Wednesday, June 11, 2008

When The Stink Just Stunk

File under: Gurubusting, Satscams and The Siddhi of PR

Another former AoL teacher comes forward with some miracle-mongering that failed:
As an AoL teacher, I was told how [Sudarshan Kriya] can cure cancer. So, one time a participant with cancer came to take my course. I contacted the ashram and was given many instructions. That this participant should do SK seperately, not with the rest of the class. That fresh flowers and a bowl of water and SRISRI's picture (all this would absorb the cancer vibrations) should be placed near him while he's doing SK and the teacher (me) should not remain in the room after the SK cassette has been switched on (because the teacher could get the cancer). The ashram also told me that many patients had been cured of cancer. But my student died. When I questioned the ashram, they did not have a logical reply, saying it was the destiny of that man.
It's the fail-safe clause of all miracle-mongering: when it works, it was "Guruji's" grace; when it fails, it was destiny, or the patient's sins. Over here we call that The Secret, the primary engine of ignorance that keeps so many New Age™ gurus' coffers full. Ignorance dressed up as spiritual truth is the only product that we can see produced at AoL.

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22 Comments:

At 6/12/2008 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an Aol teacher myself and can surely say that (atleast in the US) we are taught to be more careful in claiming such things which are not yet verified medically. Sri Sri himself asks the teachers and volunteers to consult medical advice first and only use Kriya as an additional treatment. And the fact that ultimately we do not really know how it works is not hidden, neither from the participants nor from the teachers. Some people in the organisation who perhaps lack the scientific training or are too much in "devotion" do sometimes go overboard, but it is contrary to what Sri Sri advises-"take medical advise". In case this person who has posted it is a genuine teacher ( I mean you can even doubt my identity-this is internet-anyone can claim to be anything-ultimately it is what you want to believe you will believe) I invite them to refute this claim that Sri Sri respects modern medical advice also.
I am writing this because my own mother had ovarian fibroid, and she had never taken a course and is very spiritual and she decided that by doing kriya and meditation it will be all right, and her faith did heal her, probably placebo effect, but you have to find the placebo that works for you. Somehow she respected Sri Sri more than the local pujari-whats your problem wiht that? Some people have faith in your fplacebo and take your word as the word of god just because you repeatedly re-iterate it and aare actively pursuing it-it is thir belief-it works for them and that is fine too-
If you google placebo effect you will find it is an active field of research that has gained respectability as a research field in the western medicine in the last few years and it is extremely hard to experiment owing to ethical issues. Nothing wrong in a technique which blossoms when honored-true with anything in life, as Patanjali says- "sa tu deegha kaala nairantaryam satkaara sevitaaabhyaaam" with "satkaara" honor any practice done will have the result-the questio is what works for whom. Some people can honor this, some peoplehonor doing rosary, some people honor tantric licentiousness-it is upto people to choose what placebo they want to attach their faith too, the fact still remains- faith has power and faith is distinct from superstition or miracle mongering and you cannot blame what a few people do out of their own decision as an institute's policy or operating principle.

sat

 
At 6/12/2008 12:26 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

In the book, Crack in the Cosmic Egg, by Joseph Chilton Pearce, the author asserts that all significant changes in thinking and consciousness have been initiated by people who were thought to be wrong to begin with. Our consciousness' can only expand through this kind of work, things must/will change. we don't know what consciousness is, we only know we are in it, and we influence it. I believe no one really knows how science and consciousness interact as of yet ,if they do. In the mean time many will exploit this cosmic loop hole. try to pretend they have "the Secret" It's kind of open season.
How to be thoroughly transparent and honest in this regard? you just have to say you don't know, or only refer to your own experience, no stories or incantations. While traditions are great and helpful, they can have their unbending aspects, this usually serves someone's , or some classes best interest, not consciousness.

 
At 6/12/2008 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear AOL teacher,

On the one hand I deeply appreciate the selfless dedicated service you are doing. Be it placebo effect, or grace, the techniques taugh from AOL does work for many people. On the other hand I simply cannot agree with the hype being created by the organization around the Guru and the techniques and the enormous amounts of money being charged on that basis. It is as if the organization talks of spirituality and then practises "baniyagiri" (the term used in india for the unscruplous business mindedness- trying to generate money out of all avenues). Isn't there a clear disconnect?

