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Can We Help To Save The Art of Living?

September 2, 2010

By The Doctor

I want to start by saying that Art of Living has completely transformed my life. Since being taught Sudarshan Kriya, which I have found to be an incredibly powerful healing technique, and through taking various Advanced Courses, my health and general well-being have improved beyond all recognition from what they were before I discovered AoL. My relationships with my family and friends are now much deeper, as I am much happier, more alive and less egotistical than I have ever been before. I also feel a tremendous sense of belonging with everyone in the world, and a burning desire to spread joy and make everyone feel happy. I am very grateful to AoL for the wonderful changes it has made to my life. For this reason, I am very much pro AoL, or at least, I am pro all the good things I have had gained from AoL, and also pro whatever good things it is doing for people around the world.

So you can imagine how shocked I was when I accidentally stumbled upon these so-called “negative” blogs recently. Initially I was convinced that these were just hate blogs written by extremists pretending to be ex-AoL teachers, and unsurprisingly there is a lot of hatred and negativity contained within. I nearly gave up reading them, but due both to my curiosity and a strong desire to expose them as fraud’s, I persevered.

Given all the good things that I had received from AoL, I desperately wanted these bloggers to be proven wrong. But the more I read, the more I realised that I myself had experienced a great many of the things detailed within them to one extent or another. Things which by themselves seemed like small things at the time, but when looked at holistically they actually paint a rather dark picture of AoL.

Further to this, each time someone from AoL made any attempt to speak out against these blogs, they inadvertently ended up validating a great many things written within them. Worse still, when Swamiji Sadyojatha made his recent attack, which is clearly what it was, he showed me a whole different side to AoL which I never would have believed could ever exist in such an organisation had I not seen it with my own eyes. In doing this, he actually validated a great many things that were expressed in KLIM’s blog which I had until that point found difficult to accept.

I was really sickened by his remarks, and further I felt really saddened and disturbed by the many responses posted by AoL devotees, which were essentially praising him for attacking a woman who allegedly has a mental disorder and making her out to be a villain. It is obvious to anyone viewing these remarks objectively that this is completely out of order, especially coming from a representative of a purported spiritual organisation.

Now that I have gone through the entirety of these blogs and also all the arguments written against them, I am utterly convinced there is a large amount of truth contained within them, and that the many authors posting CRITICAL comments about AoL are sincere people who have had genuine experiences and want to make the world aware of these. And I am grateful to them for having opened up my eyes to these things.

So, on the one hand, I believe AoL has done a lot of good in the world, and that the world is a better place as a result of these things. On the other hand, there are a lot of things which AoL have done which are just unacceptable and which really need to be addressed.

The burning question that has been on my mind for some time now is: what should I now do as a result of discovering these blogs, given both my position on AoL and on these blogs?

At various times I thought about sending the links to these blogs to everyone I know in AoL, telling them how I feel about it but ultimately letting them decide for themselves. I also thought about posting my own experiences on these blogs to add strength to the things these bloggers have been saying. Both these things may yet happen, however part of me feels a desire to try to make the whole situation better for everyone, if this is at all possible.

Right now, I know a great many people whose lives have been transformed by AoL, my own included, and as such I don’t want to see any good, innocent people hurt if this can be avoided. Before I discovered these blogs, I was very much in that starry-eyed stated of bliss you see in a lot of devotees, as I was mostly ignorant of all these issues. They say ignorance is bliss, and I have never found this to be more true than I did then. But as I read through the blogs, I actually started to feel a lot of sadness and sorrow, and over time my reality completely changed and I suffered as a result. So many things I held to be true no longer seemed that way, and it wasn’t easy to accept this. I am over it now, but it took some time to heal. That state of bliss is no longer there, but I am no longer living in ignorance either, and this really is the most important thing for me.

This is actually one of the reasons why I haven’t circulated these blogs to everyone I know yet, because I don’t want to burst their bubbles and cause them to suffer as I did. Further there are many people I know who’s livelihoods depend on AoL, those full time teachers who draw a salary from AoL and who will most likely suffer more than anyone else should the organisation fall.

So I want to make a proposal, something which should help to ameliorate this situation, and this is aimed at those people in the Art of Living who are reading this and who can make a difference to the organisation. I know that at least BeaconOfReason will be reading this, and no doubt so too will other senior teachers, and most likely Sri Sri himself. Here is what I’d like to propose:

All attempts to counter these blogs have, so far so good, caused a great deal more damage to AoL than they have to the blogs and those writing them. All future attempts to discredit, defame and outright attack them, the authors, and any other former members of AoL will work against AoL, as has already happened in the past.

If you don’t believe me, let me tell you something about me. I am one such person who has been following these blogs for quite some time and who has seen everything that has been produced by both sides. Prior to discovering these blogs, Sri Sri himself told me to become a teacher, and I was well on my way to becoming one. All modesty to one side, I would have made an amazing teacher, and most people who knew me realised this, including Sri Sri himself. Now this will most likely never happen, and it’s all because of what I’ve read in these blogs and the numerous attempts to counter them. I am at least one person who has been saved by these blogs, and I’m sure there are many others now and there will be many others in the future who will follow.

It is obvious that these blogs are spreading across the internet like wild fire, and all attempts to silence them will ultimately fail. Painting them as “negative” and discouraging devotees from reading them is a really bad strategy since, although this may keep some people from reading them, a large number won’t be able to resist and as such will dive straight in like I did and come to similar conclusions as I did. You will be fighting a losing battle here.

Flooding the internet with blogs praising AoL can never silence the truth that is contained in these critical blogs either. Hey, I can even put up my own story about how AoL completely transformed my life and mean it sincerely, but it isn’t going to change a thing that these bloggers have written. These bloggers have never attacked the good things AoL have done, they have only highlighted the bad things.

All these attempts that AoL is currently making to counter these blogs or close them down are actually proving to me that they are very afraid of what is written in them, and are very desperate to silence the truth. As such they are actually pushing me, and others like me, even further away from AoL and towards the side of these bloggers. There is only one possible reason why AoL are doing this, and that is because they realise there is so much truth in them and that they don’t want the world to learn about these things.

Above all, as has been highlighted so many times by these bloggers, AoL have decided to ignore some of the key knowledge points taught in the Basic Course and Advanced Courses, most notably “Accept people and situations as they are”, and “Don’t be a football of other people’s opinions.” But there is one more knowledge point that really sticks in my mind more than any other, and that is something that was shared by Rishiji Nitya Pragya.

During one knowledge session, Rishiji mentioned that there were 6 vrittis, or flavours, of consciousness which we should try to avoid if they ever arose in us, and one of these was Defensiveness. He said that if someone criticises us, we should never defend ourselves, but instead thank this person for allowing us to see the world through their eyes. We should listen to what this person has said about us, and then take the opportunity to improve ourselves. Let me tell you, I wholeheartedly agree with everything he said here. And I recommend that you should listen to him too.

My advice to you right now is, instead of making any attempts to counter these blogs and defame their authors, which is nothing less than defending yourselves against criticism and thus going against what you teach, to take on board every single critical point that has been written in these blogs and use this as the basis to make fundamental changes in AoL. This will take a long time and effort, but in the long run I firmly believe this will pay off. In actual fact, right now I believe it is the only choice you have, since all other strategies you have tried so far have proven to be a failure. Doing this will also show that you are actually following your own knowledge points, instead preaching one thing and doing something completely different, which just opens you to more criticism.

This should be your starting point. A few other keys things:

Apologise to every single person who has ever suffered as a result of being involved with AoL in some way or other. Especially the teacher that was attacked in Swamiji’s blog, and look at withdrawing what was written there. People are far more forgiving when you make a mistake and admit to it than if you insist that it wasn’t a mistake and continue to shoot yourselves in the foot. If there are other things you need to apologise for, please take the time to do it. You will certainly gain my respect for it and I hope a great many other people, critics and devotees alike. Apologising is not a sign of weakness, as the weak only try to dig themselves deeper into lies, whereas it takes great strength to admit your mistakes and attempt to rectify them.

Always encourage people to be critical of the organisation, and to question each and every thing they are told instead of just following things blindly. This is one of the most fundamental things you can and should do, and it is something that is seriously lacking at the moment. In fact, it is due to this lack of any means to express criticism that these blogs exist in the first place. In most companies, there are processes in place for people to express grievances. In AoL, people were taught to “accept people and situations as they are” from early on, and this became such a part of their belief system that inevitably they also ended up suppressing a great many things as well. And as we all know, if something is suppressed, it will find a way to somehow get out in the end. If anything, these blogs are proof of that.

I also want to talk about the “magical thinking” in AoL, especially regarding the mysticism surrounding the Kriya Tape. When the link was posted on Skywalker’s blog, I couldn’t resist the urge to download it and try it out myself. And as anyone who has done the same thing has already discovered, it works perfectly well without a teacher being present. As was commented by the poster <a href=”https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/07/20/long-kriya-home-version/”>here</a>, this means that everything I had been told surrounding the Kriya Tape not working at home if I played it by myself was simply not true. It also means I never have to go to a Long Kriya session ever again in my life. And yes, it also means that all this talk of “grace of the guru” being transmitted through the teacher isn’t true. This is one of many things that has been highlighted in these blogs, not something with is negative or hateful, but something which is simply contrary to what people are taught in AoL.

This is going to be a very difficult one to explain to devotees and especially to current teachers, as it is one of the first things every participant learns, and over time so many people have come to accept it and believe it so strongly that they will doubtless feel cheated when they find out the truth. But you need to find a way to explain this, and you need to do it soon because the truth is coming out already. And more people who discover the truth before you tell them about it, the more people will leave AoL as I did.

The DSN course should be scrapped completely, as I have yet to meet a sincere seeker who genuinely got anything beneficial out of it. All I recall was several nights of sleep deprivation, handing out AoL flyers for an introductory talk on 2 afternoons, and of course the famous hot seat exercise, which actually turned into a bitching session in our group. I know one girl who was reduced to tears during this exercise, so I agree with the bloggers who have said that this is spiritual abuse. There was nothing spiritual whatsoever about this course, and more to the point it had nothing whatsoever to do with creating a divine society, which is what it was sold as. Nor did it have anything to do with overcoming personal limitations, which was the other thing that is constantly touted in all the promotional material. And as for the sleep deprivation, this is a classic brainwashing technique, and as such people should be warned against it. If I see this course advertised in my country ever, I will let people know exactly what goes on during it and discourage them from attending.

As far as the TTC is concerned, AoL should look at making this course completely free to all sincere seekers, charging them only for room and board. These people are going to spend a considerable amount of time and in some cases money doing service for the organisation by teaching courses and bringing in more money, they shouldn’t also have to pay several thousand dollars for the privilege of learning how to do this. Especially when some have to redo the course because they were deemed “not yet ready”. Also reduce the course requirements for having to do TTC, but make sure the candidates chosen are suitable. Find a way, just don’t make it “you have to do x courses first, spend y thousands of dollars first.”

I also find the publications are overpriced. Charging people around $700 for Ashtavakra Gita DVDs is criminal, and charging way over and above the market price for even normal books just makes AoL look like a greedy business or cult.

Please also stop the spreading of all these guru stories that allege that Guruji has special powers, is enlightened, is the reincarnation of Jesus and Krishna, can control the weather and so on. I myself have experienced many contradictions in these stories, and will happily circulate these accounts if need be. This is nothing short of brainwashing, and in fact such stories were told to me during the DSN after much sleep deprivation.

These are what I would consider to be some key suggestions. I would really appreciate it if other people writing critical comments on this blog can also chime in with their own suggestions in the hope those in AoL who are in any position to do anything about them can listen. I know that to some extent I am being naïve in asking what I have asked of AoL, and the chances are nothing will come of this, but it really is worth a try. Please humour me here, and if you can please add your suggestions below. Please kindly refrain from any mudslinging, derogatory terms, and anything else which will detract from what I would like to achieve here.

There was a time when I believed AoL was an organisation dedicated to making people happy, and in turn inspiring those people to spread this joy throughout the world and make other people happy. This is the AoL I really want to see in the world, not the AoL that these bloggers have helped me to see.

Love & Peace,

The Doctor

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128 Comments
  1. Prakash permalink
    September 2, 2010 7:54 pm

    An extremely sensible article. Really good and balanced.

    I was also put off by attempts to portray SSRS as an incarnation of God. I ws ready to accept him as a teacher, a guide, infact as a Guru. But I was not prepared to accept him as God.

    And no matter what AOL guys say, This “Jai Guru Dev” greeting is a subtle way of reinforcing this idea. I could never reconcile to this greeting, which sounds pompous and shallow.

    I rather prefer the traditional Indian greeting “Namaste”: “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me”

    Namaste is traditional, elegant and yet contains a much deeper meaning.

    Prakash.

  2. September 2, 2010 8:02 pm

    Doc,
    you are a wise, sensible and good person with a firm grasp of reality. Reading your post touches me deeply, and reinforces my belief in the strengh of critical thinking, combined with an open heart. Both is needed nowadays. Namaste, you gentle soul.

    Skywalker

  3. Ronin permalink
    September 2, 2010 8:31 pm

    Doc,

    Thanks, you reminded me of a time of innocence and it gave me such a smile. This innocence eroded over time in AOL, but the journey of rediscovery has been bittersweet. Along the way I met these rogue outcasts who had a deep sense of compassion and justice, they gave me the energy to stand up. Doc you said what needed to be addressed in a clear and centered way you have questioned it all. Will those at the top listen I am not sure. Can we stop and relax, unfortunately I don’t think so either.

    Namaste and much Peace & Love.

    The little has awakened

  4. How True permalink
    September 2, 2010 8:43 pm

    @Doctor,

    This is the best article i have ever read on this blog. In fact I also loved AOL so much and had always spread good about AOL, ignoring all misdeeds happening in it. Just like you i got stumbled upon this blog and have become a blogger myself.

    I also repeat your words:

    There was a time when I believed AoL was an organisation dedicated to making people happy, and in turn inspiring those people to spread this joy throughout the world and make other people happy.

    This is the AoL I really want to see in the world, not the AoL that these bloggers have helped me to see.

    sincerely

  5. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    September 2, 2010 8:53 pm

    Welcome to the dark side 😉

    Lol…just kidding. Kudos and congratulations to you for getting here. It is by no means easy – one has to overcome oneself – it requires true self mastery.

    The good thing about “cult recovery” is that you move past concepts and “knowledge” to the realm of genuine spirituality. When you realize how much time you have wasted, and how short life is, each moment becomes more intense, and you live life more fully.

    I’m glad my efforts helped at least one person. Hope you enjoy the first day of the rest of your life!

    • September 2, 2010 9:10 pm

      “The Force is strong in this one…” He he he!

  6. Observer permalink
    September 2, 2010 9:01 pm

    This is undoubtedly the best post I have read on this blog. I felt deeply touched by the compassion with which you handled the two sides of this argument, and how nicely you articulated your key message not to throw the baby with the bath water. Of course, it comes out quite clear as to which side you have finally reached. In many ways your thoughts resemble my own, and I feel much more confident in my convictions. I do hope the good things that we have all experienced in AoL, and all the good people we met there can be rescued from the clutches of the mighty and powerful yet greedy, so that the real Art of Living once again brings bliss to everyone, ignorant or not. Utopia ? May be. I am sure your post provides a real healing touch to many, and you have lived up to your screen name, Doctor. I also compliment Skywalker as the owner of this blog for having inspired such a nice post.

