Subud Vision - Discussion

Max MacArthur - My Non-Opening

Look outside of Subud to learn about Subud. From Andrew Hall, May 14, 2009. Time 2:42

Hi Max,

I was touched by your request for information from people who felt nothing at the beginning. I'm not sure how helpful my own story is to you but you be the judge.

I was in my early 40s when I was opened. I had done other spiritual practices before, prayer and types of meditation, some for a number of years.

The most powerful method that I had came across was a twice-daily mantra meditation. It really opened the gates to my subconscious.

I had also stumbled on the technique of dissociation when I was a teenager and troubled by stress at a new high school. I ran home from school every afternoon, lay down in my bedroom and did deep breathing for about 10 minutes, then found I could cast my mind adrift, letting whatever thoughts, images or feelings arise that came to me. If I had been in a different family, one where the adults talked about feelings and difficulties in life, then I probably would have preferred that. Stumbling on dissociation was a survival strategy at the time. It helped me cope with my anxiety.

During my opening in Subud, I remember that I was aware of people moving around the room and vocalizing and I was waiting. At the end of the latihan, I had the faint impression of something liquid touching the back of my neck - just a few seconds. When I focused on it, it went away.

It was like that for pretty well the first two years - standing and waiting during the latihan and then experiencing something at the end. Sometimes this was a strong feeling, sometimes not.

It wasn't until I started testing, that I found it easier to enter the latihan state and would find myself doing things that I was unaware of (my own test for whether I am in latihan).

Some of the techniques that Hassanah Briedis mentions, like qi-gong, may well be helpful to you. You can learn a lot about yourself and the world, from outside of Subud.

I'm not sure who your helpers are. I assume they are sincere people but my impression is that many helpers joined Subud at an early age and are remarkably ignorant of the world. I do have mixed feelings about all the extras (the name changing, fasting, the mythology about forces, etc.) that goes with Subud.

Good luck with your journey. As one of the teachers I learned from used to say - the guru is within you.

Andrew Hall
Ottawa, Canada

From Max MacArthur, May 14, 2009. Time 23:17

Dear Andrew

Thank you for your interest in my article and for responding. You said that the most powerful method you have come across is your twice daily mantra meditation. Do I interpret from that, that it is "superior" to the latihan? Or are they "horses for courses"?

One of my most traumatic encounters was when I was 17 when I switched to a new school. I felt ostracised. After 2 days, I couldn't take it any longer. I went home and cried. My crying wa another traumatic experience. I felt very embarrassed about it when I dried up. My family didn't understand and asked me to pull my socks up. I was born with an outgoing and friendly personality, and at 17, I couldn't understand why no one came up to me to befriend a stranger. In my old school, I always made friends with newcomers and tried my best to make them at home. I just want to let you know that I had a similar experience and understand what you are talking about. But while typing out this experience, it reminds me of my helpers, and the vestiges of my bad experience when I was 17. I find it quite remarkable how crass some people are. None of my helpers - and there are quite a few of them - took the trouble to ask for my phone number or email address to speak to me; none of my helpers in attendance warmed to me; none of my helpers, kind as they were, actually did anything to make me feel welcome. I can think of only one person who actually came up to me to shake my hand and engage me in conversation and was genuinely interested in me. I don't know why all the rest kept their distance. [I shower and change my clothes before I turn up]. Yet they lament that their organisation is shrinking. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know why. That is why I said I find it remarkable how crass some people are. No wonder they told me over 90% drop out very, very shortly after they have been opened.

Some kind people have suggested that my helpers do a latihan expecially for me. I must confess I'm not in the least confident that it'll change anything and therefore am not inclined to that at all.

You mentioned qigong. I am not a qigong and taiji practitioner. But I've been very privileged to know a couple of genuine sifus from China, on different occasions, who brought me to their inner sanctum to impart some secret moves to me [which I've not only forgotten, but never retained in the first place]. I told them it was like water off a duck's back because I wouldn't know what to do with those secrets. But what I saw with my own eyes was quite amazing, to say the least. I don't tell people now what happened because no one believes me. They don't think I'm lying, they all think I had been duped. Talking about it again now, makes me wonder again why they showed their skills to me in the first place. Why did they pull me away from a crowd of people to show me? I wasn't a reporter, nor a publicity agent. What use was I to them, if they were trying to impress me?

Again I digress. Thank you for your very, very interesting feedback. Yes, perhaps the guru is within me. The search continues. But thank you!


From Andrew Hall, May 21, 2009. Time 11:3

Hi Max,

I am sorry if I gave the impression that one method might be superior to another. My point is that there are other practices or methods than the latihan, and what I think is really important is to find a practice and a community where it works for you. It may be the latihan and Subud. It may be something else. I guess the short answer is horses for courses.

