Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Discussion of the SES' satellite schools in Australia and New Zealand.
Tootsie
Posts: 151
Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 1:37 pm

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Tootsie » Tue Sep 11, 2012 8:42 am

Thank you Ella for all the information you provided about the Ashram. I can see why people are attracted to HH Shankaracharya Swaroopanand. He has such a beautiful compassionate face. A description about him says "He is a Saint who always thinks for the needy, handicapped, old and sick." He celebrated his 89th year on the 2 September and on his web page said 'All are invited' to the celebration! I only wish I could have been there. It really makes such a nonsense about Mrs M saying nobody should visit him.

You are correct Middle Way in saying you will never get an answer from Mrs M. I remember in the eighties one of the local newspapers wrote an article about the SOP which was not very complementary towards the school, and that weekend we were having a residential in Kent Street. Well all the TV stations vans were outside of the building hoping to get an interview with someone from school. Danny Opp half-opened the main door and told the waiting reporters school had no comment to make, and that was all they ever got. School policy is simple dont feed the media and they will go away! Your channeling of Mrs M reply is pretty accurate MW. You are a very naughty boy, to quote from the Life of Brian. Now, go away!

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Wed Sep 12, 2012 3:24 am

Hello Tootsie,

Yes HH Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Shri Swaroopanand Sarasvati Ji Maharaj ..
Does have such a beautiful compassionate face .. it really is beauty and compassion manifested.

He is of course a Jagadguru ..a World Guru and is for everyone, who is interested.
Anyone is free and encouraged to visit him, if they so desire.

The web page can be found under Paramahamsi Ganga Ashram
If anyone is on facebook it can be 'liked' and in your home column all the new photos loaded
will be there to see.

Also for anyone interested .. you do a search under ..
youtube.comsearch chaturmas 2012

You will find many uploaded lessions of HH at this years Chaturmas, they are the Pravachans that
are being held now twice a week in a huge purpose built structure, which is amazing in itself.
A temporary tent type building with wonderful fabric ceilings and it houses thousands of people.

You can also find the uploaded videos of the daily Upadesha sessions (teachings) that are on the Mandukya Upanishad, this year.
Only in Hindi at this stage but they are hopefully in the future they will try to have English subtitles.

I have tried to put a link here for one of the Pravachans, hopefully it works.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e6HAp08x ... ure=relmfu

HH totally approves of the website and youtube coverage,
as it makes him more accessable to all.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Unique » Wed Sep 12, 2012 2:42 pm

The recent news about SFSK have caused a lot of disquiet among many people associated with the organisation. The initial reaction is, of course, to "shoot the messenger/s ". Does anyone really think that “the messenger/s” went to India just for fun and enjoyed learning this most unsavoury truth about the school and the people they trusted and served for decades?!

Students in the “School for self knowledge” are being told that “there are people who want to discredit/destroy the school”. Just for the record, there are no “people-who-want-to-descredit/destroy-the-school”, there are only people who happened to find out the truth about the school's initiation and the mantra and who felt that they have a responsibility to make the facts of this discovery available to people whom they had influenced in the past and had inadvertently contributed to their wrong beliefs. Those people were given the option to hear the facts if they wanted to. That is all.

If the facts presented discredit the school, no one should blame the facts or the people presenting them. It is totally unreasonable to reject facts just because “they sound unbelievable” to the same people who already firmly believe otherwise, without examining those facts. It should also not be a reason to start fabricating stories about the possible motives behind the whole thing. Does speaking the truth need any motive? Since when did discovering untruth and making people directly affected by it aware of the deceit require special motive?

It is a very sad affair indeed. I also unconditionally trusted every word about the meditation and the mantra I was given. I had put what I held to be most precious into the hands of people who demanded total obedience and claimed they knew better then my own self what is best for my spiritual development. I was stunned when recently told that I had been a naive fool for all those years. Pretty tough lesson to learn.

