Subud & Religion
It is important to understand that Subud is not a religion. And
the reason why Bapak says this, is because the first impression
people often get about Subud is that it is something that resembles
very much an activity or a teaching that can be described as a "new
religion" or something like that. But the fact is that Subud is
not a religion, because if it were a religion, then it would not
be possible for Subud to receive people into itself who still practice
their respective religions. And the fact is, as you know, that Subud
actually receives members who are Muslims, who are Christians, and
within Christianity, all the different types of Christians like
Catholics, Protestants, and all the other various forms of Christian
teaching that there are. And also, other religions such as Buddhists
and so on. In addition, Subud receives people who have no religion.
So, all these people are able to coexist and to experience or to
receive Subud. So it is clear that Subud is not a religion but is
a receiving that arises from beyond the influence and effort of
the heart and the mind and the nafsu.
Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo
FROM MATTHEW SULLIVAN'S BOOK, Living Religion in Subud:
Subud and Islam
The fact that Bapak was a Muslim has given the great majority of
us who are not Muslims a sympathetic feeling towards Islam which
we would hardly otherwise have reached. Simply being with Muslims
time and again as we practise the latihan has the effect of rinsing
away age-old prejudices, and the effect of hostile images of Islam
dwelt on in the western media.
Another link has been fasting. A large number of non-Muslims among
us have taken part regularly, or for some years, in the annual Ramadhan
fast, attempting to follow it the way Bapak often spoke of, with
emphasis on inner watchfulness as much as on outer restraint (see
page 60). After all, through the ages fasting as a means of inner
discipline, cleansing and renewal has been a normal part of religious
practice, and Subud is only bringing back, along with some other
movements in the church, what has become of value. For my own part,
the times of following Ramadhan were an education in the meaning
of and the need to practise Lent, which Bapak has said has equal
high value with the Muslim fast.
Bapak himself never sought to make converts to Islam, which would
have been totally against the spirit of Subud. But, being himself
a supreme exemplar of the breadth and depth of Islam, he could not
help exerting an influence. Not a few westerners among us, having
no roots or education in religion or being put off by the Judaism
or Christianity they were brought up with, have embraced Islam,
at least as a stage in their religious journey. Some of these converts,
it must be said, having received a Muslim name and joined Islam
in an elevated state, have found it difficult to follow the requirements
of a faith outside their own culture and so have fallen away and
reverted to their original names.
But how do those who are firm in Islam, it is asked – and
they also ask themselves – stand in relation to the conservative
and authoritarian forces which are at present sweeping through Islam
on the one hand, and the modernising and westernising tendencies
which oppose them on the other.
Those who write in 'Evidences' answer this question in a variety
of ways. The Islam to which they bear witness is very different
from the popular image prevailing in the West. The issue of human
authority is avoided because the practice of the latihan enables
them to experience the pure source of authority beyond man. One
Algerian-born Muslim who is also a psychologist suggests that Subud,
being outside these conflicts, offers a new model, or paradigm,
of change, through which the present divisions might in time be
Bapak and Christianity
Nothing about Bapak has moved me as much as his deep familiarity
with my own faith. It was not the Bapak grew up in a society in
which Christian missionaries were respected, or at least tolerated,
and that when young he had close friends who were Catholics, nor
that as a Muslim much of Jewish and Christian scripture were part
of his own inheritance. It was far beyond this. Bapak spoke of Jesus
more often than of Muhammad and when he did it was often with a
freshness and intimacy and considerable inner knowledge, which to
a Christian can be both unnerving and revelatory.
In his earliest talks Bapak would refer in the usual Muslim way
to nabi, or prophet, Jesus. After a little while in the West
he dropped this and, while use nabi for Abraham, Moses and
Muhammad, always said simply Jesus or Jesus Christ. On one occasion
he spoke of the light that came down into Jesus when he was born
and remained with him as a child, adding that this Light was only
visible to a few. At once something in me responded: but of course
that must have been so! The mystery of the Christmas story suddenly
was clarified. Only those who were clear and clean enough in themselves,
such as the shepherds on the hillside and the three wise men, could
be aware of a glow above and around Jesus. Had I been there, as
an intellectual, I certainly would not have seen the light.
