Tuesday, April 01, 2008

How The Art Of Living Slithers Into Your Life

File under: Gurubusting, Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Our man who forwarded the resignation letter he sent to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living staff delves further into the process of their mind control. This is Cult Indoctrination 101, folks. These same practices and techniques have been employed by almost every destructive cult that has defiled the name of spirituality:
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.

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. [Ed.note: Liberation? What liberation? There is NO liberation from AoL, except the liberation of money from your bank account.]

I am not surprised at all [some] don't view AoL as a cult based on [their] limited experience of [just] 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).
The Art of Living indoctrination sneaks up on you like a snake in the grass, and before you know it, you are envenomated with their Kool-Aid and stuck with a preening poseur for a guru who seeks nothing more than your mindless adulation and dollars to support his rich and prosperous first-class lifestyle, all while he claims to be helping the poor and less fortunate. Compared to that high-living pig, we are all poor and less fortunate. Let's pray that the fortunes of some of his victims allow them to escape the evil grasp of this cult before their bank accounts are depleted and their friends scattered to the winds.

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52 Comments:

At 4/01/2008 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

geez! are you sure you aren't talking about siddha yoga and gurumayi? sounds a little too similar to this ex-siddha yogi (including the gradually increasing/deepening levels of indoctrination). Do you guys turn into "demons" when you stop "believing in the guru" ? We all chanted our own futures everyday in the Guru Gita...break the contract with the guru and you wind up as "demon in a waterless region"... I don't know; it has sure been raining an awful lot around here!

seen too much

 
At 4/01/2008 6:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jody, I am an ex-AoL teacher myself. To say that AoL does not exercise mind control is so far from the truth! I was made a teacher in India. After the ceremony, the new teachers are made to sign a legal document saying that they will not practice or teach or learn other forms of meditation besides AoL. Bit like bonded labor,don't you think? The reasons teachers sign this document is because there is such excitement in becoming a teacher that you're not even thinking if this is an ethical practice.

 
At 4/01/2008 8:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"a preening poseur for a guru who seeks nothing more than your mindless adulation and dollars to support his rich and prosperous first-class lifestyle"

Isn't it amazing, the human mind... It predominently looks at what is more salient (the big colors, the big impressions, the big experiences...) and often hasn't started at all to reflect on more subtle questions like, "What do I think is the true personal motive in life of that person in the front?"... And: is it coherent with my own motives in life? And: what are my motives?...

I think it's fondamental to ask ourselves these kinds of questions before we devout any important part of our life with a teacher.

Of course if it turns out that we eventually think his/her personal motives are selfish and abusive, we should then align our actions and our commitments accordingly... My point is, we should apply ourselves totally and continually from the outset to find out and evaluate for ourselves these kinds of truths about leaders, and especially spiritual leaders, if we are to follow their advice in any way...

Thanks for posting this letter about AoL. To me, it is striking by its clarity and by the strenght of its analysis. I can testify that in my book it applies 100% to the cult to which I was hooked, Siddha Yoga and Gurumayi Chidvilasananda...

Love to all! François

 
At 4/02/2008 3:05 AM, Blogger semblance said...

When someone signed up the document (a bit like a bond) then he has already become partner to the crime, even if it is ignorance. Infact same disciple mind needs that 'bonding' from a guru -preferably a famous guru- at that point of time.

Even now im sure there are hundreds (in AOL language it would be millions ofcourse) of these 'bonded' followers in AoL, feeling secured and protected because of their 'bond' with the guru and organization.

I know a guru in India who is blamed a lot for NOT bonding people in any manner. He has been accused of carelessness, irresponsbility, selfishness, a bad guru, temperamental (who does not know how to embrace people in his wings of blah and blah). But she she or any BTG knew so well how to spread the wings of blah and blah and embrace and bind.

The bonding makes most of the people feel so so good and very few like the author here, not so good. A guru who would turn people away from 'bonding' is mostly termed as frustrated. Like our own UGKrishnamurti, who died recently, is known as frustrated teacher in the 'loving' and 'caring' spiritual circles of India (and perhaps elsewhere too).

The blaming can land on Sri Sri now squarely, and the 'victims' can sight excitement for their mistakes and become innocent and pure all over again. But I cant beleive she she alone was responsible in this spiritual proactive syndicate. Because it is the security seeking mind of the disciple, who beleives in 'bonding brings securtiy' did it. She she perhaps faciliated it. I think thats where he went wrong.

Unlike the guru i know, our she she did not have the courage to say NO to feudalism. He allowed and still allows the 'excited' bunch to come and bond.

The word 'bonding' is so volatile. It can sound cho chweet and so dirty at the same time, to different peepal.

My guess is till this point, he had been posing 'good'. Perhaps with the escalating accusations, he may adapt an WTF? attitude and may start to loot and plunder and go for a big splash in the real sense.

Also when people read too much of anti stuff, then the matter can become sterile. Infact an avatar has always been subjected to such 'accusations'. So dont be surprised if the 'bonding' with an avatar gets even stronger from certain quarters and dont be surprised if she she soon blurts out WTF? and buys his own fleet of airplanes.

Chuckji ! where thou art missing in action? We miss you here, like how the world is missing a true saviour now. A true savior who can make the whole world, flawlessly happy.

 
At 4/02/2008 8:22 AM, Blogger zhoro said...

I have decided to sign up, so I don't have to constantly repeat that I am the author of the letter.

François, SSRS astutely anticipates such questioning and doubt and takes care to undermine our trust in our critical thinking abilities from the get-go. The basic course starts by outlining three types of listening and questioning - emotional, intellectual and prayerful (true). Intellectual listening/questioning is said to be based only on what we already know so is not conducive to expansion of wisdom. Emotional does not retain very well. So, prayerful listening is recommended.

Later on, he outlines three types of doubt which deter the devotee from advancing on the path. One of these is doubt in the motivation of the guru. He jokingly brushes away such doubt asking "What could the realized master possibly want from you? What do you have to give such a man? He holds the entire universe in the palm of his hand!" or something similar.

