Subud Vision - Discussion
Ramon Kubicek - Boushma
Discussion continued from this page
From Zebedee, April 20, 2008. Time 15:46
You seem to be changing the subject now, David.
One needs to read or listen to the talks of Bapak, at the same time being aware of the context or the spirit in which they are given.
It is necessary to differentiate between "moral/spiritual" advice and business advice. Have you read any Adam Smith? I suggest you compare and contrast the difference between "Wealth of Nations" and "Theory of Moral Sentiments". One concerns economics, and the other morality. Adam Smith writes differently about each. In Moral Sentiments, he says we should be nice and kind to each other. In Wealth of Nations, he condemns government interference in the market, says no good ever comes of people who aren't out to make profit, and says prices must be set by demand and supply. Life is about reconciling these two.
Otherwise, when it comes to "receiving the spirit", yes, it's Christianity, but it's also a whole range of religions. Most religious people, who believe that the whole human race are a family, are actually very interested in what links their religions, so I think it is quite wrong to imply they are not.
I think when you say "I think that prima facie six billion people do not agree with your view of their religions. Our books are unsellable", this is really getting to the core of our issue here - Subud is not about making money. When Bapak gave us the Latihan, he explained it was about surrender and worship, and receiving from God.
From Sahlan Diver, April 20, 2008. Time 20:2
This has been a very interesting discussion between you and David, but I think you are misunderstanding his use of the phrase "our books are unsellable". I am sure that what he meant by that was "nobody is interested in reading about Subud". He is not proposing we try to get rich by writing and selling books.
There were some parts of your last post that the editors had to remove. If we have changed the meaning of what you were trying to say, we apologise. Normally we contact the contributor to discuss any changes with them first, but emails to the email address you supplied us with are being returned as an invalid address. We respect a contributor's wish to remain anonymous, so if you don't wish to give a valid email address, that is OK, but we will not be able to contact you first if we want to edit any more of your postings,
From David Week, April 22, 2008. Time 17:27
Z: One needs to read or listen to the talks of Bapak, at the same time being aware of the context or the spirit in which they are given.
D: I don't think so. The "spirit" in which they are given can be very subjectively interpreted. I think it's far more important to understand the cultural and historical frame in which they're given, which can be checked and cross-checked. Without that frame, Subuh's meaning is easily misunderstood. A classic example is the Christian parable of The Good Samaritan, which uninformed pop interpretations read as meanig "you should be kind to people in trouble," but which in cultural and textual context reveals the original intention, which was "love those those whom you most despise, because they are your neighbour."
Another issues is that REGARDLESS of the spirit or context in which they are given, we need to assess what contribution Subuh's talks make to the conversation of humanity? A good example is Subuh's story, which you quote, of the person who sets the profit margin so both buyer and seller are happy. This is good and attractive principle, but in fact it's neither original, nor profoundly explained. The idea of "win-win negotiation" or entering into business arrangements in which both parties are looking past the transaction, to long-term mutual benefit is not original. And in terms of understanding what this means, why it is a good idea, and how to do it successfully, Subuh is not a good source. There are a hundred better sources. So the person who uses Subuh as his or her primary source for understanding and implementing this principle is likely to be less effective than someone who goes to more informed sources.
Z: It is necessary to differentiate between "moral/spiritual" advice and business advice... Life is about reconciling these two.
D: Again, good point. But I question that Subuh has anything particularly new or insightful to say on the matter.
I can think off the top of my head of a dozen people that do better both in insight and in practice. Consider for instance Mhd Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. He has much better insights, and proven practical experience, on this matter than does Subuh, whose own bank was poorly run as a business, and produced no moral benefits. The Grameen Bank goes from strength to strength and helps millions of poor people, and becomes a world-wide model for a new paradigm, one which is still growing and producing revolutionary results.
Z: I think when you say "I think that prima facie six billion people do not agree with your view of their religions. Our books are unsellable", this is really getting to the core of our issue here - Subud is not about making money.
D: I'm using book sales as not as a measure of profit, but as a measure of human benefits. The fact that our books are unsellable is another way of saying: "Overwhelmingly, humanity does not find our publications useful or insightful; they do find use and insight in other publications." We need to take heed of that, instead of engaging in apologetics.
