'Secret' mantras

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
actuallythere
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:05 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Fri Aug 24, 2012 6:52 am

ManOnTheStreet wrote:I think there is real courage in being able to use your reason and follow the evidence where it leads you, rather than being told what to believe first and then trying to find 'authorities' and opinions that support your pre-gone conclusions.


This equally goes for using an absence of reason and following a lack evidence, too.

My issue is with certainty - the arrogant certainty of atheists and believers alike. What they have in common is the use of constructed knowledge at best, or delusions of knowledge at worst.

We are all way too finite indeed to understand infinity.

It is quite a relief to come round to the idea that certain 'truth' will always stay out of reach - and that therefore no guide is needed to 'help' you get to that certain 'truth'.

In fact, the guides are deceiving us - and usually themselves as well.

woodgreen
Posts: 219
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby woodgreen » Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:57 pm

Hi AT
And guess what - it was called "guided" meditation when I was in there! And the guides at the time were the tutors passing on the McLaren version of "meditation".
Thankfully MOTS (Hi) and other tutors who may have unknowingly / unconsciously passed on the McLaren "teachings" "guidance" "meditation" and other stuff are now helping to explain how SES/SOPS etc. worked at the tutorial level.
I think you said earlier AT that you had never been a member of the SES etc. but have some close links to people who have been and maybe still are in there. And that you care about them. Good for you. Glad they never fully "got you" in there.When you have actually been in there ( no pun intended) as a member - and I was in for a relatively short time - and then exit quite suddenly, as I did, it is very difficult to ascertain who are the "good guys and gals" from the maybe the not good ones. The general view of the exit - counsellors is that it is just the leaders of cults who are the bad guys. Which is OK but "leaders" encompasses quite a range. Is it the leader? i.e. McLaren who is dead. Is a group of "leaders? is it Lambie now that he is "the leader"?

The spiritual examination, which in the aftermath many people do, is actually a very small part of the SES/SOP etc. They stop at base one IMO,in spiritual terms, which is why their school fails at the basic spiritual level. ( Joke coming on - OFSTED for the spiritually-minded gave the SES 1 out of 100, but because SES had amassed lots of money and free labour OFSTED's report sat on the shelf for about 30 years!).


At our small level, and theirs, as you have said, truth is simply about facts. And facts come out, bit by bit, about the SES. We didn't imagine what happened within their walls - but when they work on minds, our minds can sometimes struggle to get the facts out, be it verbally or on paper. And now on electronic paper too!

best wishes,

woodgreen.

PS- I must needs find me a new cult to join that can define spiritual and help me cope with mine. Or is that myself speaking!! Note to self - don't join the SES and its offshoots if you are seeking spiritual development. I wasn't anyway, but maybe my spirit was. No my spirit, you are not myself anymore, the SES split us up!!
Ex-SES Member. (Member for 3 years in late nineties).

actuallythere
Posts: 180
Joined: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:05 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Sat Aug 25, 2012 11:32 am

woodgreen wrote:I think you said earlier AT that you had never been a member of the SES etc. but have some close links to people who have been and maybe still are in there. And that you care about them.


Yes that is true, but the 'have beens' are many more than the 'maybe stills'.

woodgreen wrote:The general view of the exit - counsellors is that it is just the leaders of cults who are the bad guys. Which is OK but "leaders" encompasses quite a range. Is it the leader? i.e. McLaren who is dead. Is a group of "leaders? is it Lambie now that he is "the leader"?


Personally I doubt any exit-counsellor worth their salt would go in for blanket judgements.

Firstly, recruits are at least in part responsible for their complicity with leaders - and this complicity in my opinion is best understood in terms of personal psychology (and as opposed to 'stupidity'). Without these recruits, there would be no leaders.

Secondly, there are differences between all spiritual groups and while the most notorious ones do have a single, extremely bizarre charismatic leader (e.g. the Moonies) or a small extremely bizarre ruling committee (e.g. Scientology), any exit-counsellor or expert in this field who did a deep study of SES would notice some characteristics that put SES in a different category.

It is a far more decentralized organization than many of the others. Branches can operate almost autonomously. Abusiveness does start right down at the tutor level, if not at the recruit level (try asking a few children of long-term SES students). And tutors are not quite instructed to abuse. While SES leadership like Maclaren have a bad reputation, they are figureheads in an organization that is rather out of control of the power relationships it creates.

Frankly, SES was one of many late 20th-century experiments to import Indian spirituality and manufacture it for Western consumers - it was an experiment that failed. I believe that far from consciously conniving to exploit a group of people Maclaren, Sinclair, Lambie, Boddy and all the rest didn't realize what they were playing around with and how destructive it was.

