'Secret' mantras

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
Tootsie
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:37 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Tootsie » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:06 pm

Hi Actuallythere,
Bertrand Russell said "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education" The education I received in the School of Philosophy really made me more stupid as the years went by. OK why did it take so long to recognize this? Not wishing to go into semantics, my definition of stupidity would be lacking common sense. Cleaning carpets with tooth brushes or learning vedic mathematics in today's world does not seem sensible. Somebody said that egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity and it did with me. Becoming a tutor and having a lot of friends sure makes you think you are getting somewhere but of course its only the anesthetic working. I can still remember the moment I decided to leave school. Having tea in the basement at Kent Street I saw a picture by Pieter Bruegel of the blind leading the blind and looking around me at all the men in suits and women in long dresses the realization came to me we were all in the ditch.

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

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Sat Jul 21, 2012 2:52 pm

Tootsie,

I appreciate your reply and all is understood.

Is it not the case that you were missing something before you joined the SES? Did you not have low self-esteem, some kind of discomfort about yourself, or your past?

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

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Ella.M.C. » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:10 am

Hi Actuallythere and Tootsie,

I intend to reflect on your words Actuallythere, I realise this is your line of work so you do not say these things
without there being some basis to them.

Quite possibly I just used the word 'stupid' too flippantly and may not really even be the correct word to have used.

Just in your last question here to Tootsie, I myself did not feel any discomfort about myself, or past, or low self esteem.
Saying this though I am not an overconfident person and I feel from my own experience of observing other people that many or most people do at times in life (myself included) have doubts about themselves and some low esteem issues.
To me this is not a chronic condition but just reflects the fragile human condition.
This is what gives us discomfort in life and makes us search/look for an answer or meaning to life.
Without knowing any discomfort one would not look for it's opposite or happiness.
This is what starts the search for Truth ..
And many then take to a spiritual path to find meaning.

Myself being interested in Eastern philosophy before coming to SFSK, on finding the School and like minded
people, it seemed the perfect way.

Actuallythere, I relate to your post here very well ..

Tootsie wrote:Hi Actuallythere,
Bertrand Russell said "Men are born ignorant, not stupid. They are made stupid by education" The education I received in the School of Philosophy really made me more stupid as the years went by. OK why did it take so long to recognize this? Not wishing to go into semantics, my definition of stupidity would be lacking common sense. Cleaning carpets with tooth brushes or learning vedic mathematics in today's world does not seem sensible. Somebody said that egotism is the anesthetic that dulls the pain of stupidity and it did with me. Becoming a tutor and having a lot of friends sure makes you think you are getting somewhere but of course its only the anesthetic working. I can still remember the moment I decided to leave school. Having tea in the basement at Kent Street I saw a picture by Pieter Bruegel of the blind leading the blind and looking around me at all the men in suits and women in long dresses the realization came to me we were all in the ditch.

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

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:47 am

Dear Ella,

Thanks very much for your thoughtful reply.

You wrote:

I realise this is your line of work so you do not say these things
without there being some basis to them.


Here you've jumped to a conclusion - this is not my line of work. I am not more of an authority on the subject than anyone else. I have been around SES members and their families for decades and express opinions that are yours to accept or reject.

It would be more accurate to say that over the years I've noticed a common characteristic among SES members, that they presume to know certain things to be real, and hide from personal realities, and within the framework of the organization construct illusions of reality - without autonomously, honestly and thoroughly examining the world around them and inside them with an open, enquiring and discerning mind.

Phrases such as surrender it to the Absolute and live in the present moment are used to bury, diminish and distort personal realities, exacerbating profound self-deception. My concern is that words such as "cult" and "stupid" equally stop people getting to the heart of the matter. There are important reasons why highly intelligent people join spiritual groups and become brainwashed - calling them stupid is not a clear enough explanation. In fact it shuts up difficult questions in precisely the same way that SES tutors quite abusively shut up reasonable questions from their students.


AT

ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:32 am

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Mon Aug 20, 2012 6:34 am

actuallythere wrote:It would be more accurate to say that over the years I've noticed a common characteristic among SES members, that they presume to know certain things to be real, and hide from personal realities, and within the framework of the organization construct illusions of reality - without autonomously, honestly and thoroughly examining the world around them and inside them with an open, enquiring and discerning mind.


