Introduction to Subud Britain, a registered charity in England & Wales and in Scotland
Subud Britain is a company limited by guarantee and registered in England & Wales, and a charity registered in England & Wales and in Scotland, and as such, will endeavour to comply with any and all applicable legal obligations. It is hoped that the following clarifications will be helpful to anyone who wishes to understand Subud Britain’s position on various practical issues and concerns. For further information please contact the National Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org, 0870 444 2604.
Subud Britain’s policies can be downloaded here:
Responsibilities of Subud volunteers
Since Subud Britain is an organisation largely run by volunteers, it is expected that any person, while acting as a volunteer on behalf of Subud Britain, will respect and comply with our practical guidelines and will avoid any behaviour that would conflict with our obligations as a charity.
The organisation of Subud Britain
Subud Britain and Subud organisations in general are comprised of Committee members, who handle the normal day-to-day business affairs and Helper members, who look after spiritual matters such as discussing Subud with interested parties, opening those who wish to follow the Subud exercises, and nurturing the membership as much as possible.
This separation of responsibilities is found at local, regional, national, and international levels.
The spiritual side of Subud
The core experience of Subud — the latihan — is in fact worship of the One Almighty God in a way that is free from thought and desire. When one receives the gift of the latihan, (called one’s ‘opening’) it is the Power of God or the Holy Spirit (or other words in other languages) which thenceforth can and will guide each and every human being to worship in their own unique way when they sincerely and patiently submit their own will to the Will of God. Further information about the latihan can be found elsewhere on this and other Subud websites.
Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo
As can be found elsewhere on this and other websites, Pak Subuh [1901-1987] was the first person to receive the gift of the latihan in this modern age. After a few years, he was allowed to pass this experience of the spiritual life on to others and this facility continues to this day. When asked where the latihan comes from, he replied…
“Subud is not foreign. It did not ‘arise in the East’ and it did not ‘come to the West’. It comes from the Spirit of God — which is nowhere a stranger.”
Bapak gave some 1,600 talks during his lifetime, to Subud members of all faiths and all walks of life, in dozens of countries. In these talks Bapak spoke about his own spiritual awakening and provided wide-ranging explanations of the latihan and spiritual life generally. He also set out his vision for the Subud organisation and gave advice to Subud members. Bapak always insisted that no one should believe what he said unless they had experienced it themselves. His wish, expressed many times, was that we as Subud members should be able to come to our own understanding and receive our own guidance independently.
Bapak regarded his talks as private guidance for those practising the latihan. He advised that they would otherwise be misunderstood. Therefore the talks have never been published except within the Subud community.
In addition to his many talks, Bapak often answered members’ questions both personally and in letters, and was able to assist members to experience their own latihan more deeply during his many journeys around the world. Bapak’s guidance was tailored to the person or persons who consulted him or who were present at the time, and as a result it would be unwise to extrapolate definitive advice from personal guidance given to someone else.
Many Subud members do have spiritual experiences — both small and large — and Subud members write about their experiences in articles and books. These should be regarded as the personal views of the author and do not represent the views of Subud Britain.
The applicant period
It is Subud Britain’s general policy that persons interested in receiving the latihan must accept a waiting period of some three months, during which time they have the opportunity to become fully informed of the nature of the Subud experience in order to make a considered decision. This applicant period may be waived for older applicants or those with a terminal illness.
Men and Women do the Latihan Separately
From the earliest days of Subud, the practice has been for women and men to do the latihan in separate rooms. The reason for this is that the latihan can be a deep, personal experience, meaning that members feel less self-conscious, and more at ease in the company of their own gender. Subud Britain continues this policy which works well in practice, and has for some 60 years or more. Aside from the separation in the latihan, women and men serve together in all roles of the organisation. There is complete gender equality in Subud with approximately equal numbers of men and women fulfilling committee and helper positions within the National Organisation.
‘Helpers’ in Subud Britain are members who have accepted a responsibility to help Bapak Subuh with his spiritual mission — to bring the spiritual exercise of Subud to anyone who is sincerely interested. Subud members should be aware that ‘helpers’ are simply members who have been doing the latihan for a number of years and are in a better position to give explanations to existing members and to those who have an interest in joining Subud.
It is not necessary to be a member of any religion to join Subud. Bapak himself encouraged Subud members to continue with their religion, if they had one. He made many references in his talks to the spiritual value of Christianity, Islam and other religions. Worldwide, there are people in Subud from all faiths, beliefs and philosophies. Subud Britain leaves each individual Subud member to follow his or her own conscience with regard to religious practice.
Subud Britain has no political affiliation, and Subud members are completely free to follow their own beliefs.
Subud’s charitable structure, Susila Dharma, makes efforts to support a wide range of human needs and concerns without a political, religious or national bias. Read more about Susila Dharma (link).
Bapak encouraged Subud members to be active in the world. For many years he suggested that this could find expression in business activities or enterprises, and expressed the hope that some percent of net profits might be donated to the Subud organisation to support Subud’s charitable and organisational requirements. Many Subud members have put this into practice with varying degrees of success. Subud Britain takes no position on any Subud member’s business or enterprise and leaves the choice of how to be active in the world up to the individual.
On the arts
SICA — an acronym for Subud International Cultural Organisation — exists to foster and encourage Subud activities in the Arts. Bapak often spoke of the importance of developing a higher or finer culture and there are innumerable Subud artists, musicians and creative talents who express themselves in the various fields of the arts. Read more about SICA (link).