Subud Vision - Discussion

Hassanah Briedis - The Latihan of Subud, Dissociation and the Neurology of Spiritual Experience

Discussion continued from this page

From Andrew Hall, December 30, 2007. Time 6:59

Hi Stefan,

I appreciate your replies. And I have just reread your article "What to do with Bapak's Advice" which to me shows, along with your postings, a generosity of spirit that I imagine your family and friends cherish.

Yes, I do think we need to show appreciation towards the "mother organization" (and its leadership) as the vehicle, which despite its flaws, has spread the latihan to our home countries and maintained our very loose organization.

For myself, I also think we need to show a firmness that certain things are bottom line.

In terms of process, I would like the Subud organization to officially admit that some of Bapak's specific teachings are wrong-headed and that Subud nowadays rejects them.

I wonder if this is possible with people who constantly defer to Bapak's talks and treat them as scripture, and seem afraid and unable to look back at the past 40 years and recognize that mistakes were made?

From my own limited experience, please look at my article "Reading Bapak's Talks."

I keep refering to Subud's homophobic prejudices because it is a very concrete issue and keeping things concrete helps me feel grounded. You mention the workshop on the experience of gays in Subud that was held at the Spokane World Congress. I am sure it was wonderful.

But this isn't Ibu Rahayu apologizing for Bapak's original comments and encouraging Subud members to examine their prejudices. It isn't a resolution of the World Congress that asks member countries to ensure that all human rights including gay rights are respected. It isn't a resolution from a national Subud organization asking that redress for the past and the inclusion of gays be discussed at a World Congress.

And it isn't the International Helpers making sure that the recent revision to "Bapak's Advice and Guidance to Helpers" addresses this issue head on.

None of this has happened in the past ten years. Or am I wrong?

Yes, Subud is loosely enough "organized" that the workshop was able to take place at the Spokane Congress. But I think we are fooling ourselves if we think that the precious values of the Enlightenment are understood, shared or even tolerated today in much of the Subud world.

Your article refers to "the prohibitive and fearful expressions and voice tones that tend to spring up at the slightest mention among Subud people of “mixing”? If I were joining Subud and noticed such attitudes, I’d believe that I’d come into a superstitious and taboo-ridden society."

And this is here in the West, in Britain, for God's sake! Were you to spend a year attending a Subud group elsewhere, say in Chile or in Sri Lanka, I wonder how generous you would then feel towards the intolerance, the prejudices and superstitions you would probably encounter?

I doubt that you'd find much agreement with the statement in your article that Subud members "don’t need to be dependent on second-hand advice from helpers about sexual ethics or questions of morality. What’s best for the individual can be felt through his or her own guidance."

I truly wish I were wrong.

For myself, I do not feel very generous and tolerant when faced with intolerance. It makes me very sad and if I do not take a stand and speak out against it I feel very angry with myself.

Moving on, I am happy that you seem receptive to the idea of starting "alternative" local groups where members can agree to reject those parts of Bapak's advice and the Subud worldview that are contrary to humanist values.

Thank you for discussing these issues.



From David W, December 30, 2007. Time 7:10

Hi Sahlan

I think you're being unduly pessimistic on the numbers, so I've thought of some numerical analysis that might cheer you up.

"The authors David mentions had a potentially large, broad-minded audience, we only have Subud members, and also (at the moment) those Subud members have to be able to speak English."

We have a small potential audience, it's true. But that makes things easier, not more difficult, no? Much easier to reach 10,000 than 100 million.

"If it is true, as David suggests, that "Subud is too infused with Javanese patrimonialism guided democracy to lead - it can only lag...".

I meant our organisational culture, not the individuals involved. Culture lags behind individuals.

"...then what are the chances that significant enough numbers of people are going to read and take on board what is written? A sign of this, maybe, is that, although we quickly gathered 100+ names on our opt-in mailing list..."

New York State has a population of 20m. The New York Times has a circulation of 1m, or perhaps 5%. If English-speaking Subud is 6000, then 100 represents about 2%. I'd say that's pretty good for a new startup. The NYT has been going for more than 150 years!

