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Dirk Campbell - Subud and Psychology

Subud Life is group based. From Edward Fido, December 1, 2007. Time 22:47

Several bravos for your article, Dirk and many more for your bravery in striking out on your own to find yourself.

The pre-modern Javanese worldview you point out in Pak Subuh is something I fear is not transplantable to Westerners, or non-Javanese.

There appear to have been, or still indeed are, many "cultural crossplants", who, although Western by birth and upbringing, seem to have accepted, without reservation, what they understand of the vast Javanese worldview. I am not sure they are amongst the most successfully integrated people I know.

Integration, wholeness, being a decent person. Terribly hard at any time and any place. Jung was dubious that many people would want to individuate but seemed to feel that the future of the world as a somewhat sane place depended on it.

Most "Subud life" is group based - testing, latihan, socialising. A very Asian thing. No individual Searches for the Grail. Little individuation.

The awe with which some of the ex-Bennettite Gurdjieffian ex-Cilandak pontificators on just about everything or ex (or current) National Helpers for Cluelessgoatland or other apparachuks expect to be heard whenever they speak is also something brought across from a pre-modern hierarchical society.

After a thirty-five year sentence to Subud for an act of crass stupidity (joining) I have been out on bad behaviour for the last few years and eagerly finding myself.

Whether I ever return is a moot point.

But I do wish people like yourself enormously well. If Subud has a future it relies on people like you who understand the significance of Andersen's fairytale "The Emperor's New Clothes". "Unless you become as little children ..."

From Philip Quackenbush, December 2, 2007. Time 23:58

For Dirk and Edward,

Those of us (including myself) who have left Subud to "find ourselves" in some other way or venue may be the most knowledgeable critics of the cult (which may eventually have the potential of dropping its cultish nature, but I'm not expecting that to happen any time soon, if ever -- I recently pointed out to the local helpers group in discussion with them on the use of the word that Subud came out as a cult on 21 out of 25 points sometimes used to define one, though I didn't have the reference at hand to document that, so it may have been a greater or lesser ratio). As you may have noticed in other posts, though I'm back in the cult, I do what I can to maintain my personal integrity in the face of sometimes harsh criticism and/or outright hostility, because I think and feel it's possible that enough reforms in it may enable it to survive and actually serve the interests of humanity better than it has so far.

The analysis of the early psychology of humans leading up to modern cultures by the psychologist Jaynes in his book The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, as far as I've dipped into it, seems to point to the process of the mind's development in both individuals and societies as going through three phases, first the dependency phase, in which we're dependent on others to survive as infants and children, which seems to be where most people in Javanese society are (excepting, of course, the authoritarian leaders, including the multiple "Bapaks" and a few others), then the independent phase, which is first seen in the teens' struggle to become "themselves", or unique, and finally the integrated stage, which is seen sometimes in the mature (or matured) adult.

The fact that humanity has only reached the point in the last hundred years or so where average life expectancy exceeded 25 or 30 means, IMO, that the adult stage in societies has seldom been reached, since the brain is not fully developed until about 25 and the few mature voices in a society have generally been either misunderstood (and as a result, put on a pedestal or revered (i.e., feared for their "wild" ideas that may later become religions out of ignorance of what was said, until c. 3000 BC not written down anywhere or modified to fit the scribe's or society's needs of the moment) or ignored as old fools. Now that modern societies have a few that have not only survived into "old age" but had the leisure and inclination to attempt to figure out how to live a better life and sometimes succeed in doing so and encourage that among their peers, there may be hope of a "golden age" reflecting the wisdom of the matured, if, of course, the species isn't wiped out by its own depredations first, or a natural calamity, which according to anthropologists and DNA research has happened twice before, reducing the gene pool to aroung ten thousand people.

Unlike you, Dirk, I don't see bung Subuh as having lived into old age with his mental faculties in tiptop shape, though he wasn't far enough "gone" to require much support in that regard for the society in which he lived, as seen in a careful reading of his "explanations" on a chronological basis.

I do see his admonition that one needs to be in good health to "receive" well as putting him out of the running as being a reliable "mouthpiece of God", as he claimed to be in several "explanations", in his later years, if he ever was to begin with, being, in all probability, a run-of-the-mill average Javanese-style guru or dukun who got lucky and went global, introducing the rest of the world in a limited way to the rich cultures of Indonesia.

However one regards him, though, he does seem to have had the best interests of the members in mind, at least at the beginning of the organization, and for that we can be grateful, though I see his increasingly living his fantasies and increasing megalomania over the years as a highly-detrimental element in the organization's continuing attempts to resolve some of the attitudinal issues that seem to be at the heart of what is keeping it from carrying out his original "mission" (which could, of course, have been as much a fantasy as anything else he "received", but seems to me to be a worthy goal to attempt; even those of us who have "received" the "latihan" ourselves have no way of knowing how much of what he said was hogwash other than through our own perhaps fantasized "receiving" or comparison of his statements with known facts) of making the "latihan" available to all who ask for it.

Peace, Philip

From Edward Fido, December 3, 2007. Time 2:49

Well, Dirk and Philip, I think any reactions to Pak Subuh, Subud and the latihan should be based on that Idries Shah quote (possibly from Rumi):

"Do not look at my outward appearance but take what is in my hand."

If the latihan is bullshit and what happened at our opening was merely delusional then it's probably time to put Subud out of its misery.

On the other hand I have seen and experienced enough to realise that something did happen to me and also to my children as a result of what happened to me.

I have tried to "understand" it mentally and failed completely.

Certainly sorting yourself out psychologically is something most of us can probably undertake with beneficial results.

The Third World - including Indonesia - suffers a great deal from poverty. In the West we seem to suffer from lack of wholeness. We are an angst ridden society. Hence the number of therapists, both within and without Subud.

It seems up to us Westerners to put "it" into context in our own culture.

This could take a while!

I remain optimistic but am definitely not planning to return to the Morningside Miracle Mansion in Brisbane in the forseeable future. I couldn't take any more "miracles".

Once the false "miracles" stop things might get under way.

I live in hope!



From Philip Quackenbush, December 3, 2007. Time 23:20

Hi, Edward,

I'm not suggesting that the "latihan" was delusional (or at least the basic experiencing of it, though it can have many delusions included in its "outworking", as the Hindus who have had a much longer time dealing with it have often warned). It just seems to me that it's way past time for the founder to be seen as what he was, an ordinary man just like the rest of us, not anyone in possession of a special status, except, IMO, as seen by the somewhat benighted cultists among us. The fact is, and I have increasing confirmation of it as a fact, that the "latihan" is not unique to Subud as a process, that most Subud members happen to have "received" it through the founder (not me, as I realized about two or three decades of bopping away; I had "received" it while attending a special Yogananda group gathering; others I've met have "received" it in other venues, such as the Catholic Church).

As to its effect on my kids, the main effect seems to have been their avoiding joining Subud as a result of what they saw us (my ex was also a member) doing in our life as a result of it, though they attended some Subud family events. My father seemed to have mellowed somewhat after my mother died, but that seems to me to have been mainly a result of his contact with my brother-in-law, not a SUBmember, not my "latihan." My cousin's ex-wife, studying for her doctorate in psychology after I'd been in the cult (as a cultist at that point) for about two years (over 40 years ago), remarked that I seemed like I had been in therapy for a couple years, though, so maybe that's something to be said for the process psychologically.

As to where Subud might "go" in the future, I think following Sahlan's "blueprint" as written in his article (which I've just read) might prove fruitful. If not, we can probably go to his plan "B."

Peace, Philip

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