Subud Vision - Discussion

Stefan Freedman - Buddhism and Subud

Meditation, Mixing and Buddhism.. From Chan Rasjid, July 8, 2007. Time 9:8

This perception that meditation is not recommended in Subud comes from the question of mixing which Bapak categorically discouraged. Actually it is very easy to resolve and it may be good that helpers be prepared with their own strategic and ready replies as there are many potential meditation practitioners. I was opened in 1972 and did group latihan only for only about 8 years. So I'm not sure if Subud gives me any better understanding on this matter.

Mixing means anything that does not help, or may even impede, spiritual development. The only "truth", unfortunately and also very difficult for mankind to accept,

is that spiritual development can come only through surrender to God and in no other way. The thing unfortunate is about believing or not believing in God. I am not ready to comment on this except to mention that when Bapak reached and entered the "seventh cone of light" in his ascension, he was looking for God too, maybe wanting to see where the right side or the left side of the Throne was, etc. It is up to the individual to read and interpret for themselves.

Bapak had to make talks and in his talks, he had to tell the "truth" even when they do not ring well with listeners. Many naturally remember many things said. The main mixing that Bapak discouraged comes from practices that employs pushing hard (and fierce) with the heart and mind (the willpower of man) to speed up spiritual progress. It cannot be done and, on the contrary, will cause spiritual degradation as how Bapak sees it. So Bapak had to make certain things clear. But Bapak did not disallow others to learn through experience and even to disagree with him. In practice, though, there will be intractable difficulties when a helper continually explains Subud to probationers through his "receiving", 50% of which contradicts the receivings of Bapak."

As to the question that Buddhism do not have much of a belief in God, the answer should be that it is not important. It is still right to mention that the Subud

latihan is a receiving of a direct contact with the Power of God. But acceptance of God should never be made a pre-requisite to be opened in Subud. There should be trust that after the practice of the latihan things should resolved themselves and in manners spiritually correct if Subud is "correct". So there is no need to take preemptive caution. It can also be explained that the latihan should enable a person to understand his religion better, but it cannot be specified in what way better means or that a better understanding of Buddhism necessarily dictates a new syncretic version of Buddhism that includes a personal God. After all, most who believe in God do not seem to have heard very much from Him. We are only obligated to insist He exists.There should never be (I hope nothing like this at present) an acceptable form of Buddhism according to the image of Sudud. Buddhism should be completely left to the Buddhists.

Buddhist meditation may be clarified this way. It can be mentioned that as there are be many forms of meditation, some forms passed down may just be mere wishful inventions of some people that do not contain any spiritual reality. But helpers generally do not know which forms of meditation are acceptable. So the question in this case is passed back to the person who wishes to follow his religion which has meditation as a practice. It should be made clear that meditation is not a problem. The latihan generally develops a person's understanding and so, after practicing the latihan, a person may have a better understanding of the nature of any meditation that he follows. If any helper were to bring out to probationers that Bapak discourages meditation, or the question of mixing, I have doubt that the person is fit to be a helper.

From David Week, July 20, 2007. Time 10:42

Hi Rasjid

One statement I take issue with is this: "It is still right to mention that the Subud latihan is a receiving of a direct contact with the Power of God."

Why is this right? It immediately makes non-believers, or even believers who don't like the G. word or don't believe that God is about 'power', into second class citizens. Even the Christians I know do not characterise God in terms of "power" and "force" (as so much Subud literature does). They characterise God in terms of love, a word almost wholly missing.

It's similar to the situation in which some Americans say "America is a Christian country". It might be statistically true. But it can't make Hindu Americans, or Muslim Americans, feel very included in the statement.

If we want a Subud that's really inclusive, we need to watch our language when we make statements under the Subud symbol. We need to make our language as equally inclusive of as many beliefs as we can muster.



From Chan Rasjid, July 23, 2007. Time 0:2

Meditation, Mixing and Buddhism - Reply to David Week

I have to correct myself here, it may be wrong to mention that the Subud latihan is a "receiving of a direct contact with the Power of God".

We do not hold lessons to teach helpers how they should perform their duties. They simply perfom according to their understanding of the latihan. A true helper is like a Zen Master who acts more by reacting to the situation of the moment. It is said in Islam that Allah has ninety nine names. So, probably, the Zen Master too has ninety nine ways to pick through receiving. The reason that Subud has not grown may indicate that not many members have yet reached a spiritual maturity capable of influencing the world.


From Hadrian Micciche, July 26, 2007. Time 9:35


Thank you for so clearly expressing the teachings of your spiritual guide, M. Subuh. However, I have no interest in this kind of teaching. It is expressed in terms of the blend of Animism, Hinduism, Islam and, yes, even Buddhism, found in the home country of your teacher. Frankly, I find it absurd. Indeed, I find it utterly without relevance to my spiritual life.

I prefer my spiritual teaching to come from those involved in my own particular religious tradition. However, most often when I wish spiritual guidance, I simply open myself in mindful meditation to the budhi spoken of in my religion and in surrender to the budhi found in the spiritual exercise of Subud, each in its own time and place.

I appreciate the opportunity to join members of the Subud organization in doing the spiritual exercise, even when I prefer to not expose myself to the teaching of its peculiar "truth". It is not so much that I feel accepted in Subud -- in fact your explanation of the "truth" makes me feel barely tolerated in this organization. It is those persons who are not a Bapak Fundamentalists that allow me to feel more at home in its halls.