 
At 6/12/2008 8:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

very well put yomamma, I am reading a book called "The feeling of what happens" by a neurosurgeon that reports on the beginnings of the neuroscience attempt to investigate the difference between the sense of self and the mind and the emotions, and he very interestingly defines consciousness as the ability to be aware of the feeling, a precept Buddha taught by practice years ago and that is also a part of Sri Sri's advance course teaching among others. We need all forms of research and i totally agree with you that "you just have to say you don't know, or only refer to your own experience, no stories or incantations." cause the nature of human communication on the whole tends to distort stories of other people's experiences and their original intent to a degree that causes them to lose their purpose.
But would you not agree that blogs of this kind are also a kind of story of a story and when done with venom can cause a significant deal of distress to a lot of people even if the intent of the author maybe to expose the exposable? Is it not possible that the baby goes out with the bath water?
sat

 
At 6/14/2008 9:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,
Fortunately there are people of all kinds in the world, and hence there are volunteers of all kinds. Art of Living is not (atleast so far) too
Strict an organisation, the philosophy is if you like the motto, by all means you can be the boss to take it up and promote it. So people use what they know...which for some happens to be baniyagiri which loosely translates to salesmanship owing to it being one of the common professions.

In business the attitude is to give less and to take more. In spirituality, the attitude is to give away something of enormous value while taking just a little.
If you have experienced the course you would probably know that by the end of it people routinely say that the money is not even a hundredth of the transformation it brings about. THe barriers between kids and parents dissolve, families reunite, there is so much more joy in life, the value of which is beyond money. Society values ipod more than peace of mind and knowledge then ofcourse it looks like "baniagiri" that the course of art of living should cost around the same as an ipod! But such people have no idea of what is the
value of knowledge, what is the worth of inner freedom, what is the value of peace of mind. perhaps they have not yet experienced the need of it, and maybe should not even bother-they may not even understand the ideas and the wisdom in that case. Those who do understand know its worth and do not complain. I myself did not have money for the courses. I waited and saved and utilised my resources to come up with more creative income sources to be able to do the course. The process empowered me and brought a confidence and added to my self-worth. Now I know that if i want something, money cannot stop me, i will go find a way to get it!
It also made me value the courses more, as the tendency in me and my peers was to take the free things for granted-heck we even took our college classes and professors ( which were almost free in financial terms) for granted while paid more attention to the tutors because of having paid real money to learn.
So if this idea of money can stop someone from taking the course, they perhaps need to ask if they trust whoever is telling them about it since if they really want to learn they will find the way and if they have a real problem, a fraction of the participants are routinely given full scholarship even by the guidelines of the organisation, which should be on economic need basis only.

And also another misconception people carry is Art of Living is about Sudarshan kriya-but that some other time...

 
At 6/14/2008 10:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The post responding to anonymous was to be signed by me
sat

 
At 6/15/2008 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guru Ravi Shankar believes that all his followers attain moksha when they die. Recently, we lost a relative, who was a sincere follower. Guru Ravi Shankar called up the family to pay his condolences and told children of the departed man that through his inner vision, he (Guru) could see that the departed man had attained moksha!! Now, this belief gives the bereaved family some comfort, but is this not manupalation?

 
At 6/16/2008 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anon,
The best i can say is that Sri Sri has repatedly taught that enlightenment or "moksha" is not an attainment, it is simply acknowledgement, simple recognition of what is. The best I can believe is that he may have consoled the family and said that the person departed is doing fine on the other side. Now I myself do not know anything about this life after death business but that does not mean I assume it is all baloney or that Sri Sri is just saying things-a honest scientist never negates possibilities without thorough testing. It is better to be open and humble than to be arrogant and closed, as the latter never leads to learning or wisdom the easy way. Whether he is right or not-you use your common sense in things he says about life and if it helps you take it and move, if not then drop it and move-it is foolish to waste our mind and energy on criticising someone doing something good in the society instead of doing something good yourself, and you very well know that, isnt it?

sat

 
At 6/16/2008 9:17 AM, Anonymous Betty said...

