Jeremi Wasiutyński, early Subud member

Every Subud group has its history and is formed by it. Subud Oslo was established in 1958, and the majority of the members were university students. How did this happen? The present article about the Polish-Norwegian scholar Jeremi Wasiutyński is written by Knut Egil Steffens, himself the first among the pioneers that established Subud in Norway.

Dr. of astrophysics Jeremi Wasiutyński died in April 2005, 97 years old. Polish by birth, he received a literature prize for his biography of Kopernicus (in Polish). He also wrote two popular philosophic commentary books in Norwegian, in the same genre as some of the works of J.G. Bennett, whom he met at Coombe Springs. Wasiutyński's main works are Creation (1996) and The Speech of God (2002).

K.E. Steffens' article

In the present article (in Norwegian, page 1) Knut Egil Steffens tells that he read some of Wasiutyński's books, among them Geniet og det overnaturlige («The Genius and the Supernatural») at the age of 15. At a Gurdjieff seminar at Coombe Springs in 1956 he learned that Wasiutyński had attended one of J.G. Bennett's seminars earlier. The first time Steffens actually met Wasiutyński was at a meeting held by the Norwegian Psychologists' Association, where Wasiutyński gave a talk. Steffens asked a question, and Wasiutyński contacted him after the session. It appeared that he was not too impressed by J.G. Bennett's theories (which were later to be presented in The dramatic Universe): «I regard my own enterpretation of reality to be more correct than Bennett's». Nevertheless, he joined the interim committee that prepared for Bennett's visit to Oslo in 1958 and the establishment of Subud in Norway.

Wasiutyński was well known in intellectual circles in Oslo, which certainly meant more to the development of Subud than any of us realised at that time. Among the people listening to Bapak's tales in Oslo in 1959 there were two psychiatrists and a well known psychologist who had been a pupil of dr. Reich's. [...], Amund Hønningstad, was also present. He was a journalist and teacher who led a popular debate forum that engaged many people with «alternative» interests.

Wasiutyński was an active Subud member during the first years, but in 1965 he wrote an article in the paper Morgenbladet where he stated that he was convinced about the authenticity of Pak Subuh's experience and the latihan, but he was sceptical about Bapak's interpretation of the phenomenon, which was strongly coloured by Javanese religious beliefs. He concluded that he had the greatest respect for Pak Subuh and the exercise [the latihan], but he could not be a member of an organisation that was to this degree dependent on a spiritual leader. This triggered an answer from Knut Egil Steffens, who pointed out that much of the interpretation was common esoteric knowledge, and that the members had experienced much of this for themselves.

For a while Wasiutyński practised transcendental meditation with a group that originated from the Maharishi movement. Steffens kept up the contact, and so did a few other Subud members who consulted Wasiutyński about dreams, which he explained in the Jung tradition.

In 1988, Wasiutyński visited the Oslo group and took part in the latiham. He told that he had occasionally practised the latihan through all these years, and now he was curious to know how Bapak's death had influenced Subud. Would we become freer and more independent, or would Bapak's theories grow into dogmatic beliefs?

Steffens characterises Wasiutyński as a very self-confident person. He was the great explainer, not very interested in the exchange of ideas. Steffens tells that when he understood this, he started asking questions, and in this way the relationship was stabilised. Wasiutyński on his side found in Steffens an interesting conversation partner.

Rikard Seeberg Andresen (ed.)

BulletiNor - Subud news from Norway - no 4 2005