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Helen Bailie - Bait and Switch

A less tribal Subud. From Stefan, January 3, 2008. Time 15:8

Hi Helen,

Rereading your article I realise how much your whole

account, including the "bait and switch" analogy, has sharpened my thinking about the disfunctional aspects of Subud's culture.

I'm moved, too, that you have parents and children in Subud, and find value in the latihan itself. Yet several norms caused you such conflict and pain , especially in a helper role, that your own integrity was in danger of being compromised. I can understand why you had to withdraw. I hope your family were able to understand and fully accept your decision.

A similar thing happened to my wife - a person who, like you, didn't take leaving Subud lightly and places a very high value on autonomy and integrity. She had issues with the patriarchal overtones and also with what she experienced as "pious" and judgemental statements, frequently encountered among Subud people from whom she'd hoped for a broader outlook. I understand this better now than I did then - I was still wanting to emphasise the half-full-cup. Her decision to leave Subud was part of my process of questioning and looking from an outside perspective.

When you write

"Ironically, it was when I became a helper and found myself explaining to probationers the foundations of Subud, how it was run, its terminologies, and why there was such a pervasive influence of Islam and the Javanese culture on its ideology, that I realized that I could no longer countenance the contradictions that I found inherent in Subud. At this point, I want to emphasize that I never doubted and still do not doubt the power of the latihan itself." I feel that Subud has lost just the kind of person that might enable a less "tribal" type of person to find a peer to latihan with. I'm sad for us, and really hope we can learn something. Very grateful that you shared your experience and your reflections about it.


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