Then he asks you to recruit more people and provide donations. This, obviously, is not for the guru, who needs nothing from you, but for your own and other's sake.

 
At 4/02/2008 8:26 AM, Blogger zhoro said...

anonymous ex-teacher, I can confirm that exposure to other teachings, literature, techniques, etc. for teachers is discouraged. One reason stated was that a less devoted person may become confused if they see a teacher exploring other things. Another reason is that, since there are many contradiction among different teachings, one may easily become comfused.

 
At 4/02/2008 10:28 AM, Anonymous 123bahu said...

Thank you for a very interesting post. We truly live in sneaky times.

 
At 4/02/2008 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zhoro the author of the original article said:
"What could the realized master possibly want from you? What do you have to give such a man? He holds the entire universe in the palm of his hand!" or something similar.

Then he asks you to recruit more people and provide donations. This, obviously, is not for the guru, who needs nothing from you, but for your own and other's sake."

There is a rising young guru who says exactly the same thing!

I am curious: How much AoL teachers training cost in the USA and India these days? How many basic course you need to have taken to qualify for teachers training? How much time and money do you need to spend before becoming an unpaid teacher?

All these gurus are so similar !!!

 
At 4/02/2008 1:26 PM, Blogger CHUCK said...

semblance said...
Chuckji ! where thou art missing in action? We miss you here, like how the world is missing a true saviour now.

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

Good buddy! I am still here although not in good health! It is harder to be a world saviour when your teeth need a lot o work and you're deaf in the right ear! Makes listening to my mule that much harder! This here She She is a sight! The last time I saw him he wasn't lookin up and talkin to space ships, he was close to blubberin cause Maharishi had sent some other limp wristed fellow to his meetin to tell how displeased his daddy guru was at him! But back to me, my teeth is troublin me as is all my major joints. Add that to my ever present trouble with piles and you got a glimpse into the world of Chuck! Guess if I was a pretty boy like She She, I could make up any kind of crap I wanted and people would be beggin to give me money instead of the re-verse!

 
At 4/02/2008 7:57 PM, Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

These quotes from the post match Andrew Cohen’s cult exactly:

1. “maintain a respectable public face” – TICK. Cohen has a magazine that sounds like an innocent enquiry: “What is enlightenment?” but it’s really Cohen propaganda. He has Ken Wilber’s approval.

2. “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.” – TICK. Cohen believes he is the perfect untainted mirror.

3. “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” – TICK. Cohen says he’s creating a revolution at the leading edge of human evolution.

4. “Part of the positive reinforcement is based on how well you are able to recruit for the organization” – TICK. Bringing newbies is appreciated. Cohen calls it “outreach”.

5. “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.” – TICK. Evolutionary enlightenment (R) for all!

6. “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.” – TICK. Ex-Cohenites are framed as “disgusting” moral weaklings.

7. “Leaving [the organisation] is not encouraged.” – TICK. Lots of shaming for saying anything negative about Cohen or doing your own thing.

8. “there is no graduation from [the organisation]” – TICK. Cohen says there is no reason to ever leave him.

9. “I am not surprised at all [some] don't view [the organisation] as a cult based on [their] limited experience of [just] two courses. [The organisation] uses progressive indoctrination and does not ask for big commitments from you upfront.” – TICK. If Cohen said upfront that you’d be doing 500 prostrations to his photo every day, any sane person would run!

10. “But once hooked on the path, the commitments you are asked to make will increase” – TICK. Cohen calls it "proving your commitment."

Yes, all these cults are the same.

 
At 4/03/2008 8:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Martin...sigh!

1. “maintain a respectable public face” – TICK. Cohen has a magazine that sounds like an innocent enquiry: “What is enlightenment?” but it’s really Cohen propaganda. He has Ken Wilber’s approval.

Siddha Yoga has the Prasad org. and high profile (seemingly "normal")celebrity devotees.

2. “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.” – TICK. Cohen believes he is the perfect untainted mirror.

Syda...the "guru" is "god" and you're not! lol! Oh yeah, "see god in each other" and "you are the self" but try to find that put into practice in syda....lol!

3. “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” – TICK. Cohen says he’s creating a revolution at the leading edge of human evolution.

Well, gurumayi is creating a "Meditation Revolution" (and you can read all about it and the sanitized version of syda in the book).

4. “Part of the positive reinforcement is based on how well you are able to recruit for the organization” – TICK. Bringing newbies is appreciated. Cohen calls it “outreach”.

Syda..there was a special feeling to darshan (in the days of darshan) for those bringing in family members...ah, that smile of approval! Then there was that "us (on the right path) and them (everyone else) attitude that permeated the organization.

5. “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.” – TICK. Evolutionary enlightenment (R) for all!

Syda....the "grace" of a "living siddha master"...what an opportunity!

6. “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.” – TICK. Ex-Cohenites are framed as “disgusting” moral weaklings.

Syda...the more seva you offer, the more quickly you "move up" in the org. Those who aren't so hooked in are just part of the "masses" (don't tell them this or that..this is for your ears only) Just the herd of sheep filling the coffers with "dakshina" (the most important practice of syda! lololol! you have to prove a "dakshina history" to even do a retreat these days; it's a "prerequisite")..once you get further in, the ability to HOLD CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION is critical...I've known high-level couples where one person has no idea of what the other one "knows"..and the guru plays them off against each other, often resulting in divorce.

7. “Leaving [the organisation] is not encouraged.” – TICK. Lots of shaming for saying anything negative about Cohen or doing your own thing.

Syda...shunning from the local group, you become invisible, you are "a demon in a waterless region" (especially if you criticize the organization openly)...OR you are asked to sign "non-disclosure agreements" if you have had any "power" within the organization (as was the case with a current columnist for Yoga Journal who used to be a syda swami).If you sign the agreement, there is a "support system" of venues where you can offer your classes etc. and, for some former executives, a "golden parachute". For the "grunt sevites" (who aren't important enough to hold potentially damaging information), there is just the process of picking up the pieces.

