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Subud History

About Subud

Subud is a unique, international interfaith movement that blossomed in the early 20th century, its roots tracing back to the spiritual experiences of its founder, Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo in Indonesia. Subud Canada, as a part of this global endeavor, welcomes individuals from all walks of life to explore a deeper understanding of the human experience.

At its core, Subud advocates the process of Latihan Kejiwaan, a spontaneous spiritual exercise that transcends religious and cultural boundaries. This practice, accessible to anyone regardless of belief, nurtures a community of individuals committed to personal growth, mutual respect, and understanding.

"The most powerful weapon in life, with which to make your life safe and happy, is nothing other than doing the best you can towards your fellow beings."

- Bapak Muhammad Subuh

Muhammad Subuh With Kids

The Voyage

Subud’s voyage to the western world began in 1955, first reaching the shores of Cyprus, and then England the following year. Bapak’s inaugural visit to the West in 1957 further propelled Subud’s global outreach, with Bapak traveling extensively to nurture the burgeoning Subud communities worldwide. Through his journeys, he offered talks, explanations, and accompanied members in their Latihan practice.

Bapak’s earthly journey concluded on June 23, 1987, in Java. However, his legacy continues through his eldest daughter, Ibu Siti Rahayu Wiryohudoyo, who was born on March 13, 1928, and remains a guiding figure for Subud members.

Now flourishing in over 83 countries, with a World Congress held every four years since 1959, Subud continues its global spiritual venture, assisted by a community of helpers dedicated to passing on the Subud contact to newcomers. Through Bapak’s enduring legacy, Subud remains a sanctuary for individuals seeking a spiritual awakening in a united, compassionate community.

About Bapak

Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo, affectionately known as Bapak, was born at dawn on June 22, 1901, near Semarang in Central Java, Indonesia. His birth at ‘dawn’, which is the meaning of the word ‘Subuh’, seemed a harbinger of the spiritual enlightenment he was to bring.

In 1925, while on a late-night walk, Bapak experienced a divine revelation. He was enveloped in a brilliant light descending from above, which entered through his head. This marked the onset of a series of intense spiritual episodes, leading to the discovery of the Latihan Kejiwaan of Subud—a spontaneous spiritual practice.

Over time, Bapak realized that this inner training was not meant for him alone, but was a gift to be shared with humanity. Hence, he began transmitting this spiritual contact to anyone seeking it.

Subud In Canada

Subud, an international spiritual movement that began in Indonesia, found its way to Canadian shores in the late 1950s, marking the start of a unique chapter in its global narrative. This story unfolds with individuals drawn together by a shared quest for spiritual growth, laying the foundations for what would become a vibrant and enduring community.

The Early Days

Norton Jaquays and John La Plante's Introduction of Subud to Toronto

In May 1959, a pivotal phone call from Norton Jaquays, a Subud member in New York, to his friend John La Plante in Toronto ignited the spark of Subud in Toronto, leading to the formation of the Subud in Toronto group.

Meetings, initially held at various locations like Casa Loma, marked the beginning of a new spiritual exploration for the Canadian members.

Bapak's First Visit: A Milestone for Canadian Subud Members

The Subud community in Toronto gained significant momentum from Bapak’s first visit in the same month of 1959. Facilitated by Jaguays and local enthusiasts like Raymond and Renée Grad, and Isabel Hamilton, this visit by the founder of Subud, along with his wife Siti Sumari, was a landmark event. Bapak’s talks and presence profoundly influenced the Canadian members, validating their practices and offering direct spiritual guidance.

This visit was instrumental in transforming Subud Toronto from a nascent group into a more established community, deeply connected with the global Subud movement.

Establishing Roots: The 1960s

The Growth of Subud Toronto: From Nomadic Meetings to a Permanent Home

During the 1960s, Subud Toronto experienced a period of significant growth and transition. Initially, the group met in various locations across the city, reflecting the dynamic and evolving nature of its early days.

These meetings, held in places like 10 Castle Knock Road and 2 Irwin Street, were more than just gatherings; they were the building blocks of a community coming together in pursuit of spiritual understanding and growth.

