Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Defection! An AoL Teacher Sees The Light

File under: Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Hot off the tip line: a former Art of Living teacher explains why he found Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's incessant plotting for ever-increasing amounts of money and fame to be nothing more than a sick cult-propagation scam:
Dear Guruji, fellow teachers and volunteers,

My name is [redacted] and I am an Art of Living teacher in [redacted], USA. I have been involved with Art of Living since 2002 and became a teacher at the Canadian Ashram in the summer of 2005.

I am writing to you today to say that I can no longer sincerely continue as a representative of the Art of Living organization. The reason is simply that I am not inspired by the organization any more. I do not connect with, do not agree with and cannot support in the future:

1) the increasing corporization of the Art of Living organization

2) the intensifying promotional push on all fronts

3) the increasing course fees making it so difficult for many people who need help to participate in programs

4) the pressure on participants in AOL to raise and donate funds

5) the hype and myth creation used for indoctrination

6) the effective undermining of people's self-trust and making them dependent in an infantile way on idealized images of the guru and his special abilities, and a perception of inferiority relative to him

7) the misrepresentation of the placebo effect as the result of the speciality and uniqueness of the practices or the grace of a person

8) the ongoing emphasis on specialness of the organization's leader and his omniscience

9) the resultant cultish atmosphere within AOL and the possibilities for manipulation of all sorts

10) the focus on organization growth and perpetuation rather than the advancement of the people involved and deeper self-inquiry

11) the lack of transparency and accountability for the use of funds, projects implemented, etc.

12) the organization's acting increasingly like a business in the guise of a non-profit

13) the frivolous use of exaggeration and misrepresentation of facts in promotional efforts (as to the scale of humanitarian efforts or the scientific evidence for the benefits of the practices, for example)

14) the conflict between encouraging people to donate a dollar a day to support poor children, etc. and staying in the presidential suites at expensive hotels (e.g. Ritz-Carlton), flying first class, etc.

The list can continue, but there is no point in that. The fact is that I no longer feel I can stand behind the Art of Living Foundation and its efforts. There is an inherent conflict between my perceptions of the organization and its real goals, and my position as its representative. Therefore, I resign from this position with relief.

I do not regret any of the past, but I feel I need to continue my path outside of the confines of Art of Living. I am grateful for my experiences with the organization in the last few years, but I cannot sincerely invite people I care about into it in the future.

If I am making any errors in my assessment, they are solely my responsibility and I am ready to face the consequences of such errors. I realize that this message may create some discomfort somewhere and may generate passionate reaction. I am also aware how the points I am making above can readily be explained away with references to my ego, ignorance, lack of commitment, wrong priorities, etc. All that is fine. Things be as they may, the fact is that this is how I feel currently and this is the action my heart propels me to do. That is the same heart that brought me into Art of Living in the first place. I have nothing else to trust.

Why am I doing this in such a public way then? Because that is what my conscience is telling me to do. Because there may me others who may feel this way but feel compelled to follow the party line at the expense of severe internal conflict. Perhaps this can help them feel not alone or afraid to speak out. Perhaps eventually this may help put AOL back on track - yes, in my perception of what the track should be, but I have nothing else to go by but my perception. As do all of us.
Color us wildly and self-righteously justified in bringing you the truth: the Art of Living org is nothing more than a cult scam, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the lowest form of fame-whoring fauxru known to the modern world at this time.

Labels: ,

82 Comments:

At 3/26/2008 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a great read. Thank you Jody for posting. Sounds exactly like the organization I once followed. Why do you think they are they all so amazingly similar?

 
At 3/26/2008 6:45 PM, Blogger jody said...

Why do you think they are they all so amazingly similar?

Because there's a samskara for it in culture. The sizable population of people looking for a space daddy to solve all the troubles in their lives gives rise to abominations like Sri Sri in the same way leaving food on the counter gives way to infestations of rodents.

 
At 3/26/2008 6:48 PM, Blogger jody said...

that was a great read.

We should be thanking the author of that letter. It's probably not going to result in any effect on Sri Sri's popularity, but it's good to have it out there in case someone begins to come to the light entirely apart from their being members of the mind-control cult known as Art of Living.

 
At 3/27/2008 12:30 AM, Blogger Stuart said...

Why do you think they are they all so amazingly similar?

jody said...
Because there's a samskara for it in culture. The sizable population of people looking for a space daddy to solve all the troubles in their lives

Yeah, the fundamental cause behind all the gurus and religions etc... is our own desires for them. The leaders and orgs are so similar because they're all appealing to our needs and wants, and as human beings, there's lots of commonality in our needs and wants.

Looking for a group or authority to follow seems biologically wired into us. But our wiring also allows us to grow beyond blind belief. At least for some of us, at least some of the time.

We should be thanking the author of that letter. It's probably not going to result in any effect on Sri Sri's popularity

The letter may not affect a huge number of people immediately... but clear, simple honesty has enormous power. Who knows, it seems likely that this letter could trigger some life-changing free-thinking in at least a handful of people, and that type of thing can go viral.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 3/27/2008 4:09 AM, Blogger semblance said...

The latest label on Sri Sri is 'Architect of World Peace' or is that a usual cliche on all the BTGs? But I see this now more often about him than before.

How much do you think this could be a reality? Even if not today, it could be a reality someday before 2012 ?

Do you foresee all of us sleeping peacefully with his picture under the pillow ?

 
At 3/27/2008 8:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good stuff. Thanks to all for posting and commenting. Yes, the same can be said for all current "yoga" movements with any sort of following or popularity now in the West. Does anyone know of any "yoga" that does not have these type of control issues? Seems endemic.

 
At 3/27/2008 8:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I am the author of the letter. Thank you Jody for posting this.

Although the letter was intended for the entire teachers' and volunteers' lists in the US, it never reached that audience. Those lists are moderated by the president of AoL-US.

The letter did reach Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and I received a reply in some general noncommittal language, with the only specific claim that there WAS full financial transparency - which I believe it not true, hence I asked him to point me to specific documentation accounting for all revenues and outlays in detail. I received no further replies. Interesting how out of all those points, the one he chose to comment on is the one that could potentially be the most threatening to the organization should authorities choose to scrutinize AoL for compliance with the requirements for tax-free status.

Anyway, I know from experience that there are a million ways one could rationalize ignoring the points in the letter, if one were a supporter of AoL (or any other cult, as history has shown). So I am not expecting a huge impact, but I would be satisfied if even a few people take caution.

 
At 3/27/2008 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody, where did this document come from?

 
At 3/27/2008 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody your trying to demonize a much needed movement thats doing good all over the world. your statements couldnt be less grounded. follow your Jnanis advice and practice quiet living, and stop writing biased opinionated blogs tearing down an honorable oranization.

you sound like a stepped on politician trying every trick in the book to sway public opinion.
your a puppet, how can i take you seriously when your blog is completly based on one sided information. youve given us all your closed door opinion, in my opinion your statements make you a carnie and a politician.

 
At 3/27/2008 9:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling Aol a mind control cult denies the freedom given to you in aol to take it or leave it. Mind control is only possible through spreading fear to an individual. nobody fears the aol organization and the teachings of Aol promote building strength and individualism. how can someones mind be controlled when theve been taught to strengthen the mind with meditiation, jody, i believe your bold statements are making a mockery of you.

Obviously any weak minded individuals whom take the courses seriously, leave AOL with a stronger ability to use their minds and think for themselves.. This blog has more mind control in it than the art of living courses.

 
At 3/28/2008 1:35 AM, Anonymous Ashwin said...

@Anon who said "Does anyone know of any "yoga" that does not have these type of control issues? Seems endemic."

I have no love of the new age yoga groups... but you need to really understand yoga for what it is! It is meant to help a person 'control' his mind, feelings and body.

Yoga without control is like a submarine without a rudder and ballast tank.

Yoga by itself has no issues. Its actually great. Finding a honest yoga teacher these days... now thats entirely another matter and which is the main source of trouble.

 
At 3/28/2008 7:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous "author of the letter". Your post struck home with me. I became active in AoL about 3 years ago. While I enjoyed the technique itself and beleive it has been helpful, I also had issues with the near-constant requests that we recruit (my word, not AoL's) friends, family, etc. to attend events and classes.

About a year ago, I attended a DSN and was really turned off when one the of "big activities" was going out on the street and talking to people about AoL in the hopes of registering them for an upcoming class. When I brought the subject up, I was told "that's just a label in your head, don't worry about it". Looking back, I think it was pretty much structured as an LGAT.

From what I have seen, the org's focus is now tightly on holding as many large classes as possible. Shortly after attending the DSN I began showing up at the center less and less often. I've returned to other techniques, and feel "cleaner" without the mental tension that was generated by participating. Don't get me wrong, I loved the people - They were good, and honest-hearted. I just felt like (if I am indeed "on" the path to begin with, who knows) that I was getting distracted by ancillary, and unimportant stuff.

It was nice to see a like mind.

 
At 3/28/2008 10:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody
On certain days the coffee you bring is a bit bitter for me...but reaching through the veils is not for whimps. This was a killer post.
It reaches way past the specifics of this case. Thanks again for the place you offer here. This particular post will stand out as a finely cut gem. Thank you, and thank you again. -J

 
At 3/28/2008 12:21 PM, Blogger jody said...

Calling Aol a mind control cult denies the freedom given to you in aol to take it or leave it.

