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Sjahari Hollands - Do We Really Need a New Explanation of the Latihan?

Time to use our own words to describe what we experience and do. From Andrew Hall, December 12, 2007. Time 16:42

Hi Sjahari,

About your core points about the latihan:

I think one of the first core assumptions or statements needs to be that "the Subud latihan is a spiritual practice that is accessible to ordinary people, is normally practiced in a group setting (where practical) twice a week and the latihan requires the ordinary person to exercise patience, sincerity and surrender."

I think your point 4 "Although there are many exceptions, in general the Subud Latihan can only begin in a person after it is passed to them during the latihan itself – i.e. at the opening" in a way contradicts the previous points about the universality of the latihan and suggest instead "In Subud, we formalize the initiation of new members into the latihan through a simple ceremony called an "opening".

Point 5 "Something happens in the opening whereby the latihan somehow begins spontaneously within the person who is desiring it." I prefer something like "each person's subjective experience of the latihan varies widely, this can range from very subtle to very dramatic, and this experience can and often does change over time."

Points 6 & 7 - I think it is OK to say "the founder of Subud was a Javanese Muslim who believed that the latihan led to the wakening of the human jiwa or soul, and freed the jiwa from entanglement with the material and other forces in this plane of existence."

When you say "the soul is being awakened in an action mediated by a higher creative power", while Bapak might agree with this, I would prefer something more neutral, something like "Many Subud members do not share the culturally-specific language and explanation of the founder. It is important to recognize that the action of the latihan on the individual can occur on many levels, some of which we may not be fully or even partially conscious of. When we talk about the need to surrender, this implies surrender to something, some kind of higher power, whether you imagine this to be inside or outside of your normal self. When you open yourself to this higher power, changes can result in many areas of yourself and your life."

I hope these comments are helpful. I'm not sure how fully my suggestions accord with Bapak's explanations (or anybody else's). I am sorry that I feel the need to say this, but I don't really care what Bapak said.

Too often when I sit down with Subud brothers, the conversation is limited to and revolves around what Bapak said about something, and not on our own experiences.

I'm not sure if this is from lack of confidence or nostalgia for a time when Bapak was travelling and giving talks and people eagerly awaited his latest words. Subud people then didn't have to make sense of their own experiences, Bapak was telling them what was important!

I feel it is time to take responsibility for our latihan and use our own words to describe what we experience and do.

All the best, and welcome to Subudvision!!

Andrew Hall

Ottawa, Canada

From Philip Quackenbush, December 14, 2007. Time 20:45

Hi, Andrew,

You said:

> I think one of the first core assumptions or statements needs to be that "the Subud latihan is a spiritual practice that is accessible to ordinary people, is normally practiced in a group setting (where practical) twice a week and the latihan requires the ordinary person to exercise patience, sincerity and surrender."

It seems to be a core assumption, all right, but I'm still waiting for some scientific studies to be done on what the "latihan" is (which may not happen in my lifetime, given the reluctance of so many members to be subjected to such examination). The assumption that it's spiritual is that, and only that, based on acceptance of what the founder said, or the applicant assuming he or she is entering a "spiritual" organization. The attitude of surrender may actually be a function of evolutionary adaptation to the need to surrender to a leader of a pack for survival. I've found in my own "latihan" that there doesn't have to be surrender to anything, it's simply an internal attitude, like turning a light switch on (or perhaps off, in this case, turning off the dominance of the "mind and heart", or the chattering "monkey mind", as the Hindus would have it, and the ego-based emotions so that other neurological functions, ordinarily suppressed, can come to the fore).

> I think your point 4 "Although there are many exceptions, in general the Subud Latihan can only begin in a person after it is passed to them during the latihan itself – i.e. at the opening" in a way contradicts the previous points about the universality of the latihan and suggest instead "In Subud, we formalize the initiation of new members into the latihan through a simple ceremony called an "opening".

Agree. I recall a guy in San Francisco that was on the local membership rolls because he just walked into the "latihan" one night, liked it, and kept "doing" it for many years, but was never formally "opened" or put on the official rolls at the national level, as far as I know. It's just a ceremony. Again, what needs to be done is scientific testing of what happens during the "opening". IMO at this point, it's probably some sort of field induction phenomenon that usually (but not always, if the other(s) involved have a resonance field that is "strong" enough to override obstacles to its being "received") requires the surrender or obsequiousness of the person being "opened."

> I feel it is time to take responsibility for our latihan and use our own words to describe what we experience and do.

I'm in total agreement with that. Long past time.

Peace, Philip

From Andrew Hall, December 16, 2007. Time 15:22

Hi Phillipe,

If I were to say that prayer or meditation is a "spiritual practice", I wonder if this is confusing and too vague for some? I locate myself within a cultural context that is comfortable with the term spiritual practice but it is probably worthwhile to explore what the common assumptions might be around this term.

I guess my assumptions are that someone following a spiritual practice is asking "Is there anything more?" or "Am I missing something?" and perhaps is seeking union with an ideal through devotion (the yogic term is bakshi). I think the minimum requirement (another assumption) is that there has to be intent and stating your intent is a good idea. Not that stating your intent is the practice, but that stating your intent beforehand can guide your practice.

One of the things I notice about Bapak's teaching about prayer is that he says to state your intent before praying, then begin to pray.

For instance, suppose Subud members during the quiet time before latihan were to state their intent silently, maybe something like "I am preparing for latihan and wish to surrender and merge with the Power of the Universe and all Creation", I wonder if they would come to feel differently about their latihan?

Would trying this be what you call scientific? To me, science means being able to produce the same results when an experiment is repeated by someone else. I'm not sure that this type of rigour is possible in a spiritual practice. How do we define results? What we felt or thought we felt?

It does not mean a spiritual practice is not real. It is very real to me. And one of my cautions about Subudvision talk is that I sometimes would like people to acknowledge that the latihan is a real experience. I think it can be very profound if that is what we want and seek.

Best regards,

Andrew Hall

Ottawa, Canada

From sjahari hollands, December 17, 2007. Time 0:42

The Core Assumptions Project

I would like to suggest that whoever might be interested work together to try and come up with a set of core assumptions or principles which taken together will be both sufficient and comprehensive to characterize and define what the latihan is.

The core assumptions that I have proposed are below along with additional comments that have been posted by Andrew and Phillip so far.

This represents the very beginnings of a discussion that would have to be carried more widely and more completely to have any validity.

I would propose that we look at these Core Assumptions one at a time, refine them, and then have some kind of consensus procedure to accept them or not.

What I put here is only the very beginnings of a discussion. I apologize in advance if I have misrepresented Andrew’s views here.

1.The latihan is not found only in Subud, nevertheless it is found in Subud.? -there seems to be agreement on this so far?

2. The latihan can be experienced by anyone anywhere and has existed in the world for all time.? -it would seem that there are a variety of views on this. No consensus so far.

3. The latihan is accessible to anyone who desires it, predictably, and on a daily or weekly basis, and in the midst of ordinary life.? -Andrew suggests adding in the requirement that it be done in a group and twice a week. I disagree. This is a recommendation about how best to do the latihan, but not a core principle that defines the latihan.

4. Although there are many exceptions, in general, the Subud Latihan can only begin in a person after it is passed to them during the latihan itself - i.e. at the opening.? -Andrew seems not in favour of this as a core principle. . . .not sure.

5. Something happens in the opening whereby the latihan somehow begins spontaneously within the person who is desiring it.

-Andrew disagreed with the wording of this, stating he wanted it tied to the person’s experience of the latihan. In my view however we have a core assumption that something is happening regardless of the person’s ability to feel it or experience it.

6. In the Subud latihan, we close our eyes and move spontaneously and follow the impulses that arise in us. However, just because someone closes their eyes and follows the impulses arising in them, they are not necessarily doing the latihan. In other words, there is an additional element at work within the Subud latihan. ? -Seems to be no objections to this one.

7. Whatever is happening in the latihan, its field of activity is towards something we call the soul of a human being. We understand and believe that the soul is being awakened in an action mediated by a higher creative power which somehow results in the movements that are being made.

- This causes a lot of disagreement. Many people believe we should not use the word soul, or refer to God. But there has been no adequate alternative presented. In my view the core assumption at the very basis of Subud is that the latihan is an action mediated by the Higher Power (God, Allah, Jahweh. . . .whatever the name is) and acts on the soul of the human being (the part in us which is connected to the creator and which is eternal). ?I dont believe it is ethically correct for us to present Subud as anything else.

Andrew suggests that amongst the core assumptions there should be a reference to what Bapak believed as the founder of Subud. I disagree with this. In my view the latihan is not in the world because of Bapak. It would have come anyway. Bapak was simply the conduit. It could have been someone from another culture (in which case we would have an entirely different set of cultural issues to deal with). The core assumptions are simply those elements we take to be true. . . . And this is not dependent on who it was who originally proposed the idea. ?

From Merin Nielsen, December 17, 2007. Time 2:43

Some critical responses to the above, numbered accordingly:

3. It appears that the latihan is not to accessible to absolutely anyone who desires it, since many people, who have tried it, claim to have experienced nothing.

5. It seems odd to assert that the latihan is causing something to happen (inside a person) regardless of the person's ability to experience it. You may say that I'm experiencing 'sadness', for example, but if I were, then surely I'd know it.

6. There could even be several additional elements.

7. Without some reasonable explanation of "something we call the soul of a human being", this assumption not very meaningful. The phrase "higher power" is also obscure - just what makes some power 'higher' than another? Could there be more than one higher power, and if so, why would the top power be concerned with us? You say there has been no adequate alternative presented, but I would note that THIS alternative (the one you are presenting) has extremely weak claims to adequacy. For one thing, surely every part of reality would be connected to reality's creator. Moreover, I find it counter-intuitive to suppose that any part of a human being is really eternal. (That's billions, no, trillions of gazillions of years!!)

I'm very doubtful that a consensus on any clear-cut set of Core Assumptions is attainable. I think it's more realistic to accept an indefinite plurality of opinions.

Best wishes,

Merin

From Bronte, December 17, 2007. Time 10:32

All this talk about what could be, might be, or should be said is a bit over the fence.

What matters is, "What do you say to others now?"

Unless someone writing here is a raw recruit to Subud, and really hasn't a clue about it, everyone must surely have had chances to explain Subd to someone, and probably many people, in their time.

So, What Did You Say On Those Occassions?

Tell us about them, please!

From Sahlan Diver, December 17, 2007. Time 10:45

Picking up on Merin's comment about a plurality of opinions, I have a problem with that. Imagine going to a car showroom to buy a make of car that you don't know anything about, then, when you ask the salesman the characteristics of the car he pulls out his order book and gives you the telephone number of all his customers to ring up to get their opinion. Sure, they will each have a different and valuable opinion, but you'd think there was something weird if the salesman couldn't also give you a basic description of the car . As Bronte asks, "what do we say now to new enquirers?" There is value in Sjahari's suggested project, I think.

From Merin Nielsen, December 17, 2007. Time 11:21

Each salesperson has their own way of describing a car, which will often depend on who is the potential buyer. A rev-head grease-ball will probably want to know about the likely performance and horsepower. A little old lady (forgive these stereotypes) will probably want to know about the safety features and warranty. A teenager will probably want to know about the sound system and fashion accessories. Likewise, a salesperson who is a rev-head will tend to be familiar with different features of the car than a salesperson who is a little old lady or one who is a teenager. They might well not even understand each others' terminology, even at its most basic. In fact, they would probably have quite different opinions about which features qualify as 'basic'.

BUT is there some underlying 'truth' about the car in each and every one of these respects, some truth that a well-informed individual of broad-background could unify? Perhaps - but then - would the grease loving rev-head or the cautious little old lady or the image-conscious teenager be able to recognise that this is so? On hearing one another's basic descriptions, they might well conclude that three different sorts of car are being discussed.

It might seem that I've taken this metaphor to ludicrous extremes, but the metaphor of selling cars is possibly extreme when applied to the topic at hand - how to objectively describe something that is deeply intimate, individual and private at heart, whose "inner picture" surely comprises a tapestry interwoven with the threads of one's cultural and very personal background and world-view.

From Sahlan Diver, December 17, 2007. Time 11:50

But at the car showroom the salesman will still be able to give you a manufacturer's leaflet describing the characteristics of the car, so what would our leaflet say about the characteristics (core assumptions?) regarding the latihan?

From Merin Nielsen, December 17, 2007. Time 12:28

At this point, I'm afraid, the metaphor fails, because various potential descriptions of the latihan are mutually alienating. It's as if the sales brochure were to devote, say, one page to the performance characteristics, another to the safety characteristics and another to the fashion characteristics. So far so good, but now we have to make the metaphor apply to this project of presenting some core description. Accordingly, we have to assume that any prospective buyer is allowed to see only one page of the brochure! Then depending on the type of person, were they to inspect one of the wrong pages, they would be put off, and go looking for another car.

Any standardised, core description of the latihan is bound to focus on some particular 'approach' to interpreting its primary characteristics. The metaphor fails because a manufacturer's brochure describing a car CAN easily maintain compatibility between its performance, safety and fashion specs; but a description of the latihan CANNOT readily maintain compatibility between, just for example, its many varieties of neuro-physiological interpretation, Abrahamic religious interpretation, neo-platonic animist interpretation, Mayan shamanistic interpretation, New-Age Rosicrucian interpretation, Aboriginal Dreamtime interpretation, Jungian psychological interpretation, Carribean voodoo interpretation, and Buddhist cosmological interpretation; to name but a few.

From Sahlan Diver, December 17, 2007. Time 12:58

Merin,

Probably the reason we are having this conversation now is that, before Subud Vision, and before this issue was discussed on other web sites, we were mostly happy to give an explanation of the latihan that was based on Bapak's own terminology, which we now recognise was heavily influenced by his religious and cultural background. We want to move away from that, but isn't there a danger that we will go from one extreme to the other - i.e. from a fixed explanation to no explanation at all? We do need something sufficiently clear and sufficiently general purpose to refer to. If we are too vague, it might appear to outsiders that we are being deliberately evasive, that we are trying to hide something,

Sahlan

From Andrew Hall, December 17, 2007. Time 20:3

Good to see people adding their take on these issues.

First, to Bronte's request about how I explain Subud to non-members. I describe it as "a type of meditation that to an outside observer appears similar to spontaneous chi-kung, people with their eyes closed (or not), walking around (or not) vocalizing (or not), and making various physical movements (or not)."

I also say that the experience can be very different for each person. As I said in the posting at the top of this page "each person's subjective experience of the latihan varies widely, this can range from very subtle to very dramatic, and this experience can and often does change over time."

If the person wants to ask more questions, I mention the start of Subud with Bapak and how he explained the latihan. I usually say something like the statement I made in the top posting, "the founder of Subud was a Javanese Muslim who believed that the latihan led to the wakening of the human jiwa or soul, and freed the jiwa from entanglement with the material and other forces in this plane of existence."

I usually then hasten to add that Bapak's explanation is not shared by all Subud members, as there are Subud members from many different faiths, and some agnostics and athiests as well.

I would be very intersted to hear how others explain Subud to interested non-members.

Now, for Sjahari's wider discussion about the core assumptions we may share about the latihan.

I wonder if it is useful to distinguish between:

- the outer latihan as a spiritual exercise, and

- the inner latihan as an experience?

When I responded to Sjahari's point 4 - "Although there are many exceptions, in general the Subud Latihan can only begin in a person after it is passed to them during the latihan itself – i.e. at the opening", and I suggested we say "In Subud, we formalize the initiation of new members into the latihan through a simple ceremony called an "opening"; when I also suggested adding that the latihan experience can vary from individual to individual and can change over time; and when I suggested saying that Subud members normally practice the latihan in a group twice a week, I think I am talking about the outer latihan - how we do it, how we organize it, etc.

I was talking about the inner latihan when I suggested we say "the action of the latihan on the individual can occur on many levels, some of which we may not be fully or even partially conscious of. When we talk about the need to surrender, this implies surrender to something, some kind of higher power, whether you imagine this to be inside or outside of your normal self. When you open yourself to this higher power, changes can result in many areas of yourself and your life."

I prefer this statement to Sjahari's statement that the "the soul is being awakened in an action mediated by a higher creative power", because I feel that this language may raise a red flag for some and needs a qualification that this "higher power" is left to the imagination of the individual as to whether they imagine it to be inside or outside of their normal selves.

My concern is that we use plain language to describe the latihan and what happens, and not make culturally-specific claims. I personally feel that means using the word "soul" has to go, unless we add that some are comfortable with this concept but it is not necessary to believe in it. That is why I suggested the latihan can act on many levels within each person, and we may be only dimly aware of these levels. "Levels" to me seems more neutral than "soul."