They did not plan for my friend as a teenager to run away from her SES parents to live rough where she was raped and mutilated. But she knows the organization they ran has blood on its hands because of the effect it had on its members (e.g. her parents), and I entirely agree.

That's just one anecdote - there are hundreds more, including a suicide.

Self-deception, deception, delusion, narcissism, psychosis, sadism, neglect, family breakdown - all of these are prompted by SES, without the leadership ever directly prescribing it.

Slowly but surely, as they continue to read these messages about themselves, they will learn they have issues of personal psychology to deal with themselves.

Right, Donald?

Right, David?

Right, Jeremy?

ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Sun Aug 26, 2012 6:23 am

actuallythere wrote:While SES leadership like Maclaren have a bad reputation, they are figureheads in an organization that is rather out of control of the power relationships it creates.


Perhaps my experience differs from yours AT, but in the Sydney SFSK there is no question that Nina Mavro is much more than just a figurehead. While I agree that the personal lives of members are not regulated to an undue extent (at least while they are not attending groups or other activities directly associated with the School), the power relationships in the School itself are created and maintained by Mrs Mavro. She selects the tutors, determines the 'material' read in classes, and the composition of the classes themselves.

Again, I think it's very important not to think of the School as an entity in and of itself. The School doesn't manipulate people; people manipulate people. Specifically (in the case of the Sydney SFSK), Mrs Mavro manipulates people. The School doesn't establish power relationships; Mrs Mavro establishes them. The bad reputation of these leaders does not exist in a vacuum, rather it is built upon their words and actions. It is impossible to separate the creation of the 'School mindset' from the words and actions of Mrs Mavro.

Saying the students are responsible is a bit like saying that brainwashed people are responsible for allowing themselves to be brainwashed. This is technically correct, however it is only correct to the extent that people are presumed to have an equal ability to resist others intent on deceiving them. I don't think this is the case, and if it is not, I would propose two things:

1. People don't come into the School expecting to be deceived. They are unprepared and unaware that there is a sinister agendum being pursued behind the scenes. How are they to be held responsible for allowing themselves to be brainwashed if they don't even know that it is going on? Allowing something to happen to you implies a knowledge that the 'something' is happening in the first place.
2. People shouldn't have to enter an organisation under the assumption that they are likely to be brainwashed once they're inside. We all entered the School for genuine reasons.
In other words, not only were we caught unaware, but there is no reason why we should have been 'aware' in the first place.

Looking back on it now, it's easy to ask "but why didn't/couldn't I see what was going on earlier?" however I think this is the wrong question to ask in light of the above. This question contains within it an implicit assumption that we were somehow at fault for not seeing the true state of affairs earlier. However, the fault lies squarely with those who deceived us. The notion that we were in fact being deceived is so alien to what we thought was the purpose and value of the School that it would have been unbelievable if anyone had thought of this. The fact that some people did is in my view the best of fortunes. When you've been told year after year that 2 + 2 = 5, putting 2 and 2 together is just not that easy.

actuallythere wrote:I believe that far from consciously conniving to exploit a group of people Maclaren, Sinclair, Lambie, Boddy and all the rest didn't realize what they were playing around with and how destructive it was.


I think this would be correct if all they ever saw was one group of people over a short period of time. The fact is, these School leaders were in the business for (in some cases) over 40 years. I think it's a far more unbelievable proposition that they didn't know what was happening to their students than that they did. In other words, it's much more likely, given the length of time involved and the number of students involved, that these people knew exactly what was happening to everyone. It was certainly the case in the SFSK that close tabs were kept on everyone. Mrs Mavro made a point of knowing everyone's personal circumstances. It's simply impossible that she didn't know what effect her 'teaching' was having on her students.

actuallythere wrote:Firstly, recruits are at least in part responsible for their complicity with leaders - and this complicity in my opinion is best understood in terms of personal psychology (and as opposed to 'stupidity'). Without these recruits, there would be no leaders.


In a sense I agree with you AT, subject to what I said above about brainwashing. I would say though that the second sentence here doesn't necessarily follow from the first. I admit that I'm unsure whether or not you intended it to. Nevertheless, I think a distinction can be made here in the following way:

1. Clearly, it's trivially true that there can be no leaders without recruits for them to lead. However, the way I understand what you wrote is more along the lines that without these types of recruits, these types of leaders would not have the influence they did.
2. Given what you said regarding personal psychology, I would assume that what you mean is essentially that the types of recruits you are talking about are those who are vulnerable to brainwashing owing to their particular circumstances and desires.
3. If my assumption in (2) is not misplaced, it would follow that these leaders simply acted in a way that, because of (2), resulted in these recruits being brainwashed even though this may not have necessarily been the intention, or occurred to the knowledge of, the leaders.

