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School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: marker3221 ()
Date: November 24, 2008 01:06AM

Hey Guys,

I want to bring to your attention the School of Practical Philosophy & my experiences with them, some of you may have attended their classes, seen their ad's and found them attractive or interesting, or some may even be in attendance.

I wish to fill you in on what I have experienced, seen and heard of this group. Myself and my girlfriend heard of their "Introduction to Practical Philosophy" course and seeing the price was very reasonable we signed up. They run one lecture every week (2 hours) for twelve weeks, this cost just €150.

Having finished that course of 12 weeks we went onto "level 2" from there we progressed to "level 3" - and this is where it began to get murky.

We began to notice that the tutors were beginning to instill their own views onto you and suppressed any questioning and/or criticism of the group view. (This is while they say that they welcome questioning, they do, but then knock it down)

I have had experiences with a Cult in the past and I began to pick up on behavior of both the tutors and senior members, behaviour that is typical of a Cult type mentality. So with suspicions raised I began to dig into their past and what I found was disturbing to say the least.

The School of Philosophy is directly linked to the SES (School of Economics) founded in the UK during the 1930's. The SES call themselves an "Educational Charity" and run several schools that teach Philosophy at its core. (one of which is on Northumberland Road where the night classes are taught.)

Summary of info:

1983 - Two schools in the UK (St James's & St Vedast) were openly accused of Child Abuse in the press and a Police investigation ensued. St Vedast school was closed but St James' continues to operate.

1985 - Two investigative journalists published a book "Secret Cult" in which they accuse the SES and The School of Philosophy of exhibiting Cult like behavior and manipulation of both adults and children. The organization refuses to answer the allegations & stays silent.

1997 - The Belgian Government investigated the activities of the School of Philosophy after learning of the initiation processes and other suspicious behaviour. Following an in depth examination of their structure and activities the Belgian Government officially class The School of Philosophy as a CULT and adds it to their list of operating Cults in their country. It comes in at number 7..

2002 - The Dutch Branch closed after 2 Police investigations into Child Abuse at the school.

2006 - The Townsend Report found the UK Schools guilty of Child Abuse and battery, calling it criminal. Children were beaten with Cricket bats, ropes, punched, kicked etc from asd young as 4 years of age. Channel 4 broadcasts a report on the abuse which can be found on youtube.


The Belgian report on the School of Philosophy is essential reading and can be found here:


Needless to say I am not going back - and I advise anybody who is being enticed into going to their classes - these people ARE NOT who they say they are.

Ask me any questions about what I personally seen (it was mostly subtle, but leading somewhere) and I'll answer them. More importantly people have to know about these charlatans before they get involved with them.


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School of Philosophy & the SES - cult warning signs, Gurdjieff
Posted by: The Anticult ()
Date: November 24, 2008 01:50AM

There were some posts about this group here before I think...did a search, here is one...

School of Philosophy

You could cross-post your excellent post into this thread too maybe?
This is clearly a worldwide enterprise.

Yikes, it looks like it has roots in Gurdjieff.

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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 25, 2008 11:21PM

Information about the background

Read Secret Cult a book by Peter Hounam and Andrew Hogg (google it)

Joyce Colin-Smith in her memoir Call No Man Master, describes her involvement with Ouspensky's group in London and follows the events after Ouspensky's death, when McLaren and Roles met Maharishi. They hoped MMY's alledged knowledge of Hinduism would lead them to the source of Ouspensky and Gurdjieff's 'system.'

MMY tried to use the resources of the group and Roles eventually kicked him out. But a number of disaffected students left Roles and hooked up with MMY, among them Joyce Colin-Smith.

MMY's teachings were used by Maclaren in creating the SES.




Peter Washington (in his book Madame Blavatskys Baboon)also covers the history of the esoteric School of Economic Science founded by Leon MacLaren and his connection with Transcendental Meditation’s Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.



What is the School of Economic Science (SES)?The School of Economic Science was founded in 1938.

The corecourses offered by the School are in Philosophy and Economics.Some branches of the School are called the School of Philosophy orthe School of Practical Philosophy.

The School does not see itself asa religion, but would consider itself a “new spiritual movement”.The School's teachings are primarily based on Advaita Vedanta,an Indian soteriological philosophy. Advaita Vedanta holds a non-dualist, or monist, metaphysical position, i.e. that the ultimate essenceof each individual self (Ataman in Sanskrit) and the Universal,Transcendent Self (Brahman in Sanskrit) are one and the same.

