Monday, December 11, 2006

Taking Money From The Poor: The AoL Way

A reader relates a sales pitch given while taking a course at Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living org:
My AOL teacher once told me about a poor boy in Pune who desparately wanted to do the course. He did not have any money and saved for the course by walking 10 miles everyday to his school instead of taking a bus. The anecdote was meant to motivate us who were well-to-do by comparison but were cribbing about [the] Rs.1500 course fee.

During the entire course I could think of only two things: [the] passion and commitment of the boy to do the course and [the]meanness of [the] AOL teacher who had the heart to extract money from such a boy.

26 Comments:

At 12/11/2006 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked this one..posted in another
thread

When i was a member of AOL, i used to get emails from teachers that donate one month of your salary!!! they also used to tell how one couple donated a paycheck and they got promotion in the job within a month!!! my one month paycheck is $6000. do i look like an ass to them? i already wasted 300 bucks for learning how to eat a grape(like the last grape of your life) and acting like a monkey in front of others..AOL is a big bullshit...satsangs are big time scams to collect money.

 
At 12/11/2006 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I decided to see what the man has to offer, so, in the spirit of being non-judgemental, I went to an AOL class in India. It was a mish-mash of hackneyed "in the moment" bullshit,along with some pranayama.
We listened to a tape of the "Master" Sri Sri Sri (do I stop at two?), who, in his inimitable campy way, kept saying "So-Hum" and then, like pranayama on steroids, the rhythm kept getting faster and faster...(The tape might be useful for those who want to improve their sex lives, though...)
I watched as other people hyperventilated. As a physician, I know what hyperventilation does, so of course, I just watched, my eyes half-shut as the other participants tried to breathe as fast as they could.
Note: Hyperventilation -> Respiratory Alkalosis -> Hypocalcemia -> Neuronal Excitability -> cramps, visual symptoms, and even seizures.

So, the people who had the symptoms of hyperventilation later told me that they thought it was a miracle, that Sri Sri's spirit was touching their body...(No comments)
So, why is Sri Sri successful? I will tell you why - because he, like "MahaRishi" Mahesh "Yogi" (note the quotation marks to indicate self-appointed labels) is another Ray Kroc of Nirvana. Franchise Franchise Franchise...

Anonymous(e)

 
At 12/12/2006 2:00 AM, Anonymous aBitAmazed said...

i wonder wat happened to that boy?
did u ask the AOL teacher?

 
At 12/12/2006 7:20 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Anonymous(e),

There is something about you sir that makes me think that Sri Sri isn't so bad. If you have the balls to think someone else is pretentious or silly, maybe the guy can't be all bad!

 
At 12/12/2006 7:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meditation and pranayama disorders are known and understood in Indian traditional medicine. These were classified as 'vata disorders.'

They didnt know the biochemical basis for the side effects but did know what advice to give.

The standard advice given to a yogi doing a strenuous practice and getting dizzy, anxious and having trouble concentrating--was that he or she STOP doing whatever meditation or breathing practice triggered the symptoms.

Then, later resume gradually and cautiously and always stop if the symptoms re-appear.

One can read about meditation and pranayama related disorders in David Frawley's book Ayurvedic Healing.

The information is presented in a way that empowers the reader and and enables one to find and purchase the drugs at the grocery store of one's choice.

All yoga teachers and meditation teachers should know there there are times when people need to be advised to stop meditation or pranayama or at least switch to a less intense practice, just as when training for a marathon, one must know as much about when to back off and rest as when to train hard.

 
At 12/12/2006 7:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder whats the salary for these AOL teachers in USA..

 
At 12/12/2006 7:47 AM, Blogger jody said...

There is something about you sir that makes me think that Sri Sri isn't so bad.

Sri Sri can be ever so bad, yet he may still attract quality folk to his fold. Very bad gurus can work very well for truly sincere devotees.

 
At 12/12/2006 9:14 AM, Blogger TheBlade said...

anonymous(e) said:
I will tell you why - because he, like "MahaRishi" Mahesh "Yogi"


Good stuff, anonymouse! You could sign a handle to that, and, indeed, you did in a way! :)

 
At 12/12/2006 9:27 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Jody said, "Very bad gurus can work very well for truly sincere devotees."

I agree Jody. The problem for me is when this anonymouse fellow is so pompous that he even makes Sri Sri look good by comparrison.

 
At 12/12/2006 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He did not have any money and saved for the course by walking 10 miles everyday to his school instead of taking a bus.

I bet no one in the room would have asked proof for the above statement. But when someone(like OTOH) criticizes AOL, they need proof.

 
At 12/12/2006 11:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This anonymouse fellow is so pompous that he even makes Sri Sri look good by comparison."

Awwwww...Chuck, you hurt my feelings bro'
but admit it, you have a thing for Sri Sri, don't ya?!
Anonymouse

 
At 12/12/2006 12:50 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

Anonymouse said, "but admit it, you have a thing for Sri Sri, don't ya?!"

Anonymouse,

You're a medical doctor and you have time to write this kind of thing? Doesn't say much about your pracrice.

Pull that stick out of your ass and write something nice with it!

 
At 12/12/2006 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On 12/12/06 Anonymous asked:

I wonder whats the salary for these AOL teachers in USA.

No salary for the teachers.

Teachers are allowed to deduct incidental expenses (such as travelling etc.) before handing over the money to local center. After that, an assigned percentage of collection is kept by the local center for sundry expenses and rest goes to national center. Same process is followed at the national center and the biggest chunk goes to B'lore.

Some enterprising teachers might be pocketing some money in the process, but usually they are clean. Apart from the high priests of the organization, teachers are more often the victims of the scam rather than being victimizers. Poor fellows may not even be aware that they are being used to fulfill someone's greed.