  7. Ex_AOL_fanatic permalink
    September 2, 2010 9:04 pm

    Well written post by the doctor

    AOL has and is operating like a cult.
    The ones fooled the most by the whole AOL propaganda are roped in to become the teachers.
    Spending $5000 for TTC course and 2 weeks in an advanced DSN like course is ludricrous.
    And then after the TTC , the word “Seva” only means “Guruji’s work”
    Now this is twisted and corrupt to think Seva only means prapagating AOL agenda that is continually dictated with regards to most walks of your life. Now this is bondage.

    So you are fuXXXked for life, if you become a AOL teacher.
    A prisoner held hostage with all your thoughts and actions controlled directly by the AOL machinery.

    That is contrary to the true doctrines of spirituality , enlightenment and nirvana.

  8. Prairie Princess permalink
    September 2, 2010 9:08 pm

    Doctor Doctor, I’m truly impressed by what you had to say. Quite balanced. Once upon a time I was very invested in what I thought AoL stood for, especially the concept of one world and seeing all of humanity as your brother or sister. Unfortunately I was shocked by the politics in the group and the heavy manipulation and pressure to get to courses. I also enjoyed the techniques and felt a lot of bliss from them. Other practices can also give you that harmony and bliss. Find what works for you. The financial nonsense and supposed charitable donations that were unaccounted for deeply disturbed me. Financial transparency is the key to any NGO’s success. It was missing or hidden. I was also surprised by the lack of awareness of the people promoting charity giving for AoL projects in the work of other NGOs doing the same work in the same area, NGOs with worldwide reputations in some cases. There is nothing wrong with meditation and breath work, with charity and caring. There is something very wrong with deception. When I decided to longer participate in AoL activities, it was because of the dissonance between what was said and what was done by the organization. To support that level of deception in any way is to be a fraud, a thief, and a manipulator yourself. That is why I stopped going to satsang, kriya and courses. I trust they will get help for the abusers that are being sheltered by the organization in senior positions and help that poor swami regain his mental health and sense of balance.

  9. ANON permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:08 am

    @ Doctor
    I enjoyed reading your post. Your wrote in a nice manner starting from being Pro AOL to end somewhere on the borderline of transition to Con AOL. The devotees who think that they are cocooned with a blanket of Guru grace need to be awakened. Your effort is compassionate towards them as you do not wish to hurt their feelings. You want that cocoon to provide fresh air which can only happen when the sleeping giant is awakened and come out of the Cocoon.

    Now here is an approximate 400 million dollars (off course USD) question. How to provide fresh air without breaking the Cocoon (AOL). This can only happen with the support of the person holding the lifeline to that cocoon i.e. SSRS. The problem and solution both lies with him. As some old devotees say that he started with a pious aim but fallen in the FAME GAME (EGO) very fast. The financial malpractices and “Knowledge Trafficking” started as means to achieve the status of GOD re-incarnated.

    You are proposing to change the leaves and branches whereas the problem lies with the ROOT. Is fallen yogi going to amend?

  10. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:22 am

    I don’t like the title of the post. It gives the impression that we still like AOL’s product and they can stil l control us by telling us what we want to hear and making superficial cosmetic changes.

    Saving AOL is not my concern (nor my business). IMO, AOL leadership is dishonest and corrupt and there is simply no way to fix things unless you fix that. Here is some free advice anyway – for those who believe they can change AOL from inside.

    Opposite values are complementary only if you are able to rise to the challenge. Otherwise the opposition will just pummel you.

    Acknowledge the threat. Don’t act all smug and act as if there is no problem and you are not affected. If your gurujis is not concerned by challenges facing his organization he is a very poor leader and you will be well advised not to follow such a person.

    This is gonna require catharsis. You have to be brutally honest with yourself and acknowledge all the things you did wrong. This should come from within after introspection. Using some of the points raised by this blog as the starting point.

    Realize that your organization exists to serve people – not yourself. If people are leaving, it is a sign that rot has set in – no use blaming blogs for weaning away “innocent people”. An organization thrives if people find it useful – and dies if they don’t find any use. Get off your high horse and listen.

    Be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t be a softie – and don’t be afraid to fire your closest associates if you find them guilty of wrongdoing. Arjuna had to fight his guru and loved ones to uphold the truth. That is the message of bhagvad gita – even if you have to fight your closest relatives, truth is worth fighting for.

    I’m sure they can figure out the rest.

    Again to reiterate – I don’t care whether AOL saves itself. If it goes down, they would have learned their lesson the hard way. If they are smart, they will figure things out before that and will be able to rise to the challenge. My only concern is for the honest and sincere seekers who are caught in the trap. I hope they free themselves like our doctor, instead of hoping for AOL to fix itself.

    • Jacob permalink
      April 14, 2011 9:33 pm

      We don’t miss anyone that’s left AOL. You are replaceable and have been replaced. Don’t forget it…

      We are too busy keeping up with new course registrations to think about..Ummmm. You..

      You provided service. We appreciate it. But, you appreciated it more because it helped you. We helped YOU help yourself. The True Seva is done without the I ME MINE…

      You wanted to be ‘SOMEBODY’ in AOL….Now you are NOBODY blogging about SOMETHING…

      Get an identity quick dude

      • Dayalu permalink
        April 15, 2011 12:03 am

        @Jacob

        “We are too busy keeping up with new course registrations to think about..Ummmm. You..”

        Read conning people to give more money

        “The True Seva is done without the I ME MINE…”

        Good. At least you know the concept. Make your guru understand that.

        “Now you are NOBODY blogging about SOMETHING…”

        Being a NOBODY is way better than being SOMEBODY in an organization of retards who live under the illusion that their guru is GOD and that they are collectively SAVING THE WORLD. Grow up dude. There are many honest, simple folks who are “NOBODIES” silently and gracefully contributing to the betterment of the world without lusting for publicity as your guru does.

        “Get an identity quick dude”
        You folks and your guru worry about identity — “Enlightened Master”, “Sri Sri”, “Yoga Shiromani” “Advanced degree in Physics and vedic sciences”, “Nobel nominee”,……. and the list goes on and has literally created an identity crisis. Pitiable!!!!

      • Anoop permalink
        April 15, 2011 5:10 am

        Is there anyway to unsubscribe fromAOL marketing calls, SMSes, emails without being rude to them ? 😉

      • anonymous permalink
        April 15, 2011 1:13 pm

        @Jacob: “You are replaceable and have been replaced. Don’t forget it…”

        Yep, Jacob, you are quite right! There is a sucker born every minute (to replace those who leave knowing it’s all nonsense), and AOL is the biggest circus………

        Evidently you are not so busy with your ‘seva’ that you would have to stop posting everywhere on this message board. Obviously you aren’t so busy at all, unless, like some of us are just posting from work 😉

        Why are you so concerned about this blog, J? Isn’t AOL satisfying enough for you? Aren’t you contented with your little master? Are you very very threatened by what is posted here? Hmmmmmmm.

        I have to ask what I see has been asked elsewhere: who is this royal “we” who doesn’t miss anyone? Have you polled the entirety of AOL? Or are you more than one person inside your own identity?

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        April 15, 2011 1:54 pm

        “You wanted to be ‘SOMEBODY’ in AOL….Now you are NOBODY blogging about SOMETHING… ”

        You don’t know I’m a nobody. Purely a guess on your part. My career is in good shape, esp. after getting out of AOL. And to set the record straight – I did seva in the spirit of public service, not to massage my ego. Can’t say the same about SSRS though. He is definitely helping himself, not helping others as much.

      • Jacob permalink
        April 15, 2011 3:59 pm

        Most of the people in AOL look at Sri Sri as their Guru. It’s their right to do so.

        I don’t know of anyone that looks at him as ‘God.’ ??????????

        It is a simplification. We’ll keep Simple to the Simpletons like this blog.

        This is just more propaganda from the weak-minded hurt ex-AOLers…

      • Sanjay permalink
        September 4, 2011 3:20 pm

        Jacob, i doubt if u r a real AOL volunteer. I’ve never come across any AOL volunteer who’ll make the above statements

  11. Bling Bling permalink
    September 3, 2010 1:14 am

    >> “Charging people around $700 for Ashtavakra Gita DVDs is criminal”

    we have to spiritualize politics, socialize business, secularize religion…. and monetize knowledge

    • Jenny permalink
      January 22, 2011 11:37 am

      Wow… I can be rich… I still have sealed Videos of Asthavakra´s from my teacher´s time. ;-p

      • Jacob permalink
        April 14, 2011 9:35 pm

        Jenny from the Block –

        There’s a reason why those DVD’s are still wrapped. Theyre not meant for you.

        The price attached to the DVD”s may be hundreds of dollars and thousands of dollars…

        But the Knowledge in each DVD is absolutely priceless…

        Please sell them…Its not in good hands now…

      • Dayalu permalink
        April 15, 2011 1:02 am

        “But the Knowledge in each DVD is absolutely priceless…”

        Oh Yeah! The emperor’s clothes are indeed PRICELESS

      • April 15, 2011 5:39 am

        Jacob beta,
        Your daddy Ravi has copied this ‘priceless knowledge’ from Osho’s Ashtavakra Geeta talks, which are freely available. Listen Osho, you will know what is original and what is duplicate.
        Shameless Ravi, is just copy cat.

      • Anonymous permalink
        April 15, 2011 3:50 pm

        If you want to learn, then listen to Osho’s Ashtavakra, it’s fantastic, if you want to go to sleep, listen to SSRS Ashtavakra Gita, boring, but good lullaby

      • Jacob permalink
        April 15, 2011 3:53 pm

        Hey Tiger Lilly –

        I’ve read and heard Osho’s Ashtavakra commentary. It is very rich. Yet he is more passionate in his explanation than Sri Sri.

        There are going to be similar explanations when interpreting the A-Gita.

        However, the difference in style is palpable between Osho and Sri Sri.

        Go back and do your homework.

        Not only have you rejects dropped out of AOL…You’ve either never been spiritual or you’ve dropped that as well.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        April 15, 2011 4:01 pm

        How good or expensive the DVD is …is not the matter. The problem is that they don’t walk the talk. Just because you can give a discourse on scriptures does not make anyone holy – judge SSRS by his actions, not his words.

  12. goneagain permalink
    September 3, 2010 1:26 am

    Can We Help To Save The Art of Living?

    Wish someone can but If I look at objectively I have to say NO, the fact is no one can help until the people in AOL (including RS) realising these issues themselves.

    These things are coming out to open forum since late 2009 (KLIMs blog) but few senior AOL teachers directly written to RS giving him chance to fix some of these issues long before it was out to open;

    Below is the words written by one of the teacher when he/she brought up with RS and what happened:

    “He (RS) got angry and started shouting: ”Do you know me? Do you think you really know me?” I was pretty subdued at that time, not able to do anything but stammer something. That happens, when a person that I have considered for 10 years to be the closest thing to a living God starts shouting at me. Then he went on shouting, ”I know your past as well as your future”. Something else -I was scared out of my wits at this time, I don´t remember clearly- and then he said ”you can just leave anytime, nobody is stopping you”

    see links for complete letters to RS and conversations of ex. teachers with RS:

    http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2010/04/eaten-up-by-my-own-mind-part-1.html
    http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2010/04/eaten-up-by-my-own-mind-part-2-curse.html

    and
    http://www.diwala.com/721/resignation-letter-sent-by-art-of-livingleaving-teacher-questioning-the-cult/

    When a fame or money or arrogance got into someone even though he/she started with good heart and noble cause it would be really hard to make him/her see the truth. When you get all these things together (fame,money and arrogance) it would be probably impossible.

    @Doctor: I am not sure where you are at the ranks of AOL – may be you can do it, may be RS will listen to you and may be you have a chance to save; or may be no one can at this point then one just have to remember “everything/everyone has a cycle start-live-die, as they say ‘the only thing that is constant is change’.

    Either way good luck with your efforts.

  13. WhistleBlower permalink
    September 3, 2010 1:52 am

    Dear Doctor,I really appreciated you taking time to write this post. You come across as a sincere, loving, sharp-sighted person, with the ability to think for yourself and enough self-esteem/courage to express your opinion and in such a frank matter too. I also have to command you on your ability to communicate and express yourself extremely well. Your sincerity though was most endearing.

    You reminded me of a time that I also wanted to save my “Art of Living”, the beautiful Art of Living that I had depicted in my mind and dedicated my life to it. Of course, with what I now know, that AOL was only the product of my imagination, my idealism, but a world apart from the reality of AOL. I now know how naive I was, but nevertheless at the time, I sincerely wanted to do all I could to save this beautiful AOL!! I was naive enough to think SriSri, my beloved Guru, whom I loved like God (yes, yes, I was well and truly brainwashed!), surely doesn’t know of all the wrongdoings and if he knew he would put everything right. Now, I can only laugh at my naivety back then, yet still with some deep sadness. Sadness at the gap between the level of my sincerity and devotion and the reality of AOL.

    So like you, I voiced my concerns to the top boss myself. I told him about all the wrongdoings I knew. And be rest assured, I have not been the only one. Through out the years, there have been many like me, who fought for the AOL (the imaginary beautiful AOL in our heads!) and told SriSri about all the wrongdoings (e.g. money collected for charity projects and never reaching the projects, abuse of volunteers, disgraceful conducts of some senior teachers, extravagant lies and rumours and myths circulated in AOL about magical powers of SriSri/Kriya, etc, low morals of volunteers, lack of real seva projects in AOL, etc., etc.)

    So it wasn’t like SriSri didn’t know what was going on in the organization. He knew perfectly well and it took me years to realize that he is indeed the source of all those misdeeds. That the organization’s flaws are only reflection of his flaws rippling down through all the levels of organization. That the spirituality and charity are just the cover for another business scam in the biggest scale(and the most conning way) that I have ever come across or read about. That AOL is another cult (yes with a sophisticated and extremely deceitful front) and SriSri is the cult leader. Ah, what an excruciatingly painful realization, but that is another story!

    But back then I didn’t know all these things. From time to time I would even be heartened by the fact that SriSri would order “Independent evaluation” of Ashram or AOL organization. I even read some of these damning reports, explicitly stating about the culture of conflict, backstabbing, deceit, fraud, huge PR disaster, huge lacks in AOL services,unhappy customers, etc.). I was naive enough to think SriSri genuinely wanted these reports so he could put things right. Alas, they all turned up to be part of his dirty politics and mind games, telling Ashramites and teachers to speak freely to the consultant! Of course , some of the reports suggestions were implemented, but only those that improved organization’s profitability. Otherwise the culture of fraud, deceit, abuse continued in AOL and indeed it got worse.

    I was also heartened when Dean Harmison, introduced Oury Engolz, http://oneseminar.com/ to SriSri and he invited Oury to conduct courses for his teachers. SriSri asked Oury “what can you do for my teachers”. I naively thought SriSri genuinely wants to address the culture of conflict, abuse, backstabbing, lack of integrity, lack of accountability, etc in AOL. Of course, now I know that this culture is exactly how SriSri controls his teachers and cult members , and he has his teachers exactly where he wants them to be so he can completely manipulate and control them. But bear with me, that is the gift of hindsight. Back then I still wanted to believe in SriSri and was hoping against hope that he would correct things in AOL.

