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Subud Vision - Feedback

Sahlan Diver - Subud-think?

Too much Talk. From sjahari, October 4, 2008. Time 17:57

This is a response to both your recent articles Sahlan

At this point I am getting a little tired with all the endless discussions of various kinds going on in these pages, and in particular your last two articles.

If I understand correctly you have an idea of what kind of subud you would like to see. At the same time you have a problem with your perception that there are obstacles to that approach in the minds of other subud members. It seems that you and others feel that you have to change the mental construct within subud before you can do what you want to do.

Why worry if everyone doesnt necessarily agree with you? The fact that there may or may not be these points of view and belief systems abroad is totally irrelavant

Noone could have prevented your group from performing at a Fringe festival. So what that you got a letter. So what!

Similarily, Noone could prevent you within subud from starting an association of like minded people.

I have heard a little about the work that Leonard Lasalle is doing in France. I was also very encouraged by the article he wrote in the latest Subud Voice. He is simply doing it. From what I understand, there is No waiting period. No God talk. People are simply being introduced to the experience itself without any overlay.

Why dont you just do it! Subud is very broad and all kinds of things are possible.

Why do you need to have everyone or in fact ANYONE agree with you? The proof is in the evidence which follows from the action, not in the theoretical construct.

Just take an action. Forget the talking. there has been enough of that already. In fact, far too much.

Sjahari


From Sahlan Diver, October 5, 2008. Time 7:53

Sjahari,

It is good to get feedback, as it gives me a further chance to explain my point of view.

First of all I would like to correct a wrong impression that you seem to have got, that my writing, and perhaps the other writing on Subud Vision is only talking and there is no intention of action. I think it is clear enough that most of our writers would like to see a variety of things changed in Subud. However before changing things we have to be able to fully understand what is wrong, why it is wrong, and it often helps to understand historically how we got where we are, in order to not repeat the same mistakes in the future.

You seem to have become impatient with this discussion, and I am in sympathy with that, but if we look at Subud as a whole, we can hardly say there has been too much discussion. On the contrary there are still many who turn away from discussion as something inappropriate. Only the other day I received an email from someone saying why didn't I just 'fit in' and accept Subud as it was, and from another person suggesting we didn't need to think about anything, because if Subud was from God, then God would work it out for us. We even know of a group where the Subud Vision editors have been vociferously branded by the helpers as 'obviously down on the material level'. (Personally, I don't object to the suggestion that I am on the material level, only to their facile analysis that I am there because I am trying to encourage free-thinking). We have been greatly helped by some Subud people with our publicity attempts, others in positions of influence have, I could almost say, blocked our publicity, so there are still many members who are only just finding out about the web site and starting to read the articles. While all this is going on we will still continue publishing articles to keep the site alive and hopefully widen the scope of the debate.

I am currently working on a new web site, which does not at the moment involve any of the other Subud Vision editors, which will be proposing an alternative organisation for spreading and nurturing the latihan. The intention of this web site is to first encourage criticism and suggestions so that its proposals can be refined and extended, and eventually lead to the setting up of a new organisation. Note that I say above 'AN alternative'. I thought I made it clear in the "Why Only Subud" article that I could see there being more than one 'flavour' of alternative, which could co-exist with Subud, and therefore your suggestion that I am trying to get unanimous agreement from Subud members to only one kind of Subud is incorrect.

You say: " It seems that you and others feel that you have to change the mental construct within subud before you can do what you want to do." To me, this is a bit of a give-away phrase. Precisely the point of my "Subud-think" article was that there shouldn't be Subud "mental constructs". If being a Subud member is supposed to involve receiving one's own individual guidance, then it is inappropriate to imply that people should be subscribing to a particular set of mental constructs about the spiritual.

In my article I tried to identify the most common of these constructs using examples from my experience. You seem to regard such ideas as being irelevant but it seems to me that they are very relevant because you can't have a discussion about changing Subud if people aren't willing to enter into a discussion in the first place, and these Subud-think ideas I believe have become so powerfully ingrained that they act so as to inhibit meaningful discussion and therefore prevent any chance of change and progress.

