Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Discussion of the SES' satellite schools in Australia and New Zealand.
Earlgrey
Posts: 27
Joined: Mon Feb 27, 2012 2:47 pm

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Earlgrey » Wed Mar 07, 2012 10:15 am

No offence is taken. It's a sobering thought though.

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Tootsie » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:40 am

Hi Earlgrey, I was in the Sydney School for 14 years so I completely understand where you are coming from. It was very hard to leave because my life was the School. Apart from work colleagues all my friends were in School and my whole life revolved around it. My philosophy was very simple, you are born, you live for awhile and then you die. Where you come from is a mystery and where you go to when you die is a mystery and in between you are given consciousness and the freedom to use it in any way you choose. So for 14 years of my life the consciousness was exposed to the Indian philosophy of Advaita Vedanta and Fourth Way teaching.

I remember one day in Kent Street we were having tea in the basement when I saw Bruegels painting of the blind leading the blind and looking round the realization came to me that we were all in the ditch. After leaving SOP it took 3 years before I found another School which followed the Western Tradition and have been in it for 18 years now.

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby actuallythere » Wed Mar 07, 2012 2:07 pm

Tootsie wrote:After leaving SOP it took 3 years before I found another School which followed the Western Tradition and have been in it for 18 years now.


@Tootise

Which 'School' is that ?

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Earlgrey » Thu May 31, 2012 9:13 am

Sorry to take so long to respond to a couple of questions that were put to me but here goes.

Given that you say, "I don't know what I am still doing in the place," perhaps you'd be willing to take this opportunity to answer that question, and talk through your thoughts, here on this forum?

What am I still doing at SOP? Well the same thing that brought me in is keeping me here. An interest in pursuing this line of thinking, about the Self and the pursuit of happiness I guess. Is this interest being satisfied? Well the answer is no. Why am I still here then. Well it’s a form of fear. I’m not afraid of the people in SOP as such but a fear that if I don’t go anymore I will be giving up something that is necessary for my welfare. That I will miss out or something. It’s not a school for human development on the individual level so personal issues are not well received. That’s because the tutors are not trained for interaction with human beings at a personal level. They are not councillors and have not even rudimentary people handling skills. I mean they are nice but if you have a problem they haven’t the foggiest notion of how to respond. For Christ’s sake they can’t even bring themselves to say things like, “what’s the matter mate”, “is there anything I can do to help?”

Someone the other night spoke up about something that was bothering them and the response was blah blah blah followed by more blah blah blah. At the end of the night it was obvious to me that this person didn’t have any issue addressed and everyone was pretending that nothing happened. We all go on our merry way and the poor soul will, I guess, lie in bed at night thinking what the hell is going on? I know from experience that if I said something like wait a minute the person is not really being helped or what is the real issue being raised, or how can this person be helped? Most of the people would just pretend that there is no problem. In the end you begin to look like a trouble maker. So it’s not worth it. Could I help the person? Not really, I have my own problems and would probably start crying and tell them what mine are!

The numbers decline and the school will end up in financial strife and that will be the end of it. Though I suspect the cashed up London School will stump up cash if a financial crisis hits the Sydney School, more than it already has.
What keeps me here? Good question.

Secondly, given that you have been there 30 years, you have privileged insight into how the place works. Of interest of all of us is whether the alleged psychological or ego-manipulation techniques --with the goal of recruitment and group control, but with the outcome of abuse and deep emotional anguish-- are (a) knowingly crafted and maliciously implemented or (b) have come about due to the sociological evolution of the group, whereby such techniques became tempting to leaders and middle ranks because they started to put the growth of the group itself ahead of any purported intellectual or spiritual growth. This - ironically - would have required either a massive lack of self awareness from the people who fell into this pattern, or else extraordinary duplicity. I tend to think there was a combination of both.

I don’t think there is much of what is described above in the Sydney School now but it may well be happening amongst the newbies in the organisation but I don’t think so. It is a good description of what went on under the Mavro regime. Under his replacement nothing happened. The School declined and stagnated for over 10 years. Many people left. At least the current leader has some energy and is trying out some ideas. I suspect a lot of it is under instruction from London which I think means a continuation of the disconnection from the real needs of the people in SOP. But hey, they know better and have a true aim so that is not a problem is it?

I have not suffered at all like some have described in other posts. I am just dissatisfied. To those that had parents in the school and suffered the torture of those early years how can that ever be resolved or rectified? If you lost your father or mother to the school and then managed to extricate yourself from that mess, how can that be ultimately resolved?

To the people who have suffered and been badly affected I truly hope that there will be some sort of resolution of the pain.

