Feb 10, 2016


Subud (pronounced [ˈsʊbʊd]) is an international spiritual movement that began inIndonesia in the 1920s, founded byMuhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo.[note 1]

The basis of Subud is a spiritual exercise commonly referred to as the latihan kejiwaan, which was said by Muhammad Subuh to represent guidance from "the Power of God" or "the Great Life Force". He claimed that Subud was not a new teaching or religion. He recommended that Subud members practise a religion but left them to make their own choice of religion. Some members have converted to Islam, but others have found their faith in and practice of Christianity and Judaism, for example, have deepened after practising the latihan.[1]

There are now Subud groups in about 83 countries, with a worldwide membership of about 10,000.[2]


The name "Subud" is an acronym that stands for three Javanese words, Susila Budhi Dharma, which are derived from the Sanskritterms suśīla (good-tempered), bodhi anddharma.[web 1]

The meaning depends on the context in which they are being used:

The original Sanskrit root words;Modern Indonesian language;Explanations and definition as given by Pak Subuh, the founder of Subud in his talks to members.SanskritEditSuśīla: "well-disposed",[web 2] "having an amiable disposition",[web 2] "good-tempered".[web 2]Bodhi: the understanding possessed by aBuddha regarding the nature of things. It is traditionally translated into English with the word enlightenment and literally means awakened. Bodhi is knowledge of the causal mechanism by which beings incarnate into material form and experience suffering. Although its most common usage is in the context of Buddhism, bodhi is also present as a concept in other Indian philosophies and traditions.Dharma: the Law that "upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe".Pak SubuhEdit

Pak Subuh gives the following definitions:[3]

Susila: the good character of man in accordance with the Will of Almighty GodBudhi: the force of the inner self within manDharma: surrender, trust and sincerity towards Almighty God


Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo

Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojoexplained in talks to Subud members, beginning in the 1940s that during 1925 he was taking a late-night walk when he had an unexpected and unusual experience. He said he found himself enveloped in a brilliant light, and looked up to see what seemed like the sun falling directly onto his body, and he thought that he was having a heart attack. He said he went directly home, lay down on his bed, and prepared to die with the feeling that maybe it was his time, and that he could not fight it, so he surrendered himself to God.

According to the story, however, instead of dying he was moved from within to stand up and perform movements similar to his normal Muslim prayer routine. It seemed that he was not moving through his own volition; but was being guided by what he interpreted as the power of God. This same kind of experience reportedly happened to him for a few hours each night over a period of about 1000 days during which he slept little but was able to continue working full-time. He said he experienced a kind of 'inner teaching' whereby he was given to understand a variety of things spontaneously.

As these experiences proceeded, Pak Subuh explained, he gained spontaneous insight into people and situations that he did not possess before. Around 1933, as he reported, he received that if other people were physically near him while he was in a state of 'latihan', then the experience would begin in them also. While still in his early thirties, Pak Subuh's reputation as someone with spiritual insight apparently grew, and people went to him to be 'opened'. They in turn could open others, and this is how Subud eventually spread around the world.

Husein Rofé in 1955 in Hong Kong

In Jakarta, Husein Rofé, an English linguist who had been living in Indonesia since 1950, met Pak Subuh. Rofé had been searching for a spiritual path and became the first non-Indonesian to be opened. Subud moved outside of Indonesia when Rofé attended a religious congress in Japan in 1954. Subud first spread internationally into Japan, followed by Hong Kong and Cyprus. In 1957, Rofé (who was then in London) suggested that Pak Subuh visit Britain. Pak Subuh accepted the invitation and visited the home of John G. Bennett in Coombe Springs. It was at this time that many UK followers of George Gurdjieff were initiated into Subud, including Bennett himself, though he later left the group. Over the next 14 months Pak Subuh visited many countries before returning to Indonesia.




The core of Subud is the latihan experience. The latihan is a vivid encounter which is fresh, alive and personal. It evolves and deepens over time. It is hard to pin down in words.

Pak Subuh gives the following descriptions ofSubud:[3]

This is the symbol of a person who has a calm and peaceful inner feeling and who is able to receive the contact with the Great Holy Life Force.

As the spiritual training (latihan kedjiwaan) of Subud is free from the influence of the passions, desires and thinking, and is truly awakened by the Power of Almighty God, the aim of Subud is naturally toward perfection of character according to the Will of the One Who awakens it, namely: Almighty God.

It is also necessary to explain that Subud is neither a kind of religion nor a teaching, but is a spiritual experience awakened by the Power of God leading to spiritual reality free from the influence of the passions, desires and thinking.

