On Culture and SICA: A Selection

What follows is a small selection of excerpts from talks on culture and on SICA, by Ibu Siti Rahayu Wiryohudoyo, Spiritual Advisor to the World Subud Association. Born in 1928 in Java, Indonesia, Ibu Rahuyu is Bapak’s eldest daughter and studied law at Gajah Mada University and the University of Indonesia. Ibu witnessed Bapak’s mission, and her advice is widely respected. Her talks are also available to Subud members via the online Subud Library.

Why Bapak decided to set up the Subud

International Cultural Association, or SICA.

“. . . Every nature created by God, in which God's Power manifests, is alive.  These include the visible natures as well as the natures that cannot be seen.  In the case of human beings, it is the soul that is alive.  This is why we call the latihan: training of the soul.  The reason I use the term 'training of the soul' is because nowadays there are many kinds of movements.  There is mystical training or Javanese training, and so on.  And perhaps in other countries you have these other kinds of training too.

Now because your soul is active and alive, if your soul grows and develops it will bring about a change or a development in you.  We call this human culture, and in fact this is where the term culture comes from.

Why do we say Subud is a form of culture?  The reason is that with the latihan, you are educated from within, you are touched from inside – every part of you, everything that you have inside you - is touched.  So for instance, if you have a talent for singing, once God has touched your soul, the songs that you sing can touch other people.  The same is true if you have other talents, for example as a writer, as a painter and so on.

It is due to this that in Subud, thanks to their latihan, there are people who have never studied something in the worldly way, or learned it, and yet their talent grows by itself, without any kind of study.  There are even people who are old now and yet they want to change their line of work as they feel that their former work does not advance their life and it does not give them inner satisfaction.

Now this culture is not limited to dancing, or singing, or art in general.  The human soul also touches human thought, so Subud will not hinder someone who studies.  In fact this contact can help you pursue your profession.  So for example some people become doctors, or architects, and so on.  So people in Subud don't just seek spiritual knowledge.  We live as normal people and we pursue our respective professions, and at the same time we seek spiritual understanding.

This is why Bapak made the decision to set up a Subud wing called the Subud International Cultural Association, or SICA.  Bapak hoped that through SICA, Subud members who had a talent in a particular field would create something truly new or different, something that would touch other people, meaning people who are not in Subud, people outside Subud.

So in this way, through SICA, we can provide proof to people who are not in Subud.  This is needed because we cannot explain Subud to other people who are not opened, to people not in Subud.  They cannot understand what Subud is if they have not experienced the opening, or how the latihan fills us.

So by creating something for other people, you may be able to demonstrate something that without their being aware of it, may exert a positive influence on people who are not in Subud.  So we hope that Subud will spread through SICA through activities that other people can see.

This is particularly hoped for from young members who have a lot of energy - that they will generate something new that will also be a part of SICA's activities.

Of course, we need to train for this too (in latihan), as not every member can understand yet what SICA is for.  Well, according to Bapak, SICA is for activities that grow out of the development of the soul.  But this may still be difficult, particularly for members who are new to the latihan and who are not yet able to receive anything that is guided by their soul that will produce the kind of culture I spoke of.

But, even though this is still hard for us, some members have had the courage to start something with SICA.  It's true that Bapak had great hopes for us, because Bapak was someone who was full of culture.  So Bapak hoped that we, his children, would be like Bapak too, but we are not able to yet.  Bapak had all kinds of talents: writing, martial arts.  Bapak practiced a form of martial arts that he developed himself.  As for his writing, we can read the results in Susila Budhi Dharma. This is by Bapak, his receiving; it is all from Bapak's soul.

The same was true for storytelling.  Bapak had a great flair for telling stories that he made up on the spot.  And when we were little, and when Tuti was still a child, Bapak often told stories, all kinds of stories.  But we weren't smart.  If we were smart and wrote these down at the time, we could now write books and make films, because Bapak told so many stories.  Well, that was our fault.  Bapak never said, 'Write this down, take it down!' No. It had to come from us, but we did not have the initiative at the time and it's too late now.  Perhaps it's God's Will that when it comes to culture we have to start from zero."

