Subud Vision - Discussion

David Week - Was Pak Subuh a Dukun?

What's the Point?. From Edward Fido, December 22, 2009. Time 22:26

Interesting article, David.

Subud was, as some of us who joined without knowing much about it, as I did, heavily encultured. Very much part of the Javanese kebanatan tradition.

Having said that, I'm not sure whether that, of necessity, was either 'good' or 'bad'.

Much of what passes for Subud life in the boondocks seems to be Javanese tradition as interpreted and then applied by Westerners or others with no roots in that tradition. I'm thinking of selamatans etc.

From what Pak Subuh said, his ancestry and upbringing were deeply effected by the living, eclectic culture of Java.

Had he been Turkish I think he would've done very similar things but with a Turkish flavour.

Encultured, 'folk' Islam is like that.

The question you seem to be constantly raising and I don't think it a bad thing is whether there is something contained within the cultural package which is of value.

From Michael Rogge, January 4, 2010. Time 17:5

Dear David,
You wrote:
"From what Pak Subuh said, his ancestry and upbringing were deeply effected by the living, eclectic culture of Java.

Had he been Turkish I think he would've done very similar things but with a Turkish flavour."

I remember having written exactly that to Bapak in the early seventies. He never replied.


From Edward Fido, January 4, 2010. Time 23:44

Dear Michael,

I think Pak Subuh would have smiled, said 'Ya!' and left it at that.

Enculturation is normal.


From manuel, August 22, 2011. Time 21:42

Had Bapak been an american he would have talked about sioux or cherokeeīs traditions. He would have mentioned a lot of Abraham Lincoln and JFK.He would probably had been dovouted of Mc Donalds, smoke Luckies and loved beisbol.
Of course, a Subud member from Ceylon or Arabia wouldnīt need to become fond of that culture, would he?
If he did, it would look rather ridiculous.
When Subud westeners start smoking clove cigarettes, wear batik shirts, fast for Ramadhan, circumcidate, talk of "nafsus and lower forces", change to Islam, get an Arab name (almost all of this I did)he is willing to give a "special content" to his life, filling it with simbolisms that make him feel that a "great change" is taking part in him and, as a result, he is becoming "someone special".
After 40 years in Subud, I realice I needed all that in my beginnings. It helped me to get a "Subud identity". Of course, now I can smoke a clove cigarette without feeling "special" or highly spiritual.
Itīs just a matter of evolution in the spiritual process of the latihan.(Of course, this is only my opinion)

From Michael Rogge, August 23, 2011. Time 10:13

Subud is still dearly in need of an intercultural explanation relating to modern outlook on man's mind.

From marcus Bolt, August 23, 2011. Time 10:27

Hi Manuel

NIcely put, and I agree with you 100% - and have had a similar experience over my 42 years of Subud membership. Your post echoes the Subud Vision article 'Subud the Tribe'; In that the author quotes from the 6 stages of Faith; stage 3 is the 'Tribal stage' where one identifies totally with the group and defines oneself accordingly - as you and I did in the early years. Then one moves to independence, then into interdependence - that's the stage where one can smoke a Kretek for its own sake - it no longer has any symbolism of 'belonging'. Here one can take what one wants and ignore that which is baggage, as well as living with paradox and contradiction. I still read Bapak's talks and enjoy his unique take, whilst being aware of his Sufi background. I still do latihan and enjoy its insights and calming effects, while still remaining agnostic. And I really don't care whether it's 'from Almighty God' or is an evolutionary safety valve. For me, it works.
I just think the Subud Organisation should stop being in denial and living in the past and face the realities of the modern world. We are shrinking because we have made ourselves irrelevant.

I'm enjoying your posts - more, please, when you have time.


From Michael Rogge, August 24, 2011. Time 10:18

Dear Marcus.
Quite right. In spite of all my misgivings I have helped Subud Amsterdam through difficult times in the course of fifty years. I have experienced that it took me some forty years to understand the shades of meaning of some of Bapak's recommendations. Presently transcending my inner space in daily life is paramount. The meaning of receiving and importance of surrender has become clearer and clearer. I'm a slow learner you might say rightly!

From Marcus Bolt, August 24, 2011. Time 16:13

Hi Michael

Your post more or less describes where I'm at. My 'transcending my inner space' manifests, not at all how I thought it would all those years ago, but it's more Zen-like. Suddenly becoming aware of how amazing raspberries taste; being astounded by a rainstorm over the hills; realising someone who is giving me a hard time is hurting inside; being able to take a step back when stressed out; appreciating family warmth and so on... All the things Bapak said would happen (when you read between the lines), and which have taken me years to interpret and untangle from the patina of Sufi/Indonesian/religious language of Subud until now I fully realise, for (the real) me, This is Subud. I shall be eternally grateful for this gift - but I still think the organisation has got itself into an unholy, pseudo-religious mess instead of merely being a neutral, latihan delivery system!

Keep the posts coming


From Michael Rogge, August 25, 2011. Time 11:36

Hi Marcus,

Agree. I wonder whether it is the years that make me more aware of what is going on inside. Has the dieing of braincells something to do with it. I also notice that whilst transcending melodies appear in my head. I'm wondering if the part of the brain involved in art appreciation lies near the God spot. I'm also wondering whether this inner awareness is Subud, or has Subud led us up - as a ladder -to this stage and now we should continue on our own - not necessarily abandoning it, though.

From Andrew Hall, August 26, 2011. Time 18:33

Hi Michael and Marcus,

As I age and watch my wife and myself grow older, I am unsure of whether the changes I perceive in myself are due to the latihan or something else.

I feel more aware of the impermanence and fragility of life.

I feel that suffering is more key to my growth and understanding than I ever considered before.

I feel conflicted about many aspects of Subud culture and how it seems so insular, so cut off from the rest of humanity. If anything, I feel the need to speak out about this more and more. Not that I expect my Subud brothers and sisters to change. I think many see themselves as Bapak's children and I see little desire or energy to move beyond this.

My Subud ideal is to give equal importance to using the mind (and to fully live in this world), along with the idea and practice of surrender in the latihan. I think if I neglect one to focus on the other, then I am missing out on what I need to do in this life.

I think this has been a huge mistake in Subud here in the West, to denigrate using the mind. Maybe I should rephrase this, not as a mistake but a necessary lesson. But who will pay attention and learn from it?


From Michael Irwin, August 30, 2011. Time 22:4

Hi Andrew,

Good summation. You are not alone.

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