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Sahlan Diver - Outside View

Extend questioning to founder's stories?. From Philip Quackenbush, April 13, 2011. Time 23:43

Hi, Sahlan,

Point well taken. But, by extension, the stories that the founder of the cult tells in his lectures should be thought about, too, and questioned, despite being given the imprimatur of the current "High Receiver". I'm reminded, in this context of the excusing of Icksan Ahmed, who, according to the founder's own words, was either a boxer who killed oponent(s) in the ring or was a murderer, or both, and who, for a while, was his translator, if I remember correctly. I forget what the excuse was, but the fabulous nature of it was clearly pandering to the gullible (of whom I often was guilty of myself). Too bad that he's not available any more to question those fables, including the ones that actually got published in a book about "Jesus". Oh, well. Enjoy.

Peace, Philip


From Sahlan Diver, April 14, 2011. Time 12:56

Yes Philip, I myself was guilty of accepting too much in the talks as being divine truth. The purpose of my article was to suggest that people ought to examine more critically these Subud 'explanations', whether from Bapak, or from the various sources of Subud mythology,

Sahlan


SUBUD AND THE LATIHAN.. From DAS., September 16, 2011. Time 2:18

I DONT TYPE,APOLOGIES FOR CAPS ETC.AH RYAN,WHAT CAN I SAY?
I WISH YOU WELL BUT I FEEL SAD THAT YOU RECEIVED NOTHING IN
ALL THAT TIME.YOU HAVE PASSED UP THE GREATEST GIFT TO ALL OF
MANKIND SINCE THE BIRTH OF CHRIST.IM WONDERING IF YOU AS AN EX MEMBER, WOULD CARE TO EXPLAIN TO ANY SITE READERS,HOW THE
CHAIN REACTION OPENING IS POSSIBLE.IS EVERY NEWCOMER JUST
IMAGINING THINGS OR DO YOU SAY THEY HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO
A MILD FORM OF BRAINWASHING?.I HAVE BEEN IN SUBUD SINCE 1967
AND I CAN ASSURE YOU THAT MY OPENING ALTHOUGH UNCOMFORTABLE
WAS SO AMAZING AND POSITIVE,THAT I WILL NEVER EVER FORGET IT
THEN WE COME ONTO THE SUBJECT OF TESTING.HAVE YOU NEVER HAD
A RECEIVING WHICH SAID YES,BUT ALL YOUR HEART AND MIND SAID
NO,AND YOU THEN FOUND THE RECEIVING TO BE CORRECT? NEXT WHAT
ABOUT HEALTH AND THE EMOTIONS..DID YOU FIND NO CHANGE AT ALL
LIKE I SAID BEFORE..IM SAD FOR YOU,& ITS PROBABLY NOT YOUR
PATH.I HOPE YOU FIND ANOTHER.I STILL FIND IT PUZZLING THOUGH
YOUR DISTORTED REFERENCES IN SOME PLACES..IE:-TRANCE etc,I
MEAN COME ON,DO YOU EXPECT ANY READERS TO BELIEVE YOU WENT
TO THE LATIHAN FOR YEARS JUST TO CHECK OUT WHAT YOUR NEXT
TRANCE WOULD BE LIKE? REGARDS, DAS .


the Subud fantasy. From Merin Nielsen, December 1, 2011. Time 0:4

Hi, Sahlan,

At the age of nineteen, when I joined Subud, I was naively unaware that, as you say, one thing commonplace among cults is a belief in being specially prepared to be at the centre of some newly foreshadowed spiritual golden age. I guess that such facts from sociology aren't the sort of wisdom that normally gets imparted to students at school, but maybe it would help a few people to examine how the world of spirituality looks from a broader perspective. It sure would have helped me.

Some members of Subud certainly still believe that it is 'intended' to be a guiding light, or at least a steadying influence, in some new spiritual age, and that its members ought to be prepared to take on that responsibility. Thus, it does appear that they're kidding themselves by allowing enthusiasm for their spiritual movement to slip into a self-aggrandising fantasy. This inevitably percolates into the Subud community culture, potentially infecting other members' attitudes with a widespread delusion of conceit. It could be therapeutic if this topic were openly discussed at Subud get togethers such as congresses.

