This blog is mainly about my work on the wooden boats but,
consistently, by far the most common keywords used to find it are
"Subud Cult". This is strange as I've only made a couple of
references to Subud and the Latihan. However, as I've been saying on
the Subud Facebook page that we need to stop hiding our lights under
bushels, I thought I'd better try to explain it a bit.
Let me begin by pointing out that I do not do cults or gurus and
have never joined any religion (Subud is very clear about being an
adjunct to faith, not a religion in it's own right).
The problem is, where to begin. Subud is weird. It is very weird,
but it's also very real. My lifelong search has been for reality
among all the illusions of the World and in Subud I think I've found
Now for the weird bit. Subud began in the mid 1920s when a young
railway booking clerk was out for a walk and saw a light in the sky.
This came down to engulf him and he had an intense spiritual
experience that went on for months.
Have I lost you yet?
The man realised that he could and should pass a little bit of
what he had experienced to others, so he did. A little group of
people were "opened" to it in his homeland of Indonesia
(then a Dutch colony). Those who had been 'opened' were able to
experience at will, normally in 30 minute sessions, a spiritual
exercise called the Latihan, which is Indonesian for 'Exercise', An
organisation was formed to administer it which was called Subud,
short for Susila Buddhi Dharma,
Susila Budhi Dharma is a book written by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo, the founder of the World Subud Association, in the city of Jogjakarta, Indonesia, in 1952. Its name corresponds to the three main qualities that are to be developed through the training in the Subud path. The name "Subud" is a contraction of these three Javanese words of Sanskrit derivation.
In the 1950s the practise of the Latihan was spread Worldwide,
reaching Britain in 1957. Here it was taken up enthusiastically by
many people who had been involved in Gurdjieff
work.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Gurdjieff and particularly J
G Bennett http://www.bennettbooks.org/AboutJGB.html
I joined in 2006 as a result of a strange combination of events. I
feel like I was led to it. Joining Subud is not easy. They make you
wait 3 months to make sure that you are serious. Subud is not eager
to recruit spiritual tourists but only those who are genuinely
interested in growing their spirits.
After my 3 month wait I was opened. This is when the ability to
experience the Latihan is passed on. After answering a simple series
of questions satisfactorily one of the more senior members said the
words "I open you" * and the Latihan began. I stood there
with my eyes closed wondering what on earth I'd got myself into.
People around me were calling out "Allah" or stomping round
like a native American war dance. This is nonsense I thought, then my
hands became as heavy as lead and I had to lower myself to the floor.
When my hands touched the floor the weight went away, but as soon as
I lifted away they became heavy again. When the Latihan was over we
all went to the kitchen for a cup of tea. Emuna, my partner (then
known as Marilyn) told me that i had gone as red as a beetroot.
Something had happened that was extraordinary, but I didn't know
Since then I've done the Latihan regularly. In the Latihan you
stand still and wait. Amazingly, things happen without you willing
them. My Latihan developed from simple twitches through walking
backwards and spinning to loud, sometimes operatic, singing. What's
the point? I don't know, but I am now in many ways a better person.
It's very hard to explain, but I wouldn't go back to my pre Latihan
existence for all the tea in China. In 7 years I've only met a couple
of people in Subud who I haven't liked and I've never been asked for
money. I've only once felt slightly pressured to study the writings
and talks of the founder, who is known as Bapak ( Indonesian for
Grandfather) as his real name is quite a challenge to Westerners.
There certainly are people who treat Bapak as a demigod and would
like it to be a cult with strict rules, but, at least in Britain,
it's a very free and democratic set up. Although Bapak was, like most
Indonesians, a Muslim, I've never known any pressure to join that
faith. Having joined describing myself as 'vaguely Pagan' I now call
myself a Panentheist
Panentheism (meaning "all-in-God", from the Ancient Greek πᾶν pân, "all", ἐν en, "in" and Θεός Theós, "God") is the belief that the divine interpenetrates every part of the universe and extends, timelessly (and, presumably, spacelessly) beyond it. Unlike pantheism, which holds that the divine and the universe are identical, panentheism maintains a distinction between the divine and non-divine and the significance of both.
In pantheism, the universe and everything included in it is equal to the Divine, but in panentheism, the universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. God is viewed as the soul of the universe, the universal spirit present everywhere, in everything and everyone, at all times. Some versions suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifestation of God. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "transcends", "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that 'All is God', panentheism goes further to claim that God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God, like in the concept of Tzimtzum. Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.Hasidic Judaism merges the elite ideal of nullification to paradoxical transcendent Divine Panentheism, through intellectual articulation of inner dimensions of Kabbalah, with the populist emphasis on the panentheistic Divine immanence in everything.
There are members who come from most mainstream faiths, and many with
no particular religious allegiance.
* Since writing this I've been told that is not the form of words
used, though that is how I remember it. Possibly I remembered it
wrong. Memory is an inexact tool at the best of times, though most
people prefer not to believe the psychological research that proves