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Sjahari Hollands - How to Read Bapak’s Talks and How Not To

Balancing Voice. From Stefan Freedman, June 30, 2008. Time 22:59

Hi Sjahari,

I chime with your key points about getting the most value from Bapak's talks:

"Enter a latihan-like state within yourself. Try to find inside yourself that deep but active quiet. Read Bapak’s talks in a similar way to reading poetry."

During my first year in Subud I was a voluntary worker in a small community-support centre. My boss committed suicide. His deputy (also his lover) had a breakdown and I was left, a naive 18 year old, trying to run the place. It was a testing time, and the thing that helped calm and soothe me was reading Susila Budhi Dharma. I found that reading the high Javanese was the most transporting of all.

But in later talks when Bapak urged us to start enterprises, to take an interest in kalimantan etc I noticed that he was, however, wanting us to hear his words as a spur to action. This is something other than a poem for the inner self. This kind of talk seems tailored to a particular group of people at a particular time.

In your first article you suggest that we need to find new ways to express Bapak's message about the universality of the latihan, in order to reach today's generation. I agree with this because Bapak so much wanted us to adapt what we say to each person, and to speak from our own direct experience.

Members of our association hold a spectrum of views on the value of Bapak's talks. I'd like to see us become more able to talk freely about this emotive subject. Several writers on this site (including myself) raise questions, and I very much appreciate your balancing voice, showing the value you find in Bapak's talks and explanations.


From sjahari, July 16, 2008. Time 23:30

Thanks for that support Stefan,.
I would like to respond to the comments you made on Bapak's encouragement of enterprises and so on.

I agree with you that in these talks, given in later years, there was an additional element added.

Bapak did in fact carry several roles at once - roles in addition to that of being the conduit for the latihan.

One of his roles, that he carried himself, and took on himself, was to create the subud organization. All the levels of functioning from local to international. This was an organizational task that he took on because he wanted to see Subud develop in a certain way into the future. hence the talks which included things about committee, and helpers, regional, national, international, etc. etc I dont know if I totally agree with the organizational structure he came up with in all its aspects, but it does seem to be able to keep the latihan free.

Bapak was also very interested in making the latihan available to as many people as possible, and I think saw that as part of his "mission". He began to notice that people were falling away from the latihan and subud, and came up with the idea that it was maybe because they were struggling financially, and also needed more action in their subud lives. hence the whole idea of the development of enterprises and so on.

This is how I saw it then, as it was developing, and it is how I see it now.

I think Bapak was almost and very close to 100% "on" in his role as spiritual guide and conduit for the latihan.

However I have reservations about his strategies for the organizational development of subud and the idea of international enterprises and so on.. In this i think that in retrospect he was probably mistaken.

In retrospect we would have done much better to have developed more organically and from the ground up, strengthening at the local level first, and building up from there.

However. As I have learned in medicine, the "Retrospectoscope" is an infallible instrument. Unfortunately it is unavailable when it is needed. And there were a lot of things to consider at that time.

So in summary. I stand by everything I said in my article. We can still listen and take in the advice on enterprises and so on, but should NOT take it as some kind of teaching or prescription, or tablet from the mountain. They are just ideas. Let them resonate inside, and take from them what seems appropriate to our individual lives.

thanks again for your reply
Sjahari


From stefan freedman, July 17, 2008. Time 9:9

Hi Sjahari,

Good to have this discussion with you, because contrasting attitudes to Bapak's talks are at the heart of many misunderstandings we Subud members have with one another.

At one pole members identify strongly with our founder's cosmology (God's guidance through latihan, life forces, nafsu, surrender etc) while at the other, members value the latihan as an individual journey of exploration, and find promotion of specific talks and ideas limiting and oppressive.
(Of course there are many in-betweeners)

Your article offers us a way that might help reconcile the two extremes:
"We can still listen and take in the advice on enterprises and so on, but should NOT take it as some kind of teaching or prescription, or tablet from the mountain. They are just ideas. Let them resonate inside, and take from them what seems appropriate to our individual lives."

A sensistive question that follows from this is to what extent these talks should be promoted, recommended, played at congresses etc.

My observation is that some of my longstanding Subud collegues are very well versed in Bapak's talks (have collected their favourite quotes, anecdotes etc) yet very little aware of other spiritual sources, of current books about "spiritual intelligence", or of the interfaith/interspirituality dialogue which is burgeoning.

The latihan is available to people of all (and no) beliefs. Don't you think we members would be in a better position to communicate with the public if we versed ourselves in current ideas about spirituality, inner development, and the role of spiritual practice in the envoronment and peace-building?

The irony is that Bapak was ahead of the game. He urged our esoterically inclined network to get practical and reflect inner strength with outer actions that benefit society.

As you say, he was - at times - giving us ideas and starting points. They weren't meant to be recipes to be adhered to religiously. While some members emphasise Bapak's talks and treat his words as icons, the opposite reaction will continue, so I'm for finding a "middle way".

Best wishes from Stefan


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