by Stefan Freedman
(Note: The opinions expressed in any Subud Vision editorial are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the other Subud Vision editors)
We are the first generation to witness “clone towns”, filled with international chains and franchises. Take a trip to exotic Timbuktu and stroll into McDonalds, Walmart or KFC! This surreal phenomenon has been nicknamed McWorld !
When receiving latihan I notice a palpable energy field and a “temple of sound" which is dynamic and free from banality. Every occasion contains something surprising and unique.
Is latihan then an antidote to clone culture?
In my experience, the Subud latihan is a remarkable antidote for inner “deadness” and helps us to discover our hidden colours, but our collective drift towards religiosity and bureaucracy is out of tune with this, imitating the drab culture of uniformity we see engulfing the world.
What to do?
Subud would benefit so much from attracting new blood: vegetarians and butchers, feminists, and foxhunters, Pagans and rabbis, gays, free-thinkers, yuppies and punks, meditators and mediators, stockbrokers, footballers, party-lovers, politicians, police-persons, diggers and dreamers. All the diversity of people who just may be open to the possibility of the miraculous.
Let's not be afraid to mingle with those who hold strong ideas that are radically different from our own. Beneath the roles, labels and masks we adopt, all of us struggle with the same issues of survival, love, loss and death. We are made of the same stuff. The latihan will help us to get beyond any initial social discomfort. Being broad-based is exactly what will make Subud strong. And if Subud is to be seen as open to all humanity, we need to respect the viewpoint of each individual who is to be included, and support their autonomy. Subud will thrive on diversity! It's not only that the world needs to discover Subud, but also that many of our Subud groups are aging and shrinking. We (too) need renewal ! To open Subud to a far wider range of people I wonder if we can put to one side our accumulated armour of in-house customs, terminology and well-meant advice, so that the simple essence shines through.
But surely Subud has no dogma and allows each person to receive answers for themselves. So what on earth is the problem? What are these “uniform” assumptions that we are promoting in Subud?
Let’s look at one widespread assumption: that everyone who is interested in Subud will be at home with the idea that the latihan comes from God. Samuel Lesley’s recent article in Subud Voice includes an idea I frequently hear among Subud members and helpers: “Subud is a relatively new organisation and still has some significant weaknesses, such as ... members who are not yet convinced that the latihan comes from the power of God and are therefore not fully committed.”
In a world wary of propaganda— a world which includes Hindus (who believe in many Gods), Atheists (who reject the word "God"), Pagans (who relate more to "The Goddess"), Buddhists (whose core practice is to meditate and who have no deity), Progressives (who champion the right of each individual to be autonomous), psychologists (who are wary about "father figure" archetypes), feminists, gay rights activists and many others who could be advocates of a dogma-free spiritual experience, — this insistence on God is alienating.
I am not in the slightest knocking or contradicting the beliefs of those Subud members who see the latihan as God-given, I am asking for them to become aware of, to respect, and please take an interest in the belief systems of all those who may approach Subud. This is how we can consciously forge a more universal and forward-looking (less insular and retrospective) culture. This way we may earn the description "religiously neutral" and not seem to be promoting cloned words and phrases.
Personally I like the terms “emergent learning” (finding out as you go along) and “hands-on experience” as pointers for those approaching the latihan. I think it would be a worthwhile project to reflect on your experience of integrating the latihan into your daily life. You don’t need to have experienced spiritual fireworks to do this – it may be more reassuring to an enquirer to hear a down-to-earth account of gradual change.
Ask yourself: What is the best thing about Subud for you? How much does the way we present Subud reflect this? How could things, in your view, be improved? A popular theme in the first articles published on Subud Vision was the presentation of Subud to enquirers. If you have something to say about this, we will be pleased to receive further articles on this important topic.
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