SES then and now - what has changed?

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
Shout
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Drinks are on me.

Postby Shout » Sat Jul 02, 2005 3:11 pm

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Last edited by Shout on Wed Nov 22, 2006 7:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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bella
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Postby bella » Sat Jul 02, 2005 3:45 pm

Or, Eric, you could get what I've gotten:

Partner with no interest whatsoever in SOP, and thinks people with metaphysical beliefs have been denied something else in their lives, but thinks his wife's doing something that makes her happy -

No intervention (attempted, verbal or otherwise) whatsoever on the part of the school. His attitude isn't a secret, either. On the couple of occasions where I've said that I'd rather not spend 2 days on sanskrit residential so soon after a measure residential because of family commitments, I've been advised that in their opinion, I shouldn't do the residential. Is the condemnation still coming? Should I be waiting? I know you posited your examples as extremes, but you also kinda presented them as options. I'm just giving another one. I think, reading this board, I have a lot of advantages attending a younger school rather than an older one. Tradition is adopted as valuable, rather than being accepted as inevitable, for example.

It might be worth mentioning in view of some other posts here - notably one that stated that members after term 9 would never marry non-members - that I married my husband after I'd been 5 years in the SOP. I knew he was a vigilant atheist and militant critical thinker when I married him, so I guess I'm just a shit-stirrer. :)

daska
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Postby daska » Sat Jul 02, 2005 9:23 pm

Bella

You come across as a very strong person, able to express yourself clearly and stand by your own judgements. Could this be a contributory reason to your not being subjected to the bullying tactics so common here. Because my experience is that very often it's the tone adopted by the member that determines the reply from the tutor. i.e. make it clear it isn't negotiable and they are more likely to back down. Certainly with my father he tends to ask whether it might possibly be possible for someone to possibly consider whether it might be possible for him not to do <whatever> and the response is that he ought to make every effort to do his duty. my mum on the other hand says 'I won't be doing this because...' and uses far more assertive body language. From your posts I'd put you in the same category as my mum...

??

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Sat Jul 02, 2005 11:51 pm

Heh daska,

And they did teach us all to be polite to our elders and betters didn't they......possibly. :o)

daska
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Postby daska » Sun Jul 03, 2005 8:52 am

yes Keir they did...

hasn't stuck though, if anything it's the opposite, I'm very rude to lots of people! And sometimes it's even deliberate!

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bella
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Postby bella » Sun Jul 03, 2005 1:48 pm

Well, then you're obviously going straight to hell.

I don't know, daska, but I tend to agree with you that the tone of the student will influence the response in a lot of cases. If I've made up my mind about something, I will present it like that (no point doing otherwise) - I'd assume that if you gave the indication you were wavering, or genuinely needed guidance on the matter, your tutor is necessarily going to go with the party line as it applies to your circumstances. I do have a strong personality in some regards, for better or worse, and I do know that I've not been subject to any bullying or overt manipulation from those in authority. I haven't really seen anyone here who has, though, so I don't know that it's a causal connection.

I'm thinking of people in the school who go to their tutors for direction on issues because they feel that's what they "should" do, and it's what has been suggested they do if they're unsure about some area of their lives - I also think some want their own opinions validated by someone in authority in the school, and it's a problem when they don't get this validation. I see people asking for this advice, getting advice, and being resentful about the advice that was given. I don't understand why they keep asking.

daska
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Postby daska » Sun Jul 03, 2005 9:50 pm

hell?

that's odd, the other day my mate said I was an angel and ought to get to heaven in this lifetime...

but then she might not really be my friend and it might have been a threat...!

paranoia alert...!

nah, seriously, sometimes people deserve rudeness. usually when they've been unconscionably rude first of course. I've been plenty rude about Boddy for a start but can you argue he doesn't deserve it based on his recent behaviour? and I would argue that in context it isn't rude to point out (quite bluntly when appropriate) if people's behaviour is inappropriate.

might have to spend some time in purgatory for enjoying it I guess. wonder if it's anything like bunyan describes it?

