latihan is the sine qua non of Subud; without it there would
be no organisation. no enterprises, no welfare projects, nothing.
What the latihan is, then, is the crucial question - and Subud
being what it is, there is no definitive description.
many, the latihan is a miraculously fine and gentle energy,
with which we are put into contact by being 'opened' to it,
thus 'joining' Subud. The energy itself does the training; all
we have to do is to relax and receive it in ourselves, and allow
it to work us over. Then, gradually, it trains us: purifies
us, puts us in touch with our own nature, our own authentic
inner Self: and brings us spiritual comfort, guidance for our
life, and an inward security.
are no words in the training, no teaching, no exercises, no
rules and no rituals. Nothing except the feeling, the experience,
of a gentle vibration inducing movements and sounds in us. The
latihan thus seems to be some kind of super-human or divine
force, and many people eventually come to believe it to be the
power of God. I could be wrong with this label, but I cannot
doubt the experience of this fine energy working in me, in my
body, that - given the chance - dispels evils great and small,
erases bad feelings and anti-social thoughts and dissipates
tensions, stress, human conflicts, illness, and so on.
snag lies in the phrase 'given the chance'. The energy is so
gentle (usually) and so fine that we have to be openly receptive,
and actively consent to its working in us before it does so.
We have also to allow ourselves to respond to its prompting.
If we do this, if we submit ourselves to its purposes, rather
than our own, then it works in us. It opens the unconscious
mind and gradually proceeds to clean, heal and re-form its contents.
The most constructive attitude towards the energy is probably
expressed in the old saying from the Bible, 'Thy Will, Lord,
not mine', and in Islam as the admonition 'Surrender to the
Will of God'.
actually happens is that men, or women (the sexes follow the
training in separate rooms) may sing or dance, shout or cry,
pray or even laugh aloud. There is no compulsion, though; no
hysteria or trance is involved. No emotional highs (or, rarely,
at any rate) either; this energy seems to work from behind,
as it were, the human heart and mind. If I ever feel that the
latihan is nudging me too hard or too fast or in a direction
I cannot tolerate, I open my eyes and stop being moved by it.
It is as simple as that.
short, if one does not willingly consent and surrender to this
force, nothing happens. If one does, then anything may. And
no-one can tell beforehand what an individual will receive or
feel or be 'made' to do: because we are moved from within, by
a Power beyond our understanding, which time has shown knows
better than we do what we need and what we ought to be doing.
everyone's experience of the latihan is different, and unique,
because each and every one of us is different and unique. To
each, this spiritual energy, be it given the names the Power
of God, the Spirit, or the Great Life Force, gives what he or
she needs. There are thus, as I said, no instructions, no directions
from anyone. Only God knows what is right for you and me, and
once the contact with His power has been made, we need no teaching
from any human man or woman.
are 'helpers', in Subud, but they are not a priestly caste or
a body of spiritually enlightened people: they are merely men
and women who, by virtue of their longer experience of the latihan
and their commitment to ,decent (conventional, moral, if you
wish) way of life, have been delegated to perform certain necessary
functions. Subud is, above all, a democratic institution. Some
of the helpers may be more spiritually evolved or purified than
some of the other members - but then again they may not, and
no-one can tell. It is quite on the cards, therefore, that some
new members may receive better and be more 'advanced' than some
of the helpers. And 'advanced', I venture to say, may well lie
only in a person's ability to experience and follow the inward
guidance of this spiritual energy.
has gone out of style these days: it is old-fashioned, discarded.
almost a dirty word; but on it depends our ability to follow,
and our ability to receive, direct guidance from the power of
God in the latihan. Hand in hand, therefore, with the spiritual
training in Subud goes the personal effort to keep to the traditional
morality of one's own religion or personal beliefs
itself is not a religion. It has been labelled a sect, a cult,
an esoteric group and so on. But all it is is solely a means
of receiving Grace and a consequent process. Yet through the
latihan we are brought into contact with a divine spirit or
natural energy that is greater, wiser and more conscious than
we are. Whether we name this God, or Allah, Brahman, Buddha,
Christ, Mahadeva or Yahveh is immaterial The religions of the
world, to me, are all different paths up the mountain.
energy that we receive in the latihan simply gives us the power
and the strength to follow better whichsoever of those paths
we choose; it is, I believe, the experiential 'juice', the inner
reality, behind and within all of them. Nor do I think that
the Subud latihan is unique. There seems to be a general out-pouring
of the Spirit today; and, to me, the spiritual training that
one gets in Subud seems merely to provide the easiest, the simplest
and the most direct way of contacting that spiritual energy,
the presence of the Spirit, in my daily life.
these apocalyptic times, I therefore believe that we ordinary
people have been granted a new dispensation, a divine light
in the world's present darkness. For an old atheist this may
be a rash statement. In the final assessment all I can say is
that I know, for myself, that the Subud latihan works, and changes
things profoundly; and that I am convinced, now, of the existence
of an Ultimate Arbiter of Justice, and that a new way of accessing
this power which passeth all understanding has been granted
to us today. For those who wish to join us, and benefit from
the experience of the spiritual training in Subud, you will
probably find a telephone number under 'Subud' in the directories
of most of the major cities of the world; (there are active
Subud members in about 70 countries.)