The SOP / SES states exhorts its students to study the lives of notable people (see the preamble to the study guide for primary school children at http://www.johncolet.nsw.edu.au/texts.html). MacLaren seems worth examination, if for no other reason than to gain a better understanding of the SOP / SES and its take on truth.
Peter Washington’s book Madam Blavatsky’s Baboon characterises him as a self-styled master in the Theosophical sense, who included himself in the select SES “inner circle of mankind”, which includes familiar figures such as Christ and Krishna, and one or two less recognised figures such as MacLaren himself.
I can only share glimpses from a time when I was close to a member of the SOP. I recall a visit by MacLaren to a resort where an SOP residential was taking place, very late in his life. A substantial property was leased for his accommodation. It was stripped of its furnishings, and scoured clean. The furniture was then replaced with “fine” items of furniture and other domestic comforts. A hunched old man was fleetingly sighted. There was a palpable sense of awe from the Residential participants.
He apparently smoked a great deal, and enjoyed red wine – not sure what part these habits played in the pursuit of truth, but they were very popular practices among SOP members when I encountered them. Rooms filled with smoke and good wine – the former seemingly intent on destroying the enjoyment of the latter.
My SOP friends told me that his death was accompanied by earthquakes and other remarkable natural phenomena. However, I can’t find any out of the ordinary seismic activity records to support this.
He was named after Leonardo Da Vinci – a curious choice, given that the original Leonardo never called himself “Da Vinci”. Like Leonardo, he doesn’t appear to have married or had relationships with women, but whether he shared his namesake’s homosexuality is not apparent.
His view of women was unusual, to say the least. An excerpt from Hounam and Hogg's Secret Cult:
http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Lobby/9169/SES/secret01.html ''All women feel guilty,' (MacLaren) said. With much trepidation I ventured to argue. 'I don't understand,' I said. 'I don't feel guilty.' Oh yes you do,' he assured me. 'You just don't realize it yet because you're too young. All women feel guilty because of Eve's sin in taking the apple. And so they should. All women are guilty, and the only true aim of their lives must be to purge that guilt.
What had caused him to form such a judgement?
His view of children and how to educate them is similarly alarming, if the experiences recounted by the ex-pupils of St Vedast on this site are in any way accurate.
Interested to hear other views.