Concerning John G. Bennett and Subud…

update June 22, 2016 at 10:23 AM EDM:  This here is an interesting blog-post written by a woman who says she “grew up in Subud” and later left it:  What gives the poster, who goes under the pen name Fuchsia Black, some cred, in my opinion, are both the tone of the post and its venue:  it’s on a site that’s actually run by people who are still involved with Subud:  I stumbled the site just now when I was looking for any information I might be able to find regarding the suicide of a young man, Tulio, on my “Basic Course” in Gurdjieff and other teachings, in 1983.  I had said earlier on this post that Subud had not been offered on my Basic Course.  However, after I wrote that, I heard from a reliable source that Subud had been offered at Claymont, at least, as far as the first Basic Course there.  Moreover, I occasionally ‘cut classes,’ and I began to wonder if I might have missed ‘latihan day;’ so I emailed Avrom Altman, who was then on my FB ‘friends list’ and who had been the ‘director in residence’ for my course, and asked him if Subud had been offered on my course.  According to Facebook, Avrom received and read my  email, but he never answered it; so I deleted him.  (He came back a short while later and asked to be friends again, so I took him back, but he then soon deleted me and blocked me. lol)   Anyhoo, Avrom’s non-response got me thinking about Tulio.  Tulio became very depressed and left the course, going to stay in Pierre Elliot’s residential cottage for a few weeks, in the late winter, I think, of 1983.  For some reason, Pierre, then the official director of Claymont, asked me to go and talk to him.  I don’t know why to this day.  I had my own problems.  I can only guess that Pierre thought I might have some influence on him because Tulio liked me.  But I was the wrong person to fix Tulio’s problems;  I was preoccupied with my own miseries at the time.  I remember sitting in the kitchen of the cottage with him.  There was such a heaviness to his presence.  I didn’t know what to say to him to lift it.  He wouldn’t talk.  But close to the end of my visit, he suddenly looked at me and said, “There is always hope, Marnie.”  And that’s all I got out of him.  Ironic, since the next news I got was that he had returned to his home and killed himself.  I heard later that he’d hidden the fact that he’d been previously hospitalized for mental issues from his Basic Course application.  I always accepted that version of events, until Avrom’s non-answer regarding Subud.  Then I began to wonder if there had been a ‘Subud’ day on my Basic Course, which I’d managed to miss, or, managed to sleep through to the point of completely forgetting it ever happened, possibly in the devastating wake of Tulio’s suicide; and if there had been, what about Tulio?

I plan to check into this more when I have time, which at the moment I don’t; but I thought the blog-post from the former ‘Subud girl’ was interesting enough to post.



I have just edited the ‘Subud’ section on John G. Bennett at wikipedia:  because I find it appalling that Bennett’s account of the death of a student at Coombe Springs was excised from all editions of his auto-biography ‘Witness:  the story of a search.’  Those two pages, pages 345 through 347 in the original 1962 edition of ‘Witness,’ (published in that same year by the ‘Dharma Book Company Inc.  and by Hodder & Stoughton), are to say the least, subjective accounts of the death, but at least they acknowledge that it happened, and record Bennett’s admission in his own words that Subud was the direct cause of the death.

I still consider myself to be a student of Mr. Bennett’s, and you will find numerous references on these pages to his work on ‘triads of will,’ which I still consider to be brilliant.  Moreover, the school he founded in West Virginia for teaching George Gurdjieff’s teachings as well as many of his own ideas, I credit with having saved me.

But I was also very lucky that Subud was not on the menu at Claymont.  I am quite certain that, like the unfortunate student at Coombe Springs, I too would have been vulnerable, and that, had I ever been ‘opened’ by the Subud ‘latihan,’ I would today either be dead or in a madhouse.

Mr. Bennett made an appalling mistake, in my opinion, in rushing to introduce Subud and Pak Subud to his students at Coombe Springs, and it appears to me he never accepted his own culpability in the death of his student, although it seems patent to me reading those pages in the 1962 edition of ‘Witness.’  In his account of that death, John Bennett unwittingly reveals, I believe, his own serious defects as a spiritual ‘guide,’ and show-cases the need to be very careful when the siren call to transform comes along to one, and not to put one’s trust or faith blindly into anything or anyone.

Mr. Bennett’s willingness to sweep that death under the ‘magic flying carpet’ of Subud, shows a profound lack of understanding of the Gurdjieff teachings, in my assessment, which were about more self-awareness and not less, about conscious self-control and self-insight, not giving up control to an unknown force just because it didn’t appear at first go to be malignant.  Subud has nothing to do with the Gurdjieff teachings, and I find it to be really outrageous that Bennett-book-purveyors are still evidently trying to make a buck off of Subud, directly or indirectly.

If you must buy a copy of ‘Witness,’ get the original one, which has the missing two pages on the death from Subud, as well as about fifty more that were removed.  Alibris is an excellent source for rare, second-hand and out-of-print books; I have ordered from Alibris sellers numerous times and invariably found them to be reliable.  As of this writing, in the U.S. still has the original version for sale although Canadian Amazon does not.

About Marnie Tunay

I'm not here much at the moment. You can visit my web-sites to learn more about me.
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2 Responses to Concerning John G. Bennett and Subud…

  1. Maryellen says:

    You are a very smart individual!

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