8. “there is no graduation from [the organisation]” – TICK. Cohen says there is no reason to ever leave him.

Syda...muktananda originally promised "liberation" after 12 years at most! lol! There has never been evidence of anyone ( including the present guru) being "liberated" through siddha yoga.. well, there are the "secret siddhas"..supposedly, that's what happens...you become a "secret siddha"..so secret that even you aren't aware of it.

9. “I am not surprised at all [some] don't view [the organisation] as a cult based on [their] limited experience of [just] two courses. [The organisation] uses progressive indoctrination and does not ask for big commitments from you upfront.” – TICK. If Cohen said upfront that you’d be doing 500 prostrations to his photo every day, any sane person would run!

Syda..the same..it all seems so much fun, so exciting, folks are so friendly during those heavily scripted "intro programs" (where we were all coached up the wazoo on how to speak to people about siddha yoga). Some people stay out on the periphery...but the "serious" ones jump right into the fire..which burns it all up: your health, your money, your career, your relationships, not to mention your brain ,blasted by those " golden experiences" of the "divine" (ah so addictive!..just bliss out in "samadi" and take another intensive).

10. “But once hooked on the path, the commitments you are asked to make will increase” – TICK. Cohen calls it "proving your commitment."

Syda...lying seems to be a big one...a big committment, covering up, lying about what you know. As you move up the ladder, you learn "not to share information". The higher up you go, the more information you are asked "not to share".The more you lie and betray your ethical standards in order to be "in alignment with the guru", the faster you will progress up the ladder in syda. I mean, they all lie: the guru lies, the swamis lie, the CEO lies, the center leaders lie ("oh, that information is not 'appropriate' to share with the devotees; the directive comes from Fallsburg")...so what's the big deal, right? What's a "lie" when "it's all god".

Yes, all these cults are the same.

YUP!

 
At 4/03/2008 11:00 AM, Blogger CHUCK said...

This all sounds like my own church, Dime Box First Baptist! Them holy rollers cross town ain't no better either!

 
At 4/03/2008 5:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is amazing to see how groups of people seem to all function according to universal patterns. Like the solar system with the Sun as its center and planets revolving around it, any group functions because of a leader with followers around him (or her), for we are modelled after the cosmos in the first place.

I would imagine that if you were to join a fishingclub but then turned vegan, your fellow fishermen would also consider you no longer one of the gang. In a sense, a lot of what is going on in cults isn't necessarily a cult problem, but simple universal dynamics of groups. ANY group can be considered a cult with standard rituals and so on, and with the same dynamics, is it not so? It is not that I do not see through Sri Sri's ways (I've met him once too), and I applaud this blog which dares to speak the truth (or perceived truth, but at least I agree), yet there are mechanisms in groups which are given out as a critique on how it functions with a spiritual group, which are just universal and are mechanisms of all groups, whether spiritual or not. A true guru for me ought to be one to understand these dynamics and who does not take the autonomy away of an individual and who stops his or her followers or devotees to glorify him or her.

Yet it is a complicated issue. A true guru natually would emit light. The follower basks in its light and takes on its light and gets hooked by it. Just like the Moon has no light of herself but reflects Sunlight. In a sense we are all moons, reflecting Sunlight. The point is, that if we are followers of an enlightened someone and partake of the light of the enlightened individual, it will never be our own light,we're wearing borrowed coats so to speak. And on the other hand, this is true for the majority of people in the first place, whether we talk of people following a spiritual leader, or whether we talk of people following a political leader. To become leaders within and learn to cooperate based on our own individualities, sharing techniques and insights, wouldn't that be great ? and not those that are given to us by others after we have taken expensive teachers training courses (whether it be spiritual, meditation or other self help stuff) and which we then give out again, (why do we all want to become teachers, and want to bask in the light that is not our own?)

So, to AOL followers: this idea that Sri Sri can save the world and make it peaceful, what good does that do if it is a borrowed recipe and no realization from within myself? So why do we buy these commercials that sri sri should be applauded for all the good that he does. What good does he actually do???

We may have a space daddy, and we may be looking for one on the outside on the planet because wouldn't it be great to always be protected like when we were children and isn't it fantastic to belong to a family (who will drop you the moment you become vegan if the family is a bunch of fishermen). What's the difference between AOL, most other spiritual groups and the christian church (who enriched themselves) in the middle ages with god depicted as a space daddy with a beard?

-pls note English is not my first language --

 
At 4/03/2008 6:29 PM, Blogger stillsearching said...

Regarding how much TTC costs in India and the USA- well, depending where the venue is but in US dollars it's several thousand dollars. In India, I'm not sure, but whenever there's an international course,(Westerners), the fee is like the USA. And then there's the cost of transportation, time away from work, etc. So you have to factor all if that in too.

 
At 4/03/2008 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone asked about the cost of becoming a teacher. The prerequisites are a Basic Course $375, two Advanced Courses $300, but one must be with Sri Sri $600-900. Then you need to pay for your teacher training, which is apparently several thousand dollars.

This reminds me that in the The Great Great Sri Sri NGO Scam Scam thread someone mentioned that teachers collect a percentage of enrollment fees. Is this true?

 
At 4/04/2008 5:25 AM, Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

anonymous wrote: "muktananda originally promised "liberation" after 12 years at most! lol! There has never been evidence of anyone ( including the present guru) being "liberated" through siddha yoga.. well, there are the "secret siddhas"..supposedly, that's what happens...you become a "secret siddha"..so secret that even you aren't aware of it."

What about Adi Da?! Isn't he the Promised Godman and Avatar? (Joking.)

The real thing is simple. You've just got to recognise that the mind creates illusions so stop going into it. But that's not as attractive as getting Shaktipat bliss hits (Siddha Yoga) or Being the Leading Edge of Who and What God is (Andrew Cohen's claim)!

The trouble is that even hearing the simple truth is so rare. Truthtellers are invisible. So you go for what is visible i.e. guru cults.

How many people say "Liberate yourself from illusion"? When was the last time any of us have heard it? Almost never!