Precisely. It is an assumption held by many in the School that terms like "absolute", "self", "mind" etc. have meaning without any accompanying operational definitions. It's no use talking about "surrendering to the Self" if you don't know:
i) exactly what you mean by "Self";
ii) exactly what you mean by "surrendering";
iii) exactly how this process is supposed to work; and
iv) what evidence there is to support the notion that what you are doing really is surrendering to the Self, and not something else (i.e. something more mundane, like 'calming your mind' for example).

E.g. If I was to tell a School student that his wife was having an affair, he would (rightly) require of me the presentation of evidence to support my claim. Likewise, if I told him a family member had died, or that Aliens had taken over the government, or that the sun actually revolved around the earth (and not the other way around). The first thing he would ask is something like "how do you know?" or "show me some evidence!". Yet, the moment I tell him that the world is unreal and that he is in fact identifying with his "ego" (and the resulting assumption that he has a "True Self" etc.) he immediately relinquishes this evidential requirement and is happy to take me at my word. How is this a justified move?

It is an established principle that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence to back them up. The claim that the world is in fact unreal is about as extraordinary as it gets (let alone the claim that Brahman/the Absolute exists). Those who claim these things must present evidence that is much more convincing than mere hearsay and conjecture; and yet that is about all you ever get in the School.

The problem is that after a while, people in School stop valuing evidence, and this is why it is so difficult to discuss the validity of their beliefs with them. If someone doesn't value evidence, it's very difficult to provide evidence that will convince them of the fallacy of their belief.

MOTS
Last edited by ManOnTheStreet on Wed Aug 22, 2012 6:16 am, edited 3 times in total.

woodgreen
Posts: 219
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:07 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby woodgreen » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:51 pm

Hi AT and all

For what it's worth the secret mantra in the SES UK was Ram. Much exposed on this forum and the Guru seems to be a different one. (But Gurus names have a way of confusing us people! ). Anyway, again, much discussed on the Forum if you want to explore it.Wonder why the difference? Did the SOP/SFSK changeover or does it really matter? As AT has identified, the secrecy of it became the point for the SES - I recall our tutor insisting on this. And the fact that the SES actually gave the mantras to people probably undermines their true authenticity, whichever tradition or Guru they came from.

Also, I found that after being given the mantra, my meditation began to go collywest. It disturbed my mind, which without a mantra had been able to find some peaceful time. I think that finally started to be the beginning of the end in the school for me- the mantra didn't help and the signs that all was not well in the school began to show. Oh dear, what a mess they made of it all.

best wishes
woodgreen.
Ex-SES Member. (Member for 3 years in late nineties).

woodgreen
Posts: 219
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 7:07 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby woodgreen » Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:16 pm

Hi AT,

Just wanted to add to my post in the light of your questions to Tootsie about members having some egocentric needs, and therefore being willing to go through the initiation and accept a mantra. This is not true, because the initiation is kept secret too - people did not know what the initiation was going to be ( at least in my group we didn't) and they too were not looking for an egocentric validation. Yes we may have been going through a vulnerable period in our lives and therefore were easy prey for a cult ( a common theme I think you will find) but of the friends in my group ( in our late thirties/ish) many had normal vulnerabilties i.e. I had come through a difficult divorce, others were in the middle of a marriage breakdown, and others were looking for some new avenues, maybe because of losses ( bereavement was also one person's vulnerability), and I suspect their sexuality may still have been in question, at least in society, whether or not in their families.So the possibility of like minded people who were similarly - placed was an early draw for people who joined. It was not actually the school that kept people attending - it was the other people in their group. The SES uses that vulnerabilty, and it is often just that, to capture people. Then it can be too late. It is why when people leave a cult, they miss their friends, not the school and it's hierarchy.

Sorry if I'm banging on, but it is a bit like the opposite of what you have suggested - often people had gone through difficult periods in their life, at whatever age. Not their fault that they could not resolve them , but speaking as an adult, we were just going through what now is much more accepted, and which the SES did not and probably does not accept as life's up's , down's, and difficult cards.

Sadly, the SES retains people who may have had similar life problems ( problems are allowed, we are human) and we are all a bit worried about them as they may have been vulnerable and then kept within their SES bubble. It is one of the most difficult things to balance, hence the lack of proper official support and understanding about how to counsel people in or out of cults. Nothing official exists - this Forum fills a part of that gap but hey, where are the organisations that support exiters? I rang the Samaritans a while after I left and they did not have a clue where to direct me or help. When I responded that I didn't think I was suicidal they kind of went away. I was obviously pretty close, or would not have rung them. And the Samaritan's head at the time was an advisor to one of the anti-cult movements. Maybe it didn't filter down, but someone needs to do something to pull all this together IMO.

