Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Discussion of the SES, particularly in the UK.
Earlgrey
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Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:47 pm

Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Earlgrey » Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:13 pm

I wish to start a new topic called "rules and regulations, statements and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK and their effect on people".
I think it is important that this area be exposed so that victims (who wish to) may find it easier to be released from the spell of these organisations. Also it may be of benefit to individuals to remember what went on when they were under the spell of the "desire for liberation".
If I can make some rules its these. You are only allowed to post one at a time. You are allowed to comment on someone's post and post a new one if you want and talk about that. I'll kick it off with:

Criticism is never necessary and never justified.

What was its purpose?
We were told that this practice was to cut off the expression of negative feelings which were harmful to our essence. Further to this, criticism was the most destructive force in the Universe and should not be engaged in under any circumstance. Sounds pretty noble.
What effect did it have?
We couldn't ask critical questions, we behaved as though our opinion didn't matter. It created an environment where we could not raise objections, to object was to violate the rule. To violate the rule was to expose yourself and be open to criticism. See the contradiction?! We became passive participants in a self styled school for human development. All the while constant self criticism going on. I accepted that my opinion didn't matter. What about art or music critics, some brave one asked? It's not necessary because true music (Mozart) and true art (Da Vinci) did not require criticism. Art critics know nothing about the Truth. Implied: we are telling you a secret that only special people hear about. To progress in this work you must follow our directions. This direction was repeated every week,term after term. At the end of each group night the directions would be repeated as parting statements to us. We would then head off into the night to go home.
We became passive participants in the self styled school for human development. For me, unconsciously, it meant that my opinions were worthless and any critical thoughts were a product of my bad sanskara, the accumulated fruit of my past bad actions. I was a nobody, a thought I had already believed to be true but was not entirely conscious of. I was a worthless person. I never said this out loud but I quietly believed it to be true.
Oh, they also said that self criticism was included in the ban on criticism. This did not stop the self criticism but just helped to keep me passive and locked into my own self created hell. Yes it was a hell, but I can only now say that. If I was to try to remain in that mental state now it would be impossible. It did not improve our behavior it just altered it in a way which was not natural.
Other posters have stated this, people came into school with problems and inflicted the problems on others. I never inflicted my problems on anybody else but I had problems and all school really did was postpone dealing with my personal issues for 45 years. There are some positives but they don't mean much while core issues remain unresolved.
Boy, that was harder than I thought! Anyway I'm sure this will be helpful is some way.
Please let me know what you all think.

Dr.Alan
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Location: UK

Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Dr.Alan » Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:05 pm

Thank you Earlgrey for starting a very valuable stream - I am sure we will all benefit from this.

Not to criticise

We have also to put these rules into context of Advaita Vedanta, since this is the philosophy which the SES group are promoting.

It is recommended in Advaita that you do not hold negative thoughts about other people, or about the Holy Scriptures. The reason for this is simple and entirely in accordance with the primary aim of the philosophy which is to develop a clear or purified mental outlook. Since it is with such an outlook that the mind may be better able to enter into the subtler aspects of the philosophy. i.e. there are several levels of meaning within every chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, which takes many, many years to uncover. A mind which is not still and clear cannot do this. Also doubts and lack of faith or belief can contribute to this lack of stillness - if they engender negative thoughts.

Not criticising, is not a rigid rule. If the seeker knows why the guidance is there then it is entirely up to the individual how they conduct their own behaviour. However, if progress is slow in getting to an unshakable peace of mind (i.e. which is the by-product of this purified outlook) then the seeker would eventually know why this was. i.e. the principle being that the mind becomes of the nature of whatever you fill it with. If you want to achieve peace and stillness then unnecessary critical thoughts will disturb the state of the mind.

