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The Purpose of These Blogs

October 2, 2010

At a time when a lot of things are being discussed on this blog and a lot of newcomers are arriving here for the first time, I want to take a moment to elaborate on exactly what it is we are trying to achieve here and ultimately what the purpose of these blogs is. Given the sheer volume of information contained within them, it is easy to be confused about where to begin, or for that matter why these blogs even exist. This post then should also serve as an introduction for anyone coming here for the first time.

To begin with, when we refer to “these blogs”, we are for the most part referring to two separate yet related blogs, created by ex-Art of Living teachers. Chronologically speaking, the first blog which appeared was called “Confessions of a Guruholic”, created by an individual who chose to remain anonymous for personal reasons, calling themselves KLIM. Hence you will often see that blog referred to as “KLIM’s blog”. The second is this blog you are now reading, which has the title “Beyond Art of Living: Critique of The Art of Living, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar”, which really captures the essence of what this blog is about. It was created by another ex-AoL teacher who has chosen to be identified as Skywalker. KLIM was actively updating their blog between November 2009 and June 2010, and hasn’t made any contributions subsequently. This blog, on the other hand, has been active since May 2010, and is being updated regularly, ongoing. There are also a number of other links listed under the “Con-AoL” section on the right hand side, a key one being the Guruphiliac blog, which deals with exposing false gurus across the globe, and which contains many posts related to Sri Sri and AoL.

The main purpose of both this and KLIM’s blog is to provide a critical perspective of both the Art of Living organization and of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, based on experiences that both the creators, and anyone else contributing, had during the time they spent with the organization. Above all the blogs are intended to raise awareness about these issues, so that both those people considering joining AoL and those who have been involved for any amount time, have a more balanced view than just that portrayed by the great many websites which only speak about the good things which AoL has done in the world. Many of the issues which are raised here will come as a complete surprise and in some cases seem shocking to people, mainly because most of the world is completely unaware of them, and for obvious reasons AoL doesn’t publicize them.

To go through each and every single post on both these blogs is a very arduous task (I know this from experience, having done it myself spending many hours over a period of a couple of months), so if you want a detailed summary of the main things being discussed here, I would strongly recommend you check out the post entitled The Prosecutor (link also available on the right hand side.) This lists the main things that SSRS and AoL are being accused of by various contributors on this blog, together with links to the original posts where these allegations are made.

The Prosecutor post is itself very long, so in case you don’t have time to go through that, I will do my best to provide an even more compact summary here, which will be especially useful for those who are discovering this blog for the first time. I would still encourage you to go through The Prosecutor post if you want to fully understand and participate in the ongoing discussions here. It will provide you with more than adequate background information and will answer a great many questions you may have.

So, to summarise. Art of Living is marketed as a not-for-profit, secular organization which teaches a number of courses aimed mostly at reducing stress in people. In these courses various useful points are taught on how to live your life, together with processes which improve health and wellbeing, including yoga and pranayamas (breathing exercises). AoL claim that all the proceeds from the courses go to charitable projects in various locations across the world, and that the whole organization is run by volunteers. They also claim that over 20-30 million people worldwide have done the Basic Course, and that they have a presence in 150-160 countries. On the surface, everything seems completely above board and the organization appear to be doing a lot of good in the world. This at least is a summary of how AoL describes itself, albeit in my own words.

What a great many of the critical posters on this blog are claiminig is that although AoL is doing some good in the world, they are also causing a great amount of harm as well. This harm includes damage to physical health of various practictioners of the techniques taught on the courses, for example bad side effects of kriya and bhastrika, as well as psychologic damage resulting not only from meditation and kriya, but also from spiritual abuse by senior members of the organization itself, including Sri Sri. This spiritual abuse can best be described as using spirituality to manipulate people or to scare them, for instance by making them believe that if they perform certain services for the organization that their karma will be reduced.

