Harris Smart writes…

This time last year I went for a very grim meeting with Bradford Temple in Wollongong.

It looked like we would have to shut Subud Voice down. Dang! And we were so close to our 25th anniversary.

I went up to Wollongong with the hope that we could continue with an online only edition. Print was obviously finished. Not enough subscribers and costs of printing and postage had risen. The books were no longer balancing. We had only been able to keep going through the generous subsidy of a member of the team.

Besides that, Bradford, after 10 years of fantastic service, was leaving to concentrate on more immediate Subud commitments. Occasionally you will find yourself working with someone whom you know you could not possibly be working with anyone better in the world – such was the case with Bradford. Irreplaceable.

Rahman Connolly had also been a tower of strength but now he was having to focus on KGC, taking it over the line. And he did. He bought KGC home to that port called Freeport.

What to do? Shut down? It seemed a shame, a real pity. Another Subud icon bites the dust. But Brad showed me the facts and figures and there was no choice


Then Bradford said the magic word – ‘sponsorship’. Maybe I could keep it going with sponsorship.

Well, it’s interesting how things work out sometimes. As they say, all things work to the good for those who love God, and in Subud we are trying to love God, aren’t we, even if we only manage it a tiny little bit. Gold magnifies, He amplifies. Bring Him a speck and He will turn it into a mountain. Bring Him trash and He will turn it into gold.

I was desperately short of money at that time. I had to take a job doing the thing in the world I hate most, asking people for money.

I get these telephone calls from people asking for money for charity and I slam the phone down. Now I was going to be one of those people asking people for money for charity. Fortunately, not all the people in the world are as mean as me. Lots of them listen to you, let you finish your spiel, and even cough up money. Sometimes small amounts, sometimes amazingly large amounts.

Anyway, from my job I learned a lot. I learned how to be fearless about asking for money. It was proof to me that it worked, it could be done. You could ask people for money and they would give it.

I became a tiger. Within two weeks I was pulling in more money for charity than anybody else in the place. No matter what your objection, I brush it aside. I compel you into a corner where the only way out is  generosity.

So from that job I became fearless about asking for money and that’s how I was able to get sponsorship for Subud Voice. I’d like to run a seminar called ‘crap jobs and how to benefit from them’. God is always presenting us with 1000 opportunities in the most unlikely places, if only we can see them, accept them, embrace them.

So that’s how I was able to get sponsorship that kept us going for nine months. Thank you to all those individuals, businesses, foundations and the Subud organization that came to the party. I can’t mention everyone by name, some wish to remain anonymous, but I must thank the Guerrand Hermes Foundation for Peace who not only came to the party with a sizable sum, but then later came back to the party with another sizable sum.

We would not have survived without the GHFP. So many great projects it has done. So many important things it has supported and made happen within and without Subud. It’s work is still too little known in Subud.

So we were able to keep going. Every person I asked, coughed up. But then suddenly I knew it was over, it was finished. I asked one person and he refused and I knew that the GOLDEN AGE OF SPONSORSHIP had come to an end.

What to do?

What to do? Revive subscriptions. What a disaster that turned out to be. So much work went into it, so little result resulted.

We’ve had a huge problem with PayPal. Going the PayPal route was a very considered decision and even Bradford agreed that it was the best way to go. But it has not worked. Turned out for a start that there was great consumer resistance to Paypal. Some people don’t want to have anything to do with PayPal; some people would have liked to help us out but were defeated by the forms,

Worse than that, we have had a huge ongoing problem with PayPal. They froze our account and since July we have not been able to take any money out of it. (Subud lawyers, please!)

Worse than that, at the very moment at the beginning of September when we launched the new subscription service, and should have been getting subscriptions, they would not even let us PUT MONEY INTO THE ACCOUNT. Can you believe that. It has been an endless saga. One of the problems with PayPal is it that it is this vague multinational organization which you have no idea where it is located in the world.

If PayPal  had an office in Melbourne, which of course it does not, you would just go there with the required documentation and show it to someone for five minutes, and that would be the end of it. With PayPal you can only communicate by telephone or e-mail and things just go round and round in circles. Everyone has a different story. One person does one thing, and someone else contradicts it. They ask you for the same things over and over and over again, and when you give it to them, they say it’s not right, and then they ask for it again.

Fortunately, somehow, we’ve had enough money to stagger on.

Thank you to those hundred people or so who did subscribe. You are saints.

And an invitation to all you out there…we need so much more…we need a marketing person, we need a publicity person, a finance person, an administrator to take over from pitiful me. Apply in writing to the Editor,

The Other Big Story

The other big story for us this year at Subud Voice has been the process of becoming a real E-zine. It has been a story of trial and experiment, but now I believe we have Subudvoice in exactly the format it should be for the foreseeable future. Thanks to our webmistress, Kitka, for devising and setting it up for us.