My Fringe festival letter example seems to have annoyed you. The editors have a policy of not publishing articles that are just personal moans. We have not had any of these, but if we did we wouldn't publish them. So it is unlikely this went through our editorial process just to give me a chance to complain about a letter I received 23 years ago. In any case, for your information, the letter didn't stop the show, we went ahead, got an excellent review from the jazz critic of Scotland's leading newspaper, and made a surplus of ticket sales over expenses, so I have nothing to complain about. No, the mentioning of the letter was just a way of giving two further exammples of Subud-think type thought.

Finally, coming to your example about Leonard Lascelle. Lenonard is a very experienced and much loved and respected member, so if he carries out an experiment I am sure he can get away with it. But suppose the same thing was being done by "Joe Smith", an enthusiastic but nevertheless not well- known member who has been in Subud three years? Is Subud really so broad that this would be allowed without sanction? I don't think so. Also in a way, neither should it be. Subud is an organisation, not a free-for-all. I applaud Leonard for his experimenting with a new approach but at some time Subud needs to look at the results of such experiments and consider whether to revise its policy. If there is general agreement that Leonard's approach is ok, then why shouldn't Subud adopt this officially, so everyone knows where they stand, or perhaps Subud might agree that different groups can devise their own policies within an agreed set of reasonble constraints?

Sahlan


From Sjahari, October 5, 2008. Time 15:54

Hi Sahlan,
I think you need to do your own version of what Leonard is doing. The discussions on subud vision, your article, and your new web page I fear are all simply ways of avoiding the real work. The work is to go out there and do it.

I still maintain that There is very very little that has been proposed on the pages of subud vision that actually takes things forward into any kind of action. It is simply philosophizing and talking.

If you were to start doing things in the way you are implying and all of a sudden there were many people joining in and excited about it then this is what is going to change subud. The talking and reasoning isnt going to do that.

From the beginning the approach on these pages has used what is fundamentally an academic model in which there is an attempt to prove a point of view based on logical argument. The idea is that once it is proved and approved and accepted by everyone in subud and all the international bodies; and once "subud think" has been eradicated everywhere, then some action will be taken. In fact however that never happens and the discussion simply goes on interminably.

You have a hypothesis. Its a good one. The next step is to put it into action and see if it works out.

That is what Leonard is doing from what I understand. The fact that he is a respected member is a reflection of who he is. And this action he is taking is another reflection of who he is. He is someone who acts on what he believes in. He doesnt just talk about it.

You say that Leonard's experiment is ok because he is a loved and respected member. You also imply that really that kind of thing shouldnt be allowed across the board because subud is not a "free for all"

I am interested in why you think this. And in particular why you seem to believe that before someone can go ahead and do something in this regard they have to change what you call "Subud think" and have the idea endorsed and agreed upon by all the international bodies of subud.

If others were to start to experiment with new ways of doing things then it would be very interesting and instructive to see how the organization would respond. This is the kind of challenge that is needed so that Subud can really stand up and be what it is.

If it turns out that the organization is going to come down in an authoritative and restrictive way, then that will be interesting because it will mean that Subud really is a religion and will have to define itself as such

At the moment there are no challenges to the status quo that i am aware of, except for the one being offered by Leonard. (In the past Hussein Chung did a similar thing which you can read about in his book) At this point I dont see the international body trying to stop Leonard. If they did try there there would be a major major rebellion I believe. Certainly from me.

Where is your challenge to the status quo? Where is there a reality challenge arising from any of the discussions on these pages?

best
Sjahari


From Sahlan Diver, October 5, 2008. Time 17:0

Sjahari,

To reply to your points individually:

"The discussions on subud vision, your article, and your new web page I fear are all simply ways of avoiding the real work."

- I think you are making an unfair judgment of the contributors. I don't know many of them personally but I wouldn't say they are using discussion as a way of avoiding the issue. Wouldn't an easier way to avoid an issue simply be to not get involved, and just remain incognito?

The work is to go out there and do it.

- But what is the "it" that we have to do? Before I got involved in the Subud Vision project, I had a very much narrower conception of the ills of Subud. The writings of other people have broadened my outlook. Therefore I would hope that any alternative venture I got involved in would be the better for this additional education I have received from my fellow writers. I believe you are a medical doctor.
I am sure you do not rush into treatment without first ensuring you have got your diagnosis right.

I still maintain that There is very very little that has been proposed on the pages of subud vision that actually takes things forward into any kind of action.
It is simply philosophizing and talking.

