A Beacon of Reason
After leaving The Art of Living some years ago, I came to realize that quite a large number of people report that they have been damaged by their time in AOL. The majority of these people are former teachers in the organisation, the rest likewise involved on a deeper level than people who just do the part 1 and 2 courses, and hang out at satsang.
In my area alone, half of the teachers -most of them “senior” teachers with lots of experience- left within one year. Some were just disillusioned. Others were broken-down husks, their self-esteem and self-confidence shattered by what they reported as abuse by AOL and in particular Ravi Shankar.
My own experience is very similar to those of many of the other teachers and organisers who have left AOL: I feel abused, cheated, spiritually raped. I did recover. Today I live a good life, I have a job, family, friends and interests. The feeling of being wronged is no longer dominant. I have Let Go, and Moved On -almost, that is. I still feel a tint of anger when I think of Ravi Shankar, the same way as when I think of Nithyananda, Sai Baba, Preem Rawat, rev. Moon or any other of the Bad Gurus out there. Gurus who claim enlightenment, and end up not being able to walk their own walk. Gurus who claim to be motivated by love and compassion, but repeatedly demonstrate the opposite, to even their closest followers.
So yes, righteous anger is one reason why I start this blog. The other is concern. Concern for the people of AOL. It seems to me that not all people are sucked into the cult, that somehow someone are able to keep their intellect and discrimination intact. The ones who do get brainwashed, however, have nowhere to go for support and help, once their inner conflict compels them to leave aol. They certainly do risk permanent damage, if they don’t receive counselling of some sort. Those are the people I write to, and you can do the same. They need to hear our stories, our proces of deprogramming, our inner conflicts then and now, to recognize the fact that they are normal, that it is ok to feel and think the way they do, that life is not over post-aol.
Klim’s blog Confessions of a Guruholic is one such space for healing, for people recovering from AOL. This blog is to keep up the good work started by Klim. I am thinking that it should be a space for debate and critical thinking. I still hope it can be done in a tone of mutual respect, though. And that goes for both parties: speak from the heart, be true. And please refrain from mud-slinging and baseless accusations. Otherwise, the word is all yours!