Sydney School for Self Knowledge

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Earlgrey » Mon Aug 20, 2012 5:59 am

Well you know, during the 80's (in SOP), while on residentials couped up in the Kent St building, married couples were advised not to to seek out their partners while on the residential. This was the best course of action for the best spiritual development.

Kent St (Sydney) was a 3 or 4 storey building and the residentials were bizarre. Six to seven days living in this strange psychological space trying to connect with the present moment. Eating bread and cheese and selection of fine greens. No breakfast. Two hours of disciplines in the morning, 30min of bible study, 30 minutes of sounding sanskrit, 30 minute of meditation and 30 minutes of calligraphy. All the while hoping for affirmation from the tutors and Mr or Mrs Mavro. I could go on but I won't.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Mon Aug 20, 2012 12:00 pm

INITIATION IN SFSK


I am astonished .. at myself, and everyone else currently in Nina M's school ..

That no one checks anything for themselves as to the validity of things and the practises
happening there.

Granted that anyone, anywhere, can go to a class in any suburb and learn so called meditation.
Obviously beneficial in relieving stress by quietening the mind etc,etc.

But the meditation that the school offers is promised as something very special indeed ..
We, myself included accepted and totally believed without question all that was told about
our 'special meditation'.

Has anyone enquired about who is authorised to give such a special 'Diksha' or 'initiation'
into a lineage of such a Holy Tradition?
What a fool I was ...
along with many other fools!

Under the tradition that SFSK supposedly follows ..
And supposedly under the 'umbrella' of His Holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Shri Swaroopanand
Sarasvati Ji Maharaj ...

Only the Guru himself can give Diksha to the shishya or disciple/follower.

Sometimes the authentic Guru (such as this one is) may consider giveing permission to his most senior
Dandi Swamis of which there are three (with this Guru) to initiate.

This privilage is never given to a Grihasta (householder) .. just 'someone' from the west.

The mantra given by the Guru is one that the Guru himself has meditated on and his Guru before him,
so it is given life, it is part of the lineage, and by connecting through practise on the mantra, you also are connected to that lineage.

Ella.M.C.

Middle Way
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:46 am

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Tue Aug 21, 2012 12:43 am

Ella.M.C. wrote:I am astonished .. at myself, and everyone else currently in Nina M's school ..
Ella.M.C. wrote:What a fool I was ...
along with many other fools!
Hello Ella.M.C.

We all joined and stayed at the school for different reasons, but I don’t think foolishness is one. Many postings here highlight that the students in the school are for the most part very good people who are not fools. Many people come to SFSK, but most leave within a term or two. Some wanted to keep attending , their ‘pros in staying’ greatly outweighing their ‘cons’. My pros were learning about Eastern philosophy and finding I could apply it in a practical way in my profession, sometimes with noticeable success. I was very pleased to discover that the Canberra arm of the school was headed up by two people who did attempt to practise what they preached and this was also a major factor in me staying. In fact by the end of my stay this was the major pro on my list. As I’ve already noted, I left when they did. (I offer the following very seriously to the “silent browsers” still in SFSK: If you cannot see the love that I and so many others can see in those 2 people, you need to seriously examine what is in you that blocks you from also seeing it).

After some time, the ambivalence started to grow for many of us. The cons list started to get bigger and the pros items were more questioned, or eliminated. We became more aware of the behaviours that didn’t match the rhetoric, or the internal inconsistencies in the teachings. I stopped learning about philosophy and started learning about hypocritical behaviours and steadily became more aware it was time to go.

MOTS and I are writing these posts to speak to the silent browsers who are also ambivalent about staying. It’s pointless trying to sway anybody in the school who is not ambivalent, just as it’s a waste of time (and frequently counter-productive) to lecture people about giving up drinking alcohol when they have no desire to do so. Such people in SFSK are zealots and are not interested in hearing anything other than what supports their various pros: therefore perhaps they are not the ones silently browsing here anyway!