- There is philosophising, for sure, and you may be partly right about the proportions. The Solutions Project which we hope to publish some time in the new year aims to redress the balance by encouraging proposals for practical solutions. We have already received some intriguing and imaginative prrposals for this, but could do with receiving more.

If you were to start doing things in the way you are implying and all of a sudden there were many people joining in and excited about it then this is what is going to change subud. The talking and reasoning isnt going to do that.

- I agree with that being a possibility, but preparation is also important.

From the beginning the approach on these pages has used what is fundamentally an academic model in which there is an attempt to prove a point of view based on logical argument. The idea is that once it is proved and approved and accepted by everyone in subud and all the international bodies; and once "subud think" has been eradicated everywhere, then some action will be taken. In fact however that never happens and the discussion simply goes on interminably.

- Certainly we expect the articles to make a well-argued case because the Subud Vision web site is fundamentally about analysis and trying to reach some conclusions about what might be a better way of doing things in the future. However Subud Vision is not setting out to be an executive body, or to campaign that WSA adopt a set of specific policies. Our principle aim has always been to encourage open, and as far as possible, quality debate. For practical application I agree a different model is necessary and in fact I already extolled the benefits of our being ready to experiment in my "Blueprint for Change" article.

You say that Leonard's experiment is ok because he is a loved and respected member.

- Not quite. I was merely observing that Leonard's status as a well-known and respected member would make it easier for people to accept an experiment by him, rather than the same experiment carried out by a lesser known member. I don't think that makes Leonard's experiment any more or less valid. I was just expressing a doubt that Subud was quite as open to experiment as I thought you were suggesting it was, when you gave Leonard's experiment as an example.

You also imply that really that kind of thing shouldnt be allowed across the board because subud is not a "free for all" I am interested in why you think this. And in particular why you seem to believe that before someone can go ahead and do something in this regard they have to change what you call "Subud think" and have the idea endorsed and agreed upon by all the international bodies of subud.

- You are attributing to me a proposal that I didn't put forward. I didn't say that an idea has to be agreed by all BEFORE anything can be done. I agree with you that is never likely to happen. I said they should look at the RESULTS of such experiments and then decide policy, on the basis of the results. That's sensible, isn't it?

If others were to start to experiment with new ways of doing things then it would be very interesting and instructive to see how the organization would respond. This is the kind of challenge that is needed so that Subud can really stand up and be what it is.

- I agree. My hope is they would wait and see how things worked out and not condemn any such venture out of hand in advance.

If it turns out that the organization is going to come down in an authoritative and restrictive way, then that will be interesting because it will mean that Subud really is a religion and will have to define itself as such

- The irony is that there probably wouldn't be any agreement reached on what the religious definition of Subud should be!

At the moment there are no challenges to the status quo that i am aware of, except for the one being offered by Leonard. (In the past Hussein Chung did a similar thing which you can read about in his book) At this point I dont see the international body trying to stop Leonard. If they did try there there would be a major major rebellion I believe. Certainly from me.

- As I said, I have a venture which will start with a web site inviting comment but which will be very much focused towards the aim of establishing a new organisation as a practical reality. I know that some of my fellow editors don't agree with this approach. They think we have only just started a process of debate in Subud which could mushroom out and eventually lead to substantial changes. They might be right, and I haven't given up on that approach either,

Regards,

Sahlan


From sjahari, October 5, 2008. Time 22:8

there is no need to start a new organization when the limits of this one have not been explored.

there is absolutely no reason why you cannot do what you want to do within the organization as it exists right now. Leonard's experiment is proof of that.

THere is absolutely no reason you cannot start your own subud group and

-open people without a three month waiting period
-Give explanations to new people that are broad in scope and more inclusive
- be responsive to the needs of people as they exist in these times.
-steer clear of cultural entrapments
-give the kind of explanations that Stefan described in which the latihan is actually demonstrated.

all of this can be done within the current framework of subud. There is no need to start a new organization to do this. ANd if lots of groups like this start sprouting up all over, and if they are active viable groups, then they will make an impact on subud.

However, going about it the other way - by trying to convince the existing organization to change - will take forever and in the end will not work - and subud will have disappeared by then anyway.