To challenge the Mavros' authority is still unthinkable for most people in SFSK. No wonder they are unable to even consider it, regardless of any evidence presented to them. They just don't realise that they ARE free to examine, they ARE mentally and spiritually mature, and able to be responsible for their own lives and spirituality.

Many people throughout history, remained blindly loyal to their leaders, believing in them even when the whole world was pointing otherwise, simply because they could not see how something that feels so good can possibly not be good- (it is not dissimilar to the effects that many religions or tranquilizers have on people). Some were so indoctrinated by their “dear leaders” that even the most obvious evidence didn't make any sense to them. That may be just how it is and often no one can do much about it, but when a deceit is discovered it is everyone's duty to make the deceived ones aware of it, and that is where the duty ends.

Of course it would have been so much easier to remain silent, be a “nice” person and let the deceit continue as many did in situations like this. But if what you propagated to others, supporting it with your whole heart and mind was suddenly found to be untrue, could you really keep quiet so to avoid the disturbance and discomfort that might have followed? Would you let those people continue to be deceived till their last breath?

Many in the “School for self Knowledge” are not too much disturbed at all. They may not have been in SFSK, or they may have forgotten when we were told over and over again that the initiation and the mantra are the core of all our spiritual work, and that their authentic origin was the vital connection without which nothing else really mattered. All else could be found in other places and/or in the books , we were told. Everything was based on the authority that was supposed to be transferred from the original source through our leader to us. Some of us took it seriously.

Just a few thoughts for the spiritually inclined readers...
Eventually everyone ends up believing and doing whatever they want to. I only hope that no one will ever have expectations from someone else to take care of their own spiritual journey and do their own work, since no one will,nor is it possible, even if claimed otherwise. It is one's own inward look and efforts made in solitude that will matter. Guidance is of value only if from “the knower of the Brahman“ himself. No one should waste their time with the rest. The rest are as blind as the ones they attempt to lead, just more ambitious.

It is not too difficult to be happy in one's own company and seek true satsang with no false authorities imposed, being free to serve others in whichever way it is natural for oneself. There is no need to get proud of the claimed “knowledge” and “fall into a common trap of wanting to make everyone their student”, as people with limited knowledge tend to do. 

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby woodgreen » Wed Sep 12, 2012 9:43 pm

Hi All

This is a very revealing thread - I thought for a while I was getting it wrong , but it seems that some people in the Sydney Schools did find a different guru who was not actually connected to the SES, but was brought into the equation beacause of the Mavros? And then distanced himself from the Mavros, when people visited him and the truth about the mantras came out.( And hopefully he understood the whole SES debacle?)
Other threads on here have followed the London School guru trail and found a similar answer - Lambie and current leaders in the US and Ireland were turned away by the new SES guru. That was the last we heard of their spiritual "journey". But the School of Meditation ( seen as the better part of the Indian connection from Dr.Roles and Mclaren's day) have been carrying out the initiation for the SES still based on the guru that Mclaren and Roles visited, and then competed over. McLaren lost but used Roles and his connection to carry out the initiation. ( The RAM mantra etc.) And have a linked Charity.
Genuine question, have the gurus been played, whether for money, or because they really do want to provide help to "spiritual seekers", by organisations like the SES. And are they now wise to the likes of the SES . I really do hope so.

kind regards
woodgreen.
Ex-SES Member. (Member for 3 years in late nineties).

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Thu Sep 13, 2012 12:14 am

Hello Woodgreen and all readers,

Yes SFSK through the Mavro's did find a different Guru.
I believe that MM heard that 'he was the best' .. and sought him out.

HH has not distanced himself from the Mavro's .. he would not do that,
especially as they are his followers having received Diksha from him.
His duty (because of his position as Shankaracharya of two seats) is to answer when a
seeker asks a question.
He does not interfere with 'the play' (so I believe)
Of course he knows everything about what has gone on and the origins of SES and McLaren.
He has even on this last visit referred to SFSK as cultish ..
I see Woodgreen what you wrote re the SES Guru turning away Lambie and others,
I could imagine HH also, not approving someone from SFSK .. arriving at his door and asking
to be able to give 'initiation' to new students.

