chittani wrote:Hello iwonder
I can't speak about the Australian organization, but had over 20 years experience till recently in the UK one, which is the centre to which it defers.
I think I might understand where you are coming from in writing your reply in that you are trying to reassure iwonder, who is worried about their relation's involvement with the SES, that the SES is not as "culty" as some groups like the Jehovah's Witness. In some ways I agree with you, there certainly isn't as much pressure as there used to be to join although it's only 7/8 years ago since one person I spoke to received repeated phonecalls to get her to come back after she left on being told about the initiation ceremony. She felt she had been mislead about the nature of the course, that it was introduced as 'philosophy' instead of 'religion' which the content clearly is, and which became clear to her when the Initiation ceremony was explained to her, for example, donating a week's salary (? think that's right) and bowing to religious iconography/pictures of gurus.
But even so, even if it is relatively 'benign', don't people deserve to be warned about it rather than reassured? I'd also caution that your experience is partial (as is everyone's) and that while you don't think it's about money, I can tell you stories about people being put under financial pressure. This happened one family I know of in the last 3/4 years. Not that long ago. They were put under pressure by someone who holds responsibility for financial matters (i.e. someone senior), so it wasn't a mistake or naivety or lack of awareness that "things" have supposedly "changed".
I would also caution that it appears that different experiences in how you are treated may be accounted for by the very different roles assigned by the SES to whether you are a man or a woman. So your experience leaving the SES as a man, may be entirely different from a woman who spends years there and has to decondition herself from the ridiculous notions about female deference to men. The women may not have to handwash the senior men's undies anymore on retreat, but it wasn't long ago that young women involved with the school were wearing long floaty white skirts. Honestly, I cry inside when I think of the damage done to young girls and women who wore the long skirts for years. But of course, the long skirts has gone away now? Why? Was there an acknowledgement that it was oppressive to women? Any apology for that?
Ultimately, what it comes down to for me, is if someone is a spiritual seeker, why would you waste your time with a group who think that 'truthiness' is good enough and that people who hand over their money in search of knowledge do not deserve truthfulness from day one. Truthfulness and honesty is Spirituality 101. Taking lessons in spirituality from deluded people (in that sense, that manipulating people at any level is okay, and I experienced that behaviour towardsmyself Chittani in 2006/7) seems a waste of our intellects and our short precious lives. Especially as there are plenty of people teaching the same thing these days, whether philosophy or spirituality, who do not also manipulate you.
We had some electronic contact over the years, hope you are well.