I find it painful to hear you describe how you were treated by the helpers after you were opened. I wish your comments were shared with all members, not just helpers. If it's any consolation, not every Subud group is as you described.

Would a special latihan help? I don't think it makes up for the rudeness that you describe, but it doesn't hurt to try. The latihan field can sometimes have some surprising results.

As for qigong or taiji, that depends on what you want. You were shown some amazing things. Shop around and see what's available in your area.

All the best.

From Max MacArthur, May 24, 2009. Time 23:20

No apologies needed Andrew!

I must have overdone it in my description of my helpers for you to find my experience painful, and my helpers rude. They were not rude at all actually. My experience was not painful to me. It was disappointing, yes, but not painful. Only one came close to being rude, and even then, that was my perception and I could be totally wrong about it. If anything, I would say they were unskilful with people. It was not because I felt outnumbered by them. 5 or 6 people "interviewing" an applicant can put some people off, but it didn't me. The meetings were never confrontational. They were the exact opposite. As much as the helpers wanted to know more about me, I wanted to know as many of the helpers as possible. I wanted to know their strengths and weaknesses, their characters, their likes and dislikes, in short I wanted to know as much about them as possible. What they didn't realise was that I was "interviewing" them just as they were interviewing me. I could find out about them simply by listening to them talk. I reckoned that if I “knew” them, I would have a good idea about what the latihan can and cannot do. If any helper came in reeking with tobacco [as one did] then I knew straightaway that the latihan could not break addictive habits. At the same time, I wanted to be as open as possible, so they could read me like a book. I would answer all their questions, and even volunteer information about myself. If I had restrained myself from telling too much, it was because I didn’t want to bore them with irrelevance. But if they asked me any question about myself at all, my past, my origins, I would freely tell them. For instance, they asked where I was born. So I answered their question by telling them where I grew up, because I think that was the purpose of their question. Where I was born would be irrelevant because my family emigrated within months of my birth. I noted that on some days only two helpers turned up. It could be that the rest were busy. They also told me they took turns. But I didn’t exclude the possibility that some of them lacked enthusiasm, or didn’t have enough of an enquiring mindset. However, as the weeks progressed, the turn-out for my “interviews” increased. The person whom I felt was the ad hoc leader [also my favourite, actually] told me they found it very interesting talking to me. I was flattered, but I knew why he found it interesting - because I was a good listener! And I listened intently, to all of them, interjecting only to clarify a point they were making. I hardly spoke, except to answer their questions. Given only an hour per session, I had no interest in touting my own beliefs or credos. I wanted to know more about the latihan and Subud.

Allow me to digress a little about the “leader”. Despite his “strange” beliefs and his Bapakisms, I found him perhaps the most highly developed of the helpers. He behaved in a kindly way and was never insistent on his point of view. There were one or two others who were insistent without showing it outwardly. You could tell that this “leader” was generally at peace with himself and the world, to the point where I was prepared to overlook his mystical beliefs [what I cheekily but privately call peccadillos] to get to know him better. Curiously, he’s the only helper who phones me and keeps in touch with me, yet is never intrusive and unfailingly polite. Why am I singing his praises although I’m digressing? Because, in the big picture, I feel this is what mainstream Subud lacks – people persons. Subud may need entrepreneurs, bankers, scientists, teachers, artisans, linguists, etc. But if it does not have people who are good with people, its spread will be slowed down.

Would a special latihan help? I don’t know if it would, but I have my doubts. But I am presently not inclined to a special latihan. This, by the way, reminds me of something I would like to say, but I’ve not found the correct place to say it. But what the heck, I’ll say it here anyway. If I have a “complaint” about the helpers in all the pre-opening sessions that I attended, it is this: I cannot recall anyone telling me that “nothing” could happen in my opening. They all knew I read extensively about the spectacular openings, but no one told me that in many cases, “nothing” would happen. If anyone did, I think it was glossed over very quickly. Still, I don’t think it was mentioned; otherwise I would have picked it up straightaway. In fact, I think it ought to be not only told, but stressed to all applicants, that “nothing” could happen. It was only after I insisted that I didn’t feel a thing in my opening that I was told by one other person that it took him 6 months to feel something. One is constantly told of the movements and sounds one goes through in a latihan. The inquirer thinks to himself that this sounds good, because it is a real, tangible spiritual experience even if one could not later describe it in words. I would like to receive this too. But you have to wait for your opening after 3 months. Right. I will wait, if it’s that good, he thinks to himself. I will not even press for an earlier opening. I’ll wait patiently. Then nothing happens. You tell them nothing has happened. They insist you have been opened because they all felt a strong latihan. Good for them. Then they bring up a helper who was never present in my previous “interviews” and he tells me it took him 6 months to actually feel a movement. Oh.