Instead they say, "Come get Enlightenment, Power, and Status! Become a Buddha or a God! Save the world!"

"And get a girlfriend or boyfriend!"

 
At 4/04/2008 6:57 AM, Blogger zhoro said...

anonymous wrote:
"How much time and money do you need to spend before becoming an unpaid teacher?"

I had posted a message outlining the requirements for becoming a teacher and the related costs, but somehow it didn't get through. At current rates, the cost came to a minimum of $10,000 including travel and accommodation expenses. Timewise, it will take at least a year, during which you need to show your ability to organize courses and bring new people.

anonymous wrote:
"This reminds me that in the The Great Great Sri Sri NGO Scam Scam thread someone mentioned that teachers collect a percentage of enrollment fees. Is this true?"

Generally, that's not true. Up to 25% of a course's proceeds can be used to cover expenses incurred in organizing the course. However, if expenses were less than 25% of proceeds, AoL does not allow for the balance up to 25% to be retained by the local chapter for development. Volunteers need to put in their own money for that.

Regular teachers get no pay at all. Full-time traveling teachers get a small stipend, but usually participants collect guru dakshina for them at the end of a course as well. I have seen this amount to a couple of grand at a time.

 
At 4/04/2008 7:53 AM, Anonymous Betty said...

anonymous said...What's the difference between AOL, most other spiritual groups and the christian church (who enriched themselves) in the middle ages with god depicted as a space daddy with a beard?


Not much... They all suck but the ones where living men and women like Sai Baba, Sri Sri and Ammachi claim or allow themselves to be claimed as God are the worse. I was raised as one of them and the Bible says that the righteousness ie "Bliss" of these people is like "filthy menstral rags" to God.

 
At 4/04/2008 1:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>". I was raised as one of them and the Bible says that the righteousness ie "Bliss" of these people is like "filthy menstral rags" to God."<<<

Hey Betty,
How about a chapter and verse quote from the Bible regarding "filthy menstrual rags". I don't recall ever seeing that phrase in the Bible and I'd sure like to look it up...
(not that I disagree about "bliss gurus" by the way but the comparison is a little misogynistic, wouldn't you say?). If "god" thinks menstrual rags are "filthy", then why did he/she create menstrual periods? lol! The Bible is not exactly noted for "how to investigate being embodied" teachings...come to think about it, few spiritual texts are...guess that's why yoga got so popular all of a sudden.

seen too much

 
At 4/04/2008 7:31 PM, Anonymous Martin Gifford said...

The bottom line for cult practice is...

GRADUALLY DOES IT.

If the cults said up front, "We want your friends and relatives and thousands of dollars and we want you to do 500 full body prostrations to our guru's photo every day," then they would never get anybody (anybody with a brain that is).

So they do it gradually while presenting a polished front.

As far as cult members go, I just ask this question:

In the beginning of your quest, were you seeking liberation or lifelong enslavement to another human being?

 
At 4/05/2008 8:46 AM, Anonymous Betty said...

seen too much said...Hey Betty,
How about a chapter and verse quote from the Bible regarding "filthy menstrual rags".


Isaiah chapter 64 verse 6
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our self- righteous acts are like filthy menstrual rags."

I don't know if God had any hand in deciding that menstrual rags are filthy. I don't know if God has any hands, period. But teachers like Sri Sri who want to elevate themselves above the rest of us or lay claim to naturally occurring "bliss" and act as if they dispense it on a whim seem like filthy rags to me.

 
At 4/05/2008 1:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>>"Isaiah chapter 64 verse 6
"All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our self- righteous acts are like filthy menstrual rags."

Oxford Bible with Apocrypha (RSV 1973)..Is:64:6:
"We have all become like one who is unclean and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment."
(also, in the Analytical Corcordance..."all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags "("beged" in Hebrew.pertaining to clothing, robes or garments)..menstrual cloths are "daveh"...appearing: Is:30:22)scattering your graven images as "daveh". What does your translation say for that verse? I'm just curious...sorry for the digression but it's interesting to see how much interpretation goes on in translation.

yeah...sri and all the rest of them....no arguement here.

seen too much

 
At 4/13/2008 8:20 AM, Blogger Paul said...

On the web, people can post anything as truth, whether it is substantiated or not. An while there are con artists out there, what strikes me the most is your hypocrisy. You talk in spiritual terms about the the Guru within, but then you engage in nasty, sarcastic, insulting, degrading, humiliating comments about people. Your comments are based on rumor, gossip, one person's subjects experience, which you then use to denigrate other people's subjective experience. And if you can't find something wrong or immoral that the guru did, you then merely resort to insults or criticizing them for asking for donations. (Which is something every religious and nonprofit organization does. And to be fair, some of these people are doing wonderful humanitarian work.) Your arrogant self-righteous sense of superiority is apparent. You definitely have a full body of hate and rage. What happened to you that you have such as ax to grind?

 
At 4/13/2008 8:55 AM, Blogger jody said...

On the web, people can post anything as truth, whether it is substantiated or not.

There is enough material out there and provided to me to know that there is a decently-sized anti-AoL movement, and for very good reason, obviously.

An while there are con artists out there, what strikes me the most is your hypocrisy. You talk in spiritual terms about the the Guru within, but then you engage in nasty, sarcastic, insulting, degrading, humiliating comments about people.

That's called engaging the subject with a modern, pop culture sensibility. See defamer.com.

Your comments are based on rumor, gossip, one person's subjects experience, which you then use to denigrate other people's subjective experience.

It's been more than just one person. The comments are full of folk who have finally got wise to the Sri Sri self-glorification scheme. It's also been obvious from news reports of Sri Sri's words and behavior that he's little more than a little shit.

And if you can't find something wrong or immoral that the guru did, you then merely resort to insults or criticizing them for asking for donations.

Actually, the donation thing isn't so bad, it's the fact he's pumping the cash back into his family that sucks. He's loaded the AoL board with family members. The red flag flies high over Bangalore.

Your arrogant self-righteous sense of superiority is apparent.

