How many people still read this Forum?

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
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Free Thinker
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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby Free Thinker » Fri Mar 06, 2009 7:30 am

Thanks for posting all of that, troubleshtr. I'll come back tomorrow and type a more detailed reply.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby petert » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:14 pm

I have been with the SES for about 30 years with two breaks of a few years each. There are remarkable individuals within SES - some of whom I have found very inspiring over the years. Although I have been with the school for a considerable time I have not risen to any position of authority within the school so my views can only be taken as that - "my views".

Long skirts - yes a bit odd but rules are slackening

Yes volunteer help is at the core of the organisation and this can be a key way to challenge the ego.

St James - yes worrying stories and concerns about the way problems were dealt with - but some time ago

Yes a lot of Vedic philosophy - the root of many religions not exclusively Hindu
Mainly sourced from HH Shanatand Saraswati and if you want to know the core of this teaching there is a book of conversations with HH called “Good Company” which gives an excellent approachable overview.

Yes quotes from many sources - often the bible

Misleading publicity - yes - I went expecting something else but found something even more valuable - maybe the spiritual core of the teaching does need to be more up front as does meditation

It was quite secretive 30 years ago but not much now

Are concerns about the organisation SES or its teaching ? There are other organisations that expound Vedic philosophy – the Vedanta Society, Brahma Kumaris and TM. I guess it must be the organisation that people have concerns about and not the teaching itself?

We are free to leave whenever we want but it would be considered polite to explain why to one’s tutor.

As for world dominance, after 30 years I am still struggling with the control of the negative part of my own ego.

Yes the ultimate aim is the elusive “full realisation” though any thought I have about this is just a barrier to progress. What does it mean – I don’t know but I believe profound peace will be there and that this peace will benefit others.

A state of perfect peace probably includes an acceptance of imperfection and one would feel no desire to write to this forum.

I sincerely believe that the SES has only good intentions when it encourages us all to a more peaceful life.

If it gets things wrong sometimes, then apology and forgiveness will restore peace.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby ET » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:27 am

petert wrote:If it gets things wrong sometimes, then apology and forgiveness will restore peace.


Good point petert and welcome to the forum (don't think you have posted on here before). The lack of apology is the biggest obstacle we, as former students who were abused at the schools, are facing. What apology there has been was half-hearted at best, and there are still many within the upper echelons of the SES who claim that the experiences we remember so vividly never happened.

The so-called "Reconciliation Process" seems to have been an exercise in lip-service. One or two ex-pupils have met with their former teachers, but the worst offenders have consistently been protected by the SES, and maintain anonymity apart from on this forum. To my knowledge (and feel free anyone to correct me) none of these teachers have met with any of their former pupils.

Forgiveness would indeed be wonderful, but I'm afraid I can't forgive people who show no signs of remorse. All I can do is learn to live with the hate and hurt that I still feel.

A peaceful life/world would indeed be wonderful, but sadly we are all forced to live in the real one.
Pupil at St James Girl's School from 1979-1989, from age 4-14. Parents ex-members of SES.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby bonsai » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:05 pm

Here here ET,

St James, nor the SES, have any real intention on reconciliation. The reconciliation process, according to the public information on the inquiry website http://www.iirep.com has not moved on for three years now. The testimonies of those on this site who have spoken about the recolciliation process also bears this out.

Apology and forgiveness is a nice idea, if it would only happen. But it hasn't happened. Not only that, apology and forgiveness is not enough to restore the peace. Change is required too. How many times have we said to kids, who do something wrong and then apologise that saying sorry isn't enough. You have to not do what you what you know to be wrong and to change things such that the mistakes of the past are not made in the future.

The trouble is that the SES and St James do not acknowledge that the way the organisations work and the way the philosophy is interpretted and subjected on people can sometimes be harmful.

Bonsai

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby Free Thinker » Mon Mar 09, 2009 11:32 pm

Good point, Bonsai.

In fact, I'm much rather see actual change in the organization than receive a verbal apology for what has already happened.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby ET » Tue Mar 10, 2009 3:27 pm

Free Thinker wrote:In fact, I'm much rather see actual change in the organization than receive a verbal apology for what has already happened.


Yes, me too.
Pupil at St James Girl's School from 1979-1989, from age 4-14. Parents ex-members of SES.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby bonsai » Wed Mar 11, 2009 9:43 am

Free Thinker wrote:I'm much rather see actual change in the organization than receive a verbal apology for what has already happened.

There is one other thing that is required here about the steps taken to change. They must be done openly and acknowledging the why the change is being made. They must be open to scrutiny and challenge.

St James claims it has changed and to some extent it is true, however they do not openly acknowledge that they have changed or why.

Here are some examples of change and what is wrong about the way the change has been affected.

1) Corporal Punishment is no longer used at St James.
The problem is though that the only reason Corporal Punishment is no longer used is that it has been made illegal by the law of the land. I have never heard yet anyone at St James say that corporal punishment should not be used because it is wrong or too brutal.