From Philip Quackenbush, May 25, 2009. Time 19:11

Hi, Max,

There's nothing in the "rule book" that says you have to deal with "helpers" that you don't get along with or don't trust (although applicants apparently have to, because of the structural inadequacies of the organization). Since your "opening" group seems to be large enough, you can now pick and choose among them whom to talk to or do "testing" with ("testing" with two or three other members is generally most effective, not more, in my experience), and if your "helpers" group is "open" enough (and even if it isn't), you can do "testing" with "ordinary" members of your choice, as well. The only possible advantage to doing "latihan" and "testing" with "helpers" is that they supposedly have more experience in the "latihan", but, to paraphrase the Buddha, an hour with a wise man is worth a thousand years with a dozen idiots. Also, you might find a "breakaway" group to do "latihan" with that you find more comfortable. I did once, but it no longer exists, from what I've heard, and I've moved 300 miles from where it was. So, as always, it all comes down to your choice.

Peace, Philip

From Andrew Hall, May 27, 2009. Time 20:30

Hi Max,

Thanks for clarifying what things were like for you in joining Subud and being opened.

I can understand your being mystified and upset about why feeling nothing when you are opened is not empasized as a real possibility during the 3-month waiting period.

I hope Subud helpers read about your experience and consider how they may be contributing to this misunderstanding.

From what you describe, it sounds like the 3-month waiting period may sometimes be more useful and enjoyable for the helpers than it is for the applicant!!

All the best.

Andrew Hall
Ottawa, Canada

From Max MacArthur, May 27, 2009. Time 23:32

Thanks again, Andrew! I always enjoy talking to you.

Yes, I think you've hit the nail on the head! You know, I try to be accurate with my descriptions and prefer accurate accounts to interesting embellishments [which after all are lies]. I kept a sort of "journal" of my weekly meetings and every week sent it off to someone I very highly respect, as if I was writing solely for him. In the pre-opening sessions I was full of enthusiasm. Trying now to do a "post mortem", I can see why. I was so looking forward to my opening and to experience the latihan, which I was given to understand was quite manifest, that I went eagerly to those meetings every week to listen to them expound Subud, the latihan and their experiences. I was warned more than once not to be shocked by my own movements come the time when I would be opened. Thinking back, the reason I was so eager was I wanted to experience this "sure-fire" latihan. This proves to myself, if ever I was in doubt, that no one warned me that it was possible that nothing would happen. If someone had said that, I would have taken that into the equation, and that would have tempered my enthusiasm. Still, knowing myself, I would have showed up every week.

Yes, some of the helpers did say they enjoyed coming to my "interviews", and towards the end I felt their numbers increased. I really should check my "journal" to see if this is factual or just an impression of mine. Previously silent and shy-er helpers began to talk only when I addressed my questions directly to them. I was tired of their silence. How were they helping me, I thought, when they turned up and didn't ask me or say anything?

Changing the subject a little, in one of my early responses, I alluded to Vietnamese boat people who drowned and didn't quite make it to freedom. One of the respondents, I forget who, didn't quite understand what I meant, judging from his response. This shows my allusion was too vague. I was making a comparison between the drowned people whom we never got to hear about, and the people who left Subud either because they, like me, weren't convinced they were opened, or left for other reasons. All we get to hear are the "success" stories from those who are still in Subud or who practise the latihan because they were successfully opened. I was wondering what the mortality rate in Subud was when I alluded to the Vietnamese boat people. If those opened constitute only 1%, say, of all those who have encountered Subud, then the "stillborn" ones would be 99%! The 1% then start an oganisation and circulate among themselves giving the impression they are the "norm". The unsuspecting inquirer comes along, meets up with the 1% who have already reached the other side, and is so encouraged. He then embarks on this voyage with great expectations, not knowing that 99% get fed to the sharks. Need I say that I use 1% to make a point, and it is by no means representative of the true figures, of course. Wouldn't it be interesting, therefore, if there were a "How I Drowned While Fleeing Vietnam" site, for a would-be refugee who receives a letter from his uncle from America urging him to flee? Wouldn't he be better informed to make a decision on whether to flee, given such a site? Wouldn't he be better prepared when attempting the perilous journey? But such a site is not possible because dead men tell no tales. Similarly wouldn't it be interesting if there were a "Why I Left Subud" site not only for Subud inquirers but for the benefit of Subud people who want to learn to be more effective? But of course, people who left the organisation have no more interest in it, so why would they care? As I said, "dead" men tell no tales. I was only mulling. I have no answers.

Thanks for reading, Andrew.