I hope this helps ..others might have more to add.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Ella.M.C. » Thu Sep 13, 2012 7:26 am

Hello Unique,

I can't thank you enough for your most thoughtful and sincere post.
It says everything, I understand and totally agree with everything you have written.
To choose just one quote from your post to highlight ..would be in error,
every sentence is perfect.

So I choose to quote the whole post ..
And hope and pray that every current student of SFSK sees and reads it ...

Unique wrote:The recent news about SFSK have caused a lot of disquiet among many people associated with the organisation. The initial reaction is, of course, to "shoot the messenger/s ". Does anyone really think that “the messenger/s” went to India just for fun and enjoyed learning this most unsavoury truth about the school and the people they trusted and served for decades?!

Students in the “School for self knowledge” are being told that “there are people who want to discredit/destroy the school”. Just for the record, there are no “people-who-want-to-descredit/destroy-the-school”, there are only people who happened to find out the truth about the school's initiation and the mantra and who felt that they have a responsibility to make the facts of this discovery available to people whom they had influenced in the past and had inadvertently contributed to their wrong beliefs. Those people were given the option to hear the facts if they wanted to. That is all.

If the facts presented discredit the school, no one should blame the facts or the people presenting them. It is totally unreasonable to reject facts just because “they sound unbelievable” to the same people who already firmly believe otherwise, without examining those facts. It should also not be a reason to start fabricating stories about the possible motives behind the whole thing. Does speaking the truth need any motive? Since when did discovering untruth and making people directly affected by it aware of the deceit require special motive?

It is a very sad affair indeed. I also unconditionally trusted every word about the meditation and the mantra I was given. I had put what I held to be most precious into the hands of people who demanded total obedience and claimed they knew better then my own self what is best for my spiritual development. I was stunned when recently told that I had been a naive fool for all those years. Pretty tough lesson to learn.

To challenge the Mavros' authority is still unthinkable for most people in SFSK. No wonder they are unable to even consider it, regardless of any evidence presented to them. They just don't realise that they ARE free to examine, they ARE mentally and spiritually mature, and able to be responsible for their own lives and spirituality.

Many people throughout history, remained blindly loyal to their leaders, believing in them even when the whole world was pointing otherwise, simply because they could not see how something that feels so good can possibly not be good- (it is not dissimilar to the effects that many religions or tranquilizers have on people). Some were so indoctrinated by their “dear leaders” that even the most obvious evidence didn't make any sense to them. That may be just how it is and often no one can do much about it, but when a deceit is discovered it is everyone's duty to make the deceived ones aware of it, and that is where the duty ends.

Of course it would have been so much easier to remain silent, be a “nice” person and let the deceit continue as many did in situations like this. But if what you propagated to others, supporting it with your whole heart and mind was suddenly found to be untrue, could you really keep quiet so to avoid the disturbance and discomfort that might have followed? Would you let those people continue to be deceived till their last breath?

Many in the “School for self Knowledge” are not too much disturbed at all. They may not have been in SFSK, or they may have forgotten when we were told over and over again that the initiation and the mantra are the core of all our spiritual work, and that their authentic origin was the vital connection without which nothing else really mattered. All else could be found in other places and/or in the books , we were told. Everything was based on the authority that was supposed to be transferred from the original source through our leader to us. Some of us took it seriously.

Just a few thoughts for the spiritually inclined readers...
Eventually everyone ends up believing and doing whatever they want to. I only hope that no one will ever have expectations from someone else to take care of their own spiritual journey and do their own work, since no one will,nor is it possible, even if claimed otherwise. It is one's own inward look and efforts made in solitude that will matter. Guidance is of value only if from “the knower of the Brahman“ himself. No one should waste their time with the rest. The rest are as blind as the ones they attempt to lead, just more ambitious.