If (3) is correct, this conclusion does not afford the leaders enough responsibility for what they did. It almost seems as if they just sat back and let things take their course. I'm not saying that it is your intention to hold this view, but the argument seems to necessitate such a view.

In my own experience, Mrs Mavro was someone who never just sat back and let things take their course. The Gurdjieffian idea of 'engineering' people is foremost in her mind. I don't think she should be apportioned any less responsibility even if she did have particularly susceptible students. In any case, I think my original point regarding brainwashing stands: These recruits neither expected not should they have to have had expected brainwashing as part of their experience in the School. If this is so, Mrs Mavro bears full responsibility for inflicting it upon them.

As for the idea that brainwashing may not have been her intention, I would say that it is extremely difficult, if not impossible to attribute any other purpose to her actions. If someone deliberately lies to you and creates in you an utterly false impression of themselves it is well nigh impossible to impute any intention to those actions which is not sinister. The only thing these leaders lose by telling the truth and being honest with their students is precisely the control and power they gain by lying to and deceiving those same students. It follows then that the only reason these leaders act in the way they do is to manipulate and brainwash their students, regardless of the particular vulnerabilities of those students.

Hence the conclusion in (3) is incorrect, and full responsibility should be apportioned to all these leaders.

MOTS

actuallythere
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:43 am

@MOTS

In fact we're pretty much in agreement.

To clarify, my point was certainly not that brainwashed people are responsible for being brainwashed, or that the leadership can be absolved from planning and running an abusive spiritual group. Certainly, I would agree that the main problem - or culprit if you will- is the leadership. I just take issue with the notion that they have no willing accomplices and/or that there is 'nothing personal' about the poor, mistreated, exploited people who get drawn in to it. That would be untrue.

And - something that I did not state in my previous post - this thesis is not in fact driving at 'who to blame', but how to heal.

Let me explain. My point about responsibility had two aspects:

First, in a moral sense I would not accept that brainwashed people have behavioural immunity: "Oh it wasn't me, I was brainwashed at the time" is not a an acceptable excuse for a child abuser. The kids at St. James who were forced to sit naked in a bath of ice-cold water, or attacked with a cricket bat, or told they were evil because they were handicapped, deserve better than to hear the 'they were brainwashed' excuse for their abuse.

Second aspect about responsibility: In my opinion, there are often personal-psychological reasons why some intelligent and reasonable people are drawn to being brainwashed and controlled by a group. There are often personal-psychological reasons why at the end of every 'Part One' there is an exodus of some people, and a renewed commitment by other people. That involves a very clear choice. Ergo responsibility.

Now, there is a further, constructive point here which is at the heart of what I am getting at. Many long-term members go through intense crises including mental breakdown when they lose faith in SES and (i) think about leaving but can't or (ii) leave and find themselves totally lost. It is counter-productive in these circumstances to say "Oh I was just brainwashed by some bad people for XX years, end of story" which is yet more avoidance of what has really happened. The positive way forward, I am quite sure, is to ask "Why was I turned on by being brainwashed, when others weren't?" An attempt at personal self-awareness is the key, after years of self-deception.

On the contrary to beating oneself up about it, it can be a way of rebuilding oneself. I have seen it happen: it takes a lot of painful realism and courageous honesty. But the outcome is great. And it is impossible without accepting a degree of responsibility for one's own actions.

On the specific issue of our different experiences: yes I have zero experience of the SFSK, and it sounds a lot like the UK SES up until the early 1990s. Afaia there was a degree of attempted reform of the UK SES in the late 1990s, possibly a Lambie thing. In my view it was a cynical adaptive attempt at survival and increased sophistication as the Mavro-type practices were backfiring. The UK SES has a seemingly lighter hand now, but is playing with the same poison.

Unique
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Unique » Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:02 pm

Hi AT,
Of course, one should examine why and how they ended up in such a situation, and I can't imagine anyone not doing so. It could be that the ones who ended up being “brainwashed” were just simply more naive and trusting (which no one should take advantage of , but someone did!) or they were so eager to hear the “words of wise “ and the truth proclaimed that they paid a far too high price for it? So there is a lesson there but the responsibility of mis-leaders is in no way diminished.
Last edited by Unique on Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:19 pm

AT,

actuallythere wrote:In fact we're pretty much in agreement.