    Oury was a great teacher and to his credit he did an awesome job in his courses. Many communication courses were held in the USA and teachers and volunteers were encouraged to take part. SriSri even invited him to go to Ashram and made all his senior teachers, including Bhanu Didi and even our Swamiji to do the course with Oury.

    Many of us thought this is the herald of a new beginning in AOL. There was the talk of SriSri wanting all his teachers and volunteers doing this course.
    But before we knew these courses degenerated to another revenue generating exercise for SriSri, they were priced quite high and there were of course the captured clients (AOL members). Also these courses were geared to (or better to say that the AOL geared them to) an exercise in increasing enrolments for AOL courses and generating funds for AOL. So those attending these courses were expected to use skilled learned in Communications courses to enrol more people to AOL .
    So sorry Oury, your courses are good, but they don’t work in the cult environments. They only make a cult a better cult for the benefit of the cult and cult leader! And thanks Dean for trying. (If the rumours are right and you have also left AOL, please do write and tell us your perspective on these courses and the outcome. Of course, please do so anonymously.)

    Anyway, in no time, suddenly we didn’t hear a word about the communication courses and they went to oblivion, with no result whatsoever in changing the culture of abuse within AOL. And in the meantime Rajshree Patel learned all the tricks of the trade from Oury, by attending all his courses; few more gimmicks to add to her tool box!

    So Doctor, even though I am very happy for you or indeed for anyone else, to continue doing your best to save AOL, I personally believe it is a waste of the effort. The foundation of this organization is faulty. It is a cult and it is geared for the benefit of the cult leader, SriSri, (to satisfy his unquenchable thirst for wealth, fame and power) and his family and his business partners and his henchmen. The beautiful AOL is only a figment of our imagination and our idealism. The best you could do would only make it to a better cult, more profitable and better in hiding it’s cult nature.

    It is definitely not a service organization. Any one genuinely interested in service, please look into your own community or help one of many genuine charity/service organizations. It is also not a spiritual organization. All the so called knowledge are just taken from other paths, other organization and spirituality in AOL is only a front to suck people in. There are plenty good spiritual organizations and great books on every subject, and at much more reasonable prices too.

    And last but not least instead of SriSri sending his henchmen to close our blog (so far two legal attempts by Mr.Yezdi and Mr. Sumeru(this one loves to debate here, but funnily enough tries to close it at the same time!)), he should just treat us as HR consultants giving him genuine feedback about his organization. And all for free too!! Lucky guy! As Ewald would say we could have earned millions if we were charging for all our time to provide a consultancy/feedback service to AOL! We could even call it SriSri Global feedback.

    Ok, some of us are more generous-spirited in our feedbacks like “the Doctor”, but in all cases you are getting free, priceless feedback about what your teachers (some of them ex. now like us) and public think about your organization. You should be grateful rather than trying to shut us down or send your Swamis and your CEOs and directors and business partners to attack us.
    As you can see from Doctor’s genuine feedback, your Swami and your presidents do more damage when they try to defame and attack those whom you believe to be the bloggers.

    Of course, those of us ex-teachers, who are well familiar with the culture of abuse in AOL, were not surprised by Swami’s and President’s language. We are well used to it. But general public and AOL members on the bottom layers of the organization only get shocked when they hear the blessing Swami and the cool president speak like that. Ewald and Sad. Swami forgot that they can’t use the organization’s dialect/language in public. BIG MISTAKE!

    They should take a leaf from you that at least in public you claim that you believe in freedom of speech (Your recent BBC interview that you say you give people “freedom of opinion”(so generous of you BTW), that you don’t mind what people say about you, that it doesn’t bother you, etc. http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/worldservice/interview/interview_20100813-2332a.mp3).
    Of course authorizing your henchmen, the likes of Mr. Yezdi, Mr. Sumeru, your various Presidents and business partners, to shut us down, is entirely different matter as it happens behind the scenes.

    And of course, by sending them to the front, you are hiding behind them (as usual) so when things turn to custard you can always distance yourself from their behavior and let them take the blame.
    Of course it was less damaging that your Swamiji (your right-hand man) spoke, instead of yourself. Can you imagine how many more “Doctors” there would be out there if you sent the email from your own office, after all it was dictated by you, as we all know Swamiji wouldn’t dare to take such a step without your direct instruction.

    Anyway, please keep sending your henchmen to the front. No matter how hard we would have tried, we could not have possibly conveyed to our readers the culture of abuse in AOL the way your Swamiji and your President demonstrated so well.

    • goneagain permalink
      September 3, 2010 2:33 am

      ‘The Doctor’ comes from the premises that these issues are not brought to RS earlier as most devotees are shielded and discouraged from seeing anything negative, but the truth is “RS was part on parcel of these himself for very long – he may have instrumented some of these himself to get fame, money and power”

      These comments posted by NICK/KLIM’s blog gives much clear picture:

      “in the words of Lord Acton (1887): “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” The power you are offered as a Guru, when devotees surrender their free will to you -that is absolute power. If you take it, you are lost, you have gone to the Dark Side.”

      http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2010/04/eaten-up-by-my-own-mind-part-2-curse.html

      • Anonymous permalink
        September 3, 2010 3:10 am

        “The power you are offered as a Guru, when devotees surrender their free will to you -that is absolute power. If you take it, you are lost, you have gone to the Dark Side.”

        it’s okay to exercise power wisely – but in RS’s case power became an obsession – yes it is very seductive – having tasted a little bit – he wanted more. Ostensibly he was using it to help the world, but in reality it was just to feed the beast. He became possessive of the power and began to demand devotees surrender, and manipulate people into working for him and worshipping him. The NPP obsession, PR stunts, the stay in 5 star hotels are just symptoms of the disease.

        Old timers know it – AOL is an exercise in guru worship. A guru who is corrupt and manipulative. I hope people realize that he is not doing much good for the world, and does not deserve the surrender of the devotee who gives it out of sincerety and good faith.

  14. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    September 3, 2010 2:08 am

    this blog should have a “like” button. I really want to “like” whistleblower’s comment 😉

  15. Svetana permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:19 am

    Dear Doctor,
    I enjoyed reading your post as it is written wisely, sincerely and in a very peaceful way.
    As to the question: “Can we help to save the Art of Living?” I would ask: “Save Who?”
    AOL is a pyramid and the worst of the kind, because it is topped by “God Himself”, who simply can’t make mistakes. So, in the manner of Luis XIV, who said, “I am the State”, we can say “AOL is Sri Sri”. Any failure or success of AOL depends entirely on the Head. Taking into account the magnitude of wrongdoings in the organization, Chinese saying ‘the fish rots from the head’ comes to mind. Can anything be done to the fish that smells so bad? I doubt it, but I like recommendations given in the comment of Anonymous August 27, 2010 12:48 pm under the post “DISGRUNTLED SWAMIJI speaks up for his Master, again!”
    https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/disguntled-swamiji-speaks-up-for-his-master-again/
    “I have no personal wish, actually, that anyone should be humiliated or go to jail, or anything of the like. I do hope, however, that the entirety of this crooked house of cards be dismantled, and the parties involved, making money off the innocence of others, should simply go to the Himalayas and meditate on their deeds. Consider what they have done. Revenue Department should raid all involved. The newspapers should be notified, and reporters should get very nosy about this (finally). Laundered monies should be donated back to the poor. The ashram should be donated back to the government to be run as an actual school totally, for the poor. Land robbed from villagers should be returned without any further delay. All businesses built for the family with laundered donation money should be disbanded. Taxes should be paid in full. SSRS, his family, his teachers, should all revert back to a very simple, humble life-style which most of them had before this enterprise. This would heal their souls and give peace to India and perhaps the world. It would be a bold step on SSRS’s part to do so.”

  16. goneagain permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:23 am

    Another spin on the powers of RS.

    http://www.lifepositive.com/spirit/new-age-catalysts/ravishankar/art-of-loving.asp

    Couple of points intrigued me.

    1) At the age of three, he was sent to a teacher, who wanted to begin her lessons with a shloka (passage) from the Bhagvad Gita, ‘Praasthayam Pratiboditaam’. Incredibly, the young Ravishankar completed it for her by adding ‘Bhagavatam Narayanena Svayum’.

    -Here author claims finishing 3 words of the verse not about reciting entire ‘Ghagvad Gita’

    2)We named him as Ravi Shankar Narayana (Shankar and Narayana are respectively other names for Lords” (It is only recently that ‘Ravi’ and ‘Shankar’ have been clubbed together into one word. Someone once asked, why Sri Sri comes twice; he is reported to have twinkled, and replied, because 108 Sris would make it too long!).

    -Right ppl from AOL should start calling him with 108 sri sris, would be fun.

    • goneagain permalink
      September 5, 2010 2:38 am

      Anyone noticed this?

      “Ratnam was resolute. Ravishankar first went to Rishikesh, then overseas, where he completed his Ph.D. in Vedas and science. The young master traveled widely and finally, Ravishankar was all prepared to start on his own”

      http://www.lifepositive.com/spirit/new-age-catalysts/ravishankar/art-of-loving.asp

      Yes – according to this article RS has done Ph.D in Vedas and Science. I don’t know what that means and who gives that degree!

  17. grateful_reader permalink
    September 3, 2010 4:24 am

    Thanks for your thoughts Doctor.

    This sentence resonated with me:
    “This is actually one of the reasons why I haven’t circulated these blogs to everyone I know yet, because I don’t want to burst their bubbles and cause them to suffer as I did.”

    I have immediate family involved in AOL and am also afraid to hurt them by pointing to these blogs.

    But here’s something to consider: If AOL is built on shaky foundations it probably will fall. At least eventually. I suspect that final fall will be much more painful to devotees than waking them up to the reality of the organization now.

    Personally, I’m trying to slowly and incrementally point out flaws and inconsistencies in the organization to my loved ones. But as WhistleBlower seems to suggest, I think a honest, unapologetic, and unwavering approach is probably the best one. I know that’s what opened my eyes to problems in AOL. I don’t know if I have the courage to do that but the courage shown by so many in the stories shared these blogs is quite inspirational.

    And as for redeeming AOL, I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon. The problems in the organization are at its core and not the edges. There would have to be a radical internal transformation if AOL is to be fixed.

  18. September 3, 2010 5:14 am

    I felt exactly the same way as felt by Doctor:
    1. The DSN is not creating divine Society, but salesman for AOL.
    2. Overpriced books and knowledge CDs.
    3. Portraying Ravi Shankar as reincarnation of Krishna, Buddha etc.
    4. Spreading magic and miracle stories of Guruji.
    5. Not following the knowledge point by many teachers.
    6. Seva means bringing more and more people to AOL course and giving donations. Other service
    beyond AOL is not recognized.
    7. Too many courses. No much difference in one course or other. Charging fees for TTC.
    8. Not having financial transparency.

    These things are noticed by all persons who are not completely brain washed. They are nearly 90% of total volunteers.But, they remain silent due to various reasons. They feel that positive such as daily exercise, weekly Satsang & meeting with friends, social contacts, social recognitions as ‘spiritual person’ due to associated with AOL, Miracle powers of Guruji etc. etc.
    Note that majority of Volunteers don’t like many things in AOL.

  19. The Doctor permalink
    September 3, 2010 8:34 am

    I really want to thank you all for your encouraging comments, and particularly WhistleBlower for your amazingly detailed and sincere response. I agree with Peaceful Warrior, we do need a Like button. 🙂

    When I wrote the post, I had the following aims in mind:

    1) To show people who are very much still in AoL that these weren’t negative blogs as Swamiji and Ewald and other senior figures in AoL would have their devotees believe, but are actually critical blogs offering a different perspective to that given by AoL, and this coming from someone who was also part of AoL but who has now opened his eyes. I wanted to write something which contained no hate, and no negativity, but to which comes straight from my heart.
    2) To send a message to AoL that at least one person has woken up as a result of reading the criticism in these blogs, and that most likely I am not the only one.
    3) To highlight to the senior members of AoL that all their efforts to counter these blogs are actually strengthening them and making AoL look worse.
    4) To provide constructive feedback to those people in AoL who could make any difference to the organisation in the (rather naive) hope that they may effect change. In all honesty, this is unlikely to happen and I am fully aware of that. But if there was any hope whatsover, it’s worth a try.

    @goneagain – I have no power whatsoever to change anything in the organisation as I am not that senior. Hey, I wasn’t even a teacher. 😉

    @Peaceful Warrior/Svetana – regarding the title, I want to “save” two things. Firstly, all the good people in the organisation who are sincerely making a difference to the world. Secondly, all the good things that are coming out of the organisation. Thinking about it, these really amount to the same thing. I am fully aware there are other ways to do this, and will shortly be exploring those here. This is just my Plan A.

    @grateful_reader – for some time now I have been thinking of a way to reveal the truth contained within these blogs to people I know, and I think we should collectively think of ways to do this. The main problems with just sending these blogs to them are a) the shear amount of time it takes to go through them all, and b) the negativity contained within them which may just put people off reading them. I believe what is called for is some means of gently guiding people out of the brainwashed spell that they are under. I have a few ideas and I will put them in a separate post.

    • grateful_reader permalink
      September 3, 2010 2:47 pm

      Doc,
      I too have been thinking about how to introduce these blogs. There certainly is a lot of information to go through and not all of it is as relevant/well-expressed. I was planning on sending a few specific posts like this one and its comments in the hopes that they would want to read more and then go through the rest of the blogs themselves.

      On the topic of salvaging the good people and ideas in AOL, here’s an organization that seems to do the good things AOL does:
      http://www.dhamma.org/en/art.shtml
      http://www.dhamma.org/en/vipassana.shtml

      I don’t think something like the sudarshan kriya is a part of what they do but they have 10-day courses for free. I’ve heard the courses are not as nice/fun as advanced courses and the meditations and such are longer and harder.

      Here’s what the site says about fees:
      “There are no charges for the courses – not even to cover the cost of food and accommodation. All expenses are met by donations from people who, having completed a course and experienced the benefits of Vipassana, wish to give others the opportunity to benefit from it also.”

      I havn’t done much research on this org and there maybe problems w/ it but it seems to be a much better alternative to AOL.

  20. Genuine Seeker permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:26 pm

    Hi Doctor,

    Well said. I too have passed through similar emotions and feelings. Infact I could see my words through your writing. I was very confused during the Advanced / DSN courses. I was told by my DSN teacher these are mind pop ups, and ignore them. This conflict has bothered me a lot. I tried finding answers for the questions raised by you , no proper answer from anyone.( In fact people look at you as if I am arrogant and odd man out).

    So much of pressure on us to enrol new members for basic course as part of DSN program. Not only they want confirmation of members for new basic course ( in less than 2 hr time) but also they want the FEE to be paid by them in advance ( I consider it as fee not Donation) .Of course this was part of the exercise .. Breaking your barriers.. ( No doubt this has helped me personally and many others but i felt the main motive is not helping the DSN participants to shred their barriers but to enrol new members in disguise. You could see it easily. Better not to say more on how they have motivated ( Brainwash / hypnotise…please let me know if any other synonyms I could use..) participants for donations… DSN is nothing but Donations and publicity course. Off course one would get to know the MIRACLES OF GURUJI… ( If Guruji has done so many miracles atleast for couple of questions related to shooting episode and recent interview in Malaysia the answer was ” I don’t know” How come Guruji doesn’t know anything !!!!!!!

