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Ragnar Lystad - The Role of Subud

Clear perspective. From Merin Nielsen, November 26, 2010. Time 21:56

Hi, Ragnar,

This is a terrific article. First, I strongly support your separation of 'making the latihan more available' and 'promoting Subud'.

Second, I appreciate your focus on 'a felt responsibility' to contribute toward making the latihan more available. I especially like your distinction of this as something that may not exist for everyone who practises the latihan -- but which explicitly can (or does or should) exist for people who choose to be members of Subud.

Membership should not be a prerequisite for access to the latihan. Rather, it would make far more sense if membership, as you say, simply implied acknowledgement of that felt responsibility.

People should be invited to join in the exercise without becoming members, while Subud's membership need not aspire to control or monopolise the latihan. The organisation is best regarded as merely one vehicle for making this form of the exercise more available throughout the world.

Thanks for sharing this valuable perspective.
Regards,
Merin


From Sahlan Diver, November 26, 2010. Time 22:16

Agree with you about the membership issue, Merin.

The idea that the latihan could be made available to people without their bring obliged to become members is one that I explicitly suggested in a Subud Vision Solutions article.

In response to my suggestion, one of our correspondents queried whether there would be any people who would make a special effort to spread the latihan to others who had no obligation towards the organisation of which the former people were members.

It is a legitimate question, but if you think about it we already have that situation in Subud. The majority of latihaners are satisfied that they can turn up and get latihan and some social events as well. They have no interest in or urgent desire to spread the latihan. That's one of the reasons why it's so difficult to get change in Subud - if people are happy to just get the latihan why would they want to rock the boat? Then you have the minority who sincerely dedicate time and energy as committee or helpers to what they believe to be the best strategy for nuturing Subud. So what I was proposing is the same as the current arrangement except that the people who just want to do latihan would not have to "join". As I have said before this small change would at a stroke wipe out any tendency to turn Subud into a sect, religious club based round Bapak's teachings, or even a mini cult. If people don't join you, then you can't pressurise them into aligning with any viewpoint that you would like to influence your members to adopt,

Sahlan


From Merin Nielsen, November 27, 2010. Time 1:7

Hi, Sahlan,

Yes, I think you're right. We have membership as a formality, but this doesn't translate to any necessary commitment. And there remains the question of commitment TO WHAT.

As Ragnar points out, there can be commitment to the promotion of Subud as an organisation, which usually comes with tendencies toward religiosity -- specifically partisanship in favour of Bapak and his particular interpretation of spirituality. Alternatively, there can be commitment to making the latihan more available, which is felt as a moral responsibility.

It's possible to be committed to both, although a dramatic contradiction arises -- by prominently promoting Bapak and his talks, or even tolerating such promotion, we deter newcomers and thus make the latihan less available.

It's also possible to be committed to neither, and as you say, this is very common! There's nothing wrong with just wanting the latihan, plus maybe the social aspect of Subud. The people who feel this way are absolutely welcome, but why do we insist on formal membership before letting people practise the latihan?

When it comes to contributing to making the latihan more available, should a Subud member be willing to do this only for people who (at least via the formality) commit themselves to 'Subud'? To me, this attitude appears to be a form of inconsiderate and irresponsible self-indulgence.

So I agree with you that dropping compulsory membership, for access to the latihan, makes very good sense. Moreover, as you seem to suggest, it might provide the tremendous, additional benefit of clearly delineating two distinct flavours of membership:
(1) based on commitment to promoting Subud as an organisation with an emphasis on Bapak's views; versus
(2) based on commitment to making the latihan more available as a moral responsibility.

Cheers,
Merin


From Merin Nielsen, November 27, 2010. Time 1:42

P.S. That would be in the context of Ragnar's proposed scenario -- still having Subud membership, but only voluntary membership, which would be available to people after they've already become fellow latihan practitioners.


From stefan, February 15, 2011. Time 14:2

Wonderful article Ragnar. Did you read Leonard Lassalle's Subud Vision article? It seems that in his group in France they have actually adopted the "membership is optional" idea, with successful results.

I'd be interested to hear your view on the discussion following the dialogue beween Helissa and Sahlan written up on Subud Vision. My proposal is to actively promote the latihan to existing networks outside of Subud. In line with your article I would not expect them necessarily to want to associate with the Subud network - the latihan would be shared unconditionally.


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