutual benefit is not original. And in terms of understanding what this means, why it is a good idea, and how to do it successfully, Subuh is not a good source. There are a hundred better sources. So the person who uses Subuh as his or her primary source for understanding and implementing this principle is likely to be less effective than someone who goes to more informed sources.

Z: It is necessary to differentiate between "moral/spiritual" advice and business advice... Life is about reconciling these two.

D: Again, good point. But I question that Subuh has anything particularly new or insightful to say on the matter.

I can think off the top of my head of a dozen people that do better both in insight and in practice. Consider for instance Mhd Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He has much better insights, and proven practical experience, on this matter than does Subuh, whose own bank was poorly run as a business, and produced no moral benefits. The Grameen Bank goes from strength to strength and helps millions of poor people, and becomes a world-wide model for a new paradigm, one which is still growing and producing revolutionary results.

Z: I think when you say "I think that prima facie six billion people do not agree with your view of their religions. Our books are unsellable", this is really getting to the core of our issue here - Subud is not about making money.

D: I'm using book sales as not as a measure of profit, but as a measure of human benefits. The fact that our books are unsellable is another way of saying: "Overwhelmingly, humanity does not find our publications useful or insightful; they do find use and insight in other publications." We need to take heed of that, instead of engaging in apologetics.

Z: Otherwise, when it comes to "receiving the spirit", yes, it's Christianity, but it's also a whole range of religions. Most religious people, who believe that the whole human race are a family, are actually very interested in what links their religions, so I think it is quite wrong to imply they are not.

D: The acid test is to engage with those unversalist people in open dialogue, not to hide our publications under the banner "For Members Only", with the excuse "people who are not opened cannot understand." The interfaith movement is undergoing fascinating, explosive growth and development. Subud attempts to participate, but is not recognised by its peers as contributing ANYTHING so far to the interfaith movement. We need to pay attention to that judgement, and not fantasize that we are having some wonderful, invisible, magical benefit perceivable only by us, and invisible to anyone else. To put it bluntly: great things are happening; our contribution is nil; Subuh's contribution has been nil; we need to take the hit and start from a very humble position.

Z: When Bapak gave us the Latihan, he explained it was about surrender and worship, and receiving from God.

D: You also quoted him as saying "Stand on your own feet". I think that's a good idea, but not because he said it! I think standing on your own feet means NOT just quoting or accepting some other persons ideas or perceptions, but rather drawing from a broad base of human experience, checking things empirically, using your own experience but NOT relying solely not (because individual experience is NOT reliable).

Furthermore, years ago, the culture of Subud was such that the latihan was seen as coming from God. I'm not a real fan of theistic metaphors, but I certainly prefer them to what is happening now, in which God is being replaced by Subuh. Now the latihan no longer comes from God, direct, it comes from and through a dead human being. Frankly: yuk. From a religious perspective, that's a bad move. I would certainly agree with the proposition that every religion says that is a very bad idea.

I see no future in a personality-centred movement. I work in development. In my industry, I get to engage with some truly amazing and influential organisations: World Vision, Amnesty, Oxfam, the World Bank, Transparency International, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Friends International, Greenpeace. You can criticize some or any of these, and people do: but there's is no doubt that they have contributed to humankind. Just saying their names, most people know what they stand for. And yet most people would not know who founded them. They are value-centred, not founder-centred.

Compare this with Subud, in which the founder is quoted day and night--literally--yet Subud can hardly produce the most modest demonstration of benefit to humanity, despite 50 years, hundreds of millions of dollars, and millions of person-hours.

I think we need to move past the personality-centred model. We need to stop quoting or following Subuh when he's not the best writer or authority on a particular issue--moral or otherwise. We need to treat him, in other words, as just a regular guy, whose writing have to stand or fall by normal criteria. We need to take direct personal responsibility for interpreting, rethinking, and running Subud today, in today's world, and that inevitably requires us to exercise critical judgement in the use of the views and opinions of those who previously held that responsibility.

