I have some questions

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
anon

I have some questions

Postby anon » Tue Mar 09, 2004 1:22 pm

First off great resource. Hope someone reading may be able to help me.

I have a friendwho has recently joined the SES's philosophy program. I know they are getting a lot of enjoyment, stimulation and personal satisfaction out of it. But I am concerned for a number of reasons and have some questions that maybe someons could help me with.

First off what I'm not worried about (although could be a concern for others)

a) my friendbeing mislead that this is a generic philosophy course.
They are reasonably well read in that area and know that this is more of a direct pitch of a single philosophy.

b) That the basis for the SES is a form or twist on some form of Hindu philosophies or systems.
Other than the fact that I don't share that belief system (irrelevant) I'm not concerned. In fact in their youth they were raised in that tradition, which, having lapsed, returning to is part of the appeal for them.

c) As yet I'm not seeing any, what I would term overtly worrying behaviour in this friend. They go to the classes, do a bit of meditation but that's it. I don't see any weakening of friend or family ties outside of SES or any other overt demeanor changes.

So far the SES seems to be (whilst an absolute anathema to me) benign in their case

I am worried about escalation. I'm somewhat familiar with some of the techniques of more unequivocally dubious organisations and SES seems to me to share some of them.

Specifically a gradual unfurling of message over successive courses, meetings, etc whilst being more than a touch nebulous about the actual destination. Coupled with the organisation gating progress to subsequent levels/progression within the organisation.

Often in the barriers to the next level start low in terms of money, time, effort, (degree to which one has to swallow "challenging concepts") and then escalate over time, by which partly from familiarity, partly previous acquiesence and powerful cognitive disonance the participants continue to hurdle.

I am specifically worried that "The Bite" is going to go on gradually as my friend "progresses". I am worried that if they recognise it there will be a painful come down and if they don't that they will be taken advantage of.

I'd appreciate any information on the SES process as a result.
Particularly on how the SES "gates its levels and the barriers it uses
and also any advice on what I could draw my friends attention to such that if it arose they may be better prepared to recognise it.

Thanks for reading

anon

mgormez
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Re: I have some questions

Postby mgormez » Wed Mar 24, 2004 12:30 pm

anon wrote:Often in the barriers to the next level start low in terms of money, time, effort, (degree to which one has to swallow "challenging concepts") and then escalate over time, by which partly from familiarity, partly previous acquiesence and powerful cognitive disonance the participants continue to hurdle.


I don't have a whole lot to say, but most cultic groups use a gradual release of inner beliefs. It is called the salami tactic - giving a slice at a time - just gradual enough so as not to cause a stir until the mark is well hooked.


I am most knowledgable of another group and although I don't like to mix the two, perhaps I can make a point.

This group, they recruit people with the promise of better communications skills, health and financial income -- whatever works to get a hook into them. They even allege to cure homosexuality for a price. Years later, and tens of thousands of US dollar poorer, the members on the "advanced" levels encounter the story of Xenu.

Xenu was supposed to have gathered up all the overpopulation in this sector of the galaxy, brought them to Earth and then exterminated them using hydrogen bombs. The souls of these murdered people are then supposed to infest the body of everyone. They are called "body thetans".

And now people have to exorcise these "body thetans" over many years' time and at a high price out of their body to attain happiness.

---

I am not making any of this up! These are the "sacred" beliefs of Scientology. And believe it or not, they have told a court they had 25000 people pay good money to learn that.



What you friend needs to do is set a couple of mental bear traps:

- If he ever catches SES lying or doing wrong things they noisily claim others are doing, he should leave.
- If SES goes against its promises, and, for example use procedures for its own gain and not his, then he should leave.
- If SES were to seek out and try to remove his mental bear traps, he must leave before they could try.

