The Bapak Society


Rosalind Priestley


The Problem:

Subud promises to be without guru or teaching and many members came into it on that understanding. On the other hand, many members set great store by Bapak’s explanations and their own experiences of Bapak. How do you provide a Subud experience that meets the needs of both kinds of member?


The Solution:

Keep official Subud unauthoritarian and free of belief systems, but in every group, let interested members get together and set up a Bapak Society. 


The Details:

The Bapak Society would be outside and independent of the official Subud structure. No one would be required to join, neither ordinary members, nor helpers at any level, nor committee members; nor would the Society be sponsored or financed by the Subud organization. Each chapter of the Society would be managed at the local level by Subud members who have an interest in Bapak. They could do things like: set up study groups to explore Bapak’s explanations; organize times to listen to Bapak tapes or watch Bapak videos; hold sharing sessions to talk about experiences of Bapak or relating to Bapak; do testing based on tests that Bapak recommended. These sessions would be open to all members, but attendance, of course, would be entirely voluntary. Members of local Bapak Societies could join together with Bapak Societies in other groups to carry out useful projects, such as putting together collections of Bapak’s most valuable advice or his most inspirational passages.


This would solve the problem of members feeling pressured either in the direction of giving up Bapak or of having him forced upon them. Once the pressure is removed for everyone to accept Bapak as a teacher, the independent-minded members might even feel inclined to attend some of the meetings and find out more about Subud’s founder. On the other side, Bapak devotees, no longer needing to be defensive, might be more willing to consider reforms in the direction of making Subud more accessible to modern Westerners.