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School van Ooijen!

Posted: Fri Mar 18, 2005 6:59 pm
by erikdr
Hi Suzanne,

Good to see you here, and see some direct touches from people with close SvF experience. First one small thing: I've never used the alias to hide my real identity, only because my last name (De Ruijter) is not very easy to repeat everywhere especially in an English-speaking forum.

Now some main points on which we agree but also disagree.

The only thing I read here are rumours. Now I'd like to ask you all: did
any of you personally ask my father or aunt anything about the matters
discussed in this topic?

Rumours: well that depends. What you've read from me in the forum is nothing about your aunt but all about your father, and the role he played in the dictatorial cult hierarchy which was the SvF for a long time over here. (Having had an 8-year 'career' in the eighties, including long time in youth groups, gives me some basis to talk from.)

And as for the 'matters discussed', e.g. his breakup with the SvF: if I had the chance I'd ask him to state his own vision more clearly than he does on his website. What he states there looks QUITE a lot like 'massaged facts' to me and sometimes far worse, later in my post more about it.

Therefore I doubt that it has all been bad. On the contrary.

Again you didn't hear ME saying that. Tomorrow I'm also off to a reunion with some ex youth group fellows & families :bday:

If you're a real guy/woman, you discuss something with the people whom it concerns instead of discussing it on an Internet Messageboard anonymously.

Now we run into disagreement, I'm afraid. Before you deny me (and anyone else here) the right to criticise the behaviour of Paul and others in the hierarchy, please explain:
a. Why that same hierarchy, the ones on top the most, took the right to have opinions (prejudices?) and make far-reaching decisions on almost ALL students without EVER asking them their own opinion? (Or in case they asked for their wishes, usually doing 180' the opposite just 'because the wishes must have been the student's ego...).
b. How that hierarchy could act all in secrecy 'behind our backs' and now wants to deny us talking things slightly secretly about them without directly informing?
Sounds a bit like 'karma and counterkarma' to me, a popular SES/SvF terminology applied a bit differently than the (former) tutors would like...

After all he has never given any comment except for the correct
statements on his website.

Aahhh... you are a candidate to defend his 'massaged facts', I presume. Below a quote from his site summarising the breakup. (Sorry PaGaN, I remembered most of the site was in Dutch but I mistook. Must be that I'm working too much bilingually now...)

"After the passing away of his master and guiding light, Leon MacLaren, in 1994 Paul van Oyen became increasingly disenchanted with the ensuing turn of events in the School in Holland. In 1997 he resigned as leader of the School voor Filosofie. This enabled him to set out on his own and to take a complete new direction."

Well a few points here:
* According to my sources, and two of them were still in SvF in '97, Paul was forced to resign to avoid being kicked out. And it was definitely not only 'himself becoming disenchanted', it was at least as much the other way round; because Paul, using his less positive qualities, became too much of a dictator even towards the other board members and did not listen to ANY sound advice anymore.
* Spiritually spoken there is absolutely nothing new I can see about his direction after '97. Same Gurdjieff/Ouspensky, same Vedanta touches, same (sometimes well-qualified) comments on gnostics and enneagram. Of course the new organisation he started is much less formal and hence with less cultish risks than the SES, but further...

So if you have any facts and points to defend your fathers version of the truth, be my guest. Without that, I'm afraid my accusations still stand.

I am sure my father would be quite willing and happy to talk to all of

Well for a start he doesn't make that too easy. Having your own website but not even mentioning an address (neither Oxerhof nor Obrechtstraat) or phone or comment form, solely an e-mail which he might or might not read, is not really inviting.

But if people around (ex-) SvF here in the forum agree that we SHOULD send him an e-mail and invite to either the board or an IRL meeting, I'm happy to compose that mail. Myself I have no personal regrets or clashes with/about him. Just a general set of both bad and good memories about SvF, and as no tutor has EVER apologised for causing the bad ones and the whole system behind it I'm not that certain that Paul would be willing to discuss this openly with us. Especially because he still openly sympathises with Gurdjieff (and McLaren) in his website, and both are a root cause for the cultish mess which also was/is a dimension of SES/SvF...

PS Thanks for having YOUR own website which contains a lot more open and personal information that that of Paul!