I am not saying they do, but there's no harm in having these or simular ones in place.
Mike Gormez

geert
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Re: I have some questions

Postby geert » Thu Mar 25, 2004 10:10 am

mgormez wrote:I don't have a whole lot to say, but most cultic groups use a gradual release of inner beliefs. It is called the salami tactic - giving a slice at a time - just gradual enough so as not to cause a stir until the mark is well hooked.


I am most knowledgable of another group and although I don't like to mix the two, perhaps I can make a point.

This group, they recruit people with the promise of better communications skills, health and financial income --
(snip)
---

I am not making any of this up! These are the "sacred" beliefs of Scientology. And believe it or not, they have told a court they had 25000 people pay good money to learn that.

Although the salami tactic does apply to the SES in some sense, the SES do by no means recruit. They do not promise any cures or something. Rather they offer a philosophy course which is at first very inspiring and they emphasize the student to be critic about what's offered, and see for themselves if the teaching offered is true. The method to verify the teaching in practise is by means of observations. Although observations are a means, they bias if conducted without any ways on how to interpret those observations.
Any observation can verify a 'truth', because you see what you see. Any concept that isnt in the mind cannot be seen by observation. A-priori knowledge is needed to observe. A blind man, who can suddenly use his eyes correctly, cannot see because he doesnt know how to interpret the information.

The salami tactic isnt so much a gradual progress into a weird thought system, it's rather the killing, or non-use, of the critical mind. Group speak (sanskrit words) and a hierarchic system (if a mentor says something, who am i to disagree), and supportive observations gradually draws students into a system.

I've heard the accompanion of Mr McLaren (translating the conversations in India) emphasize to the students that the advaita vedanta is a rationalistic teaching and challenge the students to "crack advaita" by all means. His advise wasnt put to practise because nobody knew how to crack and the audience already believed.

This applies to any believe or religion though.

What you friend needs to do is set a couple of mental bear traps:

- If he ever catches SES lying or doing wrong things they noisily claim others are doing, he should leave.
- If SES goes against its promises, and, for example use procedures for its own gain and not his, then he should leave.
- If SES were to seek out and try to remove his mental bear traps, he must leave before they could try.

I am not saying they do, but there's no harm in having these or simular ones in place.

I agree with those bear traps, although they may be fine-tuned to the SES.

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bella
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Postby bella » Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:36 am

The salami tactic isnt so much a gradual progress into a weird thought system, it's rather the killing, or non-use, of the critical mind. Group speak (sanskrit words) and a hierarchic system (if a mentor says something, who am i to disagree), and supportive observations gradually draws students into a system

Using sanskrit words that have no literal English translation is using group-speak? I thought it was trying to avoid applying generalised but inaccurate descriptions to concepts you were trying to express. "Neither accept nor reject anything you hear, but put it into practice and see if it works for you" is advised in relation to the teaching on the very first night you attend, and repeated pretty consistently thereafter.

After several years with the school, I still feel free to state "I don't believe that - it seems wrong to me because of...," and I do. I also give my reasons. Sometimes I change my mind, and sometimes I don't. It's not a hard thing to do once you get over the idea that it's hard.

I acknowledge there are people who never question after a certain point, but you can apply this to many "benign" societal structures that are taught - for example, capitalism, vegetarianism/carnivorous habits, or sex before marriage. People hear ideas, they process them, and they act accordingly. Vegans might say I was brainwashed by supermarkets and the beef industry to eat meat; marxists might say I was brainwashed by the capitalist system to appreciate free trade. I'm sorry, but saying that people should be sheltered from opinionated rhetoric or suggestion is like saying that people should live alone in a cave for the rest of their lives.

If a "mentor" or tutor says something, you are absolutely free to disagree, question, or to take it to another member of the school if you wish. I find it hard not to become irritated with people who fall lazily into the pattern of feeling they have to blindly accept, or leave the school. There are other options for rational beings, and try to remember that you may not have all the answers - critical thinking doesn't mean automatically disagreeing with everything you're presented with. Questions are encouraged, and certain things have been modified due to questions and discussion from people like you.
Last edited by bella on Wed Mar 31, 2004 2:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

mgormez
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Re: I have some questions

Postby mgormez » Thu Mar 25, 2004 12:08 pm

geert wrote:Although the salami tactic does apply to the SES in some sense, the SES do by no means recruit.