As the decade progressed, the need for a stable, regular meeting place became apparent. This led to the acquisition of the Blue Easel Art Gallery at 591 Church Street, which soon became the new home for Subud Toronto. Managed by active members Roger and Valda Chu, the gallery provided not just a space for meetings, but also a hub for cultural and spiritual exchange.

This shift from a nomadic existence to a permanent location marked a crucial phase in the group’s development, fostering a sense of belonging and continuity among its members.

Significant Members and Their Contributions: The Pillars of Subud Toronto

The 1960s also saw the emergence of key figures who would leave a lasting imprint on Subud Toronto. Among them, Isabel Prentice and Jean Townsend stand out for their dedication and contributions.

Isabel Prentice, with her unwavering commitment and enthusiasm, played a central role in nurturing the growing community. Her efforts in organizing meetings, coordinating activities, and welcoming new members were instrumental in the group’s cohesion and expansion.

Jean Townsend’s contributions were equally significant. Her involvement in the group’s activities, coupled with her leadership skills, helped steer Subud Toronto through its formative years. Townsend’s ability to connect with members, address their needs, and foster a spirit of unity was pivotal in building the strong community foundation that Subud Toronto enjoys today.

Other members, too, brought their unique strengths and talents to the table, enriching the group’s dynamics and aiding its growth. Their collective efforts during this transformative decade laid the groundwork for Subud Toronto’s future endeavors, firmly establishing its roots in the Canadian spiritual landscape.

A New Era: The 1970s and Beyond

From Regional Meetings to a National Organization: The Formation of Subud Canada

As Subud Toronto strengthened its foundations in the 1960s, the 1970s heralded a new era of expansion and organization on a national scale. This period saw the transformation of Subud from regional groups into a cohesive national body: Subud Canada.

This evolution was driven by the increasing number of Subud members across the country and the need for a unified structure to support and guide the growing community.

The pivotal moment came during a regional meeting in Montreal in 1965, where the idea of organizing Subud Canada was first discussed. Members from various cities, including Toronto and Montreal, came together, sharing visions and aspirations for Subud’s future in the country.

These discussions laid the groundwork for the formal establishment of Subud Canada, marking a significant milestone in the history of Subud’s presence in North America.

The Tokyo Congress Influence: How International Events Shaped the Canadian Chapter

Another crucial factor in shaping Subud Canada’s trajectory was the influence of international Subud events, particularly the Tokyo Congress in 1967. This global gathering of Subud members provided Canadian representatives with broader insights into the international Subud community and its activities.

The congress served as a platform for sharing experiences, learning from other chapters, and gaining a deeper understanding of Subud’s global impact.

The insights and experiences gained from the Tokyo Congress were instrumental in shaping the direction and policies of the newly formed Subud Canada. Canadian members returned with renewed enthusiasm and ideas, which translated into more structured and effective organizational practices.

The congress’s influence extended beyond organizational structure, permeating the spiritual and cultural aspects of Subud Canada, enriching its members’ practices and experiences.

The 1970s and beyond marked a period of significant evolution for Subud in Canada. From consolidating regional groups into a national organization to drawing inspiration from international events like the Tokyo Congress, this era set the stage for a more organized, connected, and dynamic Subud Canada, ready to face the challenges and opportunities of the coming decades.

Building and Expansion: The Late 20th Century

The Georgian Bay Project: A Case Study of Subud Toronto's First Enterprise

In the late 20th century, Subud Toronto embarked on an ambitious project that exemplified the group’s spirit of enterprise and community collaboration: The Georgian Bay Project. This initiative, launched between 1968 and 1971, was the first major enterprise undertaken by Subud Toronto, marking a significant phase in its development.

Led by Karsten Smith, a prominent member of the group, the Georgian Bay Project involved the construction of a ski chalet in the picturesque region of Georgian Bay. This venture was not just a business endeavor; it represented the collective effort and investment of the Subud Toronto members. It was a testament to their unity, resourcefulness, and willingness to embark on new challenges.

The project turned out to be a financial success, providing both economic benefits and a sense of accomplishment to the community. The Georgian Bay Project was more than an enterprise; it was a pivotal learning experience for the group, demonstrating the potential of collaborative efforts and setting a precedent for future endeavors.