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Mon Jul 04, 2005 1:16 pm

Bella, whilst you may have had the good fortune to have a strong mind and therefore not need to ask advice of someone who is in most cases remarkably unqualified to answer anyway, I would remind you that as children in the SES, who had been through a schooling that particularly for the girls subdued the natural confidence and certainty, it was a natural enough thing to ask advice of someone who was set up as a caring guardian.

I know of one girl who on the basis that it went no further asked her female tutor for advice about an unwanted pregnancy. Her tutor felt unable to give her advice so ignoring the girl's specific instruction went straight to her male tutor, a senior member, who then came to the girl's home and insisted that she keep the baby and start again at part one. The other option was of course to leave. After deciding that she couldn't raise the baby she agreed to leave, asking that the whole business remained private.

A short time later it was reported to her by one of her friends that a different senior ses member had brought it up as an example to his youth group, revealing her identity in the process.

As I have said in a number of posts in other threads, it is a totally different proposition for an adult to join wilingly and in full possession of the facts, than it is for a child to end up in it when their parents & friends are there and 'protected' from the truth.

Maybe I am reading it out of context but your apparent attitude to people who ask a tutor for advice seems to lack compassion for their lesser confidence. In my own experience of both St James and SES the lack of compassion was a side effect of the distorted way the organisation puts the teaching into practice, and led to a lot of bullying and a culture of emotional supression.

HoHumBug
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The vanity of being 'in the know'

Postby HoHumBug » Mon Jul 04, 2005 4:07 pm

Keir in the above post reports:
insisted that she keep the baby and start again at part one. The other option was of course to leave. After deciding that she couldn't raise the baby she agreed to leave, asking that the whole business remained private. A short time later it was reported to her by one of her friends that a different senior ses member had brought it up as an example to his youth group, revealing her identity in the process.


Keir has, in reporting this distressing and despicable breach of confidence, encapsulated one of the most insidious aspects of the SES: the vanity of 'being in the know' and relating it to others in the SES (preferably in public fora) as a demonstration of ?one?s? (sic) importance in the hierarchy. The suggestion that an unwanted pregnancy was a valid reason to 'start again' in part 1 says everything about the pathetic hierachical notions embedded in SES thinking and the arbitrary assessments of 'progress' towards liberation through attendance at the schools.

As I posted in the ?SES schools worldwide? string on 23 June:

The SES management culture is one where everybody is expected, in the name of ?truth? to disclose, on an upward only basis, to more ?senior? students personal information about a particular person (which may have been obtained in any form of public or private meeting, in a seminar, in a tutorial, in a one-to-one meditation ?check? or anywhere else) in order to help the student ?develop?. High level controllers such as Boddy, Sinclair and Lambie can get information from almost anyone about almost anyone including present governors of St James ( Boddy?s new ?employers?!). Since knowledge is power, they can control accordingly.


Sadly these practices are not merely condoned but actively encouraged in the name of The Truth. However the ?upward only? principle means awkward or personal material referring to senior SES bods is not supposed to filter down to the masses (which is why this ghastly web site is such a pain in the butt). Who knows what will be posted next?

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bella
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Postby bella » Tue Jul 05, 2005 3:59 am

Keir, point taken, but I feel I should say that my apparent lack of compassion was not for the people who lack confidence or a sense of direction, and ask for advice on that basis. What you (correctly) read as a bit of a criticism was for people who are as sure of their direction as they can be, nevertheless ask for advice for the sake of appearances or habit, and then either refuse to go along with it, or complain about the advice to others while going along with it in a sort of martyred way. I recognise things are different if you grew up in an SES household and/or attended an SES school as a child (and the story you relate is quite a violation of that instilled trust), but for the vast majority of people at the adult school here, this isn't the case. Once again, I was unclear - when I said "I'm thinking of people in the school", I should have said "I'm thinking of people in my school".

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Keir
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Postby Keir » Sat Jul 09, 2005 3:33 am

Hi Bella, thanks for the clarification, but there is something that still bothers me about your example somehow. It could of course be my misreading of it, but here goes anyway.

