Welcome to Subud Britain
… the spirit of the latihan is already in the self of everyone.”
Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo
Subud Britain is the national organisation for the spiritual community of Subud in England, Scotland and Wales.
There are approximately 1,200 people in Subud Britain and over 50 meeting venues where people come together to practise the ‘latihan kejiwaan’ (spiritual training), a direct personal experience of and connection with the highest universal power, something every human being has the capacity to feel and experience.
Subud Britain is a member of the World Subud Association (WSA), a not-for profit organisation with its headquarters in Washington DC (USA). Subud originated in Indonesia and has now spread worldwide. We welcome new members of 18 years and older. Subud is not a religion and has no teachings. It is open to persons of all faiths and those who do not follow a religion. Subud members are free to express their views on any subject consistent with the laws of the countries in which they reside.
You can learn more about Subud and the latihan on this site, as well as the international sites – check the links page for more information.
If you are already a member do register to log in to the members’ site, which has links showing latihan times for all groups and details of forthcoming events.
Subud Britain does not discriminate against any person on the basis of age; disability; family circumstance; gender; political opinion; race, nationality, ethnic or national origin; religion or beliefs; sexual orientation or socio-economic background.
More information and Frequently Asked Questions:
Introduction to Subud Britain
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.
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 latihan -- the Spiritual practice 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.”
On Subud Literature
Pak Subuh gave some 1,600 talks during his lifetime, to people of all faiths and all walks of life, in dozens of countries. These talks are viewed within Subud as Bapak’s own experiences, as explanations of what a Subud member might experience while following the Subud exercises, and as broad guidance for those interested in their spiritual life.
Subud members are encouraged to read or listen to these talks, but should not consider them to be any kind of teaching or doctrine. In addition to his many talks, Bapak translated a series of receivings about the nature of human life into book entitled ‘Susila Budhi Dharma’.
Since these writings concern the experience of those following the Subud way of life, they are -- with the possible exception of Susila Budhi Dharma -- not appropriate for the general public and may even be confusing, due to the fact that a person who has not experienced the latihan for him/herself will lack the context with which to assess their content.
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. When pressed for ‘rules’ by which Subud members must abide, Bapak famously replied…
“Rules are for children.”
That said, Pak Subuh also placed complete responsibility for spiritual progress on the sincerity and diligence of the individual. He is recorded as saying…
“You can do the latihan for 20 years and go backwards, if you don’t want to change.”
Many Subud members do have spiritual experiences -- both small and large -- and Subud members are certainly free to write about their Subud life. Naturally, Subud Britain can take no responsibility for any such publications, since these may or may not represent the views of Subud Britain or any of its many volunteers.
On the availability of the latihan.
Contact with the Subud latihan is available to any person 18 or older who sincerely wishes to practice this form of Worship, and who is capable of making an informed and considered decision. A person can be opened at age 17 with the consent of a parent or guardian.
Subud takes no position on other spiritual practises, and any person who claims to have been ‘opened’ by way of some other spiritual activity is nonetheless expected to accept the normal applicant or waiting period in order to attend spiritual exercises in Subud.
On 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 those over 63 years of age or those with a terminal illness.
On the separation of men and women in the latihan
From the earliest days of Subud, women and men have done the latihan separately. The reason for this is that the latihan can be a deep, personal experience, and since men and women do in fact have different natures, both inner and outer, members feel more at ease and free 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.
On Subud Helpers
‘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. Thus, the one they attempt to ‘help’ is Bapak Subuh, not Subud members. Subud members should be aware that ‘helpers’ are usually very ordinary people who try to facilitate Subud goals as much as possible, but who should never be regarded as any kind of cleric or professional capable of helping a member with personal problems or issues. It follows that helpers as ordinary human beings can and do make mistakes, and in the end each member is solely responsible for their own Subud experience.
Subud in the Outer World
Subud is not a religion or a substitute for religion. The founder of Subud, Bapak Muhammad Subuh, 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.
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. For professionals who are fully involved in their careers, Pak Subuh suggested that donating some small percent of net income to Subud organisations or charities would be sufficient to fulfill one’s obligation.
On the Arts
SICA -- an acronym for Subud International Cultural Organisation -- exists to foster and encourage Subud activities in the Arts. Pak Subuh 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.
Any reader who is interested in finding out more about Subud should make enquiries via email@example.com, or 0870 444 2604.
Frequently Asked Questions
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 superior 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?
In general, 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 teaching, 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 practice their chosen religion.
How often does one do or practise the latihan?
For the first few years after one’s initial 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 one more latihan per week at home.
Does it cost anything to join?
It costs nothing to experience the Subud latihan. However, since normal expenses exist -- such as the rental or purchase of facilities, communications, etc. -- members are asked to make voluntarily charitable contributions to their local group.
Is there any teacher or leader in Subud?
No, the only teacher in Subud is the One Almighty God. Subud is a learning, not a teaching.
But 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 business 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?
No. 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 and considered marriage to be an obligation for mankind in general in order that humanity might continue to inhabit the earth. But obviously there are individual differences and always have been. If you were to query Subud members on the subject of sexual orientation, you would probably find a typical bell-curve of opinion. Subud members are free to believe and behave as they see fit. The hope is that by receiving divine grace, the right way to live will be found by each individual, in accordance with their own nature and capacity.
Does Subud perform community charity work?
Yes. There is a charitable arm of Subud, Susila Dharma Britain in this country and Susila Dharma International. http://www.susiladharma.org
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. The worldly stuff we have to pay for.
Does Subud require any changes to lifestyle e.g. food rules, clothing, etc.?
No. Subud is essentially an experience of Divine Grace. 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?
Strictly speaking, no. To paraphrase an early Subud helper:
"It does not matter what you believe, if you go out in the rain you will get wet."
Regarding applicants who 'believe in God' or who 'do not believe in God' Pak Subuh made the following remark:
"Both are in the same situation. They believe something without any direct experience."
However, 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 0870 444 2604.