What do you call the posters in the London undeground? It seems SES has changed those London posters to be more open of what to expect, but Dialogue Ireland still reports:
Some of the SES advertisements (notably those on the London Underground for the introductory courses have been changed to make it clearer that later courses lead into a way of life which for most members includes meditation, and the content of each week?s lectures make it clear that a course in traditional Western philosophy is not be expected. The experience of people outside London is that the initial advertising does not make this clear.


geert wrote:They do not promise any cures or something. Rather they offer a philosophy course which is at first very inspiring and they emphasize the student to be critic about what's offered, and see for themselves if the teaching offered is true.


Would you say that for a SES student, the following applies? "what is true, is what is true for you" :x-mas:
Mike Gormez

geert
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Postby geert » Thu Mar 25, 2004 8:56 pm

mgormez wrote:
geert wrote:Although the salami tactic does apply to the SES in some sense, the SES do by no means recruit.


What do you call the posters in the London undeground? It seems SES has changed those London posters to be more open of what to expect, but Dialogue Ireland still reports:
(snip)

i saw those, and personally i dont see a difference between an advertisement of a catholic, muslim or rudolf steiner-course and a philosophy course the SES offer. It's a course...
However, if the SES intend otherwise than they claim in their ads then that's a kind of fraud, but not much different than microsoft claiming that they sell the best OS ever ;)

(snip)
Would you say that for a SES student, the following applies? "what is true, is what is true for you" :x-mas:

i'd like to go further than that: it applies to everyone ;)

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Postby mgormez » Thu Mar 25, 2004 11:52 pm

geert wrote:
mgormez wrote:What do you call the posters in the London undeground? It seems SES has changed those London posters to be more open of what to expect, but Dialogue Ireland still reports:
(snip)

i saw those, and personally i dont see a difference between an advertisement of a catholic, muslim or rudolf steiner-course and a philosophy course the SES offer. It's a course...
However, if the SES intend otherwise than they claim in their ads then that's a kind of fraud, but not much different than microsoft claiming that they sell the best OS ever ;)


Recruitment per se is not a bad thing. Companies recruit, and the other groups you mention, too. Where I have problem with is deceptive recruitment.

geert wrote:
mgormez wrote:Would you say that for a SES student, the following applies? "what is true, is what is true for you" :x-mas:

i'd like to go further than that: it applies to everyone ;)


I strongly disagree with the phrase "what is true, is what is true for you".

One can delude him/herself but that doesn't make it true. True is an absolute (a light is on or off) and not an interpretation, I'd say.

Or how about a schizophrenic who feels, smells, sees and has feelings of paranoia which are based solely on the brain's own makings and not on reality? Yet those feelings can be so real that some of the jump of roofs in sheer panic.


But here's the reason why I used the smiley. If you click the below link you'll find out immediately from where I took that phrase :-)

http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl= ... for+you%22.

or short http://tinyurl.com/2rx3u
Mike Gormez

geert
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Postby geert » Sat Mar 27, 2004 12:16 am

mgormez wrote:I strongly disagree with the phrase "what is true, is what is true for you".

One can delude him/herself but that doesn't make it true. True is an absolute (a light is on or off) and not an interpretation, I'd say.

Sounds reasonable.
Suppose truth is an absolute. Any experience, thought or feeling is personal or relative, which makes them not-true, or at least not fit for "truth". Science (except mathematics) doesnt claim truth because of that.
It's a matter of language too. In any statement concepts are linked together by means of words. For example "a cat has four legs". What do those words mean? Is it a statement or a definition?
The example you give (a light is on or of) is a definition, not a thesis.

