Introduction: The following letter, written by a fellow “disgruntled ex-student,” exposes the pressures that “school” applies when “students” contemplate leaving. Its purpose is to educate those trying to speak with current “students” and to suggest an approach that preempts “school’s” retention propaganda.
Leaving can be terrifying; When my husband confronted me, he shattered the illusion of “school” as the path to enlightenment; his observations rang too true to dismiss. He reflected back questions that were already plaguing me, and that plague all of “school’s students”; he voiced the doubts that we few, we indoctrinated, fear to utter. He blared a spotlight on my dependency, i.e. addiction, to this group, and the damage wrought. My first reaction was to defend my precious cult; ultimately, though, I was ready to wake up.
Readiness is the key; you can share your honest emotions and experiences. Sadly, sometimes “students” aren’t ready and will give decades to this fallacy; the longer your tenure, the more you “owe”. The “free (cough) five/eight–week experiment” *evolves* into mounting debt with no graduation. But the doubts grow from within when one is ready and the decisions will come from within, too. That moment of independent decision is the best tool of empowerment and emancipation you can hope for — I hope the letter below helps you shed light on the truth that will set this person free:
I am told that the first thing you are likely going to do upon receiving this is to immediately call someone in school for help. And that they will tell you I’m trying “fuck” with what’s your private business. And that our relationship together is just “life” and unimportant on the scale of the higher meaning that you get from your group. That you are doing important work, saving humanity in fact, by preserving ideas that will die without you and the rest of the group’s efforts to preserve them. And by refining your own being to emanate finer and finer vibrations out into the world.
With that in mind, how can our relationship, however painful it might be for you to sacrifice, compete with that? Choosing your group over our relationship is the selfless right thing to do, and necessary for your own evolution. You must trust your own fine experience at school over whatever anyone on the outside might try to tell you. Don’t even listen to what outsiders have to say about school – it is all lies, and it will pollute your mind and make further work on yourself impossible and destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for.
If you have your own doubts about school, you must remember that there is a Judas inside you, eager to tear down everything finer in you. Don’t trust those doubts – trust the fineness of the experience you’ve had. Also, those who have left school and are leading fulfilling lives have “stolen” the work, using it to lead “comfortable” lives but are living without consciousness. How could you betray those who have helped you so much in the same way? Keep in mind that it is more likely — were you ever to leave — that your life would become meaningless and gray, and you’d forever regret throwing everything away.
In all likelihood, you will continue to listen to this message. You have had fine experiences. Your teachers and fellow students are genuine and sincere and wish to help you and others find their higher selves. You have made real advances. Your life has improved. Why would you ever jeopardize that?
I only ask that you consider the effect that this work has had on me. I have felt shut out. I have felt lied to. In your heart of hearts, you know that you have lied to me. You’ve been taught that this is not really “lying” but “clever insincerity.” You’ve been taught this lying is necessary to protect school. This may be true but that doesn’t change the effect it has on others. I can feel the insincerity. While I may not have known until recently the extent of the deception, I could always feel it. It has been deeply painful for me.
And your reaction to my questions has been equally painful. Try to put yourself in my shoes. If you learned that I was involved with something that you believed was harmful to me, would you not try to find out more about it? Would it not be a sign that you cared about me? And if I reacted violently to your inquiry and shut you out completely, would you not be hurt, confused and sad?
I also ask that you consider a phrase you might have heard at school: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Is it possible that your school is based on real and true ideas, with genuine and sincere students and teachers, but that it has veered off course from its original path? Would not its foundation in true ideas explain your fine experiences and the gains you have made? Would it not explain how genuine and true everyone’s intentions are? And would not its wrong turn explain the difficulty students have staying married to non-students? Would it not explain why many students disappear? Have you ever found a leader’s actions questionable but written it off to you not understanding? Have you ever had the courage to directly question a leader’s actions?
The “fourth way” is the teaching by George Gurdjieff that your school is based on. Gurdjieff taught about A B and C influence – and asserted that real knowledge, a.k.a. C influence, must be passed from person to person. So if your school were a true school, and not a “degenerate” one (a term used by Gurdjieff) there would be some direct connection to Gurdjieff or someone else who had achieved consciousness.
Is it not possible that Sharon stole the ideas of Gurdjieff and used them to create a school that served her own vanity? That all of her students are running around learning the ideas of this study and listening to her every word and following her every instruction genuinely trying to achieve consciousness? But that she herself has no connection to Gurdjieff, and has insisted on complete secrecy and deception to make sure none of her students find out? Would this not explain both the good and the bad that you have experienced at school?
And wouldn’t that also explain why so many students had such positive experiences initially, but then had fewer and fewer such experiences the longer they stayed? Perhaps the school, not having any connection to a conscious being, is able to introduce people to the basic ideas, but unable to grapple with deeper ideas or take its students very far down a spiritual path? And would that not provide a plausible way out?
There are in fact true schools that have a direct line to Gurdjieff scattered around the world, including in the Boston area. These schools, unlike yours, do not have the same level of secrecy. Would it not be worth talking to that school to learn more about your group and whether it has or has not veered off course? I know you have been instructed away from the internet: but if your school was legitimate, would it not stand up to the scrutiny? Don’t you deserve to know what those criticisms are in order to truly make your own decision as to whether they strike true or false to you?
If for nothing else, could you not do this for me, as someone who has been deeply hurt by what I believe to be a well-intentioned but ultimately misguided group?
I understand that this decision is painful, and there is no one on the planet that can tell you what is true and right for you. I hope you feel that my inquiry is coming from sincere love and concern for you. In that spirit, I will step back and give you the time and space you need.
Love, [YOUR NAME]