Otherwise, I think it's into the dustbin of history for Subud--or even worse, the dusty shelf of irrelevance--and we're well on the way.

Best

David


From Zebedee, July 22, 2008. Time 19:22

Coming back to this, I think you edited out some important points from my post. Firstly, I pointed out you aren't interested in theology, which you have confirmed by comparing Subud unfavorably with entirely secular companies and charities. Secondly, I suggested you might be more at home in a cult for expecting Subud to being fame and fortune, which you have no right to call a personal attack when you openly accuse Subud members of being cultists in your "becoming normal" article.


From Sahlan Diver, July 22, 2008. Time 20:13

Hi Zebedee,

Just to clarify a matter raised in your post. You say "you edited out some important points from my post", which might imply that David edited out some points to his advantage. In fact, David was not consulted about those edits, nor was he involved in them. It was myself who made the edits. To repeat what I said in an earlier reply, the editors prefer to discuss any edits with our contributors so, on those rare occasions that we make changes, we can do it to the satisfaction of the contributor. Unfortunately, you provided only an anonymous, unreachable email address, so we had no way of privately discussing this matter with you,

Regards.

Sahlan Diver
Managing Editor


From Zebedee, July 22, 2008. Time 20:30

I should then ask you, do you believe calling people cultists is an inappropriate personal attack, and if so, why on earth are you involved with this egregious website?


From Sahlan Diver, July 22, 2008. Time 20:37

Dear Zebedee,

I am willing and interested to respond to your question if you could give me some specific, precise quotes from the web site of the passages that you consider to be offensive,

Regards,

Sahlan Diver


From Zebedee, July 24, 2008. Time 18:15

Why, haven't you read it? I didn't call it offensive, I called what you are doing hypocritical. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you're not paying attention to your content.


From Sahlan Diver, July 24, 2008. Time 20:49

Zebedee,

I can't find a place where you specificially use the word "hypocritical" but I guess you are referring to this passage: "....which you have no right to call a personal attack when you openly accuse Subud members of being cultists in your "becoming normal" article...."

I just used our Site Search facility to search for the word "cultist" and it is apparently only used in two places on the Subud Vision web site, once, for sure, in David's article, but he doesn't say Subud members are cultists, he says they are in danger of looking like cultists because certain of our behaviours seem to be in direct contradiction to our claims that Subud is not a religion and that Subud has no teachings. Saying that Subud members and Subud in general, is in danger of putting over a cult-like image is not the same as a personal attack on an individual person. You might not like the suggestion that Subud projects a cult-like image, but your not liking the suggestion does not make the suggestion wrong. In fact, David starts his article with a quote from a non member who specifically refers to Subud as being a cult.

So, by all means, please criticise David's article, but do so by telling us why you think his individual conclusions and arguments are wrong. If you can make a persuasive case then readers might reconsider David's conclusions. On the other hand if it seems that David might be right, this is something Subud needs to take note of. If Subud is frightening away potential new latihan practisioners by projecting an image that makes it seem like a cult, then only Subud members can put that image right,

Regards,

Sahlan Diver
Managing Editor


From Zebedee, July 29, 2008. Time 17:35

Saying that Subud members and Subud in general, is in danger of putting over a cult-like image is not the same as a personal attack on an individual person - or is it?

What if we were to say all Muslims who believe a certain thing are terrorists? Either it is true, or it isn't true. But it most certainly is a personal attack on the Muslims who believe that certain thing. If I was to say - "All Muslims who believe in murdering civilians are terrorists" - then that would be true, and a justified criticism of extremists.

However, if we were to say "All Muslims who believe in God, in morality and in the afterlife are terrorists" - then it is both false and a personal attack on most Muslims.

I'm not interested in debating David's article. You may agree with it, I disagree with it, but it is most certainly a personal attack on the Subud members he caricatures. What is obvious from both his article and many others here is that the general theme of your website is not about reforming Subud but attacking your fellow Subud members.