Those considerations led me to view truth as relative: A statement is (logicaly) true given any axioms or assumptions. Those can be personal, hence a truth is personal.
That's how I meant what i said.

I must admit that I agree with hubbard in just this statement. But i dont agree with him (and anyone else claiming so) that observations are the way to verify any statement to be true.

Or how about a schizophrenic who feels, smells, sees and has feelings of paranoia which are based solely on the brain's own makings and not on reality? Yet those feelings can be so real that some of the jump of roofs in sheer panic.

The schizofrenic people i've met indeed claim that what they think, experience or feel is true. I'd rather say that it's "real" instead of "true".

Guest

Postby Guest » Sat Mar 27, 2004 1:19 am

bella wrote:If a "mentor" (I assume you mean "tutor") says something, you are absolutely free to disagree, or to take it to another member of the school if you wish. I'm growing increasingly irritated with people who fall lazily into the pattern of feeling they have to blindly accept, or leave the school. There are other options for rational beings, and try to remember that you may not have all the answers - critical thinking doesn't mean automatically disagreeing with everything you're presented with. Questions are encouraged, and certain things have been modified due to questions from people like you. Just FYI.


Hello Bella,
I would be interested to know which things have been changed. The freedom you describe was not available to me after I had been in the school a few years. We were taught absolute obedience to the master. The master being the leader of the school in our part of the world. We were expected to consult the master before every major decision of our lives, we had to ask permission to get married for example. We were told "If the master says black is white, then it is white." Disobedience brought stern and stinging reprimand. As I have said elsewhere, I was ordered to leave the "godless" Labour Party.
Of course I could have stayed in the school and still done as I liked, and stuff what the master says, and maybe I am to be pitied in my weakness that I was unable to do so. In those days it seemed to be a clear choice - obey or leave. I left, and there is still much that I miss, even after twenty years.

Peace
Michael

Meikl
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Postby Meikl » Sat Mar 27, 2004 1:25 am

meikl wrote:
Hello Bella,
I would be interested to know which things have been changed


Sorry, that was from me. I still haven`t got the hang of this message board"

Peace
Michael

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bella
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Postby bella » Sat Mar 27, 2004 5:45 am

Hi Meikl -

Thanks for your posts - I've enjoyed reading them, and I do concur with several points you raise.

Some areas of change that I am aware of are:

The introductory lecture, and the introductory 12 week course's clarity as regards what is offered down the track. Meditation is mentioned as an integral part of the school's operations, as well as mention of eastern religious figures and scripture as a basis for much of the course. I believe this change was implemented in response to students' concerns about what was left "unsaid" initially.

One of the Australian schools had quite a disciplinarian regime under one of the previous leaders, which led to many problems and loss of faith for students. Some of the antiquated practices and harsh "rules" that were a legacy of that leader were dissolved after his passing.

Tutors have been relieved of their tutoring duties, or cautioned privately, after genuine concerns were raised - and subsequent investigations made - about their fitness to the task by students in a position of significantly less responsibility.

I agree with you that the basic principles can be warped by individual personalities and desires within the school, and have said as much on these boards. I suppose this is why I don't have as much patience as I should have for those who feel unable to use their own reason or objectivity when assessing a situation. After all, it becomes apparent when you're acting in the interests of the truth or an objective value, and when you're acting out of laziness or a personal dislike. Personal dislikes are a reality, but shouldn't dictate whole systems of action, imo, and I think this applies to those in a position of responsibility just as much as it does to others.

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Postby Meikl » Sat Mar 27, 2004 1:25 pm

bella wrote:.
....Some areas of change that I am aware of are: ...