From Philip Quackenbush, May 28, 2009. Time 9:1

Hi, Max,

Theoretically, people who leave Subud are to be asked why. Of course, some either disappear where they can't be contacted, or won't say why if asked. But it might be useful to collect (and hopefully publish) the responses of those who do respond when asked. However, many "helpers" might regard the responses as private, like a priest hearing confession, but I suspect that the responses may never see print more likely because the general attitude of most people in the cult seems to be one of sticking one's head in the sand and ignoring anything that might bother them (i.e., habitual dissociation as a product of the "latihan", which seems to encourage dissociation in many practitioners). As far as I know, records have not been kept about responses, in general, and the founder of the cult seemed to encourage asking only as a possible means of bringing back those who left (and usually seemed to be only interested in concentrating on getting and keeping members who could support the org. financially or politically; of course, as the org. grew, he could only do that for a diminishing percentage of the membership). Nevertheless, if the cult is truly concerned about those who have left it, then it could be quite useful to collect the data about why they left. Actually, IMO, it doesn't really matter, if it ever did, because the baton seems to have been passed to other people in this "race" to a "spiritual" goal, anyway, if one considers the relative success of other groups possessing some version of the "latihan," of which there are probably hundreds.

Peace, Philip

From Max MacArthur, May 31, 2009. Time 8:5

Yes, Philip, one of the helpers says he still considers me part of Subud and includes me as part of the membership in calculating Subud dues for the international office. I don’t know how this works, but I get the impression that dues are levied in direct proportion to the membership.
Also, I tend to agree, just from my brief time with the Subud people, that most members seem only to mind their own business. I say “most” because I haven’t spoken to all of them. They all seem shy and introspective, as if they speak only when spoken to. Instead of they reaching out to me, I had to reach out to them . It was like a guest trying to make a host feel at home. That is how I felt at times, during my brief time with them. That is why I say they are not skilled with people. As far as skill with people is concerned, the helpers were no different from the general population. I didn’t think these helpers were better, if compared to any group of people randomly scooped up from a crowded shopping mall, as far as skill with people was concerned.
Your last sentence was very interesting. I’ve read just about enough to know that it can be controversial. But I don't know enough to comment further on it. Thank you for your post!


From Sahlan Diver, May 31, 2009. Time 8:45


One possible problem is that if you only met people at latihan occasions, they are trying to quieten themselves prior to doing latihan, or to stay in a state of quiet for a little while afterwards. This can certainly act to deaden conversation,


From Philip Quackenbush, May 31, 2009. Time 11:47

Actually, it can be much worse than that. I remember having another "helper" present at an applicant meeting who insisted on "getting quiet" with the applicant to give him a "taste" of the "latihan." Aside from the fact that it may have actually "opened" the applicant, unlike Petri wine, according to Orson Welles' ad, before his time, but if an applicant comes to an applicant meeting in what is clearly a state of high alertness, i.e., high-frequency beta brain state, and the "helper" is in a deep alpha trance, the lines of communication are hindered, if not lost entirely. Again, it comes down to the need to revise the organizational structure sufficiently so the "ordinary" members can choose by vote "helpers" with whom they feel comfortable; then, hopefully, there will also be a better chance of better communication and caring between the "helpers" and applicants. Instead, the cult is still structured in a "old boys" (and girls) hierarchy on the "helpers'" side, which is gradually leading to the loss of membership on a global basis, though there are pockets of member retention and/or growth in some places.

There are some people in the cult with better-than-average people skills, but, in my experience, they are few and far between (and they don't include me, BTW). That may at least partially trace back to the founder of the cult, at least as far as the "helper" cadre is concerned, since he was responsible for appointing the initial "helpers", who, in turn, "created" other "helpers" with little or usually no input from the non-"helpers", and, according to someone who had a chance to observe him over a period of thirty years in Indonesia (Mansur Medeiros), was the poorest judge of character he ever met.

Peace, Philip

From anon, June 1, 2009. Time 13:48

"But of course, people who left the organisation have no more interest in it, so why would they care?" -- well actually although I agree with much of what Phillip says, this issue is not so black&white I think. I left some years ago and quite by chance met someone the other day from the local group. So, I've ended up here through a bit of curiosity to see if things have changed.

I too, spent many years having a nice peaceful rest at the back of the hall while sounds "most beautiful" emerged from older members' mouths. After some time, and a number of 're-openings', I eventually accepted not receiving in any strong meaningful way, albeit took some time getting over the initial disappointment that you seem familiar with -- i.e., nothing really happening. I kept going because: (a) the hall was close by; and (b) my wife at the time, who was opened a week later, did appear to receive something, and so there was some close +ve expectation of eventually experiencing something. I left after nearly a decade for organisational dysfunction reasons and other life matters including moving far away from the local hall.

In fact, it got to the point where I came to understand that it is more suited to certain types than others. I still remember the day I was working in the garden when I felt something very clearly on the back of my neck and thought "Ahh, ..." -- but alas it turned out to be my teenage son with a soft 'cat's paw' taking the 'mickey' out of me! That was about the 'high point'... ;-)

Otherwise, now whatever it was, or is, just is what is ... and if and whenever I "do it" then I simply notice certain muscles relax and a slight posture change -- i.e., knuckles hang 'less heavy' on the ground!

