School of Economic Science
British-based organization that helped to promote the
Transcendental Meditation technique of Maharishi Mahesh
Yogi in Britain in the 1960s. The school’s roots actually stem
from the land reform economic theories of Henry George (author
of Progess and Poverty, 1879) and the mystical theories of
Georgei I. Gurdjieff and his disciple P. D. Ouspensky. It commenced
primarily as a political and economic group, founded
by Andrew MacLaren in Glasgow. It was developed by his son
Leon (Leonardo da Vinci), who added the esoteric philosophy
of Gurdjieff and later the meditation popularized by Maharishi
Mahesh Yogi in the belief that the practical problems of the
world could best be solved by transforming the nature of
human beings.
Leon MacLaren was strongly attracted to the teachings of
the Mahareshi at the latter’s first visit to London in 1960, and
in the following year MacLaren organized the Maharishi’s first
world assembly in the prestigious Albert Hall, London. In that
year a school of meditation was established by members of the
SES. Leon MacLaren made a pilgrimage to India and became
convinced of the importance of Hindu-based meditation and
philosophy. The connection with Maharishi appears to have
been short lived and was eventually discarded as the school’s
own technique was put in place.
Leon MacLaren began to devote more time to the SES, giving
up his professional work as a lawyer. The SES acquired a
number of valuable properties throughout the United Kingdom
and, with the success of its teachings, soon expanded
abroad, with branches in Europe, Cyprus, Malta, Australia,
New Zealand, South Africa, North America, Trinidad, and Fiji.
The organization was variously styled the ‘‘School of Philosophy,’’
andor the ‘‘School of Economics and Philosophy.’’ The
enormous successful expansion appears to owe much to MacLaren’s
systematic method and his firm control over the organization’s
As with the esoteric tradition in general and the Gurdjieff
tradition in particular, some degree of secrecy veils much of the
SES program from the uninitiated public. It appears to have an
eclectic program for personal development drawing on the Sufism
so central to Gurdjieff and various more or less familiar
Hindu and yogic techniques.
The organization has encountered some criticism. Several
people who had a bad experience with the group have branded
it with the ‘‘cult’’ and ‘‘brainwashing’’ labels of the anti-cult
movement, which the leadership of SES has chosen to ignore.
Address 90 Queen’s Gate, London, SW7 5AB England. Website
Hounam, Peter, and Andrew Hogg. Secret Cult. London
Lion, 1984.
School of Economic Science. http April 6, 2000.