I cant believe the amount of tosh I listened to hour after hour, week after week, whilst wondering what was wrong with me because I seemed to be the only one shocked by what I was hearing, but still I sat there. I think it has something to do with not wanting to be the odd one out who doesn't agree with what's being said and done when everyone else seems agreeable - not wanting to "cause trouble" through my apparent ignorance.
Once you start to try to work it out it all becomes quite fascinating in a way. I found on this website in response to my own quest to understand all this, a description of an experiment about ‘8 points on a piece of paper’, see this link (under 'Tales of 50 women'): http://www.ses-forums.org/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=523
it’s a post by mgormez towards the bottom of the page. Basically it indicates that people tend to follow others, even when confronted with facts to the contrary, we just don’t like being the odd one out.
I also found your assessment of the ‘exercise’, residentials and other practices interesting. It gets confusing trying to establish what is ‘useful’ and what is leading somewhere else that another wants you to go... . The thing about the ‘ego’ is that we all have one (actually the funniest thing is when after a while in SES people start to think they have not got one anymore!) and so does the organisation. Reading Gangaji’s book (‘The diamond in your pocket’) she speaks of the ego and the superego, and what happens when people begin to ‘wake up’ to the understanding of their own ego is that they tend to have a battle or inner conversation with themselves, which she describes as the ego and the superego (ie the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’ part of any individual – based on one’s own assessment of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ which of course comes from one’s own experiences or values presented to us from childhood onwards).
I highly recommend Gangaji’s book ‘A diamond in your pocket’ for those here that miss the actual (so-called) teaching. She is an American who spent some time with an Indian teacher. I don’t like to do this really, peddle alternative teachers! Because I am in no position to know how genuine she is, except that what she says and how she delivers it I have found seems genuine and has been very useful, especially with all the questions that have come up for me about the SES. Her work has helped me to unravel it and to move forward. The book is available in CD form from Amazon which I have, as I find her voice and manner to be part of her teaching. She does not have a set of ‘material’ or ‘conversations’ when she meets people (or a ‘following’ or organisation as such either) she simply goes around to various venues and you go along if you want. People go up to sit next to her and she talks to them. I found her own story here: http://www.gangaji.org/index.php?modules=content&op=all_excuses
Something else that Gangaji talks about concerns the ‘specialness’ that a lot of people have mentioned on this forum, which tends to become an aspect of being a member of the SES, and can be one of the things that makes it hard to leave as you feel you will never have the opportunity again to continue with the ‘spiritual’ search you feel you have begun. This is what she has to say about that:“At this point in our human history, what was once reserved for the most rare beings is available to ordinary people. Because we have considered ourselves ordinary, we have kept a certain door closed within our brains and within our hearts to the truth at the core of it all. But, at this time, there is a crack in our conditioning. If you are reading this, you are already aware of it to some degree or you wouldn’t have picked up the book. This is a time of the ordinary awakening. This means you, not only those born under the brightest stars but the ordinary person as well.”
I just thought that may be helpful for those such as myself that feel they have begun to understand something and don’t quite know how to take it further.