The vast majority of people are not "in" Subud, but rather have been "through" Subud (the organisation). Life goes on it seems. I'd interested to hear where Phillip thinks the baton has been passed to? I suspect many like myself just get on with life "beyond Subud" and without 'helpers', than goodness!

From anon, June 1, 2009. Time 14:15

(a) The previous post should have ended, of course, "... thank goodness!"

(b) In respect to 'types', I suspect there is a strong correlation between a capacity for being hypnotized and this type of 'receiving'. This is only my opinion and should not be read as a criticism per se: I simply hypothesis that those who 'receive' easily can also fall under hypnosis easily, and those who cannot, perhaps do not -- i.e., it may be a similar 'system function' capacity at work on the part of the recipient.

Why don't you ask these famous 'helpers' to test what receiving it is like for you? Then there is a somewhat 'scientific' test -- they'll either rattle on as before (and that says something in itself), or they will 'feel' the very 'absence' you feel and perhaps find another more compassionate way to communicate with you about this situation.

From Philip Quackenbush, June 1, 2009. Time 23:17

Hi, Yanon (a combo of y'all and anon: Anon being the most prolific Arthur of all time, so I'm trying to give you some distinction here),

Y - The vast majority of people are not "in" Subud, but rather have been "through" Subud (the organisation). Life goes on it seems. I'd interested to hear where Phillip thinks the baton has been passed to? I suspect many like myself just get on with life "beyond Subud" and without 'helpers', than goodness!

Since there are so many known and unknown possibilities, it's hard to say for sure. If my theory that the "latihan" is a natural biological function is true, then either a) everyone has the possibility of functioning in that manner it but most don't know it or b) the spread of the "latihan" through "formal" means is probably exceeded by its spread by informal, or unconscious means.

Known possibilities are various Christian charismatic movements, such as the Toronto "blessing" and some groups that do their thing on TV (though there are probably a lot of "false prophets" around in that regard (i.e., fakers making money from imitating it at others' expense), Pangestu and other movements in Indonesia, ziran qigong in China and elsewhere, spontaneous kaballah in Judaism, "free" Sufi dancing (with no "outer" directions given), etc., etc. The unknown possibilities are endless, but, for example, we know that Rajneesh (Osho) was opened by some woman follower of his and included it in his cult's "tools" (it can be watched on the Web). I suspect that, despite it's decline or transformation after Rajneesh's death, his cult probably has far more members than Subud has any hope of acquiring. And I remember the founder of Subud once saying that if "God" decided to turn to some other organization to carry the torch, "He" could (obviously I'm paraphrasing here).

Y - (a) The previous post should have ended, of course, "... thank goodness!"

Right. So what was meant by +ve?

Y - (b) In respect to 'types', I suspect there is a strong correlation between a capacity for being hypnotized and this type of 'receiving'. This is only my opinion and should not be read as a criticism per se: I simply hypothesis that those who 'receive' easily can also fall under hypnosis easily, and those who cannot, perhaps do not -- i.e., it may be a similar 'system function' capacity at work on the part of the recipient.

Well, again, if I'm correct in my theory that the "latihan" is a form of self-hypnosis (the pros say all hypnosis is self-hypnosis), you could be right; I just hadn't thought of that aspect of it. Certainly, any objective observer would see it as a form of trance (perhaps that's why so many members [including the founder] are so reluctant to have it seen by "Auslanders" (though it was demonstrated for the TV media in Spokane prior to the Congress there by one of the organizers). I remember one member in a nearby group (only 200 miles away; nearby for the Western US) who was studying to become a hypnotherapist, if I recall correctly, telling me that "Bapak" was the greatest hypnotist she'd ever seen. Having played organ in Christian Science churches for several years I found it rather disingenuous that Mary Baker Eddy railed against hypnosis like the founder of the Subud cult, when her history included getting "cured" by Phineas Quimby (who wrote the original Science and Health (without Key to the Scriptures, finally available in a very expensive set of volumes [or was, last I knew]). Some people (perhaps most; people's capacity for self-deception seems to be virtualy infinite) live their lives deep in de Nile (without ever coming up for air), Massuh.

As to the capacity to "receive", I recall the founder once telling someone that another person couldn't be "opened" because of organic brain damage, and everyone has neural pathways established from birth onwards that differ from everyone else. "Going into latihan" is a learned response (alpha, delta, and theta trance can be induced in virtually anyone by external means; the founder of Subud once supposedly said that there would eventually be "latihan machines" - well, not exactly, maybe, but there are "Persinger" helmets that give people "spiritual" experiences now, and the brainwave induction CD's that are on the market can do the same or simlar thing - I have a 6 CD set that I haven't gotten around to using, though I've tried the first a couple of times, which puts me into a very relaxed state of probably alpha trance (the type and degree of induction can be measured scientifically, but most people don't go around with electrodes dangling from their bodies during "latihan" or other trances, that I've ever noticed).