I now have some comments about Merin's points:

- point 3 - I agree the latihan may not be suitable for everyone. That is up to the individual in each case. (I would urge them to exercise some patience and stay with it for a period before they decide that nothing is happening. Hearing about the various initial experiences of others may be helpful.) But I do think it is fair to say the latihan is accessible to ordinary people who are living in this world. That does not mean "everyone."

- point 5 - Is the latihan causing something to happen inside a person without the person being conscious of it? I would say yes. Otherwise, why do it or why do any spiritual practice? I am comfortable talking about the various levels that comprise the individual, some of which we may be only dimly aware of or have no awareness of.

- point 7 - The question of the action of a "higher power" on the "soul of a human being". As I have already said, I would prefer not to use a culturally-specific term like "soul" since it carries some baggage for people in my culture. Not that it is wrong, just that it may have religious connotations that turn some people off. About "higher power" I have similar misgivings since it can be seen as code for the G-- word. I did use it but tried to make it clear that this "higher power" can be inside yourself - "When we talk about the need to surrender, this implies surrender to something, some kind of higher power, whether you imagine this to be inside or outside of your normal self. " Perhaps more neutral language might be "surrender to a higher ideal."

Sjahari is very clear that he disagrees with this approach. In his posting above, he says "In my view the core assumption at the very basis of Subud is that the latihan is an action mediated by the Higher Power (God, Allah, Jahweh. . . .whatever the name is) and acts on the soul of the human being (the part in us which is connected to the creator and which is eternal). ?I dont believe it is ethically correct for us to present Subud as anything else."

That is very strong language and Sjahari, as well as many other Subud members are obviously very attached to this description. I do not wish to offend them but I am puzzled why he feels I am being unethical if I propose another description (for the reasons I gave).

I am engaging in this process in good faith and feel we all deserve respect.

Thank you for reading this very long post.

Andrew Hall,

Ottawa, Canada

From Bronte, December 17, 2007. Time 21:25

"three different sorts of car are being discussed."

At least we seem to have established that this is a good description of the Subud that we all know.

From Merin Nielsen, December 17, 2007. Time 22:50

I'm relenting - the project is worth a try. But would several (or even many, if Subud spreads far enough) sets of Core Assumptions have to be assembled, each tailored to the general cultural background of its intended audience?

No. One of the Core Principles of Subud is that its doors are open to people of any faith. And this Principle can work only if our Core Assumptions about the latihan are conspicuously not attached to any faith whatsoever.

Hence I like David Week's proposed pamphlett 'Introducing the Latihan', which appears toward the end of his Subud Vision article "History and Myth". It makes no assumptions about what the latihan intrinsically is, apart from saying it can be beneficial to its practitioners.

I also like Andrew Hall's approach (above), in that it is somewhat similar to David's.

Best wishes,

Merin

From Bronte, December 18, 2007. Time 0:52

Can you imagine how it would go down if Bapak were to have said that Subud opens th Chakras, and gives the practitioner an instant beginning to Self Realisation?

or if Jesus had said something similar in His teachings?

WE have something strange in Subud, because it looks like so many other esoteric spiritual practices that have been known to the world since forever. And some articles accesible from links to this site have much to say on that subject - see Sufism.

And Bapak did say the latihan is not something new, while at the same time calling it (at least in my presence) "Worship to God"

So there must be quite a few other basics that Bapak gave which which we neither can, nor should we try to, back out of.

If you can't stand the idea that Subud makes a contact between you and your souls, and in so doing makes a contact with the light and the love of God,then why not leave Subud? After all, most people do.

I am not seriously asking all the rest of the people to give up. There's growth to be had.

In the case of developing love, a LOT of growth. As in a recent example of a founding member dying (last weeek), the members in that group did NOTHING!.

Loving? I think not!

From sjahari hollands, December 18, 2007. Time 1:44

1. Explaining subud to people, vs a Definition of the Latihan



I feel that a discussion on different ways of explaining subud is perfectly valid , but it is a different topic than the one I am proposing and suggesting.

Many stay clear of words like “soul” “God” and “Higher Power” etc when they are explaining the latihan to people for fear that these terms are offensive to some people. On occasion, and depending on the person I would do the same. (On the other hand, I have also found that there are individuals for whom the use of these words is the best way for them to understand the concepts.)

What I am proposing at this juncture however is that as a community we try to identify the core principles or assumptions that we believe in and that define the latihan in a way that is both necessary and sufficient.

2. CLAIMS vs Core Assumptions

The core assumptions are not claims about the latihan. A claim is something different. A claim is more than simply a statement of belief. A claim is stronger than that. With a claim one is actually trying to convince another person of one’s position. With a claim we are stating that the principle IS true, and not just that we believe it to be true.

There are religions for instance which claim that there is a heaven to which their members will go after death, and that the people who are not members of the religion will not go there. The religion tries to get other’s to join them on the strength of this claim. In subud we have core beliefs and core assumptions but we do not make claims of this nature.

A core assumption is something different than a claim. A core assumption of the latihan is a principle which we ourselves accept to be true even though we have no objective evidence or proof of its validity. It is a basic tenant.

What I am interested in is trying to develop a set of the core assumptions of subud which are both necessary and sufficient to explain and define what the latihan is.

From Merin Nielsen, December 18, 2007. Time 2:40

Hi, Bronte,

A person may benefit from the latihan without believing in the human soul or God. Subud denies nobody this benefit. Just because a person doesn't believe in souls or God, why should they deny themselves the benefit of practising the latihan? And believers possess no monopoly on love.

Hi, Sjahari,

>> What I am interested in is trying to develop a set of the core assumptions of subud which are both necessary and sufficient to explain and define what the latihan is.

So this definition of the latihan would contain only assumptions that are indeed 'necessary'. In that case, why would we hesitate from using it to explain Subud?

>> With a claim we are stating that the principle IS true, and not just that we believe it to be true.

Is there a difference? I never say something is true unless I believe it to be true, and my believing something to be true implies my willingness to say it is true.

>> A core assumption of the latihan is a principle which we ourselves accept to be true even though we have no objective evidence or proof of its validity.

In that case, the applicable evidence must be subjective, based on our individual inner experiences. (I certainly won't embrace any core assumption just because somebody else does.) But in referring to 'we ourselves', do you mean as a group or as individuals?

If you mean as a group, then there seems to be an extraordinary implicit assumption - that we all interpret the latihan in the same way.

If you mean as individuals, then surely we're facing a plurality of different views, since an experience of any kind, including latihan, automatically gets interpreted by the person who has it, and people's interpretations are inevitably based on their own distinct natures and backgrounds.

I'd recommend an account of the latihan that focuses on its place in the world - its potential benefit in people's lives - with no assumptions about the nature of its origin or dynamics.

From Merin Nielsen, December 18, 2007. Time 3:52

P.S. In that last line, I was referring to its immediate 'inner' origin. The latihan's social and historical origins, I think, are well worth consideration. And referring to its benefit in people's lives, I simply mean the fact that many people claim the latihan to have been of significant, evident, personal benefit; not any theoretical or doctrinal account of an afterlife or whatever.

Regards,

Merin

From sjahari hollands, December 18, 2007. Time 5:55

Merin: “I never say something is true unless I believe it to be true, and my believing something to be true implies my willingness to say it is true.”

Reply: Going back to the car analogy... If we state our car gets 50 miles to the gallon, this is a claim. It can be substantiated. We believe the car gets this gas mileage and we know it is true because we can measure it. This is a claim.

However, belief in the idea that in the latihan there is something separate from, over and above the ordinary feeling one would get by moving freely in a room with eyes closed is NOT something that can be demonstrated in any objective way. This is a core assumption about the latihan which is part of our collective belief system. We do not claim it to be true because we cannot prove it to be true. Nevertheless, we believe it as a core assumption.

Merin: “But in referring to 'we ourselves', do you mean as a group or as individuals?”

I mean as a group.

Merin: “If you mean as a group, then there seems to be an extraordinary implicit assumption - that we all interpret the latihan in the same way.”

Reply: I am suggesting an exercise in which we identify and propose a set of core assumptions upon which the Subud experience is based. This is not an interpretation of the latihan. It is a list of the essential ingredients.

Merin: “I'd recommend an account of the latihan that focuses on its place in the world - its potential benefit in people's lives - with no assumptions about the nature of its origin or dynamics.”

Reply: I find it difficult to understand accounts that attempt to do the above without saying what the latihan is, and where and how it acts, and on what part of the human experience it is acting. Indeed you are in a way asking for an even greater act of faith than what Bapak asks of us. You can take it or leave his interpretation, but at least Bapak tells us what the latihan is, and puts its benefit into a context and explains exactly where and how the latihan exerts its benefit.

What you seem to be suggesting is for us to say “the latihan has a benefit because we say so. Don't ask us what the latihan is. We can't agree on that. Don't ask us how it works because we don't know, and won't say even if we did. Don't ask us where it exerts its influence. We don't know the answer to that. Don't ask us any of that. Just believe us. It's true because we say it is true.”

Some people will accept this. I wouldn't. I prefer to have a context.

From Bronte, December 18, 2007. Time 6:0

Oh Dear!

I am going to be obnoxious again.

A dog, once neutered, is no longer anything more than a living ornament.

Ditto Subud.

Also, as to "love" in Subud,given my predilection for not finding any, there is a similar saying from a very respected souce about "Not having love" and "sounding brass"

Please, let us not emasculate Subud, for fear of offending those who would rather we "followed" their path of belief and practice.

Many, many a belief and practice today is looking more and more empty, inhuman, unloving and heartless. By heartless I refer both to the people who so viciously treat those they disapprove of (see today's news), and the systems of belief themselves, in that they have killed off the essential meaning and value.

And the newspaper is the first place to look for examples of both things I mean.

Just how much do you want to remove from the explanations of Subud? There's not much there at the start, really, just "Do your latihan and it will change things in you." and "The latihan is an inner training of the individual, which starts beyond the level of the normal concious mind and usually reaches into most or all of your life".

I won't "rest my case" at that, but it is so much bigger than that. As millions of words about it already tell the world, if anyone out there is interested.

I notice that the moment I start telling someone about "tuning in to the inner self" I get a response saying "I do that"- so ends of mention of Subud. In one case I mentioned the spontaneous movements, and got told "Oh, I have experinced Shaktipat", again, almost, end of conversation about Subud, except she wanted to know what I was talking about,because I won't name this organisation I have learnt to be scared of. Or I mention it to a practitioner of one of the more famous brands of Yoga and get "Oh, in Subud my friend never received any spiritual training, but now that he is dead he is being taught things about the spirit." And so on.

Perhaps the funniest was being too enthusiastic about Subud, while staying with friend in Los Angeles after the Amanecer congress, and quietly being taken to one side and having it pointed out that "my wife is an atheist". Well, a few people here might have been able to continue the dialogue with her. But at least I was ill, so they were able to avoid me the next three days and go on a trip to Disneyland without me, while I recovered alone, in their house, before coming on home.

Peace (although that does not seem to be what Subud is about.)

From Merin Nielsen, December 18, 2007. Time 7:3

Hi, Sjahari,

There's a handy alternative to asserting that the latihan is truly like this or like that. It's simply to say that we (as a group) have come across this thing that has been of benefit to us (as individuals). And you (the listener) are more than welcome to try it, or not, as you wish.

All of the evidence in support of the above statement rests upon the subjective (inner, personal) experiences of a bunch of individuals, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. There is a major problem, however, with trying to translate that into some kind of objective story.

Of course, none the less, there is plenty more that I (or any other Subud member) can proceed to tell anyone else about my (or our) personal experiences and interpretations of the latihan. But I would be rather astonished to find that any other Subud member's description corresponds closely to mine!

Hi, Bronte,

>> ... just "Do your latihan and it will change things in you." and "The latihan is an inner training of the individual, which starts beyond the level of the normal concious mind and usually reaches into most or all of your life".

Actually, for an 'official' definition of the latihan, I reckon that's a pretty good point at which to stop!

Very best wishes,

Merin

From David Week, December 18, 2007. Time 9:5

Hi All

Promoting the latihan with assumptions or theories for which there is no proof is the exact opposite of what Pak Subuh advised--in very strong language--many, many times. For instance:

"And this is in line with what we need to always observe in Subud, that we may not just talk about things, we have to show proof. We have to do something that is real, something that people can see, and not stay in the realm of propaganda or nice words or nice stories." 81 WOS 1

and

"That is why Bapak never allows you to make propaganda for Subud. Propaganda is useless if it is not backed up by reality, if you cannot show what Subud can do." 81 NYC 5

The latihan comes out of the tradition of Javanese mysticism. Mysticism is also known in the West at "the Way of Unknowing". Thus, in militating against mental constructs and theories, Pak Subuh sits well within the mystical tradition, which appears to have had no problem maintaining itself for several millenia without fixed "explanations" or doctrine. For instance, in the United States today, the most widely read and influential mystical author is Jalaluddin Rumi, who writes not in terms of assumptions, but in the poetry of love.

So why, on the other hand, did Pak Subuh offer so many "explanations"? He said so clearly himself: "Regarding the explanations Bapak is always giving you, it is not God who wants you to understand these things. No. It is your hearts, your thinking and your desires that still need explanations. Without them your imagination, your mind and your passions will increasingly roam around. You will wonder, 'Is it true what has been said about this and that?' 'Is what people say about these things really so?' 'Is it true that heaven is like this or like that?' Bapak gives you explanations so that your heart, mind and desires become tamed and pliable - no longer roaming hither and thither." 59 CSP 9

In other words: to pander to the incessant chattering of the monkey mind. To this end, no one "explanation" will suffice. Some explanations will work for some people, others will work for others. But to take these "explanations" as truth is to make a fundamental error. In the Buddhist metaphor, it is to mistake the finger pointing at the moon, for the moon itself. There are, and ever will be, many such fingers. Each person will have a finger that works for them. To insist on this finger or that finger seems to me to fall into a very old trap, that of religious fundamentalism, which is to assume that what works for me, must be made to work for everyone else. Or, to put it another way:

"Every person will find the right way towards God for himself, and what may be the right way for one may be completely wrong for another. Therefore you must not suppose that you have to follow or become like Muhammad Subuh. You must become your own self and you must develop your inner self if you want to find the way to God. You must not follow or imitate anyone else, because you must find your own way to God. Usually, if there is a teacher, he teaches his followers to do exactly the same as he does in order to reach what he has reached. But this is really wrong, because not only between a teacher and his followers but even between two brothers of the same parents there is already a big difference; not only in outward appearances but also in their character and in their whole being. So surely you can understand now that what is the right way for a certain teacher to find God is not necessarily the right way for his pupils." Bapak speaks to applicants, Singapore, 1960

From Sahlan Diver, December 18, 2007. Time 10:29

David uses the words "Promoting the latihan with assumptions or theories for which there is no proof ...."

The word "promoting" seems inappropriate for the typical situation where a latihan practitioner is asked the question "What is the latihan?", and is not strongly out to convince the questioner either of the veracity of the latihan or the validity of some particular religious viewpoint. They are merely responding to a request for information. What do they then say? Or, more to the point, if the enquirer asks "do you have a leaflet I can take away and read?", what does the leaflet say?

From Merin Nielsen, December 18, 2007. Time 11:15

Hi, Sahlan,

I guess there must be something objectionable about David's proposed leaflet 'Introducing the Latihan', mentioned above. But what?

Regards,

Merin

From Sahlan Diver, December 18, 2007. Time 12:4

In reply to Merin,

David wrote that leaflet when under pressure to complete several articles and a mass of editing work close to our deadline last June. In that context it is an excellent attempt, but I think it does have flaws.

The leaflet gets better as it goes on, but the first three paragraphs too closely ally Subud to religion. From reports I have heard from Stefan and others, who have had experience of these things, mention religion and one is immediately in danger of turning many people off. I agree with David of the advantage of putting forward the historical and cultural context, but it needs to be done in a way that doesn't imply one would be signing up to a new religion or religious philosophy.

Also, in general, (I am not now referring to David's leaflet) I think one has to be careful about comparing or associating the practise of the latihan with mystical practises. Although it might be true that many Subud members are predisposed to be sympathetic to mysticism, it may also be that by emphasising the mystical we are turning away just as many potential new members as by emphasising God.

I don't believe, nor have I heard anyone strongly claim, that a belief in this or that religious philosophy or mystical idea is an essential aid to one's latihan. The latihan progresses independent of one's beliefs, as far as we know. This must be kept in mind when considering our dealings with enquirers. Just as it would be wrong to deny the latihan to people on the basis of presumptive moral judgements ( hypothetical example: we don't open gays ), it also seems wrong to me to deny or make it difficult for people to be opened on the basis of presumptive judgements about their spiritual philosophy: examples : "you have to believe in God", "it helps to be interested in the mystical".

