Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Discussion of the SES' satellite schools in Australia and New Zealand.
misled
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2012 2:54 am
Location: Ballarat, Australia

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby misled » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:05 pm

Thanks Tootsie and Ella for your help re the book. I will follow your suggestions....probably go for the copy in Sydney.

Misled

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby actuallythere » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:30 pm

37 copies available here http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secret-Cult-Pet ... 345&sr=8-1

It costs 1p plus around £4.00 to ship to Australia, depending on which of the sellers you choose to buy it from.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:29 am

I have been an extremely interested reader of the latest posts, especially those of Man On The Street and Ella M.C.and the encouraging words of Ahamty2:
Ahamty2 wrote:You certainly learn from your experiences and become much stronger human beings for it.

I have been in private correspondence with MOTS discussing MOTS's comments about Mrs Mavro as well as much else. I wondered whether there is a side of her that genuinely does want "spiritual progress" (however defined) in the students and MOTS provided me with many illuminating examples that cast great doubt on my proposition, I have to say. During this period:
Ella.M.C. wrote:Confronting Mrs Mavro in regards to things I had been told that were serious allegations about them, led to long interrogations demanding I repeat every word said by who ..

And then last week I had an uncomfortable experience which brought Ella.M.C's story back. I was with a client doing a role play I frequently use on using assertiveness in the face of bullies. The exercise comprises me playing the role of "bad psychologist" and the client says that they have checked out on the Internet what I recommended in the last session, and they are concerned that my advice might not have been quite correct. My response is simply to ask "how many years of psychology have you studied?" which usually leads to the client apologising and then I say something like "that's ok, you can't trust the Internet, don't worry about it". We then repeat the exercise with the instruction to the client to simply ignore whatever I say, and just simply repeat their question, then watch the bad psychologist getting more flustered, worked up and belligerent. This is usually fun for both of us.

But it wasn't last week for me because in the middle I had the sudden revelation that despite years of pointing the technique out to others, I had been the victim of it myself every time Mrs Mavro engaged in the same behaviour! I was never remotely aware of it. What a salutory example of just how hidden and subtle the "brainwashing" is in SFSK. When I realised this I immediately re-ran the exercise as "bad spiritual leader" (as the client is quite interested in exploring spirituality) and Mrs Mavro's (and Mr Mavro's) tricks, obfuscations and diversions started easily flowing out of my mouth.

So thanks to MOTS for all the information and for your fearless posts and to you too Ella.M.C for your courage in speaking up. And AT I am now more open to your comments about these spiritual leaders as well, and less inclined to spend my time looking for the good in them. But fellow ex-SFSKers, I have to say that I still think that on a couple of occasions Mrs Mavro was genuinely perplexed about why students don't speak up in her classes. If she has no interest in the students answering and just wants to talk herself to do all the controlling, why would she even ask the question? If she wasn't genuine then I have to award her the Best Actress Oscar.

MW

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Winston » Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:37 am

Hi Middle Way and everyone else,
Just a quick replay to:
Middle Way wrote: I have to say that I still think that on a couple of occasions Mrs Mavro was genuinely perplexed about why students don't speak up in her classes. If she has no interest in the students answering and just wants to talk herself to do all the controlling, why would she even ask the question? MW

She may well be "genuine" in being perplexed - it just shows how out of touch she was/is, insensitive to the condition of her students and what effect her incessant talk and often the underlying judgmental tone would have on them. There is a term that describes a condition where one is incapable of feeling the hurtful effects that their speech/actions have on others.
Last edited by Winston on Wed Jul 25, 2012 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby actuallythere » Wed Jul 25, 2012 11:08 am

There is a term that describes a condition where one is incapable of feeling the hurtful effects that their speech/actions have on others.


There are several terms that describe this but one is narcissism and another is egocentricity.

