Subud, the organisation that supports the latihan, exists in more than 70 countries in the world, with over 10,000 active members. There are about 50 groups in Britain.
Local, regional, national and international events and gatherings are held throughout the year, to meet the needs of the Subud membership. Many of these events are suitable for children as well as adults, and a strong youth network is in place to facilitate this.
Cultural, enterprise and health‘wings’of the organisation also exist to help people express their talents in the world.
“Every person will find for himself or herself the right way towards God, and what might be the right way for one may be completely wrong for another. Therefore, you must discover your own self, and develop your inner self, if you want to find the way to God. You must not follow or imitate anyone else.”
Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (the founder of Subud)
Latihan – exercise for the soul
The latihan, an Indonesian word meaning exercise, is a way for people to receive the deep spiritual experiences similar to those referred to by prophets of the great religions.
Anyone can receive the latihan. Thousands of people from all cultures and backgrounds practise the latihan today. In the world’s troubled climate, the process provides a significant opportunity for people from all religions, and also those who do not conform to an established religion, to follow a spiritual path together and in harmony.
It is a simple practice that can, over time, bring emotional and physical well-being, clarity of purpose and deep understanding, yet there is no doctrine or study involved.
Anyone can receive the latihan
Anyone aged 17 or over can join Subud and practise the latihan. To help people make an informed and conscious decision about joining, they are generally asked to wait about three months before their first latihan. This allows time to talk about Subud and the latihan, hear stories and ask questions. Many people find that this three-month period allows for a subtle inner process to take place that prepares them for their first latihan. It also provides an opportunity to decide if this is the right path for them.
There is no fee for joining. Members are, however, asked to contribute towards overheads such as maintaining the local premises and supporting the wider organisation. The amount is left to the individual.
Experiencing the Latihan
The latihan is an experience that starts as an inner impulse, moving the person from within. This impulse may lead them to walk, dance, cry, laugh, sing, pray or just be still. It is not a trance-like state but is a very real experience received with full awareness.
No two latihans are exactly the same and the experience is different for each person. People receive what is appropriate for them at the time: some may have profound experiences in their first latihan; others may experience a more subtle process that deepens over time.
Latihan in Action
The more people practise the latihan the more they come to understand that this process is actually a form of worship. The more individuals practise the latihan, the more they become aware of their humanity and purpose in life. They may find it increasingly difficult to do or say things that cause harm to others and often feel guided to become involved with projects that help other people. The Subud organisation has evolved to support projects set up by Subud members that outwardly reflect this evolution in their inner lives.
One arm of the organisation, Susila Dharma (www.susiladharma.org), is a humanitarian non-profit organisation, which works throughout the world to alleviate poverty and human suffering. Susila Dharma has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Following the latihan
Members meet twice a week at their local group to practise the latihan. They sit quietly in order to calm themselves, let go of thoughts and desires and get into a receptive state. They then stand to receive the latihan. The process lasts for about half an hour. Afterwards people generally feel more peaceful and more alive.
The latihan continues to work outside the exercise times, providing inner guidance in work, relationships, health and other areas of life. For many, the benefits also include a deeper contact with God or one’s Higher Self, a deeper connection with one’s spirituality and humanity, and a more meaningful and purposeful life.
How it began
The founder of the Subud association and the first person to receive the latihan was an Indonesian named Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (1901 – 1987). He unexpectedly received the latihan for the first time when he was 24 years old. The experience continued regularly and developed in him over a number of years, during which time he was given many great spiritual insights. Bapak eventually became aware that he was to pass on the latihan to others. In time they also were able to pass on the experience and the latihan spread throughout Indonesia by word of mouth.
In 1957 Bapak was invited to visit England and this is when the development of Subud as an international organisation really began. But as Bapak himself put it: “[the latihan] is not foreign. It did not originate in the East and it did not come to the West … it comes from the Spirit of God, which is nowhere a stranger.”
Find out more
If you are interested in joining Subud you will need to contact your local group. The number for Lewes is 01273 359 953. Details of other centres can be found by visiting www.subud.org.uk, by phoning the National Office on 0870 444 2604 or by emailing [email protected]
If you would like to read more about Subud you can order a book from Subud Publications International at www.subudbooks.com, or from Amazon at www.amazon.co.uk. Books about Subud may also be available to borrow from some Subud groups and public libraries.
More information about Subud, can also be found on the Subud Britain website at www.subud.org.uk