From Sahlan Diver, July 29, 2008. Time 19:22

Zebedee,

You give an example of the distinction between a statement that is a personal attack and one that is not, using statements about Islam, but what I don't understand is why give an example when you presumably have a specific complaint or complaints about Subud Vision? Can you give two specific quotes for (1) where you feel a statement by David is caricaturing Subud members (2) where you feel a statement by David or any other author is a personal attack. If it is as "obvious" as you say it is that the general theme of the web site is just about attacking our fellow Subud members, then it should be very easy for you to give examples of statements that do this. In fact for your criticism to be fair and accurate there should be either a majority or certainly a very large proportion of statements that are personal attacks. The Subud Vision book, which is taken from the first 50 published articles, is 352 pages long, so that should equate to thousands of examples, yet you haven't given us one convincing quote yet,

Regards

Sahlan Diver


From Zebedee, July 30, 2008. Time 19:10

No, my point is that both were personal attacks, one was justified and one unjustified.


From Sahlan Diver, July 30, 2008. Time 20:9

OK, but you still haven't given any specific examples from the Subud Vision site of what you consider to be a personal attack. Please give one or two examples

Regards

Sahlan Diver


From bronteb, July 30, 2008. Time 23:42

"the general theme of your website is not about reforming Subud but attacking your fellow Subud members."
So writes Zebedee.
Well, maybe the actionss and opinions of some Subud members need attacking.
And even destroying, were that possible.
This is the only place I know where Subud people, and Subud outsiders like myself, can even attempt to desribe the things that matter to them, in their dealings with Subud. For some of us, the encounter with the Subud beurocracy and it's servants has been a soul destroying, harmful, lifelong agony. Others, a fulfilling, rewarding, uplifting lifeline. I believe the latihan can be the latter. People vary.
But everyone writng here seems to have an optimism about Subud, just not a total blind conformity to the expectations of the Subud traditions. Some of us have seen the dark side of some of them!
But the hope might be that we communcate openly and honestly, including by not hiding behind incomplete identities.
As to Subud's inpiration, what was the catch cry "faith, paitience, sincerity.'?
So let's have a bit more of that here, please, Zebedee.


From Sahlan Diver, July 31, 2008. Time 6:12

Re "incomplete indentities"

Just to clarify. It is Subud Vision editorial policy to allow contributors to use pseudonyms. One of our authors also has remained anonymous. Our policy is set out on this page: http://www.subudvision.org/anon.htm. As Bronte says we are trying to provide a place where people are free to speak about the things that matter to them, and sometimes it may be necessary for them to remain anonymous to facilitate that.


From Zebedee, July 31, 2008. Time 17:59

Yes bronteb, but that's not what you get here. Here you are allowed to call Subud a cult and Subud members cultists, but if you do the same to the people running the site, you get censored. This is a one way website.


From Zebedee, July 31, 2008. Time 18:37

Sahlan, you are asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is how is saying "we are in danger of looking like cultists because of certain of our behaviours" calling Subud a cult. And it is because his "tragedy of the commons" analogy is a scaremongering, extremist way of demonising Subud members. His entire article is hype. Hype built on exaggeration, using a wishy washy definition of a cult, taking a handful of Bapak's talk quotations out of context, all to reach a contrived conclusion.

Absolutely no meaningful comparisons with other associations. Just convoluted, condescending babble with no clairvoyance of what "normal" looks like. The maturity of a five year old "Who wants to join a cult? Anyone? Raise your hands please!"

To summerize the gist of it "You're a cultist you are! Not only a cultist but a sheep who's over grazing the commons, you all act the same way! Not only a sheep but a Javanese Hindu Animist sheep!" Such taste and sophistication. Worthy of an ill behaved kindergarten bully.


