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Muhammad Subuh saw the present age as one that demands personal evidence and proof of religious or spiritual realities, as people no longer just believe in words. He claimed that Subud is not a new teaching or religion but only that the latihan kejiwaan itself represents a kind of proof that humanity is looking for. There are now groups in about 83 countries, with a worldwide membership of about 10,000.
 The Spiritual Training (Latihan Kejiwaan)The central practice of Subud is the latihan kejiwaan (literally "spiritual exercise" or "training of the spirit") 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. 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.
In the practice of the exercise, members are advised to surrender to the Divine and follow 'what arises from within', not expecting anything in advance. One is recommended not to focus on any image or recite any mantra, not to mix other activities like meditation or use of drugs, but simply to intend to surrender to the Divine or the will of God. One is not to pay attention to others in the room, each of whom is doing his or her own latihan. 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. The experience varies 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". The latihan is sometimes said to work 24 hours a day, not only when one is explicitly "doing" it. 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 describes: "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 practiced 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, in accord with broadly accepted recommendations, 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 latihan's nature or benefits.
 The OpeningThe '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 '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.
 TestingTesting 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 Subud 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 possibly helping to clarify issues in the present, and which may lead to confusion if treated as a kind of fortune-telling. Nevertheless, many Subud members claim to find benefit from testing in terms of resolving issues. Deeper understanding may help with almost any problem, but never offers a magic formula.
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 terms of 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.)
 FastingIndividual 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 of Ramadan 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 certain Subud members as spiritually edifying, although its practice is not expected.
 RulesPak 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, a couple of important practices that might be called ‘rules’ are that men and women do not do latihan together, and 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.
 HistoryPak Subuh explained (in talks to Subud members given 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.
John G. Bennett in Coombe Springs. It was at this time that many UK followers of G. I. 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 name "Subud"The name "Subud" is an acronym that stands for three Javanese words of Sanskrit derivation, Susila Budhi Dharma.
What these words mean depends on whether referring to :
- the original Sanskrit root word meaning.
- definitions in a modern Indonesian language dictionary.
- the explanation and definition given by the founder of Subud in his talks to members.
"Susila means: the good character of man in accordance with the Will of Almighty God..
"Budhi means: the force of the inner self within man.
"Dharma means: surrender, trust and sincerity towards Almighty God.
"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 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 - which have specific connotations.
The symbol is often printed in black and white when color printing is not available. When colors are used, usually the circles and spokes are gold and the background is dark blue to black. However, the symbol is also sometimes blue on white or white on blue. The World Subud Association has registered this design, as well as the name "Subud", as a trade, service or collective membership mark in many countries.
 AssociationMembers who wish to take on organizational responsibility in Subud can volunteer as a committee member or as a helper. Each responsibility can be performed at the local, regional, national, and international levels. Members often move from one responsibility to another, as needed.
The broadest organizational responsibility rests with the World Subud Association, which organizes a World Congress every four years and consists of the Subud World Council, Subud representatives from each country, and individual members who wish to participate, although only representatives can vote. The headquarters of the international organization moves to a different country every four years.
 HelpersEach level of the association has members called 'helpers' whose role is to coordinate the timing of group latihan, witness the opening of new members, speak to those interested in the latihan, be available to discuss problems relating to the latihan, and sometimes attend to the latihan needs of isolated or indisposed Subud members. Helpers are usually selected from members who are willing to perform the duties, and selection generally occurs through testing. In no way does selection mean that a person is more spiritually advanced than a member who is not a helper.
Helpers exist at the local, regional (in some countries), national and international levels. Helpers' geographical status relates to the regional or national supportive duties they are expected to provide – otherwise, there are no geographical restrictions on where a helper is considered to be a helper. A local helper from London who travels to Jakarta, for example, will be seen as a helper there, and can do testing or participate in a new member's opening in the same way as any Indonesian helper.
There are normally 18 international helpers—nine men and nine women. Three men and three women are assigned to each of the three areas in Subud:
- Area I covers Zones 1 & 2 (Australasia and Asia)
- Area II covers Zones 3, 4, 5, and 6 (Europe and Africa)
- Area III covers Zones 7, 8 & 9 (the Americas)
 Ibu RahayuIbu Siti Rahayu Wiryohudoyo is Pak Subuh's eldest daughter. She is regarded by some members as a 'spiritual guide', a phrase formerly applied to Pak Subuh. After his death, Ibu Siti Rahayu said that she had had a dream in which she met Pak Subuh, and that in the course of this dream he had designated her as his successor. In a recorded talk given by her on 5 March 2010 to a National Gathering in Semarang, Indonesia, Ibu Siti Rahayu explains how she came to be appointed 'spiritual advisor' by the Subud International Congress, although she does not say which resolution of which congress was involved.