Theschool also believes that Advaita underlies the prominent Westernphilosophical teachings, and is the essence of Christian teaching.

Where are they found?

Philosophy courses are offered in every region of England andScotland; the head office is in London. Associated Schools are foundin Australia, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Greece, Hungary, Ireland,Malta, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa, SouthAmerica, Trinidad and the United States.

In 1975, a number of parents in the School founded the St JamesIndependent Schools for children. Junior schools for both boys andgirls, and the senior girls' school are located in London; the seniorboys' school is in Twickenham, Middlesex. The School has organiseda national cultural event called “Art in Action” at Waterperry inOxfordshire for several years. This is a four-day public event whichwas attended by about 25,000 visitors in the past few years.

What do they believe?

The School believes in a Supreme Being as the ultimate source ofcreation. Additionally, there is an “infinite consciousness” whichpermeates and sustains the world. There is therefore a belief in anessential unity of all beings by virtue of a common origin and essenceof consciousness. Following from these beliefs is the idea that there isa framework of “Natural Law” which governs all creation. Mankindhas an obligation to learn and practice activities that work with the“Natural Law” for the mutual welfare of all beings.

The School teaches that there is a common thread of ultimateTruth running through all great teachings and philosophies of theworld. The School encourages a moral base in truth, humility andservice to the community. There are no restrictions on attendance atthe School on grounds of religious or cultural background or absenceof any established beliefs.

How are these beliefs introduced?

The early courses in Philosophy introduce students gradually to theideas advocated by the School. In the introductory and early terms thecourses offered are fairly broad and general.

The Eastern connectionis not particularly emphasised and materials are drawn from a varietyof sources. Later, there is a focus on Eastern texts, particularly theBhagavad Gita and the Upanishads.

The study of Sanskrit is thenintroduced so that these texts can be read in their original language.As part of the introductory course, students are given a simpleexercise to strengthen attention and awareness through connectingwith the senses. After about 18 months of attendance, continuingstudents are invited to be initiated into a mantra form of meditation.
After about three years, this becomes a prerequisite to movingforward with their studies. The meditation used by the School is inthe tradition of Shankaracharya, the 8th century exponent of AdvaitaVedanta. For long-term students, two sessions of formal meditation(one in the morning and one in the evening) are reinforced by apractice of "falling still" between actions, and dedicating everyactivity to the Supreme Being and increasing self awareness.Students who continue in the School for about four years areintroduced to the concept of “Measure”. This is based upon the viewthat the “Natural Law” prescribes a framework of regulationsnecessary to achieve a happy and healthy life.

The frameworkgoverns such matters as appropriate food and appropriate periods forphysical work, mental work, spiritual work, and sleep (with regard tothe individual's constitution and other circumstances).

Where do their ideas come from?

The School was originally founded by a small group of peoplewishing to explore questions relating to economic justice against thebackground of the economic depression of the early 1930s. Theywere interested in the ideas of Henry George, an American economistwho advocated the taxation of unearned gains arising from landvalues as a fairer tax than one based on earned income.The group was led by the barrister Mr. Leon MacLaren with thesupport of his father, the then Labour MP Andrew MacLaren. Theideas of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky influenced the School’s earlyteachings. After meeting the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Londonduring the early 1960s, Leon MacLaren travelled to India.

Then in theensuing years of his life he received guidance from Shri ShantanandaSaraswati, a spiritual leader in the Advaita Vedanta tradition. Studymaterial includes not only the Vedas, the Bhagavad Gita and theUpanishads of Indian origin, but also the Bible, Plato, the teachingsof the leading Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino, and others.However, Advaita Vedanta has become the guiding philosophy of theSchool and the “lens” through which all texts are read.

How do they live?

Some time after being initiated into meditation, students areencouraged to live according to the concept of “Measure”: risingearly, meditating regularly and finding a balance between worldly,reflective and spiritual work. Residential courses are offered wherestudents practice living by these principles. Students are encouragedto adopt a vegetarian diet, with good posture being emphasized,particularly in meditation. When engaged in any task, students areasked to give their full attention to the task at hand and trainthemselves not to be distracted by irrelevant thoughts or innerdialogues. The roles of men and women are defined separately andseen as complementary to each other. Dedicated women are expectedto wear long skirts or dresses within the School environment, andmany do outside the School environment as well.Members are encouraged to fulfil their roles in society whilst notlosing sight of the divine Absolute.

