THE STATE OF THE UNION…WSA Chair Luke Penseney reports

WSA chair Luke Penseney writes…

Exhausted, I was seeking shelter from huge storms and rain at 5000 feet up in the Canadian Rockies surrounded by 10,000 ft mountains. I was driving 2500 miles across Canada to set up my new office in Vancouver. To begin a new chapter in my life…

As the storm raged and I led a pack of cars down through a pitch black mountain pass, I turned off at the last minute into the first alpine motel I found. Not realizing that I was just on the western side of the timeline between Western and Central Canada. In so doing I gained an hour and the prospect of a longer sleep!

Happenstance? The whole journey had been like this. Having done the preparation, ‘just move ahead, trust, follow’.

So I was ensconced in a mountaintop chalet bar enjoying informal karaoke,  with a wrestler-scale German bus driver and his charge of thirty Koreans and Japanese on a tour of Alberta and BC. Each of us had to stand on a chair & toast the bemused throng. I could sympathize with Hannibal before his descent to the Italian plains. What lies before me?! How will the elephants manage?! What welcome lies ahead?

Quo Vadis… Again?

I have felt for some time the need to present more than just the quarterly reviews that define what I see us doing within the international organization. I want to bring a perspective on where I see that we are in terms of the organization and what is unfolding around us.

We Are Subud…

As Bapak emphasized, Subud is us and so we practise Subud for better or worse through our actions. I often experience my ‘reporting’ to Bapak in latihan or when I am absolutely still sometimes, or just latihaning in the shower.

Always he is reassuring! ‘Just follow, God’s Will be done.’ More recently, a more Christian message came in the shower one day as I passed through (Subud) Winnipeg on the way to Vancouver in the house of a strongly Christian Subud member. Hearing the intense whisper of Christ’s exhortation: ‘You are deeply loved. Love in return’.

On the Edge of A New Phase

Yet again we Subud members appear to be on the cusp, the edge of a new phase in our collective development. Because during Bapak’s time and since, there have been many opportunities for Subud to become more evident in the world.

Yet time and again we have not been able to build enough on what we have started. Even though we have asked God’s blessings, worked hard and put our latihan/talents and skills into practice, we have not always succeeded.

One clear message in enterprise as in all else, ‘first harmony of purpose!’

For example, our recent WSC meeting in Rungan Sari, Kalimantan, benefitted from the preliminary and inspired, although often deeply challenging, preparatory meetings we had about WSA, MSF and YMS in Wisma Subud, Bapak’s former home. The home of Subud. We asked God’s blessings and ‘worked hard together’ – a phrase that Ibu used as advice for Maxwell and I when we started to work together in January 2010.

A prerequisite not only for outer success, but more importantly inwardly, is the essential harmony (of purpose) that needs to precede all that we accomplish successfully. The WSC in Rungan Sari, although imperfect in terms of completing all of our tasks (perhaps because we were too ambitious trying so hard to fix everything) was extraordinarily harmonious in process. A kind of coming of age in that we really worked together… Many ‘old hands’ commented on this..

Suffering though to Consensus

Wisma Subud meetings in Adi Puri were challenging, extremely difficult at times. Even facing failure in drawing together a renewed MSF board of trustees. Yet at the last minute we let go on difficult issues and allowed the process to unfold, for collaboration to emerge. We achieved consensus by giving way to one another.

World in Parallel

In parallel we can see that, for example, Barack Obama has had to wrestle with both Congress and the House of Representatives as each party has striven to win control, to dominate. The result of course is disharmony and chaos. At some point, all have to let go.

The world looks on in fascinated horror at the schoolyard-style, but now globally dangerous traumas of the most powerful nation-economy. Obama faces the threat of a single term Presidency with his full potential unrealized. His work possibly incomplete.

He is now left needing to take a stand or face further and possibly even greater chaos. Sovereign debt and the crisis of global casino banking means that Pandora’s Box remains wide open. The material forces unleashed and rampant. Only collaboration can bring order..

Lower Forces Waiting on Us

I was reminded of this in the experience of leaving Brazil for Colombia last November to visit Amanacer in crisis. In testing with the Area III men IHs with whom I was working for the first time, I received that having ‘asked to go’ not only was Bapak accompanying me to Colombia – making it a modest mission to help open the way ahead, but that I needed to metaphorically ‘fly above the clouds’, above any turmoil.

Further personified in the test were powerful nafsu affecting the situation in the form of three black uniformed fascist generalissimo waiting on the tarmac – metaphorically.  In returning to Colombia a year later, I fully realized the significance of those generals.. Even as Subud Colombia has miraculously restructured itself. Re-established trust again. Begun a new phase of enterprise development centred on Amanacer.

