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Ragnar Lystad - A Spiritual Democracy

Helper Democracy a Possibility. From Bronte, November 8, 2009. Time 3:8

A comment on this sentence from your article on Subud Democracy.
"What is not satisfactory, if we look at the present situation, is the disproportionate influence of the helpers, who have not been chosen democratically."

My experiences and observations about the appointment and function of helpers varies from some, and suggest a type of democracy even with the helper structure as it is.

Firstly, the choosing of helpers is usually influenced by the members, who need to "like" a person, or "respect" a person before they are given the "Job" of Helper.
Secondly, the helpers are supposed to encourage members in their Subud life, and help them in their Subud life.
In this, there is a degree of room for the member to decide for themselves what the outcome will be, and certainly to "receive" for themselves the response they use to act upon.
In this sense, only the unnecessary interference by the helper stops the process being democratic. If I test, and feel "have nothing to do with that person", and the helper conducting the session tells me to "embrace that person, he is your brother" then I am not testing, I am play-acting out the helper's wishes. That actually happened to me.
So the purpose of helpers is, really, to be doing what the members wish, not doing their own thing.
Another example of non-democracy thwarting democracy. The group helpers told me to apply for a helper card, because they wanted me as a helper again. So they chose me for the job, democratically, you might say. The fact that the top-down structure of kejiwaan councillor, National Helpers, regional helpers, decided to override the wishes of the group, who knew me well, is just an un-democratic aberration of an almost democratic function.
After all , the new helpers have to be chosen from the members, and have to be willing to serve the members.
And there will always be some members willing to serve others without being helpers.
These people are de-facto helpers in reality.
And Subud needs to accept more involvement on "spiritual" matters by members, which I suspect it does now.
Members do not have to always feel bound by group-helper advice and decisions, if they want to they can avoid or ignore them. That is their democratic right.
We are all, I believe, supposed to be learning how to find out what to do for ourselves, not by submission to helpers or anyone else.
That is the basic nature of Subud, which could distinguish it from all other organisations of every type.
How much more democratic can you get?


From Wa;ter Segall, November 25, 2009. Time 15:49

The helpers have a very heavy job, and many are not prepared for the job. Members go to the helpers when they should be going to drug rehab, psychotherapists, investment counselors, marriage counselors, Internet job search sites, or any of a number of other temporal information or advice sources. They should not be called upon for many of the things for which members pester them.

About electing helpers: We might not want this since the helpers will often have to give advice to the group or the individual member which will displease them, and we don't really want them to be inhibitted about this.

W.


From Sahlan Diver, November 25, 2009. Time 16:16

"About electing helpers: We might not want this since the helpers will often have to give advice to the group or the individual member which will displease them, and we don't really want them to be inhibitted about this."

Walter,

In a group of 20, if one member is displeased, the helper might still get 19 votes, whereas if the same helper displeases 20 members, maybe the helper is wrong for the job, so a vote then enables the group to deal with that situation.

Also isn't it quite likely in a testing session where something is received that is good for the member but which he might not like to hear, that more than one helper is going to say something similar? In which case I think it is unlikely the member would penalise those helpers unfairly by voting against them.

Similarly if a helper says something unpopular but later the advice turns out to benefit the member, isn't that going to increase his or her chance of being re-elected?

I think members do not dislike honesty in helpers, what they dislike is opinionated people - there is a difference which is noticeable in the way the helpers deal with people and those helpers whose prejudices unduly interfere with their duties are more likely to be voted out,

Regards

Sahlan Diver


From Michael Irwin, November 26, 2009. Time 19:20

Here is my current statement on the selection of helpers:

No practitioner will act in helper matters concerning the opposite gender.
Only a local practitioner in a local pool of practitioners chosen at established intervals by all the local practitioners is eligible to be chosen to be a local helper by existing local helpers.
The next interval and the number practitioners in the pool will be chosen by a vote of all local practitioners at the previously established interval vote.
(What remains is to establish criteria for a 'local practitioner' and the voting method.)

The purpose and deliberate restrictions: 1. To limit the selection of helpers to those members approved by the membership at large while keeping the choice of active helpers to those currently carrying out helper duties. 2. to give the members the opportunity to prevent people who have offended them from serving them again.

Michael


From Philip Quackenbush, November 27, 2009. Time 0:13

MI: Here is my current statement on the selection of helpers:

No practitioner will act in helper matters concerning the opposite gender.
......

The purpose and deliberate restrictions: 1. To limit the selection of helpers to those members approved by the membership at large while keeping the choice of active helpers to those currently carrying out helper duties. 2. to give the members the opportunity to prevent people who have offended them from serving them again.