*Negative thoughts and emotionsare considered particularly unhelpful. *

Students are encouraged todiscriminate between the “fine” and “coarse”. The works of greatcomposers, artists and writers such as Mozart, Vivaldi, Leonardo daVinci and Shakespeare are considered particularly “fine”.Good company also has an important role in living the spirituallife and members are encouraged to spend time in the company ofthose supportive of the School’s philosophy. However, members arenot asked to reject other friends and family. Members are encouragedto lead the spiritual life of a “householder”: work, family and societalobligations are considered important. An individual should seek todevelop spiritually within the constraints of ordinary life.

Less than half of the 600 pupils in the St James IndependentSchools are affiliated with the School of Economic Science, althoughmost of the teachers are members. All children are encouraged to“pause,” with periods of silent contemplation scheduled into theschool day. Pupils in the Senior schools are offered the chance tolearn to meditate, though this is not compulsory. While children inthe school are not expected to be or become members of the Schoolof Economic Science, the choice of subjects and general running ofthe school are consistent with the School's philosophy.

Who joins?

While the School's courses are open to everyone, a large proportionof members are from the middle class; the courses particularlyattracting professionals. Members are of all ages, now including anumber brought-up by their parents within the movement.Membership figures vary, but in recent years, the School hasestimated that there are about 1,200 individuals in London and about1,300 in the rest of Britain who have made a substantial commitment.There are several thousand students in the associated schoolsthroughout the world.

How is the School financed?

Fees for courses are intended to cover administrative and buildingupkeep costs only; as a matter of principle no tutors on thephilosophy courses receive payment. Students are encouraged todonate a week’s income for their meditation instruction. However,the School has a general principle that no one should be preventedfrom taking up the meditation or philosophy courses due to genuinefinancial hardship. Additional endowments and donations areencouraged for special projects and expenses.How is the movement organised?After the death of Leon MacLaren in 1994, the spiritual direction andguidance of the School passed to Donald Lambie. He is supported bythe Fellowship, which is the legally constituted body of the School.This governing body consists of around 230 members from which upto nine are elected as officers and members of the ExecutiveCommittee responsible for the day-to-day business of the School.This group is chaired by Mr. Graham Skelcey who is also thePrincipal of the School.
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Leaving the Movement

Many people leave the School during or after the introductory course.Some find that the course is not what they expected or wanted, othersare satisfied with the introductory course but feel no need to attendmore courses. Others leave after finding that the commitments ofpersonal practice and School activities take up more time than theywish to give.

Problems, controversies

There are not many independent sources of information on the Schoolof Economic Science. In 1984, two journalists wrote an “exposé” ofthe group entitled Secret Cult. Rather than respond to the criticismspublicly, the School reviewed the attack internally, which reinforcedthe opinion of the critics that the School was a secretive organisation.However, much has changed in the last twenty years, particularlysince the death of the founder Leon MacLaren in 1994. Currentleaders acknowledge some of the criticisms of the past and claim thatthey have sought to make the necessary adjustments. In response toconcern expressed by some outsiders that the content and conduct ofthe more advanced courses are not made available for observation,the School has told Inform that “this information can, whereappropriate, be made available to responsible persons or bodies”.

In particular, complaints focused on Leon MacLaren’s authority,which some described as absolute or totalitarian. It is claimed thatthose who displeased him were dealt with severely and that there wasnot room for any differences of opinion. Supporters counter thatstrong leadership was necessary to hold the school together, anddifferent opinions were consulted (though not necessarily actedupon).Some students have found it difficult to accept the degree towhich “ego” is attacked, the emphasis on not identifying withnegative emotions, and the view that sickness and disability areusually the result of some contravention of natural laws.

To thiscriticism, the School responds that students are urged not to indulgein guilt or self-criticism, but rather to use their energies positively.Some complain the School requires a level of commitment thatleads to a neglect of family and friends. When only one partner in amarriage has joined the School, the related changes in lifestyle andpriorities sometimes are difficult for the other partner to accept.The St James Independent Schools have attracted attention forteaching Sanskrit and silent contemplation. In the past, the head ofthe St James Senior Boy’s school supported of the occasional use ofcorporal punishment. However this was outlawed in all schools inBritain (1998), the school says it has respected the change in law.

