Twenty (or so) Questions – 1

whitebackgroundWe get a number of questions quite regularly about the Silent Eye, its methods of teaching and our workshops. While we have tried to address as many as we could think of across our website, some are seldom voiced for fear of giving offence, saying the wrong thing and a number of other reasons. We thought we would answer some of those too. Three of us run the Silent Eye, all three of us will answer… as every pair of eyes, each heart and mind sees things a little differently.

First to answer is Steve Tanham.

If YOU have any questions for us, please leave a comment and we will answer!

1. Are you a religious organisation?
The Silent Eye would not class itself as a religious organisation, but it does profess a belief in God, or the Creator, or the One, or whatever word you are happiest with which reflects the principle that mankind did not invent itself, but, rather, serves a higher purpose which may not be apparent to those who are fixed on the material world, alone. The Silent Eye school teaches insights into the deeper paths of self-knowledge using a model of esoteric psychology.

2. Are you an occult group?
The word ‘occult’ simple means ‘hidden’. Despite its sincere origins the word has become a derogatory term denoting a cult. The Silent Eye is not a cult, but, in its workshops, it does make use of modern ritual to bring a group together in an constructive and emotionally charged space which facilitates sharing and personal growth.

3. What exactly is a Mystery School?
The word ‘Mystery School’ derives from ancient times. The ‘Mysteries’ were the inner laws of how and why things happened – a base of knowledge that went far beyond the common sense of the normal person. Today, much of what used to be mysterious in this way has been eclipsed by the teachings of science. What remains of real value is the approach to the soul taught by the Silent Eye and others, whose study reveals an entirely different perspective on consciousness to that taught by science.

4. How is the Silent Eye any different from all the other groups?
The Silent Eye teaches using a synthesis of the methods it has found most effective. The influences on this have been: Qabalistic work in the classic Western Mystery School tradition; Gurdjieffian thought and methods; and the modern methods of esoteric psychology, including the pioneering work carried out by Oscar Ichazo, Claudio Naranjo, and those that came after, including Sandra Maitri and Almass.

5. What is the Enneagram… just a corporate personality test, right?
The enneagram is a teaching symbol brought to the west by Gurdjieff around 1912. It is a circular shape whose key features are a circle with:
1. An invisible centre,
2. A set of nine, equidistant points on the circumference which are actually formed by two different figures. The first of these is an equilateral triangle; the second is an unusual six-pointed figure that maps human intelligence onto the way things unfold into their own time-based process.

From the 1960s onwards, and outside of Gurdjieff’s work, the enneagram was adopted by the emerging schools of esoteric psychology. They found an exact mapping between the enneagram and the newly discovered nine core types of character of personality. The latter emerge based on their infant reactions to the conditions in which they are born and nurtured. The structure of this growth of the ‘self’ is shared by all, but the individual mix is different. The Silent Eye uses a well-established method to help the student (Companion) to navigate the channels of their ‘outer’ self. The goal of this is to highlight that the enneagram reveals not just the negative flowers of ego, but also reveals the way home to the realm of Being.

6. Why is it that some people don’t people like Gurdjieff?
Gurdjieff-derived Schools are generally known under the label 4th Way or Fourth Way. The Silent Eye incorporates some of Gurdjieff’s principles into its teachings, but has several other sources, too.

Gurdjieff was a teacher of the self who rose to fame in the early years of the last century. He was Armenian, but began his public work in Moscow, a fact that made him an ‘undesirable’ when he applied to live in Britain many years later. He was an uncompromising teacher, and often rubbed people up the wrong way in his sincere desire to show them the power of the ego or personality as it blocked any real chance of spiritual growth.

The world of esoteric psychology, including all work on the enneagram, was begun by Gurdjieff. He was undoubtedly a difficult man to work with, but, we believe, a great teacher, too.

7. Where is your School?
The Silent Eye is run by three teaching directors: Steve Tanham, Sue Vincent and Stuart France. The administration is done by each in their homes. We are a non-for-profit organisation and make the smallest charges possible to contribute towards our expenditure. The Silent Eye does not pay salaries and has no staff outside the three mentioned here.

8. What kind of people are in your School?
We attract a broad spectrum of people; from students to senior citizens. We try to attract balanced people who have a good cross0-section of skills and are balanced across intellectual and emotional strengths.

19. What will the course do for me?
Firstly, it will challenge you to think about yourself in ways you have not considered before. It will engage you in exercises that reveal the hidden depths of your real being. It will provide you with an in-depth knowledge of the enneagram, and its mapping onto the findings of modern esoteric psychology. The course will also bring you the Companionship of others treading the same path, as will the School’s workshops.

10. Why should I join a School anyway?
There is no formal need to be in a School of the Esoteric. But it is very hard to stay focussed on such a path as such studies, applied properly, will challenge the negative parts of your ego/personality. The result is that many students working alone are faced with inner opposition to their work. Within a School the companionship and the constant feedback of your Supervisor will help you through this, giving you a true perspective on such difficulties, which, looking back, you will see was the beginning of your real inner growth.

11. Do I have to have a background of study in any area before I join?
No, you need only have a determination to work at the material we provide; and to read the other books we reference to help you along the way.

12. The lessons are £15 a month… so what are the hidden costs?
There are many hidden costs. These are born by the directors of the Silent Eye as part of their dedication to the teachings.

13. What sort of events are there?
We have an annual programme of events, which include:
1. The annual weekend workshop in Derbyshire, which is our main external event. This themed weekend offers a five-act ritual drama, which changes each year as we explore different aspects of the teachings. Alongside this are formal talks and informal explorations. There is a pub next door to our conference centre and we believe in fun, too!
2. We also offer weekend workshops to mark the summer solstice, the time of harvest and more local events to mark the winter solstice.
3. In addition to the above, we travel extensively to put on talks and one-day workshops in major spiritual centres, such as Glastonbury.

14. So, you are just playacting?
Playacting can be a fine activity; but, within a ritual setting, this transforms itself into a the noble action of a group mind working together for a common purpose – to raise the consciousness of everyone present. There is nothing fanciful about this, as you will experience if your are able to join us for such an event.

15. Do I have to come to workshops if I join the School?
No, attendance at workshops is entirely optional.

16. If I come to one of your workshops, do I have to be a member of the School …and will you try and get me to join?
If you come to a Silent Eye workshop you will not be pestered to join our School. Such events are freestanding. However, you will meet members of the School, and membership will be available to you if you wish to take it further.

17. Do you wear robes and if so, why?
In a ritual drama setting, such as that used in our annual spring workshop, the use of robes (or costumes to suit (say) a historical part in the drama) greatly enhance the linking of the person wearing them with the intent behind the ritual. There is nothing sinister about this; it’s simply a long-observed fact.

18. Are there any local groups?
We are always looking to establish new local groups, once there is a critical mass of Companions who have progressed beyond the first year of the course.

19. How long does the course last?
The Silent Eye course lasts for three years. Each year is treated as an esoteric ‘degree’ in its own right. Students may request an initiation to mark their successful passing into a higher level of the School’s teachings.

20. Do I have to commit to the full course?
No, you only commit to the next lesson, by buying it. There is no other commitment.

21. What happens next?
If you interested in potentially joining the Silent Eye School, contact us with any remaining questions for a brochure and an enrolment form via the website

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