Coincidentally I notice that what I say in the paragraph above seems to be concurred with by a reply that David has just posted on another author's page: http://www.subudvision.org/hb/Ahb7.shtml(the piece titled: From David Week, December 18, 2007. Time 11:33).

Sahlan

From Merin Nielsen, December 18, 2007. Time 13:8

I disagree that the first three paragraphs ally Subud to religion. The proposed leaflet points out that practises such as meditation and yoga, which once were associated with particular religious frameworks (from which they apparently emerged), are no longer necessarily associated with such frameworks. The leaflet thereby suggests that the latihan can similarly be seen as a beneficial practice which is not associated with any particular religious framework. Thus, it's the dis-connection with religion that is being underscored.

The proposed leaflet uses the term "mystical", as well as "different consciousness" and "different state of being" (from which life can be seen differently) and "inner life". Each of these occurs just once, and all four are pretty vague, but I agree that the leaflet could be improved. It's not a bad start, though, is it?

Merin

From sjahari hollands, December 18, 2007. Time 15:7

I agree with everything that David Week says in his note.

I agree that Bapak gave his explanations in order to quieten the minds of the members and in particular to satisfy the minds of the more analytical ones at the time.

What I find immensely interesting is how well his explanation actually accomplishes this objective .

I personally have no problem at all with Bapak's explanation of the latihan.

As I said in my article, I find it to be complete and comprehensive, and so far I have found no other explanation that does as well.

And as I said in my article, it would be best for us to deepen our knowledge and understanding of what the latihan is.

It will be out of this deep personal understanding that we will find a way to explain it in a variety of settings, and to a variety of people from a broad background of culture and religion.

Sjahari

From Andrew Hall, December 18, 2007. Time 20:18

Hello to all,

I disagree with Sjahari that a statement that a car gets 50 miles per gallon is a "claim". It may initially be a claim but it is empirically verifiable and then is no longer a claim. It is demonstrably true under certain conditions.

Can we make similar statements about the latihan, using terms like "Higher Power" and soul, that are empirically verifiable to an outside observer. I don't think so. These are, in the end, words that people understand in different ways, and may or may not be comfortable using.

When a Javanese spiritual teacher like Bapak uses words like jiwa that a translator feels best translates into English as "soul", are we missing the cultural connotations that go with the word "jiwa." I don't know but I sure wonder. What about Bapak's instruction to use patience, sincerity and surrender? I come from a religious and cultural background where "surrender" has certain connotations and I wonder how much I am missing from Bapak's understanding of this word.

Sjahari says that he has "no problem at all with Bapak's explanation of the latihan... (that it is) complete and comprehensive, and so far (he has) found no other explanation that does as well" and then goes on to say "it would be best for us to deepen our knowledge and understanding of what the latihan is". I wonder about this last point. Our understanding and knowledge can only go so far. While it is the genius of humankind to seek understanding, I think we need to appreciate that all human language and our own intellects are puny and terribly limited compared to the the immensity and mystery of Creation.

As for his point, that Bapak's explanations of the latihan's context is the best there is, I do not agree with making Bapak the authority about how the latihan works. His explanations are very culturally specific. As the founder of Subud I think it can be very worthwhile to understand and appreciate what Bapak has said, but for me it is not the last word. David Week quotes Bapak in an earlier post that we each must find our own way to God and not depend on a teacher. I personally find this statement by Bapak inspiring. Other things that he has said (that I have read or heard in talks) either completely escape me or I find offensive. (for an example, go to the Article index and read my article on "Reading Bapak's Talks". Paste the following link into your browser address line - http://www.subudvision.org/ah/Reading%20Bapak%20Talks.htm )

Each of us, depending on our cultural background and personal experience has a different take on Truth. None of us has the last word, including Bapak. All of our different views may be useful and worthwhile in helping others reach their own understanding of the Truth. Obviously, some will be more helpful than others.

If you want a poetic analogy (please, let's forget the cars) let's say that Truth is a multi-faceted diamond. Each of our different explanations can illuminate or point to a different facet of Truth. The more we learn from or are open to different explanations, the more we may approach the Truth, that which we hunger and thirst for.

I think this is as definitive as we can hope for.

And how do we know the Truth? I personally think I feel my truth resonate within me when I hear it or see it. There is something in me that comes alive and responds to things that I find inspiring. That is how I tell.

I now want to respond to Bronte's statements that this discussion is emasulating Subud, that it is backing out of the basics that Bapak gave us, that Subud makes a contact between a person and their soul "and in so doing makes a contact with the light and love of God" and "if you can't stand the idea .. then why not leave Subud?"

I personally find the latihan a rewarding practice and I have warm, fulfilling connections with some of my Subud brothers and sisters. But there are some things in Subud I wonder about and wish were diferent, just as you do with your example of an older member dying and members in that person's group doing nothing. I find this very sad.

So, what do we do? Keep reading Bapak's talks while our eyes tell us that somethings are amiss and not working? I have heard some Subud members say that the problem is that people are not really doing what Bapak instructed. I prefer to try and imagine how we could do things better and differently. As I remember David Week saying in one of his articles - "We're not in high school anymore."

Andrew Hall,

Ottawa, Canada

From Sjahari Hollands, December 19, 2007. Time 0:17

Sjahari's Responses to Andrew:

Andrew: "I disagree with Sjahari that a statement that a car gets 50 miles per gallon is a "claim". It may initially be a claim but it is empirically verifiable and then is no longer a claim. It is demonstrably true under certain conditions."

Sjahari: the dictionary definition states that a claim is an assertion that something is the case without giving evidence for it. Thus the gas mileage statement is a claim until such time that the evidence is provided.

Andrew: " Can we make similar statements about the latihan, using terms like "Higher Power" and soul, that are empirically verifiable to an outside observer. I don't think so. These are, in the end, words that people understand in different ways, and may or may not be comfortable using."

Sjahari: This is exactly the point I am making. In Subud we make no claims. Bapak did nt make claims. As David pointed out, Bapak repeatedly said we have to find and provide the evidence. He asked us to take his talks as if they were fairy tales until such time that we could know from our own experience that they were true.

We do however have beliefs. We do have core assumptions. There are things we accept to be true without necessarily having evidence. One of those is the assumption that the latihan comes from God and acts on the soul of a human being. (All it takes is to go through the Subud literature since the 1950’s to find that this is a core assumption. Not only in Bapak, but in many people who have spoken and written about Subud and the latihan.)

Some people may not like that this core assumption is there. And some may want to get rid of it all together. But how can anyone deny that this is a core belief and core assumption in subud? How many people go through the 3 month period talking to helpers without hearing about God and the soul? And it is in the opening statement.

Andrew: "As for his (Sjahari's) point, that Bapak's explanations of the latihan's context is the best there is, I do not agree with making Bapak the authority about how the latihan works."

Sjahari: You have put words in my mouth. I am not making Bapak an authority. (How could someone be an authority who asks us to take what he says as if it were a fairy tale?)

What I have simply stated is that I have found no other explanation that is better and more complete than the one Bapak supplied. I have certainly so far found noone who can explain to me how the latihan works.

I have asked. Repeatedly.

I will ask you too ---- can you explain how the latihan works? Can you tell me what it is and how it acts upon us? Can you explain the experience that many of us have had of this vibration that seems to move us without our conscsious will?

I would be seriously interested in hearing such an explanation. But so far, I have not heard even a serious attempt at it. (apart from Bapak's of course)

Andrew:

"If you want a poetic analogy (please, let's forget the cars) let's say that Truth is a multi-faceted diamond. Each of our different explanations can illuminate or point to a different facet of Truth. The more we learn from or are open to different explanations, the more we may approach the Truth, that which we hunger and thirst for. I think this is as definitive as we can hope for.

And how do we know the Truth? I personally think I feel my truth resonate within me when I hear it or see it. There is something in me that comes alive and responds to things that I find inspiring. That is how I tell."

Sjahari:

I totally agree with this. The thing is that it doesnt relate to the content of my article or to the point I am making. I am not searching for the “Truth” and not searching for some definition or characterization of the truth. .

I am simply looking for an explanation of what the latihan is and how and where it works. I am personally happy with the one I have been given by Bapak, but am asking if there are any alternatives. There dont seem to be.

From MIchael Irwin, December 19, 2007. Time 1:8

This conversation is as bad as trying to find a quantum particle. Find it and you know you’ve missed the essential ‘other’ that is also a property.

Before we can get anywhere I think we have to determine what we are trying to do here. Personally, I don’t think that there is an objective description of what the latihan is. I do think there are as many ways of describing what it is to each of us as there are us. In our personal descriptions we will call upon our own understanding of the cosmos. I don’t know about you but my cosmological concepts have changed throughout my life and so has my description of what the latihan is.

If there is no point in trying to agree upon what the latihan is collectively, why can’t we aim for something else. We started out trying to find a short introductory statement that would satisfy no-one but to which no one would object. Then we said that that statement would serve as an introduction only to any number of different descriptions of what the latihan was sufficient to make it clear to anyone who read the ‘handout’ that they could be included.

A few comments that struck me as interesting:

Sjahari: “I would like to suggest that whoever might be interested work together to try and come up with a set of core assumptions or principles which taken together will be both sufficient and comprehensive to characterize and define what the latihan is.” Given my comments above, I would suggest that it is more useful to describe the outer aspects of the latihan, the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’. That ‘how’ can include what we do without nailing down what happens in a cosmological context. That list would be different from a list of assumptions or principles that we subscribe to such as ‘Subud makes no claims though Subud members may.’

Sjahari: “Many people believe we should not use the word soul, or refer to God. But there has been no adequate alternative presented.” I grew up in a Christian world but have never been a Christian. Nevertheless, I easily use Christian metaphors to understand what happens to me ‘spiritually’ because such metaphors are in my birth culture. The evolution of my cosmic concepts in the matter of God and soul have been interesting to me (bear with me). The idea of the Trinity made no sense to me. The idea that God was omnipresent did make sense if for no other reason than that nowhere do the laws of physics not apply. Therefore, I accepted that God was also part of me. Bapak’s idea that there was a ‘power of God’ somehow different from God itself was a puzzle. One day I realized that the notion of a creative impulse making the cosmos exist (I could not deny that things exist) and that God was within me in some fashion and that there was a connection between these two suddenly made the Trinity make sense. Now if that was obvious to you, please forgive me for boring you but it was new to me. So if the Trinity is the ultimate creator, the Father and the presence of God within was the Son then the relationship between them was the power of God, the energy experienced in the Pentecost, the Holy Ghost. I haven’t the slightest idea whether any of that makes sense in Christian theology – and I don’t care if it does. As a Deist and an agnostic I have no problem using that cosmological metaphor. However, I would not have accepted it had it been thrust upon me. At best it remains a metaphor. As to the experience of the latihan, using that metaphorical map, I can not deny that there might be the God within in the stillness of the mental void in a very pedestrian experience of the Self, i.e. Being aware that I am aware that I am without thinking about it. It is not a mystical experience with deep insights into time and eternity and showers of knowledge with the world ‘lighting up’, etc. but it does give me certainty of that I am where I am. Sjahari was raised in a Christian culture like me. I have no idea what his religious convictions are but I sympathize with his wish to use words like ‘soul’ and ‘God’. The God I rejected is other people’s God’s, their definitions. If the experience of me as I described above can be described by using Buddhist terminology, fine. It won’t resonate with me but I can accept it as useful just as I find the Trinity useful. However, I would never wish to see the Trinity or the Buddhist explanation for my experience of me appear in a definition to which all Subud members are expected to subscribe. That is why I think it is impossible to expect agreement on what the latihan is.

Sahlan: “The latihan progresses independent of one's beliefs...” That is a basic assumption to me and should be part of the list of assumptions.

From sjahari hollands, December 19, 2007. Time 2:25

A Response to Michael and others:

I too am getting frustrated and find the conversation going nowhere. But I will add one last comment:

I have reviewed the core assumptions or principles I am proposing and

I do not find any reference to Bapak, or to any kind of cosmological order or world view there, EXCEPT in the wording of the last point, wherein I invoke the idea of a soul and a God as a core assumption in Subud.

Of course these two words have always been the problem since the very beginning. When we explain Subud to people we often have to stick handle around these words and these concepts.

However, what I am now understanding from the postings here is that the majority of authors on Subud vision would prefer to strike entirely the idea of any kind of connection of the latihan to any idea of God and the soul.

If this is so, then I ask yet again:

how will we explain to people the experience they are having?

Is the latihan nothing more than a “moving meditation” which some postings to Subudvision are suggesting? Is it simply a form of self hypnosis which I have heard the same and other subud vision authors propose?

Personally, if I had not thought that the latihan was about the growth and purification of my soul, I would never have come into subud in the first place. I was not at that time interested in a moving meditation, and I wasnt interested in self hypnosis. I still am not. I was interested in exactly what I learned the latihan was through reading Bapak’s talks about it.

And if it turns out that there is no God and there is no soul, then I dont see any reason at all for going to the latihan. In my view it would be an exercise in total self deception.

Many people are saying here that it is impossible to explain what the latihan is and we shouldnt try. Nor should we use Bapak's explanation.

My question remains: If we cannot explain to people what the latihan is, and we cant use Bapak's explanation either, then how in God’s name (sorry about that) will the helpers be able to assist people to understand and assimilate the kind of deep,and often difficult but necessary processes they are going through in latihan?

My request restated: please supply an alternative explanation of the latihan. Otherwise, allow us to keep Bapak exactly where he is.

Sjahari

From Merin Nielsen, December 19, 2007. Time 4:16

Hi, Sjahari,

I agree that this feedback page went somewhat awry, and I accept part of the blame, but below are my responses to comments from your last two postings. (And may this be my last contribution.)

>> [Bapak) asked us to take his talks as if they were fairy tales until such time that we could know from our own experience that they were true.

Are you willing to add “or false”?

>> We do however have beliefs. We do have core assumptions. There are things we accept to be true without necessarily having evidence.

I don’t accept anything as true without evidence.

>> One of those is the assumption that the latihan comes from God and acts on the soul of a human being. (All it takes is to go through the Subud literature since the 1950’s to find that this is a core assumption. Not only in Bapak, but in many people who have spoken and written about Subud and the latihan.)

The fact that many people believe something does not make it true.

>>... how can anyone deny that this is a core belief and core assumption in subud? How many people go through the 3 month period talking to helpers without hearing about God and the soul? And it is in the opening statement.

These core assumptions are said to be ‘necessary’ assumptions, but I see no evidence that God and human souls are necessary. The latihan itself supplies no such evidence to me. So I deny that this is a core assumption in Subud.

>> What I have simply stated is that I have found no other explanation that is better and more complete than the one Bapak supplied. I have certainly so far found noone who can explain to me how the latihan works.

I have found no-one who can explain fully to me how quantum mechanics operates, but that doesn’t mean I should simply accept the explanation that has, so far, merely satisfied me the most, especially not if it has left me markedly dissatisfied.

>> I will ask you too ---- can you explain how the latihan works? Can you tell me what it is and how it acts upon us? Can you explain the experience that many of us have had of this vibration that seems to move us without our conscsious will?

Yes, I can, but because I am very different from you, and have had very different experiences from you, I feel practically certain that the explanation which most satisfies me would be far from satisfactory to you.

>>...how will we explain to people the experience they are having?

Each of us can and will explain the latihan to others as we see fit. I would be concerned, however, if you were to explain the latihan to somebody, according to your own preferred explanation, and to suggest that this is the preferred explanation of all Subud members, including me. I’m sure you’d be concerned if I were to do the reciprocal thing. Likewise, I would be concerned if Bapak’s explanation were offered to people as if it were the preferred explanation of all Subud members, including me. It simply isn’t.

>> Is the latihan nothing more than a “moving meditation” which some postings to Subudvision are suggesting? Is it simply a form of self hypnosis which I have heard the same and other subud vision authors propose?

In my opinion, the latihan is much more than either of those things. Another Subud member, however, might firmly believe that the latihan is simply self hypnosis or whatever. And I really don’t mind if they explain the latihan that way, providing they don’t suggest that their explanation resembles mine, or those of other Subud members in general.

>> My question remains: If we cannot explain to people what the latihan is, and we cant use Bapak's explanation either, then how in God’s name (sorry about that) will the helpers be able to assist people to understand and assimilate the kind of deep,and often difficult but necessary processes they are going through in latihan?

We CAN explain to people what the latihan is - just not by turning to any fixed set of statements that are derived through some kind of committee resolution.

>> My request restated: please supply an alternative explanation of the latihan. Otherwise, allow us to keep Bapak exactly where he is.

