Subud movement Spiritual Awakening with Muhammed Subuh

This is the spiritual movement that evolved around the Indonesian mystic Muhammed Subuh, known as «Bapak» or spiritual father. The movement originated in Java, and spread to Europe and elsewhere after gaining the support of the disciples of G. I. Gurdjieff led by J. G. Bennett, at Coombe Springs, England. Gurdjieff himself had predicted that an Indonesian teacher would bring emotional warmth to his system.

Subud gained publicity in 1959 when the movement held its International Convention in England. Shortly afterwards, the Hungarian actress Eva Bartok was initiated and said she was healed from childbirth complications.

The Bapak, essentially, is a charismatic figure who generates a contagious spiritual energy, which is reminiscent of the traditional shaktipat of such Hindu gurus as Swami Muktananda.

The Latihan is the basis of the Subud movement. This is an initiation for newcomers as well as a spiritual exercise for those already initiated. A «helper» prepares the initiate for the «opening» or receptivity to the descent of spiritual energy. The initiates may experience convulsions as a sign of their reception of kundalini energy, which is traditional in Hindu mysticism.

This energy has a purificatory function, bestows intense feelings of peace when there is a submission to divine will. Subud is unlike established religions or cults as it has no creed, dogma, rules or regulations. Its primary objective is to make the Latihan experience available to the initiates.

Members of Subud groups meet in each other’s homes or rented halls. The movement does not advertise or proselytize. Subud centers are in over seventy cities of the United States, and a phone call will elicit the time and place of the Latihan. Also, Subud groups are in most of the larger cities of Britain. A.G.H.


Subud is a spiritual movement centered around the Indonesian mystic Muhammed Subuh, affectionately referred to as «Bapak» or spiritual father. The movement has its roots in Java and later expanded to Europe and other regions, particularly after garnering support from the followers of G. I. Gurdjieff, including J. G. Bennett at Coombe Springs, England.

Gurdjieff himself had foreseen the emergence of an Indonesian teacher who would infuse emotional depth into his system.


Expansion and Recognition of Subud

The movement gained significant public attention during its International Convention held in England in 1959. Around this time, notable personalities like the Hungarian actress Eva Bartok joined the movement, further increasing its visibility. Bartok’s initiation into Subud and her subsequent claim of healing from childbirth complications brought additional interest to the movement.


The Charismatic Influence of Bapak

Bapak, the central figure of the Subud movement, is known for his charismatic presence and ability to transmit spiritual energy, reminiscent of the traditional shaktipat observed in Hindu gurus like Swami Muktananda. His influence is central to the spiritual experiences of Subud members.


The Latihan: Core Practice in Subud

The Latihan is the foundational practice of the Subud movement. It serves as an initiation ritual for newcomers and a continuous spiritual exercise for existing members. During the Latihan, a «helper» assists the initiate in preparing for the «opening,» a state of receptivity to the descent of spiritual energy. This practice often induces physical convulsions in participants, interpreted as a sign of receiving kundalini energy, a concept prevalent in Hindu mysticism.


The Role of Spiritual Energy in Subud

The spiritual energy experienced during the Latihan is believed to have a purifying effect on the individual. It also bestows intense feelings of peace, especially when there is a submission to divine will. This process is a key element in the spiritual journey of Subud members.


Subud’s Distinctive Approach to Spirituality

Subud distinguishes itself from established religions and cults by its absence of creed, dogma, and strict regulations. The movement focuses primarily on facilitating the Latihan experience for its members, emphasizing personal spiritual development over adherence to a prescribed set of beliefs.


Community and Practices

Members of the Subud movement typically gather in each other’s homes or rented halls for meetings and Latihan sessions. Subud does not engage in active advertising or proselytization; its growth has been largely organic. In the United States, Subud centers can be found in over seventy cities, with information about Latihan sessions available upon request. The movement also maintains a strong presence in major cities across Britain.

Through its unique practices and the charismatic leadership of Bapak, Subud continues to offer a distinctive path in spiritual exploration and personal growth.

Source: 9, 1630-1631.