Some former students have complained that both staff and otherstudents bullied them during studies at St James.The School has advertised its courses widely, particularly in theLondon Underground. It has attracted criticism that its advertisementsfor the introductory course do not make the nature of the School’sparticular philosophy clear.

In response, the School has modified itsadvertisements somewhat, but also argues that the introductorycourses are general in nature. However, there are still complaints thatit is not clear that a particular philosophy is being promoted ratherthan general philosophical exploration.

Further informationFrom the movement:School of Economic Science,11 Mandeville Place, London W1U 3AJTel: 020 7034 4000Website: []. James Independent SchoolsWebsite: [] produced by the School:MacLaren, Leon Nature of Society and other essays. London:School of Economic Science, n. d.A translation of the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus entitledThe Way of HermesBlake, L. L. Sovereignty: Power Beyond Politics. London:Shepheard-Walwyn, 1988.For a critical approach:The Secret Cult by Peter Hounam and Andrew Hogg, LionPublishing, 1984.Website: [] an objective approach:See entry in The New Believers by David Barrett, London: Cassel& Co, 2001.

An informed journalistic approach:See entry in Spying in Guru Land by William Shaw, London:Forth Estate, 1994.HOW INFORM CAN HELPoBy providing reliable, up-to-date information about newreligious movements.oBy putting you in touch with a nation-wide network ofexperts with specialist knowledge concerning NRMsoBy putting you in touch with people who can givecounselling, legal advice - or just lend a sympathetic ear.oBy putting you in touch with ex-members or families whohave personal experience with a particular group.New Religious Movements: A Practical Introduction

(London:HMSO, revised 1995) has been written by Professor Eileen Barker toprovide practical suggestions as well as general backgroundinformation.£1I N F O R MI n f o r m a t i o nN e t w o r kF o c u sO nR e l i g i o u sM o v e m e n t sApril 2007InformLSE, Houghton StLondon WC2A 2AETelephone:020 7955 7654Facsimile:020 7955 7679Electronic

ww.cults-sects-nrms.infoEnquirers can write,telephone, or make anappointment to visitInform’s office.Outside office hours(10 am - 4.30 pm,Monday-Friday),messages may be lefton the voice mail,which is checked atregular intervals.Although every care is taken to provide as accurateand balanced an account as possible, we welcomecorrections and comments.

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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: November 25, 2008 11:26PM

Information (2004) about an SES academy called St Vedast


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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: Leo2 ()
Date: June 10, 2009 07:12PM

I remember people were really pushed around, marriages were wrecked, careers and jobs were belittled, in the cause of the Great Maclaren's controlling excesses. At least one person died. People with medical conditions were taken off their medicines, and I was forced to try and take notes for classes even though I was deaf. I went to see Mr MacLaren once at a long weekend retreat, about a condition I had, and he was cold and indifferent. He was very crushing to a lovely intelligent older woman I knew, and told this nice refined woman that dogs always return to their vomit. How did they get together and agree to this disintegration of people's lives. Is it just a power thing ? It was cruel. I left after seven years, an engagement was broken, and I lost my steadiness, never very good. In my case chilhood disturbances made me a vulnerable person, but many people in the School were pretty normal, so I felt. Many years later, a friend recalled how Leon MacLaren had foamed at the mouth in one of his last lectures, scarey, it seems he was schizophrenic or psychotic by then. I was glad or relieved somehow to know he had died.
There was a split in the School into two groups, one following Dr Roles more liberal style, and the other more in your face.

The post by Corboy has set the structure out well. A shock to see that children have been abused, hard to take in. I hope the abusers have been punished.

For myself I have come to the conclusion that I could not print in a post about such people.
Meanwhile children should have protection.

