Abandon Subud Membership
By Sahlan Diver
Telling someone about the latihan should be
easy, no more difficult for example than talking about other exercises that
have spiritual overtones, like tai-chi or yoga. However, explaining to someone
that one ‘belongs to an organisation called Subud’ is much more difficult.
Immediately one is on the defensive — will the listener think I have joined a
cult, gone funny, become a fanatic, given away my ability to think
independently, signed up to a rigid and somewhat archaic belief system etc.
etc.? Also the tribal and clubbish nature of Subud is much more evident to an
outsider than Subud members are willing to admit and could be a significant
obstacle to the spread of the latihan.
Subud should no longer be an organisation which
has members, an organisation that you have to join. It should become purely a
service organisation for people who practise the latihan.
Subud, the organisation, would have the
responsibility of furthering everything to do with the availability and
practice of the latihan. That would include things like taking responsibility
for preserving Pak Subuh’s talks and other important historical material,
fostering communication and information through newsletters and so on, hosting
international get-togethers and conferences, providing informational web sites
about the latihan, all the kinds of things it does at the moment in fact. The
essential difference is that Subud would have no longer have a membership; it
would abandon its status as a membership organisation.
When someone finds out about the latihan and
wishes to practise it, there would be some sort of induction period (whether
that is very short or three months as at present is not relevant to this
particular discussion) at the end of which they would be opened. They would
receive some kind of certificate or card verifying that they were opened and
entitled to attend latihan exercises with others, but there would be no sense
of their having ‘joined’ anything.
Abandoning membership status would have an
immediate clarifying and invigorating effect on the growth of the latihan, by
removing the most oppressive aspects of Subud. No longer would people be able
to say, for example, ‘in Subud, we have to consider harmony and consensus first
and foremost’, because there would be no ‘in Subud’; latihan practitioners
would become free and independent individuals again. This opens up the
possibility of tapping into people’s natural creative energy and goodwill,
instead of always fighting battles against the strongest personalities who wish
to force all the other ‘members’ into a mould.