Re: SvO!?

Posted: Sat Mar 19, 2005 11:16 pm
by Free Thinker
Hi Suzanne,

Welcome to the discussion! I have to start by asking you to edit your post where you quote me because the quote is not what I wrote. Perhaps you are using an internet translator?

This is what you quoted me to say:

Free Thinker wrote:Moreover, what you are insinuating on the basis of
your own so called experiences is not supported in any way by most of us
here, who were also involved in one of the school's children's schools,
or as a member in one of the adult schools. To many of us spirituality
is not just another word in the dictionary. I am sure that Mr
Goudsbloem would have explained to you the difference. Therefore, what
happened to us in the name of spirituality means something quite
different to us than it would to you. You may know the Van Oyen family
but if you've never been part of the school, then you only know
something by hearsay and haven't seen how they played a role in the

Below is what I actually posted, as you can see from looking at it above in the thread. I would never have written "so called experiences", and if I had, I would have hyphened it as "so-called". I also have never heard of someone named Goudsbloem. So please edit your post and make your quote of me correct. Thank you!

Free Thinker wrote:And lastly, you and your experiences are going to be a bit different from most of us here, who were either involved in one of the school's children's schools, or a member of one of the adult schools, and to many of us spirituality is not just another word in the dictionary. Therefore, what happened to us and how we were used in the name of spirituality means something quite different to us than it would to you. You may know the Van Oyens well but if you've never been part of the school, then you only know one side of them, and haven't seen how they play a role in the school."

Now, on to your post. Thanks for letting us know your background. It does make a big difference to know where people are coming from. You ask several questions and make several assertions. Since you see me as a more neutral member, I will endeavor to answer them. To start with, I think one of the reasons that I am more neutral, at least in my tone, is that I am American and grew up in the School of Practical Philosophy, which has no history of abusive children's schools and has been, in my experience, slightly more relaxed and heterogeneous than the European schools. Since I was not beaten or humiliated on top of having my emotional spirit changed and tampered with, I am coming from a different place, emotionally, than many members of this board, who had far worse experiences with the SES than I did. And as I posted in response to a recent thread, I don't see my experiences in the SoPP as totally negative but that what was negative affected me so much that I've had to work very hard to heal myself.

I believe these are your questions/statements. If I misquote or misunderstand you, please clarify or correct me.

1. In my opinion you do not have the 'right to speak' if you do not know exactly what you're talking about.

Although in some situations/matters I agree with this statement in general, you can't expect people who grew up in an organization as secretive as the SvP/SES to not talk about things we don't know exactly about, especially when it involves people who had control over us. It just isn't going to happen in any organization that is run like the SES/SvP is. If the organization were more clear, more open, more transparent, there would be WAY less rumors or gossip. Is it good to gossip? Probably not, and the school would definitely say not. However, the only way this type of talk will stop is for the school to become less secretive - which I don't see happening anytime in the future. You may disagree because it is your family that is involved in this particular talk but the theory still stands. I can imagine it is unpleasant to hear one's family talked about, no matter how much is true/untrue about what is being said. Please talk to us about what you disagree with and why you think some rumors may have been started. Only truth will solve this dilemma.

2. Therefore I doubt that it has all been bad. On the contrary.

As Erik responded, and as I and other members have responded, I don't know of anyone here who said that it was ALL bad. But the problem with defending an organization with that line of logic, is that almost no organization is all bad. The Aryan Youth Nation here in the US takes in poor teens and young adults as part of a family, like a gang, and makes them feel like they belong and helps their self esteem. However, they are a racist skinhead group that gets that self esteem by putting down (mentally, and physically) those who aren't white. So yes, it's not all bad, but does that make the whole organization good or worth it? No, it doesn't. So you have to look at the whole picture. My 19 years in the SoPP weren't all bad. On the contrary, I had many friends, and many good times and memories, and learned a lot about myself and my relationship to others. But the damage the school did to me was NOT worth any of those things and if I could do it over, I would have not been part of it. Which leads to another one of your points.

3. Every human being makes his own decisions. You're responsible for your own actions. If you're not comfortable in your current situation, you're the only one that can make a difference. You'll have to change it yourself. Therefore I'd like to ask you all: If it was all that bad, why did you stay?

