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Sjahari Hollands - Do We Really Need a New Explanation of the Latihan?

Time to use our own words to describe what we experience and do. From Andrew Hall, December 12, 2007. Time 16:42

Hi Sjahari,

About your core points about the latihan:

I think one of the first core assumptions or statements needs to be that "the Subud latihan is a spiritual practice that is accessible to ordinary people, is normally practiced in a group setting (where practical) twice a week and the latihan requires the ordinary person to exercise patience, sincerity and surrender."

I think your point 4 "Although there are many exceptions, in general the Subud Latihan can only begin in a person after it is passed to them during the latihan itself i.e. at the opening" in a way contradicts the previous points about the universality of the latihan and suggest instead "In Subud, we formalize the initiation of new members into the latihan through a simple ceremony called an "opening".

Point 5 "Something happens in the opening whereby the latihan somehow begins spontaneously within the person who is desiring it." I prefer something like "each person's subjective experience of the latihan varies widely, this can range from very subtle to very dramatic, and this experience can and often does change over time."

Points 6 & 7 - I think it is OK to say "the founder of Subud was a Javanese Muslim who believed that the latihan led to the wakening of the human jiwa or soul, and freed the jiwa from entanglement with the material and other forces in this plane of existence."

When you say "the soul is being awakened in an action mediated by a higher creative power", while Bapak might agree with this, I would prefer something more neutral, something like "Many Subud members do not share the culturally-specific language and explanation of the founder. It is important to recognize that the action of the latihan on the individual can occur on many levels, some of which we may not be fully or even partially conscious of. When we talk about the need to surrender, this implies surrender to something, some kind of higher power, whether you imagine this to be inside or outside of your normal self. When you open yourself to this higher power, changes can result in many areas of yourself and your life."

I hope these comments are helpful. I'm not sure how fully my suggestions accord with Bapak's explanations (or anybody else's). I am sorry that I feel the need to say this, but I don't really care what Bapak said.

Too often when I sit down with Subud brothers, the conversation is limited to and revolves around what Bapak said about something, and not on our own experiences.

I'm not sure if this is from lack of confidence or nostalgia for a time when Bapak was travelling and giving talks and people eagerly awaited his latest words. Subud people then didn't have to make sense of their own experiences, Bapak was telling them what was important!

I feel it is time to take responsibility for our latihan and use our own words to describe what we experience and do.

All the best, and welcome to Subudvision!!

Andrew Hall

Ottawa, Canada

From Philip Quackenbush, December 14, 2007. Time 20:45

Hi, Andrew,

You said:

> I think one of the first core assumptions or statements needs to be that "the Subud latihan is a spiritual practice that is accessible to ordinary people, is normally practiced in a group setting (where practical) twice a week and the latihan requires the ordinary person to exercise patience, sincerity and surrender."

It seems to be a core assumption, all right, but I'm still waiting for some scientific studies to be done on what the "latihan" is (which may not happen in my lifetime, given the reluctance of so many members to be subjected to such examination). The assumption that it's spiritual is that, and only that, based on acceptance of what the founder said, or the applicant assuming he or she is entering a "spiritual" organization. The attitude of surrender may actually be a function of evolutionary adaptation to the need to surrender to a leader of a pack for survival. I've found in my own "latihan" that there doesn't have to be surrender to anything, it's simply an internal attitude, like turning a light switch on (or perhaps off, in this case, turning off the dominance of the "mind and heart", or the chattering "monkey mind", as the Hindus would have it, and the ego-based emotions so that other neurological functions, ordinarily suppressed, can come to the fore).

> I think your point 4 "Although there are many exceptions, in general the Subud Latihan can only begin in a person after it is passed to them during the latihan itself i.e. at the opening" in a way contradicts the previous points about the universality of the latihan and suggest instead "In Subud, we formalize the initiation of new members into the latihan through a simple ceremony called an "opening".

Agree. I recall a guy in San Francisco that was on the local membership rolls because he just walked into the "latihan" one night, liked it, and kept "doing" it for many years, but was never formally "opened" or put on the official rolls at the national level, as far as I know. It's just a ceremony. Again, what needs to be done is scientific testing of what happens during the "opening". IMO at this point, it's probably some sort of field induction phenomenon that usually (but not always, if the other(s) involved have a resonance field that is "strong" enough to override obstacles to its being "received") requires the surrender or obsequiousness of the person being "opened."

> I feel it is time to take responsibility for our latihan and use our own words to describe what we experience and do.

I'm in total agreement with that. Long past time.

Peace, Philip

From Andrew Hall, December 16, 2007. Time 15:22

Hi Phillipe,

If I were to say that prayer or meditation is a "spiritual practice", I wonder if this is confusing and too vague for some? I locate myself within a cultural context that is comfortable with the term spiritual practice but it is probably worthwhile to explore what the common assumptions might be around this term.

I guess my assumptions are that someone following a spiritual practice is asking "Is there anything more?" or "Am I missing something?" and perhaps is seeking union with an ideal through devotion (the yogic term is bakshi). I think the minimum requirement (another assumption) is that there has to be intent and stating your intent is a good idea. Not that stating your intent is the practice, but that stating your intent beforehand can guide your practice.

One of the things I notice about Bapak's teaching about prayer is that he says to state your intent before praying, then begin to pray.

For instance, suppose Subud members during the quiet time before latihan were to state their intent silently, maybe something like "I am preparing for latihan and wish to surrender and merge with the Power of the Universe and all Creation", I wonder if they would come to feel differently about their latihan?

Would trying this be what you call scientific? To me, science means being able to produce the same results when an experiment is repeated by someone else. I'm not sure that this type of rigour is possible in a spiritual practice. How do we define results? What we felt or thought we felt?

It does not mean a spiritual practice is not real. It is very real to me. And one of my cautions about Subudvision talk is that I sometimes would like people to acknowledge that the latihan is a real experience. I think it can be very profound if that is what we want and seek.

Best regards,

Andrew Hall

Ottawa, Canada

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