Subud Vision - Discussion

Sahlan Diver - In Subud We Have No Beliefs

more beliefs. From sjahari, December 19, 2010. Time 7:13

I would add to your beliefs about the latihan section a couple more.

1. the latihan arises from a vibration of some kind.

2. the latihan can be intentionally passed from one person to another if the situation is right.

3. the latihan can also be passed unintentionally or accidentally to certain individuals in certain circumstances. from
4. in the latihan movements and actions occur which are not arising from a conscious will. The walking which occurs in a latihan state is not the same as the walking which occurs in ordinary consciousness.

From Merin Nielsen, December 20, 2010. Time 23:27

Hi, Sjahari,

1. "A vibration of some kind" means nothing to me. I've never understood why anyone has believed this about the latihan - except perhaps for the fact that they were told it was so.

2. Many things can be intentionally passed from one person to another, regardless of how one determines whether the situation is 'right'. For instance, it's normal to acquire the knack of various physical tasks by copying motion, although "how to copy motion" is not a learned skill.

3. Likewise, many things can be passed to others unintentionally or accidentally, including the knack of various physical tasks. One example of a different sort is the impulse to yawn.

4. In myriad everyday activities, millions of movements and actions occur which are not arising from a conscious will. Moreover, the walking which occurs when I know I'm being watched, say, is not the same as that which occurs in 'ordinary' consciousness.


From Marcus Bolt, January 9, 2011. Time 14:46

Please look at:

Not only does it make a relevant point, but it's also great medicine!

From sjahari, January 10, 2011. Time 1:56

Hi Merin
It is clear that you dont hold these belief.

It is my position nevertheless that they are in fact widely held beliefs in Subud and can be added to the list that Sahlan has generated.


From Merin Nielsen, January 10, 2011. Time 4:2

Sure, bearing in mind that some beliefs which people hold about the latihan are more or less trivial.

From Sahlan Diver, January 10, 2011. Time 9:21


Your list is an interesting one. 1 and 4 certainly - it was a major ommission for me not to include them.

I was going to say that 2 and 3 are more what we observe in practise than actual beliefs, but I suppose it depends how you look at it. If someone is opened accidentally and has been in contact with a Subud member we assume the contact was pased accidentally from one to the other but we don't know for certain that it didn't arise independently in that other person. For 2 the operative phrase is "if the situation is right". This is where the belief as you state it might vary between Subud members. Some might say, for example, that the situation is always right but that faults or mental blocks or inherited baggage in the person being opened prevent or delay their ability to receive - that's another belief I should have included on the list!


From Merin Nielsen, January 10, 2011. Time 10:8

I suspect that 4 subsumes 2 and 3, but isn't it something more observed in practice than an actual belief?

From Sjahari, January 10, 2011. Time 16:45

Hi Sahlan
There are many paths of investigation that your article can trigger. For me, and at this point in my life, the line of inquiry I am interested in is this: what is the latihan? Why is it a valuable exercise for people to do and what benefit does it have? How is the latihan fundamentally different from other similar practices, if at all.

One of the questions I continue to be interested in arises out of my personal practice of improvisation. Anyone can stand, close their eyes, and follow the movements of voice and body that arise out of an empty state. And people are doing this all the time in many studios around the world. The practice is given a variety of names, or sometimes is not named at all.

What - if anything - is the difference between this and the latihan? In what way do our beliefs distinguish between the two practices?

Many people are not interested in these questions. They do the latihan because they like doing it. They feel they get a benefit of some kind from the latihan but cant really identify what that benefit is.

So why am I interested in this at all? The reason is that like most human beings I am a social person. And like most human activities the latihan is a communal activity. There are many ways in which the latihan practice is more enjoyable, and more satisfying as a community experience than as an isolated experience. Increasingly the community aspect of the latihan is disappearing. New people sometimes try it out, but seldom stay. As the number of practitioners continues to decline, my experience in the latihan becomes less and less satsifying.

For this reason I am interested in sharing the practice with others. And this is the reason all of us should be interested in spreading the latihan around. It is not because we are supposed to be missionaries of some kind. And it is not because we think we are doing something good for other people. It is primarily because we want to maintain what we have and to find a group of people that is large enough to sustain the practice.

It is increasingly evident that this may not happen. There comes a time when the total number of practitioners becomes unable to sustain a certain human activity. We are now rapidly approaching that number. As the current crop of baby boomers disappears from the scene and as the numbers continue to drop we will reach a point of no return.

Even now I feel that the organization has reached a point where we are basically no longer abke to maintain many of the activities which we feel have defined us. All the different helping roles. All the different organizational roles. SICA stuff. Most of it actually cannot be maintained anymore since we simply do not have the manpower to spread ourselves that thin.

And it may in fact be the case that the reason we are floundering so much as an organization now is precisely because we have spread ourselves so thin with all these various activities.