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Earlgrey » Fri Jun 01, 2012 7:56 am

Just want to add to my response to the second question above,

I think the second thing that you list is the case: that the alleged psychological or ego-manipulation techniques have come about due to the sociological evolution of the group. A lot of things just happened,I think, in an unplanned and unconscious way. It was kind of like a mass agreement and nobody questioned anything. Wide eyed but closed minded.

Like you stated, "this - ironically - would have required either a massive lack of self awareness from the people who fell into this pattern".

Why was there a rule to never discuss with anyone outside the group what goes on in the group? Oh and the other rule, criticism is never justified and never necessary. It's just chilling to say it. This rule certainly kept our mouths closed. That was the one. And it was expressed in a way that made it appear that it was good for our welfare. My blood is running cold just thinking of it. I can tell you that SOP is nothing like that now but it is not interested in anyone that doesn't agree with it's mission.

As a colleague said to me as a joke, "get with the programme or sit in the dark". That is so funny and probably somewhat true.

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bonsai
Posts: 322
Joined: Sun Feb 12, 2006 12:08 am
Location: London

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby bonsai » Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:31 pm

Hello Earlgrey and thankyou for taking the time to answer the questions posed. You have been extraordinarily candid in your answers. I think these answers are very revealing

Earlgrey wrote:What am I still doing at SOP? Well the same thing that brought me in is keeping me here. An interest in pursuing this line of thinking, about the Self and the pursuit of happiness I guess. Is this interest being satisfied? Well the answer is no. Why am I still here then. Well it’s a form of fear. I’m not afraid of the people in SOP as such but a fear that if I don’t go anymore I will be giving up something that is necessary for my welfare. That I will miss out or something.


You seem to describe here the inertia that keeps people in a lot of situations from jobs, religious organisations, relationships. May be if I stick around things may get better or I might find out / achieve whatever it is that was started in the beginning, besides if I weren't to sick around I haven't the foggiest where to start to work out what will satisfy me. I suspect that it is the not knowing what to do instead that keeps you there more than anything.


Earlgrey wrote:That’s because the tutors are not trained for interaction with human beings at a personal level. They are not councillors and have not even rudimentary people handling skills. I mean they are nice but if you have a problem they haven’t the foggiest notion of how to respond. For Christ’s sake they can’t even bring themselves to say things like, “what’s the matter mate”, “is there anything I can do to help?”

Someone the other night spoke up about something that was bothering them and the response was blah blah blah followed by more blah blah blah. At the end of the night it was obvious to me that this person didn’t have any issue addressed and everyone was pretending that nothing happened. We all go on our merry way and the poor soul will, I guess, lie in bed at night thinking what the hell is going on? I know from experience that if I said something like wait a minute the person is not really being helped or what is the real issue being raised, or how can this person be helped? Most of the people would just pretend that there is no problem. In the end you begin to look like a trouble maker. So it’s not worth it. Could I help the person? Not really, I have my own problems and would probably start crying and tell them what mine are!


You describe very well how the SOP/SES takes no real care about the problems that their members have. They twist personal experiences of people, who genuinely need practical and emotional support with things, into convoluted spiritual and philosophical metaphors and offer this as solutions and the path the self realisation (nirvana). And to think the mix this with the education of children in the day schools and offer it out as a better education model.

Earlgrey wrote:The numbers decline and the school will end up in financial strife and that will be the end of it. Though I suspect the cashed up London School will stump up cash if a financial crisis hits the Sydney School, more than it already has.
What keeps me here? Good question.

Your description here of the ultimate demise of the organisation is probably spot on. Yes London will assist but I suspect that it cannot depend on its membership and wealth forever and it will likely go the same way. So given this and the lack of satisfaction that the organisation brings to you, why would you stick around wasting your time, money and energy? And why would you want to be part of sustaining it given that the only thing that does sustain it is its members?


Earlgrey wrote:To the people who have suffered and been badly affected I truly hope that there will be some sort of resolution of the pain.

And to you I hope you find some true satisfaction from somewhere, however I doubt you'll find it in the SOP.

Bonsai

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby sydneykatieking » Sat Mar 02, 2013 11:14 pm

Other SOP/SFSK survivors have posted relevant websites and references for general interest and information. I have just found this book, Assholes, a theory, by Aaron James, Doubleday 2012. Sorry, I don't mean to be vulgar or uncivil; that really is the title.

. . . and this is what he said: (p5)" What is it to be an asshole?: Our theory is simply this: a person counts as an asshole when, and only when, he:

1. allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically;
2. does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement, and
3. is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.

What distinguishes the asshole is the way he acts, the reasons that motivate him to act in an abusive and arrogant way. The asshole acts out of a firm sense that he is special, that the normal rules of conduct do not apply to him. . . is willfully oblivious to normal expectations.. . . he will often himself feel indignant when questions about his conduct are raised."