PQ: I recall a situation in which the men "helpers" were asked to "test" by a woman for her and we encountered no difficulties doing it. But by the same logic (if there is any, since it may be just a cultural whim of the founder of the Subud organization to separate the sexes in the first place which has led to many strange effects, IMO) "helpers" who are not married should not "test" concerning the opposite sex (BTW, what gender, in your book, would a transsexual be? I don't know for a fact that there are any in our local group, but there's a strong possibility, considering the nature of our particular geographical area's culture). After all, look what's happened in the Roman Catholic Church as a result of priests not being allowed to marry.

But what does that restriction have to do with your two points above? It prevents offensive women from serving as "helpers" to men and vice versa? I suppose I should be thankful on this Thanksgiving day here that that's already the case, but in certain matters I'd probably prefer a couple of the women "helpers" here "testing" on questions relating to them than some of the men "helpers" any day, but then, that may be just one of my perversities.

Peace, Philip


From Bronte, November 27, 2009. Time 2:35

If these "rules" were the tradition in Subud, some problems would still remain.
The rule of common sense will never win over the war of the sexes.
I was asked to resign as helper by one of the men, decades ago. But he did it because three of the women, all Helpers, asked it to be.
Where there is a woman, there is a way.
They can just as easily guide the lives of men as can men, or just as badly.
There seems to be no real redress when a helper causes a group to split, most members ie me and some friends, to leave, and still holds rigidly onto the role and the methods practiced from the start of his time in Subud.
And not letting a person return to the role of helper assumes they have not learnt anything. That fact should be assessed on it's merits first.
Well, who really knows anything to start with. It is all guess work and practice in Subud.
Is is even that in sciene, and the righ one often missed out being recognised. Just look at the climate change debate.
No. Rigidity is for thre dead. Then the decay sets in. Is that what has happened in Subud?


From Philip Quackenbush, November 27, 2009. Time 6:50

Bronte:

If these "rules" were the tradition in Subud, some problems would still remain.
The rule of common sense will never win over the war of the sexes.
I was asked to resign as helper by one of the men, decades ago. But he did it because three of the women, all Helpers, asked it to be.
Where there is a woman, there is a way.
They can just as easily guide the lives of men as can men, or just as badly.

PQ: I think something similar happened in the lo-cal grope here. One of the women "helpers" kept pressuring the men "helpers" to "test" about one of the men living in one of the rooms upstairs, apparently simply because she didn't like the fact that he could "win" an argument with her. It got so bad at one point that she was insisting we "test" about anyone living there at all (me included), so we did, with the not-to-surprising result after all that pressure and inference that the house should not have "permanent" residents. Well, after several years of only renting to SUBmembers passing through and tens of thousands of dollars spent in remodeling the place, the latest report from the treasurer said that the group is broke and, without more infusion of money, which could still have been coming from the "permanent" and temporary residents and completely covered all the bills except for the remodeling, the bills (which now include a second mortgage) won't get paid.
Big surprise.

It could be another reason why so few Chinese members exist in Subud, because, from personal experience with a Chinese woman I was dating and numerous accounts of it from a Chinese friend about it concerning his wife and confirmation of my observation by a Chinese woman taking lessons from me, Chinese woman are very controlling, and probably either won't let their men join Subud, or don't want them possibly having the freedom to do so.

However, the attempts by women "helpers" to control what goes on in Subud may be just a backlash from the fact that so many of them have hysterically been oppressed for so long throughout known history (as well as herstory) and want the current generation of liberalized men to take the brunt of their misdirected anger.

Bronte: There seems to be no real redress when a helper causes a group to split, most members ie me and some friends, to leave, and still holds rigidly onto the role and the methods practiced from the start of his time in Subud.
And not letting a person return to the role of helper assumes they have not learnt anything. That fact should be assessed on it's merits first.
Well, who really knows anything to start with. It is all guess work and practice in Subud.
Is is even that in sciene, and the righ one often missed out being recognised. Just look at the climate change debate.
No. Rigidity is for thre dead. Then the decay sets in. Is that what has happened in Subud?

PQ: Maybe yes, maybe no. The founder of the organization once (or several times, perhaps) said that Subud wouldn't come into its own until the third generation took over the reins. They have just recently been coming online as members. Give 'em a chance; it may take a while for them to cohere enough to be a dominant force within Subud. In my case, the second generation never joined and they haven't produced any third-generation progeny to join, either. A good portion of the first-generation members were either too old to have progeny or never did (there's one guy I know who married twice but never had kids), so, given that fact, the organization may fade away before the third generation can take the reins or decide that its further existence warrants the effort to maintain it, but it will be their decision to make, not ours.