The Spiritual Training (Latihan Kejiwaan)


The central practice of Subud is the latihan kejiwaan (literally "spiritual exercise" or "training of the spirit"[4]) or simply 'the latihan'. This exercise is not thought about, learned or trained for; it is unique for each person and the ability to 'receive' it is passed on by being in the presence of another practicing member at the 'opening' (see below). About twice a week, Subud members go to a local center to participate in a group latihan, men and women separately.[5] The experience takes place in a room or a hall with open space. After a period of sitting quietly, the members are typically asked to stand and relax by a 'helper' (see below), who then announces the start of the exercise.[6][7]

In the practice of the exercise, members are typically advised to follow 'what arises from within', not expecting anything in advance. One is recommended not to focus on any image or recite any mantra, nor to mix the exercise with other activities like meditation or use of drugs, but simply to intend to surrender to the Divine or the transcendent good or the will of God. (The term "God" is used here with a broad and inclusive intention. An individual is at liberty to substitute interpretations that they feel more in tune with.) One is not to pay attention to others in the room, each of whom is doing his or her own latihan.[7] During the exercise, practitioners may find that, in terms of physical and emotional expression, they involuntarily move, make sounds, walk around, dance, jump, skip, laugh, cry or whatever.[2][6] The experience varies greatly for different people, but the practitioner is always wholly conscious throughout and free to stop the exercise at any time.

Many Subud members believe that this experience, apparently arising from within each person, provides them with something of what they currently need in life. For some, the latihan may appear to initially involve a 'purification' which possibly permits subsequently deeper experience. Members may describe their latihan as leaving them feeling "cleansed", "centered", "at peace", or "energized".[7] The latihan is sometimes said to 'work' 24 hours a day, not only when one is explicitly "doing" it.[8] Supposedly, the regular practice of the latihan will enable people to experience positive development in various aspects of their daily life and being. The official website talks of "a deepening of the natural connection with wisdom, one's higher self, the divine, or God, depending on one's preferred terminology". (see links)

Although the latihan can be practised alone, members are advised to participate regularly, ideally twice a week, in a group latihan. When a member has enough experience to reliably sense the appropriate time to finish his or her latihan session, he or she may add perhaps one more weekly session of the latihan at home.

While the suggestions of Subud's founder are held as valuable by many members, there is no requirement to believe anything, and the latihan is open to individuals of all faiths - or none. Subud officially endorses no doctrine regarding the latihan's nature or benefits.

The Opening

The 'opening' refers to a person's first latihan, which is specially arranged to pass on the 'contact', metaphorically resembling a candle flame that lights a new candle with no difference in quality of the flame. Only after the formal opening process, in most cases, is a person able to receive for himself or herself, and is then welcome to participate in the group latihan. In the opening, the person is accompanied by one or more experienced members called 'helpers', and is asked to simply stand and relax with the helpers standing nearby. A simple statement or agreed set of 'opening words' is read by one of the helpers that acknowledges the person's wish to receive the contact. The helpers then begin the exercise as they would normally do. The contact is passed on to the new member without effort or intention on the part of anyone present. This is the moment of the person's first connection with the latihan kejiwaan of Subud.


Testing is a distinct variety of the latihan directed toward receiving guidance or insight on a particular issue. Some question or request for clarification is acknowledged, and then the exercise is performed with openness to the issue. The original word for testing used by Muhammad Subuh was "terimah," which is Indonesian for "receiving". Many people who have been practicing the latihan for some time claim to be able to recognize indications or intuitions 'from their inner feeling' in response to questions that are put forward.

Such indications may take various forms, including sounds, visions, vibrations and/or spontaneous physical movements similar to, though perhaps more intense than, those experienced in the usual latihan. However, it appears that such indications often defy intellectual analysis and that the supposed guidance can be obscured or biased by the mental or emotional attitudes of those present. Testing is generally viewed as an instrument for helping to clarify issues in the present, but may lead to confusion if treated as a kind of fortune-telling. Nevertheless, many Subud members claim to benefit from testing in terms of resolving issues.

Testing is normally used to help select helpers, and often committee members, throughout the World Subud Association. Pak Subuh's book "Susila Budhi Dharma" cites examples of situations in which testing may be useful, including self-training in putting any benefits of the latihan into practice. (Throughout Muhammad Subuh's book "Susila Budhi Dharma", which was written in 1952, testing is always referred to as "feeling" or "receiving". The first time "testing" was called by that name was in 1957 by John G. Bennett.)


Individual Subud members often voluntarily engage in occasional fasting as Pak Subuh recommended. Each year, some members fast at the same time as the Muslim fast ofRamadan which Pak Subuh, himself a Muslim, claimed to be suitable for non-Muslims. Others fast during Lent or simply on a regular, private basis. In this context, fasting is regarded by many Subud members as spiritually edifying, although its practice is not expected.


Pak Subuh provided advice and guidance in his talks to provide direction to members as their latihan deepens. Although in general there are no rules in the practice of the latihan, non-members may not attend the latihan exercise without first receiving the contact referred to above, known as their opening.

Subud's founder wanted the latihan to be accessible to people of all cultures, faiths and ethnicities. Respect for the diversity of personal backgrounds and the uniqueness of each individual, along with a general absence of "thou shalt nots", are aspects of the organization that have been attractive to many members.


Post a Comment