Re: Looking for ex-subud members
Date: June 19, 2020 05:11AM
I haven't checked this site in a very long time so I apologise for how long it's taken me to reply.
I left Subud almost 14 years ago, and there are still ways which that experience has caused me long-term damage.
Subud members passionately deny it's a cult. It's taken me such a long time to understand the exhausting mindset of members. They'll say things like, "we're not a cult because we don't have consensus on anything," whilst failing to understand that there is almost complete consensus on the idea that Subud can't be a cult because there is no consensus! It takes very little effort to conceal another relentless logic flaw ("there are no rules, but men and women do latihan separately. There are no rules, but women must wear skirts to latihan. There are no rules, but eating refined sugar puts you under the influence of nafsu. There are no rules, but God told the helpers to tell you that you're in the wrong job / degree program / relationship. You don't have to change your name and convert to Islam, but many people choose to.").
The psychologist Janja Lalich wrote a book on Bounded Choice, and I believe this is absolutely true of Subud. It's not that anyone is necessarily forced to do anything. It's just that all the options for doing anything else get slowly removed, until we elect to do what was expected of us all along, and believe it was our choice. Worse still, the entire narrative structure of Subud is designed to make us lose faith in our own decision-making. We come to believe we're under the influence of 'lower' forces, and so cannot trust our own hearts and minds. So we consciously surrender our desires and intellectual rigour, and leave our decision-making in the hands of God, helpers, or random luck.
The most tragic thing about Subud is that the narrative is so destructive that it becomes like a healthy immune system attacking itself. We attack any shred of doubt, hope, desire, longing, anger, or injustice as it arises in ourselves. We don't need external people to control us because we become self-policing. We don't need to be yelled at to become pure, because we yell at our own lack of purity. There is an endless confession culture, particularly through testing, but we want to participate in it. So we end up making all of these dysfunctional, illogical choices and watch our lives fall apart over and over, whilst feeling confused and trying to find the lesson God is trying to teach. We look at all the loss and tragedy and wonder what microscopic thing we did wrong, or what we are supposed to learn, or when this perfect path we are on will finally make sense. When it never does, we keep blaming ourselves and striving harder to figure out what we did wrong.
I used to find it infuriating, but now I see it as a tragedy. People have died in Subud by ending up in places where they never should have been.
Subud is entirely self-policing now. I think it is a cult, but it's a very different sort of cult to many. It's full of well-meaning wealthy intellectuals and creatives who are just lost, and this lostness manifests in all sorts of ways. Many of those ways can be quite beautiful and positive. Others are chaotic and unintentionally self-destructive. Some are flatly, utterly abusive, but the abusiveness becomes hidden and publicly disavowed. Survivors and dissenting voices are not believed because there is this idea that we are all on an individual path, and so our experiences are our own.
I grew up being told that I had "consented" to every experience on this earth long before I was born. That my parents weren't my real parents, but only my spiritual caretakers. My parents didn't even choose my name. They had no connection to me, no protective instinct. They weren't interested in helping me to thrive, they assumed I'd just take care of myself. The levels of emotional neglect can be astonishing -- love is just a distant feeling, and we often grow up feeling completely alone in the world. This makes us desperate to please a confusing and contradictory God in lieu of pleasing our confusing and contradictory parents.
Maybe the emotional neglect of children is far, far worse in Subud than in more stereotypical cults. At least in the burlap sackcloth style of cult, someone might notice if you're missing from bible study. But in Subud it is the very idea of an individual journey -- that specific story that makes most members convinced it's not a cult -- which stops anyone from intervening or even noticing when something's going wrong. Actually, no, that's pretty standard cult behaviour, isn't it. Sadly this all too often turns into physical neglect and abuse.
Subud is just... sad. I'm not even angry at it anymore. I'm just heartbroken for all the lives that have been diverted and destroyed.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/19/2020 05:24AM by Jupiter.