Anyway, at one level you are probably right AT - some members of the SES may need validation etc., and the SES provides that. But I suspect they are at the higher levels, not the worker bees, which the majority of people on the forum were, in their own way, in the SES. But BZZZZZZZZZZZZZ, we work here now grasshoppers!!!!!

In love, sometimes in jest, but trying.

woodgreen

PS AT - PM me if you want me to elucidate, and I hope the people who you know and care for in the SES appreciate your concern and work. Not an easy task. xx
Ex-SES Member. (Member for 3 years in late nineties).

Ahamty2
Posts: 79
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:03 am

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Ahamty2 » Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:48 am

Woodgreen,

Ram is simply a Hindi/Sanskrit word for what we say in English : 'god'. deity. So instead of a fancy hindu word for god, we could have saved ourselves a couple of weeks wages by just meditating on the word "god". Perhaps it doesn't sound exotic and eastern enough, perhaps the Latin word "Deus" or the ancient Greek "Zeus".

We could go on, couldn't we!

ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:32 am

Re: 'Secret' mantras/ Leaving the School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Aug 22, 2012 5:30 am

woodgreen wrote:Just wanted to add to my post in the light of your questions to Tootsie about members having some egocentric needs, and therefore being willing to go through the initiation and accept a mantra. This is not true, because the initiation is kept secret too - people did not know what the initiation was going to be ( at least in my group we didn't) and they too were not looking for an egocentric validation.


This is an interesting point. However, it is not strictly necessary to know the details of the initiation in order to derive an egotistical benefit from the anticipation of that initiation. What I mean is: the initiation (whatever it is) is presented as something very very special. As a student, you don't need to know exactly what the initiation involves in order to appreciate it as being 'special'. Essentially, the tutor tells you "you will undergo an extremely significant process. This is one of the most important things that will happen to you in your life, and will set that life apart (and above) from the lives of others who have not had the opportunity to undergo this process." This is enough to draw out a feeling of egotistical validation from the student, whether or not they actually know what the process involves.

woodgreen wrote:So the possibility of like minded people who were similarly - placed was an early draw for people who joined.


Couldn't you say though that it was the possibility of like-minded people in respect of their desire to find some meaning in their lives that was the draw-card, and not the possibility that they were similarly placed in respect of their individual life circumstances (mid-life crisis etc.)? This is because you would have no way of knowing what the possible life circumstances were of your potential fellow students, but you could make a reasonable inference as to their desire for Truth or meaning in their lives (whatever lives they may have been).

I think this is important, because the School does not advertise itself as a counselling service or as an organisation that helps people to overcome the difficulties in their lives. Rather, it advertises itself as a "cultural and educational organisation" for people who want to find out the Truth about their existence. From the very beginning, students expect that by staying in the School they will be privy to whatever knowledge is required to achieve this aim. This carrot is dangled in front of students for the whole time they are members. In my view, initiation is just another part of the carrot.

woodgreen wrote:It was not actually the school that kept people attending - it was the other people in their group.


I would have to defer to your experience here Woodgreen, however in my own conversations with School people who wanted to leave (and felt they couldn't) there were two things that cropped up:

1. A sense of responsibility for the 'spiritual wellbeing' of their fellow students; and
2. A fear of what would become of them if they left the School. (The "What would my reference point be?" question)

1) This is most common amongst tutors. The only question to ask is: If you think the direction of the School is wrong, then you cannot really say that you are helping the 'spiritual wellbeing' of your students by remaining in the School (and by that fact condoning what goes on there). Is it not in the interest of your fellow students' spiritual wellbeing to be informed of the dangers of remaining in such an organisation? Is it not more in their interest to be informed that they are being led down the garden path? Nobody here is suggesting that people should be coerced to leave (any more than they should be coerced into staying). We are suggesting that they should be given the opportunity to make up their own minds on the basis of all the available evidence as to whether they want to stay or not. In my experience, when presented with the evidence, the vast majority of students end up leaving the School. The corollary to this is that it defies common sense to suggest that the spiritual wellbeing of your fellow students is in any way fostered by not informing them of all the evidence regarding what goes on in the School.

2) This fear rests primarily on the presumption that the 'reference point' alluded to (but, crucially, never explicitly defined) in the School is valid. But what is the 'reference point' of the School exactly? It can't be 'the scriptures' because no one in the School really knows what the scriptures actually say about any given topic. It can't be 'the Teaching', because the Teaching is actually silent on many issues. It's also true that no one in the School is capable of giving a cogent definition of what the Teaching says about any given topic. These things are simply demonstrably true. Trying to get a cogent definition of karma or 'the mind' out of a School student is a tragically humorous experience.

