Meeting in Montréal: Susila Dharma in Transition

Disaster relief for the Victims of Hurricane Harvey

Many people have been contacting us to find out whether we are doing anything to send aid to those made homeless by Hurricane Harvey. SD USA is not a disaster relief organization,  but we are very happy to refer our members to organizations that do this work (so much more efficiently than we would be able to). Follow this link to a listing  of disaster relief organizations now active in Texas and Louisiana.

By Jake Sterling

Members of the international Susila Dharma network met in Montréal at the end of July to discuss the crisis that looms for Susila Dharma and for Subud itself. As I left Montréal, the goals seemed clear; but the clarity of our testing and our discussions fades as I try to put receiving into action; but, I haven’t lost track of our discussions and our receiving.

We spoke of the need for a long-term strategy to use the gift we have been given and to pass it on so that this gift can be shared by more people. Subud is an amazing global community based on its members’ deep inner connection with, and upwelling of the Jiwa, the true Inner Self that comes through us from God. But, as Hamida Thomas, SDIA’s Executive Director, pointed out to us, we are not passing this connection on. Our membership is aging. Young people are not being opened. On the material level this means that Susila Dharma’s funding base is shrinking as Subud members grow old and die. Unless we speak to people beyond the bounds of the Subud community, Susila Dharma and Subud itself will die out in the world.

Young voices speaking together on their role and vision for Susila Dharma. Emma Gonzales led this wide-ranging roundtable discussion.

Young voices spoke together on their vision for Susila Dharma and their role it its future. Emma Gonzales led this wide-ranging discussion on covering issues from malnutrition in distant regions, to teen suicide in Montréal, and even the ecological role of trash and garbage.

Any long-term strategy for transformation is risky; but, if we do not take risks, if we refuse to change, failure is certain. Even though we are getting older and more tired, we must step forth with energy and delight. Strategies that do not commit to the spread of Subud cannot succeed. We are not asking that non-Subud people agree with us, or follow us, but that they listen to their own inner Self. So, ours must be a strategy that looks outwards, that communicates with the wider world. In tackling this we risk looking stupid, naive and vulnerable. It is the risk taken by all those who love. We have to be willing to embarrass ourselves and confess that we are talking about action that, in all humility, vulnerability and perhaps absurdity, we hope will be inspired by the very breath of God.

Lighted decoration for Orang-Utan, a work of educational street theater about the ecology of Kalimantan staged by Permakultur Kalimantan

Chaos or Pattern?
— A Lighted decoration for “Orang-Utan,” a work of educational street theater about the ecology of Kalimantan, staged by Permakultur Kalimantan.

The way forward seems chaotic and intractable. Our minds cannot find the way through: but I have noticed that we usually do perceive deeply complex systems as chaos, but that often these systems have a complex inner pattern that we are too small or too involved to see. But, even if we cannot know for sure that our plans are correct or sensible, we do know that we cannot succeed if we do not begin.

I left the SDIA meeting in Montréal feeling uplifted. I have a job. My role in this shift to of focus is as a journalist. I want to examine more intelligently and more deeply, not only the work of Susila Dharma projects, but the local and global situations that create the need for them.