For anyone who is unaware or would like a refresher about the SES and the SOP, here is a transcript of one of three newspaper articles written about SOP many years ago. This one was published first:
“Cult ‘enslaves’ devotees”
10th July 1985
Daily Telegraph Special Investigation of a strange “philosophy” cult flourishing in Sydney.
Reporter - Tim Stott
Mounted on the walls of Sydney’s underground railway station is a plain blue poster which reads: “Philosophy. An introductory course of 12 evening lectures.”
Few realise that the innocent poster is the recruitment vehicle for a powerful worldwide cult rapidly expanding in Australia, the School of Philosophy (SOP).
The school offers lectures in practical philosophy for everyday life. But, according to former members, the “pupils” realise only too late that it is a cult that strips members of personality and individuality, eventually brain washing them into a state of mindless obedience.
It is estimated there are at least 800 members in Sydney and 20,000 worldwide. The cult now owns a $1 Million, five-story building in Kent street, Sydney with a penthouse paid for by members’ donations, and an 8ha property on Mt Wilson in the blue Mountains. Cult members have just opened the St. John’s primary school with Education Department approval in Falcon St, Crows Nest. It also operates the Logos Foundation, a branch of the cult within Sydney University. Australian members have been ordered to perform bizarre duties such as cleaning toilets with their bare fingers up to six times, because the work, when first performed, was not done with the right attitude. The cult claims that menial work has an uplifting effect and “brings one closer to the Absolute.” In Sydney, a former member said she was granted “the honour” of picking up the dog excreta from the cult leader’s back yard with her bare hands. Others claim they had to clean the cracks in the floor of the cult’s garage with matchsticks or scrape paint off ceilings with toothpicks.
An expose of the group has been published by two British journalists Peter Hounam and Andrew Hogg. Called “Secret Cult,” the book alleges that members are brainwashed and conditioned so that their lives eventually revolve around the cult.
A spokesman for the school in Australia, Mr Bruce Sullivan, said although he had not read the book and did not intend to, he believes the claims in it were untrue. In any case, he did not intend to “comment on any allegations made in the book.” Mr Sullivan insisted the SOP is an “evening educational service to the community” and not a cult.
According to the book, the cult originates from Andrew MacClaren, a British Labour politician who formed the School of Economic Science in the 1930s.
The Book claims the school was established as an economics study group but that changed in the 1950s when his son, Leonardo da Vinci MacClaren, slowly converted it to a religious cult. Leon MacClaren, as he is known, decided the path of the school lay in the teachings of 20th century mystics Gurdjieff and Pytor Ouspensky. But in the late 1960s he had a change of heart and decided the cult should follow Indian guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the man who converted the Beatles to the ways of meditation. By the late 1960s it was a predominantly Hindu cult operating under the guise of a study centre for economics and philosophy.
From London it spread around the world, to New Zealand, U.S., Canada, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Holland, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, South America, Trinidad and Fiji. The cult arrived in Australia in 1967 under the name “School of Philosophy” – the group uses different names in different countries so the branches can claim to be independent. Although MacClaren regards Australia as the dregs of Europe, he sent Mosko (Michael) Mavro to set it up in Sydney. Mavro, 59, is an Australian-born Greek and an engineer with the Electricity Commission. He operates the school in Sydney and Melbourne with the help of his wife Nina.
Students enter the cult to attend 12 evening lectures. But after the first term it is explained that they must keep attending in order to obtain “The Truth.” After three years of gradually increased involvement students are initiated. Former members say initiation to meditation costs a week’s wages. (One cult member has the job of checking to make sure they actually pay the amount.) After the ceremony they must obey every order without question. A former member of 10 years, Ingrid Pusteria said: “After initiation one was committed to blind obedience to any whim of the seniors. My life became an endless round of dreary menial chores and empty ritual.” Former cult members said they were not allowed to own a radio or TV, read newspapers or anything apart from officially endorsed philosophical works.
They said that for initiates fashion is out: jeans are taboo and men must wear three-piece suits made of natural fibres. Women can only wear their hair in a bun and must wear dresses to the floor so their ankles don’t “lower a man’s consciousness.” Women are also forbidden to wear make-up and must live with another initiated “maiden” and are discouraged from marrying, members claim. Anthony Raveci, a member for 13 years said, “Married couples are encouraged to remain celibate, as sexual intercourse is only ‘a distraction’ to the students’ work.” By initiation time members associate only with those inside the SOP and are told the outside world is “ignorant, asleep and evil.”
Members are urged to live in Neutral Bay because a “state of Sattva” exists. According to the cult, Sattva is a state of spiritual peace, essential for the well being of all members. A former cult member said:
“If a member deserts, other members pursue him and try to talk him into rejoining. It was difficult for me because like most others, I had severed all ties with the outside world and felt I had no friends or relatives I could turn to,” he said. One member told of how he was forced to leave Australia in order to escape. He claimed:
“I had to move my possessions overnight because by that time I was living in Neutral Bay and was being watched 24 hours a day. The next morning I got out of the country to escape their pull. So they wouldn’t lose face, they spread a rumour I had not abandoned the ‘path to enlightenment’ but resumed my studies in Britain.”