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Subud, Obama and Laurel Canyon rock hits - a connection?

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Subud (pronounced Soo-bood) and its symbol.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Has a cult-like religious sect with international ties and based in Indonesia - known as Subud - played a bigger role in American life than was previously understood?

Are a smattering of Sixties-era, Laurel Canyon-linked rock stars part of a bigger conspiracy that also links back to the current President of the United States via his mother and maternal half-sister?

Investigative reporter Wayne Madsen suggests in a new (subscription required) article at WayneMadsen.com, headlined “Barack Obama is not a secret Muslim but he may be a secret Subud sect member,” that critics have linked Subud and CIA mind-control operations and that Obama’s mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro (aka Stanley Ann Dunham Obama) was involved with the group to some degree.

This would make sense, considering that the future president and his mother lived together in Jakarta, Indonesia from 1967 until 1971, when young “Barry Soetoro” was sent to live with his grandparents – Stanley and Madelyn Dunham – in Honolulu, Hawaii, where grandma was vice-president of the Bank of Hawaii.

You see a lot of interest in banking amongst the Dunham women. In the 1980’s Ann Dunham Soetoro would take interest in microfinance programs and through her work with the Ford Foundation would be linked up with Peter Geithner, father of current Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Madsen suggests that Obama’s mother was linked to Subud, possibly going back to the late 1960’s, and that she instilled that interest in her son and possibly her daughter - Obama's half-sister, 41-year-old Maya Soetoro-Ng, who describes herself as "philosophically Buddhist." And while you can be Buddhist or Christian or whatever, you can still be a follower of Subud and Bapak's teachings.

A Muslim, Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo, better known to his adherents as “Pak Subuh” or “Bapak,” began growing Subud (pronounced Soo-bood) in Semarang, on the northern coast of the Indonesian island of Java in the 1920’s and by the 1940’s was officially recognized in Indonesia. Subud is an acronym that stands for three Javanese words of Sanskrit derivation, Susila Budhi Dharma, and roughly means man and his inner force giving himself over to and surrending to Almighty God.

It is known mainly for the spiritual exercise of latihan kejiwaan and is believed to be practiced by as many as 10,000 or more Subud members in as many as 83 countries worldwide. And while Subud is a "direct spiritual experience of the soul being reawakened by the power of God," it is also open to those with or without religious affiliation. A global religious movement of sorts and one that would certainly appeal to idealists like the late Ann Dunham Soetoro, who passed away in 1995. And as one Facebook fan of "Maya Soetoro-Ng life and family" wrote in 2010: "I'm not surprised if she was a SUBUD member once upon a time."

So, who joins Subud? A FAQ on Subud notes that people of all backgrounds join and many embrace "New Age mysticism, homeopathic and alternative medicine, faith healing and an embrace of end-of-the-world theories."

Not that these are necessarily bad things, of course. Rather, as the FAQ notes, "people looking for easy answers" and a link to God are drawn to the sect.

Followers and international assistance workers who help with the growth of Subud (written as SUBUD) are known as “Helpers.” They are found all over and even worked within the World Bank, something familiar to Obama’s mother whose married name for a time was Sutoro – was this change due to involvement with Subud?

And throughout the 1960’s, with interest in Eastern philosophies and religions reaching their peak, numerous rock stars of the day took an interest in Subud, including members of the Association, the Byrds,  the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Of course the best-known Subud follower was Roger McGuinn, leader of the Byrds, and known for his ringing, 12-string Rickenbacker guitar, heard on hits like “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!”

In 2006, in an interview with Goldmine magazine, McGuinn was asked about his involvement in Subud. Here is what he said:
I had been flirting with it from The Village. I got interested in it in New York and sorta followed through in L.A. By 1967 I was into it. By ’67 I was into it whole hog. Legally, I only changed my middle name. My first name is still James. If someone wrote a check to Jim McGuinn, I could still cash it (laughs). I switched my middle name. It was Joseph, and I switched it to Roger. And started using Roger as a first name. There was a Subud house in downtown L.A. on Hope Street, and The Beach Boys used to hang out there. I remember that. Then, Brian (Wilson) formed his own chapter at his house during his 'sandbox' phase.”

McGuinn would leave Subud by 1977 and return to his Christian faith.

And don’t underestimate the power of Subud on the Billboard charts. Coming in at number 7 in 1966 was the suspected pro-marijuana tune “Along Comes Mary” by the Association.

Rock historian Richie Unterberger talked to Association singer Jim Yester about “Along Comes Mary” and its connection with Subud.

Said Yester: “There were thre or four of us that were involved with (the religious faith) Subud at that time,” says Yester. “Roger McGuinn was also in it, and Cyrus Faryar from the (Modern Folk Quartet). We convinced the record company that we were gonna take the five songs we recorded, and the elders of Subud did this thing called testing, where you would tell them the name of a song, and then they would kind of meditate and tell you yay or nay. We did that, and the two strongest reactions we got were from ‘Along Comes Mary’ and ‘Your Own Love.’ Actually, ‘Your Own Love’ got the strongest reaction from them. That song I wrote after I was in Subud for a while, that’s kind of where it was coming from, so for me, that’s why that reaction was (so positive). But that’s why those two songs were the first release. Then we went back to the record company and said, ‘Okay, these are the two.’ And they said, ‘Okay.’”

That was easy. Bapak and Subud say your record is a hit and the record company simply nods and says, "Right on!"

