The AOL Trance Is Broken
You know in AOL, we used to have the habit of thanking people who introduced us to the ‘path’. I used to do that whole heartedly with gratitude. I was even doing this after 12 years into AOL.
For many years I served several Swamis, Rishis and women teachers. I know many of them very closely. They all know me very well too as a sincere devotee. For a ‘sincere knowledge seeker’ a Swami or Rishi was the ultimate exemplar of a devotee (sadly, there are no titles for women in AOL). But the reality was something else. The highest thing to be achieved in AOL was to become a Trustee.
I was in blissful ignorance about the organization, just focusing on seva, satsang, sadhana, etc. The first time I was hit with a brick in the head was about five years back. I saw right in front of me, people responsible for a particular trust openly discuss how to fudge the numbers and hide things from the auditor. The scale of what they were doing was big. From their discussion, I also came to know that not only SSRS was fully aware of these, he has instructed that it was OK to do so as it was for a good cause. The meeting went on for a while and I vividly remember how I felt during that meeting – disbelief, confusion, self-doubt, betrayal. The few other inner-circle volunteers for this trust who were in that meeting all distanced themselves from these trustees (and even AOL) by giving various excuses. But I stayed and tried to ignore these and just focus on self-knowledge.
From then on, I started observing closely and after many years I am fully convinced that AOL is front-end name for a group of fraudulent NGOs. My lawyer tells me that what they are doing amounts to large-scale organized fraud according to the laws of several countries. The most important ‘knowledge point’ that AOL practices is Fake It Till You Make It. This cancer has been introduced into many activities by SSRS himself.
Then I saw the way APEX bodies were given collection targets during the AOL 25 year silver jubilee. How good-intentioned volunteers were working hard to sell every inch of space for advertisers in the many local events during the 25 year.
The inner-circle of so called Swamis and Rishis openly talk about the various trusts as a profitable trust or a loss making trust. The trust established for monetizing Poojas is by the way one among the many profitable trusts – Navratri alone is conducted in more than 26 locations using a franchisee model. Cities covered as part of this are added or dropped depending on their profitability. The local APEX body suckers are told, Ashram will not send Swamis for Navaratri to some cities as the volunteers did not do a good job of organizing last time – which means that the profits were not as expected. I have also had the misfortune of having first hand listened to conversations between Swamis like “how was the collection in your city?”.
The internal collection target that has been set for the SS University in Orissa is a staggering Rupees 5000 crores – more than one billion dollars. They are already in touch with people who specialize in lobbying with governments for funds. How much does it take to run Stanford, Harvard and CMU put together?
I could tell you several dozen personal experiences like this. But enough of this shit. It is repulsive to recollect these.
Having come across one after another of these damn experiences over years, I was thoroughly disgusted, totally drained out. I had no where to go. No one to look up to. I was only blaming myself for having spent so long in this organization. I was disgusted with myself that I took so long to see through their fraud. I had lost confidence in my abilities.
Fortunately for me, other things happened in my life that started helping me to recover from AOL. It took a long time, but I now lead a simple and contented life without AOL. I don’t even remotely feel like doing Sadhana. I am allergic to Bhajans, especially AOL ones. Those are just two of the many slow poisoning drugs that keep trapped people in AOL. But I have not lost my wonder at the mysteries of the world. I look up at the stars in the skies and wonder who we are. I wonder at the innumerable body and mind functions that happen within us and wonder how beautiful it is that they happen the way they do. That’s how I was before AOL!
But what worries me is the number of people still trapped in AOL trance. Many of my close friends and some family members are there. Many of them got introduced to this shit through me. Now I no longer recommend AOL to anyone. In fact, I go out of my way to protect people I know from falling into this sewage.
I care a damn about whether AOL’s fraud gets exposed or not. All I care is for a bunch of people who I unwittingly brought into this.
To go back to what I started writing… Sometime back a person who I brought to AOL called and thanked me. She told with much gratefulness that she is an AOL teacher now. I felt deeply guilty – like I had committed some terrible crime – and sincerely apologized for having introduced her to AOL. Then I called the person who introduced me to AOL and told what I did. Now I only have sympathy for this sincere person, not gratitude.
To AOL inner circle people:
Do you recollect how SSRS used to say that a scam is about to be deliberately engineered by the divine in order to test the strengths of sincere devotees? And that many people will go away from the path. And only the most devoted would remain. I used to sincerely believe this crap and used to pray that I should be one of those whose faith should remain unshaken, no matter what. Now I laugh at my foolishness!