 
At 12/12/2006 4:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pull that stick out of your ass and write something nice with it!"

Ok...let me pull that stick out...sigh..feels better...thank you, Chuck, for that suggestion
But seriously, why do you think I sound pompous?

 
At 12/12/2006 7:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Same process is followed at the national center and the biggest chunk goes to B'lore.

There are some very sharp minds sitting at Bangalore managing the finances. AOL is registered under different names such as AOL, Vyakti Vikas Kendra, Ved Vigyan Vidyapeeth and half a dozen other satellite organizations built around specific programmes. All of them are registered as non-profit charitable trusts with separate trustees and boards. These trusts keep on donating money to one another.

Technically, there is nothing wrong in one trust donating money to the other and also receiving money from it. However, I do not see any reason why a spiritual organization needs to go through such acrobatics.

 
At 12/12/2006 9:55 PM, Blogger TheBlade said...

anonymouse said:
But seriously, why do you think I sound pompous?


Don't worry about it. If you aren't totally brain-dead, and you aren't Jody or female, Chuck will call you pompous at some point. I think it might be an East Texan thing or something.

 
At 12/12/2006 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"However, I do not see any reason why a spiritual organization needs to go through such acrobatics."

Werner Erhard did the same thing with his est organization - lots of fancy accounting etc...nothing new, same old game...

Blade, appreciate it, da...but Chuck is right, I actually do think I am smarter than all you guys...Now, that's some serious 4th order stuff...

Anonymouse

 
At 12/13/2006 8:52 AM, Blogger TheBlade said...

anonymous(e) said:
Now, that's some serious 4th order stuff...


Sounds like the 'voice of narcissism', which nearly everyone has. No big deal in and of itself, what is important is that at some level (which should be growing if possible) you know that the voice of narcissism is a broken tape-recorder with pre-recorded bullshit that has nothing to do with you or who you are, like a fortune cookie which you keep randomly getting.

 
At 12/13/2006 12:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

TheBlade said...
"Sounds like the 'voice of narcissism', which nearly everyone has."

How does narcissism relate to inner states of mind where you see the visual world breaking into planes of color with all ordinary meaning gone, but still there is individuality and the distinct knowledge that I am all that I see and I am completely alone?

 
At 12/13/2006 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS

This is a rather frightening experience that I have had a number of times.

 
At 12/13/2006 12:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I took the basic course in Mumbai at a time when AOL was still in infancy. As usual, the course was held in the apartment of a neo-convert. On the third day of the course, someone from the apartment society came to enquire about the large group gatherings as some other residents had taken objections. The teacher -- Manisha -- replied to him that we were gathered there for a 'shraadha' (hindu religious ceremony after death of a close relative). The enquirer became defensive, he apologized and felt sorry for the 'death' of our relative. He also took responsibility to convince other residents not to bother us in our moment of 'grief'. So much for integrity and honesty!

After some time I also became a hardcore member. My teacher wanted to use my house for holding basic courses. I had a company provided housing and told the teacher that if there are course fees, the company might object to the use of house for commercial purposes. The teacher assured me that there will not be any fees for the course, but only voluntary donations. Imagine my horror when at the start of the course, she told the participants about a 'minimum voluntary donation'. Add to it many subtle and not-so-subtle demands for more money during the rest of 'voluntary donation' course. That was the end of my association with AOL.

 
At 12/16/2006 8:56 AM, Blogger TheBlade said...

How does narcissism relate to inner states of mind...

I don't know, but what you describe sounds more solipsistic than narcissistic. I see the word narcissism as usually being used about a tendancy to see oneself as the most important among beings, not the only being.

 
At 12/16/2006 2:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the Blade said, "I see the word narcissism as usually being used about a tendancy to see oneself as the most important among beings, not the only being."

....................

Thanks for answering Blade. This is something I feel I need to grasp because the experience comes up frequently, with different degrees of associated fear.

Would the different terms relate to the difference between small "self" and big "Self"? I guess narcissism is a fascination with one self to the exclusion of others.

The experience of being bound in a container, small or large, is frightening to me. To know oneself to be boundless consciousness is supposed to be the ultimate freedom. Getting close to the extremes of either total bondage or total freedom is a problem and I am looking for an answer.

Thanks.

 
At 12/16/2006 2:38 PM, Blogger jody said...

I guess narcissism is a fascination with one self to the exclusion of others.

Narcissism is a kind of withdrawal into one's idea of oneself. It's as if you see the world from deep within, making objects in your own personal consciousness appear as if a part of the world outside you. As mystical as that may sound to some, it's quite debilitating and mal-adaptive overall.

 
At 12/17/2006 10:59 AM, Anonymous durga said...

jody said: it's as if you see the world from deep within, making objects in your own personal consciousness appear as if a part of the world outside you.

To illustrate from a psychological point of view, a parent who is narcissistic will view her child as an extension of herself and will not be able to see the child as she/he really is. It is maladaptive because every thing is seen from the perspective of one's distorted inner world, not from an objective realistic point of view. According to what I know, people become that way as a result of "narcissistic wounding". A child is not seen or valued or mirrored positively by the parents, so they inflate themselves to compensate for their devalued sense of self.

 
At 12/17/2006 10:52 PM, Blogger facedog said...

Jody said, "...if you see the world from deep within, making objects in your own personal consciousness appear as if a part of the world outside you."

Sounds like God is also narcissistic. What's the hope for the rest of us? This experience mentioned by anonymous makes me remember the quote, "There are places in the mind where you should never go alone." Maybe this frightening experience is just a short term visit to such a room.

 

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