What we are left with is simply "whatever Mrs Mavro says the 'reference point' is". It's really as simple as that. The moment you ask "what is your 'reference point' right now?" the response is hopelessly inadequate. These people are happy to trust Mrs M's judgement on what their 'reference point' is, without ever trying to figure out exactly what she does think that 'reference point' is. In fact, she is equally as incapable of defining her reference point as anyone else in the School.

Thus, if you don't even know what your 'reference point' is right now, how can you say that you will necessarily lose it by leaving the School, and furthermore, how can you say you will be worse off not having that 'reference point' in your life?

Therefore, this fear is irrational. It rests on a concept of a 'reference point' which is vague to the point of being practically meaningless.

My reference point is reason, logic and common sense. It is consistency in argument and cogency of definition for concepts. It is perhaps best summarised by the Decalogue of Bertrand Russell:

1. Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2. Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3. Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4. When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5. Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6. Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.
7. Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8. Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent that in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9. Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.
10. Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool's paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.

A link to this Decalogue: http://www.math.uh.edu/~tomforde/Russell-Decalogue.html

I would challenge any School member to come up with a 'reference point' that is defined as clearly and unambiguously as the above Decalogue.

MOTS

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

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Wed Aug 22, 2012 7:12 am

@MOTS

You wrote:

This is enough to draw out a feeling of egotistical validation from the student


Yes. And am sure you'd agree that a pre-requisite of this happening is convincing the 'student' first that they are on a path of transcending the limitations of the ego. That is a crucial stage, the guided self-deception, and without it the egotistical validation would never take place.

This is the key to the SES slow-burn hypnosis, also known as mind control: one needs to believe no egotistical validation is taking place in order for the egotistical validation to take place.

From the top to the bottom of the organization, the single driving force for involvement is egotistical validation.

Illusions thrive as soon soon as one is convinced that everything is an illusion.

Being 'aware' of the egotistical validation does not legitimise it: the child abusers are 'aware' that they get a thrill out of abusing children. The rest of the life-wreckers in SES do the same.

Secondly, by the way, think it would be worth us unpacking this word 'Truth' that gets bandied about. It means very different things to different people and it is a bit iffy to give it a capital letter so I'm not going to use it. Are we talking about 'truth' as in 'the meaning of life' or 'truth' as 'God', or 'truth' as

'the placebo handed to me by a group of deceptive, sexually repressed ego-maniacal charlatans with zombie faces wearing scary long skirts and cheap suits who feast on my personal insecurities caused by childhood trauma that I could also address through e.g. (1) forming a loving and honest relationship with someone who has compatible attitudes to mess, money, and the toilet seat (2) trying a number of psychotherapists until I find one who encourages my mental autonomy (3) blowing my mind on magic mushrooms and picking up the pieces afterwards (4) reading the entire self-help section of Waterstone's (5) going to weekly stand-up comedy nights (6) getting over myself (7) all of the above.'

Am joking of course, but the joke was just to illustrate a point that 'truth' is not a universally agreed term and we shouldn't pretend that it is. Better use another word because the use of this one is seriously loaded.

Tootsie
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:37 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Tootsie » Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:47 am

Has anybody tried to sell a slightly used Secret mantra on eBay? Mine cost me a weeks wage, how about a starting bid of $1?
Last edited by Tootsie on Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

Tootsie
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:37 pm

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby Tootsie » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:08 am

Hi Ahamty 2, my definition of the word Ram is simply an uncastrated adult sheep or if you prefer RAM can also mean random access memory.

ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:32 am

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:46 am

actuallythere wrote:And am sure you'd agree that a pre-requisite of this happening is convincing the 'student' first [thinking] that they are on a path of transcending the limitations of the ego. That is a crucial stage, the guided self-deception, and without it the egotistical validation would never take place.


Absolutely right AT. This is also the source of so much self-doubt in students. Every problem is approached by first asking "how am I at fault here? It must be my ego causing problems for me." This is no way to live. If you are constantly doubting yourself how are you supposed to ever achieve any kind of autonomy and freedom?

I also want to point out that the 'ego' is not clearly defined in School either. It's no answer to say "the ego is all your thoughts, feelings and experiences bound together by memory". Who's thoughts? Who's memory? Your ego's thoughts and memory of course! (Who else could they belong to?) So what we end up with is the following:

"The ego is the ego's thoughts, feelings and experiences bound together by the ego's memory".