Yes, I think so too. There seems to have been some ambiguity before which your post cleared up very well.

actuallythere wrote:First, in a moral sense I would not accept that brainwashed people have behavioural immunity


Agreed. My difficulty lies in respect of the following:

The people I knew in SFSK were essentially good people. I don't think anyone there was deliberately deceiving their students with the notable exception of Mrs Mavro. However, as you rightly say, simple brainwashing does not and should not excuse the behaviour of the 'willing accomplices'. Therefore, we have to hold that otherwise good people engaged in deceptive actions unknowingly, purely because of what they were taught in the School. In many cases, the extent to which these people followed the whims/directives of Mrs Mavro was the extent to which they engaged in deceptive conduct. Holding this commits me to thinking that it is Mrs Mavro who should bear responsibility (a point I think we agree on). On the other hand (based on the above) I also have to say that these people are in part responsible for the damage they inadvertently caused. Yet I think we would agree that when someone is practically an automaton questions of responsibility become moot.

Unlike the situation with the kids at St. James, the 'abuse' in the SFSK is not of such an obvious nature. The situation in SFSK is primarily one of psychological, and not physical tampering. This speaks to what I said above, in the sense that the 'wrongs' committed by these 'willing accomplices' were not as obviously serious as hitting a child with a cricket bat. No one in SFSK would do that. What does happen is the creation of a 'School culture' where people gradually begin to lose all personal autonomy and become (psychologically) completely dependent on Mrs Mavro.

The question is then: Are we to hold these people accountable for the maintenance of this 'School culture' when, by definition, they are only 'willing accomplices' because they are subject to that 'School culture'? I would argue that the fuel for the fire is provided solely by Mrs Mavro, not the automatons that serve her.

I have to say that this is a question I have not settled within myself to date. Your statement that brainwashed people should not have behavioural immunity rings very true, yet I cannot see how to hold the tool responsible for the mind of the workman.

This brings me to your second aspect:

actuallythere wrote:There are often personal-psychological reasons why at the end of every 'Part One' there is an exodus of some people, and a renewed commitment by other people. That involves a very clear choice. Ergo responsibility.


I've seen this happen time and time again so I understand what you mean. There are two things here:
1. When people choose to stay in the School their choice is generally not an informed one. When they make their choice to stay, they are completely unaware of the consequences of that choice. Essentially, they have no idea what they're getting themselves into. Now, you could say that their responsibility extends to the necessity of making sure a decision of that kind is in fact informed, and I would agree with you. However, at the time they make this choice to stay, these people are clueless - they don't really know anything about the inner workings of the School, and would not be able to find out even if they tried. You could, understandably, take a unilateral position and just say "it doesn't matter what the quality of the choice was, they're still responsible because every choice carries responsibility for it regardless of whether or not the person making that choice is aware of its consequences." This is actually a position I find difficult to refute, nevertheless I still find it hard to see how to hold unwitting people responsible for unconscious acts.
2. Question: Do you find the unilateral position above incompatible with holding unwitting people responsible for unconscious acts? If you do (as I do), and you also hold (as I do) that unwitting people are not responsible for unconscious acts, then what proposition is to take precedence? If the former, then the 'willing accomplices' are indeed responsible. If the latter, then they are not. My current thinking is that the former proposition seems a little too extreme to be applicable in a situation where we're dealing with psychological, and not physical, abuse.

actuallythere wrote:Now, there is a further, constructive point here which is at the heart of what I am getting at. Many long-term members go through intense crises including mental breakdown when they lose faith in SES and (i) think about leaving but can't or (ii) leave and find themselves totally lost. It is counter-productive in these circumstances to say "Oh I was just brainwashed by some bad people for XX years, end of story" which is yet more avoidance of what has really happened. The positive way forward, I am quite sure, is to ask "Why was I turned on by being brainwashed, when others weren't?" An attempt at personal self-awareness is the key, after years of self-deception.


Absolutely. From this point on we go into pragmatic territory and I think we completely agree on these points.

actuallythere wrote:On the contrary to beating oneself up about it, it can be a way of rebuilding oneself. I have seen it happen: it takes a lot of painful realism and courageous honesty. But the outcome is great. And it is impossible without accepting a degree of responsibility for one's own actions.


Yes. Again, I think we agree on the practical points here. My question regards what sort of responsibility can apportion to what were essentially unwitting and unconscious agents of Mrs Mavro? Accepting responsibility in the sense of saying "Yes, I did these things and what I did was wrong" is one thing. Accepting responsibility in the sense of saying "Yes, I did these things, it was wrong, and moreover I was responsible for any damage caused" is quite another. My impression is that what you were referring to in the quote above was the first type, and I wholeheartedly agree with you in that respect. My questions regard the second type, and as a result I'm not sure if I have adequately addressed your post.

MOTS

actuallythere
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Sun Aug 26, 2012 4:03 pm

@MOTS

We could probably agree that the answer is there are degrees of responsibility, shades of grey, different cases. Am sure neither of us would want to apply any blanket judgements.

People who become tools of a malicious workman can be either victims or accomplices, or both. Some are more accomplice than victim, and vice versa.