"is this not manupalation?"

Yes of course it is. By saying this, little Ravi gets to appear that he cares because he made a 60 second phone call. Second he gets to appear all knowing and powerful and most importantly, he has hopes that the family will continue to give large sums of money because of his benevolence and great power. What a skunk!

 
At 6/16/2008 8:02 PM, Blogger yomamma said...

But would you not agree that blogs of this kind are also a kind of story of a story and when done with venom can cause a significant deal of distress to a lot of people even if the intent of the author maybe to expose the exposable?

Anyone with SSRS's public profile has his critics , I'm sure he recognizes and accepts that. If you want less of it, try a less famous Guru.
Yes there may be some venom , but it's better to have a forum for this stuff then not, blogs are places where people can use strong language , argue, state their opinion, it's not an ashram or an AOL class. Jody is a social critic, and he has a very definite stance, it's not for everyone but i think it's ok for him to have it. If it ain't your cup of tea there are many less offensive (for some ) things you can look at on the internet, and there's a lot that is worse!

 
At 6/17/2008 11:27 AM, Anonymous S. said...

"Guru Ravi Shankar believes that all his followers attain moksha when they die"

This is gross misrepresentation. You are taking a private conversation (btw. which cannot be corroborated ) out of context, and giving your own interpretation.

Btw...he has stated in many interviews ..he feels "enlightenment" is one's very nature, so everyone is enlightened.

See:
http://www.sawf.org/newedit/edit11182002/aol.as

 
At 6/17/2008 11:52 AM, Blogger jody said...

he feels "enlightenment" is one's very nature, so everyone is enlightened.

This is called paying lip service to the truth of Vedanta while surfing on the superstition of Hinduism. Sri Sri is banking on people taking him to be God more than they, and he knows this will be the case with anyone who is declared (or self-declares as) guru in India.

Unfortunately, he's wrong in this account of enlightenment. Everyone is NOT enlightened. Everyone lives in and by the light of the Atman – equally – whether or not they've come into the direct recognition of this ongoing truth. This means that realization or enlightenment doesn't add anything to a life that's not already present. However, that is different than saying that everyone is enlightened. But it's understandable why he would say that. It allows him to give the appearance of humility to repudiate his special status in person, all the while his AoL worker bees go spreading the lie of his divinity to those they are working hard to dupe into joining the cult.

 
At 6/20/2008 12:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

jody, I am amazed how you can just claim to "know" exactly how and what Sri Sri Ravi Shankar thinks, and why he does what he does.. whatever he does, it is wrong _in your eyes_. And all this, even without meeting the man!

The words you write are YOUR words. YOUR mind. Is your mind so pure, calm, relaxed, loving, that you can take a snap of everyone´s mind at any moment? (I don´t care about IF, but you act like you can, so I am intrigued..)

Can you, really, with all sincerity, claim to _know_ what other people think all the time and why they do as they do (or just gurus)?

Or if not, I believe an honest apology is in order for all the false words you are spreading which are on uncertain and shakey grounds.

I mean, come on! You encourage people to enquire into things (I assume themselves), but will not go into any experience YOUR SELF (AoL course), "because you already know whatever is to be derived from that experience" or somesuch intellectual bullshit, and you throw claims about other people´s minds when clearly you don´t even know your own mind!

I must also ask you, are you realizing enlightenment? If not, how can you come up with an argument that everyone is NOT en-lightened (living in the light of Atman as you correctly state - although these are just words/definitions, trying to impart a particular intellectual perspective on it - and such intellectual enquiry can be more of an obstacle, than helpful).

Or if you realize englightenment, why is your mind so totally engrossed in all these concepts and gross/superficial play in the so-callede "spiritual world" - taken ONLY on third person accounts of a few disgruntled persons with partial knowledge? All these news are more like a cheap tabloid, with cheezy sound-bites. I guess you´re trying to be funny, but here´s the thing: people find it bitter. You should think about that.. It´s not something leading to Truth, knowledge and upliftment / empowerment, which is what I would have expected from an realized enlightened (if anything´s to be expected).