That is what the SES is all about.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Winston » Wed Aug 08, 2012 11:37 am

Landgirl wrote:
My experience in this final meeting with DL was a stark contrast to how I'd been spoken to my entire life in SES. I felt judged, blackmailed, sent away almost with a curse/negativity hanging over me. I find it hard to accept that I spent 25 years [from birth] in the School, unquestioning, giving everything, unconditionally, complying, absorbing, serving, practicing, taking tutors their tea at 5.30 in the morning, ironing their underwear [we used to put out completely non-matching clothes for them to wear at Tea Bath Change, and see if they'd come down in them!]. I immediately told my parents about what happened, but my mum [who is in SES] said he was probably speaking from a point of fear, and it must be hard for him when promising young people leave so suddenly. She then left SES briefly due to illness [brought on partly psychologically from giving so much of her life/time to the School] but then rejoined. I was disappointed when she rejoined. If I had a daughter I could never be involved in an organisation that had said anything like that to her.

When will the leader of the SFSK and her faithful supporters understand that they are running an institution which interferes with people's psychology in a way that it leaves them permanently confused about their innermost sense of self, eventually causing a deep insecurity and total dependency on the self proclaimed " teacher/guru" and their "instructions". The methods used in this and similar "schools" have nothing to do with a true spirituality and it's unifying force, which is so opposite to the separation from the "outside" world and seclusion into an exclusive bubble (insuring a total control of its members ) that is practiced by those institutions.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Fri Aug 10, 2012 11:45 am

Yours is a heartfelt question Winston, and your points are spot on. When indeed will they understand this? I suppose the answers might be many and complex, but at the risk of sounding glib, might I suggest the main reason why they don't understand is their stubborn refusal to practise what they preach, namely listen. I suspect this might lie at the heart of the deep insecurity you note. On the one hand, they quite correctly in my view preach incessantly about how we have two ears but only one mouth, how we must listen, listen, listen and be aware of - then let go of –our automatic pre-programmed egoistic reactions.

Yet paradoxically these "leaders" also persist in not following their own instruction at all! So I think they have a fundamental unconscious conflict between contradictory beliefs, and because it's unconscious, by definition they remain unaware of it. The conflicting beliefs are: "I must listen and let go of reactions" versus "I must speak to instruct you in the proper path". So when someone occasionally plucks up the guts to say "but I'm not sure that's correct", the instant response is to lecture the enquirer, instead of listening and then asking "tell me more about that so that I better understand where you're coming from". It is this unconscious (I do believe it to be that) hypocrisy that drove me away and I suspect many others. IMO, it is a major factor in the School's slow but steady decline.

I mentioned before that Mrs Mavro in my opinion asked a genuinely perplexed question: "why don’t people speak up in my classes?". Winston, I think you were right in your observations on that. It appears she really does lack sufficient emotional intelligence to understand the bleeding obvious. At the time of her question I jotted down some dot points to answer it, and sought a bit of help with that. I fully intended to write to her. In the end I didn’t bother, because she wouldn't have had the slightest inclination to read it let alone consider changing the way she does things.

But what the hell – here 's an open letter to Mrs Mavro and her senior followers:

Some months ago you asked at a residential in Bowral why people won't speak up in class. I have taken you at your word, on the assumption you genuinely wanted that question answered in the spirit of Truth. If you didn't, well you've fooled me again: more power to your monkey ego.
Here's a crack at answering your question.
1. The formal ‘school’ setting used with chairs facing a teacher triggers deep-seated fears formed in bad experiences from actual schooldays, not helped by SFSK teachers who fail to appreciate this dynamic.
2. The fear of appearing to be stupid by giving the “wrong” answer, not helped by your perfunctory and often grumpy ‘no, try again’ comments, or your judgemental dismissals.
3. Many times people just want to hear you talk. You are getting old, you may not be around for much longer and soon you may no longer be able to travel to Canberra so often. You do say some wonderful things amongst the dross and, given your inability to listen, I would have much preferred to just listen to you say more of the wonderful things rather than wasting time parroting back for the thousandth time the stock answers such as “that’s the ego”.
4. People getting tired of being treated as idiots by constantly being asked to parrot back the obvious answers all the time.
5. Sometimes you say something that strikes people as quite profound. At such times people do not want to speak, (you yourself said that “the mind falls still in the presence of the truth”) so why can’t you understand that at these times people don’t want to be badgered by “well come on, what do you think about that? Come on, you know what to say”.
6. People’s attention does wander from time to time especially after one hour and they simply do not hear or understand the question or are just too tired or intimidated to answer it, especially if the only point that comes to mind has already been said over and over.