Feel free to use Bapak’s explanation. I have my alternative explanation which I present to people, and I honestly don’t think you’d like it, but viva la difference!

Best regards,

Merin

From Simon Beck, December 19, 2007. Time 11:16

I think Ken Wilber's descriptions of 4 kinds of truth help guide me to evaluate truth. First there is scientific truth. This truth is based on propositions about "reality" or what's out there, that has various amounts of empirical evidence to support it. There is personal truth. What I feel or experience. This is my truth and there is no argument about it other than about if I am honest or not about what I share with others and even myself. Then there is cultural truth or what "we" say what is. This truth is what is constructed through our interactions, our myths, our history, our narratives. Feminists and anti racists like this description because it allows them to deconstruct things like gender and power hidden in our cultures. David Week I suspect values this sense of truth. The fourth is systems truth that make up our laws and civil society. It is more conscious than the latter truth but there are some who will say that breaking these laws is a sin or is wrong. But it is only breaking the laws we make up.

Ken would say that each truth has many levels and lines of understanding, and he has written many books on the subject. If this is not clear please read his material. I find this map (and it is only a map) useful to clarify disputes because if I know which truth another person is speaking from, I can change my understanding to have a useful dialogue. You will see that none of these is an absolute although some would say that they are when they get attached to some idea. Even my personal truth is not absolute but is influenced by culture and by various brain chemicals. These descriptions can only exist in a modern or post modern personal awareness. In mythical and magical society all is explained only in the mythology.

My latihan has truth in all 4. I have a personal experience, which is marked by certain brain changes that can be measured and I will explain my experience with my cultural truth. My latihan will be held in certain legal rules we and society have set to protect the other values and ways of knowledge. I am grateful for this discussion because all of my truths and awareness of them are being expanded.

From Andrew Hall, December 19, 2007. Time 18:0

Hi Sjahari,

I can appreciate your frustration. I bet you wish there was more sympathy for and agreement with your proposed core assumptions. I would find it no fun either being the target. But, hey, maybe it's better than being ignored which has sometimes been how people are treated in Subud when they have other viewpoints (sometimes called misgivings and disagreements).

So here are my responses to your last post.

I cannot speak for other Subudvision authors but I am comfortable talking about "the idea of any kind of connection of the latihan to any idea of God and the soul" as you put it. In the post at the top of this page, I suggested that Bapak's understanding and his teaching about the latihan, God and the soul be openly acknowledged.

You say that you have no problem with Bapak's explanations, that you find it complete and comprehensive.

Again, in my first post, I have offered an alternative wording "Many Subud members do not share the culturally-specific language and explanation of the founder. It is important to recognize that the action of the latihan on the individual can occur on many levels, some of which we may not be fully or even partially conscious of. When we talk about the need to surrender, this implies surrender to something, some kind of higher power, whether you imagine this to be inside or outside of your normal self. When you open yourself to this higher power, changes can result in many areas of yourself and your life."

Now, you may not like this wording and it obviously does not satisfy you, but it is an alternative. Not perfect, just an alternative. I myself am not sure how the reference to "higher power" will appear to people outside Subud. Maybe there is a way to improve this. I suggested "higher ideal", but so far have no takers.

When you ask "Is the latihan nothing more than a “moving meditation” which some postings to Subudvision are suggesting?" I wonder if you are making certain assumptions - such as, the latihan is deeper, more powerful and more wonderful than "mere" meditation. In one of my previous posts, I responded to Bronte's request about how I explain Subud to non-members by saying "I describe it as a type of meditation that to an outside observer appears similar to spontaneous chi-kung" and I wonder if your comment is directed at this?

Some types of meditation can be extremely profound and effective (and I am speaking from my own limited experience). I think it can appear arrogant and alienating to outsiders to suggest that the Subud latihan is "better" than these spiritual practices.

Then you say "And if it turns out that there is no God and there is no soul, then I don't see any reason at all for going to the latihan. In my view it would be an exercise in total self deception." I really don't know how to respond to this. It sure doesn't sound like you are at all open to any alternative explanation.

You then conclude that people who are responding to you on this page are saying that it is impossible to explain what the latihan is, we shouldn't try, nor should we use Bapak's explanation.

I do not agree with this. I think the point that rings truest to me is that it is difficult to explain the latihan and any and all explanations (including what I propose) are limited. As David Weeks points out -"no one "explanation" will suffice. Some explanations will work for some people, others will work for others. But to take these "explanations" as truth is to make a fundamental error. "

I would like to make one final point. As a Subud member, I do not want to introduce new people to Subud and have them served a party line by helpers who constantly defer to what Bapak said. Yes, what Bapak said is important and worth acknowledging but it is not the last word.

I would like to close with a quote from Michael Irwin's response - "Personally, I don’t think that there is an objective description of what the latihan is. I do think there are as many ways of describing what it is to each of us as there are us. In our personal descriptions we will call upon our own understanding of the cosmos. I don’t know about you but my cosmological concepts have changed throughout my life and so has my description of what the latihan is .... I would suggest that it is more useful to describe the outer aspects of the latihan, the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’. That ‘how’ can include what we do without nailing down what happens in a cosmological context. That list would be different from a list of assumptions or principles that we subscribe to such as ‘Subud makes no claims though Subud members may.’"

Amen to that, Sjahari.

I wish you and all Subud brothers and sisters a Christmas where you feel nourished by your family and connected to the Cosmos.

Andrew

From Stefan, December 29, 2007. Time 10:42

Hi Sjahari,

I'm very grateful for your challenge:

"please supply an alternative explanation of the latihan. Otherwise, allow us to keep Bapak exactly where he is."

I'm relishing the ensuing discussion with all its twists and turns because it speaks to my personal need. I've been a latihaner for decades. Initially I said very little to my friends, wanting to check out the validity and to learn. Then, for some years I tried to "quietly receive" what to say, but usually ended up getting tongue tied. I still don't find it easy.

Now I'm more interested in developing a brief introductory sentence or two which can pave the way for me (or someone else) to talk from personal experience. I'm uncomfortable quoting Bapak's words for all the reasons others have stated (including Bapak's own urging that we learn to speak from our own experience). Why does it seem so clunky trying to describe Subud? ...

Q - What's Subud?

A - I can tell you 5 things it isn't

Q - But I want to know what it is!

A - An inner process which is based on letting-go

Q - Sounds like my meditation class

A - There are spontaneous sounds and movements

Q - That's like the warm up we do for my meditation class

A - Some describe is as a deep spiritual awakening

Q - Oh is it one of those cults? I suppose there's a big wallah whose words everyone else hangs on.

A - Well some people do get into that, but it's not a requirement. The experience is different for each person and the founder, who is no longer alive, encouraged individuality and autonomy.

Q - What's the point?

A - I look at it as an inner training in becoming more balanced and open, an aid in fulfilling one's potential.

Some people find it enhances their connection with what they may describe as their higher self, universal energy, "God" or "Goddess"

I find that this kind of dialogue is the best way for me to say something about Subud, but I'm still searching for that lost chord, particularly for use on websites: A two sentence "gem" that avoids overused words and can lead into (as Michael suggests) a spectrum of short statements by members, such as by a Quaker, a Buddhist, an Imam, a Pagan, a sceptic; showing how a diversity of interpretations are compatible with the latihan.

Best wishes to y'all for New Year

Stefan

From sjahari hollands, December 29, 2007. Time 17:34

Scene 2

Q: Hmm “inner training”. Is that like in a bible study group where you train your memory about important things? Or do you mean training like in therapy? Do you mean like an aerobics class or maritial arts? Who leads the training? I hated when the coach made us run lines in practice. Although my yoga is a kind of training I guess.

But I am curious when you say that only SOME of the people find a connection to their higher self or universal energy or whatever you call it. What DO you guys call it anyway? And Why doesnt everyone get this? If I started doing the latihan could I have this connection or is it only some of the people who have it? Whats wrong with the ones who dont? Is it only for special people? I probably would be one of the ones who dont. I really dont get this actually. Very confusing. Hey. I'd love to talk more but I have a yoga class in half an hour. . . .why dont you text me --

A Could we could meet for coffee later?

Q. I dont drink coffee.

A Herb tea?

Q. Sure.

A. Because I want to answer your question.

Q. Hey dont worry. It really doesnt matter.

A. No I want to.

Q. Ok. I guess. Tea then.

From Philip Quackenbush, December 30, 2007. Time 0:12

Hi, Stefan,

You said:

"I find that this kind of dialogue is the best way for me to say something about Subud, but I'm still searching for that lost chord, particularly for use on websites: A two sentence "gem" that avoids overused words and can lead into (as Michael suggests) a spectrum of short statements by members, such as by a Quaker, a Buddhist, an Imman, a Pagan, a skeptic; showing how a diversity of interpretations are compatible with the latihan."

Rotsa ruck.

First, the basic concepts of the religious sects you mention are inherently incompatible, and the skeptic needs to be shown, which won't happen until he or she is "opened" (and even then will continue to question the "latihan", which, IMO, is what ideally happens, being a "show me" skeptic myself [Subud has at least enlightened me into becoming one after all I've experienced in the organization]). Tony Crisp, a UK (sometime?) member who "contacted" the "latihan" after he had been "doing it" for years and teaching it to his students, explains in his books what it is and how to "do it" from his perspective, and it doesn't require any three month wait, but, again, his perspective may not appeal to everyone (certainly not to the Old Guard guarding "Bapak" and "Bapakism").

Then, there are the words themselves, which have inherited many differing connotations in the various "disciplines", creating a semantic barrier that may be impossible to cross. Communication by touch, glance, gesture, etc., is probably the only way in which such misunderstandings can be overcome, but even in those cases, the verbal dominance in most peoples' cultures makes such communication corrupted, because such communications get filtered through the verbal construct commonly known as the ego, or "self", and then become a part of it instead of remaining on what can be the instantly-understood level of "pure" perceptions.

Finally, with around 1500 recorded "explanations" of the "latihan" by the founder of the Subud organization, who, indirectly at least, passed it on to most of the Subud members (not me; I "received" it years earlier from another source, and I've met others who have, as well), there's a huge amount of crap that needs to be cleared away from the possible "gems" in those "explanations" (and who's to choose which?) before a clarity can be achieved as to what even he really thought about the "latihan," or ignore all that in favor of "just do it", as the Nike (?) ads (I seldom watch the boob tube) suggest.

I recently volunteered to go back to being an active "helper" in the local Subud group here, and the Old Guard establishment that took over after I left was very concerned about my possibly presenting the organization in a "bad light" (i.e., that I might tell the truth about its failings and might not be acting as "Bapak's helper" [after nearly 20 years as one, including several where I was the only male "helper" in the group? Yeah, sure.]).

I don't know how pervasive this sort of attitude is globally, but from what I've seen on this list and Subudtalk, it seems to be the cancer that will probably result in the death of the organization, or the org. may simply go into increasingly-doddering old age for a few decades more, with the Family squirreling away more money in offshore accounts until the suckers who give to them give it up.

I worked as an organist in Christian Science churches for a few years and saw their organization struggling to stay afloat because of the inflexible attitudes of its founder reflected in the membership, with their "spiritual healing" (whatever it is; like the Subud "latihan", probably a form of self-hypnosis [which isn't necessarily a negative thing]) being what has kept them going for as long as it has. IMO, whether the Subud organization continues or not, the "latihan" will, since it seems to be a natural function of the human organism that is universally accessible by anyone who doesn't have organic brain dysfunction. So, not to worry. Enjoy, already.

Peace, Philip

From Philip Quackenbush, December 30, 2007. Time 0:37

Hi, Andrew,

In rereading some of the responses on this Feedback page, I realized I hadn't responded to your questions a while back, so here's a, hopefully, brief response:

"If I were to say that prayer or meditation is a "spiritual practice", I wonder if this is confusing and too vague for some? I locate myself within a cultural context that is comfortable with the term spiritual practice but it is probably worthwhile to explore what the common assumptions might be around this term."

For me, at least, the word "spiritual" is a catch-all term that has evolved to having whatever meaning, or none, that is given to it, which is why I now always try to remember to put it in quotes. If you were to say "assumed-to-be a spiritual practice", that would not imply any further assumptions.

"I guess my assumptions are that someone following a spiritual practice is asking "Is there anything more?" or "Am I missing something?" and perhaps is seeking union with an ideal through devotion (the yogic term is bakshi). I think the minimum requirement (another assumption) is that there has to be intent and stating your intent is a good idea. Not that stating your intent is the practice, but that stating your intent beforehand can guide your practice."

I recall in my early daze in Subud when I still naïvely believed that the "latihan" was a proof of the existence of "God" (which seems to be the opposite, since yawning and other spontaneous movements prove nothing except that they're necessary to maintain an approach to homeostasis within the body), I used to ask "God" to lead me to anything that was "better" than the "latihan", if it existed. I was remarking on another list that I was still in the bad habit of seeking when I was quite happy with my life as it is and have obtained "the peace that passeth understanding" years ago, though in all probability not just through the "latihan" but life in general (and private). No matter what I intend, not getting upset if I don't get what I intend leaves me in a state of peace of mind, and that's a product of total acceptance of What Is, including, or perhaps more importantly starting with, myself.

From Philip Quackenbush, December 30, 2007. Time 1:21

Hi, Andrew,

Sorry. Pushed the "pencil" before I was through blathering.

"...suppose Subud members during the quiet time before latihan were to state their intent silently, maybe something like "I am preparing for latihan and wish to surrender and merge with the Power of the Universe and all Creation", I wonder if they would come to feel differently about their latihan?

"Would trying this be what you call scientific? To me, science means being able to produce the same results when an experiment is repeated by someone else. I'm not sure that this type of rigour is possible in a spiritual practice. How do we define results? What we felt or thought we felt?"

Western science is concerned with measurable results and the probability of something occurring under given conditions. What I consider to be realistic Buddhists (those who are not attached to praying to the Buddha or some such) realize that "inner" effects are subjective and may (perhaps all) not be "real." It is only recently that it has been possible to examine the functioning of the brain and other organs with non-invasive procedures such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), although it might be possible to set up conditions where a number of people doing "latihan" could report their subjective feelings to find out if there were any correlations to be found.

Obtaining a large enough statistical sample to grant any validity to such a procedure might be next to impossible, though, given the small number of people that would be willing to submit to such an experiment out of an apparently dwindling global membership to begin with. So, putting a willing subject or two or three under fMRI scrutiny might be the only easy way to obtain "real" information that might hold for all practitioners, since all humans that are not radically anomalous have basically the same genetic makeup and physiology.

"It does not mean a spiritual practice is not real. It is very real to me. And one of my cautions about Subudvision talk is that I sometimes would like people to acknowledge that the latihan is a real experience. I think it can be very profound if that is what we want and seek."

Of course it's real. But what is reality? All experiences you perceive happen in your head, despite what people may say about not "living in your head." So, what you perceive as "now" actually occurred a fraction of a second before "you" became aware of it (as much as 3/4 of a second if you feel pain from a stubbed toe, for example [depending on how tall you are, for one thing]). What you consider to be "spiritual" or not "spiritual" is merely a classification procedure of your analytic function of your frontal lobes, but that doesn't mean it isn't "real," even though it may not be a very æsthetically pleasing concept compared to the emotionally-loaded term "spiritual" that you may use to describe the experience(s).

Whether those experiences can be transferred to another realm or another organism is another question. Maybe a Zombie could tell us, if it's not mute. In the meantime, I'm enjoying Bach or Mozart (I have recordings of everything both of them wrote that I can spend a half hour or more experiencing on a regular basis, just like the "latihan" in that respect) just as much as I'm enjoying the "latihan" at times. They're simply different experiences, and I'm not particularly attached to either one.

Peace, Philip

From Merin Nielsen, December 30, 2007. Time 6:11

Obviously one should tell people the truth. If I don't know or don't care what the latihan really is, then that's what I should say. If I'm nevertheless prepared to mention certain ways that other people apparently envisage the latihan, then I may as well do so, while stating that these views are not actually mine. If I'm prepared to put forward my own explanation of what the latihan is, that's fine, whether or not it's an opinion shared by other Subud members (such as that of Pak Subuh), providing I don't portray the respective explanation as one that is necessarily supported by any other particular person.

If I present my own explanation or model or interpretation of the latihan to inquirers, then it ought to be a view that I have reason to support. If I'm unure what I think about the latihan, then I should say so - though later I might choose to ponder it a while, so that I can perhaps express an opinion next time. For the sake of deciding where I stand in this regard, it might be helpful to explore the broad range of views held by other Subud members, tossing up various notions to see how they suit me.