There is a corollary to this which is that when you believe that you know something negative about another person - it can be that many times the thing you think is the negative quality in them, may in fact be something better known to yourself than to them. i.e. we often project a dominant quality of our own character onto the world outside and believe that we see it there, when in many cases it is not there. Hence, it is a wise move not to jump in with negative criticism, just in case it may be to with that thing which involves "kettles and black pots". That which we are in character ourselves, is not so easily seen by our own outlook, simply because we have been with such an outlook for so long we do not notice it anymore.

We should not confuse this word with what is also called "constructive criticism" in English. There is no bar in Advaita for examining all things which are said or written, in a way which enables the seeker to eliminate doubts or confusion of the meanings. As long as the aim is to get to the deeper meanings within the scriptures and what the teachers say, then any kind of healthy debate is welcomed. This does not need to be negative. It can be a very positive and helpful process. But criticism for its own sake - simply to vent ones own dissatisfactions or ones own misunderstandings is not so welcome, simply because it may cause loss of, or indeed prevent, peace-of-mind (ananda), especially if it has a negative or condescending tone to it. All such debate is better based on actual experience rather than from a theoretical approach which involves imaginary ideas in the mind; such debate achieves little and only goes around in circles.

So from Earlgrey's clear description - which concurs with much that I remember - is another example how SES have westernised a valuable principle - for their own purposes. OR it may simply be that this is the way we should expect that those who are spiritually ignorant will take hold of a powerful idea and corrupt it in the way described.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

actuallythere
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby actuallythere » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:11 pm

"Do not criticize."

How did they say one should respond to wrongdoing, in that case?

For example, would they really say murder should not be criticized?

actuallythere
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby actuallythere » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:18 pm

Earlgrey wrote:Please let me know what you all think.


I think that was brilliant. Well done.

You said it was harder than you thought. What was hard about it?

Earlgrey
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Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Earlgrey » Thu Mar 28, 2013 2:23 am

actuallythere wrote:I think that was brilliant. Well done.

You said it was harder than you thought. What was hard about it?


Thinking about it stimulated the memory of the state of my mind at the time. That was uncomfortable.

actuallythere wrote:"Do not criticize."

How did they say one should respond to wrongdoing, in that case?

For example, would they really say murder should not be criticized?


Your question is perfectly reasonable. We were never told how to respond to wrongdoing. Remember, actions initiated by the individual where inherently bad actions. There was no sensible reason operating in me (or others I would think) while obeying this instruction. We would be passive in response to any wrongdoing or not notice it at all. Remember, when the so called "top group" finally stood up to Mavro is was a very traumatic experience (for them).

Tootsie
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Tootsie » Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:16 am

Hi Earlgrey nice topic. 'Criticism is never necessary and never justified', having spent 14 years in the SOP and many years in other spiritual organizations criticism always tops the no-no list. Why, because group unity is important for any spiritual organization to function properly. If you don't like the way the organization is being run simply leave.

Everybody has likes and dislikes, good and bad points, so if we allowed the characteristics of the individuals to dictate how an organization should be run, would any progress be made on the spiritual path?

actuallythere
Posts: 180
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby actuallythere » Thu Mar 28, 2013 5:58 am

Earlgrey, Tootsie,

Thanks for your reply. I've noticed something that you might agree seems relevant. If I'm not mistaken, and please correct me if I am, in both of your responses the word 'criticism' is used with a meaning that is specific to your circumstances in SES. I referred to the notion of criticism in a general sense, you both appear to have interpreted it as specifically meaning criticism of the SES per se. Does that mean you have consciously come to conclusion that what your tutors were really getting at was the criticism of SES rather than any other form of criticism in general, or were you slowly but surely encouraged to think of the word criticism in the context of you being accepted or rejected by SES (in the in a similar manner to how we all 'Google' something but we don't 'Ask Jeeves' or 'Yahoo' it) ?

