Just for fun...really?

Discussion of the SES' satellite schools in Australia and New Zealand.

Is this a cult?

Poll ended at Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:53 am

Yes
3
60%
No
0
No votes
Unsure
2
40%
 
Total votes: 5

ConcernedMum
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby ConcernedMum » Sun Jun 05, 2011 10:29 am

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.


Hi Chittani,
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.

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

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby Tootsie » Sun Jun 05, 2011 11:14 am

Hi Bluemoon,

When the movie The Stepford Wives came out in 1975 I had just joined the school and it reminded me of most of the women I saw in school. The perfect housewife, complete robots floating around attending to the needs of their husbands. It was a bit scary but most of woman (Ladies) in school seemed happy with this. I could never understand why they put up with this, the ones that couldn't left, but most stayed.

As you spent 20 years in school as a housewife putting up with the Stepford rubbish, would you like to say why you stayed so long. It seems you thought the system would change with time. But as long as men have the power there will always be a glass ceiling and women useful only if they obey their husbands, fathers etc. Well that's the line the SES puts down.

bluemoon
Posts: 125
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 9:52 am

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby bluemoon » Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:25 pm

deleted
Last edited by bluemoon on Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:30 am, edited 2 times in total.
SES London, 1990-2009, Female

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

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby Tootsie » Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:25 pm

Thanks Bluemoon for your explanation as to why you stayed so long in school. Wow it must have been a bumpy ride sometimes. I remember somewhere you mentioned they would not let you attend economic lectures after you left the school, which you loved so much. This must have been quite a blow to you. This directive came from DL, I understand. Do you know if ladies are allowed to wear trousers now-a-days? I wonder if the Self really cares what one wears. I once wore a hired dress kilt to one of schools Christmas functions and got everybodies attention!

ConcernedMum
Posts: 93
Joined: Mon Mar 05, 2007 1:58 pm
Location: Ireland

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby ConcernedMum » Sun Jun 05, 2011 1:44 pm

bluemoon wrote:This went on for some time until because I continued with economics there came down from on high via Ian Mason a message from Donald Lambie that it was a ‘pity’ that I was the only one in the internal study of economics not in the residential philosophy programme, so I dutifully enrolled. But this led to all sorts of problems as the dress code and all it implied was still very much ongoing and I am sure DL regrets his ‘pity’ on that occasion.


Yes, I wonder does he regret his 'pity'! It takes great strength to hold your own course in the face of both pressure from those who have authority vested in them by group worship and by the group so really Bluemoon, you are very strong.

As for Henry George, I attended a course on development and global justice in university last year. The lecturer mentioned Henry George and asked the group how many had heard of him. Only two of us put our hand up and he asked how we had heard of them. I mentioned the SES connection with a large health warning that I did not endorse their take on anything. The other person had found him through his own studies. In any case the lecturer told us how Henry George had been hugely popular at the time he was writing and how he had fallen from favour and is more-or-less unknown now which he thought was a shame, as he believed HG had a lot to offer.

So maybe he is due a revival?

bluemoon
Posts: 125
Joined: Sat Dec 26, 2009 9:52 am

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby bluemoon » Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:49 pm

Thanks for your comments Tootsie and ConcernedMum,

Tootsie wrote:

I remember somewhere you mentioned they would not let you attend economic lectures after you left the school, which you loved so much. This must have been quite a blow to you. This directive came from DL, I understand. Do you know if ladies are allowed to wear trousers now-a-days? I wonder if the Self really cares what one wears.


Your final point is exactly my point! And yes the women can wear trousers now and the young ladies had started to by the time I left, although the older women still seemed to keep to the old tradition of long frocks all the time.

At the time all this came up again about the dress code I went to see a lovely environmentalist who is also a very spiritual man, Satish Kumar (who is from India), about it, and he was so kind in giving me his time when he is so busy. He said that humility is the point (rather than pedantic notions about exactly what to wear) and that in some of the depictions of the Hindu deities the female is more prominant.

As for being informed I was not welcome even to a public annual economics lecture, it was upsetting. I have tried to stay objective in spite of this unnecessary unpleasant attitude, but it has led me to work harder on my notes (which are simply factual about my experiences and understanding of the organisation) which I still hope to post once I get the advice I need about libel.

Best wishes, Bluemoon
Last edited by bluemoon on Thu May 24, 2012 2:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
SES London, 1990-2009, Female

chittani
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:03 pm

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby chittani » Mon Jun 06, 2011 9:49 am

Thanks Bluemoon for that reminder of the announcement, which is very equivocal and half-hearted, and consequently confusing.