  21. Researcher permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:59 pm

    Doctor, you expressed what I wanted to say. I still practice the padma-sadhana we learnt in DSN, and the kriya every day, as it really does help keep my energy levels high and I’m better able to focus on my daily work.

    Straying from my usual critical comments on AOL let me say that kriya has been an immense benefit to me, and I can confirm it’s not the same as hyperventilation in the way many people claim. It cleans out the system. There’s something in it which keeps my metabolism balanced and active, and I can clearly see this if I stop kriya for 2-3 days.

    Sadly, that was probably all that helped me. The remaining 97% of the org and the teachings came across as artificial, I just couldn’t take it after some years, though I tried and pretended to enjoy it.

  22. anonymous permalink
    September 3, 2010 1:02 pm

    @Doctor,

    Bless your heart! I know your pain — the pain of losing the ‘bliss’. Unfortunately, I did not escape quietly, as you have, just seeing some blogs, and getting to make up my own mind. I had the direct, horrible, one on one experiences with HHSSRS, which showed me that he was falling fast, and that if I did not agree to go along with his ideas, he would, as he told me “destroy” me. When I did leave, he did his best to do just that. I am still alive, well, still seeking God, and doing my sadhana.

    God is bigger than any man, Doctor. Always remember that. The source of the Bliss was God, not one man. Yes, because of his previous sadhana, SSRS was able to be a conduit for many to receive some portion of the Bliss of God, at least for a little bit. Your practices are still there with you! Your sadhana need not be discontinued. God will never abandon a devotee, I’ve found, no matter how the “guru” has cursed that person. For me, that is no guru at all, who curses people and threatens them and shouts, when he fears exposure of the truth.

    What you can save is your path to God, but you cannot save AOL or SSRS. That is up to him to do. The teachers cannot save him or his organization, nor should it be saved. The well-meaning teachers could just go on teaching the basic course for free! Why not? It contains many beautiful nuggets of wisdom. They can pray to God before teaching, to extend Grace to the students.

    How do you save a tree when the root is rotten? This would be my question. SSRS’s own guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, said we must “water the root to enjoy the fruit”. But if the root is no longer any good? What to do?

    If Ravi Shankar were to come to me and apologize personally, and send each of the senior teachers who defamed me and my family, and at least two others I know of (whose families were wrongly smeared because of him — outright lies told to do a pre-emptive strike, in case anyone should tell the truth about SSRS), I would still need to see him give up his position of power to be convinced. He really was not always as he is described in these blogs. He bacame this way as he became famous. Yes, the seeds of his tendencies were certainly there, but they sprouted into what AOL is now, only later. I watched, for a short time, his decline towards what he is now, and left.

    You think that the money problems and perhaps some abuse of power on the part of some senior teachers are the only problems. You are very wrong. Ravi Shankar, and his family protecting him, have other grave secret problems. His personal problems have never, and I hope for his sake, never do completely come to light. They have only been hinted at. But those hints are all truth. Better he should humbly apologize, give all this ‘glory’ up, and go to meditate quietly somewhere.

    You may see some of the posts as hateful. Some of the things seen here could be perceived as “hateful” to someone who never really knew Ravi Shankar. I have seen nothing posted here that is not true. (Yes, there are a couple of immature posts by frustrated people. These, I obviously ignore.) I have read all of Klim’s blog. In fact, much of what is wrong with Ravi Shankar and AOL is downplayed, with people who have been too close afraid that anything specific they might say would reveal their identities to the “master” and they would suffer worse hurt than he has already inflicted. And so it goes.

    Take care of yourself, your family. Do not divulge your identity to anyone in AOL. Be certain that you might get some lip service of how everything is being done to look into these matters, and to get rid of the “weak pillars”, etc. But then, you and yours could be severely punished by this ruthless man. You have no idea, but can glean at least a little from the horrible posts by Swami Sadyo. and others. You can know a bit of what could happen to your life by having read Klim’s blog and some posters’ here. Be careful and protect your anonymous status at all costs. Tell your family the same thing, if they have been involved.

    Unlike you, I do believe in “magic”. And Ravi Shankar is not above using whatever means he can to silence people. He has done so in the past. The only reason he would stop would be if his “power” has run out. Surely you must have some belief in the power that Ravana had? It was all used for bad, but because he had done so much Rudram, these boons had to be granted to him. Eventually, we all know what happened to him, but it took time, and someone greater than you or I to get rid of him! You may not subscribe to these things literally, as I do. My own experience is that Tantra is real. Ravi Shankar has, at least in the past, had access to power beyond the normal, and has used it to truly hurt others. I’m not talking just gossip or spoiled reputations. He would say “oh, these things just happen on their own, because subtle beings love me and protect me. I don’t wish anyone harm.” But I know this to be a lie. He screams. He shouts. He damns people. He curses people. He does not wish his detractors anything but harm. Only in public does he say such sweet words to the press “I forgive all my enemies”. This is simply untrue.

    I saw a clip on this blog about a TV9 story about a sick snake found in a pipe, and how tenderly he took care of it, etc. All I could think was “I wish I had received even a fraction of the consideration that a snake received from him!” Instead he actively harmed me and others close to me, and now, as we see, so many posting on this blog.

    May God Protect You Always.

  23. Anonymous permalink
    September 3, 2010 1:49 pm

    Dear All:

    Thank you so much for all the posts. I really like to share one thing here with you all. I have tried to lead people to do the breathing without the tape. Just say breathe in and out, with rhythms (I avoid small and short rhythms) which is very helpful to people. When people start to breathe deeply, the healing will take place easily and naturally. Doing breathing, yoga and meditation—any of the practices—is indeed very helpful to mind and body. However, nobody should take the credit for it. The higher power is within, is never without. Thanks again for everything. And, yes, prayers. I pray for everyone’s healing, including mine.

    Sincerely yours…..

  24. anon permalink
    September 3, 2010 2:36 pm

    i understand this may be veering of the topic but i just had to inform people of the latest tactics in the prem rawat cult. though the following “propaganda” email and similar ones are unrelentingly sent to all beleivers and former beleivers alike, to keep the spark of faith in prem rawat alive,
    it is important for all readers to know that in all his 50 plus years prem rawat never before has done any “humanitarian work” ever except for publicity maybe.

    he has never fed anyone, nor his devotees, or if he does, you first have to pay. i did once get a glass of water free though, but it was only half full btw!

    prem rawat has never shown any kind of “humanity” to his former victims of child abuse, physical violence or lusting after the female devotees. acts of this kind were done by his closest disciples and even himself!

    and it seems that my ex guru might be just as fame whoring as yours.
    the only difference being yours hankers after the npp while mine after global domination as per the email below….

    something btw, he has been trying for the full 50 plus years of his entire (criminal) career.

    heres his latest avatar, role, persona, or best of all ACT!:

    why only now this “humanitarian” side has come out of rawat is quite the a puzzle. quite a leap from a criminal to a over the top humanitarian, dont you think?

    the email: “Dear Robert,

    Those of us who have experienced Prem Rawat’s message have seen our lives changed by it immeasurably: It has given us joy, love, fulfillment, and peace — beyond words. It has connected us with our own humanity and, in turn, the humanity in others. And it has shown us the potential for a better world — one human being at a time discovering peace within.

    This experience and its potential to better our lives and the lives of millions of others around the globe, is the cornerstone of Prem Rawat’s teachings. His vision is that everyone should have the opportunity to hear his message and, if they want, explore, learn about and enjoy it for the rest of their lives.

    Just over a year ago, Prem Rawat initiated a transition to an entirely new platform that would take this vision forward and make it a reality; at its heart is his desire to take his message to everyone. To accomplish this, a new department with specific roles, is being formed, which will be responsible for a global initiative to offer his message of peace to a worldwide audience, and provide all the resources for a person to enjoy it to the fullest.

    The Global Peace Initiative department is looking for seven motivated volunteers who can offer their skills, time, and passion to fulfill managerial positions.

    This is a unique opportunity to be part of something truly special, and together make this vision a reality.

    Brian McDermott
    On behalf of the Global Peace Initiative Department”

    • grateful_reader permalink
      September 4, 2010 2:47 am

      Anon, consider editing the prem rawat wiki and adding a controversy section. I know one reason i trusted AOl and Guruji a lot when I was first introduced to them was because of the lack of negative views about them on the web

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prem_Rawat

  25. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:08 pm

    Before asking “Can We Help To Save The Art of Living?”, we need to ask “Is The Art of Living organization worth saving?” Note that the question is not about the teachings of AOL, about Yoga or Pranayama or Meditation or even “sadhana, sewa and satsang”. Those things have intrinsic value and have survived for centuries with or without organizations like AOL and often in spite of organizations like AOL. They will survive in future also. I think when well meaning people like Doctor get sentimental about saving AOL, they are essentially concerned about the values AOL represents (or claims to represent). Let us rest assured that the values AOL claims to represent are not in danger of extinction.

    It is not that if tomorrow AOL crumbles, Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation or “sadhana, sewa and satsang” will disappear from the face of the earth. They will stay. May be in a different form. So the real question is not about the future of essential values AOL claims to represent – for these values are robust enough to stand on their own – the real question is about the organization of AOL – “Is the organization of AOL worth saving?”

    As Svetana correctly pointed out that the organization of AOL is essentially a pyramid with SSRS at its top. The AOL organization derives its legitimacy not from the people it claims to help but from the Master at the top. Therefore the whole culture of the AOL organization is permeated with the ethos of aggrandizement of one person. Everyone from top to bottom is accountable to no one but SSRS. People occupy various organizational positions in AOL not due to their competence but at and till the pleasure of SSRS. Any good work coming out of AOL is only a by-product and is due to selfless dedication of idealistic volunteers who somehow get trapped in it. Given this, cynical manipulation of genuine spiritual thirst of innocent devotees should come as no surprise for that is not the real objective of the organization. The organization is designed for something else. The organization of AOL is only a tool in the hands of a megalomaniac to help him trap the unsuspecting victims in the name of spirituality. It is sick to the core and is beyond redemption.

    We cannot expect an outcome from an organization that it is not designed for. Cosmetic changes cannot bring about any real change in AOL unless the fundamental structure changes. And the fundamental structure of the AOL is SSRS. The organization is nothing sans SSRS. The organization can change only if SSRS wants it to change. But is there any reason for SSRS to change the existing structure of AOL?

    As Upton Sinclair famously declared: “It is very difficult to get a man to understand something, when his livelihood depends upon his not understanding it!”

  26. anon permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:31 pm

    btw, my name isnt “robert”, i pulled that email from our anti-cult site.

  27. The Doctor permalink
    September 3, 2010 4:05 pm

    Dear anonymous,

    Thank you so much for your comments. The parts of your story you have shared to date on this blog and in particular in this post are quite moving, and at the same time slightly conerning. By the sounds of things you have suffered a great deal as a result of being associated with AoL/SSRS and I only hope that time has healed your wounds.

    Just so you know, I do actually believe in “magic”, as well as the divine and I also believe that Sri Sri must have some powers, though I cannot say for sure what. The only thing I ever experienced first hand was upon meeting him face to face, I felt so uplifted and my mind was so quiet and peaceful, I really felt that I was temporarily enlightened there and then. Having shared my experiences with non-AoLers, they are convinced it’s just a combination of charisma and the fact that meeting him had been hyped up in my mind for so long. At this time I really can’t say, but I’m sure there’s something more to it that that.

    What I was really questioning was the so called magic associated with the Kriya Tape, as well as the Guru’s Grace that is purported to flow through teachers during certain courses and the Long Kriya session.

  28. The Doctor permalink
    September 3, 2010 4:10 pm

    @Researcher – I have a similar feeling about the Kriya, I’m not convinced it’s the same as hyperventilation as has been mentioned several times on the blogs. And when I do practice it I do feel better. Especially the Long Kriya, that really does bring me back to a serene place and I keep up the weekly practice … at home now. 😉

  29. The Doctor permalink
    September 3, 2010 4:25 pm

    @Abhilash,

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your many posts and must thank you for taking the time to help me and others in my position to wake up.

    In answer to your question “Is The Art of Living organization worth saving?”, prior to writing this post there was a part of me that believed this may be possible, or rather hoped it would be possible. And before I read these specific comments about SSRS posted by WhistleBlower, Svetana, anonymous and yourself, I thought that it would be something that he might be open to as well. Now I’m not so sure any more. And for this reason, my answer to your question is that very probably the organization isn’t worth saving after all.

    What I really want to do is to find a way to help the people that are deeply rooted in AoL, especially good people I know, open their eyes and see what is really happening, and help to set them free of the spell. This is actually a tall order, and I haven’t really touched on it in this post at all but would love to discuss this at length in a future dedicated post.

    • Anonymous permalink
      September 3, 2010 6:16 pm

      “What I really want to do is to find a way to help the people that are deeply rooted in AoL, especially good people I know, open their eyes and see what is really happening, and help to set them free of the spell.”

      Make no mistake they are reading this. No matter how hard you try to persuade – they won’t be convinced. Just write your experience here – truth does not need publicity. It will take some time, but it will happen. If you want, post the link to this blog on comment sections of AOL videos on youtube, and on news articles about AOL.

  30. Devotee permalink
    September 3, 2010 5:35 pm

    Meet Arvind Varchaswi, nephew of Sri Sri.

    He founded Sumeru group of companies at age 14!
    Rajiv Gandhi Shiromani Award 2008 conferred on him appreciating the achievement of the young entrepreneur.

    He really composed the music album Avataran, and not Sahil Jagtiani

    Check out the interview in a leading Indian Newspaper.
    http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/10/stories/2010011050850200.htm

    Like his illustrious uncle, Arvind is not behind in assuming that all glory is his.

    • How come? permalink
      September 3, 2010 7:22 pm

      Here is what I found about Avataran from Internet:
      http://www.exoticindiaart.com/product/ICO015/

      From the CD
      “Satsang is the nest in which you can find repose. If you are a taker of happiness, you receive misery. If you are a giver of happiness, you receive joy and love.”

      Sahil Jagtiani is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has been involved in music from an early age, playing in two progressive and multi-cultural rock bands from Hong Kong and London during his high school and college days. His whole outlook to music changed when he met Poojya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji, becoming more inclined towards satsangs and bhajan music. It was the earlier influence of western music that would make him present and give him the desire to produce bhajans in a more contemporary manner. It was also his parent’s (Suraj Jagtiani and Nandini Sen) support that helped to maintain and nature his interest in this form of music. Sahil graduate from King’s college London with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Business Management as well completing his Masters of Science Degree in International Management from Birkbeck College in London. After completing his studies Sahil went on to become one of the Full Time voluntary faculty members for the ‘Art Of Living Foundation’, founded by Poojya Sri Sri Ravi Shankarji, conducting health and personality development workshops internationally. He teaches the Young Adult program for youngsters aged between 16 to 21 years and the Art Excel program for children between 8 to 15 years of age which helps them to cope with stress and restores back their natural smile.