In a free and just world, this might be true. But we don't live in a free and just world. Many human beings are forced to make decisions that are really decisions of others, or are not given a decision or choice at all. If you are not comfortable in your current sitution, you can only make a difference if you are given the power to change it. If you disagree, ask the millions of people in this world who are miserable in their current situation but have no choice about changing it. I assure you that the Nigerian tribes who live near Shell gasoline's pipelines would LOVE to be able to change their situation. But that is their home, they don't have another place to go, or want to leave, or have money to leave, and if they try to change the situation of being occupied by Shell, they are massacred.

Many of us either grew up in the SES or attended its schools. We did not have the power to change that. Our parents either made the decision for us and we grew up knowing no other way of life, or we protested and disagreed and our parents didn't listen to us. Again, no power to change. I myself, attended the SoPP's Ark Kindergarten, went to youth groups for years, and then attended the adult school (it was expected of me, and it was what I knew.) When I turned 19, I realized how unhappy I was there, and that I now had the power to choose to leave, which I did. Sure, I enjoyed many of my tutors and activities in youth group, and had many friends. But when it's been 8 years since I left, and I'm still dealing with the negative impact on my life the school had, the good memories do not make up for that. Furthermore, when I ask myself, "Why didn't I leave sooner when I knew before that I wasn't happy there?" Well, the answer is mostly that I had been trained for years to surpress my "ego", which sometimes meant my real ego, but oftentimes meant my personality, or more importantly, my needs. When you do this, you end up spending a lot of time doing things you don't want to do or in situations you don't want to be in and you've conditioned yourself to think that it's for your own good and will make you "light and happy" to blindly obey others (to quote one 10-year-old female student ofn the school's websites spoken of in another thread here.) Furthermore, I had been taught that it was hard work to discover the "Truth" (as I'm sure it is) and so if I was falling asleep during meetings, or didn't feel like going to class that night, I could be sure that I wasn't trying hard enough, or that my ego was getting the better of me.

4. Luckily Piet, PaGaN and Free Thinker tend to add some nuance to the
conversation and appear to be more balanced. Looking at the whole
discussion it is a shame that it appears nothing more than a "gossip

It seems clear that you haven't read the other threads on this board. I encourage you to do so - you'll find that there are other members whom you would probably label "nuanced"; and furthermore that there are many other issues being discussed here, such as how members are healing from being repeatedly physically abused by their "tutors" at school, or how gender issues were presented where we attended. As I mentioned before, many members of this forum have been severely abused and had NO power over what happened to them (and others were taught to keep silent about it, or any controversial topic like homosexuality or suicide) and obviously this is going to affect their posts. Please keep this in mind when you read (or respond to) others as they have every right to be outraged and enraged.

5. Because let's face it; if you're a real guy/woman, you discuss
something with the people whom it concerns instead of discussing it on
an Internet Messageboard anonymously.

This might be true if, for example, St. James was a public school with a school board and government members and oversight. However, it's not. And those in charge of it have spent years keeping secrets and teaching other children to keep secrets. And furthermore, most people high up in the various SES schools are conditioned to use what we in the US call "philosophy school speak". Even when I was high within the US school, I was subjected to those sorts of "talked" and answers when discussing important topics or when the school took issue with something really mundane (in the scope of things) such as the color of my hair. I wouldn't bother to ask any of the tutors now about things that trouble me, or issues I had, because I could almost write their responses for them, especially the responses that don't actually answer the question at all. Almost nothing more frustrating than being spoken to in that way, as if we were children who weren't old enough to understand the real answer yet. This is one of the aspects of the SES that really highlights it, for me, as a cult. I remember watching a TV show in America when a scientololgist had died, and the show host was asking the Scientologist PR person questions. Almost none of the answers given actually answered the questions at all. The PR person would just focus on an aspect of the question and lead the answer away from there. So you can't blame people here from wanting to talk to each other to try to solve questions or issues when the people directly involved won't answer them.

5. After all he has never given any comment except for the correct
statements on his website.

This is part of the problem.