My use of the term “zealot” is not meant to insult them or single them out as odd, deluded or evil. When any of us has a strong belief in anything (eg “dogs are better than cats”) the same process happens – we all unconsciously and selectively block out disconfirming information and attend to confirming information, a pernicious process known as ‘confirmation bias’, and in this sense we are all zealots.

So Ella.M.C., we wake up to ourselves, leave SFSK and then feel like idiots for staying so long. But we weren’t being foolish. We were simply resolving ambivalence, and the only foolish thing would have been to stay there once it was apparent it was time to move on.

If anyone reading this is in SFSK and is also weighing up many pros and cons of leaving I would suggest you don’t leave for a little while yet. Look around at what is happening in the classes, look at the behaviour of the tutors and measure it against the rhetoric, think about what you are actually learning (eg are you actually learning anything new, or just repeating old stuff?), and keep reading and reflecting on these posts, until such time as your ambivalence resolves and you know it’s time to leave. Otherwise, the “pros of staying” might have a nasty habit of cropping up and making you feel “foolish” for leaving.

MW

Winston
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Jul 20, 2012 4:04 am

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Winston » Tue Aug 21, 2012 2:09 am

Hi Ella M.C. ,
I was "initiated " by Mr Mavro many years ago . We had weeks of "preparation" before it, a "special" material and a lot of talk, at the end of which everyone was convinced that we are to receive the most precious thing in our lives, the only genuine meditation and mantra in the Western world. We had it drilled into us that Mr Mavro was the only western person who had ever received this special authority to initiate people from the Shankaracharya himself. That was so extraordinary that it gave him a special, unquestionable authority , which demanded total obedience and subservience which he and his wife never stopped reminding us of, making a very good use of it in every possible way they could.

It is trilling to hear that recently this "so special authority " and right to initiate suddenly became SFSK's small internal affair handled by Nina, requiring no more then her just picking a student from Canberra and (her!) entrusting him with this holy duty! Poor, manipulated man...what a joke! Unfortunately , the new initiates are probably floating in clouds of believes that they had just received a precious, authentic spiritual jewel ...
Last edited by Winston on Thu Aug 23, 2012 2:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:50 am

Hi Middle Way,

Thank you for your thoughtful post, and all of your posts.
I too hope that current SFSK people are reading them and MOTS posts.
I mean't foolish also in regard to not being sensible enough to check for ourselves ..
especially in the criteria of the authenticity of SFSK'S initiation ceremony.
After all if we were buying a car or similar ..you would do some checks before buying.

Hello Winston,

We unfortunately were deliberately lied to by the very people with whom we entrusted our spiritual welfare.
The weirdest thing is that they (NM and MM) did, and do know what they are doing.
No doubt when you practise deception for so long ..you start to justify your actions to yourself,
then you lose your 'conscience'.
Maybe then you become totally deluded and even believe yourself!
Last edited by Ella.M.C. on Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Tue Aug 21, 2012 5:56 am

Winston wrote:I was "initiated " by Mr Mavro many years ago . We had weeks of "preparation" before it, a "special" material and a lot of talk, at the end of which everyone had to be convinced that we are to receive the most precious thing in our lives, the only genuine meditation and mantra in the Western world. We had it drilled into us that Mr Mravro was the only western person who had ever received this special authority to initiate people from the Shankaracharya himself. That was so extraordinary that it gave him a special, unquestionable authority , which demanded total obedience and subservience which he and his wife never stopped reminding us of, making a very good use of it in every possible way they could.


This was exactly my experience. By the time students get to the stage of being 'initiated' they are completely wrapped up in the anticipation of the 'special experience' they are about to have. Initiation at the School is built up as being something absolutely unique to that organisation, and that other organisations cannot offer the same mantram or any mantram of equivalent value to the one given through the School. Of course, no evidence is ever presented to support this assertion. Does Mrs M really speak for all those other organisations? There is also no evidence that Mr M was the only western person ever to have received special authority. There is also no evidence that these things, even if true, would imply that this 'authority' was of such a nature as required total obedience and subservience to his will.