Will you ever read these words? Will your senior followers ever read these words? If the answer to either question is yes, will any of you have the courage to actually reflect on them, in the Spirit of Enquiry of Truth? Or will you listen to your monkey that says MW (you know perfectly well who I am) is arrogant or presumptuous or mistaken or vindictive or barking up the wrong spiritual tree, thus ignoring what you yourselves constantly preach, that the only reality is "I am", and any adjective added on to that statement is false.

Do any of you have the courage to pick up the phone and call me (you have my number, it hasn't changed) to have an adult discussion, in the spirit of Love not fear, with both of us listening openly and honestly to the other's point of view and with neither of us saying "that's just your ego speaking"?

Or will you just keep silently browsing through this forum, if indeed any of you are? If so, well maybe reflect on two questions, if I may be so presumptuous. Why after so many years in SFSK are you still so full of fear? Second, why is SFSK slowly but steadily fading away? Quite possibly, because you are intelligent people, you have been worrying a great deal about the second question. But what about giving some consideration to the first?

I won't hold my breath waiting for the phone to ring.

And don’t say I didn't try.

MW

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Earlgrey » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:00 pm

Wow, the descriptions of SFSK are earily similar to what went on in SOP when the Mavros ran that organisation.
Both your stories and descriptions are deeply personal as are your frustrations. That is what makes it so difficult, in my opinion, it's deeply personal.
I expect that SFSK will go the way of other organisations with charismatic style leaders, they simply fall apart after the leaders die. I was around when the Mavros ran SOP and it's only years later that I realise what self righteous egomaniacs they were. I am still in SOP and it's my experience that if you challenge the prevailing paradigm, as they say, you begin to feel very uncomfortable. So it's best not to, for your own psychological well being. It becomes very lonely when you start to make trouble. Best to quit while you are ahead.
Is there anything I can say that may assist in reconciling some of the conflict? Probably not but I do know this, your well being does not depend on the the approval of Nina Mavro or anyone else for that matter. Certainly not those pretend tutors or those self styled philosophy know it alls. I mean they introduce the word practical into the organisation's name to nullify the fact that there is virtually no philosophy in the place. They read a bit of Plato, introduce the word dialectic into their vocab and they are experts.
Geez, I'm getting upset now.
Anyway, to reiterate, you don't need the approval of those people to resolve the issues. Professional advice will help. There are councillors that are educated, know what philosophy is, both eastern and western, and understand what happens to people that follow these paths.
Best regards
Earlgrey

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Mon Aug 13, 2012 8:10 am

Re: MW's post.

I couldn't agree more. It is in fact a testament to the blinkered and profoundly misguided views of these "senior followers" that they will not even consider the notion that there is another way to look at these problems other than the way they are told to look at it by Mrs M. Can they really say that it is an act of 'courage' or 'deeper wisdom' to ignore these obvious faults in the SFSK and the way it is run? It is much easier, when asked a question by a student, to say "but who's asking?" or "that's just your ahankara/ego" than to actually engage with the problem and try to come up with a solution that doesn't beg the question. If the answer is to be found in silence then so be it, but the mere non-speaking of words is not silence. Neither does remaining emotionally disengaged with the students' problems constitute detachment. As MW so rightly says, it is fear that fuels all these ridiculous attitudes towards questioning and inquiry. Fear, and the arrogance that so often accompanies power.

I would ask these "silent browsers": What have you got to lose by engaging with these issues? Of what possible detriment to you could it be to admit that there may be a problem with what you are taught in SFSK? Is it really the case that your 'spiritual integrity' will be compromised if you follow through with your questioning? Do you really think that the Vedantic system you so admire was built by people who didn't question? You may not think that we in these forums question in the right way (or even that we don't ask the right questions), but if that is the case then surely you have a reason for thinking this other than "Mrs M told me so".