The extent to which their 'choice' to become a tool has been deviously arranged by the workman is similarly variable.

(For further reading around this subject, ask Jeremy or David to lend their well-worn copies of this essay http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Engineering_of_Consent )

I've no doubt that some are completely oblivious to what is happening, and others know full well but find it irresistibly seductive.

All these shades of grey and blurred lines prompt an important question, the eternal "why?"

Unique wrote:they were so eager to hear the “words of wise “ and the truth proclaimed


Yes precisely. But WHY were they so eager for these things? That is the question they could ask themselves; I believe it can help them recover.

Oh and for the record, the psychological abuse you speak of is every bit as serious as physical abuse. I know someone who wishes their SES tormentor - who never touched them - would have just come out and hit them. That way the sadism would have been unmasked and tangible, they would be able to voice their anguish at last. Instead, they had to suffer in silence for years and it has left a major psychological scar. They would have preferred a real one.

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:15 am

actuallythere wrote:Oh and for the record, the psychological abuse you speak of is every bit as serious as physical abuse. I know someone who wishes their SES tormentor - who never touched them - would have just come out and hit them. That way the sadism would have been unmasked and tangible, they would be able to voice their anguish at last. Instead, they had to suffer in silence for years and it has left a major psychological scar. They would have preferred a real one.


Yes absolutely. I hope I didn't give the impression that I considered psychological abuse as being any less serious than physical abuse. My intention was merely to show that it is often more difficult to realise that you're being psychologically abused.

actuallythere wrote:Unique wrote:
they were so eager to hear the “words of wise “ and the truth proclaimed


Yes precisely. But WHY were they so eager for these things? That is the question they could ask themselves; I believe it can help them recover.


As AT said before, this seems to be a very personal issue. My own contention is that it is prima facie a mistake to assume that what you're being told about in the School is the 'truth'. Once you accept this, the only thing you're left with is an egotistical 'benefit' gained by the illusion of 'knowledge' and 'understanding'. It's not really about what you learn, but how you interpret that 'knowledge'. Saying "it must be true because it makes me feel better about myself" is no answer, because the truth of propositions has nothing whatsoever to do with how you feel about them. (A classic example of a non sequitur). This argument has the advantage of being impersonal. It doesn't matter who feels what about the School 'teaching', because how people feel about it has nothing to do with whether it's true or not.

A common answer from School people to the question of "why are you eager to hear X?" (where X is something they learn in School), is "because I think it's true". Why do you think it's true? "Because it makes me feel better about myself in some way." The above argument shows that the last answer is vacuous. In fact, what you soon realise is that you have no objective reason to believe anything you're told in the School. This is admittedly a confronting thought, but you shouldn't shy away from thoughts just because they're confronting. As AT says, it is precisely these confronting thoughts that help us climb out of the well of ignorance we were thrown into by Mrs Mavro et al.

MOTS

actuallythere
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:35 am

ManOnTheStreet wrote:I hope I didn't give the impression that I considered psychological abuse as being any less serious than physical abuse.


You didn't at all, I just wanted you to know I don't consider psychological abuse as being any less serious than physical abuse.

ManOnTheStreet wrote:My intention was merely to show that it is often more difficult to realise that you're being psychologically abused.


Yes, totally.


ManOnTheStreet wrote:My own contention is that it is prima facie a mistake to assume that what you're being told about in the School is the 'truth'. Once you accept this, the only thing you're left with is an egotistical 'benefit' gained by the illusion of 'knowledge' and 'understanding'. It's not really about what you learn, but how you interpret that 'knowledge'. Saying "it must be true because it makes me feel better about myself" is no answer, because the truth of propositions has nothing whatsoever to do with how you feel about them. (A classic example of a non sequitur). This argument has the advantage of being impersonal. It doesn't matter who feels what about the School 'teaching', because how people feel about it has nothing to do with whether it's true or not. A common answer from School people to the question of "why are you eager to hear X?" (where X is something they learn in School), is "because I think it's true". Why do you think it's true? "Because it makes me feel better about myself in some way." The above argument shows that the last answer is vacuous. In fact, what you soon realise is that you have no objective reason to believe anything you're told in the School. This is admittedly a confronting thought, but you shouldn't shy away from thoughts just because they're confronting.


That should carved in stone.

I'd add the point that there's nothing objectively wrong with gaining the egotistical benefit; it is just wrong to pretend that its not really what SES is delivering (the truth behind the euphemisms 'being brought to the threshold of realization', 'moving on the path towards the absolute' etc). It is also wrong to pretend that being 'aware' of if means it is not really egotistical.