— Ibu Rahayu, Singapore, March 10, 2002
Final Translation by Raymond Lee


Subud is an education that leads to culture

“. . . Subud is not a religion. And this is very important because a religion generally has a Messenger of God who started the religion.  And if Subud were a religion then people of other religions cannot join Subud.  Because generally you can't have a religion and then join another religion as well without leaving the one you have.  So it would mean that nobody who has a religion could join Subud.  And if Subud is a religion or is described as a religion, then obviously it will exclude other religions.

. . . So then what is Subud ?  How do we describe Subud?  The reality of Subud is that it is an education.  It is something that educates human beings.  And the purpose of this education is to help us to improve ourselves.  And the education comes from within ourselves. 

So each Subud member has their own responsibility.  And each one takes responsibility for themselves and develops by themselves.

And if we give explanations in Subud, it is not a teaching that we are giving.  The purpose of our explanations is a kind of guidance that will lead you to experience for yourself what you have to experience.

So therefore it is clear that Subud is not a religion – that it is actually a training.  That's why we call what we do a 'Latihan'. Latihan means training.  So that's why I'm saying that it is very difficult if we describe Subud as a religion.  And so it might be useful for you to know what we have done in Indonesia in this respect.

In Indonesia, as an organization, you can register under various alternatives.  And one alternative is a religion.  And clearly it was not considered appropriate for Subud to be registered that way – based on what I just said.

There is another category in Indonesia which is called beliefs.  As you know in Indonesia there are many, many movements and belief systems and mystical groups and all that kind of thing. . . . And it was also not felt appropriate for Subud to be registered under that category.  Because these categories, the beliefs, all have some kind of system. They generally have a teacher and rules that you have to follow.  And things that you have to learn and that you are taught — and that you have to follow.  That you have to believe and follow.  And again that is not what Subud is, and it is not appropriate for Subud.

So there was an interview between the National Committee and the Government at one point.  And it was decided that Subud would be registered under the Ministry of Education and Culture.  Because it is in fact an education.  It is something for educating human beings.

So the reality is that Subud is an association of human beings who are educated, who are being educated.  And the result of education – of being educated – is that we develop our own culture.

So our education comes from within and leads to culture – leads to having culture in our life.

It therefore seemed appropriate to have Subud [registered] under the Ministry of Education and Culture. And that's what we have done in Indonesia."

— Ibu Rahayu, Tokyo, Japan, May 4, 2004 .
Provisional Podium Translation by Sharif Horthy


On the Content of Subud and the Work of the Wings

"Subud brothers and sisters whom I respect and love, on the occasion of the opening of this tenth Subud world congress, I will say a few words which express the content of Subud.

We start from the beginning, when each of us was decreed by God to become a human being. A human being is one kind of entity (sifat) created by God. I say one kind of entity, because the power of God envelops every entity that He has created. And every entity that has come into being or been created by God lives, works and moves.

And by God's grace everything that He has created is accompanied by the essence of God, which exists within each creature. And we all know that every religion certainly has within it or acknowledges the existence of this essence of God, although they call it by many different names. In Islam---because I happen to be familiar with Islam---it is called khatir ilham. And this essence of God is connected to a human being by way of his human soul (jiwa), and this is the reason why we call this Subud training we receive the 'training of the soul' (latihan kejiwaan).

As the latihan makes progress in the soul of each one of us, it will give rise to something new, leading to the arising of human culture. This is why we have established an organization for this development in Subud, which we call SICA (Subud International Cultural Association), which will later become a vessel for whatever develops by way of our soul that has the character of culture. This development will be very broad because it embraces every kind of talent that exists within our membership. So, for example, one who is a dancer will become a beautiful dancer, a singer will become a beautiful singer, and if this flowering takes place in the human intellect it will lead such a person to excel in medicine, architecture or some other discipline.

Apart from that, as people who enjoy God's grace and God's love of humankind, we must in return express our gratitude by demonstrating our worship of God through loving each other. We have an obligation to love our fellow human beings and help them with their needs. That is why in Subud we have Susila Dharma for our social and charitable activities.

And in order to put this social work into practice and to prepare ourselves to help our fellow human beings, we need to become strong and ready to shoulder the burden so that, if possible, we don't have to rely on others. That is why Bapak always used to say that before we can help others we first have to be strong. That is why he advised us to start enterprises and implement enterprises in Subud. And that is why in Subud we are urged not to neglect enterprises besides deepening the life of our soul.