ALL mind control cults give you a choice at the onset. They may give you the illusion of choice during your tenure with them as well. However, you will doubtlessly be demonized and ostracized in some way if you actually decide to leave. So, cult members become trapped in a co-dependent relationship with the cult and decide to stay so they can avoid being spoke ill of or lose any of their friends there. And that, my friends, is mind control in practice.

 
At 3/28/2008 12:24 PM, Blogger jody said...

Yes, the same can be said for all current "yoga" movements with any sort of following or popularity now in the West.

Yo. It has absolutely nothing to do with yoga, and everything to do with the nincompoop they are presenting to us as God. It's not about yoga, it's about Sri Sri's lust for fame.

 
At 3/28/2008 12:29 PM, Blogger jody said...

how can i take you seriously

You can't. You are drowning in AoL Kool-Aid right now.

 
At 3/28/2008 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont take any part in aol, i learned the practices in a basic and advanced course, ive read quotes by sri sri, been struck by some, unimpressed by others, never felt any pressure at all by the AOL organization. never found it cultish, or mind controling. i learned some techniques, it was given to me with a take it or leave it attitude... although AOL fanatics exist and piss everyone off, i feel the organization is helping the vast majority, there are also anti AOL fanatics whom deny all beneficial aspects to the organization, like Jody, whos unfair statements are just as wrong as the fanatics within the organization who drive people away from AOL in the first place.

 
At 3/28/2008 6:46 PM, Blogger jody said...

whos unfair statements are just as wrong

Or maybe just a little bit too subtle and over your head.

There are literally thousands of teachers who give thousands of techniques which are all every bit as effective as those learned from AoL.

My beef is with Sri Sri. He is not God anymore than my dog. He is not a guru anymore than a neighborhood yoga teacher. He is not a world savior anymore than any volunteer with any charitable organization. He is just a fame-lusting poseur working a white robe, black beard and insincere smile.

 
At 3/29/2008 5:09 PM, Blogger everett j. said...

well sri sri is bringing his message and techniques to a global level, where as your neiborhood guru can barely get anyone to show up for yoga tuesdays in the garage. , jody, just because youve decieded to have drumcircles on your porch and read a book or two doesnt make you over my head. i think your opinions dont consider the global problems we face, and the need for yoga and meditation to be introduced on a worldwide scale. how can you demonize an organization that acts to spread peace politically, socially, and spiritually... makes your whining about a couple course fees sound rather miniscule... also

jody, you say "There are literally thousands of teachers who give thousands of techniques which are all every bit as effective as AOL"...

do you think your blowing my mind? haha really thousands? did you find a new book that told you this jody?

seriously.. you said. "every bit effective as AOL" which means you dont deny sri sris techniques are effective. thats the only fact youve stated besides your biased opinions. HE IS SPREADING EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUES TO THE ENTIRE GLOBE. thank god... nuff said.

he got millions of people to do these effective techniques.. your teacher got what.. 20 people?.

 
At 3/29/2008 5:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

are your comments subtle and over my head?? or are they ungrounded, biased opinion based on terrible evidence and refusing to examine the bigger picture?

using a big word or two doesnt give you concrete information to base your opinions..
intellectually your living in platos cave world.

 
At 3/29/2008 9:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you Judy & author for posting this. I see a very similar trend in the organization whose guru had given me great inspirations. He rekindled my spiritual aspirations. I am very grateful to him for this. Still, am troubled by the big changes I saw since last September - may be even earlier. Though the guru/master is living a simple life (as far as I know), other new trends seem alarmingly similar to AoL.

 
At 3/30/2008 8:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everett, I understand where you're coming from and in the main I agree, but this org does have problems, in my opinion.

makes your whining about a couple course fees sound rather miniscule

(Non-student) course fees vary between, what, $375 and $600 depending on the class, right? ...and they are steadily increasing: When I took my first Part I about ~3 years ago, I paid $250. Except for gasoline, I can't think of much that has gotten 50% more expensive in 3 years :). Even $200 or so for a student is not chump change.

Don't get me wrong - I don't begrudge giving them donations (I have attended 3 Part I's, 1 Part II, a DSN, their meditation course, and I sponsor 3 kids via Care for Children). However, when you hear of them buying prime real estate in DC for their national center (http://us.artofliving.org/spotlight/national-center.html - an ex-embassy, for God’s sake!) versus using $$’s to help people (let alone all the $$ they’ll need to maintain it), I personally begin to wonder.

Any time I see a combination of a growing organization, requests for increasing donations, and internal pressure to get more people into courses, things begin to look suspect. I’d like to see some press releases showing the foundation writing a big fat check to some other charitable org…but as of yet I haven’t.

There are literally thousands of teachers who give thousands of techniques which are all every bit as effective as AOL... do you think your blowing my mind? haha really thousands?”

Yes Everett, thousands. Just use Google – I got > 635,000 hits when searching on “meditation techniques” – assuming only a fraction of these links detail “how to”, you’ve got your thousands easily. There are thousands of teachers out there, too: They don’t all have a large organization behind them or the PR savvy of a large org, however.

which means you dont deny sri sris techniques are effective.

I’ve found that S.K. is effective, and I’m glad I learned it. However, I agree with Jody that it is no more effective than any number of techniques. (There. You made me do it. I just agreed with Jody. Crap.). AoL, has also made some pretty silly claims - as many of the other larger orgs like the TM gang have done (another group with a good technique that eventually got way off course). See the “criticism” section of Wikipedia’s entry on AOL to see what I mean.

he got millions of people to do these effective techniques.. your teacher got what.. 20 people?

LOL, now you’re just being a bitch – play nice!

I think AoL is made up of a great group of people who have lost their way a bit over time – I don’t think that this is a particularly unusual pattern, either. Once you get people involved with anything, a mess is always bound to ensue! I think Jody does go overboard on his criticism of Sri Sri and others of his ilk, but some of your comments are just as silly.

 
At 3/30/2008 12:42 PM, Blogger yunus said...

This letter is one big home run for everybody who has been saying everything which is in this letter for quite a while.

But Jody, as we're kind of obliged to be honest when we criticize others because they aren't, could you indeed answer the question where you got this letter? Normally you offer urls, but this time you didn't, and as the 'author of the letter' replied anonymously we still have no clue as to the genuinity of the letter. (Except for its content of course)

NB: for everett: 1. what does the amount of followers matter for the effectiveness of a certain technique? Whether Parahamsa Yogananda thought Kriya Yoga to thousands or my grandma thought it only to her grand children, that wouldn't have changed its possible effectiveness whatsoever.
2."Effective techniques" (whether from the Yoga-type or any other doesn't matter at all) have already for a long time been spread around the world, so Sri Sri is doing nothing of the sort. If anything, he's merely surfing on the wave that has been created way before him by many others.

 
At 3/30/2008 6:09 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

Anonymous said...
Does anyone know of any "yoga" that does not have these type of control issues? Seems endemic.

You could try something like this. Bring up the big question, "What am I?" Cultivate the questioning, rather than believing in any answer. For guidance, look to your just-now experience, rather than an external authority. That ought to take care of the issues mentioned in this posting.

Another Anonymous said...
your statements couldnt be less grounded.

The curious thing is why this anony refers to "your statements," rather than quoting any specific statement that could be intelligently debated. This level of vagueness always strikes me as an avoidance mechanism. Since anony doesn't bring up any specific point to argue against, he avoids any need for reasoned exploration of the issue.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 3/30/2008 6:09 PM, Blogger everett j. said...

im playing devils advocate..im not an aol memeber, i think the organiation is good for people. im not partial to AOL versus any other teacher or guru.

i know thousands of teachers exist and teach techniques every bit as effective as AOL. my point is AOL has already reached millions, and i believe for the organization to gain power and money doesnt make it corrupt... i dont think sri sri has any motivation for greed, lust for fame, or trying to misuse the power of aol.. thats where i disagree with jody, I dont feel sri sri can be labeled as corrupt. Its human nature when an organization gains power to become suspect. but so far AOL has done a fantastic job of spreading a healthy alternative lifestyle to millions.

i definatly agree with jody that some of sri sris followers try and label him a god amongst men. I dont believe the hype, however ive seen why the hype exists,. Ive met sri sri, shared conversation and believe he is quite extraordinary in person. yes.. i dont deny, thousands of great teachers exist. its all about who and what works for you,

I just disagree that AOL is some sorta mind control cult with a suspicous agenda.. looks to me like sri sri, tries formost to build strength within individuals attending his courses and help in promoting peace worldwide, how can we discredit that?

 
At 3/30/2008 6:39 PM, Blogger stillsearching said...

My experience at AoL has been a mixed bag. Sure the technique is good and some of the knowledge is good too. But there's something very exclusive about AoL. It's very annoying and so I keep my distance. Anyone care to comment?

 
At 3/31/2008 1:37 AM, Blogger jody said...

some of sri sris followers try and label him a god amongst men.

And Sri Sri's GREAT SIN is to let them believe it. He's sucking the truth right out of their souls by encouranging this belief.

But he lusts after the attention that is lavished on him, and being "God" gets you a whole lot of attention in the world.

He's committing acts of fraud with Vedanta while surfing on waves of Hindu superstition about saints.

Ive met sri sri, shared conversation and believe he is quite extraordinary in person.

I'd rephrase that: Sri Sri is quite extraordinary at acting special. It's only an act, a presentation designed to elicit a belief in his divinity. It's a sham. He's working the crowd like a slimy American TV preacher.