Meanwhile, anyone with sufficient time and effort and motivation on their hands to form another organization that addresses some of the factors that may need modification within Subud is free to try to do so; it's not a cult in that sense, though it remains one in light of several other factors on a list that deprogrammers have to deal with in their work.

Peace, Philip

Peace, Philip


From Bronte, November 27, 2009. Time 8:35

I do suggest that in Subud, common sense is ignored.
That is why Anugraha failed, according to the way I read the story published elsewhere by one of "the people who knew".
Also, as to renting of Subud premises, which is a worldly matter, there should be less mixing of the spiritual and the material. Any person, no matter what nationality, who puts over emphasis on a material issue like that, is probably showing a spiritual problem in themselves, not a real problem in the world. I expect that is how my problems that made me leave Subud are described by all the people who bother to notice I once existed in Subud, and still wish I never had.
That, I think, is how it is with many problems in Subud, if not all of them. It is what I call "mixing", not all that other stuff they usually call mixing.
I have had interesting dealings with at least some people of Chinese nationality, one of them in Subud, and found them very challenging, in what I could describe a helpful way. We were once priveledged to have a very conciencious Chinese person in our group for a while. As to Chinese women, I have no useful comments to make. If you learnt some lessons by knowing one, them be grateful if it was Subud that enabled that encounter. I am sure the world can make many examples of cultural benefits, and otherwise, of many nationalities in Subud.


From Philip Quackenbush, November 27, 2009. Time 12:15

Hi, Bronte,

The "helper" in question in the other post became so obnoxious and aggressive about "testing" such questions that another "helper" and I "tested" what the consequences were of manipulating the "latihan" for a "correct" answer. She seemed to have developed such manipulative "testing" into an art form a couple years later at a national congress, and many people got sucked into it. The answer to the "test" we did about it, as I recall, was not very pleasant. Of course, we could have been projecting the answer on the situation, and probably were, which is one reason I seldom trust "testing" any more for much besides an instantaneous answer to a yes or no question, which is more efficiently done by "body", or "kinesthetic" testing and, in my experience, is always "right," because the body seems to be incapable of lying, unlike the ego.

I agree with your assessment of the term "mixing," but it should be pointed out that "testing" for committee business, i.e. who should head a committee, was initiated by the founder of the organization, and even encouraged by him, so the inevitable problems that have arisen from that "advice" can be put squarely on him, IMO, but he's dead, so they have to be addressed by the living, and my vote goes (or would go, if the question came to a vote) to eliminating the practice to eliminate those inevitable problems.

I've never known a Subud member who was Chinese, though I think one attended one of the whirled kongres-kongres that I attended, and I may have casually met him, so none of the Chinese I know have been in Subud. I do my best to not make judgments about anyone, just observations about people that I have known, which is a whole different ball of wax. I somewhat regret having never spent any time with any Balinese, since they are said to be the only people on the planet who are known have a balance between their right and left brain activity as a culture. If that were true globally, I suspect that the world would be a far more harmonious place to live in (but it seems to be getting that way gradually, with or without the influence or affluence or effluents of Subud, as careful observation and comparisons of historical data seem to show.

Peace, Philip


From Michael, November 29, 2009. Time 0:0

To Philip and Bronte.

I posted response to Sahlan on the subject of electing helpers above at: From Michael Irwin, November 26, 2009. Time 19:20

Sahlan already knows my views so I didn't expect him to reply. But you both replied with a conversation that used my post as a springboard for riffs on helpers testing on the other sexes matters; woman who interfered in the lives of male members;the character of Chinese women;hand-wringing on the failure of refusing kicked out helpers the right of return to the fold;second and third generations; Anugraha and spirituality; Chinese women again;unpleasant testing, mixing and - yes - Chinese again as absentees.

How do you expect any rational discussion to happen if you can't keep to the topic? This destruction of Subud discourse has been going on for years. I refuse to bother with your babbles. But then, perhaps you actually don't want rational, focussed discussion.

If you are going to reply to this PLEASE stay on the topic and only on the topic too prove to me that you can.

Michael


From bronte, November 29, 2009. Time 0:31

Michael, you Dear Old Grump
It was not my intention to inflame your passions with diverse opinions. Anyway, as a discussion club, Subud would not rate too well. I think we are meant to be a group of humans learning to be more human, if nothing else. Precise discussion skills were not one of the main focusses of human developoment offered when Subud was founded. Too many people are just plain ordinary talkative, and wander all over the prarie looking for new grass.
I am glad to have a Subud prarie to wander around. Most of it is just dry desert these days.
Your opinion about women testing or acting for men's needs in Subud is pretty close to what I can accept.
The other diverse ideas Phillip and I wandered into belong best in personal one-to-one communication, not on a discussion of this focussed type. I would have been happier to have been so confined, as I would prefer to be in these two exchanges between us.
I checked the way the discussion looks to me, and I find that, by the time I am reading the comments on my screen, there is not the stress of the focussed topic that might have limited me to my, or should I say your, topic.
I find your response to be as piquish and at least mildly offensive as you find mine. But I guess that is the a factor of old age in both of us Subud Fanatic Fossils.
But don't change. Subud needs the fossils still. Too many are dying out, and many of the best have gone. Now that really IS Off Topic. No apologies for that! The Tower of Babble Lives Again! Don't fail to check the best of off-topic on the comments page of the anti-Subud site.