Sjahari


From Sahlan Diver, October 5, 2008. Time 22:56

Sjahari,

As a plan for change WITHIN Subud, I am not necessarily disagreeing with your latest statements but I am wondering about these points:

(a) How likely is it that there will be sufficient of these new groups springing up to gain enough critical mass to change Subud? If this is just left to the conscience of individuals, rather than being a coordinated adventure, could you envisage this ever happening in more than a very few places?

(b) Rather than new groups being formed, would you not think that a better tactic is for the people to persuade those within their own group that the new ideas were worth a no-obligation experiment? This would, no doubt, be more difficult to achieve than those people going off to form a new group latihaning elsewhere, but would have the distinct advantage that they wouldn't need to seek new premises, they wouldn't be splitting the group and even further diminishing the numbers doing latihan together, and there would be no hard feelings about people forming breakaway groups.

(c) Your focus is on giving explanations to enquirers, applicant arrangements, the way Subud is explained and cultural issues. You do not cover other issues such as dispute resolution, organisational reform, whether we should proactively promote the latihan and so on. Is this because for the sake of brevity you stuck to a few issues so as to be able to give an example, or do you consider the issues you mentioned to be the priority ones?

Regards

Sahlan


From Helissa Penwell, October 6, 2008. Time 2:12

Three additional problems with trying to begin a maverick, grassroots group within Subud are:

(1) The group has to have a man and woman helper to open people in order to have them recognized by the organization. A group of members only cannot start a group, unless a couple of them are willing to undergo the helper process.

(2) As the group starts registering new members, it will be noticed by the National Helpers. It won't be long before they show up on the doorstep with The Rule Book under their arms. Problems ensue.

(3) Other helpers and members can join the new group, and they might be more conservative than the original members. As long as the new group still operates within Subud, it cannot prevent this. If the local group feels threatened by the presence of the new group, it may well send helpers and members over in order to get the new group "back on track". Problems ensue.

Helissa


From Michael Irwin, October 6, 2008. Time 22:39

I find it odd, Sjahari, that you don't recognize that Sahlan started Subud Eire and that it has not, as far as I know, been recognized by the WSA.

I would love to see a small collection of people start a group. It has happened off and on since the 1960's. The problem I see is that there is no way to be recognized as a Subud group without it being massively successful and then entering into a negotiation with the core organization for recognition. Recognition gives it visibility within the wider organization and the increased possibility of it being seen as another place to latihan. At present, without formal recognition, such groups have been and will be shunned. It would help if the core organizations had a recognition process about which we could argue.


From sjahari, October 9, 2008. Time 1:9

Sahlan,

the questions you are asking me in your note actually illustrate the nature of the problem. Subud should be free and open and full of inspiration. We should be resisting any kind of structuring that limits freedom and openness and exploration.

To do what I am suggesting requires
-courage
-openness
-committment to one's own inner values

Leonard Laselle did not think about or answer the questions you have posed. He is simply doing it.

The current structure of subud creates a nice safe haven in which everyone can disappear and within which we can abdicate our responsibility .

Am I doing something myself? Not yet. but i will do so soon. Will let you know how it goes

I would really like to see others begin to do something too. (And not talk about it so much.)

best
Sjahari


From Sahlan Diver, October 9, 2008. Time 5:54

Sjahari,

It is true that structuring can be limiting. Here are two ways
1) the people at the top deliberately set out to suppress innovation or to hinder innovation by various forms of obstruction. In Subud, we change the people at the top every so many years, so we cannot say this is an intrinsic obstacle in Subud - it depends on the people.

2) by emphasising the framework over the content. For example, we feel that once we have appointed all officials and helpers, we have done our duty, and what more need we do? Even though the system might go round in circles producing little progress, we are satisfied because we have a system. This is evidenced by the speed with which many are ready to say we must stick to the system because "Bapak set it up for us" but are a lot less quick to talk about the lack of results that Bapak intended from his system, the spread of Subud, the growth of enterprise and our social responsibility, and so on.