So, do we need a new explanation of the latihan? Yes, but not just one. We would do better to assemble as many reasonably self-consistent views as people are happy to offer in some suitable forum, saying frankly whatever they suppose that the latihan is. In any case, there's no need (or possibility) for all Subud members to hold or express compatible opinions.

Merin

From sjahari hollands, December 30, 2007. Time 16:19

I have started a new topic in order to pursue the process of writing this play about a guy who has innocently asked about Subud and received more than he was bargaining for. . . I am proposing to be Q. Stefan has already identified himself with A. And anyone else can pitch in as B, C, D to help A explain things to Q.

Go to the Authors page in order to find the new topic.

From sjahari hollands, December 31, 2007. Time 1:33

A response for Merin

Merin: "Obviously one should tell people the truth. If I don't know or don't care what the latihan really is, then that's what I should say."

Sjahari: All subud members are at times explaining what the latihan is to people, (as in our little play) but it is the helpers who are given, and who accept the primary responsibility for this function. It is the job they have agreed to do for the Subud organization. I don't think it would be either honest or ethical for someone to take on the role of helper, if they really felt they either didn't know, or didn't care what the latihan is.

Merin: "If I'm nevertheless prepared to mention certain ways that other people apparently envisage the latihan, then I may as well do so, while stating that these views are not actually mine. If I'm prepared to put forward my own explanation of what the latihan is, that's fine, whether or not it's an opinion shared by other Subud members (such as that of Pak Subuh), providing I don't portray the respective explanation as one that is necessarily supported by any other particular person."

Sjahari: Again, as an inidividual you have every right to explain subud in this way, but if you are explaining what subud is in a formal role as an “explainer” for subud (ie helper) then I don't agree that your own personal theories should be incorporated there. As a member of Subud I wouldn't want to think that helpers were representing the latihan to people according to a wide variety of wild and wooly and idiosynchratic belief systems. In a way, the helper explaining Subud is also representing me as a member, and hence has a certain responsibility to present a consensus view of what Subud and the latihan are.

Merin: "If I present my own explanation or model or interpretation of the latihan to inquirers, then it ought to be a view that I have reason to support. If I'm unsure what I think about the latihan, then I should say so - though later I might choose to ponder it a while, so that I can perhaps express an opinion next time. For the sake of deciding where I stand in this regard, it might be helpful to explore the broad range of views held by other Subud members, tossing up various notions to see how they suit me."

Sjahari: Again, if you act as an individual, go for it. But if you are representing Subud as a helper in a formal way then you don't have my permission as a member to do this. If I am introducing a friend to Subud I don't want to risk having them encounter some really wierd ideas about what subud is. (Your views may not be weird, I am not saying they are. So far you havent told us what they are. However, there are a lot of weird ones out there, and I know that much for sure.) I don't want my friend exposed to that kind of thing. I want to know that my friend is hearing something compatible with what the generally accepted view and consensus view is.

Merin: "So, do we need a new explanation of the latihan? Yes, but not just one. We would do better to assemble as many reasonably self-consistent views as people are happy to offer in some suitable forum, saying frankly whatever they suppose that the latihan is. In any case, there's no need (or possibility) for all Subud members to hold or express compatible opinions."

Sjahari: As I stated in my original article above--I believe there must be a set of core principles or assumptions that we can in fact reach consensus on. These core principles should be included in any explanation that is put forward as a representative one. And outlying viewpoints should be discouraged--at least from the helpers.

Sjahari Hollands

From Michael Irwin, December 31, 2007. Time 3:45

Sjahari:"…explaining what the latihan is…It is the helpers who are given, and who accept the primary responsibility for this function. It is the job they have agreed to…. I don’t think it would be either honest or ethical for someone to take on the role of helper, if they really felt they either didn’t know, or didn’t care what the latihan is."

Me: I ‘care’ but I don’t ‘know’. I don’t feel it is unethical to admit that I didn't know to a newcomer.

Sjahari "…the helper explaining Subud is also representing me as a member, and hence has a certain responsibility to present a consensus view of what Subud and the latihan are."

AND

"…I want to know that my friend is hearing something compatible with what the generally accepted view and consensus view is."

Me: How do you define a consensus? By whom: All agree? No one disagrees?

What would that product be about which there is ‘consensus’: Spoken extempore statements by helpers? Memorized statements by helpers? Approved pamphlet to be always offered by helpers?

Sjahari: "…I believe there must be a set of core principles or assumptions that we can in fact reach consensus on. These core principles should be included in any explanation that is put forward as a representative one. And outlying viewpoints should be discouraged -- at least from the helpers."

Me: I agree that we should strive to a list of core principles or assumptions about the Subud organization and how it presents the latihan. I don't think that is what you mean, however.

Explanation of what? If it is an explanation of the outer procedures and a suggested internal state of the latihaner, fine. If it is an explanation of what the latihan is, I don’t agree.

One of the principles to which I would subscribe is that ANY description of what the latihan is is itself a personal view and in the case of helpers, I would require that that principle be stated clearly and often enough that a newcomer would know that it applied also to the helper he is talking to.

From David W, December 31, 2007. Time 4:32

Hi Michael

I came across the following quote today:

Man can embody truth but he cannot know it

--Yeats

It came to mind when I read your "I ‘care’ but I don’t ‘know’."

Yeats was quoted by Hubert Dreyfus, in this lecture, which you can download online (you need a version of iTunes, which if free, on your computer):

http://deimos3.apple.com/WebObjects/Core.woa/Browse/berkeley.edu.78023846.078023848.79823835?i=1941183543

I think you'll start to see in that lecture what happened to the Western tradition of Unknowing, post Eckhart.

Best

David

From Merin Nielsen, December 31, 2007. Time 5:53

Hi, Sjahari,

I agree pretty firmly with Michael's response just above, but I started writing this reply earlier, and now rather than delete the bits where I'm overlapping Michael's points, I'll just repeat them. Please forgive.

>> I dont think it would be either honest or ethical for someone to take on the role of helper, if they really felt they either didn't know, or didn't care what the latihan is.

I simply disagree, as I see no reason at all why it could be dishonest or unethical. You're saying that the job of helper should be given only to those who (claim to) know and care what the latihan is. But why should either of these factors make someone a better helper? Ideally, a helper should be equipped to explain things like (a) how to approach practising the latihan in the most likely beneficial way; (b) what to look out for in terms out affects that the latihan might produce; (c) what to do if, say, newcomers discover that their latihan interferes with daily life. These matters are usefully describable on the basis of many members' past experiences. Describing what the latihan actually is - that's nobody's responsibility.

>> ... the helper explaining Subud is also representing me as a member, and hence has a certain responsibility to present a consensus view of what subud and the latihan are.

I would wish for anyone representing me to be honest. Any view is either held or not held by the person presenting it. If helpers were to agree, on assuming the job, to always present some particular 'official' view of what the latihan is, then I would expect them to always add, clearly and honestly, whether or not they personally subscribe to that view! Moreover, whatever opinion about the latihan that a helper presents, it should also be mentioned, clearly and honestly, that not all Subud members subscribe to that opinion. Thus, an inquirer could well be handed an officially authorised pamphlet by some helper, but I would be very disappointed to know that the helper were handing over a pamphlet, to which he or she actually did not subscribe, without saying as much to the inquirer.

>> I want to know that my friend is hearing something compatible with what the generally accepted view and consensus view is.

If some kind of Subud referendum ever resolves that helpers must present some particular view of what the latihan is, and only that view, AS IF they themselves subscribe to that view, then so be it. However, there have been (and still are) many communities throughout the world in which such control is exercised - whole communities far larger than our Subud community - in which the views thereby promulgated would be regarded by you, me and most people as just plain silly, or worse. In other words, the formal establishment, imposition and acceptance of any "generally accepted view and consensus view" is in principle dangerous to a community's health.

>> These core principles should be included in any explanation that is put forward as a representative one.

I think there should not be any explanation that is put forward as a (or 'the') representative one, because it's unnecessary and we are actually better off without. The nature of the latihan should not be tied down.

>> And outlying viewpoints should be discouraged -- at least from the helpers.

Are the helpers to be kept leashed, or are they appointed on the grounds that they seem like basically good, trustworthy, caring, sensible, experienced individuals who, incidentally, also practise the latihan? Okay, there are indeed a few helpers I've met whose views seemed weird to me. However, I think that the solution you are drifting towards is a system whereby the only people appointed to be helpers are those who, beforehand, pass some quiz of their beliefs - explicitly supporting a particular interpretation of what the latihan is - like the way that pastors and priests get appointed. A community with such a system of authority is one that I might well seek to deter anyone from joining!

Best wishes,

Merin

From David W, December 31, 2007. Time 6:22

Hi Sjahari

I don't feel that this conversation will move forward unless we talk specifics. You seem to point to the talks, without actually describing what's in them. I find this potentially confusing. So I'm going to describe what's in them.

The "you" in the paragraphs below is not you personally, but rather a hypothetical helper or official explainer, holding the supposedly non-weird, supposedly consensus view of what the latihan "is", as found in the talks:

Following Pak Subuh, you believe that what you experience in the latihan is wahyu: revelation. Specifically, it is the same revelation that was received by Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad. The difference between you and Jesus or Muhammad lies not in the nature of that revelation, but rather that Jesus and Muhammad were born pure, whereas you were born "dirty". Your "dirt" was inherited from your parents at the moment of conception. You may have added dirt through misbehaviour, as well. This "dirt" prevents you frome "receiving" this revelation as clearly as might have Jesus and Muhammad.

However, by doing the latihan twice a week for 30 minutes, you believe you will rid yourself of this "dirt". Furthermore, in so doing, you will also help rid your dead ancestors of their dirt. Similarly, after you die, if your children follow this practice, they will continue to rid you of your dirt post-mortem. You believe that it is important that people have children, in order to continue this post-mortem purification process.

Following Pak Subuh's explanations, you also believe that material objects, plants, animals and humans contain unseen animating "forces". These animating forces are absorbed by human beings through the acts of (a) desire (b) eating, and (c) sexual intercourse. These forces are necessary for human life, since without them, we would not be able lift a finger. You believe this vitalist account offers a more complete picture of the human being than do "materialistic" scientific depictions. You believe that "low" animating forces infect the human heart and brain, where they give rise not only to bad behaviour, and also to incomplete and materialistic pictures of the universe. You believe that though all human beings have the same "outer" form, some have the "inner" of a rock or a vegetable. The purpose of the Subud latihan is to transform people with "low" inners, into "true" human beings--of which there are currently not so many.

Following Pak Subuh, you believe that God in the past sent Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammad as messengers, but has this time round has decided to send the latihan kejiwaan instead of another messenger. God has thus made direct revelation available to all who asks, provided they first declare belief in monotheism. This direct revelation has been passed from God to Pak Subuh, and is thence passed from person to person as a "contact".

You hold that once you have received the contact, and become sufficiently clean, through "testing" you can--like Pak Subuh--know the state of any part of the world, and--like Pak Subuh--can foresee the future. You also believe that all manner of "lower forces", including money, will be attracted to you, because they will see you as a conduit to heaven. This attractiveness will make you--like Pak Subuh--material wealthy. You also believe that when you become sufficiently pure, you will be able to speak to invisible beings such as jinn and angels.

When you just point to the talks, and say "these are a complete and adequate and in no ways weird account of the latihan which everyone in Subud agrees on", all I can do is look to what you point to.

In cultural context, these explanations are not strange for a Javanese priyayi born in 1905. But it seems to me on a rather anachronistic (i.e. weird) worldview for an educated, Canadian, 21st C. audience.

So it seems to me that:

• either I have not represented accurately what's in the talks... in which case: correct me, or

• I have represented them accurately, but you are referring to other parts of the talks, and you don't mean these parts... in which case: please be specific, to avoid misunderstanding, or

• I have accurately represented both the talks, and what you were pointing to, but you see nothing exceptional or weird about such explanations--considered not as the beliefs of a rural Javanese gentlemen, but as explanations being offered to a university-educated 21st C. Canadian audience.

If the last then the logical step is to submit these explanations to professional journals, newspapers, government departments and social agencies, who will find them in no ways weird or objectionable.

But we don't. Instead, we hide them. What Merin, and I, and others are working towards is explanation(s) which do not necessitate hiding.

Best

David

From Philip Quackenbush, December 31, 2007. Time 6:40

Hi, Sjahari,

You said:

I don't think it would be either honest or ethical for someone to take on the role of helper, if they really felt they either didn't know, or didn't care what the latihan is.

A commendable attitude, except I think a lot of us, including people who are or have been "helpers" are still attempting to determine what the "latihan" is. I know I am, and I was an active "helper" for over 20 years. And bung Subuh was constantly hitting on the "helpers" that they didn't know what it was, only he (in his megalomania?) did. After reading and hearing uncounted "explanations" about it from his "receiving", I only became more confused, since his "explanations" were often contradictory, IMO, and contained so many non sequiturs that it was hard to follow what his reasoning may have been, and ultimately were not in accord either with my own "receiving" or reasoning about what it might be.

For a good perspective on its history, at least, from David's research, I suggest you read his recent article in SUBvision about the history of the cult, which includes his personal opinion from up close, living among the "top dogs" for several years. That suggests, first of all, that there's nothing particularly unique about the "latihan", and, second, that it probably came to Indonesia from China, which is what I've been asserting all along, without much to back it up other than my intuition and a few comparisons I've run across that necessarily have to come from "outside" sources, since the cultists refuse to look at the "latihan" objectively, in my experience. IMO, it's that large dose of denial that may be (or possibly has already become) the death of the organization as an effective tool for spreading the "latihan" to those who are interested in it, which probably was the founder's intention in setting up the organization in the first place. Too bad, too sad, really.

Peace, Philip

From sjahari hollands, December 31, 2007. Time 8:11

RESPONSE TO MICHAEL, Merin and David: (response to Phillip to follow)

Michael: How do you define a consensus? By whom: All agree? No one disagrees?

What would that product be about which there is ‘consensus’: Spoken extempore statements by helpers? Memorized statements by helpers? Approved pamphlet to be always offered by helpers?

Sjahari: It really surprises me that you ask these questions as it seems to indicate you havent read what has gone previously, nor my original article. None of the above is what I have ever said actually. What I am proposing is that maybe there is a set of core assumptions to which we can come to some agreement. I have presented some candidates. Rather than discussing those candidates, you summarily dismiss the entire idea and support your position by ascribing to me ridiculous views I have never held. . This is a common strategy in Subud discussions and one of the main reasons why we can make no progress at all in any direction at all. It seems you want to throw out the entire list of 7 that I presented, and that you disagree with them all, as well as the entire idea. And that in fact there isnt even ONE thing in your view that we could come to consensus on. Not even one thing.

Michael:

Explanation of what? . . . . . If it is an explanation of what the latihan is, I don’t agree.

Sjahari: And why not? What evidence or argument do you have against it? Is this website just a place where opinions are held rigidly? What is the point of that?

David:

Man can embody truth but he cannot know it

--Yeats

Sjahari: I am not searching here for either an explanation of the truth, nor an embodiment of it. I am simply looking for what would be the essential characteristics of a simple explanation of what the latihan is. An explanation which ordinary people can understand with their ordinary minds.

David:I think you'll start to see in that lecture what happened to the Western tradition of Unknowing, post Eckhart.

Sjahari: The lathan is exactly about the the embodiment of the Unknowing. Of course it is. . .. Could this be A core principle? Oh I forgot. Excuse me. There isnt anything we can ever agree upon. . .not one thing, including this.

Merin. You're saying that the job of helper should be given only to those who (claim to) know and care what the latihan is.

Sjahari: I didnt say either of those things. What I believe is that the helper’s job is something he is doing on behalf of the organization, and not on behalf of himself. In fulfilling his role, the helper is not there to present and propogate and promote his own personal spiritual or psychological views and belief system.

David:

"I don't feel that this conversation will move forward unless we talk specifics. You seem to point to the talks, without actually describing what's in them. I find this potentially confusing. So I'm going to describe what's in them.. . . . . . "

Sjahari:

And you go on to list for me all the things that I believe. Hey. Thanks for telling me what I believe!! I sure needed that! (And It seems to me that you are simply using this discussion forum to yet again present the same point of view you keep repeating over and over and over whatever the context and regardless of the topic of the discussion.)

But I thought that this whole subud vision thing was about presenting arguments based on demonstrable evidence. And I think you will find nowhere, in anything I have written, anything to support your assumptions of what I believe. Thus I would request that you try to follow the guidelines for this website.. . confine yourself to objectively discussing the arguments I have actually written in my article and subsequently.

So I will repeat again, for the umpteenth time. I am suggesting only ONE thing. . . And there is only one argument being presented here. . . . . that there must be some set of core assumptions to which we can come to some consensus that identify the essential elements of the latihan and subud as what it is, and that distinguish it from either the Walt Disney Company, or the ANglican church, or Transcendental Meditation or a soccer club.