Because this seems connected, I'd like to refer back to what I wrote to StillatSES in a post on January 29:

I'm also going to ask you to consider how aware you are of your own communication. Because it is already under the heavy influence of SES: you use the word "negativity" in a manner specific to SES that is not generally accepted by the world at large - you are presenting the word as if it is objectively a wrong thing. To what extent does this specific use of language mark you out as separate from wider society? Might this use of language serve as a reminder to you that you are among a special, privileged group?

To illustrate, one can say there has been a lot of negativity about Jimmy Savile of late. I'm sure you don't think there is anything wrong in being negative about the rape of handicapped children. And if so, can you still be certain about the way you were using the word "negativity"? And why, and how, have you been taught to use this word in this way?

SES students tend to be talked into using the word "negativity" in the way that you have above through a subliminal, almost hypnotic process, by the repeated way in which it is used by SES tutors in the classes. Then negativity is bad, they say - asking difficult, challenging questions of SES tutors is described as "negativity". So if one disagrees with them, thereby challenging the authority of the central teaching of SES, one is negative, one is bad, one is wrong.

Is it fair to say that the suppression of disagreement puts people on the path towards wisdom? And if so, how does that accommodate the fact that disagreement is very much a part of Socratic dialogue, among many other aspects of philosophy? And how does that accommodate what we know about disagreement and authoritarianism?


So I going to go back to my original question in its general sense. How would your tutors have advised you to respond to what you know as wrongdoing in the world at large - such as theft, murder, greed, cruelty to animals and so on. If they taught you a rule not to criticize (with the intention of establishing psychological authority over you, you seem to be saying) that how did that rule stand the test of universal application - that's my point.

Dr Alan, it would indeed be interesting to know what classic Advaita Vedanta says on this, and to hear your opinion on whether SES teaching is different or similar to that.

AT

Dr.Alan
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Dr.Alan » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:32 am

AT et all,
To answer questions about what Advaita Vedanta says about any subject is not so easy to put on this forum. As I have been learning over the last 3 months since I joined it. This is because Advaita Vedanta deals with principles which are only offered as guidance for those who wish to follow them. Advaita Vedanta is not a religion or an institutionalised school. Hence it is unlike anything which exists in Europe, the middle east or countries which have modelled their approach to religion and spirituality on the traditions of these areas. SES organisation are all examples of such Westernised institutions and hence Advaita Vedanta was not designed to be used in such a way as they have modified it to be. Therefore, any material put here risks being interpreted in relation to parameters in which it both does not normally exist (traditionally) nor was it designed to be used with.

Advaita Vedanta is maintained in India by the saints, or the Self-realised souls, who have not only practiced but have live by the principles of the philosophy; and have discovered in themselves that goal which the teaching points towards. Such true teachers of the subject are rare. There are in India many, many folk (teacher like) who gather disciples around them and teach philosophy. But they are very rare who have fully realised that thing within the human being which never changes, which is common to all other people on the planet (male or female), that which came into the body before its birth, that which is unaffected by whatever happens to the body or the mind, that which is not affected by opinions, theories or beliefs which change constantly, that which is all love and all consciousness at all times and never sleeps when the body sleeps. Only such fully realised souls are able to give the guidance to lead another towards the state which they have discovered.

The other teachers can help or hinder the path of a seeker, it depends very much on whether or not they seek something personal for themselves by having disciples. There is no one in India who would ban another person from setting him/ herself up as a teacher of Advaita Vedanta .

But to use any of these words on this forum - spiritual - philosophy - saint - etc. etc. is to throw them into the arena which has a basically European set of parameters and meanings associated with each word. Hence, to convey a real understanding of what Advaita Vedanta is all about ,risks misunderstanding - quite highly.

However, to mix the values of the philosophy into the actions of people in the world ("theft, murder, greed, cruelty to animals") would be to use the teaching of Advaita Vedanta in a way which it was not meant to be used. We have in the world distinct areas of organisation of society to deal with how it works. So government, education, military, police, law courts etc. etc. each have their specific area to apply to the workings of society - presumably to make it work better. Advaita Vedanta is not designed as a parallel to any of these things.