I wonder how a realized person can spend so much time, zeal and energy, on "exposing" those who are bringing light to this world (gurus), and by whom millions of people have thousands of reason for gratitude.

How you portray Sri Sri Ravi Shankar stating that everyone is enlightened, as a means to appease his followers and gain something himself, is just another show of prejudice and bias in the mind against the man, instead of looking into the knowledge itself. Mind is totally lost in the mundane and gross play of the world. The realized, realizes this is the mind - and seek to make it more quiet.

I wonder how, on the one hand guru´s are supposed to be "evil" or "egoistical", when these people are not judging anyone like that themselves and provably doing ALOT of good! With the knowledge that everything you see is in your own mind, how to reconcile this.. If they are successful, they are false, and if they are small, they are humble.. This is not Vedanta knowledge, this is confusion and lack of awareness of the uniqueness of every human path. Ahstavakra imparted the Highest Truth to Janaka, which was a King and had all worldly wealth, yet lived, like dozens of other king in Vedanta, "an enlightened life".

I thank you for bringing a unique and fresh perspective on how intricate this mind is, and how difficult it is to arrest and control.. Maybe someone needs to expose abuse and have focus on such matters, but please see what are the effects of Your words, and wether it may be misleading people wrongly if it is not truly your experience.

 
At 6/20/2008 4:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To Anon,
This blog is not only reflecting Jodys mind - but a number of people all over the world. It is a fora for thoughts, arguments and opinions. How can Jody know Sri Sri's mind. Well he can't, neighter can he know George W. Bush's mind. But he can watch the fruit of their actions.

To have someone question or find fault with a big-time-guru, can be used to acid-test yourself. It is the mere belief some people seem to have, that a big-time-guru is flawless and perfect that stands the test here. Isn't it good?

Ramanakrishna talks about how a true masters will not add anything to the "burdens" that people already carry. That makes me think of Sri Sris words (was there, heard it): the importance of getting at least 5 people, better 10 into the Art of Living during that year.

WHY is this so important? Is he trying to make people come to the knowledge (as to save them) or is he simply responding to the demand of peoples yearning for knowledge.

People ARE looking for spiritual knowledge, but many will look elsewhere, since there are many good sources available. People are simply making choices for themselves.
- Om Tat Sat

 
At 6/20/2008 1:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adi Shankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharshi,The Padhinenn (18) Siddhars and so on predate sri sri and various other "godmen" of today. Just because plucky and free thinkers like us express our disenchantment/scepticism with ravishankars of the world who have the gall to " patent" Patanjali's Pranayama kriyas by subtle permutations and combinations does not immediately turn us into hedonists or atheists.

The worshippers of ravishankars and puttaparthi babas deflect by repeating " look at the social work,charities, water projects stress busting, prisoners becoming tutors overnight by doing sudarshan kriya...blahblah".

Jody is right.He is lusting for fame with mock humility.Why not practise what you sedulously preach and claim.Do more kriyas and continue to worship whoever you like.Do NOT ram down our throats your kriyas and gurujis with your ever growing clout spreading tentacles into schools and colleges covertly coercing children to ape you.

 
At 6/20/2008 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

ravishankars, ammachis and several "godmen" must be secretly loving disaters and so called materialism, hedonism whatever. How else would they become holier than thou and expand their empires?

sarcasm off/

 
At 6/21/2008 6:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, AOL / Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has NOT _patented_ Sudarshan Kriya, or any other technique. Please go look it up and do not spread this lie any further, it is trademarked, something Indians often wrongly call "patenting", but is a whole different set of laws, that have absolutely _nothing_ to do with patenting.

The term "Sudarshan Kriya" was come up by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, and is _trademarked_, just like TM (Trancendental Meditation), Nike and Coca Cola, because someone else was starting to misuse the term and threatening to trademark (aka, wrongly termed "patent") it themselves.