Has it occurred to you that maybe the people that you assume have no doubt about the direction they have been given, are genuinely conflicted about following it. I do recognise the stereotypes of the 'burning martyr' as well as the 'showboating skeptic', and I do not know the people as you do.

The thing that I am not entirely comfortable with is that in my experience of the London SES there was a snide and elitist attitude displayed by a number of tutors and students that looked down on difficulty digesting any part of the teaching or the direction of a tutor.

Often when you are a naturally cautious self-examining type (or have been made that way by being teased or ridiculed in the past), the way in which material is often presented as de facto truth, coupled with the refusal of many tutors to really debate anything given as THE TRUTH, and the 'huffs' and vocal impatience of fellow group members can leave no room or inclination to get a satisfactory answer from the tutor for fear of seeming dense or being ridiculed.

Also, some of the more challenging concepts that were somewhat hurriedly rushed through without much time given to formulate a response to, made it seem that the concepts were unopposed - further endowing the myth that they were self evident and therefore silenced all critical debate. I am not sure if you recognise this behaviour in your school but it was a favourite trick of tutors in the London school and increased in frequency the further up the school you got.

At the beginning I did have questions, but after the obfuscation and ridicule at the hands of some tutors I quickly learned that it was of no use to ask them. So it was that quite breathtakingly challenging statements were presented as truth, and left me pondering my responses usually until the tea break and sometimes beyond, at which point no debate was possible or considered. Given this refusal to admit that there might be real problems with what was being peddled, and the rebuke and ridicule of anyone who tried to resolve problems within group, might complaining not be their only safe way of expressing a particular discontent without being faced with a choice to abandon the school altogether? Inter-student criticism can stifle genuine heartfelt enquiry by those of a less than confident disposition.

If the sort of questions that are being asked on this BB now had been raised and dealt with then, I wonder if the London school would have gone on so long thinking that it was unquestionably right in all things.

True, adult members have a responsibility to themselves to challenge what they feel is wrong, but when the majority of people come to the SES because they are seeking something better than what they have managed to create in their own life, they are usually short on confidence and ripe to be discouraged by an organisation that exudes the confidence of the powerful.

Surely the way to unity is not for the powerful to look down on and belittle those of less certainty than themselves, but to help them along knowing that they are the same as you. Advaita itself shouldnt produce the lack of compassion that I see evident in so many posts from people supportive of the SES, at least not what I understand of it.

Maybe my experiences have made this issue a bit of a red flag issue for me, but I believe that it is worth raising a question mark over.

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bella
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Postby bella » Sat Jul 09, 2005 10:52 am

Hi Keir,

Has it occurred to you that maybe the people that you assume have no doubt about the direction they have been given, are genuinely conflicted about following it.


My comment about people being "as sure of their direction as they can be" was referring to people's own personal direction or opinion, not the "direction" or instruction given to them by their tutor or other school figure. I was sort of replying to daska's suggestion that an assertive demeanor might influence the response one gets to a question. Basically, I was speaking of knowing what you're going to do before you even ask the question of someone else. A pretty minor point, really.

We might have been talking to cross-purposes on that issue, but sure, I do recognise some of the behaviours you spoke of in your last post. I agree that the stance of "neither accept nor reject" seems to fade into the background quite a bit as time goes by, but one thing I have noticed in my own groups is that the "huffs" you mentioned from fellow group members have become much fewer and further between.

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a different guest
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Postby a different guest » Sat Jul 09, 2005 11:46 am

if "accept or reject" is fading does that mean people are just merely "accepting"? And surely "accept or reject" by default, means that people DO "accept"???? If you continually "rejected" why would you continue with the classes?

and just Bella to get you back to the original question - what of the following is STILL taught/expected in the school? (at least your experience in Brissy)

Babies - to be weaned by 4 or 6 weeks from the breast. Not put on formula but to drink unpasturised cows milk.