I just disagree that AOL is some sorta mind control cult with a suspicous agenda

I'm not saying the agenda is suspicious, I'm saying its origins are in Sri Sri's desire to be famous and exalted. He loves playing saint, and you all are falling all over yourselves to join in the fiction.

The mind control occurs automatically when you take a leader who is believed to be God and add a political structure consisting of levels of intimacy. The closer you get to Sri Sri, the more you are expected to believe he is God. You'll also have to accept the fact of his human foibles, but that will all be explained away as Sri Sri's "lila", rather than just him being a jerk.

looks to me like sri sri, tries formost to build strength within individuals attending his courses and help in promoting peace worldwide, how can we discredit that?

You've just given the answer yourself: "LOOKS to me." It LOOKS like he's promoting peace worldwide. I'm sure there is some amount of good being done in some places, but the whole thing is like the set of a Hollywood cowboy movie from the 50s. It's all just a front. It just LOOKS good. That's what it is all about with Sri Sri, looking good. Too bad he's looking good AT THE EXPENSE of spiritual truth. By stepping up on a pedestal, he is scotching his followers' chances of coming to their own realization. He's made it all about Sri Sri rather than about the Atman. It's a heinous crime against the Truth. Shame on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar!

 
At 3/31/2008 1:48 AM, Blogger jody said...

we still have no clue as to the genuinity of the letter.

Someone sent me an email. Actually, it was quite a few emails. I asked if I could publish the letter and he said yes. He offered to let me use his name but I declined. I don't believe it's necessary to reveal his name. Sri Sri's people know who he is, anyway. You are going to have to take my word for it.

[Sri Sri is] merely surfing on the wave that has been created way before him by many others.

Cowabunga! A very accurate expression of just what is going on with the man.

 
At 3/31/2008 1:59 AM, Blogger jody said...

sri sri is bringing his message and techniques to a global level

He's trying to outdo his nemesis/mentor: the Maharishi.

your opinions dont consider the global problems we face, and the need for yoga and meditation to be introduced on a worldwide scale.

Yoga will find its way without Sri Sri. His yoga is poisoned by his narcissism.

how can you demonize an organization that acts to spread peace politically, socially, and spiritually

Because its leader is sucking the truth out of the souls of his followers.

you dont deny sri sris techniques are effective.

Only because all spiritual experience is a placebo effect. It has much more to do with the belief in the practice than it does with the technique itself.

Sri Sri's funny breathing and pabulum about stress are nothing special. They work because they are presented as something that works. It's all in the suggestion, not in the execution.

HE IS SPREADING EFFECTIVE TECHNIQUES TO THE ENTIRE GLOBE.

It appears you've got an inflated view of AoL's effectiveness.

 
At 3/31/2008 4:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

StillSearching:

is good and some of the knowledge is good too. But there's something very exclusive about AoL

I personally haven't found that to be the case here in the US. However, while I was in India and when asked mentioned I considered myself a part of the AOL org, I got several responses along the lines of "that's a good crowd" by upper-middle class types there. I think Sri Sri does have more than a fair share of weathly devotees in India itself - so maybe that's where you're coming from?

 
At 3/31/2008 8:51 AM, Anonymous Betty said...

everett j. said... i believe for the organization to gain power and money doesnt make it corrupt... i dont think sri sri has any motivation for greed, lust for fame, or trying to misuse the power of aol.

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

You're just "playing devil's advocate"? Very appropriate way of putting it in this case... You don't think that power and money corrupt? How old are you?

 
At 3/31/2008 10:44 AM, Blogger yunus said...

You are going to have to take my word for it

And so i do. Somebody eventually has to be the first to put it on the net. The fact that it was emailed is good enough for me. I've received enough emails myself to know how it goes with all things AOL.

Yoga will find its way without Sri Sri. His yoga is poisoned by his narcissism.

I certainly return a cowabunga on this one.

 
At 3/31/2008 2:47 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

And Sri Sri's GREAT SIN is to let them believe it. He's sucking the truth right out of their souls by encouranging this belief."

Thank god this is a sin most of us don't have to deal with on this level, where their are no checks and balances so to speak, no board of directors (as far as I know) no really having to be accountable, no equals or friends to tell you how full of shit you are. Very similar to an entitled CEO type.

"But there's something very exclusive about AoL. It's very annoying and so I keep my distance. Anyone care to comment?"

This is a feature of most groups, I find , even ones that are trying not to be . i think it's a sign of maturity to realize this is not very realistic to think that somehow you are special, and of course your guru is special cas he makes the most money and teaches the most people exercises. So i guess one could enquire, why do i need to feel special? why am I a lifestyle promoter?

"Because its leader is sucking the truth out of the souls of his followers."

Hey, some people want their souls sucked , their souls suck anyway!

Architect of Peace? Like Little Richard is the Architect of Rock and Roll? Good Golly!

 
At 3/31/2008 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, this is the author of the letter again. I apologize for not being able to address some of the comments earlier, but here goes ...
Anonymous said...
"Calling Aol a mind control cult denies the freedom given to you in aol to take it or leave it. Mind control is only possible through spreading fear to an individual. nobody fears the aol organization and the teachings of Aol promote building strength and individualism. how can someones mind be controlled when theve been taught to strengthen the mind with meditiation ..."
While it is true that AoL does not force its members to stay, it uses control in a more subtle way. Subtle control is a much more effective technique than an outright dictatorial approach and it allows for capturing a much larger human base over an extended period of time. It also is a way to maintain a respectable public face.
How does AoL do it? The approach has many aspects but at its most basic it involves setting a standard for goodness/purity/wisdom/power and convincing you that you do not live up to this standard, while placing itself as the means through which you could get to meet the standard. The standard itself is personified in the image of the guru. The way for you to achieve the standard is to totally surrender to the guru, while making it clear that anything you do not wish to surrender represents an attachment which prevents you from achieving the aforementioned standard. This is all placed in the generally positive sounding framework of personal advancement and humanitarian work, which attracts people who generally have in inherent desire to be better and are curious to learn the secrets of Creation. It is a very subtle system of suggestion and reinforcement in which most of the work of convincing is done by the participant. Since the standard is mostly unlivable, there is in effect constant justification for doing more and more training with the guru at a higher and higher cost. Part of the positive reinforcement is based on how well you are able to recruit for the organization, recruiting of course being cast in much more engaging terms, such as sharing the wonderful knowledge with people, inviting people to our beautiful path, educating the ignorant and transforming the world into a much better place.
"Obviously any weak minded individuals whom take the courses seriously, leave AOL with a stronger ability to use their minds and think for themselves.. "
Actually, people who leave AoL are not viewed as strong from within AoL. If one left after taking a couple of introductory courses, they were never strong enough. If one left the way I left, after a longer involvement and having become a teacher, then one went off their center and is, by default, not strong enough as well. While the stated goals of many AoL programs is to make people "stronger", what is meant by that is to make people more devout volunteers and recruiters for AoL. Barriers are supposedly removed in courses so that the people whose barriers were removed become more efficient at helping advance AoL itself. For example, if you were a shy person who felt uncomfortable talking to people, you get to proselytize for AoL in the streets and overcome that limitation. One of the requirements for advancement in AoL is the ability to recruit (bring to courses) many people. The other criteria are devotion to SSRS, regular sadhana and a drug-, alcohol-, tobacco-, and meat-free diet.
Leaving AoL is not encouraged. Attrition is one of the biggest internal problems for the organization and special efforts are made to retain people. It is interesting that there is no graduation from AoL. Even the most senior devotees, who have been with SSRS for 25+ years, are still there waiting for guidance from him. I find this very telling as to the ability of AoL to create liberated beings.

Anonymous said...
"i dont take any part in aol, i learned the practices in a basic and advanced course, ive read quotes by sri sri, been struck by some, unimpressed by others, never felt any pressure at all by the AOL organization. never found it cultish, or mind controling. i learned some techniques, it was given to me with a take it or leave it attitude... although AOL fanatics exist and piss everyone off, i feel the organization is helping the vast majority, there are also anti AOL fanatics whom deny all beneficial aspects to the organization, like Jody, whos unfair statements are just as wrong as the fanatics within the organization who drive people away from AOL in the first place."
Dear Anonymous, I am glad you found something useful in the basic and advanced courses you took. I did too, obviously, if I went on to become a teacher. But I can tell you that I am not surprised at all you don't view AoL as a cult based on your limited experience of those two courses. AoL uses progressive indoctrination and does not ask for big commitments from you upfront. The purpose is to not scare people away. Many times in a basic course you won't even see a picture of SSRS or may not even have him mentioned. You get some pleasant experiences, you may even get some eye-opening realizations (really, common sense ones, which we tend to forget in a stressful daily life). But once hooked on the path, the commitments you are asked to make will increase and you will gradually get exposed to the inside view of things, whereas the responsibility you were encouraged to take for yourself in the basic course is replaced with surrender to SSRS, who is now depicted as the biggest incarnation of the Divine that ever was, you will get to hear the so called "guru stories", which are not for everyone to know and which perpetuate the myth of his miraculous powers, you will be convinced how the effect of SSRS's 80 or so years in this incarnation will be felt for the next 5000 years, and so on and so forth. Before you know it, you will find yourself basing your identity on your association with AoL, finding it hard to relate to other people, who you and your fellow devotees now view with benign superiority, and making SSRS the ultimate source of every experience you have in your life (for which you keep the guru dakshina flowing, thank you very much).
I wish for you to just take what you have learned and paid for in the basic and advanced courses and find your own truth in life.

