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.