In a way it serves as an illustration of my point about the change in the SES. In the old days everything was very black and white ... nowadays there are grey areas everywhere, as well as grey hairs. The long skirts were a signifier of misogyny a la Stepford, and of course they had to go, but the manner of it is so disappointing. It's the voice of someone who is trying to please everyone at once - and as a consequence nobody is happy.

What I was really trying to say to iwonder was that if a loved one has fallen into doubtful company, the brave thing to do is to go along and meet these people and take their measure. I wasn't suggesting he or she signs up!

Hello concernedmum. Nice to hear from you again.

JAMR
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 6:45 am

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby JAMR » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:20 pm

I was a member of the South African school for around 15 years, in the 80/90’s along with the long dresses for ladies, clear gender demarcated roles etc. I understand chittanis view that there should be no issues with attending a number of the lectures to see what it is all about, with some forewarning of what to expect from ex-insiders on this forum, however note that they operate like many social institutions in our society, many of which we accept just as blindly, and for this reason I see no reason not to attend to get a first hand impression, and then chose to leave if you wish.

The reason I compare the SES to other groups is around the ‘boiling frog’ analogy. Consider our placing of children into a school system to be taught the 3 ’R’s. What possible idea do kids have of what is in store as our educational system attempts to mould them into productive, obedient citizens. I would never have started with the mental arithmetic if I had suspected what algebra had in store for me later. My point is that indoctrination is alive and well in just about every group you choose to name, and much of this is subversive. This does not mean that SES is therefore a good, or even equal thing to other institutions, even religious ones, but it does share these social ‘evils’ with them all. Our ability to resist all forms of social compliance appears very limited, some we actively pander to, others we are oblivious to, some we follow reluctantly.

SES will not haul you into physical chains, beat you, and force you to conform to their edicts. If you want to leave at the end of a term, or in the middle, then do so. All you need is to make sure your integrity of yourself and vote with your feet. This was not an easy decision for me to make when I left. I saw plenty of value in much of the teaching, the objectives I saw as no more insidious than most other social groups of politics, fashion and business that also demand a high degree of conformance.

I am not disagreeing with the comments made by bluemoon, tootise, concerned mum etc just pointing out a baseline social perspective from any social group for us to conform. SES as with most spiritual groups carries a bigger stick in some ways as it exploits our existential anxieties and need to feel rational. The gender discussion also raises a point about the way that women were treated differently to the men. I have a current issue with modern western society as it moulds my teenage daughter. I watch as she has managed to damage her hair with all the junk that seems required to do, mutilated her body with piercings, all of which demonstrate an enforced gender role and submergence of her individuality. If I had a son, I would see some equally stereotyped indoctrination for a male. All of these processes offend me because they also threaten my individuality and sense of control in life, but just as they reflect in the SES, so do they in all aspects of social life. I quite understand how the gender issues must have grated from the SES, just as the male ones grated with me, yet we deal with the same ones in everyday life for both genders.

I know this is probably an unpopular viewpoint, and although I am a highly conformant person and had plenty of differences with the SES, just pointing out that this is part of everyday life. The SES just offers one flavour of this process.

To return to the OP point, there are plenty of things that society will impose on you and your friend, and will lead you against your wishes, SES might be one of these, but its subtle mechanisms are as transparent as most you deal with everyday. So I say, live slightly dangerously, give SES an audition and judge for yourself.

chittani
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:03 pm

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby chittani » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:58 pm

I first came across the 'boiling frogs' analogy in my first job out of univ - predictably for one so ignorant I was working as a kind of management consultant. Our organization drew on the work of a management guru name of Michael, er ... anyway, he was head of a prestigious organization in Switzerland, and part of his shtick was the boiling frogs thing.

Imagine our surprise when it turned out that his CV was made up. He never had been a head honcho at McDonalds (although he may have served there in a lesser capacity) ... we felt such fools, although it doesn't seem to have harmed his career.

It is actually untrue that you can boil frogs in this way. Scientific studies that set out to look at this found that when the water got uncomfortably hot, the frogs jumped out. I don't know whether this is a contender for the Science of the Bleedin' Obvious, or not.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog

What does all of this tell us? Maybe, that it's better not to rely too much on hearsay or analogies, or what 'gurus' and experts tell you, but to see things for yourself.

chittani
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:03 pm

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby chittani » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:13 pm

Bluemoon,

I missed your post on the previous page. Sorry about that.

I've identified myself previously on this forum, and DL and others know perfectly well who I am. Having been involved in the London School for 20 years, much of that with DL as level head, I feel I know quite a bit about the organization, though thankfully I never had any position of managerial responsibility. Partly that was because I complained too much.