The whole thing was presented as "the person who initiates you is your guru". This worked just fine for the M's while Mr Mavro was initiating, but I doubt Mrs M is going to use that line now that someone else is initiating people. So much for 'ancient inerrant principles' (of which the above statement was presented as one). The significant issue is that Mrs M's tune changes depending on the circumstance she's in. When Mr M was there, he was the "guru" because he initiated us. Now that he is gone, the "guru" line doesn't get used anymore. It's inconsistent, arbitrary, and clearly unjustified given that the principle would have to apply to anyone who was an initiator, and not just Mr Mavro.

Ella.M.C. wrote:I mean't foolish also in regard to not being sensible enough to check for ourselves ..
especially in the criteria of the authenticity of SFSK'S initiation ceremony.
After all if we were buying a car or similar ..you would do some checks before buying.


The situation that current students of the School are in is more analogous to someone in the position of having already bought the car and used it for a number of years. It seems to do some things well (let's say the aircon still works, and maybe the handbrake too). However, the car is not actually capable of being driven anywhere. The engine is broken. The whole purpose of a car is to get you from A to B. If it doesn't do that, it's pretty useless despite the fact that you might feel comfortable sitting in it because the aircon works.

This is exactly the situation in School. As the purchaser of a car, you reasonably expect that it takes you from A to B. (It's not a foolish expectation). When it doesn't do that, you might go back to the salesman and ask why the car isn't working (these are the "curly questions" in School). What happens next for most people is that the salesman goes about convincing them that it is i) not the purpose of the car to move anywhere, and ii) not the place of the purchaser to question the salesman in any case.

However, it is clearly the purpose of a car to take you from A to B (and School to lead one to spiritual unfoldment etc. by presenting a valid method to do so). That was why you entered the School in the first place! Because you really want to get from A to B, you are prepared to hope that somehow, the car will get you there. There is also the fact that the salesman has managed to convince you that you'll never get to B without using the car. These two issues together constitute the main reason why people find it very difficult to leave the School.

I don't think we were foolish for staying, given that the reason why we stayed as long as we did was simply the combination of a desire for Truth and the false belief that the method and teaching of the School (i.e. Mrs Mavro) was a valid way to understand that Truth. While the belief was false, it was not foolish. Foolishness entails a kind of reckless indifference to fact and reason which I think very few students in the School can really be said to have (I'm reminded of MW's 'zealots'). As MW said, for many current students the 'pros' still outweigh the 'cons'. It's not that they are completely unaware of the 'cons' (even though in some cases they are substantially unaware, and a rectification of this situation is part of the purpose of this forum).

While I understand this situation, resolving it comes down to having a reasonable attitude towards what you hear in the School. The moment you do this, the fact that the car isn't going from A to B is obvious. How can it be that a dishonest person can help you understand the 'Truth'? How is it possible that someone who is prepared to lie to you about the authenticity of their own authority in order to ensure your continuing service is actually 'concerned for your spiritual welfare'? This 'con' is overriding. If your desire is Truth, there is no 'pro' that can possibly justify a continuing association with the School in spite of that 'con'. This is because the 'con' completely undermines the desire for Truth. If you remain in the School because you desire the Truth, and this 'con' undermines your ability to discover that Truth, there is no reason to stay in the School.

The moment you subject the words and actions of Mrs Mavro to the same scrutiny and doubt as that which you would apply to your own actions, her hypocrisy becomes more than clear. It's not that she fails to live up to her own standards - that would be an unreasonable requirement. It's the fact that she makes absolutely no effort to even attempt to live up to those standards. It's the fact that she deliberately chooses to lie when she has the option to tell the truth. She deliberately chooses to feather her own nest to the detriment of the welfare of her students. This is a conscious action that she engages in repeatedly. How can such a person be considered a 'genuine' seeker of Truth? Not genuine. Not seeking. Not interested in the Truth.