This shows the importance to be clear and concise in your speech, and providing ample references when you are making accusations.
Let this be a lesson to you.

FYI: Patents != Trademarks != Copyright. So the term "Intellectual Property" is indeed a term for lawyers, which is only used for spreading confusion and intimidation (by not being clear what is meant, and making an illusion of a "new" law of some sort, dealing with intangible property (the truth is that they don´t really know what they´re talking about!). Please enlighten everyone you meet on this, but have compassion: they are ignorant of this issue.

 
At 6/21/2008 7:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To anon and anon ;)

I didn´t talk about anyone else but Jody in my reply. It was a direct reply to his comment, where he clearly showed clairvoiant ability to "know" Sri Sri Ravi Shankar´s _intentions_.

The other anon, below the replies, also seems to secretly and covertly know a way to assert that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is lusting for fame, although I fail to see his references or how he can possibly distinguish this from his mission in life, which is to bring a smile to every person on this planet (which do require to sell the course 6 billion times).

To the other anon again, nobody is forcing YOU to to anything. But when so much lies, accusations and hate-speech is gathered in one site, I have to point out the fallacies in it, and in other comments, also show that it is far from the Vedantic (which seems to be a common ground for most of us) approach of equanimity, benefit of a doubt / open mind / speaking from one´s _experience_ (which may require some rephrasing, like _MY IMPRESSION_ IS THAT...., or I _MAY BE WRONG_, BUT I GET THE FEELING THAT...., OR I EXPERIENCED THAT.. Instead I see so much baloney-speech here, I feel the need to point out your hybris, as I believe you may misguide people to think you actually know what you´re talking about.

By the very least, I will show there _are_ other points of view. But when expressed, and I get attacked by Jody, once again by immature and prejudice, who says this is a "sales trick", and such nonsense, when what I am saying is from my own experience. Well, I have to point out that when you go _through_ your doubts in the mind, it goes beyond such gross 1-dimensional understanding. There are always many reasons for things to be as they are. There are also many traditions / gurus to choose from. So why continue bash on those you don´t like / don´t understand, and get on with life?

However, you are of course free to ignore ample and sound advice.

 
At 6/21/2008 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To the ever intimidating foot soldiers of aol:

I could not be less bothered about differences between trademark ,patent or more such obfuscatory verbiage.My contention is even without genuflecting to ravishankars, exclaiming JaiGurudevs or scattering around 'have a nice days', people like me and my ancestors have been able to smile and find solace/Shaanthi.Without doling out money and more money to access peace and more peace.

I have every right to freely express my opinions.Your disproportionate fulminations amuse me.More so when I find hard core killers and assassins of Indian Air Force Personnel, extortionists and henchmen of underworld dons being embraced and instantly metamorphosing into angels(sic).

We have no such track record.That our pertinent questions and doubts have an unsettling effect on you is so patently obvious.
Don't bother to pound away more verbiage. Instead scream havea niceday whatever and resume your mission of "putting smiles"

 
At 6/23/2008 5:54 PM, Anonymous taodancing said...

While proclaiming "Everyone is enlightened, all is God", the Godman avatard puts himself above others. I heard enough of this advaita doubletalk.

 
At 7/01/2008 12:13 AM, Anonymous IAM said...

Hey taodancing, did you have a bitter experience with Nithyananda? I know you mentioned following him. Just curious...

 
At 7/02/2008 1:39 PM, Anonymous niranjao said...

I am on my way to be an Art of Living teacher. When my father who has taken Art of Living course, faced a major heart surgery last year, I spoke to Sri Sri about it. He told me go and seek an expert opinion.In fact he referred me to his personal doctor who connected me to a top surgeon in Bangalore.
His only advice to me was to pray and have faith in divine.
The operation was sucessfull..

One comment about money. I live in US and most of people who take course here make about $4,000 - 8,000 monthly.I see absolutely no reason why they cannot or should not pay $300 for a course.
I took the course as a student, and when I didnt had money to pay for the course, I simply asked my teacher, who allowed me to take sereval course for free.Now that I work, i pay for it!

 

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