It is not too difficult to be happy in one's own company and seek true satsang with no false authorities imposed, being free to serve others in whichever way it is natural for oneself. There is no need to get proud of the claimed “knowledge” and “fall into a common trap of wanting to make everyone their student”, as people with limited knowledge tend to do. 

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Thu Sep 13, 2012 8:09 am

I agree fully Ella.M.C. Unique has posted a number of most important messages. None of us want to destroy or discredit the School. What we want is for those students of SFSK who have been distressed and confused by the recent news, to be able to consider their response in an atmosphere as free from obfuscation as possible. And so we persist in being naughty and we won’t go away. (You made me laugh out loud with that Tootsie, and that’s twice you’ve done that. The other was when you explained so succinctly why one should never meditate in a room with a dog!).

So in the interests of helping clear the air for those who are weighing up whether or not to leave SFSK, a couple of us have summarised the main arguments used in School to persuade people to stay. Please note that we are not trying to persuade you to leave. We just want you to have all the facts to help you come to a reasoned decision whether or not to leave.

Eleven obfuscating arguments used to keep ambivalent people in ‘School’

1. The “ad hominem” argument aka “playing the man not the ball”. Person A asserts proposition X (eg .”I’m thinking of leaving School”. Person B attacks or threatens A. Therefore X is false. This is a ‘biggie’ and is most obvious when used by the bullies, who have no qualms about dishing out verbal abuse, such as “you are making a big mistake if you leave”. It’s more difficult to spot when used by the more decent proponents. For example, “I am really concerned for your spiritual welfare if you leave” appears to be a compassionate statement, but be aware when this is just another attempt to avoid discussing X. They also don't define "spiritual welfare".

Ad hominem is effectively used by bullies everywhere, because A: 1) gives into fear and falls silent to stop the attack; 2) attempts to defend themselves thus inviting further attack, or 3) attacks back. All of these reactions suit B well because X is no longer the focus of the “discussion” and B controls the whole process. Ad hominem is only used when B cannot or refuses to discuss X, leading to the very valid question of why not? Watch for ad hominem variants of: "you wouldn't understand the answer".

Despite its effectiveness, this argument is simple to counter. Simply ignore the personal attacks, keep stating “I wish to discuss X” and keep repeating just this whenever the personal attacks or threats get more intense as they may do in increasingly desperate attempts to steer the discussion away from X. It may be helpful to remember the Buddhist saying thoughtfully provided in School: “if someone offers you the gift of anger, and you don’t take it, who owns it?” Withstanding the barrage leads to a growing sense of internal power and control as well as awareness of the growing lack of control of the attacker, who hopefully will also become aware of this plus the fact it isn’t working, and stop attacking.

2. The “shoot the messenger” argument. A variant of ad hominem. Concerned students ask: “There are disturbing allegations being made about the School. Are they true?” They are told: “those allegations are made by people who want to destroy or discredit the School”. End of story: no further discussion of the allegations.

3. The “but where will you go?” argument: “there is nowhere else for you to go”. Possibly the most persuasive argument despite the fact it’s a lie. It’s so persuasive because it taps directly into the falsehood slowly but steadily built up, that “only School” has the Truth and that if you leave School you leave Truth. A favourite of much organised religion and quite powerful because the proponents genuinely believe it to be the truth, because they themselves have been under this delusion for so long. The fact is there are many other places to go: anywhere there is a grouping of people with similar interests motivated by love not fear. Watch for: "but School is not a social club – we are here only for the Work's sake", a reiteration of "you can only get that here". And in any case, remember that School constantly teaches that the “journey” is all about coming back to who you already are (which you can do at any time, and without SFSK, but you won't be told that). They also do not tell you the Buddhist idea: “don’t mistake the finger pointing at the moon, for the moon”.

