“Exploring Subud” is a collection of short articles, each exploring some key aspect of Subud’s history, thought, language or culture. This collection is part of the Subud Vision initiative, which aims to question aspects of Subud’s past and present, with the intention of creating a broader, more successful future.

Whereas the main Subud Vision site holds long articles which articulate an author’s point of view, the main purpose of Exploring Subud is to help you—the reader—undertake your own exploration and questioning of Subud.

Each short article will examine an aspect of Subud language, history, culture or belief. Each article will contain links to other sites and sources, so that you can undertake your own journey to find out the history and context of these ideas.

Examples of topics that will be examined:

  • zat, sifat, asma, af’al
  • all of mankind
  • meditation
  • teachings vs explanations
  • harmony
  • susila, buddhi and dharma
  • testing

For me, there are three reasons to investigate the historical roots of Subud language, beliefs and culture.

The first is about relating to other human beings. We may have come to take for granted the elements of Subud culture and belief, but our neighbours haven’t. In order to explain ourselves, we need to be able to relate to different ways of seeing the world. For instance:

  • The word ‘dharma’ doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the Indic tradition, and it has its own meaning, established over thousands of years, and understood by billions of people. If you’re talking to anyone from the Indic tradition about ‘dharma’, you’d better know what it means to them.
  • The concept of ‘asma’ is central to Islam, and if you’re talking to a Muslim, you might want to know what ‘asma’ means.
  • We see in Subud constant referent to ‘all of mankind’ (or ‘all of humanity’ as we might now say), but with little apparent understanding that 50% of humanity’s religious traditions are not monotheistic, and have no apparent interest in being converted. So, unless we are in the business of religious conversion, we need to be aware of that.

In other words, in order to connect with the world, we need to understand and connect with the language and beliefs of others.

The second reason is practical. Many Subud beliefs (such as the belief in ‘harmony’) have become so habitual, that it becomes difficult to explore the territory around them. As we reflect on our communal history, successes, failings and limitations, we need to be able to question that status quo that brought to where we are.

One of my favourite phrases is from Ludwig Wittgenstein:

“A picture held us captive. And we could not get outside it, for it lay in our language and language seemed to repeat it to us inexorably.”

When we do not understand the language and concepts which bind our way of seeing, we may run in circles, unable to see the rope that ties us to a central stake.

The third is personal. Some describe Subud as a mystical path. Pak Subuh described it as ‘beyond heart and mind’, a description which sits well within the mystical tradition. One of the names of the mystical path, in the Western tradition, is “The Way of Unknowing”.

I find that if I am bound by any belief, any pattern of thought, then I am restricted in following the way. I do not want to be too attached or captured by what is in the realm of the heart and mind. All beliefs lie within that realm. I find that knowing the history and background of the concepts that inform the Subud community helps weaken the hold that concepts have on me, and thus—perhaps paradoxically—helps me in my unknowing.

Have fun with this site.

David W.

PS You can return to the blog by clicking on the Blog tab above, or by clicking here.


One Response

  1. David, what a relief to come across these thoughts and ideas. Have just located you, after wandering what all ‘Subud Vision’ was all about.
    I look forward to visiting and reading.
    Hope all is well with you, if you are ever Moscow way, drop in, you are always welcome.

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