As an aside, I would say that if the object of a question is truth, then it is a good question. It really doesn't matter who is asking and to whom it is asked. Questions stand on their own merits. To get caught up in considerations of "who's asking" and so on is to fall into exactly the trap that you seek to spring on students when you say "that's just your ahankara". It follows that if a question is invalid, it is so because of its own faults and not those of the questioner. If these questions are so obviously wrong, then try to find a reason why (again, a reason other than "Mrs M told me so.")

Like MW, I too would be more than happy to engage in a discussion with anyone still in the SFSK about any of these issues, but discussion has not been forthcoming. What is forthcoming is a wall of silence and denial. If these people are so confident in their "knowledge" then why not discuss it and enlighten us? Clearly, the wall of silence has done little to stop the flow of leavers; perhaps a bit of open dialogue might? Mrs M would never allow it, but if that is so, then you just have to ask: why not? Because we won't 'listen'? I think not. The whole point of a discussion is to listen to each other. To simply assume we won't is completely unjustified.

As an example: I agree with 5 of MW's 6 points above regarding his answer to Mrs M's 'question'. Number 3 in his list is not something I agree with. We have had an ongoing and extremely informative discussion outside the forums regarding the merits of point 3 (amongst other things). Far from being a fruitless exercise, we have been able to come to a very good understanding of our respective positions on the matter. At no point did we attack each other personally or say "well, who's asking?" or anything of the sort. I have found it to be an educative experience and quite frankly, I know more about MW now than I ever did in the School. There is no way in which I lost my 'spiritual integrity' by doing this. The experience was entirely positive. Tutors in the School love to ask "but do you have a personal experience to illustrate your point?". Well, that was a personal experience. I found my discussion with MW to be fulfilling, thought-provoking, and full of insight (at least on MW's part!) I am indebted to him for his time and consideration. This is a lot more than I can say for my interaction with Mrs M or any other of the 'senior' people in SFSK regarding these issues. Mainly because there hasn't been any interaction. I don't doubt that the 'senior' people in SFSK are good people - but i) this doesn't mean they aren't misguided and ii) this certainly doesn't make the SFSK a 'good' organisation. Why not tackle these issues in the open? Have an honest and reasonable discussion, rather than a wall of silence that benefits no one.

I've written everything I have on this forum in the knowledge that senior SFSK students do read it. Send us a private message or give us a call (I too am sure that you know who we are). As MW said, the ball is in your court.

@Earlgrey
Earlgrey wrote:I mean they introduce the word practical into the organisation's name to nullify the fact that there is virtually no philosophy in the place. They read a bit of Plato, introduce the word dialectic into their vocab and they are experts.


This is spot on. I would be genuinely astounded if any tutor in SFSK could even describe Plato's philosophy in any detail, let alone any other philosophy. It's not enough to say that the study of philosophy isn't the object of the School. If you're going to use philosophy to lend credence to what you're saying, then you need to know that the philosophy you're using actually does lend credence to what you're saying. This requires you to understand the philosophy you're using. It's as simple as that. These people assuredly do not understand the philosophy they're using. Anyone who knows anything at all about Plato would also know that it is fundamentally inconsistent with Vedanta. Sprinkling Platonic language onto Vedanta certainly does not make those philosophies consistent. That they are inconsistent is not a problem; to say that they are consistent is a problem.

MOTS
Last edited by ManOnTheStreet on Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Middle Way » Wed Aug 15, 2012 6:18 am

Well MOTS, the ball is still sitting quietly on the other side of the net quite undisturbed. No doubt this is also the case for you. For us it is just a ball to be picked up and brought back to the net. For the senior SFSK students it is an incredibly dangerous grenade to be avoided at all costs. It's clear from our private discussions that no-one in their right mind at SFSK would dare to try out-arguing you on Vedanta and other philosophy issues as your knowledge of these is far greater than theirs. The main requirement to be an SFSK tutor is to read out written material and if a curly question is asked repeat what you just read out, or ask “well what do you think is the answer?” and when those fail either say “who’s asking?” or “you need to be aware that’s your ego asking that, up to its usual tricks”, and the danger passes. No match for MOTS.