No? Doesnt sound like it.

No wonder we cant get anywhere since we have absolutely no idea of who we are or what we do or why or anything at all.

I am currently reading Walt Disney's biography. He knew exactly what he was doing from the very beginning. His goal was simple but at the same time powerful. . . to make a cartoon . . . the best possible cartoon.

He was an artist and a business man and an actor and a musician and a mime and a leader as well but all these things were in the service of one end.

If the discussion on these pages is any indication, we in Subud have absolutely no idea of what we are about. We have no common goal or purpose that holds us together. No wonder we are not attractive to most people. it is sad actually.

Of all the reasons that have been proposed in these pages for the lack of progress in Subud this is probably the single most important factor.

Sjahari.

From Merin Nielsen, December 31, 2007. Time 9:23

Hi, Sjahari,

>> If the discussion on these pages is any indication, we in Subud have absolutely no idea of what we are about. We have no common goal or purpose that holds us together.

We don't need a common goal or purpose in order to be held together. The practise of the latihan is sufficient for that. By way of metaphor, people go to the local gym for all kinds of reasons: to lose weight; to build up muscles for some particular sport; to improve cardio-vascular endurance; to combat some disease; to prolong their lifespan; to buff up for impressing the opposite sex; to simply improve their health. They all have 'going to the gym' in common, and it's obvious that they must all regard going to the gym as personally beneficial, being probably grateful that the gym exists, but nothing need be declared about why they individually go - what respective benefits they each find or hope to find by doing so.

Why did they each decide to undertake this activity? Because somedody else, one way or another, has described how the gym has been of benefit to themselves. Sometimes a physiotherapist, sometimes a neighbour, sometimes a fellow sportsperson, sometimes a boyfriend or girlfriend, sometimes a family member or teacher - potentially with all different explanations or no explanations, some with mere recommendations, in a wide range of contexts. Each of the various reasons for going along is valid to the person concerned, and there's no need for them to ever discuss their reasons. The people attending the gym don't necessarily know or care why other gym-goers are present; what matters is that they simply appreciate being there.

Merin

From bronte, December 31, 2007. Time 14:8

So now the latihan came from China? I think it comes from beyond there somehow!

Well, a few days ago I wrote here what I think I'd like to see as the explantion of what and how it works. As Merin wrote, that could be an end to it. But it's not. Now I'll give, again, my theorey as to what we should all be telling everyone who approaches Subud.

There are three main components of a human being. A body, a mind, and an "inner" or hidden part, sometimes described in religion as "Soul".

The body has physical food. The emotions and mind have food from the heart and mind. Both of these are immediately available to us from the moment we are born, and indeed, before that moment.

But the soul has to receive it's food from the same realm. The unseen real. The realm of the spirit. And the contact of the latihan is an opening to the source of that life-food, which we all need. We can live without it, but we live less fully, like someone without all the senses, blind, or deaf.

But man has been given, from somewhere deep within, yet beyond the individual, a contact with a greater life, of which he is automatically a part. And this contact is trained and exercised in the latihan of Subud.

This latihan is itself not new, but few people know of it or do it, and within Subd we are given a opening to recive and practice this. Now, that is MY dogma about Subud, and religion, and all spirituality. Like it, or lump it.

But that's how I see it, and that's how I show it. And that's my offerring on this question here about what to tell applicants, and anyone else who asks.

Happy New Year!

From Andrew Hall, December 31, 2007. Time 14:39

Hi Sjahari,

It seems that you are feeling very frustrated and upset. You say that people are misrepresenting you and only repeating ad nauseum their own pet arguments.

You feel your initial suggestion and argument for a set of core assumptions is being ignored and, to boot, you are being told that you believe what you feel are ridiculous views that you never held.

No wonder you feel angry and misunderstood!

I hope you can hear my response about this. I, personally, have appreciated much of what has been written on this page. I think a variety of opinions and arguments have been offered, some of which I am sympathetic towards, some which I disagree on. And some of these issues, I am still not clear on myself. So I am learning, I hope.

I realy feel I have taken your arguments seriously and treated you respectfully.

Beginning at the top of this page, I did respond as well as I could to your initial set of assumptions. And I am willing to continue that discussion if you want to.

I am curious about your decision to not mention Bapak in your list of core assumptions since it seems that many of these assumptions come straight out of Bapak's explanations and teaching. In fact, in one post above you say that unless an alternative explanation of the latihan can be agreed on "allow us to keep Bapak exactly where he is."

In another place you say "There are things we accept to be true without necessarily having evidence. One of those is the assumption that the latihan comes from God and acts on the soul of a human being. (All it takes is to go through the Subud literature since the 1950’s to find that this is a core assumption. Not only in Bapak, but in many people who have spoken and written about Subud and the latihan.)"

"Some people may not like that this core assumption is there. And some may want to get rid of it all together. But how can anyone deny that this is a core belief and core assumption in subud? How many people go through the 3 month period talking to helpers without hearing about God and the soul? And it is in the opening statement."

I hope these quotes are complete and don't misrepresent your views by being given out of context.

In reply, I would say thay you are historically accurate. This is how the latihan was explained by Bapak and I guess members seem to have been comfortable with it. Certainly, some members wrote about Subud and did not question this.

Elsewhere you talk about yourself, "Personally, if I had not thought that the latihan was about the growth and purification of my soul, I would never have come into subud in the first place. ... I was interested in exactly what I learned the latihan was through reading Bapak’s talks about it."

I am curious about your attitude towards Bapak's authority. Bapak said quite a bit in his book, Susila Buddhi Dharma, and in the over 1300 talks that have been documented.

I think David Week in his last posting gives a fairly concise description of Bapak's teaching about the world of the jiwa. When I read this, I am wondering if you feel that Bapak's teaching is true? Do you accept it all? Or only parts of it?

I think one of the assumptions in Subud has been that Bapak is the authority on the latihan and everything he says is true. Do you agree with this assumption? Where do you draw the line?

This is a serious question and I hope you see it as such.

I also hope that I have not misrepresented your views.

Regards,

Andrew

From sjahari hollands, December 31, 2007. Time 18:18

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for your response which I take to be respectful and has an intention to enter dialogue.

It is certainly the case that my attempts to put my premise forward have been inconsistent and not perfect. There are several points in your note below which demonstrate to me that you dont actually understand what I am trying to say, and that must be my responsibility, so I will try again to clarify.

Andrew: “I am curious about your decision to not mention Bapak in your list of core assumptions since it seems that many of these assumptions come straight out of Bapak's explanations and teaching.”

Sjahari:

I have tried to explain this before and will again. Let us take core assumption number 2 for instance. “The latihan can be experienced by anyone anywhere.” It may be that Bapak said this. I couldnt tell you where. But just as important is the fact that it is MY observation. I have seen this and experienced it and heard about it and talked to people who have had the experience. So yes. Bapak saw this as do I and many people. It is not being put into the list BECAUSE Bapak said it and Bapak is an authority (which I dont believe). It is simply a core assumption. Something that many, or possibly most, accept to be true. A core principle. And any core principle is independent of any specific human being, including Bapak.

Andrew:

I am curious about your attitude towards Bapak's authority. Bapak said quite a bit in his book, Susila Buddhi Dharma, and in the over 1300 talks that have been documented.

Sjahari:

As I have said repeatedly, I do not accept Bapak as an authority and do not accept the assertion that Bapak presented himself that way.( Indeed one of the reasons I came into subud is because there is no authority or leader or guru, and I have seen nothing so far to change my view on this).

If I hear an aria from La Boheme and break into tears -- is it because the opera authorities demand that I break into tears whenever I hear this aria? No. It is simply because it touched me. Bapak’s words also touched me then , and still do now. It is not because he is an authority figure for me. I simply read and am touched. I shiver inside.

If I read Yeats and have the same experience, is it because I am required to respond that way by the Poetry Authorities? No.

So in answer to your question - I do not and never have looked to Bapak as an authority on anything, ever. And I never will. Nevertheless I get a huge amount from reading his talks.

Andrew:

I think David Week in his last posting gives a fairly concise description of Bapak's teaching about the world of the jiwa. When I read this, I am wondering if you feel that Bapak's teaching is true? Do you accept it all? Or only parts of it?

Sjahari:

I totally disagree with everything that David Week wrote there. Totally. He has simply “cherry picked” chosing certain aspects from Bapak’s talks that support the position he is repeatedly putting forward. He is presenting these concepts in his own words in a way which puts a derogatory spin on them.

Interestingly in an earlier posting he quotes Yeats “Man can embody truth but he cannot know it.” And yet he declines to include in his rant about Bapak, all the multitude of instances in which Bapak says the exact same thing as Yeats. David Week likes to say that every single thing Bapak said is derivative from the single source of Javanese mysticism. Does David believe that Bapak actually read Yeats as well?

From Yeats it is wisdom according to David. But the exact same thing spoken by Bapak (again according to David) is ridiculous feudal myth from an authoritarian Javanese mystic. . . Go figure.

I could easily go to Yeats or Rumi, or whoever, and pull out from the poems a representation which sounds just as ridiculous as the depiction David made of Bapak in that posting. Anyone can be ridiculed, that is easy to do, to create something new and positive is another matter.

Andrew:

I think one of the assumptions in Subud has been that Bapak is the authority on the latihan and everything he says is true. Do you agree with this assumption?

Sjahari:

I emphatically disagree on both points. Absolutely and without reservation. MUCH of what he said was not true (as it was for Yeats, Rumi, Buddha, anyone you want to mention). And he is by no means the authority on the latihan and that is repeatedly emphasized over and over and over in his talks. There is only one authority for the latihan. ( a word which I hesitate to mention here -- in this particular company on subudvision . . . . . . . G_d)

Andrew:

Where do you draw the line?

Sjahari:

There is no line. And there is no question about it in my mind.

Andrew:

I also hope that I have not misrepresented your views.

Sjahari:

You have not understood them, but on the other hand I dont feel you are deliberately misrepresenting them in order to make your point.

Thank you for bringing the principles of NVC into this discussion, and for this element of civility. I regret it if in some parts of the above note I have not done as well. I do tend to get emotionally involved.

Sjahari

From sjahari hollands, December 31, 2007. Time 18:48

Responses to Merin and to Bronte:

Merin above states that we do not need a common goal in Subud and that the latihan experience can be compared to going to the gym where there are a variety of goals and purposes and where the only thing the people have in common is that they have gone there. I dont think that is actually true. If we gathered all the people who belong to the gym and said to them:

“Is there one thing we all have in common? Is there one thing we could identify which distinguishes our love of “going to the gym” from other activities such as for instance “going to the movies”?

I think it would be more than possible to do so.

Some people go to the gym. Other people go to the movies. Other people go dancing. Some people go to choir practice. Some go to Yoga. Some people go to the tennis courts. Other people go to the latihan. Many people go to more than one of these activities.

These activities are easily seen to be different and except for Subud, each one has a core common purpose at its center which distinguishes it from the others.

Except for Subud, the adherents to all the above activities could identify what it is about the activity that draws them to it, that they value, and that distinguishes it for them.

. .. Except for Subud, where, according to Merin, there is no common core principle and no need for one in the first place, and by God we our proud of it!!!!!

Bronte:

I love your explanation. It seems in my mind to be close to Bapak's as well.

What I am trying to do however is a little different than looking for explantions. I am trying to see whether there are any common principles that we can all agree on. And whether there are features of a good explanation of the latihan that we can identify as such.

Sjahari

From Andrew Hall, January 1, 2008. Time 0:21

Hi Sjahari,

Thank you for your explanations.

It may be that I still don't understand how you see things, so bear with me as I ask a few more questions.

I suggested that one of the commonly-held assumptions in Subud has been that Bapak is the authority on the latihan and everything he says is true. You replied that you disagreed with these statements. You said "MUCH of what he (Bapak) said was not true.. And he is by no means the authority on the latihan and that is repeatedly emphasized over and over and over in his talks."

But when I next ask where do you draw the line (between what is and isn't true), you say there is no line. This is after you say that much of what Bapak said was not true. So, how do you tell what Bapak says is true and what Bapak says that isn't true?

Next question. I thought David Week's summation of some of the teachings in Bapak's talks to be a fair description. You may not feel this is fair description because David ommited other things that Bapak also said, but my question is very specific - is there anything in David's description that Bapak did not say?

Finally, your assumption number 2 - "the latihan can be experienced by anyone anywhere and has existed in the world for all time." In your previous post, you say "I have seen this and experienced it and heard about it and talked to people who have had the experience. So yes. Bapak saw this as do I and many people." Can you please give some specific examples of this?

Thank you brother. Looking forward to your reply.

Andrew

From bronte, January 1, 2008. Time 0:46

"the latihan can be experienced by anyone anywhere and has existed in the world for all time."

If Bapak can commence a talk (Adelaide March 1963) with "This latihan kejiwaan of Subud is not something new", then he himself is pointing out the very thing that you wrote.

The difference for those of us opened in Subud must surely be that this time, or in this organisaton, we have become a group of people who practice it together. And somewhere I may have read that Bapak claimed it is time for this to happen.

Elsewhere there are comments made that some people believe the latihan, or the contact with the Spirit of God Within, is the preserve of people who have diligently followed their religious guidance for some time before receiving it.

I know that the Christian people I have dealt with even here have some pretty hostile negative responses to that. But they never gave me a closeness to my belief of God anyway. Just a fear of life and of religious people. Subud people do a bit less of that to me, some of the time.

From Merin Nielsen, January 1, 2008. Time 7:21

Hi, Bronte,

>> But the soul has to receive it's food from the same realm. The unseen real. The realm of the spirit.

>> And the contact of the latihan is an opening to the source of that life-food, which we all need.

>> We can live without it, but we live less fully, like someone without all the senses, blind, or deaf.

I doubt it's fair to say that blind or deaf people live less fully than sighted or hearing people. However, supposing we have souls and feed them, how do the results manifest in daily life? Could these results ever be reasonably interpreted in a different way, as some occurrence that does not involve such things as souls?

Hi, Sjahari,

>> If we gathered all the people who belong to the gym and said to them:

>> “Is there one thing we all have in common? Is there one thing we could identify which distinguishes

>> our love of “going to the gym” from other activities such as for instance “going to the movies”?

>> I think it would be more than possible to do so.

* Alice goes to the gym, but has no idea why.

* Bob goes to the gym because it benefits his life; but he breaks this explanation down no further.

* Carol goes to the gym because it benefits her life; because it benefits her physical life; but she breaks this explanation down no further.

* Donald, Denise, Daniel, Dianne, David, Deirdre (and so on) all go the gym because it benefits their lives; because it benefits their physical lives; but they have widely ranging reasons for why it benefits their physical lives.

* Alice has no explanation. (She's possibly unusual.)

* Bob's explanation is trivial, as nobody normally engages in regular activity that does not somehow benefit his or her life.

* Carol's explanation is not trivial, so let's return to it.

* D-people may well have explanations with nothing in common.

Carol's explanation is not trivial, but it is obvious. The core assumption is that going to the gym may benefit one's physical life, but the gym obviously is all about physical activity, so nothing is really explained.

Carol's level says what aspect of life the latihan may benefit, but should it be called the spiritual, the mental-emotional, the psychological, the psychic, the neurological, the holistic or what? I'd say it doesn't really matter, because these terms are so fuzzy that they overlap and ultimately point to much the same thing, which can also be interpreted as the aspect of benefit applying to, for example, meditation or yoga. Thus, it is obvious that the latihan is supposed (by its practitioners) to benefit their lives spiritually / mentally-emotionally / psychologically / (and so on).

We're considering core assumptions in relation to what the latihan is. If these are actually obvious, then nobody can object to them. On the other hand, such core assumptions are not very enlightening. We can't escape the obvious till we consider the D-level, but "common goals or purposes" are left behind at the C-level.

Regards,

Merin

From bronte, January 1, 2008. Time 14:6

Merin,

No matter what you think of my analogy, there comes a time when the advice Bapak gave has to be considered or ignored.

At one time he said that today we have a way of approaching God that does not use the heart and mind, unlike the old days.

And we have to stop doing all this analysing and intellectualising and do the latihan.

After that, some of us might think less about the questions about Subud, or religion of any kind, and be more content to follow the answers we find in ourselves, few though they be, which do not amend themselves to accomodate the cleverness of our busy litle brain.

Then perhaps we too will know the peace that passes understanding, no matter whether the descriptions we have read seem stupid or illuminating.

Peace to you, brother!