MOTS.

Unique
Posts: 17
Joined: Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:30 am

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Unique » Thu Aug 23, 2012 1:18 pm

Just to say,
thank you to all who have contributed to these forums, especially to the regular contributors - your openness and thoughtful assessment of SES/SFSK and related issues have been most helpful in finally putting those organisations and their self imposed gurus in a right perspective .

It takes a while before you realise that no organisation , however sophisticated, and whatever it preaches , can ever be more real or truthful then you yourself. So, follow your heart and not your fear. To limit spirituality and the truth ( whatever one's understanding of it is) to a few people and their plagiarised (although initially very attractive) ideas is plainly silly.

I note there are number of "new"members, yet, not many seem to be willing to share their experiences/reflexions on all the above matters- no pressure , but please feel free to join in conversation, here you are FREE to express whatever is on your mind( and in your heart!) - there must be something, otherwise you wouldn't be reading those words...
Cheers

Middle Way
Posts: 78
Joined: Wed Mar 28, 2012 3:46 am

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:40 am

Unique wrote:I note there are number of "new"members, yet, not many seem to be willing to share their experiences/reflexions on all the above matters- no pressure , but please feel free to join in conversation, here you are FREE to express whatever is on your mind( and in your heart!) - there must be something, otherwise you wouldn't be reading those words...

Thanks for your words Unique and especially the above. I was wondering about asking exactly the same question, and you worded it better, and I can only add my encouragement for those perspectives to be added. Even if, as a new member, you think you have nothing new to say, or that everything has already been covered, please write anyway. It really helps to write down thoughts, feelings and reactions, because as you do so, other stuff suddenly becomes conscious and hey presto!, you find you have something new and insightful to add! So take it from me,from personal experience, it really helps you and it really helps the rest of us.

MW

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:13 am

Just wanted to echo Unique's and MW's posts. I think it's valuable to put your side of the story forward regardless of whether or not you think anyone is going to agree with you. MW and I have had a wonderful conversation outside these forums pursuant to what we wrote here, and that conversation would not have happened had we not posted on these forums in the first place.

It's good to air your ideas, perspectives and experiences. I think you'll find that we are all very accommodating people - after all, we were members of the School as well; we know where you're coming from and what it feels like to be part of that organisation.

Remember that prospective students also read this forum; if you think the School (and Mrs Mavro) need to be seen in a more positive light I have no doubt that everyone will benefit from whatever discussion follows.

In my view, this forum is not about bashing the School or Mrs Mavro; rather it's about relating our experiences and perspectives regarding the School and Mrs Mavro. Obviously, your experiences and perspectives are just as valuable as ours and we would welcome them. Unlike the School, there is no hierarchy on these forums - no one's opinion is any more valid than any one else's. If it so happens that the case against the School is strong then so be it, but no one here is arguing that from 'authority'.

If you don't feel comfortable posting on the forum itself, you can send any of us a private message (this does not necessitate revealing your identity) and we will be more than happy to respond in kind. Anonymity is respected here, and serves to keep us all equal in the conversation.

MOTS

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:07 am

The core or the heart of SFSK is meditation.

It was the reason that I stayed for over 20 years in an organisation that had many shortcomings.
It was always justified by remembering the knowledge, that we were under the umbrella of a realised sage, with
a mantram given by him to us that would lead us to the threshold of realisation, if we used it as directed.
Our spiritual teacher Michael Mavro was the only westerner granted authority by the Shankaracharya to initiate
students into this most Holy Tradition.

Recently four senior ex students visited India and had many audiences with His Holiness Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Shri Swaroopanand Sarasvati Ji Maharaj.

When asked if Michael Mavro had authority from HH to initiate students, HH replied that he never asked.
HH said he had not considered giving anyone such authority.
From the understanding of this Tradition .. it is only ever senior Dandi Swamis that could be considered ..never a Grihasta or householder.
It is assumed by these students that the reason being that MM and NM knew the Tradition, and therefore would know the answer, so of course would not ask in the first place.
Authentic Diksha is never offered, the Shishya or follower should request it from the Guru when they had
complete faith in him.