Besides that we are all aware that we will not live in this world forever, the young will become old, and therefore it is essential that we are always preparing the next generation to be ready to continue the development and challenge of Subud. Therefore in Subud it is very necessary to train and direct the young generation who are our hope. That is why we have an organization for young people known as Subud Youth.

And I know that you have already started all this to take care of all that is needed in Subud now and in the future. For it is our duty to thank God and not forget what Bapak received, which is God's grace. You are witnesses of what Bapak received and passed on to each one of you. As a Subud member you have a responsibility and duty to continue what Bapak received.

Actually what we have to do is not so overwhelming. If we can just do the things I have talked about, if we can really put them into practice in our lives, then what we have set out to do in Subud can materialise and succeed.

I believe that I do not need to say more in this opening and in the next few days there will be opportunities for me to talk more about spiritual matters.

Thank you, until we meet again. “

— Ibu Rahayu, August 6, 1997, Opening Address to 10th World Subud Congress, Spokane, WA, USA
Official Translation by Sharif & Tuti Horthy


Subud and Culture

“. . . . Culture can emerge in accordance with your own individual nature through the latihan. This is why we talk about culture in Subud, because we hope from the culture that comes from within you, you will be able to produce something which can be seen and appreciated by other people, indeed the world.

The expression of culture is also very wide. For example, perhaps someone has been doing the latihan for a long time and then she is guided so she is able to help other people. Let us say that merely by massaging someone, she is able to help others. This is indeed a kind of culture.

This inner power does not come because it has been asked to come. Sometimes it just happens by itself. But this does not mean after she is able to massage, or after she is able to draw, for example, the process is complete, that the receiving from Subud is finished. No, it is just a small part of what can be achieved in Subud.

Let me add a bit here so you do not get confused. For example, someone has the power to heal, to make someone well because of Subud. This does not mean Subud is just a source of healing. The person involved was able to do what she did because of the latihan. She was able to help someone, but that is only a part of her receiving. So do not be mistaken and think Subud is just a source for getting cures or for having someone tell you about the future. If we are able to tell fortunes or know of something before it happens, that is only one small part of what we can get from the latihan. Each of these talents merely indicates a stage or phase in what that person is obtaining from Subud. As a matter of fact, it is only one aspect of the latihan.

I hope I can make it clearer by explaining to you, that with the latihan it is as though we are being awakened. So, for example, let us say that previously we did not really understand what our own skill was - what we were able to do. Often we simply did not pay attention to it. But then, with the latihan kejiwaan, sometimes we are able to come to know it ourselves. For example, someone who previously could not draw comes to want to draw, and then apparently she can indeed draw. Many have had experiences similar to this. And then, to give another example, let's say there is someone who has never cooked, who starts to feel like cooking, and when she has finished cooking, she is happy, and apparently her cooking is delicious and praised by other people. This means she has a talent for cooking.

Culture is very wide, and is of many sorts. She who cooks is manifesting culture, as is the one who gives massages, and these talents have come alive from the inner. And for those of you who would like to put into practice the talents which you get from the latihan, look for a way to express or apply these skills for the public.

So from this, then, comes the existence of culture. We acknowledge that this kind of culture is Subud culture, yes we may. This is because it arose from the latihan. But it does not mean that the massage is the latihan. It is not. Do not mix the two together. In presenting it to the outside world, however, do not say that what you have produced is Subud culture — that is not necessary. The reason being that Subud is not only manifested in culture. No. Just call it culture, not Subud culture.”

— Ibu Rahayu, from a Talk To Women Helpers, Cilandak, Indonesia, September 15, 1991

And this culture will develop to a point where the person concerned can

feel and enjoy it.

“. . . . A soul that is growing, a soul that is alive, will produce some form of human culture. This culture is extremely broad. It covers the culture of life, as well as the culture of religion, and the culture of each person's individual nature.

And this culture will develop to a point where the person concerned can feel and enjoy it. This is the culture arising from the growth of our souls. This culture is contained within each individual's talents, for example they develop as a dancer, as a writer and so on. And this growth, when it manifests through their mind, results in someone who is truly alive in practising their work in this world.

So, don't have the idea that what we learn through study, what we obtain from experience, is not a talent. It is a talent too, but one which is channelled through the human mind; and what generates this activity becomes the content of your work in this world."

—Ibu Rahayu, Den Pasar, June 28, 1998