Looking Back, Looking Ahead, (June 8th, 2008)

by Rosalind Priestley

(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)

It is now exactly a year since Subud Vision launched its first issue on June 8th, 2007. Earlier, founding members Sahlan Diver and David Week had created the website and assembled an editorial team of people sympathetic to the idea of a forum for critical thinking in Subud. The next step was to advertise the site and solicit articles from Subud members who had something to say. The editors were surprised and elated at the quality and also the quantity of what came to our in-boxes in the next few months. As the number of submissions climbed, we aspired to publish fifty articles to match the Fifty Year celebrations, and in fact that was the figure achieved.

Those first fifty articles cover a wide range of topics. Among them are serious essays (such as those by an anthropologist and a psychotherapist) that bring a fresh perspective to the Subud experience. There are articles about the helperís role, why people leave Subud, what features of Subud are cultish, how we could change things to help to move Subud out of its persistent doldrums. Others examine Subudís relationship with Buddhism, with psychology, with social ethics. Some look at the role of Mhd. Subuh, the way we see ourselves, our problems with resolving conflict, the enterprise question, democracy vs. testing, autonomy vs. authority, the nature of the latihan, and the various sources that contribute to Subud ideology. Several articles shed light on different aspects of Subud history.

One of the things that struck the editors was how certain issues were raised again and again, quite independently, by authors who had not read each otherís work.

And the authors (thirty-five of them) comprise active members, very active members, inactive members, ex members, and also the editors themselves, who were frequently inspired by all this activity to put their own thoughts to paper. All of us, I think I can safely say, are people who are given to reflecting on our own Subud experience in its totality, rather than concealing and denying whatever seems negative or unpalatable.



That was what Subud Vision presented to the Subud World on June 8th, 2007. In response we have had:

  • 6000 total article accesses
  • 130 people sign up as subscribers
  • more than 40 feedback contributors
  • more than 200 feedback items
  • 37 survey contributors

About a month after the first publication launch, we also produced the Subud Vision book, a hard copy version of the same articles. It can be ordered cheaply from an online publisher, Lulu, and so far ninety-five copies have been sold. Subud Vision: Personal Essays on Subudís Past, Present and Future is a big thick book which brought home to us the solidity and weight of our combined accomplishment.

In the year since, we have not been idle. Between last June and the end of March another eighteen articles have been published, and Marcus has designed, and Sahlan implemented, a new, more interactive website, with several added features, including a survey, the Question of the Moment, the ĎWhy I do the Latihaní page, and the ĎDescribing the Latihaní project.

And gradually we are being discovered by members who are both delighted and relieved to find that it is possible to follow the latihan and still: ask questions; be curious; express skepticism; offer criticisms; discuss the possibility of change; analyse how things work and speculate about how they might work better; get to know who we are, and why we are who we are, and consider whether that is who we ultimately want to be. We have been told by previously alienated members that Subud Vision has given them hope, and a place in Subud where they can at last feel wholly themselves, and comfortable in their own skins.

Not least, we have clearly demonstrated that Subud is not (as some might have supposed) a cult which tends to suppress free speech and impose one particular set of beliefs and values on all its members. By doing this, we believe we have made a major positive contribution to Subudís profile in the world and Subudís own self-image.

Where to from here? The next big thing in Subud Vision is an initiative called Ďthe Vision Projectí which we hope will get Subud members thinking about how the Subud experience can be improved, in big ways and in small. We are asking for contributions in a specific format: an appropriate Title (snappy if possible); the description of an existing Subud Problem (outlined in a sentence or two); and the proposed Solution to the problem, explained at more length. See the website (under Publications) for more details and some samples. All this is to be expressed concisely enough to fit on a single sheet of paper. The editors have found that this format lends itself to creative brainstorming and we hope that the rest of you will have the same experience. The suggestions may be very concrete and precise and pragmatic, or they may be bigger, more out-of-the-box, and more thought-provoking than immediately practicable. Itís up to you. We plan to publish the results in November and by then we hope to have amassed a wide range of practical and theoretical suggestions addressing all the problems that beset us and aimed at enhancing the Subud experience for every member.

Meanwhile we are still looking for objective, original, informative, and insightful articles.

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