4. The “value” argument: “Think about all the value you’ve got from the School’s teachings and practices”, or “reflect on whether you are stiller now”. This is closely allied with the “where will you go” argument. Despite this, it’s actually an excellent question to consider, as long as two other questions they don’t ask are also considered: “when did you receive those valuable teachings?”, and “which parts have not been valuable?” Any fair evaluation has to cover both the positive and the negative.

On reflection it may be found that the most valuable teachings came very early, say in Part 1 or during the early years in School, and that much of the material since then has not been of such value. Because the later material in School is most definitely not a fleshing out of the material you found valuable in Part 1. As for increasing stillness, remember that the School has no mortgage over meditation or mindfulness practices, which are increasingly being offered in the community, where many people no doubt will also be reporting feeling stiller.

5. The “transcending the ego/ahankara” argument: “ Remember that the Work is to let go of the unreal ahankara, so you must stay in School to continue this most important work.” The simple version of this is to say “who’s doing all this questioning?” (more sneaky ad hominem). Reflect on the ego or the depth of “stillness” or openness displayed by the senior students, remembering they have been there for decades ostensibly practising “letting go of their ego”. Reflect on the size of Mrs Mavro’s ego, and that of Mr Mavro before her, the product of over 50 years each of “spiritual work”. It is a demonstrably invalid self-serving argument which means they can say and do anything and you can’t question or criticise because a) that’s just your ego speaking and b) we have a “rule” (unwritten of course) in School that negative emotion must never be expressed.

But if you’re asked: “who’s asking”, reply “who’s avoiding?”, as many of us secretly always wanted to do. Of course you mightn't want to do that because it's not very nice. But apparently it's fine for them not to be concerned about niceness.

6. The “normality” argument: “Your questioning and uncertainty and doubt are just your ahankara/sanskaras and we all go through that – it’s just a normal part of the Work.” A variant of the transcending the ego argument and very patronising. Who's saying so? Only Mrs Mavro can be the judge of where you are in your spiritual "progress" which is very convenient for her.

7. The “good company” argument. In School you are constantly reminded you are surrounded by good company, and by sneaky inference, that if you leave you will become prey to “bad company”. Does this mean if you leave, and then make contact with His Holiness, you are engaging with bad company? Good company can be a) scripture, b )like-minded people and c) the company of wise men, all of which can be found outside School.

And proponents never mention there is nothing whatsoever to stop you from continuing to associate with the good company in School once you leave, apart from the instruction they have given the good company not to associate with anyone who’s left! This leads to:

8. The “good company magically becomes bad company when they leave School” argument, therefore, by sneaky inference, if you leave School you will become “bad company”. This assertion may be too ridiculous to verbalise, but they certainly wish to leave you with this impression. Another variant of the ad hominem argument. Becomes even more ridiculous when you consider that therefore you must have been bad company before you came to School.

9. The “oils don’t mix” argument: this is a variant of “you can only find Truth in this School”. Used to counter the threat of someone asking whether they could also attend say a Buddhist group (and maybe find this was better and leave School). This argument provides an excellent opportunity to open up dialogue, by asking “what exactly do you mean by that? What “oils” are we talking about?” Are all the various sources drawn on for the School's material different oils?

10. The “only one master” argument. Also used if someone wants to try out another place and are told “you cannot serve 2 masters”. This variant of the "oils" argument is a desperate ploy, given that School teaches there is only one True Self, and the argument is a gross misinterpretation of Biblical scripture. Easily countered by merely pointing this out.

11. The “you’ve left the Work” argument: “If you leave School, this means you have chosen to leave the spiritual work”, or "you've had your fill and can't take any more in this lifetime". These outrageous ad hominem lies deserve nothing but contempt. Mrs Mavro sets herself up as the sole authority on what is the Work and what is not, and whether or not people have "had their fill", and all without listening to you.