Peace, Philip

From Max MacArthur, June 2, 2009. Time 1:42

Philip, I think +ve was Anon's short form for "positive".

It did occur to me that one possibility is those who are opened are conducive to auto suggestion. When you are not opened, and everyone around you is, you think of all sorts of possibilities, and auto suggestion is just one of them. That is why I would be interested to know, out of a sample population of say, 100, how many were opened and how many were not.

The argument against auto suggestion is you have some people doing the latihan beautifully for years, and suddenly they go through a very dry patch for a prolonged period, and then some regain their latihan. I don't know how to explain that.


From Y, June 2, 2009. Time 1:54

1. "Y" anon? ... no great issue, I just came past for a quick 'look-see' and don't want to be drawn back into the endless Subud self introspection and often persecution complex.

2. The highly emotive outpourings of certain Christian groups may be somewhat therapeutic for some people, but I think there is a different quality about the Subud experience: one is 'push', the other is 'pull'.

3. Without discounting your take on hypnosis, my comment was simply to say that the same human system function(s) could be involved -- we breath, and talk and eat through the same device. Same principle. Whether the Subud Latihan process is actually a cynical use of hypnosis as a tool is another matter -- one could always assume that, like the old Monty Python sketch, there was a bit of "walk this way ..." in it. I have seen sleep walking and there may be some similarities, but it is all conjecture and obviously there is still some conscious control and awareness function involved in the Subud approach. I go back to the old physical, emotional & mental model -- if your centre of gravity is body, then expect movements; if emotional, then expect emotions and sounds; and if mental, expect very little, just quiet observation and perhaps a reduction of fear.

4. There is of course the other option in regard to Max and his 'problem' -- perhaps he, and others like him, are already opened and so the delta difference between state-a and state-b is less detectable. What with so much happening these days, in so many mixed up systems, this would not surprise me in the least.

... and that's my 2-cents worth folks ... back to wandering the world wide web!

p.s. "what was +ve" -- in general they were nice people in the centre I went to, some of the older ones had interesting stories on the Gurdjieff/Bennett days etc (another of my interest areas at the time: in fact I contacted them originally because of the comments made by Bennett in one or two of his books). I always felt more relaxed after the Latihan and I could detect the 20 minute cycle with its beginning and ending (tension & repose). But I could not get beyond the subjective and for me there was little or no 'automated' action -- I walked around because it felt ok to do so (compared to sitting), not because something extra-sensual directed my movements. I only speak for myself, others my be different.

p.p.s. For those who find the founder's life experiences of awakening a unique 'attractor', I'd suggest it is not that uncommon -- e.g. check out Ramana Maharshi who also had similar experiences it seems. Paul Brunton is a good source. Others might see Subud as just one Javanese mystical movement with, perhaps, less exposure to the Indonesian military -- e.g., than Sumarah which had a lot of army generals in it I understand. One might not also wonder why national security agencies, for example in Australia, have some interest in these movements and perhaps their suboptimal operation.

From Y, June 2, 2009. Time 2:28

OK -- you have me on a roll ... this may be of some interest:
"Although Subud practice is not open to outsiders, its nature is well known. The key is relaxation and total surrender to God's will, the force touched is divine, and the experiences are interpreted as releasing of karmic blocks and resistance, most members experience outward and automatic movement or speech, as well as inward cleansing. Because these manifestations are seen as purifying, this is related to the fact that typically their vigor decreases over time. At the same time informants suggest that the
intensity of the contact is gradually experienced on a more continuous basis." (Stange, 1980, p.33)


From Philip Quackenbush, June 2, 2009. Time 6:28

Hi, Maxy (Max + Y),

In self-hypnosis, auto-suggestion is given, and the state one is in (alpha, delta, or theta) then determines how suggestible one is. The subconscious is like a computer: garbage in, garbage out - and that's what's being "operated on" by the direction of the conscious mind in hypnosis, which is generally misunderstood to be an unconscious state, which it isn't (the "latihan" being one result of what is described by Stange from his "informants"). That's why, IMO, it's a really bad idea to listen to "Bapak's" or "Ibu's" "talks" in a "latihan state" (non-beta or not waking awareness), because one is highly suggestible in that state and can end up believing anything that's said, especially if hthey say it's true, no matter how irrational or ridiculous it may be, just like the subjects of a stage hypnotist do.

