What does the word Subud mean?
Subud is an abbreviation of SUSILA BUDHI DHARMA. Southeast Asian Sanskrit meanings vary from those of classical Sanskrit. In Subud, SUSILA denotes the nature of a man or woman in whom are to be found truly human qualities that should be possessed according to the Will of God. BUDHI means that there resides within mankind a connection to God’s power, which can and will guide us when we are able to be aware of and follow such guidance. DHARMA signifies the submission of mankind before the infinite greatness of Almighty God. In simple terms, this means that a person with a good character or a sincere desire to have a good character can receive a contact with Divine Grace which can then be followed voluntarily.
What is the Latihan?
The latihan is the spiritual practice around which and for which the Subud Association exists. It is a form of pure worship in which one comes into direct, personal contact with the Grace and Power of Almighty God. During the latihan, one follows whatever arises spontaneously from within while enveloped in and protected by this manifestation of divine grace. For each person it is an individual experience and, like many spiritual experiences, cannot adequately be described in words. The latihan is simple, but that does not necessarily mean Subud is easy.
What is the meaning or purpose of ‘the latihan’?
The purpose of the latihan is the worship of the One Almighty God, by surrendering to the awakening guidance of what is commonly called the Holy Spirit. As a result of this experience, there arises the possibility of receiving a nobility which God alone can give to human beings.
Can anyone join Subud?
Under normal circumstances, as long as one is sincere, is at least seventeen years of age and has informed oneself about Subud during a three month waiting period, anyone can join Subud. Persons with mental illness or a history of mental illness must be capable of making an informed and considered decision concerning the Subud experience, and should be aware of the potential difficulty of adding a process of spiritual awakening and purification to what may already be a difficult situation.
I like my religion — is Subud compatible with this?
Yes. All kinds of people join Subud. Some follow a religion and others do not. Since the essence of Subud is the worship of Almighty God, and since there is no particular dogma attached to the form of that worship, there is no need for a conflict to arise with one’s own religion. On the contrary, Subud members often find that they acquire a deeper understanding of their own religion and a greater respect for that of others. Pak Subuh encouraged everyone to continue to follow and practise their chosen religion in addition to the latihan.
How often does one do or practise the latihan?
For the initial period after one’s opening, members are encouraged to receive the latihan for about one-half hour twice a week, with a group of members if at all possible. Later an additional latihan at home can be added.
Is the latihan done in a group or alone?
The latihan may be received with others or alone. Whenever possible, it is recommended to go twice a week to a group latihan, then after some time if a member can feel the spontaneous beginning and ending of the latihan, he or she may wish to add a further latihan per week at home.
Does it cost anything to join?
The latihan is a gift, given freely to those who sincerely ask for it. However, since normal expenses exist — such as the rental or purchase of facilities, communications, etc. — members are asked to consider making voluntary charitable contributions to their local group.
Is there any teacher or leader in Subud?
The founder, Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwijojo, left a vast volume of invaluable guidance and advice in the form of over 1,600 recorded talks, books and personal written correspondence that Subud members can draw on for explanations and guidance on the latihan and the spiritual life. These are of great importance to Subud members, although Bapak always emphasised that guidance came first and foremost from the power of God in the latihan and that members would find their own reality through the latihan.
Since Bapak passed away in 1987, Subud members have turned to his daughter Ibu Siti Rahayu Wirjohudojo for advice, encouragement and support.
Further, within the association there are two different and complementary ways of serving the membership: a body of helpers at the local, regional, national and international levels, who take on the responsibilities of looking after the membership, attending group latihan, giving explanations about Subud to new applicants and attending the opening of new members; and a body of committee members, also at the local, regional, national and international levels who look after the organisational needs of the Subud Association.
What does the organisation consist of?
There are some 300+ Subud groups in various communities throughout the world. Local committees take care of arranging for facilities in which to do latihan. In most countries there are national organisations which sponsor annual congresses for members so that they have the opportunity to socialise, worship together, and arrange the association’s secular affairs. All the national organisations are members of the World Subud Association (WSA) for which they select the directors and officers. The WSA sponsors an international congress every four years. In 2014 this congress took place in Puebla, Mexico. Prior congresses have been held in Austria, Colombia, Australia, England, Canada, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, the USA, etc.
Do Subud members have to change their name?
No. Changing one’s name is a personal matter, and in Subud everyone is free to follow their own received guidance. If someone does wish to change their name and would like advice and guidance from someone with the capacity for discernment in this area, this may be possible. But all Subud members are free to do whatever they feel is best for their life.
Is Subud connected to any political organisation?
Does Subud have any rules regarding child rearing?
Subud does not have any rules that extend to an individual’s private life and family. If someone receives grace from the Almighty and is diligent in following the latihan, there is then the possibility of receiving guidance on any issue in human life.
Are there any requirements regarding sexual activity or orientation?
Again, Subud has no teaching and no rules regarding celibacy or personal relations. If we take Pak Subuh as an example, he was married with children. But obviously there are individual differences and always have been. Subud members are free to believe and behave according to their own inner feelings as guided by the latihan.
Does Subud perform community charity work?
There is a charitable arm of Subud, known as Susila Dharma, which is represented by Susila Dharma Britain in this country and Susila Dharma International Association (SDIA) internationally.
Individual Subud members may also wish to, and are of course free to, perform charitable work in their own personal lives.
Does Subud request a tithe?
The latihan is free. Naturally, there are expenses for facilities etc. that always need to be met but there is no ‘tithe’ as such. Donations are needed and welcome but are voluntary. Gifts from the Almighty are free.
Does Subud require any changes to lifestyle e.g. food rules, clothing, etc.?
No. What one chooses to do and how one lives are personal issues. Generally, if someone is diligent in doing the latihan, he or she will eventually receive guidance on personal matters.
Do I have to believe in God to get ‘opened’ and join Subud?
Bapak consistently explained that the latihan is a worship of God. However, Bapak left it open to members to find the reality of that through their own experiences and also to refer to the source of the power of the latihan by whatever name they recognise or feel comfortable with.
Since the Subud latihan is in fact a receiving from what is variously called ‘The Spirit of God’ or ‘The Holy Spirit’ or ‘The Power of God’ or similar words in other languages, a person who wishes to be opened will be asked to state that they ‘believe in God’, ‘would like to believe in God’, or to make some similar statement with regard to worship of ‘The One Who is Almighty’. This should be discussed with the helpers during the applicant period.
How can I find out more?
If you have read the various articles published on this website and are still curious, you can find out more via firstname.lastname@example.org, or send us an enquiry on the contact form.