 
At 4/01/2008 1:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With this latest comment from the author, I see even more similarities between AoL and the organization I am in. It is sad that many spiritual leaders (guru, swami, maa or master) who started off with high ideals become despotic and greedy when they acquire mass following. Though I am conflicted, I am not ready to leave. I learned a great deal from my guru and I still find great inspiration in his talks. I had hope that what I saw wrong was due to my own wrong perception, but I can't help trusting my *rational mind* in somethings. I am weak in that I trust my own common sense more ...

 
At 4/01/2008 1:16 AM, Blogger jody said...

I am weak in that I trust my own common sense more ...

If you can't trust your own judgment, you've pretty much got nothing.

 
At 4/01/2008 9:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous, can you reveal some of these so called "guru stories". It is great that you are blowing the lid off this.

 
At 4/01/2008 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>"i think it's a sign of maturity to realize this is not very realistic to think that somehow you are special, and of course your guru is special cas he makes the most money and teaches the most people exercises. So i guess one could enquire, why do i need to feel special"<<

Listen, how can any of us tell who is the "best" guru? Who is "guru number one"??? How to tell? We need some new criteria, don't you think?
When are we going to start seeing "Guru Smack Down" shows on tv???? Afro sai baba vs sri sri or gurumayi vs. karunamayi or nirmala devi vs andrew cohen (what ever happened to him anyway?) and the winners get to fight each other and climb the pyramid...until, in the end, the "best guru" has been clearly identified and we don't have to wonder anymore. If I'm going to give all my money, all my time, all my possessions and all my brain to a guru...I want the very best!!!lol.

seen too much.

 
At 4/02/2008 8:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anonymous wrote:

"anonymous, can you reveal some of these so called "guru stories". It is great that you are blowing the lid off this."

Sure, I can relate a few I recall, but with the stipulation that I wish that people would stop being so taken by such stories and focus on essential self-inquiry.

In my experience, the stories really came up in the first phase of the teacher training course (TTC1), which is an indoctrination intensive. Let's see. There was the one told by one of the seniormost teachers and devotees in the US about the space ship that landed at the outskirts of the Bangalore ashram when he and others were staying there for an extended period of time. The visitors had come to see SSRS, of course. More detail wasn't available. Yet another time, they observed him talking in some unknown language looking up in the air. Upon inquiry, SSRS explained that Vasistha had had his ashram at the same location many years ago and that people in those days were much taller, hence his looking up. The devotees asked what instructions had Vasistha brought and the reply was that SSRS wasn't taking instruction from anyone.

Another story, from the same person, was about how SSRS, through a nonchalant-looking gesture of his hand sent a ball of blue light up the nostrils of a kid, whose mother had brought him to a meeting with SSRS in the US early on (late 80's or early 90's) and who had been looking quite disturbed and inadequate. This teacher asked SSRS about it and he replied "Oh, you have seen my magic?" and then explained that the child had time moving backwards in his perception, which he fixed.

Another senior devotee and teacher tells the story of an event which finally convinced her of SSRS's divinity, where a large aggitated male charged SSRS, shouting "Satan! Satan!" in a church in DC, where SSRS was giving a talk. At the last moment, as he was towering over the totally unperturbed SSRS, the man fell down at the guru's feet and started crying.

Then there's the story told by one of the swami's, who was a skeptic when he met SSRS, but a hug sent him into another dimension of consciousness, after which he became a follower. Another story by the same swami has SSRS insistently asking him to not leave the place wherever they were staying that night (I think it was in Delhi). The still immature in his faith in the master swami did not comply and left in a car with other devotees. The next morning, SSRS showed him a newspaper with a story of a car accident the previous night in which a bunch of young people the swami's age had died. SSRS said it should have been the swami, had it not been for a intervention by SSRS. The swami is greatful to SSRS for saving his life (and apparently sending the victims to their doom). In yet another story by the swami, SSRS revealed to him that he was the one who did not go into fight in the Mahabharata as the Lord (SSRS) wanted to preserve him and arranged things so (this was a little vague). The swami had forgotten this, but SSRS remembered.

Another story has SSRS's body go lifeless and droop in a car seat causing distress in the teacher driving him to the venue of a course. He came into the body for a few moments to calm her down and then went out again. Later, at the course venue, she spoke to a participant who assured her that SSRS had been at the course venue all the time that she had been driving him there.

Last year, when he came to the US after visiting Mongolia (where they claim about half of the population has taken AoL courses), stories were told of two paralized ladies getting up from their wheelchairs healed.

And so on ...

 
At 4/02/2008 8:36 AM, Blogger zhoro said...

To add to the guru stories piece. Padma sadhana, a practice taught usually in a Divya Samaj-ka Nirman (DSN) course is taunted as the most miraculous thing, which gives power, clarity of mind and health - all through the grace of Guruji, of course. There just is something about that particular sequence of classical yoga postures that is special! The superstar teacher Anand Rajendran told stories about crippled bodies healing and whatnot from this practice when introducing it in the morning.

At the end of the day he sought good old chiropractic treatment for his sore back, which obviously the magical practice could not heal.

 
At 4/02/2008 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and Sri Sri's great sin is to let them believe it
Because it is the truth. All of us are divine, he doesn't make a secret of it, we just have to let our divinity shine thro the layers of stress and emotional baggage. I have been with Aol for 3 years and no longer need the abntidepressant that I had been taking for 15 years. Surely he has shown me techniques to stay centered that I didn't realize I had the ability to and there may be people like me who are grateful for what they have received. I was resistent to the idea of Meditation doing any good and a sceptic of the first order but after doing the courses, I can understand a little bit of what all the spiritual Gurus are saying and what you are saying Jody about divinity present in all things and space, I can read the new age books- like Eckhart Tolle's A new Earth and realize it is Eastern philosophy which I dont think possible in my previous years. I do not feel any pressure to recruit, which I did in the first year but I must say that was my own need to fit in and now I very effectively say NO to what I dont want to do. In that sense, I have grown.
My problems have not gone away but because of being centered I have the ability to take effective action in stressful situations, which I didn't have before or didn't realize that I had. In fact before Aol I used to think, GOD was a person sitting up there somewhere, could have been my upbringing never being explained and me never having a question. I generally feel more content and empowered now.

 
At 4/02/2008 10:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You see the light only when you see the true face of AOL and the Guru. It's all a matter of perception. When you are in and you do not have personal access to him it is different. When you are in and you can see his 'close' followers at close quarters, it is perhaps twilight! When you see a slightly apprehensive and somewhat scared face of the Guru, you find it is daylight. Never should one let go of ones mental faculties. Never stop questioning yourself and what you are getting out of any movement or you will become a victim of a charlatan, however famous he may be. And keep reading stuff that has nothing to do with the movement or risk becoming a zombie. Remmeber that you have the Divine in you just as much as anyone else and you do not need an agent to reach him or Her. Nobody can cause harm to you except yourself and nobody can do any good to you except yourself.

 
At 4/02/2008 5:31 PM, Anonymous Betty said...

anonymous said... I wish that people would stop being so taken by such stories and focus on essential self-inquiry.


Nobody who would or could take such stories seriously are capable of self-inquiry. That would be the monkey trying to catch hold of the moon.

 
At 4/02/2008 7:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a read. This is exactly the same with any organization.

I recently came across Nithyananda Foundation. This is exactly what is happening there. One of my friends left the foundation for the same reasons, you mentioned for leaving AOL.

 
At 4/03/2008 6:47 PM, Blogger stillsearching said...

The cost of the courses puts it out of financial reach for the working poor in the USA. So when a suggestion is made about how to reach the working poor you're given some platitude and then the suggestion is ignored.

On large courses the scene is almost always chaotic. The housing is also an issue. What usually happens is that a participant has paid for a single, two person, three person,etc. accommodation. Then because everything is run so poorly you get stuck having something that, in the real world, would be considered a breach of contract. For instance, imagine having traveled around world and finding out that what you paid for is worth nothing because AoL is so fucking disorganized. Imagine being told that you'll have to work it out yourself. Imagine that when you're in the middle of a country you know little about with all of your luggage and nowhere to go.

So imagine how disappointed I felt after being abandoned like that.

 
At 4/04/2008 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

stillsearching said... imagine how disappointed I felt after being abandoned like that.

Just like the old TM course days when She She was learning that there is nothing you can't do or take from people once you have brain washed them into believing that all their hope lies in obiedience to the Big Man. She She learned well from Maharishi. There is nothing he is doing that Maharishi did not do first. He's nothing but a clone...

 
At 4/04/2008 10:37 AM, Blogger zhoro said...

stillsearching, you must be referring to Silver Jubilee in Bangalore. I personally took it as an adventure and didn't mind the inconvenience so much, but you do have a point. SSRS's take on the complaints was that they distinguished tourists from pilgrims.

 
At 4/04/2008 7:22 PM, Blogger stillsearching said...

zhoro-"SSRS's take on the complaints was that they distinguished tourists from pilgrims."
You call being stranded in a foriegn country a goddamned fucking adventure!!!!!!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK ARE SMOKING????!!!!! JESUS FUCKING CHRIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 
At 4/10/2008 2:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why things are [redacted] from this article? If people do not believe in good experiences posted all over the web, why should any one believe this a as genuine post? Put the name of this ex-teacher and the location back so that facts can be verified.

 
At 4/10/2008 3:15 PM, Blogger jody said...

Put the name of this ex-teacher and the location back so that facts can be verified.