I still feel like we are trying to create a Cadillac in the Daiwa factory. Some of the tools are there, but not all the ones you need. There are so many things we need to do to improve and we just don’t have the staff and resources to do it. Bits keep falling off the Cadillac, and it looks like they’ve forgotten to put seats in

We know that even though you can print out individual articles in our current format, there are some  who want to be able to print it out as one unit. Seems like a simple thing to do. It is not. And we just do not have the staff and resources to do it.

Sometimes people seem to think we are the New York Times with a vast staff and vast resources. We are not. I severely lack minions. We are just  5 people scattered around the world, most of us, old-age pensioners. Ilaina and Marcus in the UK, Samuel in Cuba who does Spanish edition – what an extraordinary feat of translation every month – and Kitka and me in Australia. Maybe we are the smallest multi-national enterprise in the world.

We know things could be so much better if we just had more resources and staff. For instance, people complain that our web site goes down intermittently. We are so sorry about that. At the moment we just cannot afford a bigger one..

I’m stretched beyond my limit. I edit the magazine, I write a great deal of it often based on interviews that have taken much time and energy and even money to collect. I run the business, because Subud Voice is a company, I do all the administration that Bradford used to do though of course not half so well. I’m responsible for the fundraising to keep it going. I’m stretched my limit, I can do no more. Mercy!

But I love it. How grateful I am to have been given this opportunity to exercise what skills I have. And doing this, keeps me so in touch with the Subud world.

I try to respond to all the many e-mails I receive which range from ‘my Internet doesn’t work, what can I do?’ through to invitations to engage in profound and prolonged philosophical discussions.

And somehow we soldier on, soldier on. Please forgive us for our manifest inadequacies.

And We Want to Do More

In the last 10 years Subud Voice has done more than just produce the monthly magazine. We have also produced books and we undertook one major project which took more than three years to complete and cost a lot of money. (Thank you, CT  Trust.)

No one seems to remember it anymore but we actually founded the Subud Film Archive at quite some expense, gathering film from all around the world, and then we gave it to the Archive.

We used this film to produce three videos about the life of Bapak and the history of Subud, entitled collectively, BAPAK THE MAN AND HIS MISSION, tracing the development of Subud from his birth in 1901 to the Centenary in 2001. The three videos represent four-and-a-half hours of material altogether and that is certainly the most substantial audio visual presentation of the story of Subud so far.

We then reduced the three videos to one 60- minute presentation which we released on a multilingual DVD entitled A GIFT FROM GOD. (These are still available by the way…write to me.)

And Now…The Book That Bapak Asked For

And now we are embarking on two more major project, two books, THE BEST OF SUBUD VOICE and THE BOOK THAT BAPAK ASKED FOR.

Ilaina is editing The Best of  Subud Voice, which will be mostly selected from the 14 years in which she edited the magazine, and I am intending to produce The Book That Bapak Asked For, drawn from the ten years I have edited  Subud Voice plus other sources.

In March 1984 I sat in a room in Bapak’s house with about 25 other people. We had been there to attend the Asian Zone Congress – I was the Asian Zone trustee at that time – and the annual meeting of SBIF (that was what the Subud organization was called back then, Subud brotherhood International Foundation).

Bapak gave a remarkable impromptu talk. It began in a rather amusing way. Wilbert Verheyen was there, the first chair of the Subud social welfare organization, and he wanted a name for it. Bapak said, ‘Call it Susila Budhi Dharma.’

We were all a bit stunned. There was silence in the room and then Sharif whispered, ‘Um, Bapak, that’s the name of the whole organization’.

‘Oh yes,’ said Bapak, ‘call it just Susila Dharma, then.’

He went on to talk a lot about SICA. He said SICA had the power to inspire people and make them want to join Subud. Then he began to talk specifically about a book. He said someone should write a book about Subud that would show ‘the proof, the evidence and the reality’ and that ‘Subud has every kind of thing in it’.

He said that Richard Engels, who was in the room, could write such a book. Actually, I know that this became a bit of a burden for Richard who was always trying to do it, but couldn’t quite manage it. But along the way he produced some extraordinarily powerful writing about his experiences as a prisoner of war in Russia, for example.

You could almost see the book floating in the room when Bapak spoke about it. It was as if it already existed in heaven somewhere, and it just needed to be made manifest on earth. But of course making the visions of heaven manifest on earth can be quite an effort, and there is ‘many a slip twixt cup and lip’.