"...this is now growing only very slowly."

What's "slowly"? If we are getting 2 new subscriptions per month, that's a 2% monthly growth rate. Annualise that, it's 1.02^12=27% per year. 1 new name per year would be 13% per year: still respectable.

Starting at 100, and with a 2% monthly growth rate, our list would include 50% of the English-speaking Subud population in 4.5 years.

"The amount of feedback, while being gratifying, is similarly confined to a small subset of people."

On most lists, active participation ranges between 5-10%. See:

We are at the upper end of that range. We have just now the liveliest posting scene in the Subud world, bar none.

"The Subud Vision initiative may become a 'hole in a corner affair', as Luthfi Dixon warned in a recent posting."

It could, if we dropped the ball. Early pessimism might lead us to. Seriously: if you run some ratios and numbers (as I have attempted to do, above) I see no cause for pessimism.



From Michael Irwin, December 31, 2007. Time 5:50

Andrew: "And this is here in the West, in Britain, for God's sake! Were you to spend a year attending a Subud group elsewhere, say in Chile or in Sri Lanka, I wonder how generous you would then feel towards the intolerance, the prejudices and superstitions you would probably encounter?"

Me: There are two quarreling principles here. 1. There should be no prejudice against homosexuals, etc. 2. No one should be barred from the latihan because of any current belief or past behaviour. Current behaviour which disrupts others latihaning can be a cause for ejection from the latihan.

What matters is not the beliefs of anyone but support for intolerant beliefs by the core organization or anyone presenting themselves as representing the core organization. So if I think homosexuality is awful (I don't) then I should be able to say that so as long as I speak for myself. If I am an office holder, I would have to precede such statements in an informal situation with the caveat that I was only voicing my own opinion. That is the model I subscribe to: Subud open to all, warts included, but organizationally non-committal. As to Bapak's record, I believe that local groups should make his talks, and other works, available without comment in a lending library but that those interested in supporting SPI should form a local chapters - pardon the pun - independent of the core organization.

From David W, January 1, 2008. Time 20:23

Hi Sahlan

I not only feel that a "schism" is not likely, but also that is not

necessary, and would be positively damaging.

First, Subud is a very flexible organisation, with very little

centralised power. When the Guerrand Brothers start the HG

Foundation, this didn't require that they leave Subud. When the

editors of Subud Vision start Subud Vision, they don't leave Subud.

On the side of the Subud organisation (as ISC will attest) when ISC

want to do X, Y or Z, they find that the only power they have is to

cajole or encourage the countries and groups, who may or may not


Let's say that what we have is Subud rev 1.0, and someone believes

that they have a better Subud rev 2.0. The rational approach then,

it seems to me, is to prototype it: convince an existing group or

create a new group to Beta-test Subud 2.0. If it succeeds,

promulgate the success to existing or new groups. There is nothing

in the structure of Subud that requires one to resign from Subud to

do so.

The RISK of going for some kind of schism is that it draws an

enormous amount of human attention, thought and effort into

organisational structures and brands, rather into than into

solutions that work. One could spend years and thousands of man-

hours into setting up Subud 2.0 as a separate entity, only to find

that Subud 2.0 works no better than Subud 1.0.

You live in Cork, Ireland. That's a suitable place as any as a test-

bed for some version of Subud 2.0. If there is something about Subud

today which prevents Cork from becoming an innovator, and trialing

new approaches to demonstrate their effectiveness, then fair enough:

let's identify them, and control or eliminate the constraints to

innovation and experimentation.

We have, over 50 years, grown a membership base of some 6 or 8 or 10

thousand (we're not too clear.) We may have problems, but that

membership base is no small accomplishment. Repeating that

accomplishment is no small task, and could take decades, and

thousands of person-hours, only to end up with a solution which has

as many (but different) problems as where we are today. Plan A must

always then be to work with the existing asset or membership base.

Before any talk of schism, I would argue then we must should:

(a) trial new approaches within the existing structure

(b) where obstacles to trialing exist, identifying them and find

ways around them.



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