2) The board of governors has changed.
Problems with this include: No announcement that the board of governors has been changed or why. No acknowledgement that the governors accept that they failed in their responsibilities. The chairman of the board of governors was allowed to retire with pomp and circumstance seemingly rewarding the failures. No information about what the composition of the new board of governors should be and why. As far as I can tell the new board of governors is as SES member dominated as the last including a one member of the board who is also a trustee of the SES. There is nothing to indicate that this board of governors will not be puppets of the SES Senior Tutor.

3) Punishment Regime at the St James Senior Boys School has changed.
The problem is that this is just not widely known. It was changed by David Boddy when he started as headmaster to a yellow and red card system.

"Victims mostly want what has happened to them to be acknowledged and then to see the change that noone will have to suffer like they did." My Dad told me that but somehow he conveniently forgets it when we talk about what happened to me at school.

Bonsai

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby trubleshtr » Fri Mar 20, 2009 10:50 am

Dear Daffy et al,

For your information I am seeking transparency concerning gender balance within the SES, particularly related to Leadership positions, both in principle and in practice. I am sorry but I am currently unable to provide any further details. I will in due course.

Trubleshtr

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby Free Thinker » Sat Mar 21, 2009 9:50 pm

trubleshtr wrote:Dear Daffy et al,

For your information I am seeking transparency concerning gender balance within the SES, particularly related to Leadership positions, both in principle and in practice. I am sorry but I am currently unable to provide any further details. I will in due course.

Trubleshtr


Good luck on this one! The issues surrounding gender were possibly the most destructive to my development as a woman growing up within the school. I understand that a variety of school policies have changed regarding gender, but I think that many of the base beliefs, especially of the more senior members, have not. So even though I could wear pants to a residential, I'd still be expected to serve the men while no men would be serving me. Oh wait, they serve me by making all of the important decisions!

Sarcasm aside, I am very interested to see what comes of this.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby trubleshtr » Wed Apr 29, 2009 9:20 pm

Thanks Free Thinker,

The new term has started now and I will be watching to see if any changes are apparent.

I wonder if you could give any more details about the difficulties you experienced as a woman in the SES, or point me to any posts where you have already mentioned this on this site?

Trubleshtr

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby Free Thinker » Tue May 05, 2009 5:13 am

I saved several links to older posts but I can't find where I saved them. I talked some about my experiences as a woman in my introductory post as an ex-SPP member from NYC. I'll look through my posts and find them. You can also do the same.

Since I grew up in the school, my gender-related experiences can be divided into both direct experiences and observed experiences.

Personally, what I experienced was much more harmful than what I experienced, because it provided a model of inappropriate gender interactions, and gave me a very skewed sense of self. As I make the list, I see that some of my experiences result from what I observed.

I understand that some things have changed, at least in the US schools, which I think is a great step. I just don't know how much of the underlying beliefs have changed.

A few thoughts since I don't have a ton of time right now:

Observed:

-almost always a man at the front of the room, elevated above the rest
-man appointed in UK as the "ladies expert" (say what?)
-men and women separated for classes and meetings
-women having to wear long skirts/dresses
-tasks separated by gender whether related to physical strength or not
-women don't speak up at meetings to ask big questions
-women don't express negative emotions
-women accept verbal and physical abuse from husbands

Experienced:

-on residential, women given exercise to let a different woman pick out their clothing/jewelry, etc. and they have to wear what the other person chooses.
-men always in charge, women always defer to men
-taught that men are in charge of the family and are to make any major decisions
-men asked to give service to school that eclipses their familial duties
-a lot of emphasis placed on what is ok/not ok to wear but I think really directed at women, and not men
-when husband and wife share head tutor duties, man is more important, and woman usually is the "assistant", which means sitting quietly and saying almost nothing
-men being "chivalrous" to the point of it being forced on me
-being taught to supress emotions, and not to be upset, angry, emotional. Being treated like a hysterical child when demonstrating even a small amount of negative emotion.
-feeling powerless to say something if a man does or says something that makes me uncomfortable
-being extremely confused about sex, and allowing men to make choices for me

That's all for now. I hope that helps a bit.