Secondly, it's right to ask oneself "why have I believed what the school has told me" - I would eschew the word 'confronting', I would say it is an attempt at more honest self-awareness. The egotistical gain is often a desire to feel special, from people who don't. When they understand they have a need to feel special, they might realise there's a fair amount of lying going on.

Anecdote for you, names withheld:

SES member X told me: "I always thought [fellow SES member Y] was a nasty, unfeeling, irritable bastard until he delivered a speech on a residential about how he had an extremely low opinion of himself but that SES made feel like a better person. Then I sympathised with him and grew to like him a bit a bit more."

My jaw dropped when member X told me this. He was going through as much self-deception as member Y was, and the whole anecdote illustrated the mass self-deception, the people totally missing the point that rather than transcending the limitations of the ego and they are on a massive ego trip featuring profound dishonesty. Surely, member Y should have been in therapy instead.

But then, to my dismay, even the awareness of what is going on - a degree of honesty - often doesn't help. SES member Z has told me:

"I know SES is all bullshit, but I need it. I preferred the old SES when there was more discipline. That's why people are leaving for other cults [sic]. We want to be told what to do."

Words failed me as to a response.

Both anecdotes are 100% true.

ManOnTheStreet
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Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:56 am

actuallythere wrote:But then, to my dismay, even the awareness of what is going on - a degree of honesty - often doesn't help. SES member Z has told me:

"I know SES is all bullshit, but I need it. I preferred the old SES when there was more discipline. That's why people are leaving for other cults [sic]. We want to be told what to do."

Words failed me as to a response.


Yes, I've heard variants of this sort of thing from SFSK members as well.

It's indicative of the mass-deception and dependency you referred to in your post AT. Like you, I find it difficult to know what to say in situations like that. On the one hand, I sympathise with their predicament, but on the other it's so clear that the only reason they think this way is because they've been told over and over again that they need the School because they're not capable of doing anything on their own. It's a travesty.

In my view, any person that tells you that you're not good enough to stand on your own two feet and face what life throws at you is just callous and cruel. What these deceivers engage in is tantamount to psychological slavery.

sydneykatieking
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Location: Texas USA

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby sydneykatieking » Tue Feb 26, 2013 12:23 am

[quote][/quote][quote="Ella.M.C."]Hello actuallythere,

About the Sydney SOP mantra: I was 'initiated" in 1971 I think. The initiations were usually 2 years after one joined SOP, (by which time I was softened up and on my way to being totally bamboozled and hoodwinked by this pseudo-philosophy.) I joined SOP in January 1969, so around 1970-71 with the Big Ceremony. Anyway, the mantra was: RAM, pronounced as in "CD-ROM." I don't remember being told not to tell anyone what the mantra was, but after two years everything was both a Big Deal and Hush-Hush secret and I didn't talk about it to anyone, except with the occasional 'checker," who made sure you were 'doing' the meditation right.

I remember one Friday group night, which we in the second group shared with the 'top group,' Mickey Mavro could be heard through the closed doors repeating RAM over and over again and leading an out-loud chanting session of the mantra with the top group. This was typical of his obnoxious leadership style: shoving things, including the mantra, down people's throats.

I went along with the SOP program, although I had been practicing Buddhist meditation for years, following the breath and practicing mindfulness. I abandoned my simple Buddhist meditation because SOP made just a big deal of their meditation, as if it were a gift from the gods or only their meditation practice was valid.

RAM-RAM-RAM-RAM-RAM-RAM-RAM..........................................ad infinitum.....................

I continued with the RAM mantra until 1979 when, even while still in SOP, I quietly returned to the simple, harmless, Buddhist practice. The reason I stopped was that I was, by then, certain that SOP was a total sham and the Leaders were frauds and fakes and very immoral and unethical people. My last 'check' was with a student far junior to me who was one of those Central and Eastern Europeans Mickey and La Nina became enamored with. This guy's claim to fame was that he was once a member of the Vienna Boys Choir in his youth. Now he was rising fast in the SOP universe. When I walked into La Nina's bedroom at 25 Undercliff St. (you know, she and Mickey had separate bedrooms), there was this creep with such an expression on his face, I thought I had walked into a psych ward. He looked drugged, or psychotic, and hardly made eye contact with me. And he sat on the chair with his legs so far apart and open that all I could see when I walked in was crotch, his bulging crotch. He might as well have had a sign on him, "I am displaying my manhood to you, you poor lonely woman." Everything was zipped up and he didn't touch me, but I was physically sick to my stomach. Just the disrespect, the grossness, the vulgarity, the crudeness, the craziness of it all, well, I was very upset. He also thought he could read my mind and criticized me. I left in disgust and never RAM-RAM-RAMed again. My instincts told me SOP was breeding severe mental illness in its students. They played with people's minds and didn't know what the hell they were doing. A return to the simple, clean, non-violent mindfulness practice of the Buddhists, I believe, helped me clear out a decade of SOP slop, stabilized my emotions and put me back on the track to sanity. I made my Big Exit, rescuing my own life and my son's (who was delighted never to have to go back to the SOP children's groups) in May 1980 (1980! a lost decade!).