But waiting for orders that so far had not come… This is our situation in many areas.  So we continue to ask God’s blessings. Working hard. Building on what we have.

Bapak pointed this out in regard to Kalimantan. That not only do we ask God’s blessings, plan and work hard, but also we need to understand the forces that face us, waiting to serve us. Bapak’s references to djinns may have appeared fairytale to us. But are included in the components needed to work in harmony.


So yet again we are on the cusp of breaking through to become more evident in the world.. Yet again because Anugraha, BSB, PTS Widjojo etc were tests for us that failed outwardly.. Perhaps because we lacked courage and tried to do everything ourselves!

Because somehow we do not understand not only the nature, but also the willingness of the lower forces to serve us. When in fact this is a reality that we have lacked the courage to face.

There are already signs that in what we do in the world, our capacity is being recognized by powerful foundations who feel/see our potential outside looking in, the evidence of what we do perhaps seen more clearly than we ourselves do..


Most evidently in Kalimantan now, but also at Amanacer and in Wisma Subud we have three international projects/ where we are again being tested.

Can we work together to raise funds to develop projects to build links to other organizations? To really work hard together?

Or will we again fail to trust one another, to really commit ourselves to organizing ourselves in professionally competent ways; to follow what we promise to work at together?

Letting go

Our WSA board of directors, including all the zone reps and myself, have faced this. Do we work together, or do we divide along ‘party lines’ supporting special interests among the members or within the WSA? Do we, as Robiyan reminds us, remember Varindra’s advice from his UN experience and ‘place our issues on the table and then stand back’. Letting go completely, to submit first to Almighty God as well as to the wishes of our brothers and sisters?

Power transition

The world is in great turmoil, but is also full of extraordinary possibilities. Even as we face again the prospect of a double dip recession. We can see that the mantle of material power and authority is passing from the old empires of the US and Europe to Asia/The Pacific Rim, the BRIC and G20 countries.

Subud reflects this in terms of the potential for Subud in Brazil, Russia, India, Indonesia even Nigeria also Africa and the DRC. Even as DRC has suffered so much as members have fled to new jobs in Angola.

Building on what we have

It is time again for new large enterprises to define what Subud stands for and to fund what we want to achieve in terms of social and humanitarian works in this world.

We can but build on what we already have such in Kalimantan, Amanacer, Wisma Subud. Also nationally at Amadeus Centre in London, Subud LA Hall etc, Usaha Mulia Abadi in Mexico, Subud Portland, Subud Hamburg house or Seattle’s ‘Spring Center’ etc. Our Subud projects and houses everywhere.

These centres are still tangible evidence of what we stand for. These are what we need to build the next generation of enterprises from…

Also at the same time we need to start afresh with enterprises that address needs or business opportunities around us..

SICA, SESI, (also MSF, SDIA) wings leading the way

With the new SICA and SESI now emergent stronger, clearer in their intent and focus with fresh projects and links to cultural and business projects. With new websites, new enthusiasm and teams, we need to support what they are building.. But also request what we need from them. For example a new interactive  ‘SES global marketplace’ for trading expertise, investment & advisory.


SES is looking to develop a new Subud investment/financing entity. Also micro finance projects alongside SDIA projects where possible..

SICA is seeking to develop Subud equivalents of the leading cultural, educational & technological showcase TED, and help develop cultural fora such as the WSA Forum launched so successfully at Congress. Now facing involvement in Rio Earth Summit 2012. To involve cultural expression in all it’s forms.. To build links to artists, performers and cultural expression in all it’s forms.

During the WSC, MSF stepped forward to help build the core Archives tape restoration project. SICA in turn to support the development of the WSA Forum showcased at Congress. Even as Sharifin Gardiner takes on a role as a vice president of the Earth Summit in 2012…. Subud members in BC, Canada are building an enterprise to prepare for the Americas Gathering perhaps of 400+ members from Zones 7, 8 & 9 in June 2012 in Vancouver. A celebration of Subud in the Americas, also as a rehearsal for Pubela 2014.. the time is upon us..


Yet again we are on the cusp, at a crossroads.. Just as the world around us is addressing the socio-material crisis where greed, lack of collaboration, mutual support has created such havoc.. The nafsu ‘generals’ at play amid the chaos and disorder. Free to create havoc in the absence of clear orders… from Mankind…

02 A Q3Review-WSAChair_Sept2011

Click on the .pdf above to read about Luke’s travels and adventures…