For me it has always been an ideal. As we say in Australia, if you aim for the stars you might sometimes hit the back fence. So every book I’ve written, I’ve set out with the idea that I wanted to try and do something like what Bapak was asking for. To show the proof, the evidence and the reality and that Subud has every kind of thing it. I know I have failed, but that is the vision that has led me on, my star to follow.

So now we want to try again. We want to really try and do the book that Bapak asked for. At Subud Voice we have a vast archive of stories and photographs that have been published over the years and the best of them really do illustrates the proof the evidence and the reality and that Subud has every kind of thing in it.

In Subud Voice over the long period of its existence, I guess we have published stories on just about everything you could think of. People’s personal spiritual experiences, enterprises, artists and cultural projects, the vibrant activities of youth etc etc.

We have kept our finger on the pulse of Subud. We have chronicled the growth of Subud as it has happened. We are an invaluable record. Now we want to condense this, distil this, into a book, the essence of Subud. (I like to imagine that in 800 years time, scholars will be consulting us; Ph.D theses will be written on this invaluable resource of what Subud was like in ‘the early days’.)

We plan to start working with this material and trying to shape it into The Book That Bapak Asked For. That is our aim, our mission in the coming year. We may not complete it in the year of our 25th anniversary, but we intend to make a start, to plant the seed.


We want youth, we want younger people reading and writing and even working for us.

The other day I got this email…

Do you think a number of our young Subud teen-agers would be competent to work for free on “Subud Voice” under your direction – would that  be a good beginning?  Would you be willing to accept nomination for the position of national youth co-ordinator? at the same time as being Editor and Business Manager of “Subud Voice”?

I wrote back…

WOW! Would I accept nomination for national youth co -ordinator…yes, of course, after all I am only 70 years young…what an honour, the oldest youth co ordinator in the history of subud…ha ha

Well, perhaps not, perhaps they need a younger boy or girl for the position…An almost 70-year old in charge of youth might invite ridicule.

But thank you for thinking of me…i am ssssooooooo flattered that you might think me suitable despite my age…

But I certainly want to get youth involved in Subud Voice… but it is not so easy to find them…I try again and again… for instance I recently wrote to xxxxxx xxxxx  to offer her the opportunity to try out to be editor of SV – under my guidance of course… I try again and again and again to elicit articles from young people… from time to time we have had a ‘youth editor’ but they do not last… still, every hopeful…

So where are you younger people? Confound me, contradict me. Please come to the party. Write to me at


So that was 2011. What of 2012?

Well, as I’m sure everyone knows by now, 2012 is supposed to bring the end of the world on – December 21 or 23. take you pick.

The famous Mayan Calendar which goes back more than 3000 years Before Christ, abruptly ends on that date, which has led some to predict that the world will end then. You are going o hear a lot more about this in 2012, you are probably going o get sick of hearing about it, so we are glad we got in early.

I understand that the Mayans viewed history as a series of cycles, of 394 year periods I think it was. And, in fact, there was not necessarily some big catastrophe at the change-over of cycles. They could happen quite smoothly. The idea of a big apocalypse at the end of time was not apparently their way of thinking.

It is we who have grafted on the idea of an apocalypse. It is part of our thinking, not the Mayans. We always want an apocalypse, a big conflagration.

So do not get too worried yet.

Lately, the think about the abrupt end of the Mayan Calendar has moved from ‘the world will end’ to 2012 will be a moment of great change. A new world will be born. It will be a time of transformation of human nature. An example of this view is published in this issue in the article by Imron Comey about this experience in Kalimantan.

Anyway, even if the worst does come to the worst, you have a whole year to live intensely, work hard and prepare yourself for heaven.

Thank You

Special thanks to all who have helped us this year at Subud Voice, especially to those individuals, business and foundations and the Subud organization that supported us with sponsorship.

Thank you all of you who subscribed and then left your money in when we went back to being free. Thank you for your understanding and support.

Thank you to my colleagues. Ilaina, the founder, who carried it almost single-handed for 14 years, and is still supporting and contributing to it. To Marcus, great designer, who has 100% supported my vision for Subud Voice. To Samuel in Cuba who does such an heroic job of translating the magazine into Spanish. To Kitka, our webmistress, particularly for the way she has enabled us to become a true E-zine.

Thank you to all those people who have sent us your writings and photos. Thank you to all of you who submitted to being interviewed by me. A special thanks to Emmanuel Elliott and Sebastian Paeman who have launched a publicity campaign for us.

Finally, a big thanks to all our readers. Thank you for your emails appreciating us and also letting us know our mistakes. Where would be without you? Nowhere.

Thank you to you all of you, and  hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and the New Year will bring all good things…

Thank you to Bapak who founded Subud…

Thank you to Almighty God who makes all things possible…

Love, Harris