Health - medical science is "evil". Sickness and ill health is caused by being spiritually wrong (or something like that).

Diet - eat only 4 diff foods at a meal (all uncooked).

Sleep - only 5 hours per night for adults. 8 for children.

Emotions - to be suppressed. Children are not allowed to cry.

Personality - to be eliminated.

Clothes - only natural fibres to be worn. Women must wear long skirts. Men to wear suits.

Women - must obey men. The house is to be cleaned daily. Modern appliances and cleaning products are to be eschewed. Although inferior to men, they also have a subtle and mysterious superiority without which men could not function - so women must provided "good substance" for men.

Sex - should only have it off to have babies.

Other people - not in the SES. They are the outer darkness and should be avoided.

Incompetance - by putting a person in charge of an area which they have no expertise in they can learn about their quirks and failings.

Humouring - practied by seniors where they are grilled on their personailty etc. by a more senior member.

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bella
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Postby bella » Sun Jul 10, 2005 9:21 am

if "accept or reject" is fading does that mean people are just merely "accepting"?


Ideally, it means people don't have to be explicitly told to rely on their inner sense of what rings true for them, after having tried it out in the past. There's an element of faith in it, but I don't really see faith as the passive thing it's often supposed to be. If I've tried 9 things on the advice of the school, and they seemed reasonable, "worked", and rang true for me, I'm probably going to try the 10th thing, too. I might even be prepared to try it for 50 years. What I'm considering is what's presented in the material, not how other people around me interpret it or carry it out. This is probably the part where I think I'm exercising a more subtle aspect of reason than I have been, and some others think I've been indoctrinated.

And surely "accept or reject" by default, means that people DO "accept"???? If you continually "rejected" why would you continue with the classes?


Some people have questioned (and still do question) certain aspects but continue with the school because the majority of the material seems sound to them. Some others got to a certain point where what they were asked to consider seemed so wrong or ridiculous that they didn't want to continue - it was a deal-breaker. Some deal-breakers end up being things that were accepted earlier on, and some things that looked like being deal-breakers earlier on are seen in a different way later. If you continually rejected, though, you're right - I don't see why you'd hang around - my husband didn't (he attended the first term). His active criticism and questioning weren't dismissed, though, and he wasn't made to feel humoured. I have no idea if he was actually dismissed or inwardly humoured by the tutor.

and just Bella to get you back to the original question - what of the following is STILL taught/expected in the school? (at least your experience in Brissy):

Babies - to be weaned by 4 or 6 weeks from the breast. Not put on formula but to drink unpasturised cows milk.


Nope. My experience is that whatever the parents decide to do is fine. Mothers breastfeed at the school, mothers give their kids formula at the school. I haven't witnessed or heard about anyone being told how to feed their child, but if I had to pick a "side" that is subtly supported, it'd be breastfeeding - no length of time specified though, IME.

Health - medical science is "evil". Sickness and ill health is caused by being spiritually wrong (or something like that).


From what I've gathered, the link between mental and physical health is supposed to be quite strong in the case of certain illnesses and ailments. Natural medicine is said to have a place in certain treatments, or rather it's suggested that you try it and see, but medical science as a whole isn't dismissed or rejected. We keep aspirin for headaches as well as homeopathic remedies, and people who need the attention of a medical professional aren't told that they're wrong for using one, IME. But yeah, it is definitely suggested that some physical ailments can be better "fixed" by looking at underlying mental causes rather than purely physical ones.

Diet - eat only 4 diff foods at a meal (all uncooked).


Never heard this. The majority of food served on a residential is raw fruit and veges, with bread, cooked rice, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, yoghurt, cream, and daal for people who say they want or need a hot cooked meal other than plain rice. Depending on the residential, breakfast is either available to people who request it, or available to everyone as a sit-down meal. Breakfast is toast, vegemite, peanut butter, honey, cereal, yoghurt, fruit, etc.

Sleep - only 5 hours per night for adults. 8 for children.