From David W, January 1, 2008. Time 18:35

Hi Sjahari

I feel you are misunderstanding me on a number of fronts:

1 I am not telling you what to believe. I specifically said that in what followed was not addressed to you. But it is an accurate depiction of what an average explainer might be expected to believe if they are told to base their explanations on the talks.

2 I am not cherry-picking. The concepts I iterated are found everywhere in the talks. The fact that Andrew also saw this as a "fair description" indicates that I am being fair. I grew up in Subud. It was my first and only religious training. I lived in a community which was completely infused with Pak Subuh's teachings, informed not just by taped talks but a constant presence, by people working directly with the man, by anecdotes in the community, by personal advice to my family, and to other families close to mine. I have read hundreds of the talks. I also understand in both a lived and learned way the cultural context in which Pak Subuh's ideas are set. Living in Cilandak with Pak Subuh was not like living in Cilandak with William Butler Yeats, and people who quote Pak Subuh do not sound like people who quote Western poets.

3 I described the more Javanese aspects of Pak Subuh's talks rather than passages that might sound Yeats-like, because I was arguing against your proposal that Pak Subuh's explanations be the source of all helper explanations. I was arguing specifically against your assertion that other explanations might sound weird or idiosyncratic. It is precisely Pak Subuh's explanations that DO sound weird and idiosyncratic, because while 10% of Pak Subuh's talks make sense in Western culture, 90% of the talk content is situated in an alien theology from another culture.

4 If I said that every single thing that Pak Subuh has said is derived from Javanese mystical teachings, I was being a bit extreme. Make that 80-90%. If you read him carefully you'll see in phrases such as "as they say in religion" that he is TELLING you that he is doing that. I am expanding the range of references to other passages, where he doesn't bother to tell you what should be obvious: that he is not inventing his religious system. Pak Subuh SAYS, for example, that the seven-level cosmology of the Subud symbol is derived from the earlier Javanese sources. The history of the seven levels is also documented by independent anthrolopogical and historical accounts. Yet many members imagine that this is some kind of "revelation", and appear not to ask the most basic question: Why should we be adopting or repeating classical Javanese teachings?

5 I am not ridiculing Pak Subuh. I specifically said the opposite: "...in cultural context, these explanations are not strange for a Javanese priyayi born in 1905." I am, though, sharply criticizing Westerners who have not chosen to develop their own understanding within their own culture, and but instead attempt (without the necessary training) to interpret a culture which they do not understand, have no experience of and that is alien to their own background. In so doing, they end up alienating themselves and Subud from the culture and people around them.

6 "Feudalism": Pak Subuh's cultural worldview is infused with the feudalism of priyayi culture. There are dozens of signs of the influence in his talks and actions. Later in life, he even adopted the feudal title "Raden Mas". In the same way, Westerners have a cultural worldview infused with Judeo-Christian ethics, Cartesianism, progressivism, and egalitarianism. These are not put-downs. These are just facts. They do not make anyone look "ridiculous". But when we aim to imitate, quote or represent Pak Subuh, and end up promoting Javanese feudal culture, that makes Subud look bad. At the most trivial level, Subud members crawling around on their knees doing "sungkem"--a form of feudal obeisance--is bad for Subud. But this kind of feudal influence also extends into the theology. The idea of people having variously large or small souls, and people with large souls carrying their followers or retainers up to heaven with them, and the idea that the after-death fate of a woman is tied to the after-death fate of her husband all come from feudal theology. They are about regulating society in this world. These ideas are not new in any sense, but they are noxious to contemporary Christianity, contemporary and historical Islam, and to Western values. So when helpers find these in the talks, and start "teaching" them, that is a not good for Subud.

The imitation of Pak Subuh has damaged Subud. Let's take, for instance, the idea that people are being influenced by "lower forces". I am certainly not "cherry picking" here. This concept appears in virtually every talk. A simple search on this concept will show you what kind of groups use it in the West. Some top users:

- Rudolf Steiner

- occultists

- Theosophists

- The Heaven's Gate cult

- Pagans

- Sufism

- Subud

- Medievalists

- People interested in magic and sorcery

Explaining Subud in terms of a theology or psychology of "lower forces" puts Subud out there at the fringe of Western cultural territory. That is an example of why explainers of Subud should specifically NOT attempt to be Pak Subuh's spokespersons.

Rather than attempting to learn or translate Javanese culture, I think the solution is simply for us to better understand our own culture: to go into the depths of Yeats, or Eckhart, or Christianity, or Kierkegaard, or anything that makes sense to us that we have the cultural background and resources to properly understand.

The result would be people who explain the latihan to members in everyday language CONNECTED rather than alienated to our time and place. The result would be explanations that, where they use quotes, quotes from Yeats or Eckhart or Kierkegaard, concepts and sources that resonate widely in OUR culture, but are recognised as having standing and stature.

In saying this, I am saying no more than what Pak Subuh himself said when he said: Stick with your own religion. Use the latihan to become a better Christian, or a better Humanist, or a better Buddhist, or whatever it is you already are. Do not attempt to become like him.

For 50 years, Subud in the West has followed a certain path, which is to attempt to introduce the latihan by accompanying it with an alien theology. In doing that, we have done exactly what many other Eastern-inspired movements have done. Those movements have failed. Subud has failed in exactly the same way, and for exactly the same reasons.

In contrast, Buddhism stands out as a movement that has crossed the cultural gap. Where Subud is static or shrinking, Buddhism is the fastest growing spiritual movement in Australia, and in many other Western countries. Buddhist literature and quotes are everywhere: in airport bookshops and fridge magnets. People adopt Buddhist meditation, without bothering with incense, prayers, robes, vows, teachers, long Sanskrit words or baroque Tibetan cosmologies.

This successful crossing of the cultural gap is possible because certain highly trained Westerners--people like Robert Thurman, Stephen Bachelor, and Jack Kornfield--sat with the Dalai Llama and told him that to bring Buddhism to the West, he had to strip out all the Tibetan cultural idiosyncracies. He listened. Buddhism was further aided by the fact that many Buddhist teachers are highly trained and qualified in their tradition, whereas Pak Subuh was not: a point he himself made. The success of Buddhism has also been aided by the Buddhist concept of "upaya", which--to put it colloquially--says that it doesn't matter WHAT you believe, as long as you meditate. Concept of upaya and sunyata (the contingency of ALL forms of thought) allow the Dalai Llama to say: "If Buddhism contradicts science, then Buddhism must change."

The path of sticking to Pak Subuh's culturally laden explanations is a failed path. You seem to be insisting that we stick to this path until some other fully-fledged path is developed. I'm saying that it is a road that he led to a wrong place. I am saying that no matter how well-paved and provided with bound volumes of literature and willing tour guides, that path is intrinsically flawed. It is not Pak Subuh that is flawed. It is not the intentions of the guides that are flawed. It is the very basis of the enterprise.

It is important now that at least some of us strike out on a new path, no matter how muddy, badly paved, ill-defined and unclear it may be at the beginning. That's actually what the pioneers in Subud did 50 years ago. Sticking to the old road is not what they did, nor what allowed Subud to come into being.

As we explore new paths, I think we should have the support of our fellow members.

Best

David

From Philip Quackenbush, January 1, 2008. Time 18:42

Hi, Sjahari, Merin, and Bronte,

Your discussion about why people do "latihan" leaves out what is perhaps the most common reason: they're addicted to it. Anyone who has been in the cult as long as I have and has observed others' "latihans" as well as one's own can't help but be aware that the outer manifestations of their "latihans" may remain largely the same for decades.

I know that we "shouldn't pay attention to those exercising around us" but a "helper" is supposed to be aware of the "progress" (real or imagined) of the members, and that's one way of determining it (again, if it really exists; there's the philosophical position that all progress is imaginary, and what happens, happens, and nobody can change it, which I personally largely, but not entirely tend to subscribe to, because there is some evidence from current physics and biology that indicates a limited amount of "free will" may exist for the more complex neurological systems [but there's evidence that it may not, as well; the only question, then is what is the preponderance of the evidence?]).

I also know that the argument exists, as expressed by the founder of the cult, that there can be "inner" progress while the outer manifestations remain the same, but, if that's so, then why do so many members exhibit so little, if any, change in either their "latihan" or their attitudes? Again, the argument, or excuse, seems to usually be, again, as expressed by the founder of the cult, that they have a lot of "purification" to go through or that they are becoming more "themselves." By the principle of Occam's razor, the far simpler explanation is that, like a heroin or TV addict, they're simply addicted to the activity because they enjoy it (I've managed to manage my own addiction to it by finding other palliatives to take up the slack when I can't get my regular "fix" often enough) and have either the psychological or physical need to get their regular "fix."

Since Subud, under the usual indicators of what a cult is, matches a large majority of them (David ticked them off one by one on Subudtalk in a post a few months back), though, IMO, it's a fairly benign cult, perhaps what we should be more interested in is finding an "outside" source to de-program us. OTOH, because it does seem to be relatively benign (very few practitioners seem to exhibit deleterious effects to themselves or others of a gross nature), the addiction factor is not considered seriously enough, if at all, within the cult.

Habitual activity is not necessarily harmful; if it were, we wouldn't be able to function well in the whirl, being unable to remember how to walk, tie our shoes, etc., etc. But when it carries unexamined assumptions about what it is it can be, since such practices can result in memes that affect society in potentially detrimental ways, such as the current belief among almost half of polled Americans that "Jesus" is going to come down on a cloud within the next fifty years (and the corollary which many either don't believe or haven't taken into account, that, Biblically, it seems to be dependent on the destruction of the Dome of the Rock mosque in Jerusalem and the building of a new Jewish Temple on the site [World War III, anybody? How about setting it for the day after tomorrow? Oh, sorry, maybe the resident of the White House is on vacation again.]).

If the organization continues to have "helpers", then perhaps one of their main functions might be to monitor the degree of addiction of the members. It could be said that that is already being done in terms of "testing" whether a member "should" be doing "latihan" at a particular time, and/or how much and how often, but I, for one, and perhaps several others may, see "testing" as often rather unreliable and nebulous in its results, even harmful in some instances. It would be preferable, IMO, to have something more positive to rely on in such evaluations (as with psychological professionals called upon to deal with "Subud psychosis" in the past [and the present?]).

Peace, Philip

From bronte, January 2, 2008. Time 0:32

Please let's not discard things in Bapak's advice just because they are found in use by other groups which have a "lesser" reputation.

Universal truths occur, I believe, and the components of relgious thought and teaching will be used by both sides.

The "forces" or "nafsu" are almost logical, and I do not feel any need to deny this item of Bapak's guidance.

I have not read all the latest postings here yet, but it is getting a bit much.

Some of the religious advice of the simplest sort might be more useful eg "be still, and know that I Am God"

So being still is a task of value.

From Michael Irwin, January 2, 2008. Time 0:53

Sjahari, this post is designed to bring some clarity to the posts that preceded January 1 and which brought you to frustration. I hope it is useful.

I copied all your posts to Word (12 pages) and read through them to see if I could find any patterns. I saw three. Then I clipped out about a page of quotes that I thought might illuminate the three patterns. Here they are in quotes.

Pattern 1 – diversions – 2 examples

“Andrew: “I am curious about your attitude towards Bapak's authority.”” This quote was included in one of your posts. This question by Andrew started one of the off topic diversions in the conversation. This diversion was continued by you.

“it is the helpers who are given, and who accept the primary responsibility for this function. It is the job they have agreed to do for the Subud organization. I don't think it would be either honest or ethical for someone to take on the role of helper, if they really felt they either didn't know, or didn't care what the latihan is.”

You are quite right in making the point that the several diversions, of which this is another, again encouraged by you, were not about what you were addressing in your article. Nevertheless, you responded to them even though you usually returned to your point that these diversions were not what you were talking about. But isn’t that how conversations work? We do not have an appointed moderator. As author, I think that you do have some right to try to redirect the conversation back to the points you believe were in your article. That you became frustrated is understandable.

“1. Explaining Subud to people, vs a Definition of the latihan.”

I feel that a discussion on different ways of explaining Subud is perfectly valid , but it is a different topic than the one I am proposing and suggesting.”

This quote is a sort of bridge between the diversion pattern (1) and the patterns below but while you make it clear that explaining and defining are different activities and it is hard to separate out how creating a list of agreed upon principles is separate from explaining or how it relates to defining the latihan.

I think that the other participants found themselves frustrated too by the following two points.

2. Your conflation of two different topics. You make several references to the topic you want to address but each time you address it differently and often include two topics run together. Here are the quotes:

“As I stated in my original article above--I believe there must be a set of core principles or assumptions that we can in fact reach consensus on. These core principles should be included in any explanation that is put forward as a representative one. And outlying viewpoints should be discouraged--at least from the helpers.”

This quote references one topic, the development of a list of principles for agreement and use by the organization.

“Michael: Explanation of what? . . . . . If it is an explanation of what the latihan is, I don’t agree. Sjahari: And why not? What evidence or argument do you have against it? Is this website just a place where opinions are held rigidly? What is the point of that?”

“I am simply looking for what would be the essential characteristics of a simple explanation of what the latihan is.”

The above two quotes reference one topic: “explanation of what the latihan is”.

“that there must be some set of core assumptions to which we can come to some consensus that identify the essential elements of the latihan and Subud as what it is”

The above links the “set of core assumptions”, “elements” and ‘is’. It implies that such linkage is also assumed. For me these are three distinct topics.

“I am trying to see whether there are any common principles that we can all agree on. And whether there are features of a good explanation of the latihan that we can identify as such.”

The above links “common principles” and “features” with an “explanation of the latihan”. I think that principles and features are different and that neither describe what the latihan is.

“core assumptions or principles which taken together will be both sufficient and comprehensive to characterize and define what the latihan is.”

The above links “core assumptions or principles” with a definition of the ‘isness’ of the latihan. Again, I think that principles do not define ‘isness’.

“A core assumption of the latihan is a principle which we ourselves accept to be true even though we have no objective evidence or proof of its validity. It is a basic tenant.”

Frankly I don’t know what a “core assumption of the latihan” is so I don’t know whether it is a principle or not.

“Reply: I find it difficult to understand accounts that attempt to do the above without saying what the latihan is, and where and how it acts, and on what part of the human experience it is acting.”

This deals with the ‘isness’ of the latihan.

3. The following quotes make reference to personal experiences as they might be defined using the vocabulary of the person speaking which, while valid for those who understand the meaning of the vocabulary through their own experience, mean little or nothing for a person unfamiliar with or who has rejected the particular vocabulary.

“What you seem to be suggesting is for us to say “the latihan has a benefit because we say so. Don't ask us what the latihan is. We can't agree on that. Don't ask us how it works because we don't know, and won't say even if we did. Don't ask us where it exerts its influence. We don't know the answer to that. Don't ask us any of that. Just believe us. It's true because we say it is true.” …..Some people will accept this. I wouldn't. I prefer to have a context.”

This quote addresses the imagined response to the intellectual position that questions whether any words can describe the ‘isness’ of the latihan. This is a legitimate part of the discussion about one of the previously conjoined topics but you appear to reject it. Your reference to a context is interesting because it points to the topic of a list of assumptions. Are they your context? From the above quotes, it appears that you see that context as defining the latihan. Does it for you?

“We do however have beliefs. We do have core assumptions. There are things we accept to be true without necessarily having evidence. One of those is the assumption that the latihan comes from God and acts on the soul of a human being.”

You state that this topic links the ‘assumptions’ list to the ‘isness’. Those who would not agree that ‘isness’ can be defined would logically reject that idea that “the latihan comes form God and acts on the soul” since neither ‘God’ nor the ‘soul’ have any meaning to those who do not accept any one of the huge varieties of definitions of either God or the ‘soul’. In cultures that do not see reality as including those words as useful definitions, the statement is not merely objectionable but meaningless.

“Some people may not like that this core assumption is there. And some may want to get rid of it all together. But how can anyone deny that this is a core belief and core assumption in Subud? How many people go through the 3 month period talking to helpers without hearing about God and the soul? And it is in the opening statement."”

Same topic. If you use the word Subud to refer to every single latihaner, then the articles on this website demonstrate that there are a number of people who are not included. The organization of Subud, itself, does not have beliefs because it is not a human being. You continue by asking a rhetorical question to which you insist the only answer can be ‘yes’. The fact that the ideas of God and the soul may be ubiquitous in Subud merely reveals that the current membership supports these ideas. That fact does not say that future memberships, that may be of more diverse beliefs, may not also have just as much capacity to experience the latihan.

“I will ask you too ---- can you explain how the latihan works? Can you tell me what it is and how it acts upon us? Can you explain the experience that many of us have had of this vibration that seems to move us without our conscious will?”

