Subud Vision - Discussion

Andrew Hall - Reading Bapak’s Talks

Trusting one's own guidance, rather than Bapak's talks. From haskel adamson, July 28, 2007. Time 13:52

Thanks, Andrew, for your article.

I personally can not read Bapak's talks. I agree that Bapak was homophobic and that focusing on an "ideal way" of being human is just not helpful to humans. People excuse Bapak's shortcomings by saying that he was just a human. Very true.

My problem with his teachings is that his morals are so high to be unobtainable. When I joined Subud it was with the understanding that Bapak had not laid down moral codes because all the religions had already done this. Bapak's talks are full of moral and behavoural codes which he describes as "guidelines".

I can forgive Bapak his homophobia and his sexism, because he was born in a time and culture which accepted these as norms. You are quite right that if we read and accept his writings uncritically as spiritual truths, then we do our own wisdom a disservice.

I have to trust myself and my own guidance, that is the point of the latihan, and so now I accept that I do not need to read Bapak's talks despite what his daughter says. Espousing the necessity of reading the talks in order to understand the latihan fully seems to me to be an attempt to create a religion of subud.

From Stefan, January 2, 2008. Time 23:54

Hi Andrew,

I enjoyed rereading your article about Bapak's talks. I can identify with a lot of it and have likewise been through phases:

I was attracted to Subud by the promise of a direct, individual spiritual experience, with no dogma or hierarchy. When I was an applicant (1969 - 70) a former Subud member at my mother's art class asked her to caution me that people treat Bapak like a guru. I was opened just before a visit to London by Bapak, and everyone said, how fortunate that was because I could go to hear him talk. I pointedly avoided the talk!

I was an avid (and critical) reader of psychology. When I read Susila Buddhi Dharma (1971) I not only found new "pearls" of understanding, but felt a strong inner response which I associated with the latihan. I (like you Andrew) later felt very disillusioned when I encountered in Bapak's answers to members' questions, advice that seemed to subvert the inclusive and non-judgemental aspects of the Subud organisation. The most painful example of this is about gay relationships. This was given as an answer to a member's question, but since it was publicised in the Perwata, it then became widely reiterated as (unsolicited) advice!

What made this worse was the enshrining of these "retro" ideas into an official booklet of advice and guideline for helpers. Worse still, the continuation of this, long after the founder's death and in the face of a growing culture (and matching laws) in Europe and the Americas to remove organisational practices which discriminate against gays.


So I fully agree with your observation, Andrew, that having an open-minded discussion at a congress in Spokane, is a long way from challenging this discrimination. I'll go further. I'm going to challenge it - this is one of my New Year's resolutions. I want to see Subud officially move forward and leave this hurtful (to others), embarrassing (to Subud) and anachronistic "advice" out of any official statements or helper guidelines. I want it replaced by a declaration of equal opportunity and respect for all people regardless of sexual orientation.


From Andrew Hall, January 3, 2008. Time 20:44

Hi Stefan,

I really appreciate your wanting to make a change in Subud's official stance about how we welcome and treat gays.

I didn't realize how much it means to me to have someone speak out and say they agree this needs to be changed and they are willing to try. Thank you so much.

I am sure there are others who agree but yours is the first response that actually says so. I am very moved. This meets all sorts of my needs - for validation, soldarity, and justice.

In writing this article and in various posts on the feedback pages, I have talked about my feelings about this issue and expressed pessimism that such a change is possible.

I, of course, want to see such a change. But I realize now that I also feel it is so important for the Subud community to open up and encourage people to stand up and be counted, to feel free to speak their own truth.

Once this dam of silence and inertia breaks apart, I feel a lot will start to move. It gives me hope to think this could be a step in this direction.


(I also apologize to Haskel, because I didn't respond to his feedback when it was posted (this is almost six months later). I appreciate hearing from you. I am sorry that I have been so remiss about keeping watch and responding to feedback on my articles.)

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