It is clear that human societies survive reasonably well without any such philosophy as Advaita Vedanta. Naturally when you start to get told things by SES type schools about changing your behaviour , you will begin to apply these ideas to the world at large. But that is not what the teaching was meant for. It is for each individual to become a more understanding person, not only about other people, but more importantly about one's own self.

To apply Advaita Vedanta to the conditions of the world, is like going to a doctor for a cure - then after you have been given the medicine you start giving it out to other people who you think need it. This is not a perfect analogy - but you get the point I hope - i.e. the teaching is for you to drink yourself. Then become, over many, many years a better, wiser, more loving, more understanding, not angry, not full of useless desires, etc etc type of person. Who would also not fear death, would not use other people for selfish ends, would be able to see the difference between the person and the actions of that person as not being the same thing. Also being much more understanding of what motivates people to steal, to murder, to be greedy, and to be cruel. The mind of one who is able to see other people in that understanding way, would not be disturbed by all the negative goings on in the world. AND THIS IS THE MAIN POINT - the mind of a person who has understood, verified and lived the teaching of Advaita Vedanta will be the same in all circumstances whatever happens - still - quiet and at peace.

I have not referred to any books or to another person to write this. All I have done is to reflect on my own life and the quality of it which I know and live every day; and to describe that for you. So you can be sure - if you are inclined to believe me - that this goal of Advaita Vedanta is a real one.

This is the best answer I can give you. You all can judge for yourselves how much off the mark SES organisations are. But personally I have been involved in more than 5 different types of such western institutionalised spiritual organisations - and I would say that this is not the way it works. It is not a mass production thing like SES think it is. It is a very individual thing - because each of us is a unique person on the outside, although we are all the same on the inside. It is however through that which we are on the outside which we come to realise that inner unity - so all our paths are individual.

Going by many examples of people who have left SES after discovering that it is not what they needed, does anyone on this forum think that SES schools should have a simple questionnaire for those who join; so that they can check that people come to them for the right reasons ??? This, it would seem, might prevent the situation where a lot of people need to join this forum.
Last edited by Dr.Alan on Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
SES - London 1964-1974 left due to SES interference with private life.

Earlgrey
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Earlgrey » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:54 am

actuallythere wrote:Earlgrey, Tootsie,

Thanks for your reply. I've noticed something that you might agree seems relevant. If I'm not mistaken, and please correct me if I am, in both of your responses the word 'criticism' is used with a meaning that is specific to your circumstances in SES. I referred to the notion of criticism in a general sense, you both appear to have interpreted it as specifically meaning criticism of the SES per se. Does that mean you have consciously come to conclusion that what your tutors were really getting at was the criticism of SES rather than any other form of criticism in general, or were you slowly but surely encouraged to think of the word criticism in the context of you being accepted or rejected by SES (in the in a similar manner to how we all 'Google' something but we don't 'Ask Jeeves' or 'Yahoo' it) ?

So I going to go back to my original question in its general sense. How would your tutors have advised you to respond to what you know as wrongdoing in the world at large - such as theft, murder, greed, cruelty to animals and so on. If they taught you a rule not to criticize (with the intention of establishing psychological authority over you, you seem to be saying) that how did that rule stand the test of universal application - that's my point.