This, I feel, is/was a perfect description of the Mavro destructive, dynamic duo.

Regards from America --
Sydney SOP survivor 1969-1980, proud contributor to the expose, Secret Cult.

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Dwellingonthepast » Sun Apr 14, 2013 2:15 am

For anyone who is unaware, here is a transcript of one of three newspaper articles written about SOP many years ago:

Slaves to a ‘master’
Cult’s women and children starved and forced to work unpaid

12th July 1985

Daily Telegraph Reporter - Tim Stott

Michael (Mosko) Mavro is a man of two faces. To his workmates at the electricity Commission he is an engineer in the transmission department. But to members of the school of Philosophy he is The Master – a man who is closer to God than any other and one who must be obeyed without question.
It is only due to the secrecy of the cult that Mavro manages to play these two roles independently. He is not presented as a guru to newcomers. But to initiates who have been sworn to secrecy, his orders must be carried out without question. Mavro, An Australian-born Greek, trained under Leon MacClaren in the Cult’s England branch (the School of Economic Science). His Australian schools in Sydney and Melbourne are recognised as being the strictest in the world.


Former members claim, while the cult’s teachings are acceptable, it is the personality cult around Mavro that causes much of the trouble. His followers cater for his every whim and former members say he uses his hold over his followers for his own gains.
One member told of how Mavro was not satisfied with the soil in his Neutral Bay backyard so he got his followers to “lovingly” scrape it away to the bedrock, hose down the bedrock and then replace it with soil from the school’s property in Mount Wilson, carted in their own cars.

“On another occasion Mavro said the senior group should take a weekend off on the south coast.” He said.
“I tried to explain that I had work to catch up on and he was furious. As punishment for me putting work before the SOP our whole group were sent away to Mt.Wilson for a weekend of labour.”
Members have built elaborate extensions to his house without reimbursement for their time or materials. Anthony Ravesi, a member for 13 years, said Mavro was cared for by the cult members eager to gain his approval.

“ He is chauffer-driven to his city office everyday and anywhere else he may want to go. His house and garden are always kept in good order.”

Mr Ravesi claims Mavro’s power led to irrational behaviour. “He arrived at the Kent Street building one night and decried the front doors were too shiny, so he ordered some of the men to sand them back. The next night he decided they were too dull so he told us they must be oiled and polished. This went on for five weeks, polishing them one night, cutting them back the next. But no one questioned the request because it was after all “good practice’.”
Mr Ravesi said he was ordered to hack away at a cliff-face at Mavro’s as punishment for having a second child when they had been ordered not to. He also claims he was told he would have to divorce his wife after she threatened to leave the group.
Women are encouraged to wean their babies as soon as possible because the cult believes women derive sexual pleasure from breastfeeding. The cult holds that breastfeeding makes babies too attached to their mothers and it has been said by the cult a child’s worst enemies are its parents.
Cult members must also ask permission before moving house or changing jobs. All former members contacted by the Daily Telegraph said they had experienced mental problems once they had left the cult. Ingrid Pusteria said she had to see a psychiatrist when she left, but not even he believed the regime under which she had been living. Ingrid’s memories of the school are painful.
“We were constantly abused because women are the cause of the evil of the world.” She said. Mavro’s wife Nina was seen as an exception to this rule.
“ We were not allowed to associate with the men at all or even look them in the eye, although we had to do what men asked.” Ingrid said.

Another ex-senior member told of her experiences on the cult’s country property at Mount Wilson.
“We rose before dawn and all the women were told to run up a hill carting five bricks at a time while the men stood around and ordered us to run faster.” She said.
“Meanwhile we could hear Mr Mavro and his wife in their luxurious tent, decked out with Persian rugs, laughing at us.
“The food, a vegetarian diet that does not even include green vegetables, was sparse and we were lucky if we got any lunch. We then spent the rest of the day breaking up the soil with our fingers until dusk. Anyone who wanted the rest was told they were giving in to the desires of the body. After a day of hard labour we had a bucket of cold water as a ‘shower,’ inadequate food and only four hours sleep.”
Anthony Ravesi, 43 has nothing to show for years of work in his Eastern Suburbs pharmacy. He claims his 13 years service to the school meant he almost went bankrupt twice and constant “donations” meant his family could never buy a house. Four years after leaving the cult, he is only starting to build up a normal family life.

Only now is his daughter Antonia forgiving him for the cult he led them into. Antonia, 16, says her childhood in the cult was a misery. When she was two years old she was locked in a room with Mavro and attacked because he said she “had the wrong attitude.”

