Bapak’s Talk to Applicants
A brief talk by the founder of Subud, the late Pak Subuh. This text is based on the notes taken at the only talk Bapak gave to “Applicants” – Singapore 1960. Subud is an abbreviation of the words – Susila – Budhi – Dharma. Subud is not a new religion; nor a sect of any religion; nor is it a teaching. It is only a symbol for “the possibility for man to follow the right way of living.”
Susila means to be able to live according to the Will of God as really true human beings. Budhi indicates that in every creation, in every creature of God, including man there is divine power which works within him as well as outside him. Dharma means the possibility for every creature, including man, to surrender completely to the Will of God, of whom man is only a creation and has therefore, inevitably to submit to the Will of his Creator. Susila Budhi Dharma means to follow the Will of God with the help of the Divine Power that works both within us and without, by the way of surrendering oneself to the Will of Almighty God. Susila Budhi Dharma is the symbol of what we are practicing in the latihan kedjiwaan (lit: spiritual exercise) of Subud; it means that whatever happens in the latihan of Subud is entirely the Will of God and comes to us because God wills it for us.
This is exactly according to what has been said in the Holy Books, such as the Bible, the Qu’ran; namely that God is close to man or if man comes close to God then God can give man the things he needs; and that man can receive the things that God intends him to have. What is it that we have to surrender to God? It is not our wealth, the ones we love, nor whatever else we possess, because God has no need of those things. What we have to surrender is our mind, our hearts and our desires, because those are the instruments that form an obstacle to our coming closer to God.
This is what Jesus Christ meant when he said that God will always be with us if we can surrender ourselves to Him and if we can love Him more than anything else – more than ourselves. This means that the love that we have with our hearts and with our feelings is an obstacle preventing us from coming to the true God because this outer love is only love of things we like to believe we love. But the love that we must have of God must be greater than this.
To the Prophet Muhammad was given the revelation that God existed before anything else existed, and that God will be after everything is destroyed. God is farther away than the farthest things there are. He is deeper within than anything else, which means that God has created really everything, and because He created everything He will also take care of everything. It is also said that God has no form, no speech, no country, no color. For if He would, for instance, have a country there would be more than one God, because for every country there would be one God: and if He would have a color, there would also be more than one God because every color would need a God. And this is what is meant by saying:
“God is master of all”.
Moreover, God created without tools and materials. If man wants to make something – a table for instance – he needs wood, nails, a hammer and other tools; and to make the atom bomb man needs more tools to break down the material into atoms. But with God it is wholly different. God works without materials or tools. It follows that for man to understand and to know what is in the mind and heart of God the only thing to do is to surrender himself entirely; because with his own mind and his own heart and his own desires he will never be able to find God. Only by surrendering himself completely to God, not making use of his mind, his heart or his desire, is it possible for man to come into contact with the Power of God.
This is what we do in the latihan or spiritual exercise – we surrender ourselves completely, we do not make use of our mind or desires – we simply accept and receive whatever God sends. So you will understand that Subud is only a symbol of that way of living for man in which he can fulfill and carry out the Will of God for himself in this world and in the world to come.
Therefore, in the latihan of Subud we do not have a teaching; there is nothing we have to learn or do, because all that is required of us is complete surrender. A person who claims to know the way to God is really one who is anticipating God’s gifts without having received them.
The only thing we do is surrender ourselves completely and simply accept and receive whatever God sends or wants us to have. This is indeed what every prophet has said: “Surrender yourself entirely, submit completely to God and then God will take care of you and give you guidance.” In these spiritual exercises we do not expect anything in particular. We make no image of ourselves, but only receive whatever God may send us.
So this divine power, which works in us during the latihan, will bring to each person what is already in himself. For instance, if a person has a loud and strong voice, he will utter very loud and strong sounds; and a person without a loud voice will make softer sounds. This goes for every part of our body, for every part of our being. Therefore the latihan of two people can never be the same, because every one is different from everyone else. It is clear, then, that there cannot be a theory or a spiritual teaching in Subud because each person is different. Whatever he needs and whatever he receives will differ from what somebody else needs and receives. This is why we cannot give any rule or prescription of how to behave when you are in latihan, because this is something personal for everyone.
Every person will find for himself the right way towards God, and what may be the right way for one may be completely wrong for another. Therefore you must not suppose that you have to follow or become like Muhammad Subuh. You must become your own self and you must develop your inner self if you want to find the way to God. You must not follow or imitate anyone else, because you must find your own way to God. Usually if there is a teacher he teaches his followers to do exactly the same as he does in order to reach that he has reached. But this is really wrong, because not only between a teacher and his followers but even between two brothers of the same parents there is already a big difference; not only outward appearances but also in their character and in their whole being. So surely you can understand now that what is the right way for a certain teacher to find God is not necessarily the right way for his pupils.
Therefore , Bapak says, it is God who will lead you towards Himself and what really happens in the latihan is that you will be introduced to your real inner self – to the real I. You must not be afraid and you must not be worried, for whatever comes to you in your latihan is only what is in you and comes from your inner self. It is the real you that arises in the latihan, so you do not have to be worried or afraid. In Subud there is no discrimination between the different religions because what comes to a person is really what is already there within him. So if a person is a Christian he will meet the real Christ within him, and if a person is a Buddhist, he will meet the real Buddha in him. The same if he is a Muslim, he will meet the Muhammad within himself. And then, if you really know your inner self, in everything you do you will be guided by the divine power, because the divine power works in you through yourself, and whether you are in office or driving a car or doing anything else, you will be guided by the power of God, which is always working within you and also outside of you.
Then it will be true what is said in the Qu’ran, that before you undertake anything you should say: Bismillahir Rachmanir Rahim. This means that you follow God’s guidance and only whatever God brings you to do ; that you will not be in haste to do something and only afterwards remember God and regret what you have done. Whenever God precedes something you are doing, then it must be the right thing to do. And this is also the real meaning of what is done by Christians when they pray before they eat or before they go to sleep. And this also means that you should not do anything without God guiding you, because if you forget God in something you do there will be no help from God if anything goes wrong. The power we see is only to convince us that the Almighty Power of God works not only within us but also in all creation, and even outside of all creation.
That is why in the latihan we will not harm our religion, because what we think and what we carry out is only the Will of God, and we only carry out what is already within us. So a person who has a religion will experience in the latihan only according to what is in his religion and according to what is within himself.
Some among you may ask where Bapak got all this from. Bapak answers: he received this when he was in the same situation as you are. He was working, he was still doing his job in the office and whatever else he had to do, and even liking it. All of a sudden everything stopped. His mind stopped working and his desires stopped working and then he received as everybody receives in the latihan. He was not looking for wisdom, he did not have a guru, a teacher. He just received it, and that is what is called Mu’jizat-ulla, a divine gift.
This comes to a person only while that person is not looking for it, and when he is ready for such a gift then God will bestow that gift on that person.
Further, Bapak leaves it to you to decide whether or not you want to come to these spiritual exercise, because in the worship of God there is nothing compulsory. Everyone must be free. But whenever one asks, it is given.