It is here that Red Dirt Report should note the incredible research of writer Dave McGowan and his online series “Inside the LC: The Strange But Mostly True Story of Laurel Canyon and the Birth of the Hippie Generation.” All the above mentioned groups – the Byrds, the Association, the Beach Boys, Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Mamas and the Papas, etc. – are all highlighted in the series and McGowan suggests that elements within the military and intelligence community – of which they were a part, he notes - made sure they were securely placed in Laurel Canyon in the 1960’s and 70’s in order to control the burgeoning anti-war movement.

But back to Subud and Bapak. He was linked to political events in his native Indonesia and other places as well, including Ceylon (modern-day Sri Lanka), when in 1959 the prime minister was assassinated by a Buddhist monk. This came right after the prome minister, Solomon Bandaranaike told Bapak to leave the island nation because “he was thought to be a threat to the state religion of Buddhism,” writes Madsen. After Bandaranaike’s assassination, it was suspected the CIA was behind the assassination. And Bapak? Being an anti-Communist, he was not disappointed with Bandaranaike’s demise, since that leader had wanted to oust Western influences from Ceylon. Similar events took place in Indonesia and when the brutal Suharto ousted Sukarno and the PKI, Bapak was again pleased, since the Communists were suspicious of Subud.

On New Year’s Day 1974, Bapak gave a talk titled “A Bank for Mankind” where Bapak lectures his followers on the need to establish “a world bank alongside and amid the world banks set up by other countries.”

Furthermore, in the book Subud the Coming New Age of Reality: The Most Complete Book on Subud by Simon Monbaron, he expounds on Bapak's desire for "a bank for all mankind." As Bapak says: "Ours will truly be a world bank, because it will be established by all the peoples of the world."

Bapak's calls for a global bank is similar to recent calls by the Vatican to establish a "global public authority" and a "central world bank."

Writes Madsen: “Ann Soetoro (Obama’s mother, aka Stanley Ann Dunham) maintained close connections with Subud and her own religious beliefs match those of the Subud to a tee. Janny Scott’s book, A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama's Mother, provide a unique insight into Ann’s religious beliefs, which tend more to Subud beliefs than her own Unitarian upbringing.”

Addressing her work in Indonesia involving micro-financing programs and banking services for women and the poor, Madsen suggests that Ann Soetoro worked with Subud sect members at the World Bank and Asian Development Bank. Subud members had ties to countries throughout southern Asia as well as in Africa and Latin America as well as Australia, New Zealand and even the United States.

In reading on Subud and Bapak's influence, it is clear that manipulative maneuvers were taking place, as is often the case when it comes to the CIA and religious movements. We saw that with World Vision and John Lennon's assassin, Mark David Chapman. We saw it with Jonestown and the massacre in Guyana in 1978. Christian missionaries in the Third World and even the Unification Church and the Moonies and their involvement in conservative politics and running The Washington Times, now edited by former Oklahoman editor Ed Kelley. Kelley oversaw the coverage of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995 and much criticism was sent Kelley's way for not having journalistic integrity or having his reporters uncover what really happened regarding the Oklahoma City bombing.

Again, as we see over and over again, cults, cover-ups and the CIA have been commonly connected in recent history and with the Subud angle, more people are taking a look at it.

What is particularly curious and something that so-called “birthers” have been baffled by is the 1968 US passport renewal application for then-7 year-old Barack “Barry” Obama. On it, next to the future president’s name is the name “Soebarkah.” I note this because as Madsen notes, Subud members change their names in accordance with their teachings.

This is further confirmed in the English language version of the August 2011 issue of the Subud Voice newsletter.

Talking about the aforementioned book about Ann Dunham Sutoro (yes, Sutoro, not Soetoro – did she change her name after a conversion to Subud?) the Subud Voice “staff reporter” writes that a reader had written to the reporter noting mentions of Subud in the book on Obama’s mother.

Notes the Subud Voice reporter: “I can’t help wondering if we will get inquiries about Subud since it is mentioned often in a book which probably will be widely read.”

And then, the Subud Voice reporter notes the reader, someone named “Arianne,” that “it is a delicious fact that our Subud sister, Ms. (Loretta) Fuddy, just was appointed to her post in the Health Dept. in Hawaii in time to be involved in the documentation of fact that Obama was born there.” (bold emphasis is ours)

Wayne Madsen notes Fuddy’s involvement as well in his article. He writes: “Although there are only some 10,000 Subud members in the world, Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, a friend of Ann Dunham at the University of Hawaii, appointed as the Hawaii Director of Health, sociologist and public health specialist Loretta Fuddy, a former chair of the Bellevue, Washington-based Subud USA from 2006 to 2008. In her position as Health Director, Fuddy has oversight over President Obama’s birth records, which have been the subject of intense controversy.”

Considering Subud’s suspected CIA connections, was a Subud member placed in that position in Hawaii in order to thwart attempts made by reporters and researchers to uncover the truth about Obama’s true origins?

Madsen asks if Bapak – the Subud founder who died in 1987, although his teachings are still followed – is “Barack’s spiritual guru?”

Perhaps. And considering Obama’s links to the CIA, via his family, and various foreign intrigues involving his mother and father and his mother’s parents, we need to know what, if any, role Subud plays in Obama's life and decision making as our nation's president.

Copyright 2011 West Marie Media

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from... read more

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