Below are a number of online sources that I find helpful to understanding the historical and cultural context of Subud. Why is this important?

  • If we are not aware of what is Javanese about Subud, and we simply adopt wholesale explanations, practices and traditions from Pak Subuh or from Subud’s early days in Java without any awareness of what aspects of these are just expressions of his Javanese cultural, we may well end up acting like a Javanese sect.
  • In reading Pak Subuh’s talks, we’re reading stories from another culture. If we don’t understand the context of those stories, we may get the meaning wrong: in some cases 180 degrees wrong. How we choose to use the advice and cosmology found in those stories is one question, but let’s at least start by understanding them correctly.
  • If we promote parochial Javanese perspectives on cosmology, virtue, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, we will almost certainly insult one religion or another, without good reason.

If you’d like to suggest links, please use the comment box at the bottom of the page.

Javanese religious terminology

The Inner Faculty of Budi
The concept of ‘budhi’ (more commonly spelled ‘budi’) as in ‘Susila Budhi Dharma’

Reason and Passion
About the concept of ‘nafsu’ in Malaysia and the Indonesian archipelago

The Logic of Rasa in Java
Rasa is translated as ‘inner feeling’—a key concept in Pak Subuh’s talks

Javanese religion

Global and local in Indonesian Islam
Where Javanese Islam is similar to other cultural expressions of Islam, and where it differs.

Islamic influence in Indonesia
How Islam came to Java, and what remains from earlier periods.

Javanese Mysticism
Java’s own homegrown religion.

Many pages devoted to Kejawen, the religion of Java

Javanese Religion

Javanese Santri Islam
About the more orthodox variety of Javanese Islam

Timeline of Indonesian Religions
Click on items in the timeline to go to a full-page description: Subud is listed as the most recent religion!

Historical influences on Subud

Subud and Sufism
The historical connections between Subud and Sufism

Demystifying Subud
The original site from which this blog grew.

ABatubara, Chuzaimah: Islam and mystical movements in post-independence Indonesia: Susila Budhi Dharma (Subud) and its doctrines
A master’s thesis on Subud, downloadable:

Psychology of movements like Subud

Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities. Oakes, Len (1997) Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press
with some excerpts here:
and here:

Subud Vision

Subud Vision is an online journal with a wide variety of articles by Subud members, written from an historical or critical perspective. Its theme is: “A critical examination of the state of Subud, addressing any relevant issues such as kejiwaan, the organization, prevalent attitudes and assumptions, our relationship with the world, and so on. What is wrong and why? What is right and why? And what should our strategies be for change?”

My articles on the Subud Vision site:

Clear the Path to the Latihan
Imagine a potentially interested person out there among the world’s 6.5 billion people. Imagine later, that same person as a Subud member. How would that person go from A to B? This article answers: with great difficulty. Subud’s only real population jump occurred at the beginning, when Subud was in the news and there was a way of finding out about it. Today, the only way to find out about Subud is if you already know the word Subud, to look for it! This article tracks the path of our imaginary interested person, the obstacles they might encounter on their way to the Latihan. What are those obstacles? Where do they come from? How might we remove them?

History and Myth
Every community accounts for its origins. Some of these accounts have the character of myth, others the character of history as we know it today. It’s history that connects human beings, because when we trace back our histories, at some time they cross with those of other peoples and cultures. This article examines Subud’s origin myth, suggests that it is not necessary to take it literally, gives an example of a possible historical origin, and then an example of how we might present ourselves if we had a history, instead of just a myth. It concludes with the suggestion that though myths have their place, what we want to find now is our place in human history.

Seven Questions about Subud Culture

Culture is the ‘tacit’, unquestioned assumptions about how we behave and operate with respect to each other. Because it is rarely questioned, culture exerts a powerful influence on the shape and future of human communities. This article identifies seven attributes of Subud culture, and questions whether they serve Subud well.

Subud as University
Communities, like people, go through stages. The early days in Subud have much that is like high school, including the new friendships, the wild times, the belief in endless realms of possibility, in changing the world, in new ideas about how the world works, and in a favourite teacher. But high school comes to an end, and people grow up. With adult life come adult responsibilities, and things settle down. In this new stage, this article suggests that we need a new kind of Subud, one that is more like a university than it is like a high school. This university provides the opportunity for the flowering of many more views of Subud and the latihan than exist today, and through that flowering a great connection to the world and to other people.


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