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Oh Yes, Time Will Tell

May 25, 2010

On our Indian counter-blog you can read the following post. I have interspersed some comments, to which I hope to get some replies. Finally, some good old-fashioned arguments!

Time will tell
I strongly believe that a sign of a matured mind is to have a balanced and a universal perspective towards everything that one comes across in life.
Yes… No argument there.

As a movement gains enormous popularity it is but natural that it attracts criticism.
Still no argument. I completely agree.

According to me it does not take even a fair amount of creativity to put down something.
So true! No argument there!

We live in a world where the embodiment of love was crucified and even the lives of the greatest scientists were not spared because they spoke the truth.
Yes. 2000 years ago, Jesus was persecuted by religious zealots, because He dared to criticize the establishment. And people of faith have always fought and killed scientists, and free thinkers. Still no argument!

There is no denying the fact that the Art of Living has been tremendously successful in bringing about a great transformation in the lives of millions of people from all over the world.
Millions? Really? Great transformation? You could  say the same thing about Oprah or Dr. Phil. When giving statements like that, you have to come up with some proof to back them up. Anything else would be very unscientific. And please define Great Transformation.

I have myself met many people who have completely given up addictions like smoking, drinking, drugs just a few days after taking up the first Art of Living course, and will shortly be putting up their testimonials on this blog.
I too have met many people who have quit drugs, alcohol and smoking… all by themselves, without any yoga, breathing, meditation or Guru’s Grace. Point being: if you knew anything about science, you would know that you can’t deduct anything from testimonials. You need proper research. We still need to see that. Even the research presented on www.aolresearch.org is substandard and biased. Find a non-AOL scientist to evaluate it, if you don’t belive me.

How can anybody just discard all these experiences as delusional or false or a marketing gimmick? The stories of transformation are no doubt real and irrefutable.
So are the stories of spiritual abuse. I am not saying that some people don’t have good experiences. You, on the other hand, do not seem to acknowledge the fact that quite a lot of people have had extremely traumatic experiences in AOL.

On the other hand most of the critical observation some people have made seems to be overtly exaggerated, the stories seem to be made up just to sound scandalous and there does not seem to be any mention of any of the positive aspects of Art of Living or Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
How come you don’t hear any mention of any of the negative aspects of Ravi Shankar, in the organisation? Oh, I am sorry, I forgot: because he is infallible, and therefore beyond criticism.

Such one sided, evidence less, biased observations seem to be unreal to a rational mind.
Unless we tell our story, your observations will be one sided and biased. In fact, almost unreal to a rational mind. Maybe if we had been allowed to voice our concerns in the organisation, we wouldn’t have to do it here.

One thing that creates problems for the Art of Living as an organization is that it seems to be quite loosely structured.
In my opinion, what creates problems for AOL is its hierarchial structure, with one person in complete power and no accountability.

There are no fixed criteria for a person to be a representative of Art of Living as a volunteer.
Except blind faith in the Guru and complete surrender of your free will, especially if you want to teach the course.

There is hardly any specific hierarchy amongst the teachers and as human beings come together and work together especially in such a framework errors are bound to happen.
There is a lot of hierarchy amongst teachers. I know. I was one. There is also a lot of bad management in AOL, incompetent people put in charge by Ravi Shankar himself. No wonder errors happen in abundance.

As Sri Sri has been known to quote on occasion the event (that was being organized) was mesmerizing but behind the scenes things were a mess.
I certainly agree to the mess behind the scenes. Any other organisation would have fired the CEO responsible for such incompetence. As to the mesmerization, that is quite often AOL whishful thinking. Some people are touched, a lot are left untouched and even put off by the stiff smiles and hidden agendas. Many people leave the guru’s public talks bored and disappointed. Silver Jubilee celebrations, the event of the century, was a nightmare of dis-organisation, boring, embarrasing, and completely lacking any spritual depth.

It has been 29 years and Art of Living is moving from strength to strength.
And using up innocent people on the way.

Totally undeterred, it is making its own way through various obstacles.
Yes, that is what we were, once we started voicing our concerns about where the guru’s authoritarian powerwielding would take us -obstacles. Listen up: We may not be so easy to move.

Ultimately only Time will tell how genuine this movement is and how long it lasts.
It is so nice, to end this with another agreement. Oh yes, J. Time will definitely tell!

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11 Comments
  1. KLIM permalink
    May 25, 2010 7:25 pm

    Unbelievable. Sometimes I wonder how brain-washed these people are. No hierarchy in the AoL? This is just as serious as saying there are no politics in the AoL, no chaos, no lying, no abuse. And of course, using Jesus Christ argument to defend their Lord Almighty. Jesus also was defamed. Poor Ravi.
    “Time will tell” – YES, TIME ALREADY TOLD. WE CHOSE TO HEAR. WE HEARD.

  2. KLIM permalink
    May 25, 2010 7:36 pm

    And J, BTW, not all that is good prevails, and not all that is bad falls.

  3. Krish permalink
    May 25, 2010 7:40 pm

    So what exactly is the hierarchy within AOL? Is it something like

    volunteer->teacher->senior-teacher->fulltime-teacher->rishi/swami->RS

    or are there other levels in between?

  4. Rain permalink
    May 25, 2010 7:52 pm

    I do not buy the “as a movement gains enormous popularity it is but natural that it attracts criticism” argument. Maybe to a degree. I think when a lot of people start calling an organization a cult and saying it’s abusive, it probably is. I say this with experience. I’ve lived it. I could see it in AoL instantly. I felt the cult sickness in the teachers and group members, so looked online to see if anyone else had that experience. And guess what? LOTS of others expressed the same experiences. I mean come on, that many people? All stories right from Cult handbook 101? Really?

