Bapak on Culture: A Selection

What follows is a small selection of excerpts from songs, talks, and letters on culture, and on the Subud International Cultural Association, by the late R.M. Bapak Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo.

Bapak’s experiences led to the founding of Subud and opened the way for others to receive the latihan kejiwaan1 of Subud. The complete talks these excerpts are taken from are available via Subud Publicatios International.

(Pictured left: Bapak and Raymond Lee)


 . . . The latihan kejiwaan is first of all the awakening of the human jiwa2 according to the will of God Almighty, and second it is the awakening of human culture and human know-how [about] living in this world and fulfilling the needs of life in this world.”    London, May 23, 1976

“Out of the nature of this latihan kejiwaan, which is characterized by these movements, culture is born. What is culture? It is the skill of the inner-self.”   — Woodstock, September 12, 1977

“. . . Brothers and sisters, . . . the power of God exists in every part of you. It completely fills your own being. When you see, it is in your eyes; when you think, it is in your brain. Every single part of you — every part that moves, that is alive — within it is the power of God.

Brothers and sisters, this power is the origin of all that we call culture. . . . and the totality and breadth of human culture is within each one of us and can be received up to the point of our own capacity, both in cultural expression and in the understanding of it.”  —  Cilandak, June 14, 1986

“. . . Culture is the latihan of life. . .”  — Pamulang, May 10, 1987

The result will be no hatred for one nation for another

“. . . We have just been visited by some Indian ladies from a yoga movement, who came to ask whether Subud can be mixed with their teaching. Bapak’s reply was that, in Subud, everything is included; every way, every technique, every form of culture exists in Subud. And in Subud we have to develop this culture. Everywhere the result of Subud should be the development of our national characteristics. Because if every nation develops its national characteristics, then they will be close to God. Because what God loves is your own nature and not what you imitate. So if you can develop your national characteristics you will be close to God, and the result will be no hatred of one nation for another. ” — S. Widjojo Center, Jakarta, June 29, 1984

“. . . Because Subud is internationalist in its outlook, Subud can be accepted by everybody, all religions. And the different concepts and different ideas can accept Subud because Subud is in the middle of all the religions and so on. Because for Subud there is only one God and one race, and that is the human race.

Later, when this becomes a reality, religions and national cultures will become localized. What Bapak means by that, is that each country will develop its natural culture, but they will understand each other. There will be an exchange. There will be a mutual understanding of cultures and religions. Only then will the world begin to become prosperous and well organized. The beginning of the welfare of human beings will start at that point.

Actually, the world can only become right if it is organized by the material and the kejiwaan together.” — Wisma Subud, July 2, 1984

The breadth of culture

“. . . Clearly, culture is concerned with human beings, so that a man can know the real direction for human society, for his nation and country, through the receiving from the peace and calm of his inner feeling.

So, culture is very large and very wide, and culture arises from the latihan kejiwaan of Subud. It is being reborn through the laithan  — and it is still small, like a seed that has just been sown, which is about to develop and come to life….”  — Anugraha, August 15, 1983, on the founding of SICA.

“. . . Kebudayaan, the Indonesian word for culture, is made up of two words, budhi and daya. Budhi means an idea conceived from the grace of Almighty God, and daya means action or work. Budhi is an extraordinary power which in its working includes all culture, including social work. So Budhi in its flowering gives rise to all culture and in its understanding, includes everything.” — Wisma Subud, July 1984

”. . . You must not think that the kind of knowledge which is called scientific, what is nowadays called technology, does not also spring from the power of God and flow through the channels of culture. When you are really in a quiet and calm state, not too much influenced by your mind and your passions, you will be able to receive the things you wish for.”  — June 22, 1980

Culture is a movement or an action of the inner nature of a human being …

The following excerpts from different talks by Bapak are as they appear in Rashid Lyle’s book, Subud, Chapter 9: “Culture” (1983: Humanus, Tunbridge Wells, UK.) The book is available from Subud Publications International Ltd., Loudwater Farm, Loudwater Lane, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 4HG, UK. Or  Email

During a world tour undertaken in the summer of 1972, Bapak visited Wolfsburg in Germany. During this visit, the members of the Subud group gathered together in Bapak’s presence one day and sang German and Javanese songs. Bapak also sang, receiving both the melody and the words, of which the following is a translation:

There is a way for you which is excellent,
Whereby all of you can worship Almighty God.
This is the good fortune that has befallen all of you.
This is a blessing of Almighty God upon all of you
So that all your lives are peaceful and happy
All your days.

Bapak’s explanation of this was as follows:

Brothers and sisters, what is expressed in songs — in singing — is actually a part of what is called culture, or in Indonesian, kebudayaan.

Now culture, or kebudayaan, is a movement or an action of the budhi, or the inner nature of man, which in other words can be called the jiwa. So, in the olden days, when people used to sing or perform, what they did had the nature of a latihan. It had the effect of awakening the jiwa of those who listened to it. And what came out, what they did, was entirely received, something that they were moved to do from their jiwa, from within.

But this is not the situation today, because nowadays people attach more importance to their heart and mind, to their pleasure, than they do to their jiwa. So that today the culture which used to be a living culture is now a dead culture. In fact, people nowadays sing in order to sell what they sing. They pay attention merely to the heart and mind and to their own pleasure. So that, in fact, we human beings are now beaten by the animals. When animals are happy, when they feel joy, they demonstrate their closeness to their Creator by singing — (at this point, a nearby bird began to sing, and Bapak continued) — as for example, the birds.

The song of the bird is still a demonstration of its closeness to its jiwa. But that is not the case with us human beings. What has happened to us, what we have received in the latihan kejiwaan, is something that can bring us back to the place where we were, to the closeness of the jiwa, which we used to have in olden days.

This is why it is really necessary for us to awaken culture, or that culture should awaken again within us, the culture which truly originates in the human nature and represents humankind’s worship of Almighty God.”    — Wolfsburg, 1972

The Importance of Art

It is told in history
That hermits and heroes of the past
Developed an original or pure culture or art.

It is important for all of us to explore
And find that art or culture
Of our true self.
Therefore you should not hesitate
To express here your feeling for art
Which you have received
By the grace of Almighty God.

A prayer received in song by Bapak, Cilandak, 22 June 1969.