How do all these thoughts relate to your article?

For one thing - much of this belief system you identify only turns people off and makes it more difficult to enlarge our membership.

However I am even more interested in another question which your article raises, at least in my mind.

What do we believe the latihan actually is? Why does it work the way it does? What is its benefit and what is the evidence for that benefit?

It may be that in the end the latihan is simply a form of movement and voice improvisation. If so then perhaps that is the way we should promote it and explain it to people.

On the other hand if it is actually something that arises in one of these higher planes then what? Is this the belief? What is the evidence to support the belief?

What actually is the latihan?


From Sahlan Diver, January 10, 2011. Time 17:19


Seems to me there is the basis of a very pertinent article in your comments. The questions you ask are important ones. Any chance we could persuade you to write such an article?


From Stefan, February 15, 2011. Time 23:45

Sahlan I find this a very useful discussion starter and eye-opener. Some years ago my work included research on "organisational myths". All organisations have them but they can remedy problems, adapt and develop more effectively if they are aware of their own assumptions.

Here are some more Subud beliefs:

Our latihan purifies our ancestors

From the age of 63 a person's latihan is no longer for themselves but for their descendents

All that Bapak said and did was in a state of latihan.

Bapak's receiving was higher and more profound than that of other people

Consequently we should trust Bapak's receiving and stick closely to his advice

At a national council meeting 2 years ago I heard that the helpers had received in testing that face-to-face communications were better than phone calls, but that emails and written communications were "the worst". I have heard this view repeated elsewhere since then. The implication is that reports, articles, emails etc are not useful or are in fact "bad" so everything should rest on face-to-face discussion and testing.

From Stefan, February 15, 2011. Time 23:53

ah I've just seen that you already listed "purifing ancestors through the latihan"
Those pesky nafsu made me miss it the first time!

Just thought of another belief - a golden oldie:

When we embark on an important Subud project the lower forces conspire to subvert the work or to tempt us. But have courage, because angels are waiting to help us out

From Sahlan Diver, February 16, 2011. Time 5:16


I knew I would have missed some common beliefs from the list.

I heard about that national council receiving on communication methods. Daft.

"May we receive what is the best way to travel? By foot, by bicycle, by car, by plane". Subud received answer - by foot, it felt so light, so free of the nafsu of the modern world. Proper answer: by foot - yes, good for your health; by bike - yes, also good for your health and more practical when it would take too long to walk; by car - might be the only way to realistically get there; by air - yes, if you are going from Europe to the U.S.A.; you can't walk, cycle or drive across the Atlantic.

The national council receiving was entirely predictable, reinforcing as it does the Subud prejudice against discussion as a shared search for truth, preferring instead the social experience of shared good feeling, regardless of whether the outcome is useful or right. It's a perfect practical demonstration of why we should never entrust policy decisions to testing.

Once I struck up a friendship by chance with a lady from overseas who sent a general email to our Subud country, worried about her daughter who was on holiday here, whom she hadn't heard from. I responded to the email, the daughter was located and was fine, and myself and the lady carried on an email conversation for some years, leading eventually to her and her daughter visiting my family. When I related this story at lunch at a Subud congress, a helper pompously lectured me on how it couldn't be a proper friendship because it had all been conducted by email and therefore lacked the human element. He was offensive and aggressive in his attitude. This sums up for me what I think is the problem with Subud - whatever benefit people might get from the latihan is counterbalanced by the pompous Subud ignorance, masquerading as received wisdom, going round in their heads (the same ignorance that lectures people on using the mind too much).

My article covers a range of beliefs from those that seem fundamental and shared by most members to those that are more eccentric and less widely known. However, on a more serious note, there are fundamental questions about the latihan, relevant to Subud or to any future new organisation formed to promote the latihan, and these are raised by Sjahari above. In my opinion, they are not easy to answer.

From stefan, February 16, 2011. Time 16:16

What do we believe the latihan actually is? Why does it work the way it does? What is its benefit and what is the evidence for that benefit?

Sjahari, thanks for identifying these questions. For anyone who is no longer certain about explanations have heard these are the key issues. My difficulty is that I feel some intrinsic value in the latihan - that is different from a voice/movement improvisation which I value in a different way - but cannot say exactly why. I recently was visiting Lewes group in UK and arrived early for latihan. The previous latihan was still in process and I heard simultaneously the voices of the women downstairs and the men above. I was in my "normal" state of hurry and mild turbulence. I felt a wave of the most delicious sweetness and a sense of being in the presence of "Mystery" or holiness. I actually DO find and believe that the latihan is - or can be at times - a very powerful access point to what might be called mystical union, sontaneous prayer or God.

