is the school of philosophy a cult?

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
carlynnm8
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby carlynnm8 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 9:26 am

Yes Bonsai, I know what you mean, but its very easy to overlook the subtleness and secrecy used by this organisation.
Why do they advertise as a school of philosophy when that is not what they are about? They use that to get people to join. If it is a philosophy course then why after a few years of feeding you "their philosophy and mind numbing stuff" does it start to reveal itself as a particular eastern tradition where studying Sanskrit becomes a rule, where wearing particular clothes becomes a rule, where giving a monthly amount to them on top of your fees is expected? They say there is no pressure to gift aid them an amount from your account every month, but there is pressure and most people give in to that. Nothing is done in an up-front and open manner it is all underhand, subtle and uses coercive means. They talk about seeing life as a play - yes they set the stage nicely, and they coerce people into behaving nicely - every critical thought has to be purged out as a negative thought, another step towards destroying the ego. People are being very deliberately misled and because of this are unable to make a conscious decision whether they want to join a religious group or not. If the course was advertised as a course in a particular eastern philosophy - then would we have joined it? At least we would have had the choice. Its dishonest at best.
><strong>Joanna Eberhart</strong>: If I am wrong, I'm insane... but if I'm right, it's even worse than if I was wrong. >more famous quotes<Stepford Wives

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bonsai
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby bonsai » Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:35 am

carlynnm8 wrote:Why do they advertise as a school of philosophy when that is not what they are about?

To make it look respectable! To try and disassociate it with religion. To try and make it appear at least that anyone from any bakground can join without giving up their own belief systems. The trouble is that there are plenty of people who are looking for an easy introduction into academic philosophy who are duped into thinking that the SES may provide them with a general philosophy course. For a time the SES used to offer refunds if Part 1 wasn't what you expected. Not sure if this is still the case.

The fact that the SES claims to incorporate all faiths and backgrounds is a seriously dubious contention. I am confident that a short discussion comparing the SES philosophy with the major faiths would show plenty of inconsistencies.


carlynnm8 wrote:...where giving a monthly amount to them on top of your fees is expected? They say there is no pressure to gift aid them an amount from your account every month, but there is pressure and most people give in to that.

This is most concerning. I've not heard of coercion with regards to money despite attempts to question that this may in fact go on. Can you tell us more about they suggested this, raised it and about what sorts of sums of money they were attempting to obtain?

Personally I have a real issue with the charity status of the organisation. The organisation offers no real benefit to anyone other than its fee paying members and is essentially an inward looking organisation that is using its charitable status to extort additional funds.


carlynnm8 wrote:People are being very deliberately misled and because of this are unable to make a conscious decision whether they want to join a religious group or not. If the course was advertised as a course in a particular eastern philosophy - then would we have joined it? At least we would have had the choice. Its dishonest at best.

Would we have joined if we really knew what it was? Some people would. Some people undoubtedly do sympathise with the philosophical views of the organisation. Others might actually enjoy the escapism that it provides. Some do get trapped.

I agree that it is dishonest and that while it slowly introduces the concepts and ideas under the guise of being gentle, there are real concerns about the effect that this has on an individual's ability to discriminte and reason.

Bonsai

carlynnm8
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby carlynnm8 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 11:35 am

Hi Bonsai, I'll have to check on the amounts but I think it was on a scale of £7 - £35/45 per month - i think whatever the person could afford. Im sure there was again a subtle but powerful pressure for those involved to conform. I'll check and get back to you, but Im sure you will agree its a lot of money considering the numbers in the schools
><strong>Joanna Eberhart</strong>: If I am wrong, I'm insane... but if I'm right, it's even worse than if I was wrong. >more famous quotes<Stepford Wives

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bonsai
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby bonsai » Thu Jun 25, 2009 12:02 pm

carlynnm8,

Are you aware of any pressure to leave any legacy in wills and the like from your time in the organisation?

Bonsai

carlynnm8
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby carlynnm8 » Fri Jun 26, 2009 8:25 am

Not sure of that one Bonsai, although a couple of properties have been left to them by legacies. I will contact my relatives who know more and also a few friends who are still there and find out if they know anything
><strong>Joanna Eberhart</strong>: If I am wrong, I'm insane... but if I'm right, it's even worse than if I was wrong. >more famous quotes<Stepford Wives

carlynnm8
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby carlynnm8 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:23 am

Can anyone help with advice on how to move forward from being in SOP for so long? I am meeting with a few colleagues and friends who questioned me about this philosophy school over the years, and at all times I was always quick to defend the school, I feel a bit embarrassed about having the wool pulled over my eyes by the school. How can I explain to these people why Ive left without looking a right fool? (one person in particular has always been adamant I was involved in a cult) I dont want to admit she may be right. Any ideas how to handle this one?
><strong>Joanna Eberhart</strong>: If I am wrong, I'm insane... but if I'm right, it's even worse than if I was wrong. >more famous quotes<Stepford Wives

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ET
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby ET » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:16 am

Hi carlynnm8,

This is indeed a tough one for you, but I always think honesty is the best policy. If you explain in detail how easy it was/is to get sucked into the SOP, how much you regret getting involved etc. Appeal to their compassion (which is not the same as pity or "I-told-you-so"). Tell them you are afraid they will think you are a fool. If you feel like a fool, tell them that too.