Your ulterior motives sing loudly.

You definitely have a full body of hate and rage.

You clearly don't have a clue. Or actually, you do. By saying I'm full of hate and rage, you are attempting to discredit what I'm saying. "How can he even know what he is saying, he's so full of evil emotion." That's called demonization, a very popular cult-recruitment and retention ploy.

What happened to you that you have such as ax to grind?

Clarity arose, and I was able to see how much these divine idiots were promoting occlusion instead. It may not be what people think they are coming around for, but that's what they are getting from fauxrus like Sri Sri.

 
At 4/13/2008 9:41 AM, Blogger Paul said...

The other mistake you make, which most people do, is that you have an underlying belief, ie. that all gurus and reportedly enlightened being are fakes. You then accept all information which reinforces that belief and reject any information that may contradict that belief. So you are more invested in maintaining your beliefs, your self righteous anger, your negative views of others, and the sense of self that provides you than you are in knowing the truth.
The Socratic method of inquire into truth states: question your underlying assumptions; question your beliefs.

 
At 4/13/2008 9:52 AM, Blogger Paul said...

My comments were not regarding your blog about Sri Sri. They were base on reading what you wrote about many different gurus. For example, why insult Karunamayi the way you did? (By the way I'am not a follower of hers.)
It is the fact that people like you somehow think that your nasty, denigrating, insulting, name calling will somehow make this world a better place or a more loving place.
Boy have you got it all wrong!

 
At 4/13/2008 9:55 AM, Blogger jody said...

The other mistake you make, which most people do, is that you have an underlying belief, ie. that all gurus and reportedly enlightened being are fakes.

Uh, Paul, you are completely wrong here. I have two gurus, both of which are stellar examples of the station.

You then accept all information which reinforces that belief and reject any information that may contradict that belief.

Because I have some understanding of cult dynamics, I'm able to filter out a lot of the bullshit.

So you are more invested in maintaining your beliefs, your self righteous anger, your negative views of others, and the sense of self that provides you than you are in knowing the truth.

Again, demonize your critic to neutralize the criticism. You are a good AoL monkey.

The Socratic method of inquire into truth states: question your underlying assumptions; question your beliefs.

Advice I give to any person who is about to join some bullshit like AoL.

 
At 4/13/2008 9:59 AM, Blogger jody said...

My comments were not regarding your blog about Sri Sri.

Then don't put them up in a Sri Sri-related post.

For example, why insult Karunamayi the way you did?

Because she's pimping bullshit as spiritual truth.

It is the fact that people like you somehow think that your nasty, denigrating, insulting, name calling will somehow make this world a better place or a more loving place.

Love follows clarity, Paul.

Boy have you got it all wrong!

When viewed incorrectly.

 
At 4/14/2008 9:53 PM, Blogger peter said...

so much hatred. Mahatma Gandhi said "We must be the change we wish to see in the world." I'm not feelin' the love.

 
At 4/14/2008 10:07 PM, Blogger jody said...

so much hatred.

So much exaggerated labeling so as to demonize the speaker.

I'm not feelin' the love.

I have no love for fame-lusting, money-grabbing fauxus who poison the minds of their hapless marks, if that's what you mean, but that doesn't mean I hate them. It's called an intense dislike for what they are doing.

 
At 4/16/2008 6:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently attended the first course offered by the Aol. I was attracted to the course for two reasons - one I wanted to experience a different type of meditation and two - the breathing techniques that were advertised.
As an emergency room nurse, working in 3 large city ERs, I frequently encounter patients that are suffering from panic attacks and other patients that are extremely hostile. I was looking for another "tool" I could use to work with these types of patients. I will be trying the ujjayi breathing technique I was taught and evaluate its effectiveness.
Now, as far as the Sudarshan Kriya goes, I have a few concerns. As a medical professional I was a little surprised that a more in depth discussion was not given prior to the participants trying the Kriya for the first time. Yes, they did say that you may feel hot or cold and you may experience some numbness or tingling in your hands and feet, but several in my class were actually very frightened by the experience. And of particular concern to me was the physician who was lying beside me, saying that he had experienced a "heaviness" in his chest. It think it would have been better to elaborate more prior to the Kriya, saying that you are blowing off C02 and taking your body to a more alkalotic state which will produce some physiologic symptoms, some individuals are more sensitive to this than others. You may feel the tingling and numbness, but this is typical whenever anyone hyperventilates. You may even have the feeling that you are outside of your body. However, in some individuals with known or unknown cardiac disease, lowering your C02 level may actually cause a spasm of the coronary arteries and in some cases may induce a heart attack. No medical history or screening was done prior to taking this course. The Sudarshan Kriya is done with a good amount of variation of the rhythmic breathing that most people can compensate with building up their C02 levels during the longer breath phases of the exercise, but in a very sensitive person, this could be a potential problem. It may be that this alkalotic state allows us to release endorphins which makes the experience very pleasant and calming to many individuals.
The other thing that was disturbing to me was the teachers body language. I have to say that I am very good at reading body language which may have to do with my work as I am exposed to so many patients and their families on a daily basis, (ERs tend to be very busy places with a high turnover). There was something about his delivery that was incongruent with his personality and it was nagging at me until the 3rd day when we were shown a film featuring Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. I had never seen Sri Sri before, other than in a picture which was propped up on a table in front of the class. Immediately I knew what I had been sensing. This teacher had adopted a lot of the same body language and word choices that Sri Sri used. I am not saying this is good or bad, just that it did not resonate well with me, it came across as false.
I met some very wonderful people at the conference and am grateful for that experience along with learning the ujjaji breathing technique. As far as the Kriya goes, I will continue with it for a while, but I think I prefer my Holosync sound meditation and the writings of Lao-tzu's Tao Te Ching.
It was for the most part a pleasant experience, mostly due to the personalities I met, but 4 days to learn a breathing technique?! Despite the pleasantness, I came away with an intuitive unsettled feeling which is probably why I 'goggled' "art of living + cult" and came upon this site.
Sri Sri has beautiful messages, but I felt that there was an aura of idolness surrounding him. I do not idolize anyone, everyone is created equally and with their own gifts to give the world.

