Subud Vision - Feedback

Stefan Freedman - Handling Hot Issues

Why we shouldn't categorise. From Sahlan Diver, July 8, 2007. Time 23:30


While applauding most of what you say in this article, there is one passage where I must take issue with you, and that is your categorisation of "conservers" and "progressives". In fact I would say that categorising, as practised by many Subud members, is a fundamental cause of the problems the rest of your article correctly tries to address.

An example. If I compare my opinions against some of my fellow Subud Vision editors I would say that, regarding the kejiwaan side of Subud, I am a conserver. I don't agree, for example, with the idea that we would be better off without the helper system. On the other hand when it comes to ideas on revamping our organisational structures I am very much the progressive. So how would we categorise our editors? Who are the progressives and who are the conservers among us? The answer is that this is the wrong question: thinking people are not conservers or progressives per se - they may take either a conservative or a progressive position, dependng on the issue. The correct process is that one aims to try to reach the right conclusion, regardless of whether it happens to be a conservative or progessive one.

Your categorisation, although, I believe, wrong, is well-intended and therefore not detrimental. A more insidious categorisation occurs when Subud members shut themselves away from considering any proposition that might be to Subud's benefit on the grounds that a criticiser is just someone "who is going through something" or, as a long-time Subud member recently stated to me in an email, "any criticiser of Subud must in reality only be dealing with their own personal issues"

Ironic isn't it that Subud members exhibit all these wonderful feeling towards each other at gatherings, make big speeches about the importance of harmony, and so on, yet when it comes down to the basic reality of harmony, which must be founded on respect for the other person and what they have to say, we seem to be particularly clueless. In fact, by categorising anyone with a critical opinion as just showing a lack of spiritual development we are exhibiting all the self-satisfied righteousness of the worst kind of religious zealot. Who said Subud wasn't like a religion?

From stefan freedman, July 11, 2007. Time 8:45

Thanks for responding, Sahlan.

If I was pigeonholing people then I fell into the trap of generalisation, and am glad to be corrected! Like you, I find myself in both "conserver" and "progressive" roles on different Subud matters. There's so much about Subud that I delight in and treasure, as well as things that I perceive as "stuck".

In inviting Subud people to discuss things openly I was aiming to add one heartfelt request: that whether protecting what we value or advocating change on any particular issue we listen to each other with empathy and keep sight of our common ground. We all treasure the latihan.

The discouraging instances you mention are not rare, and show how easy it is for a person identifying with the status quo to "put down" a person who is suggesting improvements. This applies in many organisations and stifles feedback. What's lacking here is respect! Respect fosters feedback and dialogue so that hot issues can be addressed, rather than avoided.

Add Feedback to this page / Communicate with us

Use the form below to

Your Details

Your name:


(Only needed if sending a feedback contribution for which you require anonymous publication)

Your email address:

not published


Please type the security code in the picture


Send Message

Please type your message below (message not needed if requesting password, or requesting addition to or removal from feedback notification)

Length restriction: Feedback is limited to 80 lines of text, which should be enough to make a point.

If you need extra space to make more than one point, please send a separate feedback item for each point.

After clicking once on the button to send your feedback, please be patient. It may take several seconds for your feedback to be registered. A new page with an acknowledgement message will appear as soon as the feedback process has been completed.

Password Reminder

If you have forgotten your password, fill in the email address above that you used last time and and press the button below:

Complain about a posting

If you are unhappy with content of any posting on this page and wish to complain to the editors, write your complaint in the message box above and press the button below:

Request or Decline Email notifications

If you wish to receive instant email notification of any change to this page, enter your email address and chosen password above and press the button below:

If you wish to stop receiving instant email notification of any change to this page, enter your email address and chosen password above and press the button below:

Problems filling in the form? To get help, please email