The author sent this letter to the head of AoL in the States. The AoL hencharchy is fully aware of who this person is, whether or not they try to deny it.

 
At 4/10/2008 8:21 PM, Blogger stillsearching said...

Jody,

"Put the name of this ex-teacher and the location back so that facts can be verified."

That former AoL teacher offered to put his name on the site but it wasn't. That was your call.

On to something else, how can we get the IRS to commence an audit on Art of Living in the USA. I'd love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The whole organisation along with the full time teachers need an audit. There is one thing that is so disgusting about Aol and that is the way it leads individuals who are seekers down the wrong path. All of the spirituality that Flim Flam Ravi Shankar uses needs to be exposed. Too bad for all of those that are too caught up in Aol's vat of bullshit are drowning in it. Flim Flam Ravi Shankar takes the intentions of those who want a spiritual path and exploits them, takes advantage of them. So that leads me to now believe that concepts like Karma and Vedanta are bullshit.

So come all of you defenders of the great bullshit artist, AKA, Flim Flam Ravi Shankar, let me hear what you have to say.
DO YO WANT A WAR? I"AM, AND OTHERS ARE READY FOR IT. THERE IS NOTHING MORE REPULSIVE THAN A AN ASSHOLE THAT GIVES HIMSELF THE TITLE OF "SRI SRI" AND THEN TAKES ADVANTAGE OF PEOPLE WHO ARE SINCERE.

 
At 4/14/2008 8:47 PM, Blogger peter said...

Gotta jump in. Seems to be an awful lot of rancor! So here's my attempt at an unbiased account of my experience:

Took first Part 1 course 12 years ago, numerous part II courses since, several with Guruji.
OK, nothing to dispute there (unless you object to the appellation 'Guruji'), all verifiable facts.

Over those twelve years, I've been more active in AOL for periods and less active in other periods. Verifiable.

During those periods that I've actively done the daily practice and attended weekly satsang, I've been happier. Unverifiable you say? Ask my exwife, my adult children, and my coworkers.

I have the same observation as many that AOL is becoming more business-oriented, and it creeps me out. My own observation, verifiable only by me - take it or leave it.

[ Warning, Opinion ahead ]
I don't believe that is due to Sri Sri. It's the corporate mentality that blossoms among the upper echelons around any charismatic figure (take Elvis, the Catholic church, etc). The handlers, who are as susceptible as anyone else to the lure of power and money. I believe Sri Sri's honest goal is to spread peace by teaching stress-relieving techniques to as many people as possible. I've met with him twice and he has a very powerful presence. Jody, you seem to be extremely knowledgeable about him (much more than I) - I assume you've spent time with him - certainly your words are based on first-person experience. [ End Opinion Warning ]

As for the "Guru" thing (here, a mix of fact and opinion for you to tastily tear apart) - I've never felt any pressure one way or the other. Some people just go for the breathing. Others become true followers of Sri Sri. Never heard a word of bias one way or the other. Granted, I haven't taken TTC, so I can't speak as to that indoctrination. But I do know quite a few higher-ups in the USA, and the ones I know are all (IMO) honest and gentle people.

Placebo effect? Who cares. As for me, 'effect' is what's important. What works for me works for me - you, I'm sure, likewise. Nuff.

 
At 4/29/2008 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stillsearching -- You had asked how one might initiate an audit on the Art of Living Foundation. It is possible to do that via Form 13909, the "Tax-Exempt Organication Complaint (Referral) Form. But is there any real evidence?

Perhaps if the Foundation's accounts were made public, it would put this question to rest. Wouldn't it be great if they posted these documents on their websites? Isn't there some saying about secrecy breeding suspicion?

In the USA, the Art of Living Foundation and it's sister charities are required to allow the public to view their tax returns (Form 990). I am writing from outside the USA, so I cannot help.

Are there any Americans involved in this discussion who are willing to take the time to get the facts? Perhaps people on both sides of the argument could get involved?

To be thorough, the Art of Living Foundation (Fairfield IA) and its sister organizations would need to be reviewed. These include the International Association for Human Values (Bowie, MD), One World Family (Kirkwood, MO), and Care for Children (Bradford PA or Northfield IL). Are there any other charities involved?

The Internal Revenue Service site describes the process, some-- Exempt Organizations General Issues: Copies of Exempt Organizations Tax Documents

http://www.irs.gov/charities/article/0,,id=139025,00.html

. How can I obtain a copy of an organization's annual return or exemption application?

You have the right to inspect, and obtain a copy of, a tax-exempt organization's:

*
annual information returns (e.g., Form 990);
*
exempt status application materials; and
*
notice of status under section 527(i)

in person at the organization's principal office, or its regional or district offices, during regular business hours. You may also request copies of such materials in writing. The organization may charge a reasonable fee to cover copying and mailing costs.

Some of these groups, particularly the Care for Children program seems to be doing good work http://www.careforchildren.org/cfc/Donate/tabid/57/Default.aspx/

 
At 5/10/2008 10:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody --
Would you be able to copy the last comment onto more recent topics? Thanks for considering.
Anon

 
At 5/10/2008 3:07 PM, Blogger jody said...

Would you be able to copy the last comment onto more recent topics?

No, but you are more than welcome to do so yourself.

 
At 6/19/2008 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He is not God anymore than my dog."

What makes You think Your dog is _not_ God?

Why think less of Yourself, ever, just because someone plays the role of a guru? Why shouldn´t one person be able to benefit a whole world?

In Your mind, there is the belief: AOL is a bad, mind-controlling cult and the leader´s obviously in for it for the money, fame and power (because that is how You understand the universe to work).

In my mind, I have the concepts: I want to contribute, AOL is doing good work, except sometimes people take good things for granted and easily forget, I don´t, so I am positively inspired and clearly see and take advantage of improvements where I find them. Guruji himself is obviously aiming for world peace and wanting AS many people to experience the benefits as possible. So.. maybe not everybody is ready to inspire everybody, they don´t have to - alas they´re missing out in my experience - that is their free choice!

Now, all what is happening here, in these blogs, in these public announcements, and mostly on the internet, is we´re feeding the mind. Getting to a state of: I am convinced of something - Either for or against, you are trapped (yes, this includes everyone, also AOL-people!!)

When our mind is so full of "stuff", it is clouding clear vision and furthering confusion.

We can verify this by discussing further, and we will see it will harden our stance even more. So clearly, focusing on argument is making our mind more harder and less flexible. Thus it is changing, unarguably for the worse!

For the people following the discussion, they will also be confused, because everything will only be a dirty mirror of the reality - not their own experience and self-enquiry. It is said ten chickens can come from one feather. Such is the way the mind operates. You see it in the tabloids all the time, and it is causing dejection and disillusionment in the population more than the benefits of free information.

10-20 years ago, our opinions were vastly different. 10-20 years in the future, our opinions are hopefully also more evolved than now. So how can we arrive at a certain "truth" about the world, ever?

In all these arguments, the mind is feeding, feeding, and getting more and more confused, and _doing_ less. Actually, the brain is the organ that uses the most energy - it is all very passifying.

You believe you are doing the world a service. You wish to warn everybody. It is all coming out of a belief that people are too gullible, too weak, they need to be warned - and saved, so you will do that. You are doing a service, and btw, become a guru yourself!

I am much more interested in what cause are You interested in, what good are You doing, maybe we can collaborate on that in order to use our time and energy more constructively?

Or maybe all this seems to just be mind-control, and you are seeing right through it all. Well, what is there to talk about then?

 
At 6/19/2008 10:44 PM, Blogger jody said...

What makes You think Your dog is _not_ God?

What makes you think that I think that?

Why think less of Yourself, ever, just because someone plays the role of a guru?

I don't. :)

Why shouldn´t one person be able to benefit a whole world?

It's a very big world. Nobody brings benefit to all of it, although many would like us to believe otherwise.

In Your mind, there is the belief: AOL is a bad, mind-controlling cult and the leader´s obviously in for it for the money, fame and power

In my mind, there is an opinion. It's based on comments left by former inner-circle members, letters from former AoL teachers and my own analysis of Sri Sri's reported statements and activities. Here is the opinion:

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is using the idea that guru is God, now imbedded as a superstitious notion within Hindu-based meditation practices, to further his own fame and market penetration. His reported repudiations of divinity do not change the fact that the AoL middle echelon rank-and-file believe otherwise. Indeed, if Sri Sri made a concerted effort to convince his devotees that he was not God, had no powers and was not working miracles, he'd lose a good deal of folks to someone who makes those claims. That's what people want, a space-daddy. Sri Sri figured that out a long time ago.

Sudarshan Kriya is just one of tens of thousands of equally effective meditation/breathing practices. It's not what you are doing, it's with how much sincerity you are doing it.

All the "world-saving" press gives the appearance of doing good, but can showing up at your own seminars – essentially speaking for a fee – really be considered unselfish do-gooderism? Plus, what do the accounting books look like? Folks have countered that AoL is over 140 separate entities, but that doesn't make it any more honest, just much easier to get away with being dishonest.

(because that is how You understand the universe to work).

Your assumptions about how I understand the universe amuse.

Guruji himself is obviously aiming for world peace and wanting AS many people to experience the benefits as possible.

You have no idea what Sri Sri is aiming for. Even if he is aiming for world peace, that doesn't mean it's not a means to many more ends for Sri Sri.

all what is happening here, in these blogs, in these public announcements, and mostly on the internet, is we´re feeding the mind.

The cult tactics emerge! First step, demonize critical thinking! The mind is the enemy!