 
At 4/16/2008 6:25 PM, Blogger jody said...

I felt that there was an aura of idolness surrounding him.

That is the heat blazing off his "divine" entitlement to being worshipped as God. His "beautiful message" is a come-on, not an offering.

 
At 4/16/2008 6:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jody,

Thank you for your comment to mine. I was trying to be polite as this was my first post here. I see my intuition was right again and I am so glad that I came upon this blog. I also no longer feel unsettled. Do you know that I was actually emailed twice as a reminder to attend a follow up 'breathing' session for tonight. I found that very suspicious - I just spent 4 days breathing - do they think I forgot the technique that quickly?!
:)

 
At 4/27/2008 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you to all the people posting on this blog. I'm a real teacher - you know the kind that teach children and about a year ago a new teacher at school started trying to get me involved with AOL.Recently after an enourmous blow up from my boyfriend who is a complete cult buster I wanted more answers because honestly this woman made me feel like a worm - like the biggest loser - she is so superior in her enlightenment.I have been studying yoga for years and it is one of my dreams to become a yoga teacher, and she used this to try to get me hooked- but thanks to all of you I now have a better understanding and I'm relieved to be putting this behind me. Keep up the good work.

 
At 10/21/2008 10:31 PM, Blogger cuya said...

i was just talking to an aol teacher tonight about an upcoming course. i had a problem with a technique that brings peace to the world being so expensive. he said that classes used to be free, but people would not show up for the whole 5 days. he said that charging people made it more valuable to them. i have heard this argument in other circumstances as well. he also said that all the money is used for the disaster relief/charity work. doesn't ammachi also do the same?

i think it's hard to tell a cult sometimes, because there are a lot of similarities between cults and families. those who are disconnected from their families are always on the search for a new one, or a different kind. so they end up being vulnerable to false gurus, but they also get more attached to the new "family" and create a cult-like situation where one might not have previously existed.

isn't it possible that followers can create an environment that that the teachers never intended?

 
At 10/21/2008 10:39 PM, Blogger jody said...

isn't it possible that followers can create an environment that that the teachers never intended?

Of course, and this is probably how a lot these cults start out. Sincere teacher, yearning students, desire for truth and goodness. However, in Sri Sri's case, his desire for the big-time is well-documented in the comments of this blog. And in many cases of big-time gurudom (if not all,) what starts out sincere turns into a business, one that requires more and more business to keep itself upright. The leader of the org is always responsible for the direction the org takes. Remember, they can always call it off if they see it going bad. Unfortunately, going bad also involves piles of cash and self-infatuating mountains of starry-eyed seekers, and so the gurus get caught up in their devotees' sense of their importance, and the truth gets screwed like a cheap hooker on a Sunday morning.

 
At 10/22/2008 5:52 PM, Blogger cuya said...

is there anything that i can look at that tracks the money trail? any specific websites or other places that anyone can recommend that i can research? if we are not giving any sources of information, then how can we offer an educated warning? anonymous comments with no sources?

 
At 10/22/2008 7:05 PM, Blogger jody said...

is there anything that i can look at that tracks the money trail?

Of course not, and they are going to try to keep it that way as long as they are able. And when there is some disclosure, don't expect it to be anything other than glowing, because that's what they'll want you to think.

Anything short of an entirely independent review will be worthless.

anonymous comments with no sources?

It wasn't entirely anonymous, but regrettably, the source has moved on. He feared reprisal, and actually, I can't blame him for leaving his Sri Sri days completely behind.

 
At 1/02/2009 10:52 AM, OpenID butch3r said...

So you're saying that since AoL is non-profit it doesn't have accounting data that it has to submit to some authority every year?

 
At 1/02/2009 11:27 AM, Blogger jody radzik said...

So you're saying that since AoL is non-profit it doesn't have accounting data that it has to submit to some authority every year?

I'm saying that until AoL submits to an independent accounting of it's financial activities, we will not know just how much money is going into Sri Sri's pocket, and into the pockets of those he might be bribing.

 
At 7/28/2009 12:57 AM, Blogger RamShob said...

I have a close friend who is now immersed in AoL cult. He has been trying to get me to join even using emotional blackmail. As a former member of the ammachi and sai baba cults I am wise to these tricks. Cult leaders color perspectves a lot. Everything is seen through that lense.

 
At 8/11/2009 9:49 AM, Anonymous Harry said...

Anonymous said...

"I recently attended the first course offered by the Aol. I was attracted to the course for two reasons - one I wanted to experience a different type of meditation and two - the breathing techniques that were advertised.
As an emergency room nurse, working in 3 large city ERs, I frequently encounter patients that are suffering from panic attacks and other patients that are extremely hostile. I was looking for another "tool" I could use to work with these types of patients. I will be trying the ujjayi breathing technique I was taught and evaluate its effectiveness.
Now, as far as the Sudarshan Kriya goes, I have a few concerns. As a medical professional I was a little surprised that a more in depth discussion was not given prior to the participants trying the Kriya for the first time."

Anonymous continued with some useful info for me - I am considering attending a Stage 1 course next week. The reasons I was interested:

- anxiety and depression mostly related to the diagnosis of my Coronary Artery Disease (CAD)
- improved life management skills

The things that concern me:
- scam potential of AoL
- health issues (CAD) that might be of issue during Kriya breathing
- actual usefulness of course

I was particularly interested that Anonymous had a medical background (I do too) - I would love to hear what his/her current view of AoL is - privately if appropriate.

Interesting blog!

 
At 12/23/2009 12:02 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My parents have assimilated there selves within the AOL movement. It's hard to imagine how it happened. My parents are educated, very conservative and could always smell bullshit a mile away. They have used common sense there whole lives, always asking guestions and weighing the consequences before making a decision.