AT


I didn't specifically process the instruction 'criticism is never justified and never necessary' as applying to criticism of SOP. It was presented as applying to the act of being critical in general about anything. But it certainly killed off the expression of any criticism of the school if you had any. But it wasn't quite like that. I didn't actually have criticism of the school per se, after all I came to SOP of my own volition, I sought out the SOP after seeing the ads, I liked what I heard. It must be said here that there was a lot of fear in the place. It's obvious in hindsight.
What the instruction did however was stop the expression of any discomfort or unease I felt relating to any of the practices because it would be expressed as a form of criticism. And criticism is never necessary and never justified.....
I had already outed myself as a sufferer of a particular level of anxiety. There is another thread discussing that spiritual practices are not therapy. So for me, the instruction had the effect of stopping me from saying I had a problem, because I perceived that it was a form of criticism. Do you understand my point? I am assuming that if I was in a nurturing environment that I would have had the wherewithall to speak up. I wanted help, (I'm crying as I write) and I was attracted to SOP but I really needed different help, sort of personal help. I'm getting off the point now but I settled into the way of school and just kept going for all the reasons that have been discussed on other threads. There were good times, in a weird way, resos, woodwork, Mt Wilson Labour Camp! But as I have already said the good times did not undo the knots.
Lastly, the tutors didn't advise on anything. They delivered the material, it was one way traffic. It's not communication, we were passive. Remember? We were trying to listen, without anything else going on. (There's another instruction worth discussing.)
I was never a tutor like that, can you just imagine what it must have looked like from the front of the room. If they were trying to establish psychological authority over us I wasn't aware of it, but I'm pretty gullible. I would be the last person to notice.
Last edited by Earlgrey on Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ahamty2
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Ahamty2 » Fri Mar 29, 2013 1:00 am

I would like to drop in simply to say that the above post by Dr Alan is perhaps the most informed and beneficial posting by Dr Alan thus far. It sums up everything with what this forum is dealing . The main problem with these organizations is “intellectualism”. How do you separate "spiritual work (life)" from everyday life?

Tootsie
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Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Tootsie » Fri Mar 29, 2013 4:48 am

Looking at my Webster's college dictionary, criticism is defined as 'An act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.' Dr. Alan has put the rule regarding criticism into context of Advaita Vedanta, since this is the philosophy which the SES group are promoting. His post makes it clear why criticism is never necessary and never justified for those following a spiritual path.

One thing Dr. Alan's post raised in my mind was how important it was to have direct contact with a Self-realized soul. The Western school system, where you have a leader who passes on second hand information to the pupils simply will not work, because each pupil has his/her own individual karma to deal with.

Watched an interesting TV documentary http://www.smh.com.au/tv/Documentary/Vi ... 32804.html about why people join cults. One of the main reasons was that the groups had a purpose to life. Maybe there is more to life than sport, sex and entertainment!

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

Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Ella.M.C. » Fri Mar 29, 2013 5:24 am

Tootsie wrote:
One thing Dr. Alan's post raised in my mind was how important it was to have direct contact with a Self-realized soul. The Western school system, where you have a leader who passes on second hand information to the pupils simply will not work, because each pupil has his/her own individual karma to deal with.
!


Yes this is it ..
And also, because the 'western leader' is not a purified soul, 'this second hand information'
generally becomes distorted/changed to suit the desires of 'that western leader',
(either knowingly or unknowingly).
This to me then seems to lead on to why the western leaders then strongly discourage or forbid students
to visit the Self Realised Soul or Holy Man .. so they can keep control of students.
They possibly think themselves in such an elevated position, as to think they know what is better than
the Holy Man. Even if the Guru himself has stated that all students are welcome to come to him.

I thank you Dr Alan on your post, it has much in it.

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

Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Fri Mar 29, 2013 7:19 am

Firstly, thank you Earlgrey for a valuable thread.

Dr.Alan wrote:To apply Advaita Vedanta to the conditions of the world, is like going to a doctor for a cure - then after you have been given the medicine you start giving it out to other people who you think need it. This is not a perfect analogy - but you get the point I hope - i.e. the teaching is for you to drink yourself. Then become, over many, many years a better, wiser, more loving, more understanding, not angry, not full of useless desires, etc etc type of person. Who would also not fear death, would not use other people for selfish ends, would be able to see the difference between the person and the actions of that person as not being the same thing. Also being much more understanding of what motivates people to steal, to murder, to be greedy, and to be cruel. The mind of one who is able to see other people in that understanding way, would not be disturbed by all the negative goings on in the world. AND THIS IS THE MAIN POINT - the mind of a person who has understood, verified and lived the teaching of Advaita Vedanta will be the same in all circumstances whatever happens - still - quiet and at peace.