Same topic: isness. Ancient tribes explained how rain fell. I am sure with research I could give you dozens of explanations as to how it works. Frankly, I think this is your question – one we probably all ask but one which I believe no one can answer for another. It is hard enough to answer it for oneself. I certainly can’t. But I can live with that.

“I am simply looking for an explanation of what the latihan is and how and where it works.” See above.

“And if it turns out that there is no God and there is no soul, then I don’t see any reason at all for going to the latihan.”

Unlike most people you have the courage to pose that possible answer to your question. My reply would be practical. If you take a shower, do you like the way you feel afterward? Do you need an explanation for why you do? If you had an explanation would that make you feel better than better? Does the latihan make you feel better? If it does isn’t that the reason why you do it again?

Michael

From Michael Irwin, January 2, 2008. Time 0:55

I exceeded 80 lines in the previous posting so this is what I took out -

Odds and ends:

“MUCH of what he [Bapak] said was not true”. I think that this observation, and its consequences, is what has triggered most of the energy that has gone into creating SubudVision. That observation also takes courage to recognize.

I think it is necessary to point out that the SubudVision editors do not edit feedback in the rigorous way that we edit articles. We try to catch and correct grievous personal attacks, spelling mistakes, run-on sentences and so forth but we often discuss how far we should go and, given time constraints, how far we can act as editors. We don’t act as moderators of feedback topics though we are discussing how to make them more accessible.

I have a suggestion. I think that this discussion is using the wrong tools to accomplish the ends you want. I suggest that I create a page on SBDpubs at wikispaces that will contain the list you have started where discussion threads on each item can be started which will group together all the comments related to each listed item. Then we can wrestle in an organized manner with a clear goal. This discussion can then be listed as a project on SubudVision for anyone to join in.

Michael

From sjahari hollands, January 9, 2008. Time 5:55

Response to Michael Irwin

Hi Michael,

I appreciate your identification of the patterns in the conversation. I agree that the conversation has taken many paths. In summary and to make it simple I will restate my contention.

I am suggesting the possibility that there may be a set of core beliefs, assumptions, tenants, that can identify Subud and the latihan and distinguish it from other practices (aeobics, , meditation, hypnotism, improvisational dance, etc. Etc. )

Noone so far agrees that there is any single core belief or tenant that sits at the center of subud, nevermind a set of them.

I also made the proposal that any explanation of the latihan should, or must, in some way or other, include within it, or encompass, or in some way embody, those core assumptions.To this proposal there has also been noone so far who agrees with me.

What I find the most disappointing in this exercise is not so much the lack of agreement, but the resistance towards even considering the possibility. This to me is something I am not used to amongst people who are interested in the exploration of ideas. .

Regarding your last point, you state:

“ If you take a shower, do you like the way you feel afterward? Do you need an explanation for why you do? If you had an explanation would that make you feel better than better? Does the latihan make you feel better? If it does isn’t that the reason why you do it again?”

I will use your metaphor to try and illustrate the point I am trying to make:

When I go and stand in the shower for the first time, I have a tap and knob in front of me. If it is a brand new shower I have never been in before, I might in fact be a little nervous not knowing exactly how to turn it in order to get a comfortable temperature. (I have been in many showers where I end up being showered either by ice cold water, or by scalding hot water as a result of not being familiar with the mechanism.)

However the analogy with the latihan is even more tenuous. In this analogy I have never been in a shower before, and have absolutely no idea what to expect. I am being told that something good will happen but I have no idea what. Is this going to be a shower? Water? Could it be boiling hot oil that will kill me that will come out of this tap? I have never been inside anything like this before and I have no idea what is coming at me. . . .

At that point I have to have faith. I have to believe the story that is being told to me. I have to believe this is fine, and it is going to be good. I have to believe the stories I have been told. I have to have at least some kind of conceptual understanding, no matter how rudimentary, of what to expect.

So I do. And I have faith. I stand in the shower. I close my eyes, and submit and turn on the tap, and I have faith that what I am in, is something good for me.

For the latihan, You wont provide with me with even this much context however. All you would say to me is this:

“Just turn the knob, and see what happens.”

The truth is, that in my experience Most people need a little bit more than that.

Sjahari

From sjahari hollands, January 9, 2008. Time 6:19

Response to David Week

Hi David,

refering to the previous posting you say: “But it is an accurate depiction of what an average explainer might be expected to believe if they are told to base their explanations on the talks.”

Sjahari: On the contrary, I do not believe that that what you set out in your summary accurately depicts what Bapak intended, or what we should be saying as explainers who are basing explanations on his talks. I do not agree with your choice of what to take out of his talks.

David: I am not cherry-picking.

Sjahari: In my view you are taking some parts and leaving out others.

David: The concepts I iterated are found everywhere in the talks. The fact that Andrew also saw this as a "fair description" indicates that I am being fair

Sjahari: Two doesnt necessarily make it fair. A majority doesnt even make it fair. Again, This is not what I hear when I listen, and And when I read, this is not the list of points that I take home with me. Far from it. My list is totally different from yours.

David:. I grew up in Subud. . . . . . . . . .

Sjahari;

It is too bad that you grew up this way, and with this orientation to Bapak and his explanations. I truly believe that as a result of this upbringing you were not able to form a relationship with Bapak and his ideas, which allowed you to really understand and appreciate what he was saying. I was only 23 yrs old when I came into Subud, but my orientation to Bapak, and my relationship to him was totally different from yours. I saw him and related to him much more as a man would, an equal in a kind of a way. I was able to see that like any man, there were some things that he was saying which were immensely valuable, and others that werent. The parts that were valuable I drank in like water in a desert. The parts that werent, I just let go because they werent important. There was no contraindication at all in my mind that both parts could exist simultaneously.

David: I described the more Javanese aspects of Pak Subuh's talks rather than passages that might sound Yeats-like, because I was arguing against your proposal that Pak Subuh's explanations be the source of all helper explanations.

Sjahari: I dont remember ever making such an assertion. To me, the parts of Bapak’s explanations that should be understood by us, and passed on by us, are precisely those parts that are indeed universally understood by people. Those are the parts we seem to be describing as “Yeats-Like” for the moment, (although in truth I dont really see Yeats in such a positive light as all that. He was a great poet. Yes. Beyond that. I dont know. )

David: I am not ridiculing Pak Subuh. I specifically said the opposite: "...in cultural context, these explanations are not strange for a Javanese priyayi born in 1905." I am, though, sharply criticizing Westerners who have not chosen to develop their own understanding within their own culture, and but instead attempt (without the necessary training) to interpret a culture which they do not understand, have no experience of and that is alien to their own background. In so doing, they end up alienating themselves and Subud from the culture and people around them.

Sjahari: I agree that we should understand as deeply as possible the cultural context of Bapak’s ideas. In this regard I believe you are making a significant and unique contribution to Subud. I am fully in favour of expanding our knowledge base as much as possible. Absolutely. And thank you for doing this.

David: "Feudalism": Pak Subuh's cultural worldview is infused with the feudalism of priyayi culture. There are dozens of signs of the influence in his talks and actions. Later in life, he even adopted the feudal title "Raden Mas". In the same way, Westerners have a cultural worldview infused with Judeo-Christian ethics, Cartesianism, progressivism, and egalitarianism. These are not put-downs. These are just facts. They do not make anyone look "ridiculous". But when we aim to imitate, quote or represent Pak Subuh, and end up promoting Javanese feudal culture, that makes Subud look bad. At the most trivial level, Subud members crawling around on their knees doing "sungkem"--a form of feudal obeisance--is bad for Subud. But this kind of feudal influence also extends into the theology. The idea of people having variously large or small souls, and people with large souls carrying their followers or retainers up to heaven with them, and the idea that the after-death fate of a woman is tied to the after-death fate of her husband all come from feudal theology. They are about regulating society in this world. These ideas are not new in any sense, but they are noxious to contemporary Christianity, contemporary and historical Islam, and to Western values.

Sjahari: I agree.

David So when helpers find these in the talks, and start "teaching" them, that is a not good for Subud.

Sjahari: I agree. As would Bapak.

David: The imitation of Pak Subuh has damaged Subud.

Sjahari:

I agree, and Pak Subuh would as well.

David:Let's take, for instance, the idea that people are being influenced by "lower forces". I am certainly not "cherry picking" here. This concept appears in virtually every talk.

Sjahari:

Remember that the talks you refer to were specifically addressed to individuals who were already doing the latihan. It was and still is recommended that people who have not been opened, dont listen to them. These ideas are introduced in order to help people understand and conceptualize some of the experiences they are already going through in their individual latihan experiences. They are by no means meant to represent a depiction of reality seperate from the latihan experience. They are a tool, a help, something to use IF YOU WANT TO, as a support for the latihan, along the way IF IT IS HELPFUL. Nothing more. Nothing more. Nothing more.

David:

A simple search on this concept will show you what kind of groups use it in the West. Some top users:- Rudolf Steiner- occultists- Theosophists- The Heaven's Gate cult- Pagans- Sufism- Subud- Medievalists- People interested in magic and sorcery

Explaining Subud in terms of a theology or psychology of "lower forces" puts Subud out there at the fringe of Western cultural territory. That is an example of why explainers of Subud should specifically NOT attempt to be Pak Subuh's spokespersons.

Sjahari: Rumi? The Bible? Catholic Monastic Practice? St. John of the Cross? Inuit Poets? Shakespeare? William Blake? Judaic Mysticism? Are all these on the fringe of WEstern Culture too? Wow. Thats a big fringe. I agree we should not be "Bapak's spokesperson" and at the same time I have no problem with explaining his conceptual framework of the nature of life.

David: Rather than attempting to learn or translate Javanese culture, I think the solution is simply for us to better understand our own culture: to go into the depths of Yeats, or Eckhart, or Christianity, or Kierkegaard, or anything that makes sense to us that we have the cultural background and resources to properly understand. . . . . . .

Sjahari: To do what you say above the first step must be to understand what happens in the latihan. Once you understand that then it is relatively easy to translate into the various other systems that you list here.

The problem in subud today, is that virtually nobody understands what the latihan is in the first place, neither in Javanese terms, or in the terms of their culture of origin, or in any terms at all for that matter.

So what you get is two sets of things happening.. . The first is the people who replace the fact that they actually have no idea what is going on with a rote reiteration of what they have read in Bapak’s talks, and what they believe him to be saying. The second is a kind of fuzzy connection between new age ideas and a vague undefinable idea of the latihan practice as a kind of "moving meditation" . Neither of these approaches is of any use at all in my opinion.

David:

It is important now that at least some of us strike out on a new path, no matter how muddy, badly paved, ill-defined and unclear it may be at the beginning. That's actually what the pioneers in Subud did 50 years ago. Sticking to the old road is not what they did, nor what allowed Subud to come into being.

Sjahari: To date I have seen nothing at all like this. Nothing approaching what you are advocating here has actually happened. . I see nothin to indicate that there is anyone right now today who has even experienced in a deep way, what the latihan is. The ability to both experience what it is and translate that experience into a meangingful explanation is even farther from any reality I have yet to see.

Nevertheless, it is exactly THIS is what I believe that we should be exploring in our publications and in our websites. This is the area which we should be exploring in our " muddy and ill-informed way. "

Exactly this. However, until such time as this starts to happen, and it isnt happening now, then i say we might as well stick with the one explanation that we have. Cuz there aint no other.

Sjahari

From Philip Quackenbush, January 10, 2008. Time 8:28

Hi, Sjahari,

Having re-read most of the feedback page on your article, I wanted to make a couple of comments on the final things you said in reply to David:

David:

It is important now that at least some of us strike out on a new path, no matter how muddy, badly paved, ill-defined and unclear it may be at the beginning. That's actually what the pioneers in Subud did 50 years ago. Sticking to the old road is not what they did, nor what allowed Subud to come into being.

Sjahari: To date I have seen nothing at all like this. Nothing approaching what you are advocating here has actually happened. . I see nothin to indicate that there is anyone right now today who has even experienced in a deep way, what the latihan is.

There are two assumptions here, as I see it: One, that you can know what others have experienced in the "latihan", which would make you a bonafide, testable psychic, which I seriously doubt you are, because I've seen nothing that would indicate you are, to use your own words.

The other is the assumption that there is such a thing as a "deep way" to experience the "latihan". Not that I think he was right or wrong, but bung Subuh once said that there was no such thing as "deeper" or "shallower" (if so, what was he nattering on about all those imagined levels for?). Experiences are experiences. They may feel "deeper" or "shallower" to the person experiencing them, but, again there's no way to judge that unless you're a genuine psychic, which is still something that Skeptic Magazine is offering ten thousand US bucks for anyone who can demonstrate under controlled conditions that they are, as I recall, with nobody yet able to pass their conditions or even submit to the challenge.

"The ability to both experience what it is and translate that experience into a meangingful explanation is even farther from any reality I have yet to see."

Again, an underlying assumptions of knowing what others experience and an insistence on explaining the "latihan" in terms you personally can accept.

"Nevertheless, it is exactly THIS is what I believe that we should be exploring in our publications and in our websites. This is the area which we should be exploring in our " muddy and ill-informed way. "

Exactly this. However, until such time as this starts to happen, and it isnt happening now, then i say we might as well stick with the one explanation that we have. Cuz there aint no other."

IMO, several at least partial explanations have been tentatively offered in feedback, and I could offer others, but the title of your article and the body of it suggests that you have already decided that only the explanation given by the founder {which runs to about a thousand lectures of an often contradictory nature, so which do we use? Aha! Let's use them all! That'll keep the applicants guessing and busy for the rest of their lives while still waiting to be "opened" because they haven't yet read and absorbed them all to the satisfaction of the "helpers" in attendance. Good thing the founder said that three months was the maximum period to wait except for those with a history of mental illness, and no testing was necessary beyond that period because it already proved the sincerity of the applicant, which is all that is required, isn't it?) is valid. I don't know if it's of any further value to continue a discussion that doesn't seem to be going anywhere, but I'll probably get sucked into it again if it does continue.

I've been in the cult long enough to be classified as a "pioneer", I think, still slogging down that muddy road, but I've found some pavement off in other directions, if anybody else is interested.

Peace, Philip

From Mike Higgins, January 11, 2008. Time 4:13

Woah, quite a confabulation conflagration here! I will refrain from throwing wood/would in it... well, maybe one small stick. I "would" like to ask Sjahari about something he said: "And if it turns out that there is no God and there is no soul, then I don't see any reason at all for going to the latihan."

Turns out? When will you know? Do you suppose the latihan will reveal the answer to you? If not, why do you practice it? (since your only reason for doing it is, in your words, "for the growth and purification of my soul"). I have noticed that this belief keeps some (many?) people in Subud. They're not sure that the latihan is doing anything for them but since it's "purifying their soul," they don't expect visible results from it. That doesn't sound like a healthy assumption to me, some would call it blind faith.

"David's proposed leaflet 'Introducing the Latihan'"

Where can I find this?

From Merin Nielsen, January 11, 2008. Time 9:35

Hi, Mike,

See above:

From Merin Nielsen, December 17, 2007. Time 22:50

Merin

From Sjahari Hollands, January 11, 2008. Time 17:31

Hi Mike,

Thanks for contributing. My own focus is confined primarily to the points I made in the original article where I attempt to come up with some core elements that I understand the latihan to be all about and argue that an explanation of the latihan should embody our core assumptions.

Not in that list of core assumptions as yet is the element of Faith. So thanks for bringing that into the discussion.

I firmly believe that the issue of faith is at the core of what the latihan is about, and our approach to it. I do feel that faith is a healthy assumption, and perhaps it is the most healthy of all our assumptions. I will be expanding on this idea in the article I describe below.

I believe that you can find David’s Week’s proposed leaflet somewhere on the main site - not sure where.

TO ALL:

I find that many of the comments I have been making are irksome to me. I tend to make either ironic points, or dramatic statements for the purpose of getting some reaction and response happening. Indeed I have got some reactions and that is good. But the excesses are not so good.

What this discussion has done is to trigger in me a desire to expand upon my original article and I am in the process of doing that.

What I want to explore is the issue of what Bapak’s message to us, through the medium of his talks really was. There are a variety of views on this, and I have my own. David Week presented his summary and I indicated I didnt agree with it, but didnt say what mine was, so I will be doing that.

I have also stated what I would and wouldnt want to see in an explanation of the latian, but I havent yet taken the risk of providing one myself. As I have said myself, it is easy to criticize something, but not so easy to create something.

What I plan to do in the new article is to expand my list of core assumptions and consolidate them. I will show how they reflect the essence of what Bapak wanted to get across in his talks.

I am going to critique some of the efforts at an explanation that have been made so far (Week, and others) ANd then I will go out on a limb and provide my own attempt.

Thanks to all for the contributions to this discussion.

Sjahari

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