Ah, maybe the school has changed for the better, then. At any rate you appear to have retained a healthy respect for your own feelings and intelligence. Are you an exception, or is this a prevalent condition in SES these days? When I was a member it seemed impossible that anything could ever change it. It seemed an inflexible giant of stone, cold and deadly, dedicated to crushing all creativity and expressions of individuality, very much in contrast to the actual teachings which were often warm, satisfying and full of life. I doubt whether Mozart or Da Vinci would have stayed very long in such an atmosphere. I am glad to hear that there is now an openness for debate and creativity.
Maybe the school was just not right for my type of personality. Perhaps part of my way to freedom lies in divesting myself of an over-dependance on authority-figures. Now I come to think of it, maybe that`s what the school did for me, setting me off on the road to realising that it`s no use striving for spiritual enlightenment while I`m still being driven by unconscious clutter left over from my childhood. Striving for Truth on the one hand while weaving a sticky spider-web of lies for myself on the other.

You said -
"After all, it becomes apparent when you're acting in the interests of the truth or an objective value, and when you're acting out of laziness or a personal dislike."

That`s where I`ve got to watch it. I don`t believe I have ever acted in the interests of Truth or an objective value. It`s an alarm signal for me if I start believing or claiming that I am acting purely for the benefit of something objective - be that for a person or for a principle. If I look quickly and honestly enough, I always find a personal motivation, "something in it for me". Even standing on the barricades, molotov cocktail in hand, if I`m not trying to impress a woman then I`m trying to prove something to the father-in-my-head. It`s only when I admit to my ulterior motives that I have a chance of making a conscious decision - is this course of action really going to bring me what I want, or am I running after an illusion again?
It sounds like a very egocentric philosophy, but it enabled me for example to change my profession from a very lucrative job in a bank to one as a social-worker for less than a tenth of the income. I wasn`t driven by any noble christian principle like "helping my fellow man" or anything. It was clearly a decision to better my (inner) quality of life.The one job was turning me into a zombie, and the other has been a great help on the road to discovering myself. That`s self with a small "s", but I don`t believe that the one with the big "S" is attainable (if it is attainable at all) without a clear perception of the other.

Peace
Meikl

Antises

Postby Antises » Sat Mar 27, 2004 2:56 pm

I agree with a lot of what you say, Meikl. There are many in the SES and the day schools who feel, although understandably they would never air such a view in public, that being in the SES makes you a "good (or better) person" as it sets you on a path to seek an inner Truth for yourself. This thinking is abominable. I think that a philosophy - any philosophy at all - is NOT a prerequisite to lead a good life. It may help, but it is not a prerequisite. All you need is a conscience and common sense. Your life is governed by your decisions and actions: Man has the power of reason. At each event in your life, if you do what you know to be right and follow your conscience (this is more easily said than done), then your life, in my opinion, will be happy and a success.

"The shortest and surest way to live with honour in the world, is to be in reality what we would appear to be; and if we observe, we shall find, that all human virtues increase and strengthen themselves by the practice of them." [Socrates]

Meikl
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Postby Meikl » Sun Mar 28, 2004 12:27 am

Hello Antises,
thank you for replying to my post. I like your name, sounds a bit Greek. Is it a philosopher`s name?
I`m not sure I really understand what you said. I would need to know how you define one or two of the terms you use. What do you mean when you say a "good person" and a "good life"? "Conscience" and "common sense" are also a bit difficult for me.
I like the quote from Socrates. "To be in reality what I appear to be" is clear, and sounds to me like a good recipe for mental health.

Peace
Meikl

Misty

Postby Misty » Sun Mar 28, 2004 1:27 am

Antises wrote: Your life is governed by your decisions and actions: Man has the power of reason. At each event in your life, if you do what you know to be right and follow your conscience (this is more easily said than done), then your life, in my opinion, will be happy and a success.



ellooooo Antises :angel: ,

WHen many people look at Hitler they look upon him as a "sick and evil man"... however what people fail to realise is that he did everything according to his reasoning. What he did, he belived to be right. What he did was follow his conscience.

-Nither was his life totally successful, nor did it seem happy.

..


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