      Music Director and Lead Vocalist-Sahil Jagtiani
      Lead Vocals on Track 1 – Ajay T. Narasimhan and
      Arvind V. Narasimhan
      Supporting Vocals –
      Smt Bhanumati Narasimhan, Raghini,
      Ajay T.Narasimhan, Arvind V.
      Narasimhan, Nina Jehangir,
      Amish Doshi and Bianca Gidwani.
      Musicians – Sahil Jagtiani,
      Arvind V. Narasimhan, Neeraj Mehta,
      Costantino Francorsi, Sunil Kant Gupta and Keerti Mathur.
      Sound Engineers involved – Neeraj Mehta,
      Costantino Francorsi and Hitesh.

      It clearly mentions “Music Director and Lead Vocalist-Sahil Jagtiani”

      ——————————————

      And now Hindu times version:
      http://www.hindu.com/2010/01/10/stories/2010011050850200.htm

      “Why are you looking outside for a role model? Why don’t you look within you?” asks 27-year-old Arvind Varchaswi, who started Sumeru Group of companies at the age of 14.

      He founded this group with the vision of creating wealth with a sense of joy and contributing significant portion of it back to the needy sections of society.

      The group now has seven companies. Its uniqueness is said to be that its people are as passionate about improving the society as they are competent in delivering top-of-line services.

      Mr. Varchaswi was here in connection with a “youth empowerment programme” organised by the Art of Living.

      He admits that there is a definite dearth of role models. That should not be a deterrent. “Look within you (for finding the role model)”, he counsels. He explains that India does not have dearth of spiritual values. It has got so much to offer to the world. “Encourage spiritual values. And role models will dawn in every one of us.”

      Mr. Varchaswi, player of several instruments including tabla, drums, keyboard and veena, apart from being a composer and a producer of a spiritual album-Avataran ( one of the top selling albums of its kind in Europe, USA and also India ), is categorical that sound of music has a deep impact on human beings.

      —————————————————

      I wonder where was i at 14!! i probably entered 10 th class!! with absolutely no idea about what to do!!

      And he talkes about role models!! look inside you????
      Is this what a youth empowerment seminars tells? It surely will help the youths to have the right picture!!

      Can we do something to save youths from these liars!!

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      September 4, 2010 2:49 am

      Lol…RS’s family does likes to preach. Like his uncle, he has delusions of grandeur. He has not done anything – he just steals credit. Setting up IT business when he was 14. Yeah right – that requires having in-depth knowledge of the industry and market as well has cultivating clients. Starting and growing a business is not as easy as it seems – it requires knowhow and hard work. It’s easy to steal credit and brag instead of actually doing the work. What exactly did Mr. Arvind do other than sign papers.

      We all know who composed Avtaaran – he is not even pretending to give credit where it’s due.

  31. anon permalink
    September 3, 2010 5:38 pm

    How come no comments from the lackeys?

    • September 3, 2010 5:49 pm

      Dunno. I am not stopping them.

    • freethinker permalink
      September 3, 2010 5:59 pm

      This post is pretty heavy/deep for lackeys. Probably they are not sure how to react for this post. At least I was hoping Beacon would say something since Doctor called out to beacon especially.

      • WhistleBlower permalink
        September 4, 2010 2:00 am

        Beacon and the rest of the lackeys too busy to shut down our blog in anyway possible, so not much time left for posting.

        I do have some sympathy for them, not much they can say to the allegations as they know these are true, so they are focusing their attention in shutting down our blog and attacking those whom they believe are the bloggers.

        Thinking if they shut us up their problems would go away. Sorry, the cat is already out of the bag. Others will continue our work, till Govt. agencies and good journalists pick up the task.

      • September 4, 2010 9:04 am

        I do always respond to your posts though, don’t I freethinker :).

        Oh ya, I almost forgot – Jai Gurudev!

    • Semi-Lacky (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      March 12, 2011 6:21 am

      Hey, I’ll give a belated response. The doctor makes some good points. The problem for me is that I’ve only had good experiences with AOL, it’s teachers and SSRS. So much, obviously depends upon your personal experiences. All of these negative things some people have experienced, what can I say? I don’t know. It’s just when people start attributing all these insidious motives to SSRS that it enters the realm of the absurd. All you can do is talk about your own experience and if your experience is not negative you tend to disagree with all these negative comments. Some of the stuff I have never personally heard such as guru’s grace through a shawl or sniffing flowers. Part of me says, okay, I’ll just put that on a back burner for now. I personally have had very deep experiences with SSRS and actually was healed of a significant ailment by him. Of course people won’t believe this, but it was a rather profound and deeply moving experience. If you don’t know me of course you can dismiss this as some sort of deluded follower convincing themselves of some delusion. But that certainly is not the case. So the problem comes in with all these positive personal experiences and then other people having these other negative experiences. All I can do is scratch my head and say I’m sorry you had these bad things happen.

      • Observer Jr. permalink
        March 12, 2011 5:07 pm

        “Some of the stuff I have never personally heard such as guru’s grace…”

        yet you also say…

        “I personally have had very deep experiences with SSRS and actually was healed of a significant ailment by him. Of course people won’t believe this…”

        You’re right, I don’t believe this. 😉

      • The Doctor permalink
        March 13, 2011 4:13 pm

        @Semi-Lackey,

        The problem for me is that I’ve only had good experiences with AOL, it’s teachers and SSRS.

        Me too! Except that I also had so many doubts during my time, doubts which in some cases I even raised with teachers but which I was told to drop. The same doubts which many people contributing to these blogs have also had. If you read these blogs from the start, just as I have done, you will see there is overwhelming evidence to support a lot of the claims being made. Whatever good experiences I had pale into insignificance compared to what we have uncovered in these blogs.

        It’s just when people start attributing all these insidious motives to SSRS that it enters the realm of the absurd.

        Why is this absurd? The more one investigates these issues, the more one comes to realize that SSRS has to be at the center of these things. Please read Swami Sadyojatha’s letter and provide some explanation as to why you believe that SSRS isn’t behind any of this? In particular can you explain what he means when he says: “This will filter the weak and we can identify our strong pillars.”?

        I personally have had very deep experiences with SSRS and actually was healed of a significant ailment by him. Of course people won’t believe this, but it was a rather profound and deeply moving experience.

        I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and tell you that I do believe you. You on the other hand are assuming that because we are being critical of Art of Living that we automatically don’t believe people who say they have good experiences. This is very black and white thinking, and it’s something we’ve noticed that many people in Art of Living seem to exhibit. Let me tell you right now, most if not all of us have had good experiences with Art of Living. It doesn’t mean that we should just turn a blind eye to all the bad things going on, and we certainly shouldn’t keep quiet about it.

        So the problem comes in with all these positive personal experiences and then other people having these other negative experiences.

        Why exactly is this a problem? Isn’t it possible that people can have both positive and negative experiences with Art of Living? I would say the real problem is that Art of Living denies all the negative experiences people are having and in fact is trying to discredit all those who have reported having had negative experiences.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        March 14, 2011 2:17 pm

        “The problem for me is that I’ve only had good experiences with AOL, it’s teachers and SSRS.”

        Why is it a problem ? You are probably the only person I know who thinks AOL is perfect and has only had good experiences in AOL and its teachers. Either you are incredibly naive, or just very very fortunate.

        It’s just when people start attributing all these insidious motives to SSRS that it enters the realm of the absurd.

        Unlike you we do not believe that SSRS is incapable of misusing his power. Also, there is an objective world out there – it’s not just your experience. It is a fact that SSRS and family have used AOL money as personal wealth – it is not a matter of experience or conjecture.

        Of course these things will never be part of your experience – they are not stupid to do these things openly. In public every teacher makes the right noises – so of course your experience will be good if you stick to the superficial world of discourses and lectures. But dig a little deeper, and you see the world which is creating the courses – and you find it is full of machinations, and unspiritual activities going on in the name of spirituality and public service.
        Maybe then you might start to question the spirituality which makes people into Machiavellian monsters instead of making them genuinely innocent and truthful.

        So the problem comes in with all these positive personal experiences and then other people having these other negative experiences

        The problem comes when you want to white-wash everything and project that everything is great – instead of dealing with complexity.

  32. Devotee permalink
    September 4, 2010 2:26 am

    Can we have another post dedicated to the nephews and their parents :
    How they have the empire running in their name while Sri Sri recruits volunteers to work for free/low wages for their companies ?
    Ajay, I believe, holds around 30% stake in Sumeru Software, USA. Arvind runs Arvind Exports. Their dad, Mr Narasimhan is chairman of Sumeru.
    (Of course, we should verify this before publishing). Ajay’s stake in Sumeru Software, USA is around what I mentioned as I heard it from someone. But no other proof of that.

    • WarriorOfDharma permalink
      September 4, 2010 7:53 am

      I recently went through your posts. I just want to point out that my association with Guruji so far gives me a completely different picture. I understand that some of you had different experiences based on your individual perceptions, which bothers me least. So you can count me as a SSRS Lakcey if you want :).

      Having said that, I want to add a point. I agree with some of the points in the comments above. Though I got various opportunities to associate myself with Sumeru, I’ve turned that down – because I’ve already seen that a number of people leaving these organizations after being part of it for the ‘higher cause’.

      I think this is because there is no real transparency regarding how the money from these organizations are pumped to AOL projects. Also, the incompetency of the Director board is still very visible and they won’t let efficient people to get in to the board -other than for show casing purposes. There is a lack of transparency for some reason in this regard and this is why even the so called hard core ‘devotees’ won’t bother joining these companies.

      Now, about the course money from AOL courses, I think a lot of money is being spend for infrastructure development in the Ashram, and for running the school that gives free education to a lot of kids, free food for thousands of people daily etc. I’ve seen all that myself.

      How ever, I think that there is no no real clarity (numbers) in how the money is getting spend for social service/development projects. I suggest AOL to setup a formal Project Approval pipeline/process where people/local chapters can submit social development projects to AOL, get it approved, and get it funded. These days, local chapters are not seeing any in coming funding from AOL directly, they operate by raising funds by themselves.

      I conclude by pointing that I have very high impressions about Guruji and his intentions, because after associating myself with him, I could see the progress I’ve made in several aspects. I’m not a teacher, but I do a lot of volunteer work that helps people directly, mainly in my local circle. AOL was/is/will be a key driver for this – for generating goodness in people, so that they can come together and do useful things. I’m not taking the discussion to a level where we start talking about inner progress and enlightenment, because as these are not very subjective, they can be interpreted in any way by anyone.

      I can also see a lot of people blogging here are just seeking clarifications – by explaining why they left the organization in the most logical way (some times coloring that with pointless babble), so that they can satisfy themselves. The mindset of kind of people you interact with is pretty important – and @Doctor is a perfect example I guess :). He is already confused. lol.

      “As man dwells on sense objects, he develops an attachment to them; the attachment turns in to desire to possess them; an unfulfilled desire creates anger in him;anger leads to delusion which in turn causes loss of memory; loss of memory results in destruction of discrimination; and he looses discrimination” and I think this is what is happening to people like @Doctor

      Of course, you can hold the above lines against me as well by saying I’m the one who lost my descrimination because of all the brian washing – and that is why logic is such a damn thing.

      But then, I know that to know what is right and what is wrong, I just need to sit down and listen to myself :).

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        September 4, 2010 2:03 pm

        I think a lot of money is being spend for infrastructure development in the Ashram, and for running the school that gives free education to a lot of kids, free food for thousands of people daily etc. I’ve seen all that myself.

        Infrastructure development at ashram is an investment which will bring in more money over time. So I won’t call that charity.

        Free food for thousands of people – People who visit the ashram for courses usually pay for their food. Tourists are not that many, and even they donate money. It’s not like the poor and destitute visit the ashram.

        Ashram school – how many is a lot ? Isn’t it funded by donations and not from AOL courses ? Is there any accountability about the amount of money going in and going out. AOL is such a large organization – I’m sure the donations run into few crores. It’s easy to dispel these questions – just release an audit. Most charities do.

        I suggest AOL to setup a formal Project Approval pipeline/process.

        You are not the first person to suggest this. People who have worked there have been suggesting them to be transparent about money for years. And it falls on deaf years, and they give you a bullshit answer. Which leads one to conclude that they are skimming from the top – using public funds without accountability sometimes for private gain.

        Money from courses does not go into “service projects” it goes into RS’s bank account. He uses it to start up other businesses – ostensibly it is to generate employment, but really it’s about making more money for himself. The mafia also operates this way – they also fund legitimate businesses from their ill-gotten wealth.

        Yes all your volunteer labor is going into RS’s pockets – not into social service. Can you really expect social service from a person who thinks poor are hungry because they are lazy ?

  33. September 4, 2010 6:53 am

    TTC RECRUITMENT DRIVE:

    For Teacher Training, earlier there were two phases of 15 days each, TTC I & II. The persons qualified from TTC I were called to attend TTC II, then Guru will choose the teacher from TTC II qualified.
    but, Now, AOL has decided to merge the phase I and II into single TTC cource of 21 days.
    AOL has organized huge TTC recruitement program in June 2010. More than 1200 persons attended, and out of that, around 600 people were made teachers on the spot.
    I know personally two persons who attended TTC and made teachers. They are were rough in Yoga practice, zero in knowledge, but are good in persuading people to attend the course.
    So, anyone who want to become teacher, here is Golder Opportunity. Norms are relaxed.

  34. September 4, 2010 7:08 am

    @Doctor, I did read the post… about 10 minutes ago. And then all the 43 comments. To respond to all of them would make this blog a full-time job for me, so I will focus on your post.

    I have a couple of questions for you
    1) When your mind was positive about the Art Of Living and Sri Sri, all you could see was the positives in the organization. And when your mind is now negative about the Art Of Living and Sri Sri, a lot of what you see are the negatives in the organization. The same is true of most people in this blog. Which is the passing phase? When you were in deep adoration of Sri Sri, if someone pointed out to you that it was a passing phase, you would have scoffed at them, wouldn’t you? If I told you today, that this could be a passing phase, would you acknowledge that it is a possibility?

    2) I substantiate my above point with one more – Sep 2, you wanted to save the organization, Sep 3, you are no longer sure.

    I do not say that I am not immune to this either. My mind changes, I think good of something, and bad of the same thing some time later. And probably good of it again. Which is truth? Which is reality? I am not here to tell you that Sri Sri is the only way. No, far from it. But just like you question the organization and Sri Sri, I ask you to question your own mind that forms these judgements and conclusions too.

    Regards,
    Another sincere seeker

  35. Smiling Monkey permalink
    September 4, 2010 7:34 am

    The moment the Swami wrote that extremist Jihadi group are contributors to this blog, his entire post lost any shred of credibility it had.

  36. The Doctor permalink
    September 4, 2010 9:18 am

    Dear Beacon of Reason,

    1) When your mind was positive about the Art Of Living and Sri Sri, all you could see was the positives in the organization. And when your mind is now negative about the Art Of Living and Sri Sri, a lot of what you see are the negatives in the organization. The same is true of most people in this blog. Which is the passing phase? When you were in deep adoration of Sri Sri, if someone pointed out to you that it was a passing phase, you would have scoffed at them, wouldn’t you? If I told you today, that this could be a passing phase, would you acknowledge that it is a possibility?

    It isn’t really that black and white. My mind is neither positive nor negative about Art of Living or Sri Sri, and it certainly doesn’t switch from one state to the other.

