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Sahlan Diver - Blueprint for Change

A Response about "Leakag". From Helissa Penwell, July 30, 2007. Time 3:20

Sahlan,

This is in response to your section on "leakage".

Once when our family was discussing why members don't come to group latihan, my daughter, Reine, suggested this metaphor. She said, "It's like when you belong to a gym, you're a member, you know that if you went you would benefit, but you somehow just never make it because it's difficult to find the time and it's hard to come up with the energy to get yourself there. It's just easier to try and get some exercise in at home." By contrast, my husband, Mark, loves to go workout and is happy to have a special time and place where he can meet up with his workout-buddies, exercise, and socialize. He's a "regular", and he gets fidgety when he has to miss. On the other hand, I love my solo power-walks every morning. They're a time I can enjoy being within myself—to contemplate ideas and to receive Guidance while I enjoy the outdoors. Going to the gym is an unpleasant hassle to me.

People have different styles for most of the things we do in life. Why should our approach to doing latihan be any different? Some members enjoy regularly scheduled group latihans, some find those difficult to attend, and some prefer to experience their latihans alone. That seems perfectly normal to me. So why do the people who do group latihan always say that the other types have left Subud and delete their names off the membership lists? Just because someone doesn't come to the Subud house doesn't mean that they don't do latihan, and, to me, if someone does latihan, then they are Subud. We have no idea how many thousands of members are out there doing their latihans alone or with a few family or friends. I don't find that sad or think that they have all "left Subud". Anytime anyone gets opened and has the latihan to help their life is a plus, and I can accept their personal preference about when and where they want to experience it. Indeed, if we look at how it has gone so far, it looks like most people would rather do latihan on their own, and that it is only the minority of members who prefer to come to regularly scheduled group latihans year after year. Maybe that's just fine. If the solo latihan members can feel our acceptance of their choices, then we might be able to keep some kind of connection going with them, and they would be more likely to reconnect with us at times when they need some extra support, or if they decided at another point in their lives that having their latihan with other members is something they'd enjoy after all. It would benefit everyone involved if we changed our attitude to be more inclusive concerning who is Subud.

Helissa

From Sahlan Diver, July 30, 2007. Time 20:47

Helissa,

My section on leakage was assuming a clear distinction between those still practising the latihan and those who had really "left Subud" in the sense that not only did they not come to the group anymore but also neither were they practising the latihan privately. I am guessing that Edward Baker in his "Answers on a Postcard" article that I refer to probably also had a similar distinction in mind.

You are reminding us of another type of person who has to be taken into account. Agreed, there are many who through reasons of family circumstances, ill-health, inconvenient group latihan times, lack of funds to travel to latihan, temporary crisis, because they can't get on with the people at the group, or for whatever other reason, cirumstantial or personal, are nevertheless practising the latihan diligently at home, maybe also with a friend or friends. My opinion is that there is no justification for marking these people down as having left Subud simply because they don't turn up for group latihans. However, it also has to be said that some of these people ask to be removed from group lists because they themselves no longer wish to be considered as Subud members, even though they are happy to go on practising the latihan in private. From a survey point of view these are an important third grouping whose opinions we should seek out - what is it that has made Subud as an organisation so intolerable that they no longer wish to be associated with it even though they still value the latihan?

You suggest that most people would prefer not to do latihan with a group. I don't believe that this is a cut and dried preference, because, in my experience, most people would say that the latihan is stronger and deeper when done with others, preferably with as many as possible. Therefore although they might prefer for any number of reasons not to do latihan at the group, they will still go because of the overriding benefit they feel of the larger latihan.

Finally, I fully agree with you that there should be connectedness and support between people doing the latihan, that does not actively exclude non-attenders at group latihan.

From Michael Irwin, August 2, 2007. Time 6:18

Hi Helissa and Sahlan,

I am particularly taken with this quote from Reine: "It's like when you belong to a gym, you're a member, you know that if you went you would benefit, but you somehow just never make it because it's difficult to find the time and it's hard to come up with the energy to get yourself there. It's just easier to try and get some exercise in at home.”

To dream a little, I see my ideal Subud organization more and more like a chain of drop-in gyms. Latihans would be as continuously available and as geographically convenient as possible. I would not be a member of a group for latihan purposes, but I would probably like to work on a committee that ran and developed such facilities or a facility.

I would go to latihan gym because I had positive feedback from doing latihan in a convenient, suitable and neutral place, something I do not have at home because of children, architecture, neighbourhood or in-laws. That positive feedback is all-important. When I lived near a good latihan facility I didn’t realize how hard it would be to maintain the discipline of regularity that I consider vital to maintaining spiritual fitness. The reasons for not bothering with latihan in today’s world are manifold. While it may not apply to everyone all the time, I think that Bapak’s cultivation of the idea that the organization and the latihan complemented and needed each other is correct for most people most of the time especially for an exercise where teachers are absent and not relied upon to provide the habit of attending ‘class’. Because the latihan is life-long, maintaining a habit of doing it is very important to get through the dry spells when positive feedback may be weak. So for me, contrary to Reine’s view, having a convenient facility apart from my house would make attending easier for the reasons above and because, unlike a gruelling gym for the body, the latihan is a rewarding experience in itself most of the time.

Helissa asks: “So why do the people who do group latihan always say that the other types have left Subud and delete their names off the membership lists?” I think the reason is largely traditional habit. Until very recently I found that nobody was asking about what purpose membership is supposed to serve and why it was automatic upon being opened. Now the idea of separating out the congregation of the opened from those who want to be active in the organizational support of that congregation is emerging. Tradition produced rules like bylaws that counted heads and current attendance that added up to numbers that were duly counted for the purposes of democratic representation, budget, etc. There are other ways of serving those needs. If you think of the organization as serving customers, then counting attendance makes sense in serving these purposes rather than counting individuals attending latihan.

Helissa writes: “It would benefit everyone involved if we changed our attitude to be more inclusive concerning who is Subud.” The question is how. David Week has suggested a university model that I think works. What matters is that all comers are welcome at the latihan gym but that any opened people with common interests apart from the actual exercise can form special interest groups (SIGs) within the Subud community of the opened. Like SDIA, a bowling club or a Bapak Book Club, as spin off organizations these SIGs would be entirely self governing and not dependent upon any single group or Subud house but they might make use of the facilities – or not.

These are some of the factors that are being discussed on “Design the Ideal Subud Group” on the “Projects” button on the main page of this website.

From Stefan, January 3, 2008. Time 19:6

Hi Sahlan and Helissa,

I like Helissa's point. A friend of mine who was opened some years ago said she wanted to be opened but not to become "a member". I respected her for exercising this unusual option. She attends a group latihan periodically and an occasional social, says she gets an enormous lift and release from latihan, and values the fact that her group are welcoming and don't put any pressure on her. She has been the source for at least one mutual friend becoming an applicant.

Let's examine two criticisms:

<>"If everyone did this, we wouldn't be able to hold regular group meetings"

Maybe, but every healthy group has it's rocks (who keep the structure solid)and it's rivers (who meander, but are often more likely to network with others outside of the group). Both have their value, whereas a homogenous group can be very dull.

<>"To make spiritual progress you need to do latihan regularly".

If you feel this applies to you I believe you, but each person is completely free to discover for themself the appropriate level of engagement with latihan and also with committee or helper work at a given time in their life. Instead of pronouncements and judgements which drive people away, all latihaners need respect for their autonomy.

Stefan

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