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Stefan Freedman - Subud at Middle East Spirituality and Peace Festival

show and tell. From sjahari, April 9, 2008. Time 4:30

This is a fascinating article you have written. I am particularly interested in the excercises you have chosen to introduce the idea of the latihan.

It is very difficult to tell people in words what the latihan is and in general we do a very poor job of it. How much better to actually demonstrate and give a taste of the experience.

There are many exercises similar to those you have described, which are used in interpretative dance and improvisational contexts and which could be adapted for this purpose. The whole concept of movement from an inner impulse with eyes closed is applicable here. (The practice of Authentic Movement makes use of this.)

The other interesting element would be to have a discussion of how (or whether) the latihan is different in an essential way from such an excercise.

Is there something unique that happens in the latihan itself, in this "vibration" we seem to follow and which we believe is passed along in a direct line from Bapak? What is the essence that makes the latihan any different from a multitude of other similar practices like the ones you have described?

Why would someone need to join the Subud latihan? What could they get there that they might not get from simply improvising with eyes closed this way?

Fascinating questions.

Did you actually demonstrate the latihan to people? If not ......why not? Would you consider doing that? Would you be afraid of opening people accidentally? (A lot of Subud people would be deathly afraid of that.) Is that an important issue?

I think it would be very interesting to develop this idea more fully and completely.


From stefan freedman, April 20, 2008. Time 18:4

Hi Sjahari,
I'm encouraged by your feedback. Sounds as though you've done quite a bit of spontaneous/authentic movement.

I have a few hesitations about demonstrating the latihan itself. Firstly, the one you mention, that people might possibly be opened. I'm in favour of shortening & simplifying the introductory period but would not want to open someone with no prep or without their consent.

Also I'm concerned that in a public display I'd be feeling self-conscious and would either find myself unable to receive or else would receive a sort of clearing latihan which wouldn't convey the deep, transporting quality that can arise as the latihan continues.

How is the latihan different from spontaneous movement?
Aha, this is the million dollar question I've enjoyed dialoguing with you and others about. Much as I thrive on free movement and dance I often FEEL something in latihan which I haven't experienced elsewhere, and which I've come to relish as a regular source of nourishment.

Unlike many of my Subud peers I no longer feel able to describe my latihan as worship of God, but I do experience the exercise as a powerful numinous experience, and its effects as integrative. I have the sense of being opened up, stretched and re-connected with a large spacious consciousness. Often I'm left feeling simultaneously stilled and revitalised.

When talking with others I mention that not everyone perceives the latihan as unique. Some equate it with dynamic meditation or spontaneous Qi Kung, for some it's a spontaneous form of prayer or communion with spirit, and others find little action or benefit. Each person's response is individual and nobody else can predict it or interpret it.

How about you, Sjahari? How do you find that the Subud latihan differs from improvising with eyes closed in another context? If/when you explain it to an enquirer (perhaps using Bapak's experiences as a basis) what sort of response are you getting?

Thanks for responding & best wishes

From sjahari, April 21, 2008. Time 0:59

Hi Stefan,
thanks for your reply to mine

Like you I feel something happening in the latihan which does not happen in the other spontaneous movement practices I engage in. It seems to be something that is arising within me and beyond my own will. ANd it seems to be arising from a totally different source. It also has a different direction and a different motivation within it.

The way I would describe this, as well as what you have said in your note, is reflected exactly in Bapak’s words. This is why I resist the attempts to relegate Bapak to becoming “a petal on the flower” of Subud. ( Was that your analogy?)

I think that all three of us (you, me, and Bapak) are trying to describe the same thing that happens. And when I read Bapak’s talks I find that his descriptions and explanations of the experience are amongst the best I have yet seen or heard. I much prefer them to yours for instance, or to my own weak attempts, or to those of the others writing in Subudvision. This does not mean that I think that Bapak's explanation should be the only one. It does mean that I believe it should be the core original source of reference until such time as a better one arises.

It seems to me we probably agree that there is something that happens in the latihan, and that is passed along in the opening, which is an energy or vibration of some kind. (which is why in general we are reluctant to demonstrate it).

This something can be traced in you and I back to the person who opened us. And from there it can be traced back to the person who opened them. And for every subud member, after tracing the contact back 3 or 4 stages, we get to one common place. Bapak’s experience.

Therefore Bapak is not a petal on this flower. No. He is at the very center and core of the entire thing, and in a certain sense he truly is the “father”. And in so far as mankind eventually embraces the latihan, in that sense he could be called the “father of mankind”

I am sure these thoughts will trigger all KINDS of opposition. But in my mind it is a logical extension of the ideas you have raised in your original article, and in your reply.

best wishes

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