Z: Otherwise, when it comes to "receiving the spirit", yes, it's Christianity, but it's also a whole range of religions. Most religious people, who believe that the whole human race are a family, are actually very interested in what links their religions, so I think it is quite wrong to imply they are not.
D: The acid test is to engage with those unversalist people in open dialogue, not to hide our publications under the banner "For Members Only", with the excuse "people who are not opened cannot understand." The interfaith movement is undergoing fascinating, explosive growth and development. Subud attempts to participate, but is not recognised by its peers as contributing ANYTHING so far to the interfaith movement. We need to pay attention to that judgement, and not fantasize that we are having some wonderful, invisible, magical benefit perceivable only by us, and invisible to anyone else. To put it bluntly: great things are happening; our contribution is nil; Subuh's contribution has been nil; we need to take the hit and start from a very humble position.
Z: When Bapak gave us the Latihan, he explained it was about surrender and worship, and receiving from God.
D: You also quoted him as saying "Stand on your own feet". I think that's a good idea, but not because he said it! I think standing on your own feet means NOT just quoting or accepting some other persons ideas or perceptions, but rather drawing from a broad base of human experience, checking things empirically, using your own experience but NOT relying solely not (because individual experience is NOT reliable).
Furthermore, years ago, the culture of Subud was such that the latihan was seen as coming from God. I'm not a real fan of theistic metaphors, but I certainly prefer them to what is happening now, in which God is being replaced by Subuh. Now the latihan no longer comes from God, direct, it comes from and through a dead human being. Frankly: yuk. From a religious perspective, that's a bad move. I would certainly agree with the proposition that every religion says that is a very bad idea.
I see no future in a personality-centred movement. I work in development. In my industry, I get to engage with some truly amazing and influential organisations: World Vision, Amnesty, Oxfam, the World Bank, Transparency International, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Friends International, Greenpeace. You can criticize some or any of these, and people do: but there's is no doubt that they have contributed to humankind. Just saying their names, most people know what they stand for. And yet most people would not know who founded them. They are value-centred, not founder-centred.
Compare this with Subud, in which the founder is quoted day and night--literally--yet Subud can hardly produce the most modest demonstration of benefit to humanity, despite 50 years, hundreds of millions of dollars, and millions of person-hours.
I think we need to move past the personality-centred model. We need to stop quoting or following Subuh when he's not the best writer or authority on a particular issue--moral or otherwise. We need to treat him, in other words, as just a regular guy, whose writing have to stand or fall by normal criteria. We need to take direct personal responsibility for interpreting, rethinking, and running Subud today, in today's world, and that inevitably requires us to exercise critical judgement in the use of the views and opinions of those who previously held that responsibility.
Otherwise, I think it's into the dustbin of history for Subud--or even worse, the dusty shelf of irrelevance--and we're well on the way.
From Zebedee, July 22, 2008. Time 19:22
Coming back to this, I think you edited out some important points from my post. Firstly, I pointed out you aren't interested in theology, which you have confirmed by comparing Subud unfavorably with entirely secular companies and charities. Secondly, I suggested you might be more at home in a cult for expecting Subud to being fame and fortune, which you have no right to call a personal attack when you openly accuse Subud members of being cultists in your "becoming normal" article.
From Sahlan Diver, July 22, 2008. Time 20:13
Just to clarify a matter raised in your post. You say "you edited out some important points from my post", which might imply that David edited out some points to his advantage. In fact, David was not consulted about those edits, nor was he involved in them. It was myself who made the edits. To repeat what I said in an earlier reply, the editors prefer to discuss any edits with our contributors so, on those rare occasions that we make changes, we can do it to the satisfaction of the contributor. Unfortunately, you provided only an anonymous, unreachable email address, so we had no way of privately discussing this matter with you,
From Zebedee, July 22, 2008. Time 20:30
I should then ask you, do you believe calling people cultists is an inappropriate personal attack, and if so, why on earth are you involved with this egregious website?