But as a child born into the SOP, she was seen as special by cult members. She said “ I started ‘duties’ when I was five and by the time I was eight I was on a busy schedule “Monday night was for cleaning Mr Mavro’s house, Wednesday was calligraphy, Thursday was cleaning the bachelor’s houses, Friday was sewing, mending the bachelor’s clothes, and the weekend was taken up with lessons and dance. Tuesdays was my night off. I could never have fun like normal children because it was seen as merely gaining physical pleasure.
“Few of the children accepted what was said and most wanted to rebel. We knew the only way to get out was to eventually leave home. When I left, the parents of my peers in the cult decided I was no longer ‘suitable company.’”
“But now I’ve learnt how important freedom is – I never had that when I was younger.”
____________________________________________________________________________

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Ahamty2 » Sun Apr 14, 2013 5:22 am

There is a corollary to this article which was not published at the time and as I was present it would be useful to tell it now.
As it became the custom with the Friday night ‘top’ group meetings, the men and women groups would be combined with Michael and Nina Mavro up front. More often than not we received no ‘material’ (for which we paid a fee to get) and instead received five hours of abuse, rant and rave, especially if some bit of gossip reached Nina who would stir up Michael and that was it for us. Those from that time reading this forum know I am telling the truth as it did take place; some are no longer with us now.
This particular Friday night was one such top group night. It went from 7pm to beyond midnight with a short break in between. You struggled to remain alert and upright fighting mental fatigue and you dare not show a sign of dropping off, hell no! At about 11pm this particular Friday during the rant Michael Mavro turned to Mrs R and said: “ What do you have to say for yourself?”
Mrs R simply replied with these words: (Charge of the Light Brigade-Tennyson)
Someone had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
This brought a smile to some faces in the group still sitting bolt upright, but Michael Mavro went into a certifiable blinding rage, threw Mrs R out of the group and she was banished for the rest of her days to a small side stream of the SOP for good. In the normal sane world outside MM would have been arrested for his manic behaviour.

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Dwellingonthepast » Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:26 am

I have noticed that some people in these various forums have questioned the value of posting the transcripts of the newpaper articles from 28 years ago that I recently found. And the others who have supported me, thank you.

One person stated: "What is the purpose of this post ... if not to create mischief?"

I would suggest that for one to fully understand the present, it is useful to know a bit of history. And yes, possibly those affected can move on in life and NOT dwell on the past. Accept it, it happened. Give the uncomfortable events of yore a nod and say "It was unfortunate those things happened but we are still here, however affected we are now.
And some of us ARE, I can attest to this personally as a former child of the 70s Sydney SOP. In the ensuing years Some of my peers' lives have been less than normal.

I think more information about SOS and SES, or anything for that matter, is better than less information, regardless of those protesting against it's content.
Having said that, I'd like to quote John Green who once said:
"In the absence of information, who (or) what we assume is responsible ends up saying a lot more about us than it does about anyone or anything else."

enlightened
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:38 am

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby enlightened » Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:43 pm

The question is how much of this article is the truth and how much of it it tabloid sensationalism with a journalist exercising creative licence?

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:24 am

Much of the substance of this article actually comes from quotes of members/ex-members, so I don't think the journalist is exercising "creative license" in the way that you're suggesting. The fact that some people find these comments so hard to believe simply highlights how absurd the whole situation was. The key point for me is that the same ideas that engendered that kind of mass-control and 'group-think' are the ideas that run now in the SFSK, albeit as undercurrents. It's important to know what you're buying in to when you buy in to the School ideology.

MOTS

enlightened
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Jul 03, 2012 7:38 am

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby enlightened » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:51 am

I dont feel "controlled"....admittedly since Mr M passed away....I felt he had that element, but I dont think Mrs M has that same influence, and if she did in the past, she certainly doesnt have it now....

Sydneysider
Posts: 6
Joined: Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:47 pm

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby Sydneysider » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:48 pm

"Enlightened" I am having trouble accepting the notion that things are more mellow/accepting at the SFSK based on how you have reacted on this website through personal attacks toward people who have spent longer amounts of time involved with the SFSK than you have. History repeats itself, or if you want to understand the present/future you need to know the past are all words of advice that may be of use to you for consideration. Similarly after reading your posts, with all due respect for someone who claims to be undertaking post-graduate study, maybe you could commence English Course 101?

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

Re: Michael Mavro Sydney SOP

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:32 pm

Enlightened,

I'm pretty sure that if you took a survey of (now ex-) School members 1 or 2 years ago, many (if not all) of them would have said they didn't feel controlled. Now that they are outside the School, many have realised just how pernicious that "control" really was. Might you not also be in that same situation? One of the defining features of the control Mrs Mavro exercises is the inability of the subject to recognise he/she is being controlled.

When you say that Mr M had "that element", did you mean you think he was a controlling person? If yes, then I certainly agree with you. However, I would be cautious before deciding that Mrs Mavro does not share this 'element'.

MOTS


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