MW

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Tootsie » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:38 am

Does anybody know if Mrs Mavro ever learned to speak Hindi? You would think if that is the language spoken by your Guru you would make the effort to learn his language so you could communicate directly with him. That would also apply to other leaders of the SES. By paying Sitaram Jaiswal to act as translator for the school seems a very lazy solution.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Sep 19, 2012 1:30 pm

Neither Mr nor Mrs Mavro ever learnt Hindi.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Sat Sep 22, 2012 4:53 am

Probably people in Sydney and Canberra who want to learn about spirituality should join SFSK (or the SOP, not that I know anything about them). Enjoy the early years when there is little pressure on you to do anything other than listen to and discuss fascinating new material and devote a few minutes a day to getting in touch with your senses. Later if you like, learn about meditation and start to practise it, but leave when you start to sense the noose tightening around you, when you feel that the pressure is on to put SFSK ahead of your family.


I posted those words in April this year. I have recently learned that students in SFSK who ask why So-and-so has left the School are being told that So-and-so left because they were "too busy" with their non-spiritual lives.

Lies are being told, instead of: "why don't you ask them yourself? Then if you like, come back and we can talk about that".

Given these outright lies are being told in a place that preaches that truth is everything, I now retract the above quote, and will try to edit it out of that post.

Therefore, my advice to anyone reading this who's wondering about trying out SFSK is to go nowhere near the place. To the ones still there reading this, how much longer will you turn a blind eye to all the lies and falsehoods being told in that self-styled "School"?

MW

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Unique » Sat Sep 22, 2012 8:09 am

Middle Way wrote:
Given these outright lies are being told in a place that preaches that truth is everything, I now retract the above quote, and will try to edit it out of that post.

Therefore, my advice to anyone reading this who's wondering about trying out SFSK is to go nowhere near the place. To the ones still there reading this, how much longer will you turn a blind eye to all the lies and falsehoods being told in that self-styled "School"?
MW

Just to say, good on you , MW! Couldn't but agree more!

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:09 am

Middle Way wrote:I have recently learned that students in SFSK who ask why So-and-so has left the School are being told that So-and-so left because they were "too busy" with their non-spiritual lives.


Middle Way wrote:Lies are being told, instead of: "why don't you ask them yourself? Then if you like, come back and we can talk about that".


Your words ring very true MW -

"Non-spiritual" could only mean "non-School" in this instance, because (as we've said above) the only thing that changes about a person when they leave the School is the fact that they no longer attend classes. So saying that these people are too busy with their "non-spiritual" lives is actually just saying they're too busy with their "non-School" lives; Of course they are - they're not in School... (what else would they be "busy" with?)

In a nutshell, all this 'answer' says is that Such-and-such has left the School because they've left the School. Ridiculous.

MOTS

Babs
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:52 am

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Babs » Sun Sep 23, 2012 9:50 am

This is my first post. I decided to leave the SFSK a couple of months ago and I am happy to share my reasons for doing so. Funnily enough, it wasn't the question of the legitimacy of the school or the mantrum that precipitated my decision to leave.

When I joined the school in 2003, I was concerned to ensure that it wasn't a "cult". It didn't seem like a cult, the people involved all seemed relatively normal and solicitous and it certainly helped me refocus on my spiritual journey, having been in a "funk" for a few years. I realise now that I was "vulnerable" in the sense that I was needy, having been quite depressed for a few years. The school helped to lift me out of my slough of despond with the "here and now" practices and the sense of community. I even coped with the rigours of the residentials quite well; having attended numerous church camps when I was young, they didn't seem too alien to me. I could laugh off being told how to cut cucumbers the "SFSK" way and having to do "bible study" at 5 am. I was very interested to learn about Indian metaphysics as well, this being a new field to me. I enjoyed learning sanskrit and the chants, having always been an avid learner. I felt that the tutors were very genuine, committed people and I was impressed that they would give up so much of their time to be of service to myself and others. I thought it was odd that the school's official website promoted a course in western and eastern philosophy and the Advaita Vedanta that we ended up learning about was not mentioned on the website, but, at that stage, I didn't question this gap. I wanted to stay in the school and continue to benefit from what seemed like a genuine spiritual community.