The Move to Woodbine Avenue: Accommodating Growth and Fostering Community Involvement

As the 1970s progressed, the growth in membership and activities necessitated a larger space for Subud Toronto. This led to the move to a new premises at 1189 Woodbine Avenue, a decision that reflected the community’s expanding needs and aspirations.

The new location on Woodbine Avenue provided a larger and more accommodating space for the growing number of members and their activities. This move was not just about physical space; it symbolized a new phase of maturity and stability for Subud Toronto. The new center became a hub for community involvement, hosting a variety of activities that went beyond spiritual practices, including cultural events, social gatherings, and workshops.

The relocation to Woodbine Avenue also coincided with Bapak’s third visit, which further energized and inspired the community. The new center thus became a focal point for spiritual growth, community bonding, and cultural exchange, playing a crucial role in the evolution of Subud Toronto in the late 20th century.

In summary, the Georgian Bay Project and the move to Woodbine Avenue were key milestones in the late 20th century for Subud Toronto. These events showcased the group’s entrepreneurial spirit, commitment to community involvement, and adaptability to the changing needs of its members, laying a strong foundation for its future growth and development.

Consolidation and Growth: The 1980s to Present

Acquiring 2170 Danforth: The Story Behind Purchasing and Renovating a New Property

In the 1980s, Subud Toronto embarked on a significant new chapter with the acquisition of 2170 Danforth from the Mennonite Church. This move was driven by the continuous growth of the community and the need for a space that could better accommodate their expanding activities. The decision to purchase and renovate 2170 Danforth was a testament to the community’s commitment and vision for the future.

The property at 2170 Danforth required extensive renovations, which were largely undertaken by the Subud members themselves. This collective effort was not just about transforming a physical space; it was a reflection of the community’s dedication and cohesiveness. The renovation process became a unifying project, strengthening the bonds within the Subud community and symbolizing their ability to work together towards a common goal.

The new center at 2170 Danforth emerged as a vibrant hub for spiritual practice and community engagement, reflecting the dynamic and evolving nature of Subud Toronto. It marked a significant step in the group’s journey, showcasing their resilience, resourcefulness, and commitment to creating a welcoming and functional space for their activities.

Community and Social Activities: Showcasing How Subud Toronto has Evolved Over Time

Since the 1980s, Subud Toronto has not only grown in numbers but has also evolved in the scope and variety of its community and social activities. The group’s evolution reflects its commitment to not just spiritual growth, but also to fostering a sense of community and belonging among its members.

Subud Toronto has hosted a wide range of activities, including cultural events, workshops, social gatherings, and community service initiatives. These events have served to strengthen the community, offering members opportunities to connect, share, and grow together. They have also been instrumental in reaching out to the wider community, showcasing Subud’s values and practices to a broader audience.

The evolution of Subud Toronto’s community and social activities illustrates the group’s adaptability and responsiveness to the needs and interests of its members. It underscores the importance of community engagement in the group’s identity, helping to maintain a vibrant, inclusive, and dynamic community spirit.

From acquiring and renovating 2170 Danforth to the diverse range of community and social activities, Subud Toronto’s journey from the 1980s to the present has been marked by consolidation, growth, and a deepening sense of community. These developments reflect the group’s ongoing commitment to creating a nurturing and supportive environment for spiritual and personal growth.

Subud Resource

Discover a wealth of resources that delve deeper into the essence of Subud. From personal stories and global updates to community-driven projects, these links provide a comprehensive insight into the Subud experience, fostering a deeper understanding and connection among members and interested individuals alike. Explore, engage, and enrich your journey with Subud through these curated resources.

Information on Subud activities in the world, plus links to official World Subud Association (WSA) websites

For the general public and others wishing to know more about Subud

The website of MSF – the Muhammad Subuh Foundation

Subud Book

The website of Subud Publications International – books by and for Subud members, also audio and video

Subud World News

Explore the latest global updates and events from the Subud community on this informative platform.

What Is Subud?

This website is designed for individuals keen on learning more about Subud, especially those considering joining the community and seeking additional information.