Subud Vision - Feedback

Helissa Penwell - The Introductory Period

Let the Applicant decide!. From Bronte, October 16, 2008. Time 9:33

In case anyone really wants to know,
I was probably opened by a member in 1961 or 62.
In any case, I visited the Subud hall regularly, tice a week, for six to nine months and waited outside to talk to people, which I usually managed to do. That's what most "applicants" did.
And as I nderstand it, Bapak wanted people to do this in order to prepare the "inner" for the latihan. So I was indeed very, very well prepared!
Then after all that I really experienced my very dramatic solitary opening alone, standing in the kitchen, where I asked God, out loud, for the latihan, "so I could be purified of my bad temper." It seems to be a tradition in Adelaide for guys to be opened alone, in the kitchen, as two others had similar experience of being opened in the kitchen, alone.
While Bapak condemed me for this and told me not to do it again that way, he at least confirmed it was the latihan.
I was not allowed to stay and listen to Bapak's talk that day in 1963, because I was not officially opened. So I waited two more years to join.

My point - yes I have one - is that it should not be up to the helpers to decide by testing or by talking or by following the "guidelines" for a three month wait.
The applicant should be able to say "I think I am ready, and I want to join now." Some helpers would probably be able to "feel" the rightness of this. Others should just aquyess

And that would be that in most or at least many cases.
No more dogmatic three month waits.
No careless instant openings of people who have no idea of what they are doing.
Just reality, respect for applicants' personal feelings, and no "holier than though" helpers.
They aren't!

Oh yes- I was once, more recently, required to talk to an applicant. He wanted the latihan, but not Subud. As far as I know, he was opened by someone officially.
And in any case, of the three people I recall opening, one has been back and forth to our local Subud group, one remains "in Subud" and one has vanished. Not a bad score really, compared to averages. Of course I also left the organisation too, but remain rabidly "Subud", unfortunately for all the orthodoxy out there.

Lastly, and most importantly, there are a few people "in control" who fail to recognise the "The Latihan is Ours".
It belongs to, or is the repsonsibility of, the individual. It is not somethng under control of helpers or anyone else. They are only there as a "fail safe" and "starter" mechanism, which does not really work very well anyway.

What does that say of Bapak's advice to me in 1963?
Love to all,


From Helissa Penwell, October 16, 2008. Time 20:27

Hi Bronte,

I was opened in an unorthodox way myself. I had been a probationer (that's what we were called back then) for about a month when I borrowed some Subud books from the center. I first experienced the latihan sitting at home alone reading Bapak's "Susila Budhi Dharma". After that, I experienced the latihan deeply and regularly. I told the two older lady helpers that I was doing latihan, but they either didn't believe me or didn't know what to do about it, so they still made me wait the full three months. I look back and see that those two extra months would have been better spent in the latihan room, not sitting outside the door. If they had recognized that I was opened, then they could have been more supportive and helpful. I see now that, in a way, it was disrespectful, but, at the time, I was so young that I was used to a normal amount of disrespect from older people. Still.

You make a good point: we should have more respect for the applicant's feelings and judgment. Even if the helpers believe that they are making him wait "for his own good", the applicant rarely feels that way. It may come across as paternalistic and condescending. He doesn't understand testing, and so it just seems mysterious and/or secretive. There's always a suspicion that he is being judged "worthy" or not. All this starts things off on the wrong foot.

So many of the people inquiring about Subud these days have already been following various spiritual paths for a long time. They have had many experiences from which they have grown. They don't feel as though they are spiritually asleep and feel put-off when helpers imply that they are. Frankly, for someone like this, it does seem insulting to suggest that they aren't able to make their own decision about when they should be opened. If nothing else, we need to be more sensitive as to how we come across in this situation. I don't know whether Subud is ready to abandon the applicant period altogether, but we absolutely need to rethink it and revise it.


Discussion with other contributors on this page

Add Feedback to this page / Communicate with us

Use the form below to

Very sorry but feedback forms now permanently closed on the Subud Vision site