It is undoubtedly very sexist. The picture of women in the School is a projection by men onto women of all the things men don't like about themselves - women are supposed to be fickle, unreasonable, emotional, sexually threatening, and so forth. The truth is that when things get tough, men generally collapse. Why else would it be that the Grameen microcredit Bank usually refuses to lend money to men? Poor women can be trusted to use the money wisely, while poor men often waste it on drink, drugs, gambling and sex.

I'm not saying that women are better than men, either; or that we're the same - it's just that I think the SES line is part of the old patriarchal system that has enslaved all of us.

I think you're right to question DL on that point. I remember complaining about the treatment of women in the 1990s when he was trying to establish his authority. Only one or two people gave me any support - and even the women didn't seem very interested. I think everyone was a bit scared. Subsequently I found him much more approachable, but I guess I always tried to be supportive to him as a man, while disagreeing with a lot of the policies, so he didn't see me as an enemy.

I'm saddened by the veiled threats of legal action, which have clearly caused you a lot of anguish.

Kevin

Goblinboy
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Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby Goblinboy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:51 pm

chittani wrote:It is actually untrue that you can boil frogs in this way.


Damn. Was planning to boil a frog this evening, and now you tell me this. :-)

bluemoon
Posts: 125
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Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby bluemoon » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:10 am

Hi JAMR,

Interesting points, and I agree with you about most of it. After all ‘cult-ure’ and ‘cult’ are very similar (probably derived from the same original meaning??). I do differ with you in that that although our ‘cultures’ may not be transparent, if we could elevate our view beyond our own upbringing, they are not nevertheless pretending to be something they’re not. However a ‘cult’ (or ‘sub-culture’ perhaps you could call it) is not transparent and more than that it is dishonest in that it purports to be one thing and it actually turns out to be something quite different. Before you realise it (and some people never do) you have been drawn into ideas and practices which you would not have gone along with if you had known from the beginning what it was all about. Hence the dangers of trying to find out what it is all about, it will take time and by the time you do, if ever, you may have been sucked in yourself. In other words it is not like going along to any other kind of ‘evening class’ to see what it’s like, the very nature of a cult is that it draws you in to something you were not expecting and may never notice. I doubt if anyone would suggest joining the Moonies or similar cult to see what its like, but the SES maybe not so dangerous in that it is not a full-time residential organisation, but in a way that makes it all the more dangerous because it operates within the community. However I wonder what iwonder thinks about all this? I hope you are not confused further by our discussions on the subject. Actually I do now see where Chittani is coming from (and thanks to ConcernedMum for that, as well as Chittani!) in suggesting going along for a bit, it is just that cults by their very nature are not the same as other organisations, and don’t underestimate their power and sophisticated mechanisms to attract students who will be happy in the long run to serve the organisation.

Chittani wrote:

It is undoubtedly very sexist. The picture of women in the School is a projection by men onto women of all the things men don't like about themselves - women are supposed to be fickle, unreasonable, emotional, sexually threatening, and so forth. ......
I think you're right to question DL on that point. I remember complaining about the treatment of women in the 1990s when he was trying to establish his authority. Only one or two people gave me any support - and even the women didn't seem very interested. I think everyone was a bit scared. Subsequently I found him much more approachable, but I guess I always tried to be supportive to him as a man, while disagreeing with a lot of the policies, so he didn't see me as an enemy.


No surprise to me that you had little or no support, even from the women. Once people have accepted things the way they are they don’t want to rock the boat. If I heard the phrase ‘take what’s useful and leave the rest’ once, I heard it a thousand times! Always linked to acquiescence. I found that phrase rather sinister in a way. I did not try to get any support because it is an authoritarian organisation and the only ones who can make reforms are the leaders. So, that is where I directed my attention.

Chittani wrote:

I'm saddened by the veiled threats of legal action, which have clearly caused you a lot of anguish.


Thanks, and it has. You have also picked up the term ‘veiled’ and that is one of the most disturbing things about it all. It is not quite direct, therefore it is not open and honest the way the issues are dealt with, which means it is difficult to respond to and causes all kinds of confusion, emotional and psychological.

Best wishes, Bluemoon
Last edited by bluemoon on Thu May 24, 2012 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
SES London, 1990-2009, Female

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

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby Tootsie » Tue Jun 07, 2011 5:29 pm

The first few years in school are pretty easy to take, its only when you have to make the decision to 'Put School first in all your activities' that the going gets tough. After 14 years in school I could no longer do this and left. So telling anybody to go and check out school to see what its like for a few terms is nonsense. The majority of people even if they did not like its teaching would say its harmless.

