Inside school’s retention protocol: tools for the un-schooled

If you are reading this “school” has most likely affected you. Chances are, many of you are trying to understand the behaviors of a current “student”. Your legitimate and sincere concerns are being met with pat, odd, dismissive and cold responses. These deflective tactics don’t ring true to the person you know and you might be baffled by his/her defensiveness.

Like any good cult, “school” employs an arsenal of manipulative tactics. Never is this more true then when the un-schooled dare question the institution; “school” amps up its retain-at-all-costs-machinery and sets to work. Recently a fellow escapee shared his experience with me and supplied  the following: a list of the “school”- sponsored clever insincerity employed on him; the reasons why these tactics failed; a sample letter as a template (in the next post) for those trying to reach current “students”.

I hope the next two posts shed light on “school” psychology and provide tools to help you reach the person for whom you are concerned:

 “School” coercion:

    • Sure school is causing problems with my marriage, but that’s because my wife is “jealous.”  If only I “worked on myself” more — I could be emanating finer vibrations to her and our relationship would be better.  I needed to heed school’s help to be firmer with her, and to simultaneously work on myself more, so that she would be so thrilled with me that she’d look past the downsides of school.  It was a “package deal” they told me to tell her.  I was great in so many ways that, even if she didn’t like the time I spent out of the house, the source of everything she liked about me was really owed to school.
    • Even if there are problems with my marriage, don’t I value higher ideals, a.k.a. “God”, more than my own petty problems?  Don’t I want to really do something meaningful with my life – serving a higher purpose (a.k.a. school)?  If I let every “small” personal problem get in the way of serving God, what does that make me?
    • Sometimes I’d wonder if there were other groups out there that could give me what I got at school without all the secrecy.  But we were told, repeatedly by other students and teachers that school is the only thing like this anywhere. We were told that school is “The Source”.
    • How could I leave and “steal” the ideas of the work?  Even if I were able to live a more fulfilling life than I had before school because of what I’d learned, I would be stealing the ideas of school without properly “paying back” the wonderful gift I’d received.  Paying back meant doing whatever they told me/strongly “suggested” I do – spending hours upon hours of my time in school activities. But I was serving a higher purpose even if it was sometimes painful.
  • Much more likely than being able to lead a fulfilling life after I left school, though, was the real chance that my life would fall apart.  I’d go back to being “asleep” and lose everything I’d gained there.  I’d be leaving “the source” and my life would be without meaning or purpose.
  • And more important than the quality of my own petty life was my obligation to the world, which I believed depended on school.  The fate of humanity literally rested on our shoulders.  These ideas were so powerful that they needed to be preserved or mankind would be in jeopardy.  If I let my relationship with my wife get in the way of that, what did that make me?


His conclusions:   

      • If this were really such a highly evolved group of teachers, why were they all married to other people in school or divorced?  Were they in my position, could they really emanate sufficiently fine vibrations and say just the right things so that their spouse would be totally accepting?

      • Why was I jeopardizing my marriage and family for all of this?  I was causing real pain to my wife, and was I really serving God?  Were all the rules that were hurting her really serving some esoteric purpose?

      • School does not have a monopoly on God or even the specific teaching we followed.

      • I realized the fear that I had about leaving or being kicked out and that I had bought into the line about being cut off from “the source”.  To learn that people were thriving outside of school was very powerful.  I also feared being cut off from a large part of what had become my support system. Once you leave, you can have no contact with anyone at school – a prospect that is incredibly isolating and scary given the intensity of the friendships you form there.  To know there was a support system out there of former students who I trusted and who cared about me was also helpful.

      • Ironically, they were the ones stealing these ideas. These ideas are freely available to anyone who seeks them. The only way to steal ideas is to lay exclusive claim to them – as school does.

      • Eventually I concluded that much of these rules — that were hurting me and my family — were completely unnecessary for my “evolution.”

Sample letter: how to approach a current student

The following letter, written by the same escapee, exposes the “school”-sponsored pressures applied when “students” contemplate leaving. It provides an approach that preempts “school’s” commonly used retention protocol. Understand, Dear Reader, that “leaving” can be terrifying. My fear was such that I started killing the messenger – my husband. He had shattered my faith in “school” as the path to enlightenment. But I couldn’t refute his observations and questions as they rang too true.

Suddenly after five years of asking for “help”, I had to make my own decision. I had to realize that my fear was making it easy for “school” to fill my time. I woke up. I was ready to cut myself off from “the source”. Readiness is the key; you, Dear Reader, can sow seeds of doubt and share your honest emotions. The rest is up to the “student”. Sadly, sometimes “students” aren’t ready and will give decades to this fallacy. There is no graduation date — the longer you attend, the more you “owe”. What “school”  initially presents as a “five–week experiment”  grows into constantly * evolving * debt.

But If the “student” is ready to contemplate his/her questions the doubts will grow from within, thus the decision will come from him or her. There is nothing more powerful than that moment of independent decision. It is in that spirit, that I post this letter. I hope it provides you the understanding needed approaching your loved one and the seeds that will empower them to realize that they “owe” “school” nothing and are free to reclaim their lives as a “school”-free birthright:

Dear current “school”/ OSG attendee:

I’ve been 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.