Subud Vision - Discussion

Sahlan Diver - Can Subud Grow without Faith?

"Enterprise" size vs. likely results. From Philip Quackenbush, June 13, 2008. Time 6:24

Hi, Sahlan,

You said,

"Bapak wanted Subud members to be pro-active in enterprise development. I suggest that this has become now very much a minority interest, that the majority either think these matters are purely down to individual conscience, or want to go further than that and see the enterprise/Subud-changing-the-world idea disowned as being motivated merely by a mixture of hubris and naivety."

And/or motivated by simple greed, with the lucky few taking their money and running.

Having been involved in starting an enterprise that the three partners regarded as a "Subud" enterprise, but barely supported our individual day-to-day needs, and that only through personal contributions to the business that kept us going until we all had other means of making a living, I think a number of successful enterprises on a smaller scale might still result in a financially stable Subud organization with viable charitable activity.

But there's been a tendency through my four and a half decades in this "racket" (as a "helper" whose opinion I respected when he was alive often referred to it), to either use the available money to produce more and more meetings of relatively inconsequential results, that nowadays could be usually held on the Net or phone conference, IMO, or to give it to the Family, most of whom are probably quite wealthy by Indonesian standards already. I recall one year in which SDI was a mere pup and the chair treated it like a full-grown Great-Dane-of-a-giant-corporation. Until sufficient organizational reforms are instituted that prevent such frittering away of the organization's resources, I doubt that many fledgling or long-term enterprises will see Subud as being a worthwhile "investment" (and I haven't noted any steps in that direction, except, perhaps, in the case of MSF, which was probably set up that way in the first place by Peter Fillipelli).

Despite all that, however, Subud may still have a hand in the transformation of the planet that is already in progress for "those that have eyes to see" (i.e., are not in denial of what's taking place) that could provide a tipping point on a global scale for the "better," since, for anyone familiar with the new science of Chaos theory, it only takes one person in the "right" place at the "right" time with the "right" attitude to move the planet in the "right" direction, not necessarily anyone "spiritually advanced" (there is no such person, IMO) or a large number of people. Leaving aside your aforementioned hubris, then, that may or may not be someone in Subud. Who knows? I certainly don't (nor am I likely to "test" to find out, since that would only confirm some person's or people's opinion until it happens and "they" are proved correct or incorrect).

Peace, Philip

From Sahlan Diver, June 13, 2008. Time 22:55


I think the key element of Bapak's model is enterprise giving a proportion of its surplus profit for humanitarian purposes, so if the desirable situation of a "number of successful enterprises on a smaller scale", as you suggest, came about, why would they need to channel the money through Subud? They could just as easily give it direct, neither would the recipients necessarily need to all be Subud-run charities.

I agree about the need for organisational reforms and surely the most important of these is to abandon selection of officials through testing, replacing testing with a normal system of voting on the basis of a person's platform, performance, competence, honesty and so on.

Of course it would be nice if Subud also could be strengthened through increased funding, but again I agree with you about the need to improve efficiency by taking advantage of modern technology - the Subud Vision project itself would be an example of that, the whole thing organised by email without a single meeting.

My ideal view of the Subud organisation would be not some overweighted edifice expending too much time, money and energy on "meetings of relatively inconsequential results", but as a lighweight organisation capable of providing a truly effective framework of support for members' enterprise, cultural and charitable activities. Unfortunately, my guess is that most Subud members will continue to stubbornly stick to the edifice, maybe because they have got means confused with ends,



From Philip Quackenbush, June 14, 2008. Time 6:55

Hi, Sahlan,

You said,

"My ideal view of the Subud organisation would be not some overweighted edifice expending too much time, money and energy on "meetings of relatively inconsequential results", but as a lighweight organisation capable of providing a truly effective framework of support for members' enterprise, cultural and charitable activities. Unfortunately, my guess is that most Subud members will continue to stubbornly stick to the edifice, maybe because they have got means confused with ends,"

Well, then, it's likely to continue to be a crumbling edifice. How much more loss of membership and interest does there have to be to draw the sleeping out of their dreams?

If there are enough people that can form an ethical organization that gets out of the binds that the Subud org. has perpetuated, then it seems worthwhile to pursue that end. Frankly, looking at the current numbers, I don't think there are. Rotsa ruck, though.

BTW, a small business in the US is defined, if I recall correctly as one doing less than a million dollars a year and having less than a hundred employees. I'm not sure that, under that definition, that any Subud "enterprise" ever got to be a big business, though I can think of at least a couple of businessmen in Subud who have become millionaires pursuing their "enterprises". How much of that ended up in Subud organizational coffers, I have no idea. I think that the formula that M. Subuh eventually suggested was 25% of the net profits (after expenses) as a donation. I know of some people who thought it was 25% of gross profits (I did at one time), which is a formula for disaster.