However, structuring can also be facilitating

Here are two ways,

1) structuring helps to set limits on the less good aspects of human nature. Your Leonard Lascelle example only works because of Leonard's presumably good intentions, but there equally well could be others who could come along who want to benefit their ego, for example, but setting up as gurus, mixing some teaching into the latihan and so on. We can't just say that's fine, anyone can do what they want, because that is an abdication of responsibility. It's like saying we don't care about the things we value about Subud, like that it is not a religion with a set of moral rules, or a cult with a guru whom we have to take instruction from, that we would be willing, for example, to let someone take away the freedom of others to just receive and instead freely promote their own version of Subud as a teaching where people have to learn from someone else.

2) structuring can amplify the strength of the individual. There are exceptional individuals who can innovate and move forward on their own, but the nature of most people is not like that. People can have much to contribute even if their nature is not that of a leader. A structure that encourages open discussion of ideas and which values the contribution of all is the kind of structure that we want

Sahlan


From sjahari, October 9, 2008. Time 15:6

Hi Sahlan,
thanks for your responses. .

You have posed some theoretical advantages of structure.

Unfortunately The structured experiment in Subud has been going for 50+ years and has not resulted in much. The advantages of the structure are minimal in comparison to the disadvantages.

I think you dont give subud members enough credit. People can easily see what is of value and what is not. The innovation Leonard is involved in works precisely because it is open, caring, and people appreciate that kind of stuff.
The guru thing is happening in subud too and has happened over the years ( the structure does NOT prevent these things.) Those things never go anywhere because they are intrinsically flawed, not because the structure limits them.

The structure does not and cannot develop the true leadership you mention in your second point. That comes from within the individuals.

We are going to move forward as an organization when we move forward as individuals. No sooner. All the structure can do is simply NOT GET IN THE WAY.

I would agree with you though that the current structure often does get in the way, and this is what has to stop.

Unfortunately at this point in time there is little evidence of individual growth leading to productive activity. As I said in my original note, Leonard's initiative is one of the few. There have been some others. Hussein Chung was another example. ( And in looking at that we can see how the organization actually can get in the way and restrict things. )

My conclusion is this - lets just ask our structure to not get in the way of innovation and put no more time or effort into the structure. Its already a huge burden. Lets get the structure out of the equation, and Then get on with the innovation.

good discussion

Sjahari


From Sahlan Diver, October 9, 2008. Time 23:16

Sjahari,

Your analysis is wrong on several points.

First of all you talk about the last 50 years of Subud structure as an experiment. This is giving the situation more credit than it deserves. If during that 50 years we had continually revised results and been prepared to adapt the structure in the light of those results, then it could truly be called an experiment. However it has not been like that. We have had one structure, mainly suggested by Bapak, and we have stuck rigidly to it for all that time. So the most we could say was whether that one attempt at structure has worked, not that all attempts to have structure in Subud cannot work, because we have not tried any others, we only have the evidence of the one to go on.

Secondly you imply there has been no innovation because people haven't grown inwardly enough. I think that is a circular argument. i.e. these people are innovating, so that is evidence that they have grown inwardly, and, because of that inner growth, they are innovating. Even if you are right, if for 50 years you can only produce 2 examples, then that hardly seems the best strategy to rely on for innovation. Maybe there is another reason why these examples are rare, i.e. that there are people who would be willing to see change and have good ideas for change, but they see little point in a maverick action that may or may not spread beyond their own local circle, they would prefer instead to see these things discussed and agreed in a more general manner. You seem to assume that organisation and structure must necessarily be obstructive, but this is not necessarily so - good organisation can be facilitating.

Thirdly you talk about "leadership", but your examples of leadership are of individuals who are assumed to have reached a more developed state, and who therefore we should follow. That does not seem compatible with the spirit of Subud to me. True there will always be leaders in the sense of innovators who are the first to break the mould and experiment, but at some point we have to look at those experiments and collectively agree which way to go, otherwise we are abandoning judgement and just following the first to move, like sheep. For example, suppose the majority of helpers disagree with Leonard's idea, if I have understood you right, that there should be no waiting period. Suppose they say it's ok to have a much shorter waiting period, but that a zero waiting period, they think on the basis of their experience would be irresponsible. Please don't contradict me on the facts here, because I am speaking hypothetically now, I am not trying to be 100% accurate. In a situation like that where the majority of helpers think that someone has made an error of judgement in promoting a zero waiting period, is their judgment to be summarily overriden on the basis that the innovator was the first, or on the basis that the innovator was supposedly more caring, or on the basis that the innovator was supposedly spiritually more developed? No. Obviously there is value in listening to and valuing collective experience and trying to decide from that what is in the best interests of the applicants. The structure of Subud should facilitate that. Subud members place lip-service to the idea of harmony, but if we can't even make our own structures work for us, and say well we will just throw all that out, it gives very little evidence that the latihan helps us to cooperate - it rather seems the opposite,that we are less mature in our dealings than people who haven't done the latihan,