But the invitation is still there for our other points to be talked about. The fear and hypocrisy at SFSK for starters. If what we say is untrue then pick up the phone or come onto this forum in the spirit of Truth and explain why there is no hypocrisy in the school. Point out our error. As a very wise man once said: “if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?”

MOTS has written well of our discussions. We certainly do not agree on some things, for example the benefit I see in attending a few years at SFSK. But as he rightly notes:
ManOnTheStreet wrote:At no point did we attack each other personally or say "well, who's asking?" or anything of the sort. I have found it to be an educative experience and quite frankly, I know more about MW now than I ever did in the School. There is no way in which I lost my 'spiritual integrity' by doing this. The experience was entirely positive.

We have both been able to appreciate the insights offered by the other and have both grown as a result, including our respect for each other. And so we both encourage the silent browsers to contact us, for a similar positive experience. But you won’t, because of your fear that Mrs M would berate and threaten you (which she would) for breaking some cardinal rule that when someone leaves SFSK they magically become “bad company” (when 10 seconds before leaving the place they were “good company”) and therefore must now be shunned. A rule which is not explained to anybody in their first few years at SFSK. If this rule is the Truth, why is it not explained when people first join up? Ditto for so many other "rules" which suddenly appear down the track.

The fear of talking to us is too great for you. Grown-up, intelligent adults with years and years of life experience and masses of spiritual learnings and practices frightened of having an open and friendly exchange of views with two people who wouldn’t hurt a fly in an atmosphere free from fear, judgment and negativity - just because someone else told them not to. Ridiculous isn’t it! - and a very poor advertisement for the benefits of attending SFSK in the longer term.

MW

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Aug 15, 2012 7:47 am

Absolutely spot on MW!

Middle Way wrote:But the invitation is still there for our other points to be talked about. The fear and hypocrisy at SFSK for starters. If what we say is untrue then pick up the phone or come onto this forum in the spirit of Truth and explain why there is no hypocrisy in the school. Point out our error. As a very wise man once said: “if I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil; but if well, why smitest thou me?”


This is exactly the point. The main issues being highlighted on these forums in general are the moral and/or ethical problems with the SES/SOP/SFSK. You don't need any understanding of Vedanta to discuss these issues. There is a larger consideration at play here - namely, the wilful cultivation of fear and subservience that seems to abound in the School. This is a moral problem that has nothing to do with how much Vedanta you know. It's not a bar to discussion to say that our knowledge of Vedanta may be unequal, because this knowledge is just not relevant to a discussion about the School's moral paradigm.

I would also like to point out (to the current senior members) that if call yourselves seekers of Truth you must also acknowledge that it is incumbent upon you to engage in discussion. If you really think that the School promotes the 'True Path' then is it not imperative that you endeavour to bring us back into the fold? It is no answer to state the 'principle' of: "You should never wake a sleeping man" because the notion that we have fallen asleep (again) is contentious. You can't assume we are asleep in order to justify inaction on your part. It is also no answer to say "we should just let things take their course". This is a flawed attitude for the following reason: Every day you all engage in actions deliberately designed to change the 'course' of things. You set alarms, brush your teeth, go to work to earn money, etc etc. All these actions are in direct opposition to the principle of 'letting things take their course'. The very fact that you attend the School is evidence that you do not want to just let things take their course. Why is it that you suddenly decide to apply this 'principle' when it comes to taking a stand about the value of the School and our part in it? This is clearly an answer just as insubstantial as "who's asking?" and "it's just your ahankara/ego". Of course, saying that "Mrs M instructed us not to talk" is just supine.

Nowhere in the Teaching is it said that you should only engage in discussion with people who you already know agree with what you are going to say. As such, I am at a loss as to how any argument against discussion would be anything but vain or fearful.