When our mind is so full of "stuff", it is clouding clear vision and furthering confusion.

You pose an interesting choice: superstitious notions of divine gurudom and a glamorous global space-daddy-hood vs. a critical appraisal of these claims and the sociocultural phenomena they drive.

Which of that "stuff" do you think is more clouding and confusing?

focusing on argument is making our mind more harder and less flexible. Thus it is changing, unarguably for the worse!

Demon of critical thinking, I command THEE to flee from these sheep!

everything will only be a dirty mirror of the reality - not their own experience and self-enquiry.

More assumptions about my readers, many of whom are far more grounded in their truth than Sri Sri appears in his.

it is causing dejection and disillusionment in the population more than the benefits of free information.

Step two: create a common enemy. In this case: those the cult believes are causing "dejection" and "disillusionment."

how can we arrive at a certain "truth" about the world, ever?

By resorting to the only truth that does not change, the ever-present and eternal Brahman.

In all these arguments, the mind is feeding, feeding, and getting more and more confused, and _doing_ less. Actually, the brain is the organ that uses the most energy - it is all very passifying.

Back to step one, eh? But with a twist! Now the mind is clouded and confused, but it's very pacified as well. That sounds right out of an indoctrination manual.

It is all coming out of a belief that people are too gullible, too weak, they need to be warned - and saved

This from the man who just said: "For the people following the discussion, they will also be confused, because everything will only be a dirty mirror of the reality - not their own experience and self-enquiry."

become a guru yourself!

With Sri Sri as my example? I'd rather drink molten lead.

I am much more interested in what cause are You interested in, what good are You doing, maybe we can collaborate on that in order to use our time and energy more constructively?

This isn't about me, this is about those who use the superstitious notions of Hinduism to further themselves at the expense of spiritual truth.

Or maybe all this seems to just be mind-control

It has those elements, to be sure.

what is there to talk about then?

Basically, there is nothing to talk about. As a public figure, Sri Sri is going to have to get used to the fact he has become a target for public criticism, if not from me, then certainly from others.

Sri Sri's best bet is to actually remember the truth of self-realization, that there is no Sri Sri in existence to be offended or otherwise moved to deal with public detractors. Of course, that's if he's actually a jnani instead of the fame-seeking fauxru he appears to be.

 
At 12/25/2008 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea of Guru as God in Yogic (& for that metter, even in Sufi Islam where guru is known as Ustaad) may be a superstition according to Jody, but it is a central one in Yoga. The reason why it invokes insecurity & fear in all those who are from the western countries or westernized Indians is that in the West, calling one a God automatically makes us lesser beings while it is not so in the East. The status of a disciple or a devotee is as great & central as that of God in all Yogic as well as Sufi traditions. I believe that this ignorance of the role of a devotee amongst the largely English speaking and educated population of the world is to blame for the current turmoil that the organization finds itself in. Whatever the outcome may be, the role of a Sadguru in one's Spiritual progress will remain central in Yoga based practices always. It is the tradition & that is how it works, take it or leave it. Without a Guru and Guru Bhakti, Yoga is nothing but a form of Gymnastics.

 
At 12/25/2008 8:08 PM, Blogger jody radzik said...

It is the tradition & that is how it works, take it or leave it.

It is also a tradition to throw yourself on the funeral pyre when your husband dies. The point is that labeling something "tradition" doesn't make it any more correct than any other approaches than might be deemed less traditional.

 
At 12/29/2008 10:55 AM, Blogger Stuart said...

anony said...
> It is the tradition & that is
> how it works, take it or leave
> it.

"Take it or leave it" means to never learn anything. Many centuries ago, the practice of medicine included some useful understanding, along with all sorts of superstitious practices which were more likely to kill you than heal you. Slowly over time, the more useful practices were maintained, while the nonsense was changed or discarded.

Even if it's true that in the distant past all Yoga practice involved blindly following a guru... the fact is that that style has now been mostly discarded, and is only maintained by fringe groups (much as some odd doctor might still rely on bleeding and leeches). It's far far more common for people to go to a teacher of Yoga-based tradition, get instruction and encouragement on how to practice, and then try and see for themselves... without any need for blind belief.

So rather than "take it or leave it," it's far more common and effective to take what's useful, and leave aside what's not.

Of course, for anyone who really finds thinking for themselves incredibly distasteful, "take it or leave it" will always remain an option.

Stuart
http://stuart-randomthoughts.blogspot.com/

 
At 3/17/2009 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's funny but I thought my husband and I were rare. I didn't think there were others who had gotten so involved in the Art of Living and left. I never became a teacher but I did take TTC 1. When I read this, it was eye opening to me. I was so indoctrinated before that even though I left the organization a couple years ago, I was still feeling guilty about it until a few months back. I left for similar reasons.

I don't really regret going through the experience because it's made me stronger and I have a better understanding of how my mind works.

What people are saying is true, the organization has done a lot of good. It has helped people reduce stress and helped a lot of underprivileged people through programs like dollar-a-day and several other programs. If what you want is to help people and reduce stress then it is probably good. But if what you want is enlightenment or liberation, you probably won't find it here or in any organization. SSRS and the art of living isn't interested in your enlightenment or liberation, they are interested in growing the organization.

The fact is, no organization or person can free you. Only you can free yourself. There are techniques to help you tame the wildness of the mind but you have to do them (no one can do them for you). And you have to find out for yourself what it is that will work for you and finally become free. Because this is all impermanent and one random day you will die. That is inevitable. So don't wait. Be free now.

 
At 4/25/2009 10:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

After all the fuzzing AOL built around it´s 25th. anniversary in Banghalore few years ago -they promise that by attending "we would witness a Quantum Change in the plannet during that event"; after attending it for a month and also taking the 1rst. level of Teacher training -known as TTC1-;after witnessing aberrations in that mentioning training that was suposed to be filled of with evolution of conciousness contents and instead was mostly aimed to train the students on introductory presentation speeches to recrute persons at all possible chances -concluding a whispered "credit cards are welcome" to finish the speech-;

After also finding out that to escape from the event was not possible since the AOL ashram was far away from any embassy and therefore the most convenient act was to play along with the 95% abduced minds around us...
And once safely back home starting to get sick of AOLs insistance to have their master Peace Nobel Prized -on what merits? using 5% of his real capacity to help and -how convenient- getting noticed by the media for it- while neither Mother Theresa nor Gandhiji needed to go on expensive tourings around the world to have their points... It became evident to me that that what moves this upper-class raised master is getting media recognition of his country´s goverment -specially Madame Sonia- by showing them how his work is being acnowledged by the world outside India. If he really wanted to do some merit worth to be Nobel prized -he could seriously and strongly take commitments towards still serious issues such as the hidden appartheid situation suffered by the Dalits - how about a picture of him hugging a Dalit or helping them in the sweepings, or stay sleeping overnight at their homes?- And what about the thousands of Indian children being handicaped to become exploited beggers?.

Of course at the time I decided to quit AOL I first got the "looser´s" treatment-which didn´t surprised me at all- to latter get the ego treatment by praising my virtues that would make out of me a terrific teacher. Fortunally I was able to keep my Ego at bay and didn´t let it be affected.

Finally and once out of the whole thing I came back to my peace thanks to a book written by another master whom- quite on the contrary- gave me the greatest possible gift any spiritual seaker can get: a butt-kiking to go out and stay learning IN the world while practicing the finding of my personal guru in every mirror... wich would guarantee me not to come back to be following anyone else´s paths :)

Thank you all, congratulations on your guts and please keep this blog alive... AOL is dangerously taking advantage of the current times desperation in people to spread its abductions more and more each day. For example, from the people attending that event in Banghalore, about 80% of the attendants became latter teachers after returning to our country. Namaste :)

 
At 8/16/2009 9:55 AM, Anonymous harry said...

I was considering a Stage 1 course this week but will probably cancel now. The thing that tipped me over the edge to quitting was a search of the UN web site - there are literally hundreds of mentions of "OxFam" but NONE of "Art of Living" or SSRS. The only RS to get mention was a guy who played sitar at a fund raising with George Harrison in the 80's . .

 
At 8/19/2009 12:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Harry,

Good for you for not going through the part 1 course. I cannot begin to describe the mental anguish I had to go through to leave this organization--its like a parasite that has slowly taken over my body, and through me, my community. I volunteered with the org for a number of years and taught for a while before quitting entirely. Good Riddance!

-Anon

 
At 9/27/2009 11:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wonderful points. This is the strategy used not just by Gurus but by all personality-based groups, Indian government officers, politicians and all those who want a following for the person that they are rather than for the acts or way of thinking.

I wish people would think more before joining such silly places as the Art of Living or listening without critical thinking to some one with an otherwise wonderful beard and personality.

What we do need certainly is more opportunities for social interactions.