From Sahlan Diver, July 31, 2008. Time 18:58

Zebedee,

Let's get the facts straight here. In this discussion there are approximately 10 posts from you. All are published exactly as you submitted them, apart from one, which was edited by removing a sentence or two, not because of what you said but because of the way it was phrased, and had we been able to contact you privately we would have given you the opportunity to rephrase those sentences rather than have them cut. That hardly counts as censorship does it? We very rarely ask contributors to change what they have said and FYI we have made as many cuts or requests for changes in contributions from our own editors and authors as we have made from anyone else, so we are not at all one-sided.

If you would like to write an article, either under a pseudonym or your real name, disputing in detail what David and others say about Subud in relation to the topic of cults, we would be pleased to consider it.

However so that there is no misuderstanding I feel I need to spell out what falls under our guidelines

a) David Week's claim that Subud is in danger of looking like a cult to outsiders is invalid for these reasons ...

OK

b) David Week and the other Subud Vision editors and anyone else who says anything critical about Subud is only doing so because they wish to damage and discredit Subud ...

NOT OK, for the obvious reason that nobody can possibly know what the motivation of all those people is. Also it would kind of work against any argument that Subud is not a cult, because take any cult and study what happens to members who criticise it. Usually the tactic is that such members are marginalised and demonised as flawed characters whose only motivation is a low one. Typical cult thinking is that everything that comes from the cult is 100% perfect and that any criticism is therefore unworthy and must be taken as a sign that the criticiser is mentally ill, or venting supposed feelings of frustration and unhappiness on the cult, etc etc

Sahlan Diver
Managing Editor
Subud Vision


From Sahlan Diver, July 31, 2008. Time 19:45

Zebedee,

I see you made a reply to my previous comments while I was at the same time replying to your comment to Bronte.

It seems to me you are distorting what David was saying in his "tragedy of the commons" paragraph - he was not implying that Subud members act like sheep all mindlessly following each other, on the contrary he was pointing out that an action that might make perfect sense and seem perfectly reasonable for an individual, when repeated across a large number of individuals actually can have quite a different effect than the expected or intended effect.

In respect of your other comments:
His entire article is .... built on exaggeration, using a wishy washy definition of a cult, taking a handful of Bapak's talk quotations out of context, all to reach a contrived conclusion.....Absolutely no meaningful comparisons with other associations....no clairvoyance of what "normal" looks like ...

as I said before an article which argued the case for your conclusions would be one in which we could be interested,

Sahlan


From bronte, July 31, 2008. Time 22:53

I wish I could see as many contributors here now as formed the first contributions to this site.
I am convinced that there is a great need for clear self-examination of Subud, as it functions in the world now.
If it is a valid, viable training for the human being, let alone the human soul, then it needs some clearer, modern, inviting explanations and dialogue. If not then God know what it needs.

I might also wish to see the younger generation, so keen to have nothing to do with it, make some comments here.
Come on parents, please get you teenagers and pre-thirty year olds to tell the rest of us what they are thinking and doing about "our cult".
Zebedee, are you concerned about the age-divide too?
Us over 60's just might listen and learn, and be useful to the younger ones yet. After all, they get everything for themselves sooner than we think.


From Hassanah Briedis, August 3, 2008. Time 23:6

Thank you Sahlan for moderating, or facilitating, this discussion which evolved into a discussion about the SubudVision site itself and its agenda of free and open discussion about Subud. I have witnessed discussion strings about a range of philosophical issues around matters that relate less and less to Subud itself, but this one that's just taken place is, I believe, of far more relevance to the SubudVision mission (as I understood it).

Hassanah (Briedis)


From Sahlan Diver, August 24, 2008. Time 9:9

Hassanah,

Thanks for the comments. However I didn't see myself in the role of moderating this particular discussion, rather just taking part in it, although in my editorial capacity I am hoping at some point that we will get an article from Zebedee, or from others who are unhappy about various statements that are made on the web site, that will provide a detailed counter-argument. So far, we have only been able to find two authors willing to provide us with such articles.

I agree with what you say about the original Subud Vision mission. At the same time, if we are to promote open debate we have to allow the discussion to go where the wind blows, and this will presunably result in a variety of discussion themes,

Regards,

Sahlan


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