Although Dr. Roles and Leon MacLaren were single minded with regard to their aim of helping others towards self realization, they could not work together. It was the same as with Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. They had different natures. Shantananda had commented on it: “Mr. MacLaren is very strict on procedures and rules while Dr. Roles is not so strict on procedure and rules, he simplifies things. His methods is mainly based on love…..I have been emphasizing to both groups that there should be strictness about rules but that there should also be love.”
So their strength was also their weakness. Leon MacLaren’s insistence on discipline was sometimes taken too far. In his eagerness to bring about change in his students, he tried to get results with force, which was counter productive and set up resistances. The directions from his Teacher about food and sleep were quite reasonable, but they were enforced rigidly and even mixed with other early Christian disciplines, so that for some people they caused stress rather than having a liberating effect. Leon MacLaren tended to be dogmatic and control the family by enforcing the Teaching, whereas Dr. Roles did the opposite, saying that one should learn the Teaching within the family.
Added to that was the plight of women in society. He was concerned that many women regarding themselves as second rate citizens and also about the rising women’s lib movement, which had sprung up in defiance of this attitude. The result was another set of rules, such as a long dress code, which was supposed to help them, but instead caused a great deal of resistance in London and the schools elsewhere. It was aggravated by the fact that the regulations were often passed on in a distorted way by the tutors themselves. Perhaps this area would have been best left alone. Leon MacLaren could no more change the plight of women than change the course of the moon! But his nature was such that he would tackle anything where he saw a need – he did not always know where to stop. Eventually the Press got hold of the stories of disgruntled women who had left the School and in 1983 the book, The secret cult was published with a damaging effect on the School’s reputation.
Having said this, the beneficial influence Leon MacLaren’s method and personal work has had on thousands of people all over the world, far outweighs the flaws.