I think this was very well said. There was a lot of confusion in SFSK regarding the separation of people from their actions. This led to a lot of psychological trauma for a lot of people who believed they were somehow less valuable or worthy because they weren't able to meditate "properly" or keep up all the spiritual practices. It's a real shame that this was the case, and even more so because it could have been avoided had Mr and Mrs Mavro not been in the picture.

Dr.Alan wrote:Going by many examples of people who have left SES after discovering that it is not what they needed, does anyone on this forum think that SES schools should have a simple questionnaire for those who join; so that they can check that people come to them for the right reasons ??? This, it would seem, might prevent the situation where a lot of people need to join this forum.


This is an interesting idea, although I think part of the problem regarding these Schools is that the kinds of questions likely to be on this questionnaire would be similar to the kinds of questions students are asked when they first join: "Are you happy?"; "are you content?"; "do you seek peace and joy in your life?" - all nice questions, to which most people would answer "yes", and then the tutor would say "well - you've come to the right place". I think these Schools need to make their agenda and processes clear from the beginning. Unfortunately, this was not my experience at SFSK, although I am led to believe that the Sydney SOP has made significant progress in this respect. Earlgrey, would you agree?

On the subject of criticism and the "never necessary and never justified" condition:

We got this at SFSK as well (no doubt appropriated from the SOP). Personally, I always found this "practice" to be rather nonsensical. No society can function without criticism of some kind operating within it. Criticism provides a springboard for progress and development. Obviously, I'm not advocating spiteful interaction between people, but surely there has to be an acknowledgement that some form of criticism is necessary when discriminating on any topic whatsoever. I remember another School maxim: "There is no work without friction" - if anything, the "criticism" maxim is inconsistent with the "friction" maxim, because many situations see criticism as the very friction that engenders "work" of some kind.

I think a lot of problems arise when people start to think that there are objective "right" answers to questions when it comes to spirituality and ways of life. Absolute injunctions like the "criticism" maxim are simply products of this kind of thinking. What might be better is a view that acknowledges different opinions and judges those opinions on the basis of whether they are reasonable or not, and whether any evidence exists for the claims made in those opinions. If anything, I think there is a deeper agreement to be found in the pursuit of knowledge than the superficial accord that seems to result from forcing yourself not to criticise. After all, you're still criticising - but you're just not letting anyone else know that you are, and this is just another form of dishonesty really.

MOTS

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

Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby actuallythere » Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:15 pm

Dear Earlgrey,

I read your post a while ago and decided to give it some thought. But having come back, it seems to have been edited. I recall you said that as you wrote, you were crying. This is now gone from the text. What I'd come back to say was that in my view, your tears are nothing less than sacred. They are the proof of your individuality, your autonomy, your life, your heart, your mind, possibly even your soul - they are a profound reality, and they are certainly not an illusion.

These tears of yours are the key to your future, your resolution, your strength and your peace. You must look at them and cherish them like diamonds. Where do they come from? Why do they bring such relief? Go with them, go with them without fear.

And maybe even put the sentence back.

Yes, I do understand what you mean about being restricted from expressing certain feelings. Thankfully these feelings are still there inside you, and that is truly great.

Kind regards,

AT

Earlgrey
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Rules, regulations, and directions made in SES/SOP/SFSK

Postby Earlgrey » Sat Mar 30, 2013 11:46 pm

Hi AT,
Yes I edited out the words ( I'm crying as I write).
I was crying because I went back to the mental place I was 45 years ago. I took them out because I thought it detracted from the points I was trying to make and I was being a bit self indulgent. Also I thought I might be exposing myself to some sort of ridicule. AT, this is my dirty little secret, avoiding ridicule.
I will put the words back and thanks for your comments, they're very valuable.
Earlgrey


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