Sahlan


From sjahari, October 10, 2008. Time 0:28

Sahlan,
I am using the term "leadership" in a very broad way to indicate the kind of leadership that arises within each of us individually when we take action. I am not talking about leading great throngs of people like the Pied Piper, or Winston Churchill or something like that.

A mother goes to the school and starts an afterschool program to help children in need. This is leadership. A subud member starts a discussion group in his home to support subud members who feel alienated from the organization. This is leadership.

The structure we have in place leads only to more structure. Meetings upon meetings upon meetings. Meetings to discuss the meetings and meetings to discuss the meetings about the meetings.

All this does is waste time. But it makes the people who are meeting for all these endless hours feel good because they believe they are working for the benefit of Subud. They arent. They are just meeting and it is not going anywhere. .

I disagree with you entirely. But go ahead. Set up another organization and then spend the next 50 years in meetings.
And along the way test a thousand questions about how "God would have us be"
And avoid the real work of actually doing something. Avoid the real experience of trying something to see if it works.

The organizational structure i is like the structure of a house. Yes. A nice house might make a comfortable place to have a dance performance. But its the performance that is essential and it doesnt need to have a house to happen. It can happen in the alley.
Again. The structure just has to get out of the way.

So we try opening people without the three month waiting period and see what happens. Did it work? Yes? No? Why not try it? Whats the big deal?

The more time you spend talking about and discussing and creating structure and trying to develop rules and regulations, the more you avoid the actual truth.

Maybe you would find out once you stopped having meetings that in fact there is nothing there. Nothing at all. Once we face that nothingness and enter it and accept it -- and recognize it -- only then can something real begin to happen.
But Go ahead. Have more meetings. Avoid the emptiness.

Sjahari


From Philip Quackenbush, October 10, 2008. Time 6:26

Hi, Hellissa, Sahlan, and Sjahari,

I'm not much for quoting the founder of the cult, but one thing he pointed out a few times was that Subud has no copyright on the "latihan." Also, at least once (he may have changed his mind or it became ossified later), he viewed the organization as something that could or would evolve flexibly to fit circumstance.

If a new organization is started, if it's successful enough, Subud members may jump ship to be in the "better" organization. The only "problem" I see with that, other than the die hards attempting to get back lost members is that people "opened" outside the cult may still have to do the rigid thing to be allowed to "exercise" within the cult, if the "helpers" won't or can't "test" accurately to find out if the person involved is indeed "opened" (I still carry around my ancient, dog-eared, torn-in-half "helpers" card just in case such a situation should arise).

As a final note, although I don't agree at all with his (the founder's) analysis, because the "latihan" process is virtually ubiquitous and available from numerous sources despite claims that it's "different" in the cult, the founder of the cult said that "Maybe God will give the "latihan" to somebody else if Subud doesn't spread it", or words to that effect. IMO, it's already happened, long before the Subud cult came into existence, and is bound to happen many more times, since it's a natural process common to virtually every "higher" organism on the planet, and probably on numerous other planets, as well (give or take a few trillion; think big, people; outa the box, arready).

Peace, Philip


From Sahlan Diver, October 10, 2008. Time 21:48

Sjahari,

You make big assumptions about what a new structure might be like, such that it would involve a lot of meetings for the sake of having meetings, and a lot of useless testing, and so on, and then knock it down on that basis. But you are knocking down your own assumptions, that is all. A new structure might be much more clever than you imagine, might be quite lightweight, much more lightweight than Subud in fact,

Sahlan


From Helissa Penwell, October 10, 2008. Time 22:53

I can envision a new organization as a kind of Fast-Track, No-Frills version of Subud. It would be focused on the latihan and the local group, with minimal structure and oversight from the top. Lightweight, as Sahlan says. What would this minimal organization include, and what would it discard from the Subud we have now? I'm most concerned about guarding the integrity of the latihan and, then, about making it available to more people. It seems to me that these goals could be facilitated by the right organization and undermined by the wrong kind. Some members are wondering if we, in fact, have the "wrong" kind right now. Others believe that the structure is sound; it just needs adjustments. What needs to be changed to turn Subud into one that best supports and spreads the latihan--better than now? To me, that's the purpose of all this talk--to figure out whether we can change Subud from within, or whether we will have to form a new vehicle. It's worth spending the time talking to sort it all through. Although we all know that eventually the time will be right for action, one way or another.