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SES Reform: Gender Balance

Postby trubleshtr » Tue May 05, 2009 6:52 pm

Dear Free Thinker,

Thanks, that does help to understand the effect on girls and women who grow up with these ideas presented from a young age, and I have read various posts on this Forum, but a lot is from a long time ago. I did not join until I was in my late twenties so I had a sense of my own ‘identity’ as a woman (as equal in status to a man for a start) and what I found extraordinary was when this seemed to be ‘redirected’, and I have been observing and trying to change certain attitudes ever since. I pushed for the dress code to be relaxed over many years (as I understand did many others) and as mentioned before this occurred in June 2006. So, I can relate to some of the things you listed, especially when I first began residentials, but things have changed a lot as you mentioned. However, as you also pointed out there are some ideas and practices that still seem rather entrenched. It is difficult for me to contribute much more as my identity and activity on this Forum are known and whatever I state here may be considered as an act of ‘hostility’, although all I am actually seeking is reform and (or at least) transparency. I don’t want to leave at the moment. I would like to thank this Forum as I feel a certain safety in the contact I have here whilst I push for changes within the SES. I also feel a great affinity with women who have left due to the attitude towards gender, and I don’t know from week to week if I will stay sometimes, even after nearly 20 years. Gender should not be an issue in the study of (spiritual) philosophy or ‘unity’. The process of awareness itself is transformative in my experience and does not require any gender related pressures.

Trubleshtr

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby Free Thinker » Tue May 05, 2009 8:54 pm

Yes, I realize that there is a big difference between joining such a group as an adult, and being raised within it. And I make sure to mention this when I talk to people about the school who are unfamiliar with it. I'm sure my experience would have been vastly different if I'd joined in my 20s rather than leaving then.

I think one of the larger issues that remains despite dress code and other similar changes, is just the effect practices of "letting go of the ego" can have on a woman, when men are so much in charge, holding out "the TRUTH" if only you can let go of enough of yourself to see it.

I think that everyone can stand to loose a great deal of "I" but in the context of a structured, hierarchy such as a school, this often manifests as people losing power, control, of who they are along with some of the ego. And given the power dynamic between men and women that's set up in the teachings, this can lead some women down a dangerous path of passiveness. Giving all of yourself to serve others is not healthy. Giving up control of your life to Atman while letting others make decisions for you isn't any good. Women have enough trouble being emotionally healthy in our society without the added aspect of letting go of themselves as a way to be happy.

Serving others while still retaining the freedom to express emotions and deal with issues as they arise rather than just pushing them aside as the "veil of Maya" is much more healthy. And while I definitely understood the concepts of Tamas, Sattva, and Rajas, and how you should strive to find a balance in the middle, there wasn't much support in how to deal with Tamas or Rajas when stuff like pausing, meditating, or saying "not this" just wasn't going to cut it.

I'll post more as I think of it.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby trubleshtr » Fri May 15, 2009 8:52 pm

Dear Free Thinker

I know what you mean.

I have also read some posts about young girls in the past (I hope) being manipulated to meet older SES men at events, but now I can't find the topic again. I was horrified and disgusted at such organised treatment of young girls. The more I read on this forum the more concerned I become. It is essential that in future the SES is exorcised of all of these problems. Change has happened, but I agree with those on this forum that the claim that 'things are different now' does not cut it. Something more is required in order to have confidence that in the future the organisation will stick to philosophy, even if that is 'spiritual' philosophy of 'unity', and leave gender pressures well alone.

Trubleshtr
PS: Found the thread now: Gender Discrimination on page 7 towards the bottom. This link should get straight there: http://www.ses-forums.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=282
Last edited by trubleshtr on Sat May 16, 2009 3:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: How many people still read this Forum?

Postby ses-surviver » Sat May 16, 2009 8:08 am

trubleshtr wrote:I have also read some posts about young girls in the past (I hope) being manipulated to meet older SES men at events, but now I can't find the topic again. I was horrified and disgusted at such organised treatment of young girls.


Oh Dear, I remember that sort of thing going on in the late 1980s. The Foundation Group girls seemed to be 'guided' in this way. They certainly came into contact more with the senior groups in the school and eventually left the groups that they had been members of during middle school/'O' level as it was at that time. I had no direct experience of this myself, but only heard 2nd-hand via fellow members of my group who had married foundation group ladies themselves.

At that stage in my stream we had gotten quite used to the ladies meeting separately and having special meetings, but it was something of a pleasant surprise when Mr Boddy arranged a 'gentlemans evening' for the men in my stream. It was an informal evening held off school premises at someone's house and though it was in many ways a social occasion with Mr Boddy and others talking of their love of Golf (I was surprised that anyone in the SES had any time to play the game) during one of the conversations. Then during the serious part of the evening Mr Boddy talked to us about marriage and basically about how, when we felt ready for marriage, we were to discuss this with our tutor and head of level. We were then given the impression that arrangements would be made to find a 'suitable match' for us. I think at the time, there were a lot of single women in the school and it was presented to us that we would of course be helping them and meeting some sort of need in the school at that time. I have no idea whether this took place in response to a request from the ladies for the men to step up and do their duty or whether it was part of some wider experiment. In the couple of years that followed a number of the men in their mid-30s married or became engaged to foundation-group ladies, but I don't recall any of the older single ladies being 'matched off'.

While it might appeal to many men to have a lovely teenage wife, I was always uneasy about what I saw as large age differences, with a difference of 12-15 years between the man and the girl not being unusual. Sometimes the girl had not even started, let alone finished university before she was 'married off'.


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