Further, about mantras: I had the pleasure of attending a gathering, sometime in the early 1970s, of Krishnamurti, who was paying a visit to Sydney. It was at Town Hall and it was, of course, absolutely packed to the rafters. I had only known him by reputation, and then, without ceremony, there he was on the stage, tall, rather elegant, white hair and no fan-fare, no big introduction. He was completely unassuming and visibly showed his displeasure that we started to applaud at the end of his talk, because the noise of the clapping killed the silence and calm engendered by his talk. He put his hands up to make us stop clapping and just walked away. He had talked without notes for about an hour and made no claims of being anyone special. The Theosophists were thick on the ground but I got the feeling he did not approve being 'claimed' by them as their 'guru.'

Anyway: this is what Krishnamurti said about mantras: there are no 'holy words,' especially no 'secret holy words.' He said: quote: you might as well repeat "Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola," for all the specialness of any 'secret sound.' He explained that it was the centering of attention on something, the refocusing, the practicing of being present that mattered, not the mantra. Shortly after that I was 'initiated' into SOP meditation, but I never forgot the words of Krishnamurti. Remember: you might as well try "fish-n-chips, fish-n-chips." It's not the mantra that does anything, it's just an anchor to come back to when your mind wanders (as, of course, it is prone to do!).

"Secret" mantras remind me of those 'secret passwords' children use to exclude outsiders from their 'secret clubs' or 'inner circles,' something Bart Simpson might require of you if you wanted access to his treehouse. Grown-ups are suppose to be a little more mature than that.

Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola, Pepsi Cola, Ram, Ram, Ram, fish-n-chips, fish-n-chips, codswollop, stuff-n-nonsense.

I love this forum. It's giving me an opportunity to express things and experiences I've never talked about before. I hope some things that I share may be of benefit to others. Best regards from Texas.
Sydney SOP survivor 1969-1980, proud contributor to the expose, Secret Cult.

Ella.M.C.
Posts: 86
Joined: Mon May 07, 2012 6:12 am

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Ella.M.C. » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:12 am

Hello sydneykatieking,

I just want to say 'for the record' that your post above is quoting nothing that
I have previously said..
It must just be an error the first part stating quote="Ella.M.C."} ?

My own experience of Michael Mavro and the mantram is different to yours.
We in the early 1990's after initiation were told never to repeat it to anyone, only
ever repeated to Mr Mavro for checking.
Never did we all chant it together as a group.
We did not have the RAM mantra, which is a genuine mantra.

Yes I agree that centering the mind on anything ..be it fish & chips or whatever is a good thing.

But as I have been told by HH receiving a mantram from a true Guru, who has meditated on that sound
himself is special, and is beneficial to that aspirant.
So they are holy words if they have been enlivened by a true sage, during his meditation.

This is true Initiation or Diksha ..

Not as what happens in SFSK ..
which is receiving 'fish & chips' from a fellow student.

sydneykatieking
Posts: 51
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2010 5:10 pm
Location: Texas USA

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby sydneykatieking » Tue Feb 26, 2013 3:28 am

I don't know how the reply to the wrong poster happened. It was suppose to go to "actually there." Perhaps "actually there" will read it anyway, somehow.
Sydney SOP survivor 1969-1980, proud contributor to the expose, Secret Cult.

Dwellingonthepast
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Apr 11, 2013 11:46 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Dwellingonthepast » Sun Apr 14, 2013 12:24 pm

For anyone who is unaware or would like a refresher, here is a transcript of one of three newspaper articles written about SOP many years ago. This was the second article published:

Joining this cult is ‘playing with fire.’

11th July 1985

SCHOOL of Philosophy leader Leonardo da Vinci MacClaren slipped into Sydney this week amid mounting controversy over practices of the cult.
Former members say MacClaren, who is accompanied by an entourage of women known as maidens, is in Sydney to take part in a residential study course at the cult’s Kent St. headquarters. The visit is part of a world tour of School of Philosophy branches. After yesterday’s revelations about the cult, The Daily Telegraph received telephone calls from former members who gave further details of its operation.
One woman, who left before she was initiated, said: “I was there for a year and never realised what I was letting myself in for. If I’d known it was more than just a school of philosophy I would never have joined. I only left because I was being pressured to spend more and more time with them.”
“I was playing with fire and I didn’t realise it.”
Other former members, who left before being drawn into the cult’s ways, could not believe how lucky they were to escape its pull. Bill Nikoloudis, a member for eight years, said the Telegraph story did not go far enough in explaining the cult. “My experiences with the cult are a lot worse, than what the story talked about,” he said. “The brainwashing and manipulation of both adults and children is just so subtle. My brother Peter, is still a member and no matter what I say, he won’t listen.”
Members have been banned from reading any of the Telegraph articles.