Anyway as we are a western culture and that means mainly Christian (Love God and you neighbour as yourself), can anybody explain why the SES takes guidance from an Indian Guru who follows the Advaita Vedanta tradition. I would really like to hear what people like the Pope or The Archbishop of Canterbury think about the SES. Although women also get a rough deal from the Christian Churches! Woman Pope, not in my time.

chittani
Posts: 145
Joined: Thu Mar 09, 2006 6:03 pm

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby chittani » Tue Jun 07, 2011 9:24 pm

Tootsie,

Once again, I'm not suggesting iwonder should go along to experience the joys of SES ... but that she or he would do better to actually see this organization that is causing so much worry. If my daughter was spending time with people I was concerned about, I would go and meet them for myself, regardless of my personal fears.

JAMR
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat May 21, 2011 6:45 am

Re: Just for fun...really?

Postby JAMR » Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:39 pm

Hi Bluemoon, you said,

Interesting points, and I agree with you about most of it. After all ‘cult-ure’ and ‘cult’ are very similar (probably derived from the same original meaning??). I do differ with you in that that although our ‘cultures’ may not be transparent, if we could elevate our view beyond our own upbringing, they are not nevertheless pretending to be something they’re not.

IMO humans are not motivated to seek the truth for themselves, but do so for themselves and for those they want to support, so any institution, even if they know the truth are not well designed to socialise it. For me schooling shows how as there is no way we can convey to children just what it is like to be adult we set up (with some good intentions) a mechanism to try and ensure compliant, obedient citizens. None of this is transparent to the kids. By the time we are adults we have absorbed so much social stuff that we have not assessed for ourselves, that we do not even know it is there, much less transparent. Religions and cults are specific examples of this and while some are certainly motivated by material and personal gain, others just arise from misguided individuals trying to impose their will on others. I would imagine that few people even contemplate just what they have acquired from their upbringing, much less arise above it. Since all people pursue their own agenda, keeping them hidden make a lot of sense in a competitive world. I do not believe that humans are truth seekers for others, and their seeking for control over outcomes in their favour means they often hide their true motives.
However a ‘cult’ (or ‘sub-culture’ perhaps you could call it) is not transparent and more than that it is dishonest in that it purports to be one thing and it actually turns out to be something quite different. Before you realise it (and some people never do) you have been drawn into ideas and practices which you would not have gone along with if you had known from the beginning what it was all about.

Kids caught in the issues of body image, where they are trying to establish an identity and status for themselves reflect the way we uncomfortably comply with most aspects of our culture, from fashion to business to religion. Same mechanism and susceptibility, just different details. For us the beginning occurs when we are too young to be aware of what is happening. If by rare chance we are able to step back and view it all, we are unable to get back to the root causes that were imposed upon us from birth. We face these decisions in everyday life, when we get dressed in the morning we are reflecting society expectations of how we behave. Some of these are ubiquitous and almost inescapable, others like the SES have strong counter movements and we ally ourselves with these, and conform in turn to these.
Hence the dangers of trying to find out what it is all about, it will take time and by the time you do, if ever, you may have been sucked in yourself. In other words it is not like going along to any other kind of ‘evening class’ to see what it’s like, the very nature of a cult is that it draws you in to something you were not expecting and may never notice. I doubt if anyone would suggest joining the Moonies or similar cult to see what its like, but the SES maybe not so dangerous in that it is not a full-time residential organisation, but in a way that makes it all the more dangerous because it operates within the community. However I wonder what iwonder thinks about all this? I hope you are not confused further by our discussions on the subject. Actually I do now see where Chittani is coming from (and thanks to ConcernedMum for that, as well as Chittani!) in suggesting going along for a bit, it is just that cults by their very nature are not the same as other organisations, and don’t underestimate their power and sophisticated mechanisms to attract students who will be happy in the long run to serve the organisation.

There are degrees, but not surprisingly we are already caught up in many already. I would not suggest that we need to personally test heroin to see if its something that should be part of our lives, but plenty of people still do. The smoking epidemic of the last century is an example where a huge number of people went along to see for themselves and got caught in the process. The business ratrace is another example. Educating oneself to achieve greater material wealth, and spending 40 years in a 9-to-5 job, does leave many people wondering at the end why on earth they spent all that time under the spell of $. Every door that you open in society is a risk. There are many people in the SES that are just as content as other people who spend their time in shopping malls or wearing makeup, or being a grey corporate clone.

I am not a fan of the SES because of its subversion my individuality, however I felt I could afford to give up the spiritual benefits from the study and meditation. I am less able to afford to give up corporate business life because of the impact this will have on my lifestyle, but I am begrudgingly selling a big part of individuality to do so. Other people accept the same thing in ‘normal’ life just as plenty do in the SES, or Catholicism, or any other group that tries to answer existential questions.


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