Regards, Merin


the Arcadian fantasy. From Merin Nielsen, December 1, 2011. Time 1:16

Hi, Sahlan,

I'd forgotten about this article from 2 years ago, which fleshes out the phenomenon more thoroughly - the tendency of people in spiritual movements like Subud to embrace delusions of grandeur. You've described it well, and I'm even surer that it would be useful for Subud members to confront this topic at some occasion like a national congress.

Cheers, Merin


From Philip Quackenbush, December 1, 2011. Time 5:15

Good idea, Merin,

I, too, had forgotten about the article and my more recent reply to it, but I think that the ALL CAPS (something best used only to emphasize a point, not put a weak argument or lack of one on display in larger typeface) reply to it and the nature of many of the "helpers" groups to be "top dogs" that still consider themselves to be "Bapak's helpers" (remember that he pointed out that that referred to his inability to be everywhere at once to "open" members or "explain" the "latihan" to them [from their own experiences, preferably][and ONLY that, in my opinion]) instead of thinking for themselves or "receiving" with little or no influence from his stated opinions are likely to work against any substantial opportunity to bring up such a discussion to the general membership with useful results.

As David Week noted in a post on this or some other website, only after the "Old Guard" leaves the planet is any substantial reform of Subud likely to take place. By substantial reform, I would say that it would be a major change in the structure of the organization that would put the members on an equal footing instead of the often actual assumed superiority of the "helpers" to carry out the business of the organization by "testing" {for example), something I regard as the likely resulting from the failing mental health of the founder or his attitude that the "latihan" could solve everything when he introduced the practice at a national congress I attended. Enjoy.

Peace, Philip


the Subud fantasy. From Merin Nielsen, December 3, 2011. Time 22:35

Hi, Sahlan,

As you say in this article, one thing commonplace among cults is a belief in being specially prepared to be at the centre of some newly foreshadowed spiritual golden age. When I joined Subud as a teenager, I was naively unaware of this. I guess that such truths from sociology aren't the sort of wisdom normally imparted to school students, but maybe it would help some people to examine how the world of spirituality looks from a broader perspective.

Many members of Subud still believe it is 'intended' to be a guiding light, or at least a steadying influence, in some new spiritual age, and that its members ought to be prepared to take on that responsibility. Thus, it does appear that they're kidding themselves by letting enthusiasm for their own spiritual movement to slip into a self-aggrandising fantasy. This inevitably percolates into the Subud community culture, infecting other members' attitudes with a subtle but widespread delusion of conceit. It could be therapeutic if this topic were openly discussed at Subud get togethers.

Regards, Merin


Bei Dawei replies. From Bei Dawei, February 26, 2012. Time 0:21

Thank you, Sahlan, for your kind review! I am gratified to learn that so many people are interested in my paper, which I am in the process of revising for publication (and yes, it does need revising for various reasons, some of which you have pointed out).

Scholars of religion sometimes distinguish between "etic" and "etic" viewpoints (from what we might call "outsiders" and "insiders," respectively). The trouble is, as one of my professors liked to put it, "All God's chillun are emic"--that is to say, nobody is really neutral or disinterested, we are all affected by our backgrounds. Of course, as a practical matter, there are degrees of objectivity. While I do try to be fair, I assure you that can be as crotchety and opinionated as any Ayatollah, and rely on the gentle correction of (or occasionally, humiliation by) my colleagues and / or the targets of my diatribes! Regardless of my personal motives (among which the hope of academic promotion figures prominently, also the opportunity to sample Baha'i cooking), the main thing is whether I've gotten my facts right (not 100 percent in this case, I see), and whether I have missed anything (oh yes I have). Anyway, the published version should represent a slight improvement, thanks in part to your insights.

Incidentally, most such scholars avoid using the word "cult," since the definition of a cult seems to boil down to (as Gordon Melton puts it) "a religion I don't like." (Contributors to the Cultic Studies Journal presumably disagree.) For my part, I do sometimes use the c-word (often in jest), but mainly for really awful groups like Scientology. As a practical matter, I would place the Baha'is about even with the (LDS) Mormons on the scale of cultitude. While one might live a happy, fulfilling life in either religion, they share a tradition of authority / obedience to a hierarchy which liberal adherents often find stifling. You wonder if the Baha'i religion is "oppressive"--since it does not control any governments, this cannot be true in any strict sense; instead, the major issue is internal religious governance (which has indeed changed over the decades, much to the frustration of liberals).