It has been about 20 months since they went to their first course. Every time my family met with my mother, all she could talk about was SSRS. No matter how we tried to change the subject, she steered it back to Sri Sri. I then noticed that all of the family pictures that had adorned the their walls for years, where replaced with one large solitary picture of Sri Sri. Every room in house has a picture of him. It's weird. Next came the incessant proselytizing, which by the way is still going on. They got my brother and his wife to go to the basic course. After AOL hit them up for a large donation they became a little suspect, and subsequently have chose not engage in AOL activities. My father has ambushed me on going to AOL. I told him I was not interested, but he still keeps it up and I keep turning him down. The final straw is trying to get my son to attend an AOL childrens course under the guise of it doesn't have anything to do with AOL. I said no way Jose. He immediately brought up his feelings on my crappy parenting skills and how much my son needs this. Again and again he tried to sway my mind with ludicrous arguments. They're comming here for Christmas dinner, I'm sure I'm going to get the same spiel from my Mother.

They have spent a large portion of their retirement savings on AOL. Coures and more course, trips to see Sri Sri, and they are no planning to go to India to see him again.

My Father is leading campaign to allow the AOL childrens course to be taught within the school district. I have let him know that I believe AOL is a cult. But he has a usually lame rebuttal for every question I ask him. They are alienating everyone around them who are not commited to AOL. I'm really worried about them. I thought they would wise up and see the light, but the only light they see is Sri Sri, and it's quite frightening.

 
At 1/03/2010 1:04 PM, Blogger a humble witness said...

Dear Anon of December '09,

I'm sorry to hear about your current situation with your family. I am an ex-aol teacher who left the org after many years of service to it. The psychological damage this cult does to its devotees is unimaginable, and it takes a strong person to leave after getting deeply involved. I just wanted to bring your attention to the following blog where former AoL teachers and members share their own experiences. It might be something you'd like to forward to your family members as well if you think it'll help...

http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/

Best of luck,
a humble witness

 
At 2/15/2010 6:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

AoL is definitely a cult, screwing up the brains of weak and the insecure. I see many marriages breaking up because of Art of Living. It's a program for Escapists. It preaches art of living dead, it takes out meaning of family life, promoting spiritual crap, avoiding their spouses, abstinence. It preaches to fear none, but to love your own self, be dead inside, not to care for your family, your own children or anything else. Its for people who are dead already and want to escape from worldly pleasures, joy and even their own family. It teaches one to live selfishly to believe in everything they been doing wrong in their lives, to abandon your own family, spouses, kids, and be part of the cult in the name of spiritual freedom.

Its a cult. It's destroying families, it's destroying marriages, it destroying children's life. I can sympathize with the recent anonymous person who is seeing her/his sanity/family destroyed by AoL. My wife gave up her life for the spiritual freedom, claims to have learnt the art of living, leading to divorce. My two kids will suffer life long because of it, not to mention she's been dragging these young kids who have not even seen life into the cult.

Is there any way to stop this cult from growing and destroying many more marriages, lives? Any takers?

 
At 3/10/2010 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I appreciate the discussion here and would like to share a few thoughts. You don't have to agree with me - I only request that you hear me out:

1. I love the way Sudarshan Kriya (the AoL technique) makes me feel. I have personally found a lot of value in it, and that is why practice it regularly, and that is why I became an Art of Living teacher.

2. I also found a lot of useful, practical wisdom in the Art of Living course. Is it common sense? Yes, and I think that’s great… personally I’m not looking for anything esoteric or mystical. For me the course is full of helpful reminders that I can use in my regular life.

But I don’t think anyone here has a major issue with a technique that makes people feel good and a few insights to help people not sweat the small stuff. It’s the culture of the organization that some of you are concerned about.

Organizations are made up of human beings, and you will find imperfections in any group of people – whether it is a company, a government, a religion, or even a book group. You will find people you agree with and people you don’t agree with, people that you like and people that you don’t like.

It’s up to each person to decide for themselves whether the value they find outweighs the imperfections, or not, and choose to participate or not participate accordingly.

I have been an Art of Living teacher for over a decade. (I also have a full-time job, a wonderful husband, lots of other interests, an extended family that I’m very close to, and close friends both involved and not involved in AoL). There are AoL teachers whose approach resonates with me, and some whose approach doesn’t resonate with me. And I’m fine with that. I know what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. For me this doesn’t detract from the beauty of the technique and the wisdom. Over the years I have learned to discriminate – to participate in the things that I feel will benefit my life, and to respectfully sit out from the rest.

We are all adults, and we have to take responsibility for ourselves and for our choices.

 
At 3/17/2010 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really love discussion here and how the author uncovered the truth behind AOL.

Here are some of my thoughts on AOL and spirituality.

1. To converse with GOD you don't need middleman like SSRS. God is omnipresent and you just have to see it. Just imagine how has he combined hydrogen and oxygen to make H2O (water).

2. To ask money (Dakshina in SSRS's terms) is not at all the way for spiritual preaching. Dakshina's meaning is gift what student gives to the teacher because of his/her love and gratitude towards the teacher for his teaching. There is an inauguration of new AOL center in Los angeles and Discounted Dakshina for attending is astronomical $1100 for early birds and regular dakshina is $1500 :). If you do AOL basic course in US you have to pay huge $350 as again 'Dakshina' :)

3. I do agree that Sudarshan kriya helps in mind control, but there are other better ancient techniques like Yoga etc to achieve same objective. Even sudarshan kriya is kind of derived from Kriya yoga followed by saints from ages. I know of a person who was preaching another version of Kriya yoga, SUED by AOL for copying sudarshan kriya :) First of all it is they who copied Sudarshan kriya from kriya yoga. :)

Just go with flow of life and love everyone. For mental peace do some yoga or sudarshan kriya if you think it helps.