This one's fairly close to the mark, IME. It's recommended that adults get between 4 and 6 hours, with kids getting more (don't recall a specific time being given for children). The number of hours seems to be secondary to the recommendation that you get up when you wake up, though. If you sleep for 8 hours without waking up naturally, the idea is that you probably needed to. If you wake up naturally after 5 hours and go back to sleep for another 3, the idea is that you may not have needed the extra 3.

Emotions - to be suppressed. Children are not allowed to cry.

No experience of either of these. People cry in group without censure or being told to put a lid on it, and I haven't heard anything about kids not being supposed to cry.

Personality - to be eliminated.


Personality is spoken of as being pointless to try to eliminate, actually. What I've heard is that you work with your personality (the particular gifts you have or impediments you have or whatever) towards the end goal of unity, using what you've been given. An example that's often given is the current Shankaracharya and the previous one - quite different personalities, which weren't diminished or homogenised as they went along. The idea is that you stop identifying with your personality as being all that you are.

Clothes - only natural fibres to be worn. Women must wear long skirts. Men to wear suits.


Never heard the natural fibres thing, but yes - after a certain point, women are asked to wear long skirts and men are asked to wear suits. This is said to be an outward sign of respect for the material, and "dressing up" is supposed to engender a sense of occasion for going to group. Long skirts are supposed to be more feminine, more modest, and less distracting for both the men, and the women wearing them.

Women - must obey men. The house is to be cleaned daily. Modern appliances and cleaning products are to be eschewed. Although inferior to men, they also have a subtle and mysterious superiority without which men could not function - so women must provided "good substance" for men.


Yup, women obeying men (specifically their father or husband) is suggested as the ideal. The father or husband is said to embody the Absolute, so the wife is to assume she is obeying the will of the Absolute. The woman is said to embody nature, or the universe. This is probably the "subtle and mysterious quality" referred to, and the wife is (generally speaking) supposed to provide the "heart" in the relationship while the husband (generally speaking) provides the reason. In reality, a large part of some group nights is spent talking about how far this can be managed in actuality, and at what level. I haven't witnessed or personally heard about any woman being ostracised or made to feel inadequate for not managing the ideal, though.

Sex - should only have it off to have babies.


Hmm, don't think so. There are couples too old or unable to have children who have active sex lives, for example. What I have gathered is that the sex act should be undertaken by married couples in recognition of the spiritual aspect of their physical union, rather than just "getting off".

Other people - not in the SES. They are the outer darkness and should be avoided.


Nope. Really not much to add here, except that it's suggested that people don't knowingly put themselves in immoral situations.

Incompetance - by putting a person in charge of an area which they have no expertise in they can learn about their quirks and failings.


I haven't seen anyone get put in charge of something and fail spectacularly. The finance committee has training from more capable people; likewise the library; the current caterer/housekeeper is a professional events organiser, and the people put in charge of tea teams, flower teams, tutoring groups, etc. are all people who've apparently learned to take instruction before they're asked to give it. You don't need much specific experience to organise a tea team. It is suggested, though, that anxiety about not being competent is often unfounded, and that you need to try it before you decide you can't do it. So maybe that's where the incompetence part comes in.

Humouring - practied by seniors where they are grilled on their personailty etc. by a more senior member.


Not sure what you mean here, but if you mean giving the answer you think the tutor/more senior member wants to hear (the "book answer"), regardless of whether you believe it, then yeah - it happens. I'd probably be more suprised if it didn't...people like to be "right". If the tutor is on the ball though, they'll hopefully recognise this and ask the other student to speak from personal experience. Sometimes they don't recognise it, or acknowledge recognising it anyway.

daska
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Postby daska » Sun Jul 10, 2005 7:46 pm

Is it possible for a non-SES man embody the Absolute?

I have big issues with this 'man being reason' and 'woman being emotion' hoohah. For a start I was married to a man who couldn't follow a reasoned argument and pandered entirely to his emotions. But take it to the extreme, if the woman has to obey the will of the Absolute without question what happens when the Absolute tells her to jump out of a window?


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