    No hierarchy among teachers? Is that a joke? Man, from what I’ve seen, everyone is trying to be the purest and closest to the god, RS.
    And he is the ultimate authority. Again, personality-wise, RS is right out of Cult handbook 101. We can’t eat meat, have to do SK every day to be so pure to have Guru’s grace blah blah blah. Sickness.

    People may be being helped by some yoga techniques. But what I saw was people being fanatical about the practice. They seemed kind of lost and brainwashed to repeat how great it all was and how much better than other forms of yoga.

    “I strongly believe that a sign of a matured mind is to have a balanced and a universal perspective towards everything that one comes across in life.”
    Yeah, sure. But, I believe just as strongly in Truth and speaking the truth even when it’s difficult. For me, the truth of AoL was unfortunately that it is a false path with a false guru. It’s been difficult to speak about that and lose friends but I know in my heart that I have to live in the truth. When AoL starts walking the talk, I will be more than happy to discuss the good points. I am always happy to speak positively about teachers and organizations and in fact have rarely ever uttered so much as a negative word about other yoga teachers or schools. But I think AoL is brainwashing and harming people and I will speak that truth. If it’s negative, well, so be it.

    I sincerely wish all those involved in AoL a good and peaceful life. Even those who may disagree with me and think it an upstanding organization.

  5. CBI Raid permalink
    May 26, 2010 3:06 am

    Krish @

    In terms of the hierarchy, there is a inner circle /league where the most gullible (brainwashed couples and individuals) snoop and pass info on people and act as fronts to the real manipulators like Bhanu DD. These individuals tend to appear on all AOL major events and do not the pay the registration, course and entry fees.The real meaning of seva has been denigrated in AOL.
    AOL seva volunteer is being a foot soldier for the global money laundering scheme.These low level AOL idiots have been made to misunderstand self respect,ego, being another fools perfect instrument into doing activities in the name of seva. This is spirituality misplaced and displaced.
    AOL volunteers need to learn from people like KLIM from losing valuable time in their life.
    AOL = BONDAGE

  6. The Philalethist permalink
    May 26, 2010 8:44 am

    Whats wrong with these people ( J and Co.) ??
    Creating a counter blog itself shows that they want to justify, prove or highlight something…
    I mean if all the experiences shared here are cooked up stories then does AOL n RS need to even waste half a breath on it…
    Y dont they use their time saving the world instead of reading this blog.

    What sort of proof is this J. asking for. Does he mean we should all have a video audio recording of our times in AOL, with RS or all those cheap men in AOL.
    ha ha.. so when you join AOL then apart from buying white clothes remember to buy a handy cam for yourself..you never know when you might need a proof.
    I mentioned in my post I do have a hard copy of something that can prove what happened to me is not just a story of a relation broken or cheating..Do you want me to circulate those papers here and expose their names, their history, geography, background etc etc..
    Come on … you really think everyone here on this blog has nothing better to do but to cook fake stories and talk about one’s physical emotional mental social financial and spiritual exploitations with so much of pain and conviction.
    GOD BLESS ALL

  7. Soulschock permalink
    May 26, 2010 5:05 pm

    ha ha, that is a funny blogpost mr. Skywalker. The weird thing is that when one has left the aol, one realize that in reality is an incredible small organisation, it has not strengths and no accomplishments. All marketing and brainwash.
    And for people being transformed, anybody who have been close to aol knows that it is full of people who try to deal with very serious problems without getting the proper help and there for, more often than not, end up hurting the people around them.
    The stories one could tell… oh wait a second, people have already started telling them!

  8. anon permalink
    May 26, 2010 10:36 pm

    Philatelist,

    > “I mentioned in my post I do have a hard copy of something that can
    > prove what happened to me is not just a story of a relation broken or
    > cheating..Do you want me to circulate those papers here and expose
    > their names, their history, geography, background etc etc..”

    It would be nice to see this if you can hide your identity and do it.

    • Anonymous permalink
      May 27, 2010 10:24 am

      @anon –
      I’m sure everyone love some spicy breaking news..but I guess you understand the sensitivity of the issue , putting the evidence here is not the best thing to do for a girl in India. Only if it gets her some justice does it mean anything.

    • ex teacher permalink
      May 28, 2010 10:56 am

      YOU MAY DO IT WITHOUT DISCLOSING THE NAME OF GIRL

  9. UnMad permalink
    June 1, 2010 7:23 pm

    I attended AOL Introduction course 6 months back. Except for the technique (their claim that it is RS’s invention demotivates one from practicing it afterwards) everything else you see contradicts what they say and everything you hear during the course is incoherent, random thoughts of random people accumated and documented over a few decades. Their ashram / satsang are the best subjects to study herd mentality and fanaticism.

    A couple of brave ones in my batch spoke up. The instructor who was teaching on how to be equanimous by accepting everything as it is was provoked into an heated agrument and was proved the futility of his teachings by one of the students.

    AOL now has real-estate to facilitate people living in proximity of the ashram and thus be continously remain in their brain-washed state forever.

    And RS who talks in pages on promoting peace and tolerance came up with this most absurd argument which is logically appealing only to a common man in M.F.Hussain’s self-exile. Who want his judgement and opinion but for his followers who lack independent thoughts and opinions?

    AOL followers need to seriously get a life!

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