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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: July 06, 2009 10:31PM

Newer articles from an Irish site:


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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: Ttocsnylieac ()
Date: February 12, 2018 02:29PM

Ive just found this site, and want to add more. I was a student for 15 years and it all went horribly wrong. Just as stated in otber comments all said is true. I met r maclaren on several visits to nz where he would preside over week l9ng groups.through my association my life changed and so did i. Sometimes good other times difficult. Demands were mafe on us and family time stretched. On the last resdudebtial i had a psychotic episode, and for no obvious reason, but then maybe it all bdcame too much for my brain. The episode lasted several days and i have little recall, neither was help sought. I was tnen a martied woman with tnree children and within tne year i was sepsrated ho eless and without my chiodren, and in anotner year he was marrying tne sister of a fellow student.this lasted two years in which time the childrrn grew and left him. He continued to be a student while i left, unable to comprehend the classes anymore in mypsychotic state. That was trwnty years ago, and today im on longterm meditation. We were to dreprive ourselves of basic human needs, such as sleep food and i think sex except when having children..they qould also use students as muses, setting them up against the material, which itself was vdry strong reading, i watched my immediate famiky that is my fThr and mother fall under the sway of that was said to be the truth. I dont have a positive picture of how we use conscoiusness for me the experience was a nightmare

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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: Ttocsnylieac ()
Date: September 01, 2018 09:35AM

Is any one still effecredcby their time in the school of philosophy.

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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: Ttocsnylieac ()
Date: September 01, 2018 09:40AM

Is the page still running

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Re: School of Philosophy & the SES - Learn the Truth
Posted by: M.snaporaz ()
Date: October 25, 2018 03:36AM

I was a member of the New York school of practical philosophy from April 1977 until June 1986. The problem with the school was that there were enough decent people, primarily newcomers and a few oldtimers to almost legitimize the rest of what was happening.
What was happening was pretty wild. The head of the school was a closeted alcoholic. She was protected by an inner circle of disingenuous senior members who claimed to be lovers of truth. This phony setup allowed the head of the school with her secrets and cover ups to give instructions on how others should live. Not suggestions mind you, but instructions which were to be obeyed. I was instructed to marry! I was told that it didn't matter whom I married but if I didn't obey, the children would be taken from me. The children were the Sunday school children whom I worked with for several years and with whom I had developed a sweet and happy rapport. I was instrumental in ending the use of corporal punishment for lying, (can you imagine) and treated the kids with love and respect and humor which were conspicuously absent in the school.
This ultimatum regarding marriage didn't arise in a vacuum. A short time prior to this I was asked out on a date by one of the pet students of the alcoholic Miss D. The woman I dated had been instructed to leave her husband because he didn't want to have children. Now she was after breeding stock and I was apparently on the short list. The date was a disaster and I shied away from further contact. Mind you no one had ever so much as used the word marriage around me until I dated the aforementioned woman nor had I ever been called in for a private audience with the boss!
In the London school Mr. Mclaren had been arranging marriages for quite some time, usually between older male tutors and young nubile women. This is a tiny example of how deep the authoritarianism ran .
As mentioned previously, the school was humorless and largely uncompassionate. The students who did service, unpaid labor, were instructed to work silently and without break until told to stop by the IC, person in charge. This resulted in robotic behavior which was no doubt exactly what was desired by the mucky mucks.Sometimes during summer evening work parties people would be drenched in sweat and miserable, this after working a day job. I was working on removing grout from a kitchen floor, on my knees, using a 10 D nail in 95 degree heat for hours at a time twice a week. Another time I was on a work party at Walkill, our residential property, where the men were mucking out the septic system by hand! I was a skilled mechanic and was called on to do free tune ups and car repair for senior members on occasion. Too many examples of this sort of stuff to list.
The reason it was not clear to run like hell from this cult was that there were some very good people and some wonderful teachings from a man in India called the Shankaracharya. His teaching was wise and loving and grounded, unfortunately it was meant to be implemented by the chain of command established by Mclaren and his various school heads all of whom were cut from the same questionable cloth.
It has taken many years for me to separate the wheat from the chaff and if I had it to do again I would never have joined. Basically we were well dressed ( srict dress code back then) nice boys and girls sitting up perfectly straight and still as statues on our rock hard chairs desparately seeking approval from dysfunctional parents.
Now I hear about ads all over the city subways where the school is promising permanent happiness. If it weren't so corrupt and predatious it would be funny. The head of the school now is a wealthy restauranteur, the head after the notorious Miss D was a fabulously wealthy real estate mogul, who was actually a really decent guy.
I think the closest approximation to the school that I could make would be the Catholic church. Lots of corruption, ineptitude, wealth, blind faith and unhealthy relationships but with a fine teaching from an unimpeachable teacher way back there somewhere undoubtedly rolling in his sepulchre.

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