There's nothing inherently "wrong" with hypnosis, whether self-administered or "guided" (like on so-called "guided meditation recordings); like anything else, it can be beneficial or damaging. But to deny that that's what's happening can lead to all sorts of problems, when one assumes that the results of "testing" are infallible or even just correct, for example. The "testing" needs to be tested by using its guidance to make decisions, and then looking at the results of the decisions, but the decisions still need to be made in a full state of awareness, not sitting around in trance where one is so highly suggestible to what the "helpers" may say about their "receiving" (or even when one's own "receiving" is very "deep" or spectacular). This is just common sense when one realizes that the "latihan" is a form of trance, which most members seem to deny (to their possible peril, IMO).

It probably should be mentioned here that one's "normal" "latihan" is relatively passive, i.e, one simply follows whatever the subconscious brings up, but "testing" is a two-way street probably actively involving the conscious mind in the virtually-infinite data bank of the collective unconscious (or seen from a standpoint of non-duality, other parts of the Self, which is You), and can therefore be an aid in "receiving" the "latihan" for those who don't "receive" well. Thus, the "parts testing" that is sometimes available may "wake up" the various parts of the body to the farce (pardon me, force) of the "latihan". As they say in Noo Yawk, it soitenly vouldn' hoit to try it.

I didn't get the impression reading Ramana Maharshi that his experiences, or at least his resultant attitudes toward life was that similar to M. Subuh's, BTW. He seems to definitely be a non-dualist, which Subuh was definitely not, describing all sorts of divisions of the "creation" from his strange, Islamo-Javanese viewpoint, while Maharshi rejects attachment to all that sort of thing, suggesting the importance of finding out who you are, as all genuine mystics do. Of course, once you fully realize that you're "God", you're no longer under the control of any oppressor, which is why most religions don't encourage your finding that out through meditation or any other means, in fact may actually discourage to the point of cutting your head off if you declare it to be so, as in Islam, because they can no longer hit you with fictions like a choice between heaven and hell ("karma" is universal: you get what you ask for).

Also, BTW, Subud has had, and probably continues to have, highly-placed members in the Indonesian military and political bureaucracy, which may be one of the reasons it's been left alone, despite having ongoing statements from the founder and his daughter that clearly go against the Indonesian government's regulations about religion and cults (they're called something else there), another probable reason for marking most of the "talks" "for members only."

Peace, Philip

From Y, June 2, 2009. Time 10:7

Although stage craft and hypnosis go well together for entertainment, I think the more interesting cases involve major operations performed on fully awake individuals. However, quote [3] below is more perhaps relevant in terms of what can go on in these realms. In my case, it was witnessing strange antics at a national conference where ‘helper’ involvement was not according to the passive, but rather quite the contrary (IMO) – i.e., manipulating and frustrating business and executive decision making processes. The mixing of these types of energies is dangerous. This experience resulted in my leaving Subud quietly as soon as conveniently possible: something was ‘ticking’!

I note that unlike the Sumarah descriptions of ‘guides’ [1] being ‘tuned on’ and ‘finely tuned’ [2] I found a number at this Subud event with definite agenda – whether being influenced by ‘agencies’ or just occult practices/leanings I could not say. However, the psychic effects were strongly disharmonious. Luckily I had an inkling of something amiss from observing a previous event (but not in the committee) and seeing a previous member return in shock from one of these wrestling matches events and needing genuine help to stay out of hospital! Hint: read [3] again.

Ramana Maharshi lived in Tamil Nardu (India) and therefore would not have been highly exposed to Islamic mysticism. My point was not to focus on whether the common core ‘experience’ can be interpreted in a reductionist structural framework (Islamic Sufism) or a more synergised gnosis (Hinduism) – rather to point out that similar experiences of awakening or revelation are known and interpreted within a cultural context.

The result is more a statement on the psychology of the person, than perhaps the unknown ‘reality’ they experience. I’m not sure being “fully realize[d] that you're "God"…” is such a healthy state – as you say heads tend to fall off – but being aware of one’s ‘one-with-god-ness’ is perhaps a more accurate way of safely explaining the attainment within a cultural domain. After all, we only need to refer to examples like Mansur al-Hallaj [4], and even the founder of the Christian way, to see the dangers of proclaiming anything closely resembling “I am …” in the presence of zealots. Some things are best left unsaid I think. However in India, where the general population is generally more highly sophisticated and educated in these matters, such non-dualism would be understood as being within general gnostic frameworks – and indeed requisite for Bakti Yoga [5] practitioners – i.e., those mostly cultured in the Western ‘Christian’ ways. This growth of Pak Subuh into a ‘dear hero leader’ I trace back to this predilection within the western non-Islamic postmodern ‘frameless’ framework.

