Subud-upmanship (continued)

The “It’s all in your mind” ploy

Another quick escape route, like the “time on your hands” ploy. State, in no uncertain terms, that the speaker doesn’t understand the issue because they are “just using their mind.” By implication, your own understanding comes straight from pure receiving. This ploy is highly recommended. It never fails to impress and no one will think to challenge whether your faith in your pure receiving isn’t also a result of you yourself “just using your mind.”

The “Negativity” ploy

This ploy is another Subud classic. If your car had a back-tyre puncture, you wouldn’t think much of a garage offering to fix the problem by just giving you two beautiful new front tyres. Luckily, logic does not apply in Subud. Subud members do not want to acknowledge problems, they just want someone to pile on more wonderful feelings. Take advantage of this quirk by attacking any criticisms in no uncertain terms. Say that you can’t understand why the speaker “feels it necessary to be so negative”. If the year is 1862 and the speaker is a Subud member called John Lincoln who has just been given the new name, Abraham, carefully explain that the feelings of all sides of the dispute have to be taken into account before slavery can be abolished. Ask him why he has nothing positive to say about the issue.

The “Proper channels” ploy

Keep this ploy in reserve for occasions when the “negativity” ploy is not attaining the success hoped for. Point out there are “proper channels” for raising issues in Subud and harp on and on about your extreme disappointment with the speaker. Whatever you do, give the speaker no chance to refer again to the issue he/she has raised.



Do your best to make the speaker seem a careless person who has just blundered ahead without properly considering their responsibilities. In fact, a really skilled user of this ploy can make it seem as if the speaker is actually the one responsible for the problem they are complaining about.

The “Raking up the past” ploy

This is a specialized ploy to call up when a speaker uses an example from the past to illustrate a problem that is still prevalent today. Deflect attention from the issue by implying that the speaker, by “raking up the past”, is a small-minded person who has not yet learned to forgive and forget. If the speaker insists on continuing with their point, adopt a trance-like silence, at the same time maintaining an insufferable spiritual face, to emphasise that you are “above that sort of thing”. The aim is to get the speaker progressively more infuriated, thus weakening their position through a display of anger.

The “We must reach a consensus” ploy

This is one of a family of ploys known as the “state-the-blindingly-obvious" ploy-family. It is a very effective dampener of the momentum of any discussion that is not going the way you want. Interrupt the speaker to explain, in plodding and highly patronizing terms, how it is very necessary in Subud that we all reach agreement before we do anything. Make it seem as if the speaker is a petulant, willful person who just wants to rush ahead on the basis of his/her own opinion without any regard for what others think. By the time you have finished your very careful explanation of proper procedure, the speaker is likely to have completely lost the thread of his argument.

The “Individual responsibility” ploy

This must rank as the “crème de la crème” of all Subud ploys. One doesn’t go long in a Subud discussion of some complex and difficult issue before some bright spark will chime in with this ploy: “Hey, I’ve just realized what the problem is! We are Subud, and Subud is ourselves! Subud is just a reflection of us! No more, no less! Therefore until we all take it upon ourselves to think and feel deeply enough about this problem, it will never be solved!” This ploy owes its effectiveness to the long, drawn-out chorus of praise for your spiritual sagacity that inevitably follows. It’s a great one for deflecting attention from the fact that, because the original speaker was the only one raising a particular issue, he was probably also the only one in the room who was, in fact, already thinking and feeling deeply about it. Your aim of preventing the issue being debated is thereby achieved.

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