Obviously, I don't know your personal circumstances, or exactly what your relationship is like with these people. If they are good friends, I would hope they would be understanding. Most people appreciate honesty and the ability to stand up and say "Hey, you were right, I wish I'd listened to you." We all make mistakes and I'm sure you would be sympathetic if they were in your situation.

All I can say is that my own family spent many years pretending that everything in the garden was lovely, and our lives were full of little dishonesties, which didn't seem much at the time, but built up. It's only through total honesty that we've been able to rebuild our lives since leaving the SES and its schools.

Of course, this is only my personal view, feel free to ignore it if you think it's a load of rubbish!!

Good luck, and do let us know on here how you get on.
Pupil at St James Girl's School from 1979-1989, from age 4-14. Parents ex-members of SES.

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Free Thinker
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby Free Thinker » Sat Jul 11, 2009 12:44 am

I generally tell people the truth. Here's what was good and useful from my years of membership. Here's what wasn't. The good was very good but like in an abusive marriage, the good times didn't justify or make worth the bad.

Most of my years were as a child/teen so I didn't have a choice but certainly people will understand that you felt the good was important enough that you let the other things go in order to get it. And then at some point, you realized that you really couldn't handle the bad, and you chose to leave.

carlynnm8
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby carlynnm8 » Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:37 pm

Hi ET and Freethinker, I finally got back from my trip to meet with my old colleagues and friends. I took your advice and told them the truth - although I didnt go into too many details. The one lady i was concerned about was not very pleasant and was very pleased that she was right. I didnt tell her I thought it was a cult but just said it wasnt what I was looking for any more and that was why Ive left. I wasnt lying really, I just ommitted some of the important details, she never would have understood. My real friends all understood and were great. I feel much better having told them now. Thank you both so much for your support.
><strong>Joanna Eberhart</strong>: If I am wrong, I'm insane... but if I'm right, it's even worse than if I was wrong. >more famous quotes<Stepford Wives

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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby ET » Thu Jul 16, 2009 1:03 pm

I'm so glad it went well for you! Well done for being honest, it's not easy.
Pupil at St James Girl's School from 1979-1989, from age 4-14. Parents ex-members of SES.

carlynnm8
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby carlynnm8 » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:18 pm

Thanks ET, sometimes honesty is the best policy! Thanks to freethinker, ET and Bonsai for helpful posts.

Can anyone explain to me what the residentials are for? What are they supposed to achieve? Are they supposed to enlighten us more or are they to brainwash us more? Can't quite figure that one out. Can anyone else?

Thanks
><strong>Joanna Eberhart</strong>: If I am wrong, I'm insane... but if I'm right, it's even worse than if I was wrong. >more famous quotes<Stepford Wives

ses-surviver
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby ses-surviver » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:29 pm

carlynnm8 wrote:Can anyone explain to me what the residentials are for? What are they supposed to achieve? Are they supposed to enlighten us more or are they to brainwash us more? Can't quite figure that one out. Can anyone else?

Thanks

Though I generally found it tough to drag myself away for a residential, especially if they started on a thursday evening, I generally thoroughly enjoyed them and I nearly always came back refreshed and full of energy. That's not to say that they weren't sometimes difficult and uncomfortable in places, but they generally ended on a high. I'm sure that I wasn't the only one who entertained the thought of 'escaping' part way through a week, but I never did and I don't recall anyone else doing so.

They were initially billed as an opportunity for prolonged work as a group, but over the years I guess that they were used as a means of introducing new practices like 'measure' (not sure that I ever 'got' that), sounding/caligraphy/sanskrit, the 'diet', which may have been more difficult to get over if the group is only meeting once a week. I grew to enjoy the food, the good company and the 'rest' (those brief periods of relaxation in the late afternoon before another round of study, dinner, evening meeting and meditation). I did sometime find the lack of 'private space' hard, then there was the early morning 'fire lighting/tea making' duty , the queueing for the baths, the endless changing of clothes between activities, the mountains of washing up ... and the snoring in the communal dormitories.

Over a period of years it was these weeks, on top of all the other activities and time spent with other people in the 'school', which meant that there was little other 'free time' and what there was of it, was often spent at home - washing, ironing and preparing for the next round of activities. So over time, the net effect was probably to 'brainwash' me more (IMHO), though I don't beleive that this was ever their purpose.

My first residential (pre middle-school) was there to give people a taste of things to come - I came away with renewed enthusiasm, having previously been at the point of wanting to leave. But then there were others who became determined to leave as a result.

Then there was the 'measure week', which did have a specific objective. I think that specific week is tough for the tutors as well as the group and folks had to pull together to get through it.