Middle Way wrote:And so we both encourage the silent browsers to contact us, for a similar positive experience. But you won’t, because of your fear that Mrs M would berate and threaten you (which she would) for breaking some cardinal rule that when someone leaves SFSK they magically become “bad company” (when 10 seconds before leaving the place they were “good company”) and therefore must now be shunned. A rule which is not explained to anybody in their first few years at SFSK. If this rule is the Truth, why is it not explained when people first join up? Ditto for so many other "rules" which suddenly appear down the track.


Yes - this 'good company'/'bad company' idea is rather pernicious actually. None of us have 'lost' the knowledge we gained through our association with the School and through our own personal experience. This being evidently the case, the only remaining factor that would change us from 'good' to 'bad' company is that we no longer interpret that knowledge and experience to automatically confirm everything else we were taught in the School. But there is nothing about a change in interpretation that, by itself, justifies re-characterising us as 'bad company'.

'Bad company' is an idea introduced in School to illustrate that there are things in life not conducive to 'spiritual work'. There are two things here:
1. It's not self-evident that engaging in discussion with people who might disagree with you is not conducive to 'spiritual work'. In fact, quite the opposite may be true.
2. It's not self-evident that everything you are taught in the School is conducive to 'spiritual work'. At some point it simply becomes an unspoken assumption that everything you are taught in the School is synonymous and concomitant with 'good company'/'spiritual work'. I don't think this is justified. A key point is that the fact that you may have received some benefit from what you were taught at the School does not prove that everything you are taught there is spiritually beneficial to you.

For example, the fact that you now may lead a more disciplined life than you did before you came to the School (and derive some benefit from this) does not prove that you are somehow better off 'spiritually' having come to the School. This is for the simple reason that there are many many people who live much more disciplined lives than you do who you would not consider 'spiritual' in the slightest.

Many of us who have left have had very long associations with the School. In fact some of us have been your tutors at one point or another. Do you really think that we are 'bad company'? Surely not. Thus the question is not about who is 'good company' and who is 'bad company', but rather why you feel the need to label people as 'good company' or 'bad company' in the first place.

MOTS
Last edited by ManOnTheStreet on Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:16 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Tootsie » Wed Aug 15, 2012 12:37 pm

All religions proclaim that the purpose of life is reunion with the original source of all life - GOD. The English word 'religion' comes from the two Latin words, 're' (again) and 'ligere' (to link). Jesus said the most effective way of achieving this is through love - love of GOD, love for humans, even for those who have harmed us. Reading some of the posts about the SFSK it seems there is a lot of fear and not much love. The blame seems to be directed at Mrs Mavro or some of the tutors.

Many years ago after attending a residential weekend at Mount Wilson I asked Mr Mavro why he put idiots in charge of organizing the activities at the residential? After admonishing me for using the word idiots he explained it was because thats what the absolute sent him. It also showed me my inner state which was not acting from love as it should have been. Eventually I left the SOP but could always drop by the Mavro's house at Neutral Bay for a cup of tea and a chat. Mrs Mavro was interested in my spiritual path even though I was no longer interested in the Vedanta teachings. For those wishing to talk with her I'm sure a meeting could be arranged but only if your intentions are genuine, playing the blame game would not be helpful.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Wed Aug 15, 2012 3:05 pm

Thank you for your post Tootsie,

My post was mainly directed at senior members of the SFSK who have displayed obvious reticence in maintaining any sort of contact with those of us who have left. As I've said before, I think the vast majority of them are good people who are quite misguided as to what kind of 'teaching' they are receiving in the School. It has warped their view of life and consequently their view of those of us who have left. Essentially, we went from being their 'spiritual brothers and sisters' to 'non-existent' within the time it took for us to leave the School. Surely there's something wrong there? I merely wish to point that out.

MW expressed it best in my opinion:
Middle Way wrote:The fear of talking to us is too great for you. Grown-up, intelligent adults with years and years of life experience and masses of spiritual learnings and practices frightened of having an open and friendly exchange of views with two people who wouldn’t hurt a fly in an atmosphere free from fear, judgment and negativity - just because someone else told them not to. Ridiculous isn’t it! - and a very poor advertisement for the benefits of attending SFSK in the longer term.