Periodically I would wonder what I was doing there but the benefits always seemed to outweigh the negatives. I liked Mrs Mavro: she reminded me of my grandmother, and seemed relatively benign, ie grandmotherly. I had young children so felt able to say "no" when asked to do various services that would have impinged on my family responsibilities. Occasionally she would make rather loopy and extreme observations, eg that psychiatry was dangerous or that it was Aboriginal people's karma to be a declining race in Australia or that if you aborted a baby, you too would be be aborted (this last observation was promoted as "the law"). I found these disturbing but as one didn't question Mrs Mavro's authority, I just brushed them off as they didn't seem to fit into the broader spiritual paradigm. I also found the silence when people left puzzling, but I wasn't sufficiently disturbed to recognise that this was a cult-like trait.

I felt that the school changed direction after Mr Mavro died. Mrs M seemed to become more severe, eg she introduced a bell at the end of a shortened tea time. She seemed to become crankier and when we hapless students couldn't produce the right answer to a question, she would hector us. I started to see her in a new light and query more of her observations. At a ladies' residential held in Sydney this year, she didn't sit with the rest of we ladies, but sat apart in another room with a senior student waiting upon her. I started to wonder whether she was really on a massive ego trip and rethought the dinners at residentials when we couldn't start eating until Mrs M was seated, having processed in last to take up her seat at the "top table": all very preppy English boarding school really. The final straw came when I was on Easter holidays and received a phone call from a senior student asking me why I wasn't at the last class, notwithstanding that I had given my apologies. I missed the first class of term and received another phone call demanding to know where I was. I decided then and there that I wasn't going back. Quite simply, I became tired with how intrusive the SFSK was and how we were treated like naughty kids when we missed class or didn't parrot the "right" answer to a question.

And the material was moving horrendously slowly. We'd been marooned on the same topic for month and months.

It was only after deciding to leave I heard about the questioning of the legitimacy of the mantrum and initiation and the whole background to the SFSK.

This is my personal reflection. I think the school has followed the all too human pattern of starting with good intentions and having many benefits (perhaps not for everyone, but it certainly did for me), but losing its way when the leaders become "dressed in a little brief authority".
Last edited by Babs on Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Tootsie » Sun Sep 23, 2012 2:00 pm

Hi Babs, and welcome to the SES forum. Wow, you endured nearly 10 years before you finally said enough is enough and left the SFSK. I agree with what you said about school being modeled on an English boarding school which I attended for a short time in my youth. Top table, stand up for headmaster, even the use of Mr & Mrs as formal addresses. I remember once Mr Mavro told the senior men to take cold showers as it would be good for them. As 14 & 15 year old boys with the hormones racing round the blood it may have served some purpose but for mature males it was a joke. Surrendering your intellect is to high a price to pay for being a member of the SFSK. May I wish you well on your spiritual journey.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:19 am

Welcome to the forum Babs. Your post well reflects most of my experiences. Similar to you, I became aware of much hypocrisy at the end as the whole thing started to lose its way. Perhaps this awareness grew because the class was not moving on with any new material. I don’t think I “learned” anything new over the last 2 to 3 years.

Babs wrote:I started to wonder whether she was really on a massive ego trip and rethought the dinners at residentials when we couldn't start eating until Mrs M was seated

Your comment reminds me of my last breakfast there. Mrs M had ceremoniously taken her seat at the “top” table, and after we’d then eaten our cereal in due solemn silence, the “service team” made the unforgiveable mistake not to serve her toast first! It was quite amusing to observe the outraged look that passed over her face as all the underlings got their toast first, and the glares directed at the oblivious service team leader. I was reminded so much of the words of Jesus about hypocritical “spiritual leaders”: who “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues”.

MW


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