Helissa


From Sjahari Hollands, October 11, 2008. Time 15:19

Sahlan,

I realize that you would not set up a new organization with its stated goal to have having endless meetings and useless testing sessions. What I am saying is that despite the best intentions that is where it would go. It is the natural tendency of human activity to do that. We are no different from other human organizations in this regard.

If there was a valued action taking place which the organization was not supportive of -- then i would agree -- either change the organizational structure or develop a new one.

But I disagree that developing a new organizational structure will encourage or trigger or be a catalyst for new innovative activity. I have never seen that happen in any organization. I have only ever seen new innovative action happen as a result of inspired innovative people doing it. ANd they just do it. They dont worry about whether or not there is a structure to support it.

For the most part structure simply blocks action. And what we need now is action. Not structure.

Once action starts to happen then we will see how the structure responds to that. Will the "powers that be" step in to suppress? Or will there be support? Then there will be something real to talk about and work on. Right now it is all theory.

Sjahari


From Sahlan Diver, October 11, 2008. Time 16:2

Sjahari

I think it is fairly obvious that noone would advertise a new organisation as, to quote yourself, "with its stated goal to have having endless meetings and useless testing sessions". Obviously I realised that wasn't your suggestion. I was objecting to your circular argument that no organisation can ever be effective, therefore any new organisation formed could not possibly be effective.

Regarding meetings, one of the reasons we have too many long meetings in Subud is because in the main we can't conceive of any productive means of discussion other than travelling long distances to sit round in a big pow-wow and everyone throw in their 'receiving of the moment' without any proper research or preparation. If a new organisation made a simple rule that proposals for discussion had to undergo a preliminary period where the idea was up for discussion by email, that preliminary discussion could do much to firm up the idea, and indeed discard it if it appeared it was not going to get enough support or interest. So this is an example of a rule being helpful, not a hindrance - the rule doesn't say you can't discuss something or you can't have a meeting, it just acts to reduce the abuse of people's time by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the discussion process. In fact that's the way Subud Vision works, we have never held a meeting, not even by telephone conference call - everything is done by emailed discussion. Also, to my knowledge none of the editors have ever tested anything about Subud Vision, its aims, or their involvment in it. Yet we have created an extensive web site, which has had getting on for 10,000 article readings, published a book and organised many ancillary activities, all in just one year. And, by mutual consent, we do have some simple but lightweight rules to constrain the behaviour of the editors and prevent them acting in a way that might damage the collective initiative. These rules have occasionally been invoked on individual editors, including on myself.

You are making an automatic assumption that all "action" in Subud will be good. It is a given for you that if the "powers that be" step in they will be unfairly "suppressing" something. But what about an action that is not good? Should they then not step in? Authorities can be "authoritarian", but they can also act in our collective interest. You might say that we don't need an authority to do this, we can take care of it by ourselves, but how would this work in practise? If I as an individual see an action which I believe is wrong or inappropriate, how do I then act? I wouldn't know for example whether others agree with my disquiet or not. Suppose it is beyond my power or ability to act. Who will then act on my behalf? Suppose the thing I want to complain about is happening in Subud on another continent, who do I appeal to? In fact I probgably wouldn't bother to do anything about the problem. Seems to me your freedom of individual inspiration idea is just an idealistic recipe, the main weakness of which is that it has no concrete plan that can be put into effect now, but relies entirely on an act of faith in an unproven theory that in the future a significant number of individuals will spring up as shining lights all acting independently, but nevertheless in concert with each other,

Sahlan


From marcus Bolt, October 11, 2008. Time 16:7

HI
Fascinating and well-argued stuff, y'all. Really made me think 'What do I really think?' Then it hits home. I have no bitch with the organisation of Subud per se. Sure it's archaic, no doubt picked up in Bapak's first job with the Dutch East India Railroad, but its employed by many associations and groups worldwide. At least in Subud it's 'all change' every 2 years (national) and every four (international) thereby avoiding 'power centres' (hmmm... except the same old people waltz around from job to job... but if that's their bag...)