On to your post:

Tootsie wrote:Reading some of the posts about the SFSK it seems there is a lot of fear and not much love. The blame seems to be directed at Mrs Mavro or some of the tutors.


I don't wish to 'blame' senior students in the SFSK. We were all in the same boat. I certainly know what it feels like to be pressured into doing and saying things that were against my better judgement and conscience. I believe this is the same pressure that is being exerted on many students who have remained in the School. Nothing is explicitly said, but it's generally known that speaking to any of us would be highly objectionable behaviour. The natural question to ask is: to whom would that behaviour be highly objectionable? Clearly the answer is Mrs Mavro. Who else could possibly have a problem with it?

Tootsie wrote:Many years ago after attending a residential weekend at Mount Wilson I asked Mr Mavro why he put idiots in charge of organizing the activities at the residential? After admonishing me for using the word idiots he explained it was because thats what the absolute sent him.


I think the 'absolute' sent him plenty of non-idiotic people as well. I'm not willing to call anyone in the SFSK an idiot, having known many of them for many years as fine and intelligent people. What I do question though is how they went from being fine people to not even being able to pick up a phone without express permission from Mrs Mavro. There's got to be something wrong with that. What I'm trying to do is inform these current students of some facts regarding the way the School is run; and it's impossible to talk about the way the School is run without involving a discussion about Mrs Mavro. Thus it's not really about blame, but about information.

Regarding Mr Mavro's 'the absolute sent them' comment: This is just a cop out. He essentially avoided all responsibility for his actions by saying that the 'absolute' did it all. You can't question the actions of the 'absolute' so by extension you can't question his actions. It's very clever. It's also blatantly manipulative. Using this little trick he can do just about anything he likes and call it the will of the 'absolute'.

I must say I'm unsure how you connected your lack of appreciation that everything was the will of the absolute to your inner state not acting from love. I know what the 'School answer' is to this, but I was rather hoping you might have a better explanation. It's incidental to your main point so I won't address it in detail now.

Tootsie wrote:Jesus said the most effective way of achieving this is through love - love of GOD, love for humans, even for those who have harmed us.


I assume that what you want to say is that we should 'turn the other cheek'. There is one problem with this, and that is that 'harm' exists in a spectrum. It is not a uniform concept. The harm caused by punching someone in the nose and the harm caused by abusing a child are two very different types and degrees of 'harm'. It is perhaps a failing of our use of the English language that we tend to use this one word to describe the damage caused in both situations. It's all well and good to 'turn the other cheek' when someone punches you in the nose, but if someone abuses your child you most certainly do not 'turn the other cheek'. To do so in that situation would be unthinkably cruel and callous; not to mention selfish.

What we need to do then is place the harm caused by Mrs Mavro somewhere on this spectrum. While it is certainly not as bad as child abuse, it's definitely worse than a punch in the face. It's a psychological harm that deprives a person of their freedom of thought, and renders them completely dependant on and subservient to Mrs Mavro. This is very serious harm in my opinion. It's certainly not harm that can be dealt with by 'turning the other cheek'. In my opinion 'turning the other cheek' in this case would be simply too trivial a 'solution' for such a serious problem.

Tootsie wrote:Eventually I left the SOP but could always drop by the Mavro's house at Neutral Bay for a cup of tea and a chat. Mrs Mavro was interested in my spiritual path even though I was no longer interested in the Vedanta teachings. For those wishing to talk with her I'm sure a meeting could be arranged but only if your intentions are genuine, playing the blame game would not be helpful.


First of all, not everyone who left the SOP was welcome to just 'drop by' for a chat. The same goes for ex-SFSK members. The Mavros were always very selective regarding those they kept in contact with and those they didn't. I'm more than willing to bet that 'interest in your spiritual path' was not the reason they had you over for a chat. They were only ever interested in people to the extent that they could use them for one purpose or another. I've seen and heard too much to give her the benefit of the doubt in this case.