From Sahlan Diver, July 22, 2008. Time 20:37
I am willing and interested to respond to your question if you could give me some specific, precise quotes from the web site of the passages that you consider to be offensive,
From Zebedee, July 24, 2008. Time 18:15
Why, haven't you read it? I didn't call it offensive, I called what you are doing hypocritical. If you don't know what I'm talking about then you're not paying attention to your content.
From Sahlan Diver, July 24, 2008. Time 20:49
I can't find a place where you specificially use the word "hypocritical" but I guess you are referring to this passage: "....which you have no right to call a personal attack when you openly accuse Subud members of being cultists in your "becoming normal" article...."
I just used our Site Search facility to search for the word "cultist" and it is apparently only used in two places on the Subud Vision web site, once, for sure, in David's article, but he doesn't say Subud members are cultists, he says they are in danger of looking like cultists because certain of our behaviours seem to be in direct contradiction to our claims that Subud is not a religion and that Subud has no teachings. Saying that Subud members and Subud in general, is in danger of putting over a cult-like image is not the same as a personal attack on an individual person. You might not like the suggestion that Subud projects a cult-like image, but your not liking the suggestion does not make the suggestion wrong. In fact, David starts his article with a quote from a non member who specifically refers to Subud as being a cult.
So, by all means, please criticise David's article, but do so by telling us why you think his individual conclusions and arguments are wrong. If you can make a persuasive case then readers might reconsider David's conclusions. On the other hand if it seems that David might be right, this is something Subud needs to take note of. If Subud is frightening away potential new latihan practisioners by projecting an image that makes it seem like a cult, then only Subud members can put that image right,
From Zebedee, July 29, 2008. Time 17:35
Saying that Subud members and Subud in general, is in danger of putting over a cult-like image is not the same as a personal attack on an individual person - or is it?
What if we were to say all Muslims who believe a certain thing are terrorists? Either it is true, or it isn't true. But it most certainly is a personal attack on the Muslims who believe that certain thing. If I was to say - "All Muslims who believe in murdering civilians are terrorists" - then that would be true, and a justified criticism of extremists.
However, if we were to say "All Muslims who believe in God, in morality and in the afterlife are terrorists" - then it is both false and a personal attack on most Muslims.
I'm not interested in debating David's article. You may agree with it, I disagree with it, but it is most certainly a personal attack on the Subud members he caricatures. What is obvious from both his article and many others here is that the general theme of your website is not about reforming Subud but attacking your fellow Subud members.
From Sahlan Diver, July 29, 2008. Time 19:22
You give an example of the distinction between a statement that is a personal attack and one that is not, using statements about Islam, but what I don't understand is why give an example when you presumably have a specific complaint or complaints about Subud Vision? Can you give two specific quotes for (1) where you feel a statement by David is caricaturing Subud members (2) where you feel a statement by David or any other author is a personal attack. If it is as "obvious" as you say it is that the general theme of the web site is just about attacking our fellow Subud members, then it should be very easy for you to give examples of statements that do this. In fact for your criticism to be fair and accurate there should be either a majority or certainly a very large proportion of statements that are personal attacks. The Subud Vision book, which is taken from the first 50 published articles, is 352 pages long, so that should equate to thousands of examples, yet you haven't given us one convincing quote yet,
From Zebedee, July 30, 2008. Time 19:10
No, my point is that both were personal attacks, one was justified and one unjustified.
From Sahlan Diver, July 30, 2008. Time 20:9
OK, but you still haven't given any specific examples from the Subud Vision site of what you consider to be a personal attack. Please give one or two examples
From bronteb, July 30, 2008. Time 23:42
"the general theme of your website is not about reforming Subud but attacking your fellow Subud members."
So writes Zebedee.
Well, maybe the actionss and opinions of some Subud members need attacking.
And even destroying, were that possible.
This is the only place I know where Subud people, and Subud outsiders like myself, can even attempt to desribe the things that matter to them, in their dealings with Subud. For some of us, the encounter with the Subud beurocracy and it's servants has been a soul destroying, harmful, lifelong agony. Others, a fulfilling, rewarding, uplifting lifeline. I believe the latihan can be the latter. People vary.
But everyone writng here seems to have an optimism about Subud, just not a total blind conformity to the expectations of the Subud traditions. Some of us have seen the dark side of some of them!