From Philip Quackenbush, November 29, 2009. Time 0:33

Hi, Michael,

While I agree that the diversionary discourse that Bronte and I engaged in doesn't directly relate to your list of restrictions, the exclusion of women from men's "helper" affairs already exists, so it seems superfluous to include it in your list, but it doesn't exist as a hard-nosed "rule", IMO, and I gave an example of "testing" by our men "helpers" for a woman. As Pak Subuh said to Varindra Vittachi once, "Rules are for children", which is probably one reason why his early talks referred to the new members as children, because they were so hidebound in rules. And Bronte's example of the women "helpers" "telling" the men "helpers" what to do was an example of completely ignoring common sense, not merely ignoring any rules. So, given those examples of "not following the rules", what do you suggest to "correct" it? Or is it necessary to "correct" it? I suggest that the root of the "problem" is the existence of the "helpers" as a designated group of members to deal with so-called "spiritual" concerns in Subud. If the members were simply able to go to other members that they trust to consult with them on whatever they wish,with or without "testing" involved, the "problem" would disappear. There might be other problems, but they could be solved on a case by case basis, which is what usually happens anyway in "private" "testing".

Peace, Philip


From Michael, November 29, 2009. Time 1:20

Michael, you Dear Old Grump
… Precise discussion skills were not one of the main focuses of human development offered when Subud was founded…
MI: True but it is implicitly offered by SubudVision. This feedback place is on a SubudVision website.
I am glad to have a Subud prairie to wander around. ..
MI: Then do it one SVi listserver where it is appropriate.
From Philip Quackenbush, November 29, 2009. Time 0:33
Hi, Michael,
While I agree that the diversionary discourse that Bronte and I engaged in doesn't directly relate to your list of restrictions, the exclusion of women from men's "helper" affairs already exists, so it seems superfluous to include it in your list,
MI: You raise some points about helpers that deserve discussion. However, my post was a limited suggestion answering one problem with an operating method. The statement about gender separation was simply about stating that that was the supposed way it is. It needed to be stated so that the entire procedure did not have to explained twice, once for men and again for women. The purpose in the whole exercise is to leave as much of their present mandate as possible to the helpers to run their own world with a limitation that ensured member input into providing a pool that the members at large could create together and providing a method for denying those helpers who the members dislike a change to be included again. In that way, the helpers might –might – accept the ideas because their bailiwick had not been too much disturbed.


From Sahlan Diver, November 29, 2009. Time 1:36

Gentlemen,

There is a practical means to refine the feedback.

It's in the nature of any feedback that sometimes you can be 100% on topic but often you have something worthwhile to say that is unfortunately not fully on topic.

My suggestion is if you want to raise a related point, then go back to the author bio page, which you can get to from the index of authors, find the relevant article link on that author page, then click on the button to start a new feedback topic for the article. There is no ration on the number of feedback pages, and the advantage of creating a new topic is you can give it a title so it is more easily picked up from the index. Also it breaks the discussion up into loosely related areas, instead of having too much on the one page,

Sahlan


From bronte, November 29, 2009. Time 3:42

This topic just got strangled by verbosity, not diversity.
Some of us men do not want women to speak for them, some women do not want men to speak for them.
And many people do not want waflle at all.
Then I'll settle for the strawberies and ice cream please.
Now I have extracted a point of view, even if it is not a new one.
What a long sentence Michael!
Seems that is what Subud has become for some of us too.


From Philip Quackenbush, November 29, 2009. Time 7:37

Hmmm.... going back to the top of the page, I notice that the original responses were in regard to Ragnar's article, not Michael's, so it could be said that we have a double diversion here, since I see no responses from Ragnar, just comments on comments, and even comments on comments on commentary. It may be a bit difficult to keep to Sahlan's suggestion, but it might help to clear the mud a bit instead of wallowing in it if it's attempted, at least.

Peace, Philip


From Sahlan Diver, November 29, 2009. Time 10:14

Or, people can start a related discussion on the Yahoo group. I take the point that a discussion may drift away from being strictly relevant to the article that started it off,

Sahlan


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