Secondly, my wish is not to talk to Mrs Mavro. I tried that just before I left the School. What I got was a barrage of rather thinly veiled threats and other nonsense about how I would have "problems in my life" and so on. I assure you there was very little 'love' (or 'interest in my spiritual path') being expressed there. She put the blame squarely on me, and was totally unwilling to admit of any wrongdoing whatsoever. This is not a person with whom you can have a rational discussion.

I'm not sure what you mean by "if your intentions are genuine". My intention first and foremost is to have an honest, open and frank discussion about the SFSK. If that means that Mrs Mavro is going to be blamed for her own actions, then so be it. I don't see how this is different from the way we approach the actions of any other person. People are generally presumed to be responsible for their own actions. It's hardly disingenuous to afford that same presumption of responsibility to Mrs Mavro. I'm really not trying to 'play the blame game' - it just so happens that Mrs Mavro is responsible for a lot of damage to a lot of people.

MOTS

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby Tootsie » Thu Aug 16, 2012 11:16 am

Although I know next to nothing about the SFSK Man on the Street I can understand where you are coming from. After 14 years in the SOP I left because in my humble opinion everybody in it including myself was asleep. The material being given was all plagiarized from other sources and nothing seemed original. It was as if the people there had forgotten the reason why they came to the school originally and had all turned into mindless zombies floating round in suits and long dresses playing lords and ladies.

Being a social animal friendships were made in that 14 years and after leaving there was an expectation that some of these friends would telephone me saying how sorry they were to hear that I had left, or simply to wish me good luck. It is now 20 years since I left the SOP and none of my so-called friends or even my enemies have ever telephoned me. Its as if I had never existed. Maybe like Rip van Winkle I could have slept for 14 years and it was only a dream about being in good company! So like you Man on the Street I wonder if our time under the Mavro's, was if I can use an Australian colloquialism, all fair dinkum?

I can also see Schools point of view about not allowing contact with the people that leave. Most people that leave have some negativity about why they left, so to allow contact would bring this negativity into the groups consciousness. In my opinion this would not really be a bad thing because it may wake up some of the sleepers.

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

Re: Sydney School for Self Knowledge

Postby ManOnTheStreet » Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:55 pm

Tootsie wrote:I can also see Schools point of view about not allowing contact with the people that leave. Most people that leave have some negativity about why they left, so to allow contact would bring this negativity into the groups consciousness. In my opinion this would not really be a bad thing because it may wake up some of the sleepers.


Precisely. I would however want to be clear that talking about the School as somehow having a will of its own (and a 'point of view') is a misconception. What we ought to say is that from Mrs Mavro's point of view, contacting people who have left is a bad idea, because our 'negativity' might find its way into the groups.

It's a very common thing for School people to talk in terms that are vague to the point of being incorrect. The School doesn't have a mind of its own. It certainly doesn't have a 'point of view'. I think that language is all important here - you can see how a seemingly innocuous phrase like "the School's point of view" ends up being a way for its leaders to avoid all responsibility for their actions.

"We don't do X in School" should be read as "Mrs Mavro doesn't like X".
"X is not appropriate" should be read as "Mrs Mavro doesn't like X".
"X is bad company" should be read as "Mrs Mavro doesn't like X".
"The School requires that you do X" should be read as "Mrs Mavro wants you to do X".
"It is said that X is the case" should be read as "Mrs Mavro thinks X is the case".

You start to see the general pattern.

As for negativity - it's really quite obvious that 'negativity' is a term bandied about in School denoting anything that Mrs Mavro doesn't like. Independent thought is classified as 'negativity' not because there's anything about independent thought itself that makes it necessarily negative (there isn't), but simply because Mrs Mavro doesn't like it when people come up with their own ideas. Particularly when those ideas challenge "the way things are done in School" (read: "The way Mrs Mavro has decided things ought to be done") Again: what is it about Mrs Mavro saying something that makes it automatically true? There is simply no justification for thinking in this way.

MOTS


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