Ahamty2 wrote:But who are these so called leaders? They are human beings with their own personalities exactly like you and I, they are no different from any of us nor are they wiser or better than any of us. They are as bound and just as helpless by their own egos and sanskaras as everyone else!
Exactly right. It is a fallacy to assume that Mrs M is somehow more 'advanced' or 'higher up on the spiritual ladder'. The moment you look at her actions objectively (i.e. divorced from notions about her position as leader of the School) she becomes a fallible and egotistical human being. Given this, there is no reason to believe what she says just because she says it
You have to view her actions independently of her position as leader of the School because that position is an attribute she possesses. Clearly, attributes don't have knowledge; only people do. Therefore, if you are inclined to impute 'special knowledge' to Mrs M, the evidence for this must come from her actions, not her attributes.
What is also very important to remember is that Mrs M is supposed to be the 'spiritual guide' for the members of the School. That is, they are supposed to take their cue from her when it comes to 'spiritual' matters. However, if Mrs M is hypocritical in her application of School 'principles' it is very difficult to fathom how on earth anyone is supposed to take spiritual guidance from her. Surely a significant prerequisite for being a spiritual leader is that you practice what you preach. It is quite astounding that anyone in their right mind would want to take spiritual guidance from someone who gossips about them behind their backs. If she isn't even honest on a basic level, how can Mrs M be trusted to provide guidance on any other level?
It's common to hear something like "well, yes we acknowledge Mrs M has some faults, but she's genuine nonetheless and that's all that matters really". I would say that a lack of honesty is a pretty serious fault. Moreover, this is not a fault she possesses in spite of herself. Rather it is a deliberately cultivated aspect of her personality. I would think that it's more than clear that a dishonest person cannot be called genuine.
In any case, since when was a person''s 'genuineness' a reason to follow them? We don't go around following all those people who claim to be Jesus do we? They're very genuine. In fact, they're probably a lot more genuine than Mrs M. However, there's obviously more to following someone than whether or not you perceive them to be 'genuine'. We don't follow the Jesus-claimers because there is simply no evidence to back-up their claims. Why is it that School members don't apply the same reasoning to Mrs M? The moment you do, she ends up having about as much credibility as those Jesus-claimers.
Have we been too harsh? I don't think so. Truth is neither harsh nor kind. What can be confronting is the fact that Mrs M's actions really were that bad. Coming to that realisation is not a pleasant experience, but I believe nevertheless that it is a cathartic one, and to that extent it is valuable.
1. Did I know the history of the SFSK while I was in the School?
Yes. I was lucky to have known some people who had been members of the SOP prior to the Mavros being kicked out (and who had subsequently followed them to the SFSK). They gave me a no-frills version of the School's history.
2. Did I read this forum while I was in the School?
No, although I knew of its existence.
3. Would I ever consider joining another organisation?
I would not. This is for two reasons:
i) I no longer think that Vedanta/Advait Vedanta represents the Truth in any way. Nor do I think any of the other religions represent it either. So I'm unlikely to join any organisation based on any religious principles. (Yes, Advait-Vedanta can probably be classified as a philosophy, but Vedanta is assuredly a religion. Either way, they're both fundamentally flawed systems of thought).
ii) I think that any organisation promoting a particular conception of Truth has to say at some point that it knows best what that Truth is. (Organisations are by their very nature exclusive to some degree.) Given that no one has any idea what the Truth is, it's rather arrogant to say "we have all the answers you need right here - there's no need for further inquiry." That's what all these organisations do: they limit Truth by compartmentalising it and giving it all sorts of qualities and attributes that it doesn't necessarily have. I think that real inquiry does not arise in a mind fettered by notions of what it 'ought' to be thinking in a given situation. However, that is exactly what ends up happening to people who join these kinds of organisations. There is no free inquiry; only predetermined conclusions.
Free inquiry always has its foundation in the exercise of reason. Reason is a tool in every person's kit. In fact, I would go so far as to say that reason is the only valid tool we have for discerning the Truth. In any case, you don't need to join an organisation to use your reason. There's no evidence to suggest that joining some organisation will lead to you exercising your reason any better than you would have had you not joined that organisation. In fact, the opposite is probably true. School people love to talk about the Platonic academy and the Western 'tradition' of schools of philosophy, however - Plato was not part of any school, and neither was Socrates. Aristotle left the Academy, and there were few other notable students of that school. Ditto Ficcino's Academy. Major developments in philosophy have almost always come from individuals, not 'schools'.
The question to ask is: As a seeker of Truth, how do I help anyone by joining an 'organisation' that tells me I have to give up my reason and common sense in order to find the Truth as they have defined it
There are also issues regarding hierarchies and power play. These are inevitable in any organisation, and I don't think that has anything whatsoever to do with seeking the Truth. The moment you have someone telling you to believe something just because they're telling you it's true, you've got a problem. Propositions that you wouldn't ordinarily touch with a barge-pole suddenly become 'plausible' in the context of a group of people all nodding their heads. This is a terrible situation. Reason should be exercised independently, and this can't happen in an organisation.