This is a nonsensical (and circular) statement that says nothing at all. If you can't even define what the ego is, how can you say that it is the source of all your problems and misunderstandings?

I clearly remember that one of the main things that precipitated my leaving the School was the realisation that so many of the concepts I had previously taken as 'self-evident' or 'obvious' were in fact not defined at all, or circularly defined. Words like 'karma', 'the mind', 'the Self', 'Truth', 'ego', 'discrimination' (in the sense of 'buddhi'), illusion', 'maya', ... the list goes on. None of these are properly defined in the School. You can see this by asking students what they think the definitions are - you will be hard pressed to get two answers that don't contradict each other in some way. We can't even begin to contemplate the truth of these terms/propositions when there isn't even any consensus on what they mean.

actuallythere wrote:Illusions thrive as soon soon as one is convinced that everything is an illusion.


So true. Taking this concept to its logical conclusion, we see that the teaching of the School (and the School itself) is also an illusion. So much for 'eternal principles of truth' and 'reference point'. They're all illusions - why follow them? Of course, no one actually lives their life really believing all of this is an illusion. These teachings and principles are taken as very real. This is the fundamental hypocrisy of the School's method; "everything is an illusion, but what we tell you is real and true." If the teaching in the School is real and true, then you have to allow for the possibility that anything else could also be real and true. But then, not everything is an illusion! Take your pick...

actuallythere wrote:Secondly, by the way, think it would be worth us unpacking this word 'Truth' that gets bandied about. It means very different things to different people and it is a bit iffy to give it a capital letter so I'm not going to use it. Are we talking about 'truth' as in 'the meaning of life' or 'truth' as 'God', or 'truth' as

'the placebo handed to me by a group of deceptive, sexually repressed ego-maniacal charlatans with zombie faces wearing scary long skirts and cheap suits who feast on my personal insecurities caused by childhood trauma that I could also address through e.g. (1) forming a loving and honest relationship with someone who has compatible attitudes to mess, money, and the toilet seat (2) trying a number of psychotherapists until I find one who encourages my mental autonomy (3) blowing my mind on magic mushrooms and picking up the pieces afterwards (4) reading the entire self-help section of Waterstone's (5) going to weekly stand-up comedy nights (6) getting over myself (7) all of the above.'

Am joking of course, but the joke was just to illustrate a point that 'truth' is not a universally agreed term and we shouldn't pretend that it is. Better use another word because the use of this one is seriously loaded.


Yes. I apologise that I have not as yet defined what I mean by 'Truth'. I meant simply the word 'Truth' as it is bandied about in School: i.e. the 'underlying reality'/'absolute'/'Brahman'/'unifying principle' etc. For myself, I doubt such a 'Truth' exists in the sense that it is talked about in the School, however I am aware that many School leavers (and current members of course) do believe in its existence. It is to them that I address the majority of my posts. Of course, I don't think any of the above characterisations of 'truth' are satisfactory at all - if anything because they automatically place a limit on what the 'truth' could be. No one knows what the 'truth' is! Why bother defining it in such restrictive terms?

I agree with AT: what we mean by 'truth' has to be defined properly. What follows inevitably from such an attempt is the realisation that this term (as AT says) means very different things for different people. Furthermore, each conception necessarily entails the need for further definitions; e.g. If you think the 'truth' is 'God', then you have to define 'God'. If you think the 'truth' is 'Brahman', then you have to define 'Brahman'.

@AT regarding 'Truth':

I'm now going to wade into rather difficult territory so bear with me...

Note the following uses of the word 'truth' in School:

1. "The truth about your existence is that you are in fact non-different from Brahman."
2. "The purpose of your life is to discover the Truth."

These are completely different uses of the word 'truth'. In fact they are so different as to warrant the use of another word instead of 'Truth' in (2).

The use of 'truth' in (1) is the common usage. That is, 'truth' as 'actuality' or 'conformity with fact or reality'. All (1) is saying is: "It is a fact about your existence that you are non-different from Brahman". This is a proposition that can be analysed and debated (as it has been for centuries by philosophers).

The statement of (2) on the other hand is a completely different kettle of fish. 'Truth' in (2) is an undefined term. It represents the aim of your existence, without evincing any meaning as to what that aim might be. Due to its synonymity with the word 'truth', people assume that the aim of their existence has the properties that 'truth' has. I.e. 'actuality' or 'conformity with fact or reality'. But 'Truth' here is not necessarily any of these things! 'Truth' in (2) is just a place-holder word for whatever the purpose of your life is. Thus (2) is actually the following statement: "The purpose of your life is to discover X, where X is something as yet undefined". Without a definition for X, the statement (2) is clearly not meaningful.