But the hope might be that we communcate openly and honestly, including by not hiding behind incomplete identities.
As to Subud's inpiration, what was the catch cry "faith, paitience, sincerity.'?
So let's have a bit more of that here, please, Zebedee.
From Sahlan Diver, July 31, 2008. Time 6:12
Re "incomplete indentities"
Just to clarify. It is Subud Vision editorial policy to allow contributors to use pseudonyms. One of our authors also has remained anonymous. Our policy is set out on this page: http://www.subudvision.org/anon.htm. As Bronte says we are trying to provide a place where people are free to speak about the things that matter to them, and sometimes it may be necessary for them to remain anonymous to facilitate that.
From Zebedee, July 31, 2008. Time 17:59
Yes bronteb, but that's not what you get here. Here you are allowed to call Subud a cult and Subud members cultists, but if you do the same to the people running the site, you get censored. This is a one way website.
From Zebedee, July 31, 2008. Time 18:37
Sahlan, you are asking the wrong question. The question you should be asking is how is saying "we are in danger of looking like cultists because of certain of our behaviours" calling Subud a cult. And it is because his "tragedy of the commons" analogy is a scaremongering, extremist way of demonising Subud members. His entire article is hype. Hype built on exaggeration, using a wishy washy definition of a cult, taking a handful of Bapak's talk quotations out of context, all to reach a contrived conclusion.
Absolutely no meaningful comparisons with other associations. Just convoluted, condescending babble with no clairvoyance of what "normal" looks like. The maturity of a five year old "Who wants to join a cult? Anyone? Raise your hands please!"
To summerize the gist of it "You're a cultist you are! Not only a cultist but a sheep who's over grazing the commons, you all act the same way! Not only a sheep but a Javanese Hindu Animist sheep!" Such taste and sophistication. Worthy of an ill behaved kindergarten bully.
From Sahlan Diver, July 31, 2008. Time 18:58
Let's get the facts straight here. In this discussion there are approximately 10 posts from you. All are published exactly as you submitted them, apart from one, which was edited by removing a sentence or two, not because of what you said but because of the way it was phrased, and had we been able to contact you privately we would have given you the opportunity to rephrase those sentences rather than have them cut. That hardly counts as censorship does it? We very rarely ask contributors to change what they have said and FYI we have made as many cuts or requests for changes in contributions from our own editors and authors as we have made from anyone else, so we are not at all one-sided.
If you would like to write an article, either under a pseudonym or your real name, disputing in detail what David and others say about Subud in relation to the topic of cults, we would be pleased to consider it.
However so that there is no misuderstanding I feel I need to spell out what falls under our guidelines
a) David Week's claim that Subud is in danger of looking like a cult to outsiders is invalid for these reasons ...
b) David Week and the other Subud Vision editors and anyone else who says anything critical about Subud is only doing so because they wish to damage and discredit Subud ...
NOT OK, for the obvious reason that nobody can possibly know what the motivation of all those people is. Also it would kind of work against any argument that Subud is not a cult, because take any cult and study what happens to members who criticise it. Usually the tactic is that such members are marginalised and demonised as flawed characters whose only motivation is a low one. Typical cult thinking is that everything that comes from the cult is 100% perfect and that any criticism is therefore unworthy and must be taken as a sign that the criticiser is mentally ill, or venting supposed feelings of frustration and unhappiness on the cult, etc etc
From Sahlan Diver, July 31, 2008. Time 19:45
I see you made a reply to my previous comments while I was at the same time replying to your comment to Bronte.
It seems to me you are distorting what David was saying in his "tragedy of the commons" paragraph - he was not implying that Subud members act like sheep all mindlessly following each other, on the contrary he was pointing out that an action that might make perfect sense and seem perfectly reasonable for an individual, when repeated across a large number of individuals actually can have quite a different effect than the expected or intended effect.
In respect of your other comments:
His entire article is .... built on exaggeration, using a wishy washy definition of a cult, taking a handful of Bapak's talk quotations out of context, all to reach a contrived conclusion.....Absolutely no meaningful comparisons with other associations....no clairvoyance of what "normal" looks like ...
as I said before an article which argued the case for your conclusions would be one in which we could be interested,
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