 
At 11/02/2009 7:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am a art of living teacher in India and i agree with what jody has mentioned i would like to add that AOL is not a spiritual organization but a stresss management organization. since they developed a large network organization is working to place sri sri as God.but i doubt that AOL full time volunteers who are working in in villages for mass healing ( like reki or pranic healiing) would be able to do it as indian people are getting rational in their approach.
recently during national election sri sri tried hard through his volunteers to garner support for right wing party BJP but it could not really make any effect on the electoral out come.
i believe the life span of his patent control of sudarshan kriya would be over than it can be used free of cost for the benefit of needy

 
At 4/18/2010 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Soo Humm...
I am soo Humbled every time I see Sri Sri in person.
I am also humbled by this blog.
Saddened really. NOTHING in my life has ever come close to the comprehensive truths Sri Sri represents.
I have yet to find one thing he has said that I do not agree with 100%.
This is not the case with the organization.
I struggle with the atmosphere, feverishness and chaotic "organization" but perhaps most of all I struggle with my lack of strength to rise above it all.
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Don't throw the baby out with the bath water.
Don't drink the bath water either.
There is no Kool-aid being served here.
There are only humans (all volunteers mind you)
who are passionate about spreading love.
Perhaps if enough people share their feelings with the people in charge more changes will come.
Did Jesus condone the crusades or suggest Priests molest children? Do these atrocities negate the value of Christianity? There is nothing outright immoral or illegal going on here worthy of protesting.
Take what is worth keeping for you and throw the rest away people. Nobody is being forced to do anything in AOL. Follow the course principles and rise above it!!
jai Guru Dev= Victory to the one that leads you out of darkness.Is all this talk bringing anyone deep peace and happiness? This forum is valuable to voice frustrations but what does devaluing the entire organization accomplish? You are saving people from what?.. learning an ancient breathing technique?
I prepare people for what they might be triggered by. I almost walked out because of the photo of Sri Sri. Westerners do need a little more consideration from the organizers!!!! Send that message...

 
At 6/18/2010 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my honest observation : There is tremendous gatekeeping (making some people included and others excluded), there is tremendous witchhunting especially if someone tries to openly tell the Guru what is wrong in the organization and if that person has to speak in front of a crowd since Sri Sri gives exclusive meetings to actors and politicians more and commoners less.

There is tremendous deliberate uncentering such as sending very deliberate messages at events like Navaratri when people come from all over the world to attend where an appointed spokesman will say "Distrust your Guru and even God cannot help you, all gods are the servants of the Guru." and on the other hand Sri Sri will pass comments (when people are genuinely troubled by their doubts and ask questions in Satsang) such as "It is My work to give you doubt and your work to swim across the ocean of doubt"... This when we know that on the spiritual path mostly doubt is a troublesome factor....

The greatest problem in the organization is that anyone who uses his God given Gift of Discrimination (both on the Bible and the Bhagwad Gita, discrimination is mentioned) of what is right and wrong, the AOL organization tries to put it off as "your mind playing tricks on you".... well listening to them and accepting that your own mind is playing tricks and therefore follow the advice of another mind seems unreasonable to me....

Another thing is that if you give in to the idea that all you have, all your gifts, brains, abilities, all are the Guru's gift and you have to feel indebted (and a lot of AOL teachers try to make you feel guilty about it) at the end of it you will be left with neither faith in yourself nor God and will give all awe and respect to Guruji.... Besides that Sudarshan Kriya or Sohum breathing are mentioned in the books like Autobiography of a Yogi or in many other Siddha and Yoga books.... If AOL is taking arcane Yoga to the common man who might never have come across it, thats all fine, but they are putting as many stoppers and blocks in people trusting in themselves or progressing spiritually or meditating more... they are putting disturbances in natural progress, comparing everything and every accomplishment to "did you ever invent Sudarshan Kriya, isnt it the greatest thing in the world?" and disrupting especially honest and sincere and dedicated people's lives.... If you are a person with lacunae in your life and if you find meaning through doing only this, well then, AOL is helpful....but if you can think for yourself, God help you for AOL will persecute you and Guruji will look the other way... too bad

I'm not writing this to show up the organization as bad, but if some of what I am writing makes sense and helps in making intelligent decisions when one is in the midst of doubt my post will serve its purpose, its too bad we don't go searching for posts on the internet before we join.

A final word, all that we experience, all our good feelings etc are due to our own Life-Energies.... it is preposterous to attribute it all to Sri Sri alone... (unless he truly created the Universe or something)... the Vedas write of all the known and hidden incarnations of an Avatar such as Krishna, rest assured they do not mention Sri Sri and privately teachers whisper that Sri Sri is a Krishna avatar.... probably to hijack the feelings of Bhakti or devotion which numerous Indians feel to Krishna.... isn't it a pity to first utilise the already existing Bhakti (towards God or whoever you had it towards in the first place), to transpose it onto Sri Sri and then to be brainwashed that if you don't trust the Guru then even your God won't help you. This is in effect debilitating... you will end up with distrusting God or yourself or your higher self or your Discriminating Mind in the end and do mindless seva like a hamster running in its cage endlessly

 
At 6/19/2010 5:58 PM, Blogger ganapathy said...

I did Basic, Advanced, DSN & some other crap course of few hours in which they gave me a code word called Kleem and told to meditate on that crap word. All this happened in a 5 year time span.

All these New age crap gurus just parrot age old scriptures and hijack them. Some of the scriptures are good. Better to read it ourselves if we have the inclination but never surrender to crap.

My opinion: Aids virus attacks the immune system. AoL attacks the mind. Megalomaniacs of different kids exist all the time. They have their role in creation. I can't explain. I am agnostic and happy that I am not wasting my time in saying Sooooo Hummmmmmm.

AoL has totally lost touch with reality in the name of Stress free society.

Shameful that SSRS focuses on gullible people and leads them the wrong way instead of fixing real world issues.
example:

http://ncrb.nic.in/ADSI2008/clock.pdf

Let me put my original name and see what happens :).

 
At 3/09/2011 9:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you people have nothing better to do with your time? If you dislike Art of Living so much then don't take part, no need to publicly berate a movement that has helped so many people find happiness.
You are doing the exact opposite of what Art of Living teaches, spreading negativity.

 
At 6/23/2011 3:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am negtive...(if the definition says so), unfortunately(?) negative is a part of us..like the positive...RS (wow thats also the rupee) says to overlook the negative as if it will die if not fed...I don't see that. it cant be separated. perhaps RS has gone too far and disturbed the balance...and these guys are helping maintain that balance....
regards
I the people.

 
At 8/09/2011 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Art of Living is a big business for the disguised "swamijis for their extravagant life. In this business no investment is put! Poor people will spend from their own pocket to organise courses, thinking that they do some seva, and send a huge amount to the Ashram for nothing!In the ashram they charge us even for parking the vehicle!- Judy.

 
At 8/31/2011 1:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have just left AOL because I could no longer ignore the warning bells that I could hear in my head and my heart. I just felt like the devotees are constantly being squeezed for money and it is never made clear exactly what the money is being spent on, just the vague world service projects line. AOL is obviously a money grabbing cult which has worked out a way of organising a global army of slaves commonly known as AOL Teachers who are so brain washed that they spend thousands of dollars on their own teacher training and then devote their lives to acting as unpaid salespersons and organisers of the AOL product i.e. courses where one is promised the world but nothing is delivered. In my experience the teachers will lie and manipulate to get people to sign up for the courses so that more and more money can be raised for this greedy and insidious organisation.

 
At 9/08/2011 2:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jody, you're doing a great job. I'm an Indian. I completely believe that AoL is a cult that dupes people into joining a mass movement. As you've remarked, yoga (like any other knowledge system should be) is free and yoga helps in freeing your mind and body. The key, like in anything else, is to get a good teacher. AoL and Ravi Shankar are not the right teachers - they're scamsters at the lowest level minting money out of a trivial practice thats a fraction of what you'd get out of yoga or any other regular exercise routine. Hope the followers wake up and smell the coffee.

FYI, this is just the most recent scam to hit this cult: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne100911Art.asp

Regards,
Ram

 
At 11/08/2011 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We should remember that in Art of LIving, there is all kind of people. Belivers, non belivers, rich, poor, seva worriers, anti seva. And the good thing is that you can come as you are. Take whatever benefit you, and leave the rest. And later you may like to add more, or take a brake, it's all find. Myself, i have been on alots of AoL courses off All kind. I am happy with having a Guru in my life. Devotion or Bakti (love)can be gained, by chanting and satsang witch i like. I dont practice all the exercices, but some and i LOVE it. It has made me more happy. But all people has it's time, if you dont like it now, in one year you may like it. Or if not, thats also good. (but its not divine to be to critical about others Guru, but it's okay.

 
At 12/09/2011 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what a wonderful letter! thank you for posting it.

 
At 2/13/2013 12:27 AM, Anonymous Ex-Devotee said...

This pretty much sums it up... but I thought is was becoming commercialized back in 2004.
F-man kept saying how they were not profiting enough.
I walked away from the AoL with mixed feelings but more negative than good.
In the end I had no career, health insurance, car, possessions, anything and no blogs.
EVERY PENNY WAS SPENT ON AOL and they wanted me to keep volunteering.
It took me years to get my life back. I didn't get myself situated with a decent job in my profession for 5 or 6 years.
To those reading this who are where I was in 2004 ... Be patient. Live your life with your own intention. Your self-directed identity and dreams will come back if you give it some time to adjust the real world. We gave the AoL too much credit and lost who we really were. We don't have to compare ourselves to the believers who told us what we need to be like to be happy like they are.
We waited for moments to sit in silence and catch a glimpse while our life passed us by. The only one who got duped was ourselves. Living the myths of someone else over and over. We listened and lost ourselves in the process.
There were benefits to the discipline of meditation, yoga and accepting everyone.
I am lucky that the this phase of my life and the following conflicts (having to deal with trying to find my lost place in the world) is over.

 
At 2/13/2013 10:27 PM, Anonymous Ex-Devotee said...