In other words, the use of 'truth' in (1) is completely different to the use of 'Truth' in (2). These two words do not share any properties. It is a fallacy to simply assume that 'Truth' (2) bears some necessary relation to 'truth' (1) just because the two words sound/look the same. I might as well say (as a modification of (2)), that "the purpose of your life is to discover Broccoli". Now you no longer think the purpose of your life has anything to do with 'truth' (1). This is in fact exactly how you should feel when reading (2) in its original form. This is because 'Broccoli' is actually not a worse definition of the purpose of your life than 'Truth'.

All this serves to illustrate is that terms are bandied about in School willy-nilly without anybody ever stopping to think about what they actually might mean. An interesting exercise is to do the same as the above 'unpacking' for words like "Mind" "Self" "Manas" "Buddhi" "Brahman" "Reality" "Consciousness" "Karma" and so on. What you will invariably find is a number of different, contradictory and mutually exclusive meanings for all these words in 'School language'.

For example, (using the word 'truth' again), even though statement (1) is something Shankara endorses, there is nothing in Shankara's writings that suggests Brahman is synonymous with 'Truth' (2). Yet this is just something which is assumed in the School. It is not the case.

This lack of rigour is terrible, because after a while in School, no one knows what they're talking about when they say "Truth" or "Manas" or "Mind" etc. Conversations become meaningless because two people understand completely different things when they say the same word. It's the Tower of Babel all over again.

Incidentally, you can see Mrs Mavro do this all the time when she's taking groups. When you question her about a term or word she uses, she'll give some answer, and if you aren't satisfied with the answer she'll immediately start using the word in some other way so as to avoid the question. E.g. the 'Mind'. Sometime she'll talk about the 'Mind' as meaning 'manas', and she'll talk about it as being the 'antahkarana' (manas, buddhi, ahankara and chitta together), maya, and so on, all within the same answer. You can't just change the meaning of a word when the previous meaning no longer suits your purpose! This is not honest inquiry at all.

In fact, the above tactic is often perceived by students to be evidence of some 'greater' or 'deeper' understanding Mrs Mavro supposedly has of the Teaching. You often hear conclusions of hers like "you see? The mind is actually X, not Y as you previously thought it was; so that answers your question." But it was Mrs Mavro that told you the mind = Y in the first place! Telling you afterwards that the mind = X is not evidence of deeper understanding, it's just changing the definition of the word 'mind'. Anyone can do that.

MOTS

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

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby actuallythere » Wed Aug 22, 2012 2:35 pm

@MOTS

Nice post.

Personally, for what its worth, I'm agnostic and a firm believer in 'not knowing' or 'the unknown', also referred to as 'mystery'.

We don't know answers to certain questions, and that is beautiful. There is a lot of amazing stuff going on in our heads and the world around us that we don't understand, and we can celebrate it without needing to understand or 'know' it. In some ways that is the antithesis of 'the truth'. And organizations, gurus, etc can't stand it. There's a nice part of Islam which states we are too small to know the truth, that only God knows the truth, and I am sure there are elements of all religions which have a place for this idea.

However, I'm wary of anyone who tells me their organization is going to show me the truth, and that I need to follow them to find it. I tell them: 'thank you very much but I know that I am too small to know the truth, and so are you, and both you and I don't need to know. We both need other things, especially love, but let's be honest with ourselves and each other and not call it truth.'

ManOnTheStreet
Posts: 137
Joined: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:32 am

Re: 'Secret' mantras

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:26 pm

actuallythere wrote:We don't know answers to certain questions, and that is beautiful.


Yes I agree. The starting point for any genuine inquiry is the position of not knowing. (If you knew what the answers were, what's the point of 'inquiry'?) Having the answers spoon-fed to you every week is not a viable environment for inquiry of any sort. It beggars belief that any inquiry into the nature of 'truth' could possibly start with a statement like "the nature of 'truth' is ..." If they're telling you what to think about the nature of 'truth' it makes no sense to talk about an 'inquiry' into the nature of 'truth'.

It's not 'inquiry' if you can only ask particular questions and expect particular answers. Inquiry is free, yet the methodology used in the School precludes the freedom of thought necessary to facilitate that inquiry.

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.

MOTS


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