From stefan, July 26, 2007. Time 10:50

Here we have one of Subud's internal tugs-of-war. Some treasure Bapak's advice and wish that latihan practitioners paid more heed to it. Their concern is probably that the latihan will become "diffused" or misunderstood (as witnessed in a group in an African country who at one time used latihan for community singing)

Others wish to free the latihan from its perceived burden of accompanying advice, so that Subud doesn't become yet another teachings-based cult of conformity. This ensures that each person is free from all peer pressure while discovering the inner reality for themself.

My vision is that all of us who find value in the latihan can find a way to respect and feel close to each other WITHOUT requiring the other to hold similar views to them about Bapak's talks.

This is unusual in a world where groups of people "defend" ideas as if they were territory and "attack" not only opposing ideas but the people who hold them!

This vision would require me - as a helper speaking with applicants for example - to state openly that as a Subud participant one is completely free to take inspiration from any set of teachings, such as the sacred books of ones own religion, or the extensive talks of Subud's founder, but that the latihan is experience-based so there is no requirement whatsoever to conform to anyone else's spiritual dogma.

From Chan Rasjid, July 26, 2007. Time 18:29

Hello Hadrian,

I googled for "Wu Wei" to see if it has any relevance in giving you a reply but instead found a story about the Buddha :-

"Buddha was standing on a mountaintop with his disciples, who had gathered for his teaching. Without saying a word, however, the Buddha simply held up a flower and began to twirl it. His disciples were confused—all save Mahakasyapa. Suddenly grasping the essence of the Buddha's teaching, Mahakasyapa smiled quietly, causing the Buddha to choose him as his successor on the spot." With honesty, I don't know what Mahakasyapa knew. I must put myself with the pupils who were confused, but I cannot say that others may not understand the smile of Mahakasyapa.


From David Week, July 27, 2007. Time 2:53

Hi Rasjid and all

I like the twirling flower story. One of my favourite stories, from the collection by Paul Reps (whom Michael Rogge knew), is this one:

What Are You Doing! What Are You Saying!

In modern times a great deal of nonsense is talked about masters and disciples, and about the inheritance of a master's teaching by favorite pupils, entitling them to pass the truth on to their adherents. Of course Zen should be imparted in this way, from heart to heart, and in the past it was really accomplished. Silence and humility reigned rather than profession and assertion. The one who received such a teaching kept the matter hidden even after twenty years. Not until another discovered through his own need that a real master was at hand was it learned that the teaching had been imparted, and even then the occasion arose quite naturally and the teaching made its way in its own right. Under no circumstance did the teacher even claim "I am the successor of So-and-so." Such a claim would prove quite the contrary.

The Zen master Mu-nan had only one successor. His name was Shoju. After Shoju had completed his study of Zen, Mu-nan called him into his room. "I am getting old," he said, "and as far as I know, Shoju, you are the only one who will carry on this teaching. Here is a book. It has been passed down from master to master for seven generations. I have also added many points according to my understanding. The book is very valuable, and I am giving it to you to represent your successorhip."

"If the book is such an important thing, you had better keep it," Shoju replied. "I received your Zen without writing and am satisfied with it as it is."

"I know that," said Mu-nan. "Even so, this work has been carried from master to master for seven generations, so you may keep it as a symbol of having received the teaching. Here."

They happened to be talking before a brazier. The instant Shoju felt the book in his hands he thrust it into the flaming coals. He had no lust for possessions.

Mu-nan, who never had been angry before, yelled: "What are you doing!"

Shoju shouted back: "What are you saying!"

From Zebedee, April 18, 2008. Time 20:32

I think it's right to explain Subud truthfully in the way you understand it. Otherwise, you are lying not only to the person you are talking to, but to yourself.

Because of my beliefs, I explain Subud in terms of God and God's power and spirit. I don't expect any Subud members who don't believe in God to do the same.

From Bronte, September 30, 2008. Time 3:18

"The Chinese, practicing the "latihan", known to them as zi ran (or "original") chi gong, have no such restrictions, "

I would love to see the reaction of the Chinese authorities if some of the latihan practices written about in those testaments to Subud's glossiness were practiced in public there.
They'd probably shoot you on sight. Like the Sudanese do to homosexuals, according to one Sudanese I met recently.
Never will I accept the claim made in that quote about latihan and Vhi Gong. Chi Gong is from the concious mind or it is nothing, if it is practiced in groups who do similar movements.

Subud is from something more unconcious. Sort of self-evident it seems, and not an opinion. Who would do some of the mad things that happen in latihan deliberately and intentionally? Only a few I suggest.

So I have not done these Chinese movements, and don't want to, but how many people know both them and the Subud latihan?

From David W, September 30, 2008. Time 4:38

Hi Bronte

These seem to be extremely prejudicial statements based on -- by your own confession -- complete ignorance.

I have talked to three Subud members who practice both latihan, and spontaneous qigong (in which you just surrender at let the qi -- "life force" -- move you.)

They report:

• only slightly different
• the same.



From Philip Quackenbush, October 1, 2008. Time 7:27

Hi, Bronte,

You said:

"Chi Gong is from the concious mind or it is nothing, if it is practiced in groups who do similar movements."

Agreed, but not if it's zi ran (original) chi gong, because everyone doing it will move differently, just as in the "latihan". Also, I have noticed no difference in its practice from that of the "latihan" unless I let "latihan" ideas or attitudes acquired from many years of exposure to the Subud cult creep in to my "receiving" (something very hard to shake, believe me; it requires constant vigilance to note such phenomena so that they alter for the "better" or dissipate) that alter the "pure" qigong/"latihan".

Peace, Philip

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