    One of the knowledge points that Rishiji mentioned in one his talks, and this is really an extension of “Opposite values are complimentary”, is to “See both sides of the coin at the same time.” What he meant was to see both the positive and negative qualities at the same time in each and every thing we perceive. A good case in point here is human relationships. If we are in love with someone, we only ever tend to see their good sides, and rarely acknowledge that they have any bad sides. However if we fall out with that same someone, we will suddenly only see their bad sides and completely forget about their good sides. In each of these cases, then, our perspective has been focused either on just the positive or just the negative at any one time.

    What I am trying to express in my post is that there were a great many positive things I gained from the Art of Living, and at the same time there were also a great many negative issues which I have seen and which have now resurfaced as a result of reading these blogs and also seeing the numerous attempts to counter them. This is a far more balanced view than saying that either my mind is positive or my mind is negative.

    So really, there is no “passing phase”. Before I discovered these blogs, however, I was focusing only on the good things that came out of Art of Living, and really look at the bad things. I had certainly experienced bad things, things that in some cases were fairly concerning and some of which I have highlighted above, but I didn’t let them form part of my perpective of the Art of Living. And I rarely, if ever, raised them. When I did, I usually received a fairly unsatisfactory “standard” answer from a teacher, and just ended up accepting it. This was me very much following “Accepting people and situations as they are.”

    So what you are reading here is my balanced view of Art of Living. Unlike most of the other bloggers, I am in a fairly unique position of not having ever really been hurt by Art of Living, and as such you won’t see me post any negative comments showing disgruntlement or hatred towards the organization, nor for that matter towards anyone posting here. Just constructive criticism based on my now balanced perspective.

    2) I substantiate my above point with one more – Sep 2, you wanted to save the organization, Sep 3, you are no longer sure.

    The things I want to help to save are specifically: a) all the good work that Art of Living is doing around the world, and b) all the good people in the organization. When I wrote the post, I assumed the best way to do this was to save Art of Living as an organization. However after thinking about it some more, and taking on board some of the responses here which have given me some interesting perspectives, I realise now that both of these aims can be achieved without saving the organization.

    So it isn’t necessarily that I no longer want to save the organization, it is that it isn’t really necessary to do this in order to save the people in the organization and the good work the organization is doing around the world, which is actually being done by the people. Of course, saving Art of Living as an organization will certainly help this, but it isn’t strictly speaking necessary.

    In truth, I know full well that I can’t do a thing here, and I would imagine the majority of these bloggers can’t and in most cases wouldn’t want to either. The only people that can actually save Art of Living are those in a position to make organizational changes, and by the sounds of things this is really down to Sri Sri himself.

    “I do not say that I am not immune to this either. My mind changes, I think good of something, and bad of the same thing some time later. And probably good of it again. Which is truth? Which is reality? I am not here to tell you that Sri Sri is the only way. No, far from it. But just like you question the organization and Sri Sri, I ask you to question your own mind that forms these judgements and conclusions too.”

    It is really my perspective which is changing, and this will change ongoing as new information comes in which supercedes previous information. It is really down to my intellect to decide which information I allow to remain and which I discard, and this then is determined by how well my intellect is developed. This of course is very subjective, but there is no right or wrong answer here, only opinion.

    Last century, Alfred Korzybski made a famous declaration that “The map is not the territory”, which is very apt here. It simply means that each and every one of us has a “map” of reality which is our prespective of reality based on our experiences of it. As our experiences change, so too will our map, or rather the way we see the world. This perspective is not the same as reality itself, only what we perceive to be reality, hence the map is not the territory.

    Right now it isn’t really a case of which is truth, which is reality, but rather what am I willing to accept based on my experiences so far. If you were to turn around now and give me new information which makes me think that everything is rosy after all and there is nothing to worry about, then I will happily become a teacher and continue with the Art of Living. But to date not one single person from Art of Living has been able to successfully refute these things.

  37. Just No One permalink
    September 4, 2010 10:17 am

    They are recruiting the young ones for TTC now. These young ones have seen from afar the adulation that some of their elder AOL teachers experience in their communities. They aspire to want the same adulation for themselves. Hooked !!! The AOL teacher is like a person in uniform (Police, Military etc….there is a special attraction there).

    The following happened….many moons ago they ran this big TTC and again 100s of teachers graduated and many were picking up multiple manuals (so they can go out and change the world). Since there were too many teachers SSRS decided to use volunteers to distribute the tapes and manuals at the VM. While the distribution was going on, in parallel SSRS was delivering knowledge. It was reported by many who were there that the majority of the participants had eyes and ears only for the volunteers distributing the manual and not for the HMV (His/Her master’s voice). I write this to simply bring the common person’s attention to what their own motivation and play is.

    Bottomline—-You know that there is a cancer. Now what you do is who you are. Aren’t we responsible for all our actions and our inactions ?

  38. anon permalink
    September 4, 2010 12:07 pm

    TTC RECRUITMENT DRIVE: aol
    The Global Peace Initiative department: prem rawat

    boy, do cults talk funny! i wonder who’ll be the winner? sri sri or rawat? i bet they give each other sleepless nights by trying to out do eachother. lol!

    • funeeee permalink
      September 4, 2010 3:27 pm

      New Section in the TTC2 Application form

      Essay Question for the aspiring teachers

      JaiGuruDev, this is a test of your personal ability to handle objections on the field. All potential applicants please visit https://aolfree.wordpress.com.

      Ans Part-1. Please investigate and write down as many accurate answers to the fundamental questions on the blog. This is done alone.

      Ans Part-2. Next…Please make a list of your most difficult questions from the blog. Give these to your part-1 teacher and your first DSN teacher (separately) who are reccomending that you go for TTC.

      In the event they are the same teacher, please choose your nearest part-2 teacher other than the above teacher and ask them to fill out the answers to the unanswerable questions. Now, compare your potential/partial answers with their answers (Important – No cheating, please do not prompt your teachers while they are answering your questions).

      For every synerstic answer where your answer matched that of your teachers, give yourself a 5 on 5 and say JaiGuruDev. You will need it much where you are going.

      For those of you that were able to answer all the questions and issues raised in the blog. We strongly recommend that you don’t waste your time doing TTC. We are looking for strong APEX body members and leaders for our new Ashram in Klimland, Skywalker country and we can issue you with a special permit right away to start working on becoming an Ashramite doing full time Say Wah !!!!.

      For those of you that were stumped and could not answer any of the questions, join the gang and start contributing to aolfree.wordpress.com

      • Really? permalink
        September 4, 2010 7:31 pm

        Is it fact or u made it up?

      • WhistleBlower permalink
        September 4, 2010 8:22 pm

        @funeeee
        This is simply brilliant, deserves a post on its own. Yes, it is humor, but there is a lot of truth in it.

        Perhaps we should start a new series, called “Joke of the week”.
        I am sure SriSri and lackeys will give us plenty good material!

  39. September 4, 2010 1:58 pm

    http://www.artoflivingpune.org/aolnew/sitefiles/QA.asp

    Q: How do I handle criticism?
    Sri Sri: When someone criticises you, they are taking a risk. Who wants to take the risk of making enemies! When they are doing that, you appreciate them. Stand up to criticism. Also have the courage to criticise for their improvement. But if someone is criticising you out of jealousy, you smile, it is their problem.

    So, Swamiji, either you have to appreciate this blog or just smile and do you kriya.
    Why need to open a counter blog?
    Either you are wrong or your master is lying.

    • goneagain permalink
      September 4, 2010 4:00 pm

      Another interesting answer:

      Q: Where does Obama get his inspiration from?
      Sri Sri: Today, the global problem is terrorism through wrong ideology. I feel that we need to emphasise a broad spectrum of education for the future generation. If each child knows about other religions,it won’t think other religions will go to hell. Even in India, madrassas are getting CBSE status because of the vote bank. I’m not saying all madrassas are bad but there is an 80 percent chance of narrowing vision. We need to have a long term goal and long term vision in everything. An education which has science and spirituality – head and heart is the only solution.
      —-

      Huh…?
      Is there any code words in this? I couldn’t understand a thing … (if you are a lackey, please read the question again.)

      • Vishal permalink
        September 5, 2010 3:41 am

        The beautiful girl in this video is exhibiting the same kind of response pattern as ravi ravi. You will be able to better understand Ravi Ravi’s esoteric answer about Obama’s inspiration if you understand this video:

      • September 5, 2010 4:34 am

        Osama or Obama?

      • WhistleBlower permalink
        September 5, 2010 5:49 am

        Good ones Goneagain, Vishal and Ram. Wouldn’t it be fun if someone started a “SriSri Jokes” blog. There would never be any shortage of material.

        But humor aside, SriSri has a very anti-Islam attitude. And in spite of all his lip service to honouring all religions, peace and harmony, in practice he flames the fire of hatred against Islam and Muslims wherever he can.

        On top of that, wherever he can he equates Islam with terrorism. He has used his anti-Islam sentiments to fleece Bush and Israelis and get into Iraq and get huge funds from them by saying racist stuff that would be music to their ears.

        All of this to promote himself as a pacifist and humanist who can educate all these Muslim terrorist, and asking the far right in West to give him $$$$.
        In short, when it comes to politics, SriSri acts like a spiritual whore that would say anything to fill up his coffers with $$$$. He got few million dollars from Bush just for Iraq and you can bet not a single dollar of it actually went to Iraq.

        I feel sorry for all those AOL Muslim teachers who are helping a man who is full of hatred for their religion and fellowmen and spreads as much hatred as he can, but in a most subtle manner.

        More on these on a separate post, but in the meantime watch this YouTube video:
        “Sri Sri on Islam” :

      • goneagain permalink
        September 5, 2010 7:06 pm

        http://www.artoflivingpune.org/aolnew/sitefiles/QA.asp

        Their website clearly says Obama, why would anyone ask his/her guruji about Osama – do they see any similarties then?

        Skywalker&Whistleblower; Can you get a screen shot and link it? will be useful to refer in future (knowing AOL – they could take down their website page)

      • Smiling Monkey permalink
        September 6, 2010 1:10 pm

        What is interesting, apart from the answer from RS, is the fact that it escaped the attention of the website editors as well and surely none of their friends/fellow devotees pointed out any faults in the answer.

        This is a text book example of what happens in a cult. You get so brainwashed that you just can not lee clear logical fallacies in your Guru’s words and instead try an rationalize them to suit your needs(if one of the pro-AOL frequenters is asked to explain this, see him trying his best to rationalize instead of accepting a simple mistake)

      • Semi-Lacky (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
        March 12, 2011 6:29 am

        I like MMY’s comment about Islam:”If it was your first time on two feet you’d be angry too!” Ha ha!

    • goneagain permalink
      September 4, 2010 4:06 pm

      Another one:

      Q: How do you ensure that conflicts, backbiting, politics doesn’t happen in your organisation?
      Sri Sri: People are people wherever they are. I can count on my finger how many times I got angry – seven times maybe! If you fight, fight a new fight, don’t fight the same fights! Intellectuals don’t walk like sheep. They don’t agree many times, they don’t walk the same way. That is the fun. They should know how to de-stress themselves. Let out the steam, get into the team!!

      —-

      RS got angry only seven times, possibly one at NICK (when he/she resigned..)
      http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2010/04/eaten-up-by-my-own-mind-part-2-curse.html

      Can you guys count the remaining?

      • ex-Ashramite permalink
        September 4, 2010 9:29 pm

        He really got angry at this European lady who tried to commit suicide after the TTC teacher, Sharmila, refused to make her Art Excel teacher. The European lady had been living in the Ashram and so dedicated to SriSri/AOL.

        Guruji didn’t seem too worried about her, rather worried about what would have happened to Ashram’s reputation if her suicide bid was successful. He was shouting at her, “do you want them to come and close my ashram?”.
        He made that lady an eternity process teacher and she is very happy at the Ashram.

      • Anil Kumar permalink
        September 5, 2010 4:06 am

        I have seen him get angry more times in one single day than his max seven times. He is bluffing.

      • goneagain permalink
        September 5, 2010 3:56 pm

        Yes, this is to call out his bluff. More first hand accounts will expose his lies.

  40. anon1 permalink
    September 4, 2010 2:59 pm

    since theres another anon here, i’ll call my self anon1.

    “grateful_reader permalink
    September 4, 2010 2:47 am
    Anon, consider editing the prem rawat wiki and adding a controversy section. I know one reason i trusted AOl and Guruji a lot when I was first introduced to them was because of the lack of negative views about them on the web”

    people have tried that already and we get the same treatment as you do which is people get viciously attacked by the leader and the followers

    and a few years ago there was controversy surrounding this, when its top most person in wiki was found to be a loyal devotee of prem.
    there was a conflict of interest, in that he was viciously deleting and arguing any negative feedback about the guru, and simply using his power to shut people up.

  41. WarriorOfDharma permalink
    September 4, 2010 3:56 pm

    @Peacefull Warrior,

    I agree with you on releasing the audit part, I’ld really appreciate that.

    For the sake of argument, let us assume that the remaining money from the courses and donations (if any money is left after constructing the Ayurveda college, Ashram constructions, related infrastructure etc) is going as seed investments in other businessess, how you’ll conclude that it is because of greed? I agree that there is a lack of clarity regarding financials, but then it is not at all rational or practical for anyone to conclude that the whole game is a mafia scandal or something.

    For example, I was glad to see Sumeru drinking water and other Sumeru ayurveda/healt care products coming out to compete against the multinational brands, in a way they promote self dependency for the local economy. As most of them are startups, they may need a lot of investment – like the Ayurveda factory that produces medicines, the drinking water processing unit etc etc – Why you can’t think that the money may be going to these areas, instead of suspecting a scandal and trying to prove it with out any data?

    My point made short – you can’t just conclude that everything is a scandal or AOL is a mafia just because you don’t know the financials side. Does this make me an AOL lackey? lol. 🙂 I was sharing my view points.

    • WarriorOfDharma permalink
      September 4, 2010 4:06 pm

      @Peacefull Warrior,

      And one more point on the volunteer works I do – I know definitely who are the beneficiaries of those activities.

      I was not talking about fund raising – I’ve myself conducted multiple blood donation camps, free health check ups and all. Volunteered for food/water distribution on multiple occassions, mainly when the Tsunami tragedy happened as well.

      You guys never got involved in anything useful like that other than fund raising when you were part of AOL? Don’t miss the other side of the coin, dude.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        September 4, 2010 8:20 pm

        Let us assume that the remaining money from the courses and donations is going as seed investments in other businessess, how you’ll conclude that it is because of greed?

        It’s simple – follow the money. Who controls these businesses ? is it a public trust, or a privately held entity ? Who is living a jet-set lifestyle ? Whose education in the US is being funded by this money ? These things have been very well documented on this and other blogs. (for example see: http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2010/03/advanced-economics-for-shankarly.html)

        Don’t you think it’s dishonest to ask for money in name of charity and use it to set up businesses. Suppose I were to set up a charity to help flood victims, and then use that money to set up a bottled water unit – would that be okay in your system of ethics.

        On that topic how is AOL drinking water unit any different from Bisleri ? Both use the same equipment, employ people locally and provide service to consumers. It’s not that AOL is doing something that bisleri is not – you cannot even argue that AOL is more honest corporation because of spirituality – bisleri has a more transparent system, and definitely pays it’s employees better.