Don't fall in traps of any yogi / sadhus :)

Ending on funny note:

You heard of many cases recently which exposed how sadhu babas really are. ( Eg. Nityananda's :) A Tharki sadhu LOL )

 
At 6/12/2010 6:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear all,

I am from Art of Living attended basic course in 2000 and advanace in 2002. Attended 100s of courdes in art of living infact pulled plenty of people and made them to join AOL. Since last 10 years I am associated with AOL and live in Bangalore. My notes are

1. Plenty of Great sages came to thsi earth like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Osho etc... and each own have contributed for the enrichment of individual and society

2. Same case here also as per my understnading.

3. If you look at each oen of them Jesus, Krishna, Osho, Buddha, we only know good part of them, even they had little bad face which over the periods we have forgotten or ignored

4.Even in AOL lot of nbad things and practices are there

5. It is a commercial Organisation which running business in the name of spirituality

6. Funds are flowing to family memebers to ceate wealth and other uses.

7. People become blind and follow blindly thsi is all the World.

8. Even Ravishankar ha slot of weekness for fame, name, for Noble award, for money and so on.

9. He is also human being who can make all mistakes.

Hence look him as one more human being and anything good if anyone feel just pick it and move forward.

Just donot stick to him as you will loose your identity and will becoem idle worshipper blindly

We are all same and equal and can talk to God . Once you understnad basics of nature, you will start lauging at these guys, as you and nature inseperable and nature is God in the process we are all part of God.

Only we need to uncover this ..

Donot give too much importance to AOL or SRI SRI, you will loose your identity, just go through it like travelling in Plane. Get down from it.

In case if anything good, intersting, helpful just pichk it if not forget it.

Plane is not you , and there are 10000 varieties of planes avialble. you can travel in any plane.

You need to only use it to help you to travel to heights i.e INNER GROWTH.

If you attach to it , GROWTH just stopps and all you will become SLAVES.


Good luck to all..

 
At 7/31/2010 11:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am posting because my brother is involved in AOL and my family and I see it as a cult. I’ve taken two of their courses, neither of which I felt were worth the $400 price tag. When asking my brother why this course costs so much he says that the cost of renting a venue for 4-5 days warrants such a high price tag. When I ask why sudarshan kriya is not then taught in a shorter time period which eliminates the need for an expensive venue for 4 days (and thus the cost), he tells me that it is so that those attending have time to be imparted with knowledge etc. Both courses I took were useful in teaching the kriya technique, but I felt the rest of the days and days of rhetoric and talk about self-discovery are useless for anyone with an ounce of self-awareness. When Sri Sri came to my city recently to speak at a cost of $30 per head, I declined my brother’s invitation to attend. He said people really missed out and that unfortunately the venue was only half full. I asked him why must individuals pay $30 to hear a ‘guru’ speak. Again, the answer was about the cost of housing Sri Sri, and the venue and transportation, etc. However, I do not know of other spiritual leaders who charge a fee to share their knowledge. My brother has spent the last several years revolving his life around the organization and giving all of his free time to AOL, and all of his money to their retreats. Most recently, he has attended a ‘Blessings’ course in which he says he is learning to give blessings on Sri Sri’s behalf. I probed into this to find out what it meant and he said it is giving blessings (again, vague) to people who request them when Sri Sri is not there to do so directly. This implies that those attending believe that 1. Sri Sri has the ability to bless people in some way and 2. that he has bestowed some approval for others to provide said blessings to others when he is not around and 3. Somehow there is a cost associated with being given this privilege. I’ll stop there. You get the idea. I just don’t buy into it.

 
At 9/19/2010 10:24 AM, Anonymous English Post said...

I have just left an Art of Living Part I course in London, England. I left early because I was not comfortable with it. Most of your posts confirm my discomfort. I recognise the three sorts of listening and they all have their place but I couldn't suspend my intellect in relation to the very trite and superficial thinking being peddled to us about responsibility, happiness, kindness to others, ego etc. I was also very suspicious about the reasons given for not simply providing the CD to us to help our practice rather then trek to London or another centre to do more classes.

To all the challenges and questions put by the class members, the teachers had no adequate answer. They simply didn't know and made very feeble responses which didn't make sense or showed very shallow thinking. In addition, the yoga was very strange and not at all satisfying or uplifting.

For two evenings and one day I largely suppressed my objections, not wanting to spoil the course for others but it got too much. I left half way through the final day when one of the teachers got on to the scientific justification for the approach. No claims about cures for AIDS or anything ridiculous but an intellectual and scientific sloppiness which finally did for me. The assurances that we all had to stay for the whole course finally ran out of persuasiveness and I announced my departure. I began to notice the course was feeling "cultish".

The teachers didn't object very much when I left. I wondered whether they were glad to be rid of my gradually increasing argumentativeness. Certainly I was glad to be free of the classes - I felt immediately better when I had made the decision to go. I don't doubt the benefits of the breathing techniques but there are other - and better - sources. I hope to find yoga classes which extend into meditation.

 
At 2/19/2011 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep ,just finished the course too. Some things were commonsense e.g. re respect for self etc and some things were "cultish". We were shown a few clips of the guru without any introduction-that was quite sneaky. The obsequiousness that followed AOLs regard for this guru was cringeworthy. We were told that it was not a religion yet God was continuously mentioned. We were told we were made of "love"-excuse me but on what basis?? We were told by a "teacher in training" that we should bring our friends but not to attempt to teach them ourselves as we were not teachers-KERCHING! KERCHING! KERCHING! That was so painful to watch her conniving little mind go tick tick tick-the transparency of her little "plan" was embarrassing. I played dumb and politely nodded my head-doh, doh, doh. The first question I was asked when I walked into the room by another "teacher in training" was what animals I liked and without any further ado she went on to "explain" what kind of person I was based on the fact I said "DOGs", and cats (she completely left out the fact I also said "gibbons" ,"piranas" and "scorpions".) Excuse me I am forty years old-I think I know myself by now-the cringing began and I should have left at that point. She told me when she hardly knew me that I was a "beautiful" person-for all she knew I was a serial killer...

 
At 4/04/2013 5:02 PM, Anonymous subduedjoy said...

I have a friend who is immersed in AoL who gets manipulated easily. When I tried to warn her about manipulative people, she got made at me, said mean things to me, and told me not to contact her. I feel hurt...

 

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