 CommitteesMost Subud groups have a committee, typically including a chairperson, vice-chair, treasurer and secretary. This committee is responsible for making sure there is a place to do group latihan, communications, budgets, and supporting the mutual efforts of members at the local group. A similar structure functions at the regional (in certain countries), national, zonal and international levels.
The international executive is the International Subud Committee (ISC). Apart from ensuring communication, publishing, budgeting, archives and support of affiliates, it organizes a World Congress every four years. The ISC chairperson sits on the World Subud Council.
For purposes of a practical organizational structure, the Subud association is divided into nine multinational zones, more or less as follows:
- Zones 1 & 2 – Australasia and Asia
- Zone 3 – includes 8 countries of western Europe
- Zone 4 – central and eastern European countries
- Zones 5 & 6 – Francophone and Anglophone African countries, respectively
- Zone 7 – USA, Canada, Mexico, Cuba, Jamaica, Surinam, and the Caribbean
- Zone 8 – the upper part of South America
- Zone 9 – the lower part of South America
The chairperson of the World Subud Association serves a four-year term from one World Congress to the next and is also the chairperson of the World Subud Council. The World Subud Council is responsible for ensuring that decisions made at World Congress are carried through. The current Chairperson is Luke Penseney, who was appointed at the 2010 World Congress in Christchurch, New Zealand.
There are ongoing discussions about improving the World Subud Association structure. Subud Switzerland, for example, is exploring a nonleadership (egalitarian) model of organisation.
 AffiliatesSubud affiliates (sometimes called ‘wings’) are subsidiary organizations that focus on specific projects at a national or international level. They are technically independent organizations but have overlapping boards of trustees. They include:
- Susila Dharma International Association (SDI or SDIA) – humanitarian projects
- Subud International Cultural Association (SICA) – networking cultural activities
- Subud Enterprise Services International (SES or SESI) – networks between entrepreneurial activities
- Subud Youth Association (SYA) – networks among younger Subud members
- Subud International Health Organisation (SIHA) – incorporates both mainstream and alternative approaches
In addition to the above affiliates, a foundation – the Muhammad Subuh Foundation (MSF) – has been set up, whose main work is helping groups acquire their own latihan premises.
Informal networks and interest groups initiated by members include a Peace Network, a Spiritual Support Network (Yahoo group) and several Facebook groups.
 EnterprisesWhen Subud first spread outside Indonesia, Pak Subuh talked mainly about the spiritual exercise. He started to encourage Subud members to engage in enterprises and donate a proportion of profits to welfare projects and to maintaining the Subud organisation. He explained that the fact of the latihan 'bringing to life' the physical body indicates that worship need not be viewed as narrowly as prayer in places of worship; that people's ordinary lives, when following and guided by the Power of God, are ongoing worship, such that there is a dynamic interplay between "material" life and "spiritual" life. Therefore his encouragement for Subud members to engage in enterprise is seen in the context of putting the latihan into practice.
 MembershipMembership is open to any person over 17 years of age, irrespective of the person's religion or lack of religion. (As Pak Subuh saw it, the latihan is for "all of mankind.") The exception is that someone suffering from a serious mental illness may not be initiated as a member.
There is normally a waiting period of up to three months before a person may be opened. During this period, the enquirer is expected to meet a few times with the local helpers so that he or she can have questions and doubts clarified.
There is no membership fee, but most Subud members contribute, for example, to the rent or upkeep of premises where they meet.
- Hunt (2003), p. 122
- Chryssides (1999), p. 261
- Webb (1995), pp. 269–270
- Chryssides (1999), p. 263
- Webb (1995), p. 270
- Chryssides (1999), p. 269
- Chryssides, George D. (1999). Exploring New Religions. London and New York: Continuum. ISBN 0-8264-5959-5.
- Geels, Antoon (1997). Subud and the Javanese mystical tradition. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press. ISBN 0-7007-0623-2.
- Hunt, Stephen J. (2003). Alternative Religions: A Sociological Introduction. Aldershot, Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0-7546-3410-8.
- Mulder, Niels Mysticism & everyday life in contemporary Java : cultural persistence and change Singapore : Singapore University Press, c1978
- Sumohadiwidjojo, M. S. "Autobiography" ISBN 1-869822-07-2, Subud Publications International (March 1990)
- The International Helpers, "On the Subud Way" ISBN 0-9757497-0-6, (c) The World Subud Association (WSA) 2005
- Webb, G. (1995). "Subud". In Miller, T.. America's Alternative Religions. New York: SUNY Press. pp. 267–275 . ISBN 0-7914-2398-0.