        What AOL is good at is using the emotional connection people have with AOL to sell the same products at premium prices. Is there a trickle down to the employees – I don’t think so – they are just happy to live in the daze of AOL and do what their master tells them,

  42. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    September 4, 2010 8:33 pm

    @warrior of dharma

    Compare and contrast with other non-cultish spiritual organizations like Ramakrishna mission or even the various christian organizations which run convent schools across the country.

    All these organizations run hospitals, schools and charities – they generate revenue just like AOL does, but are lot more transparent, and ethical in their functioning and perform actual service to the needy and destitute – not just token work like AOL.

  43. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    September 5, 2010 2:07 am

    >>For the sake of argument, let us assume that the remaining money from the courses and donations (if any money is left after constructing the Ayurveda college, Ashram constructions, related infrastructure etc) is going as seed investments in other businessess, how you’ll conclude that it is because of greed?

    @WarriorOfDharma:

    If someone wants to invest his money in business, fine. But that does not make his business a charity.

    By declaring itself a charity, AOL is committing frauds on two counts. First, to the society, because it is siphoning off legitimate taxes that would be due if it were not a charity. And second, to the unsuspecting donors and course participants who agree to pay the exorbitant fees in the illusion that substantial part of the money collected is going to philanthropic causes.

    I, for one, would not have paid Rs.1000 basic course fee in 1997 (at that time about one tenth of my monthly salary) had I been told unambiguously that the course fee would go toward seed money for SSRS business. As a pure merchandise I would have probably considered Rs.100 as justified price for the basic course. Not only this, I actively recruited among my friend and relatives and persuaded them to buy AOL products at exorbitant price in the hope that I was working for a philanthropic cause.

    If you look at it, Coke and Pepsi also fund several token philanthropic projects the world over. To be honest, I think that dollar to dollar, their contribution to philanthropic causes may in fact be more than that by AOL. Do you think that it entitles Coke and Pepsi to claim charitable status? Are you encouraged to keep a photo of Coke CEO in your home, sing bhajans in his praise, treat him as God and campaign for awarding NPP on him for his service in quenching thirst of millions?

    Some time back, Coke auctioned 1000 teach-a-child cans in Delhi. The money from the sale of these cans would go to fund primary schools. Some people bought these cans for as high as Rs.10000 per can. Do you think they would have bought these cans at Rs.10000 per can if the company did not say that the sale was for philanthropic cause? What if after declaring their philanthropic intent, now Coke changed their intent and decided to invest proceeds from their charity sale into their business? What if instead of funding primary schools, Coke funded their CEO’s nephews’ US education from sale proceeds?

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      September 5, 2010 3:28 am

      Well said Abhilash. Using your analogy, in the case of AOL, It would be like Coke, after investing the proceeds from the charity sale to start a new Coke business XXXX, then accusing any critic of this of defamation, saying the new business XXXX gives money to Charity YYYY and worse than that if charity YYYY turns up to be Coke itself!!

      I still do remember that in those early days at the end of Ashram adv. courses they would come and talk to participants about Sumeru Solution and ask for volunteers and donations and even used computers. Yap, sure, it would be like Coke giving money to Coke, using funds collected in the name of charity! Art of Living should change its name to Art of Cunning!!

  44. WarriorOfDharma permalink
    September 5, 2010 5:58 am

    @Abhilash and @Peacefull Warrior

    My reasoning is pretty simple

    1 – As of now, other than some guesstimates, I can’t see any solid proof for generalizing/accepting the argument that the entire money is going into private hands.

    2 – If you are concluding that the fund raised flood victims is getting channelized into a private business – what is the basis of that conclusion?

    3 – On businesses – I truly believe there is nothing wrong is growing businesses as long as they cater to a social empowering purpose – be it for renewing systems like ayurveda, or of providing self sustainability of local economy, or for promoting organic farming, or for finding a value proposition for handicrafts and traditional goods so that those goods can find a better market.

    But, the moment you concluded that all the money AOL generating is going in to private pocket and for family business, and then analyzing the activities of AOL, you’ll start building more assumptions on top of it – Like you paid money for the courses, you got cheated, you got exploited and what not.

    @Peaceful Warrior

    I understand that form your point of view, you see more good will in Ramakrishna mission and the church than AOL. But you know what? There are heavy critics of the church – at least in these parts of the world – which argues Church is raising money to invest in land and organizations, and then using that as a means for forced religions conversion. I agree with you on the financial clarity – all organizations should have that, be it AOL, church or Ramakrishna Ashram.

    How ever, you not knowing the financials in depth doesn’t mean everything is a scam.

    A lot of experiences in this blog are based on personal interactions with Guruji – that he shouted at some one, or he told this or that at some one, and they got hurt etc etc. From there, a lot of theories are getting formulated. Like when you were in AOL, you felt it like a sweat shop, you got mentally influenced to give donations, to pay for more courses, you got mesmerized via herd behavior etc etc. I understand people’s sentiments and emotions may have got hurt, they left the organization, and they are trying to explain here why they did that – may be because they want to justify the righteousness of their action to themselves.

    With your logic, you conclude that the earth is flat – and you truly believe in it. Also, when some one explains that earth is flat, you’ll get convinced pretty instantly – because that is what you see. That is definitely a problem 🙂

    But when they do that, I can easily see how more ‘effects’ are getting added up – added colors, made up stories, allegations with out rationale etc.

    I’m pretty sure that you’ve also seen how these courses are helping people in multiple ways – I still remember when we went for the Tsunami releif, how desperate people were after losing everything – We initially collected and gave them money, but most guys went and booze out with that instead of buying food for their families because they were so desperate and mentally haunted due after Tsunami. Finally, we started to mobilize them and gave them bhastrika and meditation, and they got so relieved – was just pointing out how these processes can help people. Some times, giving away just money and all won’t work, guys.

    But still, let us take out the courses, people, and businesses out of that . You can’t see beyond all this? The real lesson I got from Guruji is to remain self established, all the time, time and again. And that is what I practice.

    • Anonymous permalink
      September 5, 2010 7:51 am

      “We initially collected and gave them money, but most guys went and booze out with that instead of buying food for their families because they were so desperate and mentally haunted due after Tsunami”

      No charity distributes cash – that’s stupid. You give in kind or provide rehab. Don’t use it as an excuse to not spend money meant for charity. People need much more than air – when a natural disaster happens. Shelter, healthcare, medicines are much more important. Imagine ever being caught in a natural disaster. The last thing you need is somebody telling you to take a deep breath, and all will be okay.

  45. Peaceful warrior permalink
    September 5, 2010 7:45 am

    “But still, let us take out the courses, people, and businesses out of that . You can’t see beyond all this?”

    choosing to ignore these things that are happening right in front of you makes you equanimus? Is that what spirituality has taught you – worship RS and ignore everything wrong that’s going on ?

    Ask yourself why there is no financial accountability or transparency in AOL ?
    Don’t you think it’s strange that such a large and rich organization operates without financial accountability. Don’t you think that as a charity receiving crores of public money, the onus is on them to establish their credentials as an honest charity – instead of demanding people to trust them blindly ?

    As these things go – where there is a lack of financial transparency there is fraud. I don’t expect this case to be any different. Couple this with the fact that in all our years in AOL, none of us saw any money being spent by AOL on projects. It was usually the volunteers own initiative. Add to this the fact that AOL business model is very much like TM, and the maharishi was kicked out of india for financial fraud. Also add to it the fact that RS’s father used to operate a chit fund scheme in the 70’s. It all points to a financial fraud – anybody who has some real world common sense will see it.

    Few asides –
    1. comments about RK mission or convent were to demonstrate that there are similar organizations that operate with far more transparency. I’m not an advocate for either.

    2. Considering the size of AOL it would not be unreasonable to assume that Care for children receives at least 2000 donors for it’s dollar a day program. That alone would put the budget to ~3.6 cr. Actual numbers are likely to be 10x. The growth in Ashram school is just not commensurate with that.

    3. AOL misleads people into telling them that course money goes to charity. In fact it does not – people pay high fees in the false belief that money goes to service projects. None of us, who have done service for AOL have ever seen AOL spend money on service projects. Usually we raise our own funds.

    4. You cannot use some charity work done by AOL to justify all the wrongdoing. The taliban is helping people in floods, does not mean it is kosher.

    5. On the topic of whether AOL is useful – I beg to differ from you. In the short run seems helpful – but it’s not useful in the long run. After you’ve paid money to do DSN and TTC, people just become tools at the hands of art of living. I would even call it being brainwashed into slavery – but that’s just my experience.

    If you want to believe the earth is flat or that ravi shankar can perform miracles, you are free to do so. Almost anybody who has been in AOL long enough knows that AOL is a cult – but they are too ashamed to acknowledge, and too entangled in AOL to leave.

  46. abhilash shastry permalink
    September 5, 2010 9:36 am

    >> As of now, other than some guesstimates, I can’t see any solid proof for generalizing/accepting the argument that the entire money is going into private hands.

    @WarriorOfDharma: If you won’t accept anything less than SSRS robbing someone at gun point as solid proof, then he is not going to oblige. Other than that there is evidence galore.

    Look at any AOL token charitable project and tell whether the money is coming from Bangalore or from the funds raised by the volunteers. Whether it is free Tsunami courses or prison courses or Clean Delhi or blood donation camps, or any other project, no money ever comes from Bangalore. Is it not reasonable to ask where does the money collected from the course fee go? In my association with AOL, I have found that whatever money is collected from course fees, goes to a black box. You can see money going into the black box, but never coming out of it.

    >> On businesses – I truly believe there is nothing wrong is growing businesses as long as they cater to a social empowering purpose …

    I also do not believe that doing business or earning profit is wrong.

    Now all you have to do is to make an appointment with SSRS and convince him that there is nothing wrong in doing a business and hence he should drop the facade of charitable status and honestly pay the taxes applicable to a business.

    Kindly let me know the outcome of your meeting with the master.

  47. Independent Observer permalink
    September 5, 2010 12:11 pm

    Business of the gods
    By Shantanu Guha Ray

    Yoga, meditation, Ayurveda, Art of Living. Holding on to faith and letting go of stress in these troubled times comes at a price. But millions are ready to pay. The healers, amassing fortunes and building empires, seem to be the happiest.

    Last month, the Delhi Police’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) received a strange complaint from disciples of one of India’s top godmen, a figure immensely popular for his crowded, five-star discourses in select farmhouses on the Mehrauli-Gurgaon road on the Capital’s southern fringes. The bizarre incident revolved around a disciple who offered Rs 35 lakh in three installments as donation to gain instant access to the godman’s inner circle. Enthused by the donation and the disciple’s meteoric rise in his business, the godman requested his help in a personal investment that would guarantee quick returns. Rs 4 crore — the amount could even be higher — changed hands. The disciple disappeared overnight.

    No one knows why the godman and his followers did not press charges, but the general perception among those who attended that meeting at the EOW office, was that the issue was buried instantly because the complainants felt investigations would actually create more tensions for the godman than for the offender. What if the police asked about the source of that cash?

    “Obviously no one wanted to reveal the godman’s source of money, which is mostly in cash and collected after the discourses. The collections are just huge,” a top EOW officer told Tehelka.

    Solace comes for a price

    As per estimates with the finance and home ministries, the total turnover of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s empire is approximately Rs 400 crore that includes his Art of Living (AOL) institutes, pharmacy and health centres, and a hill 40 km from Bangalore on lease from the Karnataka government for 99 years.

    You can read the whole article at

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main31.asp?filename=Ne300607Business_Of_the.asp

    • goneagain permalink
      September 5, 2010 7:16 pm

      Having exposed many big fishes -tehelka could be able to get this empire.

  48. Independent Observer permalink
    September 5, 2010 12:38 pm

    This Blog will potentially have a 100,000 hits by EOD tomorrow. Skywalker, do you have any stats on how many people are keeping watch ??? I suspect that most of them are from within.

  49. September 5, 2010 2:14 pm

    The supporters of Financial issues of AOL, give me answer:
    In Basic,Advance, DSN and all course, the Ashram School is highlighted and the participants are ‘encouraged’ to sponsor a child. When I done my DSN two years ago, we were told that cost of one child is Rs. 10000.00 p/a, hence we can sponsor a child for a year by donating Rs. 10000.00 or if not possible we can give smaller amount too.
    I have collected donations for 3 persons including me. I was told to prepare Demand Draft in the name of VVMP payable at Banglore. As I know, the course fees is also sent in the same name.
    So, it is clear that the Children School is no separate status and bank account, where money for education is credited. No earmarking is possible if you are putting all money in one name.
    How can I confirm that money sent by me is used for educational purpose and not for expansion of building in Ashram or any other purpose? I will definitely mind if my money is used for any other purpose (how useful it may be) without my permission.
    No separate account for the school.
    All funds collected are credited in common account.
    How much to expend the money on children is decided by the Trustees, but what about the excess money received?
    For 2000 children @ Rs. 10000/- p.a. Total is Rs. 20 Million or 0.5 million dollars. This is very small amount compared to donations collected for this purpose. If they are using money for other purpose, its cheating with the donors.
    I have raised this issue, because I have given donation, but I have not get receipt of my donation, forget the reply.
    Swamiji or other senior teacher, if you are reading this, you have to reply.

  50. Smriti permalink
    September 8, 2010 1:00 pm

    Hi Doc–
    Can you please enumerate the other vritties or flavors of consciousness that were mentioned apart from “Defensiveness” in the said knowledge session by Rishi NP? “Fantasy” was one of them. I forget the rest. Just trying to recall…
    Thank you!

    • 6 types of consciousness permalink
      September 8, 2010 5:40 pm

      6 types of consciousness must be avoided:

      1)Victim Consciousness: one feels that one has been
      done injustice to. (‘Poor me’ Consciousness).You could
      have the best reasons for feeling a victim. But it’s
      still not beneficial for you.

      2)Guilt Consciousness: When a mistake happens, we feel
      guilty. Also our society is such that if someone else
      makes a mistake, they make that person feel guilty
      too. It is better to learn from mistakes and say that
      I will take care in the future without having to feel
      guilty about it.

      3)Attacking Consciousness : aggressiveness towards
      others etc..

      4)Defensive Consciousness : defending our own
      position. If someone is in attacking consciousness
      but, the other person does not get into defensive
      consciousness, the aggressiveness cannot sustain. It
      fizzles out

      5)Complaining Consciousness: A wife could be
      complaining that her husband does not pay enough
      attention. There could be the best of reasons for
      complaining, and may seem to do short term good, but
      finally its not good for your mind

      6)Aloof Consciousness: staying away from others etc..

      One gets into one of these 6 consciousness, because
      one sees some small benefit in it. For example, one
      may go into victim consciousness for want of
      attention.

      Consciousness in which one is happy, joyous,
      enthusiastic, taking responsibility is good.

      When one is in one of the 6 consciousnesses’ it is
      very tough to go and to do seva. But that is the time
      one really needs to do seva, satsang , sadhana since
      it will get us out of that consciousness and break the
      pattern. When one is enthusiastic, joyous, then seva
      comes more naturally.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        September 8, 2010 7:25 pm

        They should add “arrogance consciousness”, “delusional consciousness” and “sychophantic consciousness” to the list of vrittis to be avoided – though they may stop your enthusiasm for seva, it will be good for everyone including people in AOL 😉

      • Smriti permalink
        September 9, 2010 3:35 am

        Thank you Doc. Very helpful.

      • Smriti permalink
        September 9, 2010 3:46 am

        Thank you!