The most obnoxious thing about AoL was the continuous denial by Sri Sri and AoL teachers about it being a religion. Like he tells the public that it doesn't matter that people call him a Guru. It is nothing he demands yet the inner circle has made it quite clear that it is the exact opposite. The first time was an advanced course back in 1995 when Scott announces that he, Pundiji, was very adamant that he is not your Guru unless you call him GuruDev. So there is all this talk like they are not forcing anyone to call him their guru and then a complete demand of the opposite. It is all manipulative nonsense. the first teacher training Dean tells us that Guruji popped inside his head and told him not to go to work but go see him and that is what is expected of a teacher to give up everything to serve him and be with him completely EVEN IF IT MEANS BELIEVING FANTASIES IN YOUR HEAD ABOUT HIM. Finally in TTC2 Janel tells us that it is a religion... Big surprise after years of bowing down and chanting I surrender to Shiva 100,000 times!!!
And every one of these believers will say you have a choice just come as you are... What complete and utter nonsense! Anyone getting their head turned around in circles by the AoL I feel for you and I am sorry if I ever helped perpetuate the delusions.
The conviction demanded and insisted by the DSN course should be enough to convince anyone with any individual thoughts left in their head that it is a full out cult. I mean forcing us to go out and proselytize the AoL course in the middle of the night to absolute strangers was the most degrading thing anyone has ever had me do in my life. At that point it is no choice. The way it is presented at DSN is that you must believe that this is the best thing that ever happened to you and you must spend your life serving this one purpose to spreading this knowledge and doing seva in the name of AoL or you are basically condemned to misery. It became worse and worse and I am sitting there thinking "his holiness" "do I really need to say that?" and I am sure it has just become even more fanatical.
I never found a place to really share my feelings about the AoL. It is something that can't be understood by anyone either inside or outside the AoL unless you have been through the indoctrination and made your way out of it.
Believers go into Auto-response to deny the obvious since that is what they were taught by Ravi Shankar himself. Just sit in on one fanatical Satsang where they are chanting over and over praises to dieties and then you get these lies about it having to do with the sounds and no mention that it is all about hindu dieties. What kind of church has you singing about Jesus and then say that it is not a religion? Then when you bring up the obvious lies as you did you are made to believe that it is somehow your problem and you will be back some day. anonymous post 11/08/2011 11:21 AM
Scary how the auto-response to defend the cult kicks right in. Even your saying that you don't regret anything. How could you not regret being manipulated into serving a lie? I regret it. I can't change it but I do regret it and would take back my money for a full refund if I could.
AoL is as bad a credit card. I wish I could go back and never have had a single credit card and have all the money that went to interest over the last 25 years.
I am so much better off now that I am not in the AoL. I never had the kind of success in my life that I have now. AoL only sapped my potential for a better life from me. Who wants to be manipulated and coaxed into devotion to a cult which manipulates you and demands that you give them everything?... money, time, attention, service.
It is what it is. Propagating a cult seems empowering. The all-powerful, self-righteous teachers can call me weak but I think I am just disgusted and grateful that I am not caught up in their beliefs based on lies and manipulation to be sucked into a religious cult.

 
At 2/13/2013 10:40 PM, Blogger jody radzik said...

Thanks for sharing this.

 
At 2/25/2013 1:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have done the yes+ art of living course. they charged be rs. 1500(i m and indian and a hindu too). It was quite a lot of amount, but still i went for it. and it was a great experience for me.. but doubts started to arise from the second last day of the course.. in the question answer session when i asked them about why such a large amount, they tried convincing me with and answer that didnt hold much of a substance. But i ignored my doubts thinking, may be i am too small to understand financial stuffs(i was only 17 then). Then they started telling us about how we should tell more people about it and included our friends. I tried persuading some of them and told the instructor about it. They had all paid me the money. Meanwhile due to college admissions two of my friends who had confirmed me, that they would do the course.. said they wont be able to do that now because they have admission works during that period. When was asked by my instructor, how many have i convinced.. i said her that the people i had convinced wont able to do the course now.. and to my complete astonishment.. her reaction was like.. "but since you have promised me you have to pay me the sum.. i am sorry i cant do anything about it".. i was completely taken aback.., oh god! she was the one who taught us all the moral values, and sense of belongingness shit!.. i lied to her that.. they haven't paid me the money.. and this is what she said .. "i m sorry i cant do anything about it, there names have been registered.. and you have to pay.. even if it means from your own pocket"..i was like.."oh god! look she is only concerned about the money, and never even once said.. your friends should come.. they will miss something or stuffs like that.. she was like they have to pay.. if they wish they can come.. doesn matter" i immediately hanged up the phone.. and never picked it up again.. handed over the money back to my friends..
the story didnt end here though.. i still thought mayb the AOL aint like that.. its jus one instructor.. who might have been compelled by her duties.. and still kept a touch with its activities with eyes open.. but to be frank .. i found all activities really bugging(always concerned about gathering more people into it).. more propagating the agenda types.. the sudarshan kriya.. caused me discomfort and dizziness.. (i have practiced yoga since my teenage years..and still do.. i find them very effective and soothing but this one.. was causing me a weird kind of headache..)..

i went for a regular session of theirs after 4 years.. to see if my maturity will lead me into better understanding of the teachings.. but here i am.. googling about whether there are people who felt the same about AOL.. thanks a lot lot lot for the post.. and all the comments here.. i was filled with self doubts .. but this gave me strength :)

p.s: it was impressive to see that being an instructor this many years.. you were self reflective.. and was not blindfolded .. cheers to this liberation :)

 
At 3/29/2013 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I have been reading this blog since couple of months now... I got associated with aol in year 2006-2007. I did the yes+ and then the yes + advance cars too within 45 days as instructed or else the advance crs magic does not work as told by some young teachers assisting the yes+ crs. I then became an active volunteer where I even volunteered in a part1 course. In the follow up course which i was voulenteering was arranged on a Sunday, the teacher assisting the crs left things on me to book the said venue and things. I of course got help of a senior teacher residing in that area and he managed to speak to the venue officials. I was the one to pay the rent money out of my own pocket. The course teacher did not even brief me abt all this. I did all dis arrangement a day before - Saturday. It was even decided that i wud carry my own photo of Guruji for the follow up session. All the certificates to be handed over to participants were written by me in that course. One day before the course, on Saturday nite I met with a minor accident where i scraped my hands and knee very badly. i still went next day and continueed doing what i was supposed to do. no ne knew i was injured nor did i tell anyone so. After 02 days or so, i called my teacher and updated her on my accident. she didnot even let me finish what i had to say and ended up stating that she was missing me since two days as there was no one to do the computer data work of hers. ( I had not gone to her place for two days). i used to help this teacher in computer work by going at her residence which was around 2 hours travel by road. That day was the end to this aol thing. I was deeply hurt by their selfish deeds and behaviours. There is too ,ugh of jealousy amongst the teachers / volunteers. They bitch a lot about ppl. Use ppl emotionally. I am not saying this out of hurt, I saw so much in less time hence stating so. With regards to the hall money it was a minor amount, but it was not about money. I blv a organisation has to be very clear about its accounts n things. I was given some passes to sell for an upcoming event. I actually managed to sell few of them, and I adjusted my money against the passes money and returned back remaining stuff. Later I came to know that the teacher was very angry on me for adjusting the money. According to her accounts for such things had to b crisp clear. That was bye bye to the teacher. I still share a good rapport with some aolites. I do go for navratri puja and satsangs. But I go with a mind to enjoy the bliss and return back to my normal life. I again did a aol crs 2 yrs back. Part 1 it was. Yes this time it was even better. Course was conducted by two teachers. Both teachers used to argue with each other both spoke different languages. In end I again landed up being in confused state of mind. I wish I had found this blog earlier. May be wouldn't have been hurt and confused ... However I thank god for making me go through this in early days of aol. I got out with less damage. I believe some ppl in there are there for the importance power money and limelight. Also one more thing would like to mention. With me in yes+ there was this participant who was to go to the USA for robotic engineering, all admission n things were done.. One assisting aol young teacher told him - don't waste your life, leave all this and come into aol. Tried to brainwash him. This boy's father with great pain had made arranged for his child to go abroad. Luckily the boy did not get carried away with these ppl.
After reading this blog I realise that my thought were absolutely right , I had somewhere buried them deep down in the heart n brain. Thank you very much for this blog.
Cheers,
Survived ex aol

 
At 3/15/2015 3:18 AM, Blogger cookiee said...

Jody,
One advice to you as an Indian woman living in India and born to Hindu parents..In India, as well as our holy book the Bhagwad Gita, the necessity of a *spiritual master* has been highlighted whose like a middleman between us humans and God sort of..taking advantage of this fact in every corner of India, you will find plenty of such *gurus*..Some are more famous than others like ssrs...and Hindus have a habit of worshiping any one as a God..you only need to claim that your God and wear rishi muni type clothes..that's it..I'm not even exaggerating..I'll give you 1 advice at the risk of being insulted more by fellow Hindus ..Hinduism is bullshit! !There i said it..DON'T ever bother with any gurus or this god or that god any more. .there's a reason hinduism never gained ground outside india and now you know why(although hardcore Hindus would claim that because Muslim terrorists and Christian crusaders forcibly converted Hindus to their faiths)..i left Hinduism after being forced by my direct family into this rigmarole by my mother who sadly is still very much a part of AOL..i have accepted islam and my head is much clearer coz i know now that there is no God but God. .peace and love to you, thanks for this whistle blowing post ☺☺☺

 

Post a Comment

<< Home