On the population issue, Subud sources seem to claim about ten thousand members. Even if there is high turnover, their numbers seem plausible, considering that a significant proportion of that attends your global congresses. (Right?) This is in contrast to the Baha'i situation, in which the official statistics often seem like fantasy when compared to identifiable Baha'i activity "on the ground."

On the issue of negativity, I see self-criticism as a good thing, and admire groups that are able to cultivate a tradition of this. Of the various criticisms found in Subud Vision, a number reflect issues faced by many religions, and a few virtually demand some sort of investigation. Anyway, on the whole they are reasonably presented--you are not just ranting. I have not found anything like this from official sources. If I have passed them over, it is not so much because of concerns about reliability as vacuity (i.e., they simply do not address the range of issues and perspectives that Subud Vision does).

On the future--in view of peak oil, global warming, and population growth (among other issues), we may be living in the Golden Age right now. Really, we are lucky to have enough food, and to enjoy such historically-impressive life expectancies. (Not everyone around us is so lucky.) In any case, I expect human nature to remain constant regardless, so good luck creating paradise with people like me in it!


From Sahlan Diver, February 26, 2012. Time 9:29

Dawei,

Just to be clear, in referring to the Bahai's as "oppressive" I was indeed speculating whether they were so internally -- I didn't mean in the external sense.

Isn't vacuity just an alternative propaganda method to outright lying? You can't say that Subud is completely vacuous, because there are plenty of statements on Subud sites either directly quoting the founder, or providing enthusiastic resumes of what Subud is supposed to be. The vacuousness is the add-on to that, motivated by a fear of applying any kind of metric to our founding principles or to our level of achievement. I find it ironic that Subud people are generally bad at promoting Subud because of the founder inculcating a fear of propaganda that has resulted in a lack of development of external communication skills, yet they are well practised in the known techniques of political propaganda, uniform utterance, discouragement of public dissent.

Regarding creating paradise, I like to think that our founder had quite a simple plan for that, encouraging individual effort and development through enterprise and culture, but with the essential proviso that this should be in tandem with charitable work, to raise up others less fortunately placed than oursleves - hence the idea of enterprises donating 25% of profit (after provision for reserves) to genunine charitable projects. Unfortunatley, as you say, human nature, remains the same - this wasn't "spiritual" enough for most members - it wasn't enough about "me, me, me". People want to feel spiritual, feel special, they want Subud to be recognised as special, Subud enterprise to shine out as special, SICA (Subud culture) to shine out as special. Everyone should join our special Subud club,

Regards,

Sahlan


From Philip Quackenbush, February 26, 2012. Time 9:58

Ah, so,

My best friend in high school became a devoted Baha'i follower and I have had some contact with other Baha'i's since, so I can sympathize with their plight somewhat as a persecuted religion (in Iran, mainly, as I recall) as opposed to Subud as a religion that's largely ignored or insignificant to a large extent in the affairs of the world, despite having numbered among its members and contacts a past Secretary General of the UN and the current President of the US (who supposedly attended a school with Subud teachers in Indonesia) as well as several well-known Hollywood personalities. If religions are seen as successful cults, then Subud can't really be called a successful one unless one looks at the universe in terms of quantities and qualities of energy that compose its totality, in which case any cult may claim "superior" energy , but, as "Jesus" is reported to have said, "By their fruits shall you know them", and the historical record of both successful and unsuccessful cults seems to be rather dismal upon looking carefully at their records. So, in my opinion, it's probably best to not depend on what they say, but only on what they do or have done. In that respect, the Baha'i's locally have taken care of the children during services at the interfaith church that I've attended sporadically, whether the services are presented by Witches or Sufis or Baha'i's or some obscure Japanese sect or what have you, which I find commendable, whereas the only local manifestation of such tolerance in Subud is the rental of the Subud house to groups ranging from Bible-thumping Christians to Pagan Subud members, Jewish weddings more likely to occur at the nearby temple. And so it goes..Life is a trip, init. Enjoy.

Peace, Philip


From Sahlan Diver, March 18, 2012. Time 0:33

Some of the earlier messages on this page seem relevant to a different article. Apologies for the mix up.


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