      • Chinnamasti Devi permalink
        September 9, 2010 5:23 am

        We have openly evidenced these six vrittis in Ravi Ravi and his followers. it is easy to preach hard to practice.

        Victim Conciousness – Ravi Ravi’s drama in the shooting incident. His alleged assasination and his so called forgiveness. He was acting out the script ‘I am so full of love and still someone is trying to kill me’.

        Guilt Consciousness – Ravi Ravi himself does not feel guilty. As a psychopathic megalomaniac he cares very little about any mistakes he does. However when caught in awkward moments like with the islamic preacher zakir naik he apologizes in public. But AOL folks are full of guilt as they have been indoctrinated with the notion of purity. Beleifs with respect to Eating only satwic food, sex depeleting their energy, not practiccing their sadhana, having doubts about the guru (especially when the guru makes an ass of himself in public) all these are typical guilt inducing scenarios in AOL. There are many many more. Maybe a separate post is needed for this.

        Attacking Conciousness: The three pronged strategy against this blog. Swami sadies desperate and immature attacks on this blog. Sri Sri attacking the home minister of India and calling the police versions of the shooting story as white lie. Abusing shobha de and making highly vulgar and sexist remarks. Creating a notion of Hinduism is under attack if some one criticizes their corrupt ways.

        Defensive Consciousness: A typical AOL lackey trait. They try to defend obvious transgressions of their guru and cult thereby making a mockery of themselves and their cult.

        Complaining Consciousness: AOL is always complaining. Defamation suits, complaing in blogs etc. They should change their name to art of complaining.

        Aloof Conciousness: The AOL seva which is nothing but some advertising photo shoots with nothingg concrete. they are completely aloof from the rest of humanity and only bothered about numbers and their bottom line. They steal money from charities to fund their family owned profit centered business.

      • goneagain permalink
        September 9, 2010 11:43 am

        @Chinnamasti Devi

        That was excellent comparison of what AOL does and preaches.

  51. Vismritti permalink
    September 8, 2010 2:33 pm

    @Smriti
    I’m not an AOL person anymore, so I don’t usually preach to people. But since you have such have such burning thirst for knowledge, and you obviously have such a high regard for us (seeking spiritual knowledge from us and what not), we have to oblige.

    The others are snarkiness, sarcasm, rudeness, forgetfulness (of course) and blind faith.

    It’s best to avoid all of them. Just be dumb. ;). Of course this is AOL knowledge and so it’s not meant for us but for AOL followers like you.

    Now that I have given you knowledge, you should go and spread this knowledge and become my slave. We will start with a $10000 donation to spread this knowledge to poor kids in Africa. (What do I hear you whining that you don’t have the money ? Oh come on, with the knowledge I have given, you should be making millions.) Do something positive with your life – spread this knowledge instead of just enjoying life.

    • Chinnamasti Devi permalink
      September 9, 2010 5:26 am

      “Do something positive with your life – spread this knowledge instead of just enjoying life.”

      Spreading their knowledge by collecting donations is the AOL way. You still haven’t left your old aol ways.

  52. The Doctor permalink
    September 8, 2010 9:39 pm

    @Vismritti,

    I don’t know who you are but really I don’t encourage this sort of unwarranted AoL-bashing on this blog, especially given it was completely unprovoked. All Smriti was doing here was asking an innocent question, and deserves better than to be treated in this manner.

    I don’t really want to create an us vs them culture here, so please have more respect for other posters when replying in future.

  53. Vismritti permalink
    September 8, 2010 9:51 pm

    It seemed to me that she was being sarcastic.

    In case she was not, my apologies to her for the snarky comment.

  54. Vismritti Debunker permalink
    September 9, 2010 3:43 am

    Vismritti is none other than the loser whistleblower.

    • Chinnamasti Devi permalink
      September 9, 2010 5:28 am

      I guess this person is none other than another AOL lackey on a Web seva assignment.

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      September 9, 2010 6:07 am

      No Smriti, like all AOL lackeys, with your usual wild allegations, you got it wrong.

      I guess when AOL Swamijis and presidents can allege they know who the bloggers are and then defame them publicly, we can’t blame Smiriti claiming that VIsmiritti is me and also honor me with a “loser” title as well. That is again another common title AOL people dish out to anyone who leaves AOL! We are all losers. Losers of what, I haven’t figured it out yet, as I sure don’t feel any loss leaving AOL!

      For your information Smiriti, I post all my comments and posts under WhistleBlower, not like you who first posted under Smiriti, then under “Vismritti Debunker”.

      So, no, I am not VIsmiritti, however like VIsmiriti, when I saw your post, I knew you are an AOL lackey. And to be honest, I quite enjoyed VIsmiriti reply to you. I thought it was very witty and clever and it was also obvious that VIsmiriti is an EX-AOL person, with quite enough AOL experience, who like me can smell AOL lackeys from a mile!

      I don’t know how VIsmiritti picked you up, but I can tell you how I figured it out. You were obviously (from your comment) an AOL person. Now an innocent AOL person, doesn’t come to our blog to seek knowledge of what RishiNeedsAShag (Oops, I meant Rishi Nityapragya!) said.

      After all ex-AOL teachers don’t hold Rishiji in high esteem, nor do people who have read about his sexual affairs/exploits in Klim’s blog (in spite of being married, while on AOL duties)!!
      An innocent AOL person would go and find anything Nitin said from an AOL source, not from our blog! Ex-AOL teachers whom I know don’t seek knowledge from SriSri or his Rishis or Swamis! We have had enough knowledge from these guys to last us few lifetimes!!

      So well done VIsmiriti for picking up another AOL Lackey and for your witty reply. I found it quite funny and spot on. It is a great thing that on our blog people can express themselves with fun and humor and don’t have to take on a “holier than thou” attitude and thank God we don’t have a “thought police” here!!

      Now before Smiriti, like all the rest of AOL Lackeys, denies that he is one, I let our readers read his previous comments under ”No knowledge is worth your freedom!” (where he posted under “Pissed Princess” alias ) and decide for themselves.
      To me, only an AOL lackey would have had such a strong reaction to someone else teaching breathing practices to public (esp. that she is doing it for free and is not making an empire for herself out of it, http://eiriu-eolas.org/about/)

      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/no-knowledge-is-worth-your-freedom/#comment-882
      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/no-knowledge-is-worth-your-freedom/#comment-886
      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/no-knowledge-is-worth-your-freedom/#comment-969
      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/no-knowledge-is-worth-your-freedom/#comment-970
      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/no-knowledge-is-worth-your-freedom/#comment-972
      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/08/07/no-knowledge-is-worth-your-freedom/#comment-973

      PS. To all AOL lackeys who are posting on our blog, look we are not censoring you, we have published all your comments, so why do you go to such a length to pretend you are not an AOL lackey.
      Indeed we give you full space and permission to express yourselves and to this day we have not deleted even one of your comments. Indeed the only comment ever deleted from this website was mine, referring to an AOL lackey as Mr. Sumeru, and due to him filing a defamation notice to wordpress!

      • Semi-Lacky (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
        March 12, 2011 6:42 am

        Everybody has engaged in these 6 common but useless vrittis on this blog in both the pro and anti groups. Everybody, apparently, has different karma with SSRS. Mine happens to be quite good. Obviously this is not every body’s experience. SSRS is a spiritual teacher like many others. You get involved with a spiritual teacher and a mix of good and bad happens. Hopefully the good outweighs the bad. If it gets too bad for you, you leave and hopefully you have gained some wisdom and some spiritual growth on your path. It’s this utter dismissal of SSRS which gets my dander up! But, I have to let that go and not get defensive. I’ll take SSRS’s teaching to heart even if he doesn’t at times!

      • Vinutha permalink
        March 13, 2011 7:40 am

        Semi Lackey
        The people here are questioning the financial fraud of his organization in the name of charity. Thats nothing to do with their Karma or exhibiting some vrittis. It is just good and common sense, which seems to be lacking in many AOL lackeys. It is also called dharma in indic traditions. It has nothing to do with karma with SSRS. Sri Sri is a spiritual master and beyond question is what you propose. Come on dude. Sri Sri is just like any one else, except that he is more greedy, more lying, ambitious and a cut throat fraud. His Karmas are catching up with him soon just like Nithyananda will be exposed. He has already been exposed so many times for his land grad, ayurvedic college frauds and many such scandals. But he has been bailed out due to powerful connections and money.

  55. Anoop permalink
    April 17, 2011 4:00 am

    I continue getting Calls when any art of living classes are held near 5-10kms my area. I dont pick up their calls, so will get 2-3 SMS-es.

    Why this aggressive marketing to a person who has never followed up after part-1 course ? I can imagine the fate of people who have went for a follow-up session.

    Dont give correct phone numbers and mail-ids if you are ever attending an Art of Living session.

    • anonymous permalink
      April 17, 2011 12:57 pm

      Don’t feel bad Anoop — I actually was called to be ‘specially invited’ to attend a “Blessings” course with Sri Sri himself, after not having participated in Art of Living for years! And after having been criticized and lied about in very negative ways by Guruji and his closest people. I just told the person on the phone that I’d take the website and look into it. He kept pressing me that it was a rare opportunity, blah blah blah. I didn’t want to tell him that I’d known Ravi Shankar too long, been too close, and found out just what he was and knew this would not be a Blessing but a Curse. It amazed me to know that my name was still on their lists with my phone number after so many years! They just don’t know what they are doing, and don’t care. You’ll probably never get off their lists. They are so big now, and couldn’t care less about your privacy or that you left.

  56. Anonymous permalink
    July 6, 2011 8:56 am

    I am another AOL devotee like you all who is pained to know all these insider truth.
    I truely believed each one of you. I am very excited that someone finally came up with a constructive criticism. I urge you to start a signature campaign with all the points that you have mentioned to “SAVE AOL” as it has done so much good to so many people. By practicing Sudarshan Kriya, my migraine disappeared, my chronic gastritis disappeared.
    I loved and believed Guruji as he answered every prayer that I did following kriya. But I certainly did not feel comfortable with any of the AOL part-I teachers except one. I agree with a) DSN to be scrapped b)Charity money being misused by GuruDev and his close associates, c) too much importance being given within the organization for propaganda, the centre piece of which is Sri Sri himself.

    What do you all think about writting a constructive note to “save AOL” as is done in this post and do a signature campaign and send it to Guruji?

    • anonymous permalink
      July 6, 2011 12:10 pm

      In order for this constructive note to happen, there has to be someone near the top with an open mind. It seems that all those people just leave (like those of us here, who just found it too insane to stay there). The only way to “save” AOL is to get rid of the head — Sri Sri. That looks to be impossible. There is one time that I know of that this has happened in an ashram, and it happened in the United States: A guru named Amrit Desai (who visited the Bangalore ashram and told me this story himself), was in control of a place called Kripalu, after his master had died. This ‘guru’ said he never wanted to be a guru, and had many ‘human traits’ as he put it, and didn’t like being deified. (So he said). But people kept coming and bowing. So he let them. He was a married man, and cheated on his wife with several of the young female disciples. After some years, this all came out, and he didn’t own anything at that ashram, and the board of directors or whatever body actually ran the ashram threw him out! And he said he went peacefully, because he knew he was no God, and just had human flaws. Now, knowing Art of Living and Sri Sri (if you indeed do even know this man at all well), do you actually think he would be humble enough to admit such a thing? Evidently, the Kripalu group flourishes even today, without a figure head or guru. People go there for retreats, and learn yoga and meditation. The have a website. That’s it. But I suspect that Sri Sri’s ego (and greedy family) would never allow that to happen with AOL. What do you think?

    • The Doctor permalink
      July 7, 2011 1:43 pm

      @Anonymous,

      I really feel for you. You sound like you are in a similar place to where I was when I wrote this post.

      I just went back and re-read it again for the first time in over 10 months, and it made me realize how naïve I actually was in the first place to believe that it would make any difference to Art of Living. It clearly hasn’t, and honestly I don’t believe any of us can do anything to help save Art of Living. All the recommendations made in this post as well as everything else we have raised in these blogs has just completely fallen on deaf ears, and I don’t see much chance of this ever changing.

      The truth is, it seems they have gone from bad to worse in so many ways. Part of the problem is that they don’t believe they are doing anything wrong, or at the very least they are in denial about it. The culture in AoL makes it very difficult to listen to and accept any criticism, and they would rather label those making the criticisms as negative, disgruntled and so on as they have done on countless occassions to date.

      Add to this that it is very difficult for them to admit to a lot of the wrong doings as this will inevitably result in them losing a lot of followers. Also, some of the changes recommended, such as dropping DSN and changing the content of TTC, are near impossible for Art of Living to implement since they require fundamental changes to the way the organization operates and makes money.

      As such, I don’t believe anything we do can bring about the necessary changes in Art of Living. There might be another way though, something which may just have a chance of getting the message across. But that can wait until the right time.

  57. Harshal permalink
    July 7, 2011 1:53 pm

    “they would rather label those making the criticisms as negative, disgruntled and so on”

    You can label them as zombies, brainwashed and so on- why can they not label you?

    ” It clearly hasn’t, and honestly I don’t believe any of us can do anything to help save AOL”

    Yes. that is why you are here to damage it. Can you tell us how exactly has AOL wronged you? personally?

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 8, 2011 3:48 am

      Correcting an organization from it’s wrong doings is not bad Harshal. If you think it is damaging, you should really think what causes that damage.. good that you finally agreed this blog is not just for entertainment for you.. It serves it’s purpose

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 8, 2011 9:06 am

      Btw, this entire blog and Klims blog – if you read it properly – has numerous posts that shows how AOL has (mist) treated people. If you want to know, this may be the time for you to read those posts seriously Harshal.

    • The Doctor permalink
      July 8, 2011 9:26 am

      Can you tell us how exactly has AOL wronged you? personally?

      I have already stated how AoL has wronged me in many different posts across this blog, and I’m not going to waste any time repeating them here. You can read some of them in the above post, as well as in the post Double-Edged Sword. In fact, you yourself have left comments to a few posts where I describe how AoL has wronged me, so you already know the answer to this question.

      What I will say is that even if AoL had done nothing to wrong me, I have seen more than enough wrong doings which I feel obliged to warn people about. If ever I witness a crime, I also feel a moral obligation to report this crime even if I myself am not a victim. I certainly am not the sort of person who will turn a blind eye and let criminals get away with it. Are you? That certainly seems to be the impression you’re giving here on this blog.

  58. Confuzed Volunteer permalink
    October 16, 2011 5:24 pm

    Hi,

    I would like to share my thoughts on this too.

    The best part of the Art of living is you are spending 1000 Rs . for the best meditation technique ever for your health and llfe.

    And the worst part is it increases your spiritual capabilities on spending lots of money in a planned way and doing the business for their own only.

    I have not even seen good amount of charity work done by them atleast 10 % of the amount they have earned yet.

    Earning money by utilizing brainwashed volunteers effort using their money and spending them into real estate, schools and university’s and charging people for high fees in the same school or college is not a charity.

    To have a Glow on your face, Believe me you need forget about your personnelity ,ego and intelligence which god have given each of us unique.

    Jai Gurudev.

    • Observer permalink
      October 17, 2011 10:10 am

      The only part of that comment which makes sense is the name – “confuzed volunteer”. what are you trying to say?

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