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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, August 25, 2001

Where We Worship
Subud believers rely on spiritual exercises

By Zenaida Serrano Espanol
Advertiser Staff Writer

Name of organization: Subud.

Regional helper and member of the Subud faith Deliana Fuddy, right, meditates at one of the group's meetings at Richards Street YWCA. Meditation is followed by spiritual exercises.

Kyle Sackowski • The Honolulu Advertiser

Our affiliation: World Subud Association, based in Chicago.

Where we are: Members gather on Monday and Thursday nights for spiritual exercises at the YWCA on Richards Street in downtown Honolulu.

Our numbers: There are about 20,000 active Subud members in 80 countries and 50 active members statewide, including about 25 on O'ahu.

Our leader: Subud has a dual structure, said member Reynold Feldman; an organizational side and a spiritual side. There is no priesthood, nor is there a single head or leader in Subud. Rather, Feldman said, there is "shared leadership" among members.

What we believe: Subud (pronounced SUE-bood) is an abbreviation of the Sanskrit words Susila, Budhi and Dharma, which collectively means "To follow the Will of God with the help of the Divine Power that works within and outside of a being, by way of surrendering oneself to the Will of God."

Subud is not a religion or a teaching. "Subud is a direct contact with whatever you believe is some kind of higher power in the universe, whether you want to call it God or the creative force of the universe or whatever," said member Aliman Sears.

Members said this very individualized and personal connection with God is received through "latihan kejiwaan" — Indonesian for spiritual exercises. Members meet twice a week for the exercises, which last for about 30 minutes. Through the latihan, "we're receiving in a very intense way . . . what it feels like to be guided by God," Feldman said.

Members said that sometimes they are guided to do a freeform dance, meditate or just stand still during the latihan. "It's spontaneous," Sears said. "Not only is it different for everyone, but it's different for the same person each time. There's never two latihans that would be exactly alike."

Our history: Subud began in 1925 when an Indonesian named Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo received what he reported as being a sudden and unexpected contact with God.

The founder of Subud, whom members refer to as "Bapak" (the Indonesian form of address for a respected elder), continued to experience this contact personally for several years before being told, through prayer, that other people could also have this connection with God. Bapak was not a teacher or a leader, but more of a spiritual guide, Subud members say.

The name Subud was first used in 1947. It wasn't until 1956 that Subud reached the West. Subud was introduced to Hawai'i in the 1960s.

What's special about us: Sears, who has had formal training in philosophy and theology, said that Subud is "really the only thing that I've come across that is ecumenical in the sense that anybody can do this," he said. "Anybody can participate and worship in this way no matter what religion you are or if you don't have a religion."

Members of Subud come from various spiritual, cultural, social and religious backgrounds. "That's the beauty of if it," said member Deliana Fuddy. "We are all very diverse . . . and yet we can come together to improve our connection, to improve ourselves and in some ways, to improve our community around us."

• Contact: Call 550-4260, e-mail alimansears@hawaii.rr.com or visit www.subud.org

If you would like to recommend a church, temple or faith organization for a Where We Worship profile, e-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com, call 535-8174 or write: Where We Worship, Faith Page, The Honolulu Advertiser, P.O. Box 3110, Honolulu, HI 96802.