No, my bitch is really centred on how we handle enquirers/applicants, call them what you will.

I just think things would work out better (avoiding the accusation of cult etc) if 'helpers' (what a misnoma) didn't map past experience on new... didn't talk about 'worship of Almighty God', stress the importance of Bapak's talks as an essential part of the process and so on.

How much better if they said, 'Subud lead me, personally, to an understanding of God... but that's a private matter and it may be entirely different for you...' and 'I personally get a lot out of Bapak's talks, but many don't bother to read them and you needn't... it's not an essential...'

More and more I pick out from the talks (yep - I read 'em and love 'em... horrible warts and all - Bapak had zero concept of Astro Physics, for example!) 'Don't copy me, don't try to be like me... find your own individuality... ' and after 40 years (my 40th anniversary was on the 9th Oct 2008) I realise that's all that matters to me and where I've been heading for some time. Thanks to SubudVision for helping me concretise the concept.

So, from now on in articles and books and chats with enquirers, I'm just gonna say, 'Ignore what everyone tells you, that includes Bapak and all the helpers - and me. Just do it regularly... it seems to work but there's no knowing what's going to transpire for you personally, but for what it's worth, it seems totally benign to me so far and I feel better for having done it. Now it's up to you, mate.'


From sjahari, October 11, 2008. Time 16:40

Sahlan

You say that I am engaged in

"an act of faith in an unproven theory that in the future a significant number of individuals will spring up as shining lights all acting independently, but nevertheless in concert with each other,"

I actually thought that is what the whole thing was about ----- exactly this.

Sounds like I got it terribly wrong.

sjahari


From Philip Quackenbush, October 11, 2008. Time 17:55

Hi, Sahlan, Marcus, Helissa, Sjahari, et al

I envision a minimal (minimist? mist or fog?) organization in which the only basic function is where and when to have "latihan". Applicants could talk to anyone they preferred and be "opened" whenever they felt ready (I've found that that's usually when they have a sufficient understanding of what they're getting in to, i.e., how the organization works and how the "latihan" may affect their lives).

There would be no necessity for a building or buildings except for an office to coordinate local and/or regional to international venues and "members", if and when it got that far. The Chinese having been doing various types of qigong, including zi ran, which is indistinguishable, IMO, both outwardly and "inwardly" from the "latihan", for centuries, if not millenia, both indoors and outdoors, but mainly outdoors (for greater freedom and connection with What Is, the vast majority of What Is not being other people; if you've never done "latihan" outdoors, it's a "revelation"), so a building can be used, but is not necessary except for those that want it.

There would be no mention, even, of "progress in the latihan" or available literature unless people requested it. "Testing" would only occur under conditions of mutual assent.

Is that a simple enough structure? Any reasons why it wouldn't work? Yeah, I know: most people want complexity to feel like they're alive and "doing something", or "doing something" complex to feel that they're alive.

Peace, Philip


From Bronte, October 12, 2008. Time 3:41

If no one talks, no one makes changes.
And life is always changing, renewing, ending.
Subud, the organisation, is full of people who are renewing, changing, and of some who are stagnating.

There needs to be a place where people can examine their thoughts and feelings, in relation to others, to grow in their appreciation, or otherwise, of Subud.
Once there was a Subud Chronicle, which contained interesting things about Subud which were very current. Lots of Bapak talks too, if I recall. The publications now may not be adequate for exchanging peoples' ideas about Subud, and this Subud Vision site gave me, and others, a chance to broaden my viewpoint about Subud and the organisation called Subud.
I hope it continues for a long time.
At least here we identify each other as people when we analyse and criticise. Unlike the anti-Subud site where it is a free for all, that has allowed even wilder contrasts in expression of understanding and misunderstanding of Subud.

Roll on the arguments and discussions.
As long as Subud people keep some sort of contact with each other there may be benefit to each other and the world.

Can we ask for more?

There are some beautiful experience had because of Subud, and some nasty ones.
I hope there will always be a way to relate these things.

The formal organisation is not the point of Subud at all.


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