Another reason I think that small enterprises may have more to donate to Subud is that corporations are set up to make money for the shareholders, and that by any means, or the stockholders tend to bow out, so only limited partnerships are likely to look towards making money for charitable purposes as a goal, and that only after the partners agree to that as a goal.
(If you want to look at the unchecked depredations of giant corporations objectively, read Confessions of an Economic Hit Man).

Peace, Philip

From David W, June 14, 2008. Time 7:2

Hi Sahlan

The idea that corporations should provide social benefit, either through contributions, or directly in the way that they operate, is a common one today. Hence, the burgeoning field of CSR (corporate social responsibility.) Good stuff.

But I don't see the connection between all of this, and the title of your article: "Can Subud Grow without Faith?"

First, what is the faith required? I'm a Subud member. I start a company. It does good ethical work. And it contributes to charity. I've done all of that. Where was faith involved?

Second, how does it help Subud grow? Here's a company:

Franklin Covey

It does good work. It's famous for its good work. Given the public statements of its owners, I'll bet they contribute to charity. But having such a company doesn't make me, or any other of Covey's fans that I've ever met, want to become a Mormon.

So how does this model help Subud grow?


From Sahlan Diver, June 14, 2008. Time 7:47


I agree with you about the numbers required to do Subud a different way. There probably aren't sufficient in Subud with the enthusiasm or inclination. Any alternative organisation would have to start with part of its plan being to advertise in some way, so as to attract new people - the Subud way of a few books placed in libraries and waiting for people to be "guided in" would obviously not give the required critical mass quickly enough.

Regarding the 25% of profits, I think the suggestion was even more cautious than the more cautious of those two options you mentioned, it was "25% of net profit after proper provision for reserves etc".

I take your point about the accepted definition of "small business" in the U.S., but I prefer to make the distinction in the historical Subud context. In my opinion a small Subud business would be one or a number of members starting something new and gradually building it up, learning from experience and their mistakes as they went along. Instead Subud tried to do "big" business in the sense of plunging into ambitious large scale projects: banks, conference centres, office blocks and so on, without knowing whether they had sufficient people with ability to undertake them, and artifically forcing their progress by pressurising members to risk investing large sums of money, in many cases beyond their means.

Yes, it's true what you say about the relationship between companies and their shareholders, but I suppose that was the thinking behind setting up companies with exclusively Subud shareholders, presumably they would all support a company strategy of a donation of a percentage of profit to humanitarian purposes,


From Philip Quackenbush, June 15, 2008. Time 16:18

Hi, Sahlan,

I agree with what you say. I think that those who are still in a position to keep at or join in with humanitarian enterprises, whether official SD projects or not, may have an influence in transforming more people's attitudes towards serving others more than themselves, which is what the great teachers, from Lao-tse to Buddha to Jeshua ben Yusuf tried to emphasize, since at base, what you do for others you do for yourself, since, in turn, you ARE the other: "What you do to the least of these, you do to me" (and vice versa), which is clear in modern physics and biology as well; it's a holographic (or, more accurately, a holomovement) universe, or as Rochanawati often seemed to chant "God, only God."

What I was trying to get at in terms of the corporate world was that corporations are structured (at least under US law) to oppress and even kill those who get in the way of their expansion for greater and greater profits that go to fewer and fewer people, and Confessions of an Economic Hit Man makes it quite clear that the giant international corporations do exactly that.

Since it is a holomovement universe, the most effective thing a Subud member can do to make it "better" is to "just do your latihan", like the stereotypical guys meditating on mountaintops, except that "effective" spontaneous moving meditation bypasses the ego's mind structure to produce more effective changes in the holomovement that otherwise couldn't occur in someone not sufficiently trained in what the Buddhists call "metta", or projection of compassion (that includes schmucks like me). "Progress" in the "latihan", then, IMO, consists of being more open ("surrendered") to the process. (Of course, I'm "pumping myself up" this ayem to "do" "latihan". :-)) This, of course, doesn't preclude other activities towards a similar purpose.

So, if we take the Subud founder's apparent suggestion that Subud enterprises are for training ourselves to act ethically in the business environment, perhaps in general, that lesson has been learned through the attempts and failures of the larger enterprises and doesn't need to be repeated, but, again, there's no reason why such pursuits can't be continued, together with the caution that any experienced businessperson would exercise (once bitten, twice shy).

Peace, Philip

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