I find it hard to put this into everyday words which don't sound presumptuous or to provide convincing evidence. Although words such as "holy" or "sacred" seem to fit my experience I am increasingly alienated from traditional organised religions and uncomfortable when I hear any cliche or verbal formula, such as "prayer" or "God's grace" to describe something so unquantifiable and personal. Best analogy I can find is with a piece of music which I find moving and deeply transformative. I accept that not everyone will experience it this way, yet still yearn to share it with others who might...

From Michael Irwin, February 17, 2011. Time 23:55

Sjahari wrote: "Many people are not interested in these questions. They do the latihan because they like doing it. They feel they get a benefit of some kind from the latihan but cant really identify what that benefit is."

I don't believe that I can even know what it is. I don't know what a lot of apparently simpler things are. More importantly I don't see any necessity to know what it is. I do the latihan because I like doing it. Why should I need more? The same applies to listening to music, eating chocolate, looking at a view.

From Bronte Grivell, March 7, 2011. Time 23:48

I have just read the discussion on communication. Funny thing that. One thing that does not occur- or I did not notice it- was a comparison with other "spiritual" and "non-spiritual" organisations. Which way do they look at the use of emails, letters, phone call, direct face to face meetings, and any other forms of communicating ? (telepathy too?)

In so many things, the "norm" is established directly relative to Subud dogmas, and habits. I will not here call them "practices", just "habits"

It is interesting to note that my latihan is now only supposed to be of any use to my descendants, but since I do not have any..........
Anyway, I am still using the Big Wooden Spoon, refining my own ideas about Subud on the anti-Subud site. I think there is a minute amount of intelligence occurring there. I only wish I had a bit more feedback from both Subud die-hards of my type, who avoid group Subud, and the other type who are Subud Groupies. However, I am truly enjoying the challenges to my own beliefs in Subud that occur there. Trouble is I am convincing myself more in favour of Subud than before.


From Sahlan Diver, March 7, 2011. Time 23:54


For decades, Subud has regarded itself as being able to tune in to what is the right thing to do through feelings and receivings. So, yes, it has become a habit not to fundamentally question our decisions and procedures. Basically, Subud members aren't interested in learning from any other organisation, whether spiritual or commercial,



From stefan, March 8, 2011. Time 0:30

I think you've hit the nail on the head, Sahlan. As I see it developing intuition and self-confidence are two positive things in achieving wholeness. But we need to maintain a lively interest in learning from other people, organisations, books. Then we view our own intuition ("receiving") as an additional, though not 100% reliable, inspiration.

I owe so much of my fulfilment - marriage, work and hobbies - to the gradual peeling of the onion layers that has resulted from years of latihan. But I'd be arrogant and foolish if I imagined this meant I no longer needed to learn from people not in Subud. And yet that does seem to be an (embarrassing and exasperating) aspect of our collective culture!

From stefan, March 8, 2011. Time 23:34

Hi Bronte,
You wrote "I only wish I had a bit more feedback..." so I want you to know that I appreciate your refreshingly individual comments.

From bronte, March 9, 2011. Time 22:52

One of the most intriguing questions I have, from almost day one, (for me, March, 1963) is "If Subud is not something new, where when and what form did it exist in before, and elsewhere?"
I am using the interpretation of Bapak's own words spoken here where I live, in 1963, as the basis of this question. And I think of the many attacks made on Subud's validity in various places as I ask this question. Surely this is another item the Subud Conservatives have not tackled, and will not, in all the time Subud has existed.

From stefan, March 10, 2011. Time 9:47

Hi Bronte,
There are biblical refs to groups of people receiving the Holy Spirit who were "prophesying and talking in tongues". This puts me in mind of the latihan. More recently, early Quakers and Shakers were called such because of the vibratory nature of their unmediated worship. "Spontaneous Qi Gong" (movements and sounds which channel Life Energy or Qi) has been practiced by advanced practitioners in China for millenia. Can we know for sure how each of these things compare to the latihan? I doubt it, but they seem to share at least some characteristics. What's your view?

From bronte, March 10, 2011. Time 10:47

I cannot rationalise that all or any of these "manifestations of the Spirit" are the same as Subud latihan.
Over the years, many such claims have been made.
Many Christians, especially those who denounce Subud, have declared that there is no commonality.
You might be amazed to know that, apart from the claim that "Subud latihan is not from God", there are Christians known to me who declare that the "Christian Pentecostal experience" is also "Not Fom God' I will not repeat here the evidence they gave me. In any case, I stand aside from the clams for and against Subud latihan being the same as the Christian "movement of the spirit'". I look, in vain I think, for other places where something akin to latihan exists.
One place where I feel inclined to take more notice is the claim that it is an awakening of the Kundalini.
That is a very dubious and vague claim.
There is more for others to say.
I will only finish by saying that my latihan is something that I "tune in to" at any time or place, and that I feel utterly excluded from group latihan, so what I do is getting further and further from other Subud people's experience, unless I do manage to share it.

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