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Ragnar Lystad - A Necessary Reappraisal

There is no Santa Claus. From Gabriel Doyle, August 8, 2009. Time 1:0

Dear Ragnar,whilst having a great deal of sympathy for your point of view ,I do not share your disapointment that all Pak Subuh`s utterances and deeds were not guided by God.How could it have been otherwise?I assume that as a European born in the twentieth century you had at least a rudimentary education and probably a much better one than that .Why on earth did you abandone the healthy scepticism that your education encouraged you to develop?Did you never note the fact that the crusades were propagated by people who were convinced they had God on their side.Did you ever contemplate what other less simplistic concepts of the divine might possibly mean and that God might not necessarily be whispering instructions to his or her chosen ones or moving their fingers to produce sacred texts.Why did you and the majority of Subud adherents let yourself be dominated by a culture and a hierarchy that was antithetic to your education?I knew when I joined Subud in the 70s that most of Bapak`s plans were ill advised and that the Javanese mysticism that formed the background of his religious world view was culturally specific and was usefull to me only in a poetic or symbolic way.Some of us as lapsed catholics knew that the bible was not literaly "the word of God" and the pope was not infallible,Why didn`t you for God`s sake? Since I rejoined Subud I find I much prefer the atmosphere of dissapointed realism that I find now amongst some members than the almost hysterical millenairianism that prevailed at the time of my opening.So now we have discovered there is no Santa Claus,it`s only Dad dressed up ,great! now we can perhaps start to develope a more mature less gullible spirituality.


From Philip Quackenbush, August 10, 2009. Time 9:3

Hi, Ragnar,

While I agree with much of what you say in your article(s), I'm afraid it may be way too late to "fix it." As an example, I just this evening, on a whim (since I don't feel any particular need or impulse any more to attend grope "latihan" and I just happened to be leaving a new "health food" establishment only a few blocks away from the Subud house and it was not that far to return to my apartment afterwards), I decided to go to a grope "latihan". The lo-cal group has recently been offering six "latihans" a week (one for women only) in three different venues in an effort to satisfy the supposed needs of the membership. I had predicted on this forum that this would result in "helper" "burnout", but I was somewhat surprised to find I was the only one there, greeted by a locked door (which I happened to know the combination to, but casual visitors would not,if they were expecting a "latihan" at an announced time and place). While this may be just one example of a fracturing membership (I'm, of course, taking into account that it may just have been that all the "helpers" were on vacation; I originally flashed on the possibility that they were all at the regional family camp, but that turned out to not be until next month), it's something that occurred in one of the "stronger" groups, which has the financial support of two or three long-term members that, as far as I know, learned how to make their money from "outside" sources (one even told me once that he would never hire a Subud member, because they were too flaky; he did, but still had plenty to retire on despite that). Another sidelight to the condition of the lo-cal group is that it has sunk close to 200,000 dollars into the Subud house renovations (which are virtually complete), with no increase in the value of the property, since it is more valuable if the building is razed to a new owner. It is nicer to attend, but the only possible financial benefit seems to be its being a nicer facility to rent out (but easier to devalue from its "shiny new" status by its occupants). In terms of its being a Subud asset, it's interesting that some of the financial support came from the only major institution associated with Subud not set up by the founder of the cult, the Muhammad Subuh Foundation, started by a lawyer and a couple of other members who had safeguards set up to prevent some of the virtual robberies from its funds that took place with Anugrah, Widjojo and BSB.

In that regard, it seems to me that the large enterprises were wildly successful if seen from the perspective of benefit to the founder of the cult and The Family. I'm reminded of a scenario documented in the Subudtalk archives a few years back in which someone viewed one of the founder's daughters entering a room in which the founder was counting a huge pile of money and the daughter asked what was going on. The reply was to the following effect: "You sound just like those Subud people." Subud seems to have its own Bernie Madoff who made off with who knows how much? Only the Swiss and Cayman Island bankers probably know.

To those who are interested in getting their head out of the sand, it's possible to find, IMO, far more effective "spiritual" paths than Subud offers (though the "latihan's" other manifestations in "sister" organizations such as Sumarah may have a "better" "use" of it). The reason I can say that from a personal perspective is because I remember when I was first sucked into the cult I asked "God" to lead me to a "way", if such existed, that was "better" than Subud, and I just seem to have found one, a form of qigong that in only one session has brought me "closer to 'God'" and more perceived benefit than many hours of "latihan". Naturally, the usual caveats to that statement apply, including but not limited to the fact that I may be deceiving myself, since everyone I know seems to have a virtually infinite capacity for that. Oh, well, enough ranting for now. Have to get back to doing what I feel is related to my "reason" for being "here."

Peace, Philip


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