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,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.
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.