And yes, “Indonesian military” links would of course interest comparable entities in neighbouring countries – e.g., Malaysia and Australia etc. I know Stange was researching in Indonesia to avoid drafting into the US’s Vietnam debacle (although I’m not suggesting he was, or is ‘working’ at that level). However the post-Sukarno era in Indonesia, less than a decade from mass riots and deaths in the ‘millions’ of Chinese, was indeed interesting times – even for the US and their ‘Generals’ around the world in Chile etc. And of course Bennett was ‘ex-‘ MI… something meddling in Turkey when he met Ouspensky and Gurdjieff in the 1920’s. Ahhhh, life goes on, going on …. Interesting, but the Brotherhood of Subud (&/or Sumarah) are not necessarily all what they purport to be (IMO)!

[1] In Sumarah understanding such attunement is seen as possible for those who are centred, in a state of total faith. Even then the function of guidance (pamong) as an expression of truth (Hakiki) is activated only when internal and external circumstances require--when it is God's will. Individuals are not themselves 'guides', but they may be potential vehicles of guidance. The term 'pamong' refers in principle to function rather than person. (Stange, p.50)

[2] If, for purposes of illustration, our rasa. is compared to a radio, we might say that most people in the West leave their radios turned off—they neither expect nor direct their attention to reception of vibrations in feeling.
Most Javanese may have their "radios" on, but the power of each receiver and the clarity of reception differs widely. Some tuners are rough and result in a jumble of messages. Clear reception depends on the intrinsic capacity of the receiver and the fineness of the tuning. Within Sumarah a pamong is "turned on", meaning that awareness is fully centred in feeling, and "finely tuned", meaning that the source and content of messages is clear. (Ibid., p.51)

[3] Still others entered into contact out of curiosity, then became convinced. In some cases, as with Kyai Abdulhamid, initial contact took the traditional form of testing powers (mengadu kasekten). That involved demonstrating and comparing the spiritual powers resulting from mystical practice, with the "loser" submitting to the practice which proved most powerful. Men like Kyai Abdulhamid entered Sumarah only after demonstration that total surrender proved invulnerable to psychic attack. (Ibid., p.54)



From Philip Quackenbush, June 2, 2009. Time 12:33

Examples of this sort of "spiritual" one-upmanship (as in your note 3) are apparently standard in Java, as the place is crawling with dukuns, etc., and one of the correspondents on Subudtalk from Indonesia showed a servility to the "superior", which I rather imagine "Bapak" was so used to that he was taken aback when it wasn't shown him by Westerners (the guru is always right, even if he's wrong [and not a guru, according to the guru]). I personally was puzzled by the sneer I got from him when I went up to him in a "meet your leader" line and simply said "Hi, Bapak". I think I understand the reaction better now from that perspective.

There was a similar situation at a National Congress in the US to what you describe in your second paragraph a decade or so back. I suspect that you're relating a UK experience, but the hubris of the "helpers" groups seldom know many bounds, according to my observations.

I enjoyed the month or so I spent in Indonesia, despite the pain of some surgery I had, but I have no interest in going there again, a hotbed of fanaticism and corruption (largely fostered for the benefit of US corporations by US financing, from the early days of KIssinger and possibly even before that). Just as crazy as going anywhere in the Middle East with all that depleted uranium dust killing off who-knows-how-many Iraqis, just for starters.

And, yes, Subud wears a pretty thick mask, despite all its claims to openness and clarity, usually giving applicants a rose-colored-glasses treatment with a mix of obfuscation thrown in to keep 'em guessin', in my experience. If a "helper" feels that he doesn't know what the "latihan" is, then it would be best to state that without parroting others' opinions, including the founder of the cult's, and give warning to applicants of possible negative effects, up to and including death (from doing too much "latihan", for example).

Point taken from paragraph 3. What many posters on this site have said in one manner or another.

Re: paragraph 4: Of course, if one fully experiences being "God", one can't function in this illusion, because the basis of the illusion is that you're separate from the only thing that can exist, which is the All, which is manifestly impossible; therefore, the separate personality has no reality, but it's sort of fascinating to go along with the illusion while being aware of it, init, even if only on an intellectual level. The separation ceases during deep sleep, however, otherwise the illusion could not continue, having no energy to support it. One is unlikely to have the fate of Hallaj in a non-Muslim state, but it's certainly worth being aware of what the circumstances are when declaring even a "one-with-God" stance, if one still values one's current embodiment, which Maharshi apparently didn't (Nisargadatta, IMO one of the great explicators of non-dualism, apparently didn't either, saying his cancer was of no concern to him, and I've met a woman locally who has said essentially the same thing in regard to her body, although she's a yoga teacher and also says that if you can take care of your body, you might as well do so).

Peace, Philip

From Y, June 2, 2009. Time 13:18

Thanks Philip, interesting snippets (and I won't mention my thoughts on flying owners and family and courtiers 1st class) -- and sorry Max, it's been fun, but not sure much of this has helped your quest to understand your Latihan Blockage Syndrome (LBS). Avoid becoming a 'helper' and you should be right in the end. signing off. c u anon. y.

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