Leon MacLaren - The Pinstripe Guru

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.

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Re: Leon MacLaren - The Pinstripe Guru

Postby StVSurvivor » Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:41 am

And lifted from the same site: http://www.esatclear.ie/~dialogueireland/sp1.htm


The School of Economic Science, also known as the School of Philosophy, runs courses in philosophy and economics. The ads do not state that the philosophy in question is vedanta, and that what one is being invited to embrace is in reality not academic learning but initiation into a tightly-knit religious group and a form of meditation which uses the name of the Hindu god Ram as its mantra.
The School was founded in the 1930s by Andrew McLaren (1883 - 1975), a British left-wing politician. It was only when his son Leon (b. 1911) took control of the School in 1947 that its focus shifted from economics to philosophy and religion. Here, the earlier and still potent influences are the esoteric teachings of George Gurdjieff (1877 - 1949) and Pyotr Ouspensky (1878 - 1948). Equally significant however, are Leon McLaren's regular meetings in India since the early 1960s with the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath in the Himalayas, one of four official inheritors of the Vedantic teaching of Shankara. The School has followed the teaching of this guru's successor ever since. This Indian connection has an interesting background.

McLaren had worked closely with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 1960s and in fact at one time encouraged members of the School to be initiated into TM. It was the Maharishi who introduced McLaren' to the Shankaracharya - Swami Brahmananda Saraswati, who was the Maharishi's own guru. Although McLaren and the Maharishi fell out later in the 60s, an initiation ritual and meditation as practised by the School today remain remarkably similar to TM, the main subject of this chapter.

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Postby sescaped » Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:12 pm

Thanks for linking to the Pinstripe Guru site - found it fascinating and disturbing reading which brought back a lot of things for me. Makes me wonder are we who grew up in ses victims of our parents inability to cope with the modern world?

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Postby Alban » Tue Dec 14, 2004 11:52 pm

Yes indeed, that is a very acurate description of the SES, although it appears that since Big Mac died things have calmed down a tad.

I would say that it is an essential read for any of those current or prospective parents who weren't aware of the SES and it's links with St James.

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Postby Goblinboy » Wed Dec 15, 2004 12:25 am

sescaped wrote:Makes me wonder are we who grew up in ses victims of our parents inability to cope with the modern world?

Are you a victim of your parents' inadequacies? Depends - you can take the misanthropic view (in the often quoted words of Phillip Larkin):

They f*** you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were f***ed up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another's throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don't have any kids yourself.

Larkin's words often came to mind when reading the postings by children with SES parents on these boards.

A bleak view from the man who refused the Poet Laureatship (now there's a silly job). And I don't subscribe to it on the whole (I'm a parent), but the whole "sins of the fathers will be visited upon their children" business appears to have some validity, according to child welfare practitioners that I have worked with.

A lot of the SES / School of Philosophy people I encountered in the 1980s and 90s seemed to harbour an innate desire for afflilation, for belonging, for protection by the School, and found its willingness to give an apparently infallible opinion on almost any subject a great source of comfort, regardless of the costs - tangible and intangible, to themselves and to those in their care. Those of a more questioning nature and independent spirit seemed to drop out as the SES doctrines were gradually revealed.

It seems fair to say that quite a few children of heavily committed SES people had an unpleasant life in the 1970s and 1980s. There's not much to be gained by investing all of one's energy in blaming others for one's misfortunes (a Larkinish approach), but good can often come from seeking a better understanding of what led to the unfortunate circumstances occurring, and reconciling with the past where possible.

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Postby Scotsman » Fri Dec 17, 2004 8:36 pm

The two links above are excellent, and a very well observed description of how things used to be in SES. I say "used to be" because I left SES about 9 years ago, and meeting up recently with someone who used to attend the same group in SES, he assured me that things had changed a lot. Certainly the present leader, Donald Lambie, is a lot different to Leon MacLaren, and there were considerable changes during the 20 years or so I attended SES, so there is no reason to doubt that changes will have continued. How superficial or deep they may be, I have no idea.

I remember Miss Crammond, although she was never my tutor. Attending SES made one feel one was part of a rather exclusive genteel sort of club, whose members all adhered to certain standards. It was very easy to feel slightly superior, as though one had access to knowledge as a member of SES that other people, who were not members, did not have access to. And being a hierarchical organisation, you accepted that your tutor knew more than you did, and that the Head of Level knew even more. You were always expected to attend group meetings and "residentials" no matter what.

I found it useful to attend SES because I wanted to understand and explain the wider world we live in, and the teachings of Advaita Vedanta certainly helped. There came a point when SES seemed to get in the way rather than help in that goal, so I left.


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