When HH was shown the school mantra given in sanskrit text, and was told it verbally,
he immediately said it was wrong.
On being shown the 'Initiation ceremony' material .. he said that it was a Puja ceremony, a ritualistic
ceremony for the worship of Dieties.
It has nothing to do with Diksha (initiation).
It can easily be found in printed form.

This most compassionate Shankaracharya illustrated the students situation with the following story ..

"A prince bedecked with jewels was walking in the forest and came across a robber disguised as a
monk. The 'so called' monk promises to grant him heaven if he will leave his jewels in the clearing and
put on a blindfold. He then places the princes' hands around the tail of a bullock and tells him never to let go.
He promises it will lead to heaven. After some time the prince arrives in a village where all his subjects see this sight and laugh at him. He tells them not to disturb him because he is on his way to heaven."

The implication of this story is that MM and NM are the 'monk' and guess .. who is the prince!

When told that students are strongly discouraged from visiting HH he replied that it was wrong and used
to control students.
When asked what mantra could students who had not had diksha from HH use, he replied RAM.
It is an authentic mantra that does not need to be given by a Guru.
So on reflection it seems that SOP has better ethics than SFSK, as at least they have a genuine mantra.
SFSK is using the equivalent to 'Fish and Chips' .. an 'in joke' often used by Mr Mavro on residentials.

Many other things were also shed light on ..
But my purpose here is not to be overly critical of Mr and Mrs Mavro.

It is to tell other students what I consider to be of critical importance to the main reason ..(or only reason
for some of us) why we joined and attended the school.
I never joined to be in some social club ...

I offer this information to those I have tread this path with for over twenty years ..

Those with ears to hear ..

I would likewise be grateful (situation reversed) if someone with this knowlege,
told me these same things, I would regard him as a friend indeed ..
But if I did not have ears to hear I would slumber on and call him mad ..

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:29 am

Just a few words to add to my post ..

These allegations were first made around 2004 -2005.
Re wrong mantra and MM having no authority to initiate.
But most could not possibly believe ..
That they had been deliberately deceived.

Anyone interested can contact the students (you know who they are ..)

All these things have been recorded and the complete translation will be available
for all interested to see.

So there is no doubt whatsover ...

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby actuallythere » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:14 am

@Ella

This is totally compelling.

But who has the recording, and are they sharing it? One needs evidence to avoid this being dismissed as hearsay.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:41 am

Hello actuallythere,

Thank you for the good point ..

I certainly don't want this to be dismissed as hearsay.
Because it is most definately NOT hearsay.

The students who went to India have the recording.

It is also at the moment being made into a document, and a link will soon be
provided here for anyone anywhere to see.
In the meantime, anyone in Sydney from the school is free to call in and listen to the recording.
Last edited by Ella.M.C. on Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby actuallythere » Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:43 am

Unique wrote: It takes a while before you realise that no organisation , however sophisticated, and whatever it preaches , can ever be more real or truthful then you yourself.


Right !!!!!

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:00 am

Mr M often said to us at residentials .."that everybody wants to hear truth.
Even the hardened criminal does not want to be lied to by a fellow criminal"
This is still hard for me to believe, to think about his words ... so often used ...in light of the discovery of these
lies of spiritual deception.

Anyone is welcome to visit this Shankaracharya .. a Jagat Guru, a world Guru, there for everyone.
This Shankaracharya is a rare breed .. leaving home at age 9 in search of answers, spending 12 years in
a jungle doing Tapasya, at around age 18. Sitting on a rock by day and sleeping in the trees at night.
A jungle with snakes, tigers and scorpians.
Maybe the last Sannyasi of this type ..
Last edited by Ella.M.C. on Mon Aug 27, 2012 9:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.


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