When Bapak alluded to Jesus feeding the multitude, the walking on
the water or healing of sick and raising the dead, he would give
these stories both a deep inner meaning and a psychological content:
'To walk on the water means to overcome and purify human emotions'.
'Be simple like children in order to receive the Truth,' Bapak would
say, echoing the words of Jesus that we must be like little children
if we are to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. On the physical plane
spontaneous movements in the latihan are, indeed, often like those
of helpless babies or young children playing, for most of us start
at that stage in the development of our inner selves.
Most striking of all is when Bapak spoke of Jesus and of the manner
of his death. He points up the fact and reality of the crucifixion
and empathises with the suffering on the cross in a way perhaps
unprecedented for a Muslim.
Among those who sent in contributions to this book (not all printed
here) no fewer than ten Subud members tell of an occasion when they
were suddenly aware, in their feelings or visually, of Jesus being
near to them or of the presence of Mary beside them. One member,
going through a critical moment in his life, describes how he was
in his bedroom and was spontaneously brought to his knees in latihan,
aware only of a great light.
I sat back on my heels, eyes tight shut but as though open wide.
The light dazzled and took the form of some immeasurable mighty
presence that towered above me through the roof and into the night
sky above. I touched the floor with my forehead, then came a dawning,
an unbearable realisation, that I was at the feet of Jesus, there
in front of me and within touch. I passed out. When later I told
Bapak something of what had taken place, he said, 'You see Jesus
when you are truly repentant.'
How can a Christian not feel awe for a Muslim from whom such personal
words could come? Yet Bapak never wished us to feel awe towards
himself, but only towards the power and source of his mission in
the world. Only God may be called great.
The need to practise one's religion
In the last year of his life Bapak spoke more definitely than before
about the need to practise a religion, giving two main reasons.
If we think that attendance at latihan is enough, he said, this
will lead to a feeling of separateness from our fellow men and women.
It will also lead to 'a decline in the state of our souls'. Many
of those who have found the latihan and the deep fellowship of Subud
with, perhaps, a personal closeness to Bapak during his lifetime
to be all in all may find this a hard saying. But I wonder if Bapak
was not telling the great majority of us to be more in touch with
the religious wisdom of the ages, and the whole wide realm of prayer.
Subud is in accordance with the main religions
"However, with the coming of Subud – though Bapak himself
does not know its real significance, for it all depends on God's
will – God is at work within us, so that we begin to receive
and to understand the reality and the practical value of the advice
contained in these books: the Zabur, the Torah, the Gospels and
the Koran. In Subud, therefore, there is no more need for advice,
for theories, for rituals – for the worship of God, for God
Himself will guide you as to worship as well as to leading the right
kind of life in this world and in the hereafter.
"Hence, Subud is not another religion, but it is what God wills
for us for the realisation of what is contained in various religions.
For those of you who are Christians, once you have received a good
deal in Subud, Christianity will become really true for you, because
you will see clear proof of its truth, and you will become real
Christians. And equally those among you who follow Islam will become
true Muslims, and not one of those of whom it is said: 'Muslim yesterday,
but not tomorrow' or 'Muslim tomorrow but not the day after'.
"Such is the evidence which Bapak has heard from all kinds
of people: from Christians, for example, that what they receive
and practise in Subud confirms their beliefs, so they say that Subud
is entirely in accordance with Christianity. It is the same with
the religion of Moses and Abraham: its followers say that Subud
fully agrees with what they have read and understood in their books.
And thus, too, say the Muslims: that Subud is truly in complete
accordance with what is found in the Koran. Thus this Subud is truly
man's worship of God, which comes and begins to act by the Will
of God at the moment our hearts, desires, and thinking suspend their