Subud: A Practical Mystical Path for the Twenty-First Century
Originating in Indonesia in the 1930s, Subud, the name, is an acronym based on three Sanskrit words—susila (SU), budhi (BU), and dharma (D). The founder, a Javanese named Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo (1901–1987), a Muslim like most Indonesians, defined susila as “right living,” budhi as “one’s highest self,” and dharma as “the path of surrender.” Taken together, the words mean that by practicing the surrender of one’s everyday self, or personality, to one’s highest and best self, or essence, one will eventually be able to live the noble life of a true and fully developed human being. In this context, Subud is a spiritual practice transcending individual faiths yet accessible to everyone. It enables participants to integrate the best aspects of themselves into everyday life while deepening their understanding of the principles and beliefs of their respective religious or ethical traditions. As individuals develop through the Subud practice, they spontaneously come to realize that Earth and all its precious cargo, including the entire human family, are intimately related and therefore deserving of continuing attention, mutual assistance, and caring concern. Hence the World Subud Association has organized affiliates that pool the talents and energies of its international membership to work individually or with other like-minded persons or organizations in pursuing a sustainable world characterized by compassion, wisdom, and ongoing life-friendly development. This essay describes the vision and practice of Subud movement and its implication for practical spirituality.