Cult’s secret ‘truth’
Former sect members reveal how they were brainwashed

11th July 1985

Daily Telegraph Reporter - Tim Stott

WHEN I first entered the sparsely furnished building at 7 Wilmot St, Sydney, in 1980 I thought it was simply the start of a philosophy course.
It sounded harmless enough. Newspaper advertisements and posters on railway stations talked of “12 evening lectures in Philosophy.” What could possibly be wrong with that? But as I walked through the surgically clean building on that first night, I had a hint this was not just a study group. At every corner was a man dressed in a dark three-piece suit with hair cut short back and sides. And the women all wore long dresses, with their hair in a bun and no make-up.
The $30 fee for the term was paid. I entered the lecture room where 20 other “students” were seated on hard wooden chairs. The walls were blank, the floor had a high-gloss polish and a portable blackboard stood at the front of the room. The tutor entered and strode to the lectern. He shot us with a wide-eyed smile, which reminded me of the expression of those I had passed on the way up. He them proceeded to give a general, inoffensive lecture on the themes: “What is wisdom? What is knowledge? What is truth?”
He asked members of the audience a series of questions and as each person replied, their name was entered by two people at the back of the room on a seating chart. Every word uttered by the class was carefully noted. As the first lecture neared its end a young man sprang up at the back of the room and said, “This is a load of crap,” and walked out. When we returned to the room after a coffee break, we found the seats had been rearranged in an attempt to disguise the fact that some other students had also left. At the end of the night we were told to practice a simple exercise, which would help us escape the turmoil of everyday life – we had been introduced to meditation.
For the rest of the course the tutor gave us measured doses of philosophy about everyday life. But at the end of the course we were told not to tell anyone what we learnt because “outsiders would only get confused.” This rule has kept the School of Philosophy a secret cult for 18 years. On the last night we were told the path to “The Truth” lay ahead of us and we must return to continue our studies. About 40% of the class did. The second course was much like the first except that a female assistant sat behind a desk next to the tutor.

Special

She would stare at any student whose attention deviated for a second. During the term we were led to believe we were special because we alone were seeking “The truth.” We were told not to think about what we were told. Reasoning seemed to be taboo and discussion of the material was unheard of. We were only ever asked to agree with what we were told. Those who did not attend the school, the vast majority of Australians, were labelled “ignorant” and “asleep.”
At the end of the second course the tutor, explaining we should practice what we were taught, invited us to come in every Saturday and clean the building. This cleaning, called second line work, was expanded so students were spending more and more time with the school. I refused to do second line work, much to the tutor’s displeasure. Special envoys were sent to my home to convince me that it was necessary for my development. I drifted through another five terms, each lesson further convincing me that SOP was a dangerous cult, brainwashing its members to total conformity. As other members of my group began wearing the approved long dresses or three-piece suits, I was shunned by the senior members and my own group for refusing to be part of them. Yet I had more in common with them than the rest of my family, according to the cult.
When I finally made the break from them, I had to cope with members arriving at my door telling me that I was running from “The truth,” and should return at once. For a while they succeeded in making me feel guilty, after all, they had been so nice to me! But I stuck to my guns, quite content to return to the so-called evil world. We were ever introduced to the leader Mr Mavro or told to give money. Ingrid Pusteria, a member for 10 years, summed it up: “We were brainwashed until we couldn’t think for ourselves. No matter what they asked us to do we did it. If anyone dared to question an order they were told they were ‘giving way to negative ideas’ and were quickly pulled into line.”
Another former member, Mr Anthony Ravesi added:
“The whole time we were told to simply listen to what we were told without thinking it over. This eventually led to blind acceptance of what we were told without question.
The SOP refused to comment on allegations made by former members or allegations made in the book “Secret Cult,” an expose of the cult written in Britain. A spokesman, Bruce Sullivan said the school in Australia is independent of the school in Britain but admitted they use the same material and British leader Leon MacClaren has lectured Australian students in the past. He said,
“To infer that the school is secretive or some kind of religion or cult is absurd.” Mr Sullivan later admitted students were told not to speak of the cult to anyone. He would not comment on allegations that members eventually spend much of their time with the group:
“Since its inception in Sydney in 1967 the school has provided an evening educational service to the community,” he said.
Mr Mavro has refused numerous requests from the Daily Telegraph for an interview.
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