Beyond that, I'm not so sure. Certainly the head of level might have had a theme in mind, but most of the time it felt like 'more of the same'. I'm not sure that they were suppose to 'achieve' anything, other than to create the conditions to allow 'work' to take place. Whether or not the opportunity was taken up, depended upon the individual. There were good weeks and there were the weeks where one went through the motions, performed all the activities, but at the end of it, were just grateful that it was all over for another year/term.

However having been through a number of residentials (weekends and weeks), I could take residential weeks for management course and personal-development 'brainwashing' in my stride.

econman
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby econman » Mon Aug 10, 2009 8:24 am

My own experience as an active ,member of the Sof P,is that most of the people involved are caring individuals who honestly believe they are doing good work And mostly i think this is true. Yes there are some areas that i disagree with but when a christian and a churchgoer i disagreed with many aspects of the teachings . Are the mainstream churches a cults . No i dont beleive so even if you are encouraged to follow the teachings without disagreement.

From a philosophical point of view i have learnt a lot but as everwhere you must evalute what you receive and discard the dross and keep the good stuff. The residentials ,to which i have been to a few , dont attract me very much now as i think that you get past all that stuff and just attend classes for the discussion and good company. We do get bombarded by the real world of advertising,crime etc so it is refreshing to escape this real world for another for a time,keeping in mind that you have to operate in the real world outside the school for most of the time.
Meditation has been extremely good for me as it has transformed my life and allowed me to cope with difficult situations better than i may have previously.If you are of a weak mind perhaps the school may influence you in ways that you dont realise but keeping a balance in life is what i am about and the school has balanced the other areas that were materialistic,consumer driven ,work oriented with a different view. Overall the effect has been very worthwhile.
Long skirts etc are a thing of trhe past and good riddance to them .....

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bonsai
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby bonsai » Mon Aug 10, 2009 9:17 am

econman wrote:Are the mainstream churches a cults .
An interesting question. In my mind, probably. If they aren't now, they probably started as one. Certainly I think you'll find that for those of us who were brought up in SES families and educated in St James, there is a lot of rejection of formalised religion.


econman wrote:From a philosophical point of view i have learnt a lot but as everwhere you must evalute what you receive and discard the dross and keep the good stuff.
Why? Supposedly what they teach is a route to Truth! Apparently it's absolute Truth. Why is there dross amongst absolute Truth? If it is Truth, why should different people interpret different bits of it differently?

The SES say "Neither accept nor reject what you hear". So much for truth! If they have access to absolute truth, then this phrase is just designed to disarm those that object. If they don't have access to absolute truth and that there is dross that has to be waded through, then this phrase just highlights the contradiction and false promise of what is on offer. Personally I believe the former that this is used as a way of disarming those people who initially object.

Also as children being taught this stuff at school you can't argue. You don't know different. You don't have a framework to rationalise this stuff as being right or wrong, especially when brought up in an SES family. And unfortunately by the time you start reasoning and realise that the emperor is naked it is hard to stand up and say so. Are you teachers, parents, family friends and school staff really that wrong?


econman wrote:The residentials ,to which i have been to a few , dont attract me very much now as i think that you get past all that stuff and just attend classes for the discussion and good company. We do get bombarded by the real world of advertising,crime etc so it is refreshing to escape this real world for another for a time,keeping in mind that you have to operate in the real world outside the school for most of the time.
Yes but they are teaching you that the so called real world with the commercialism and criminality and bad things is all an illusion of Maya. Drug dealers also push stuff that helps you escape this so called real world where bad things happen.

I think most people do use the SES for nothing more than escapism. That has nothing to do with spirituality or Truth.


econman wrote:If you are of a weak mind perhaps the school may influence you in ways that you dont realise but keeping a balance in life is what i am about and the school has balanced the other areas that were materialistic,consumer driven ,work oriented with a different view.
And what protection is in place to ensure that the school doesn't take advantage of the weak mind. What protection is in place to ensure that anyone whose life is unbalanced by the SES, regardless of the strength of their mind or character? And what about children, who can't choose to leave of their own free will because their parents choose to educate them there?


econman wrote:Overall the effect has been very worthwhile.
Econman, I'm pleased that the SOP has helped you and that you have benefitted from your time in this organisation, Unfortunately your experience only goes to show that it works for some and benefits some. It doesn't make it OK that this organisation seriously let's down some of its members and people (particularly children) in their care.

Bonsai

Tootsie
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Re: is the school of philosophy a cult?

Postby Tootsie » Wed Aug 12, 2009 4:04 am

Listening to a dialogue that Krishnamurti recorded, he stated that "Truth is a pathless land. You can't approach it by any religion or sect. You are accustomed to being told how far you have advanced, what your spiritual state is—how childish. Who but yourself can tell whether you are beautiful or ugly within?"

I would suggest you read The Power Within by Dorine Tolley, which is a memoir of Leon MacLarens life and work and then form your own opinion about the school of philosophy, keeping in mind what Krishnamurti said about truth.


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