That's all I have to say now, too. I do want to thank you for taking the time to write this and talk with us. It certainly adds to the discussion and goes towards making the school transparent. I take it you are not in the school anymore, given the way you write. Or if you are still a member, you certainly haven't been brainwashed in the way many others have. However, I believe that you have lead a rather sheltered life (as many of us did) and don't understand the big picture of how the schools operate and why these little matters are so important.

BTW - not all of us are so much older than you. I'm only 4 years older than you.

Thank you,
Free Thinker

p.s. Many of us are anonymous because of what happened to us in the past. I can only imagine that some people here still have fears of those who abused them. Although I am using a name that is obviously not my own, anyone who was in the same part of the school that I was during my time, could probably figure out who I am, or at least narrow me down to a handful of people. I am happy to reveal who I am in private message or e-mail form, but given the nature of the schools and the anonymous nature of other posters, I prefer not to have my name right on the board. I am also fairly new to talking about this with those that weren't in school with me. I'm sure that as I talk about it more, I will become more open.

Oyen continued

Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 3:54 pm
by erikdr
Just briefly:

a) Many thanks, Free Thinker from NYC. (Yes you're right, SPP was slightly more liberal than SES - and at times SvF also was. I only participated for 6 weeks in SPP classes, duties and retreats while being an expat in the eighties living in Upper East Side, but have mostly fond memories of it.)
b) Paul (Suzanne's father) himself, on the mediation of PaGan, wrote me a (Dutch) e-mail offering to come into contact.

Probably I only find time to send a personal answer from my own experiences later next week (busy busy, family and work...). But if anyone can suggest more stuff to ask him I'd be welcome to include it. My own condition: as not to force Paul to have his answers become public in the forum, please e-mail me with the questions you have for him and I'll send his reply directly back to you. For possible later contact between 'you' and Paul I don't need to be middleman, just for first time...

Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 6:48 pm
by Free Thinker
About this quoting thing: PaGaN has pointed out to me that according to the software, at some point what Suzanne quoted was posted on this board.

Let me clarify again that I did NOT write at ANY time what she quoted me to say, not would I have written something with that type of attitude.

This is not to say that I think Suzanne is altering my post on purpose, thinking that people wouldn't notice the difference.

Mike, if you read this before you get my message, can you look into this?


Posted: Sun Mar 20, 2005 11:13 pm
by mgormez
Free Thinker wrote:Mike, if you read this before you get my message, can you look into this?

I am here FT. Quoting works alright and this is not an IA program that creates text all by itself. You say you'd never use the language in the quoted text so I am at a loss.

Perhaps Suzanne had more windows open at the time and a cut and past went astray? In any case, you have stated your objection and perhaps Suzanne could adjust her quote of you by using the edit button.

Posted: Tue Mar 22, 2005 6:16 pm
by Zilvermaantje
Hello everybody

I wanted you all to know that I've changed my post on request...
I still do not know what went wrong. I swear I did not change a thing in my 'qoute' of somebody else. I just copied en pasted, Nothing else...

bye for now.


Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2005 11:29 am
by emmalu9
Hi Suzanne,

I just wanted to say to you that I empathise with the difficulty you must be experiencing in reading a discussion of your immediate and extended family. I know it is not a pleasant feeling, and one that happens too often in gossip-ridden institutions like the SES. I am just one year older than you, and have experienced an SES upbringing, as you have, although in England.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that you can certainly not take responsibility for anything that members of your family have or have not done. We have been around for a relatively short time compared to our parents. They had plenty of time to make their own mistakes, and it would be naive of us to think that they did not - after all, they are human, right? As much as the SES would like us to believe that perfection is attainable, we are all fallible - even (and especially) SES leaders.

Regarding my earlier posting about your aunt, the answer is no, I have not questioned her directly about these allegations, indeed I have not seen her since maclaren's memorial concert in London (I was 14). However, you will notice that the allegations in my post are recognised by someone who was in the Dutch School at the time. Also, I suppose you can ask your Mother about it since she herself added to these rumours. In addition, as I am sure you are aware, the philosophy schools rely on a degree of secrecy in order to maintain its image and to avoid uncomfortable questions from its membersl which means that rumours and gossip abound.

You are not alone in experiencing the nasty side of gossip, but try to remember its not aimed at you, you are not accused of anything, and have nothing to be ashamed of.