Regarding Sudarshan Kriya, AoL markets this technique as being unique to the organization, having being “revealed to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar whilst meditating in silence in a cave in 1982”. They try to convince people that it is a panacea for a great many illnesses including cancer and even AIDS. AoL teachers are taught to teach the technique to ever individual indiscriminantly. Some contributors here claim that the technique is just hyperventilation, whilst others believe it to be an ancient yogic breathing technique know to many yoga practioners and AoL have just tried to commercialize it and claim it is unique to them. Further many have stated that it is only suited to certain practicioners based on their ayurvedic constitution, and as such should not be taught to everyone. A great many people have reported ill effects from these practices, and when they do they are usually told something like it is just natural / cleansing / detoxing to feel these things. There is also a great deal of secrecy surrounding the technique, with claims made that it is actually the “grace of the guru” which is responsible for the positive effects rather than the technique itself.

There are further allegations that the majority of techniques in AoL have been plagiarized from other organizations and sold to course participants as originating from AoL. Further the participants are told never to discuss any of these techniques with anyone who has never done the courses, hence there is very little chance of this ever being discovered.

There are allegations of harm to local communities, for example the villages around Bangalore Ashram having their land snatched up by AoL to build the Ashram and associated accomodation.

One of the recurring themes throughout the forum is a question as to where the money from courses really goes. AoL claims it all goes to charitable projects around the world, however a great many people here who have been involved with AoL are all claiming that not a penny of these goes to any charitable projects but instead goes direclty into the pockets of Sri Sri, his immediate family, and a small group of people referred to throughout the blogs as Sri Sri’s Inner Circle, who include the various Swamis and Rishis of the Art of Living organization. They also claim that the charitable status of AoL is just to avoid paying taxes, at least in India, since only a token number of charity projects actually exist. There are many posts concerning misappropriation of funds throughout both blogs, and that Sri Sri travels first class and stays in 5-7 star hotels whenever he travels.

Many posts also highlight that AoL is commercializing a great many sacred Hindu practices and profiterring heavily from this venture. They claim that AoL is actually a for-profit corporation rather than a not-for-profit charity.

Another theme that is discussed at length is the accuracy of information provided by AoL, particularly with regards to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s personal history. Many people have observed that his history is being constantly revised, especially on his Wikipedia page, with certain key events of his life and the years in which they occurred being edited, whole sections simply disappearing at times and being replaced by “new” information. Along these lines there is also the question of who his guru was, and where he received the titles of “Sri Sri” and further “His Holiness”, which many claim he just gave himself.

There are also allegations that AoL just makes up any statistics which it quotes, for example the number of people worldwide who have attended Baisc Courses, the number of current teachers, the number of course attendees, the number of attendees in major events like the Silver Jubilee, the cost of expenses associated with courses, and a great many other things.

And of course, probably the most disturbing of all the allegations is that Art of Living is actually a cult masquerading as a humanitarian organization. That AoL uses various good things to draw people into the organization and then instils a dependency in these people on both the organization and on Sri Sri himself. Many posts discuss the fact that Sri Sri is deified by teachers and devotees, that this is something which is actually encouraged by Sri Sri himself, and that anyone who gets involved deeply with AoL eventually ends up believing he is God and so surrenders their time, money or both to Sri Sri and the organization, usually in the name of seva (selfless service.) Many posts relate the stories of family breakups because one member, usually the wife in a marriage, became so infatuated with either AoL or with a particular teacher that they abandoned their family to do seva for the organization.

These are just a few of the things that the contributors here have observed. There are a great many others all detailed in “The Prosecutor” post and ultimately across the blogs, and if you have the time and inclination I would strongly urge you to read these.

The blogs aren’t here to defame, to incite hatred or to vent frustrations. Rather, they are here to show another side to AoL, a side which was previously hidden at least to the public and to most members, but which is now being exposed. There is no forum at present available in AoL to provide criticism, and any criticism raised is usually either ignored or rationalized.

Disclaimer

Please read the Disclaimer on the right hand side of this blog, which perfectly summarizes what the owner of the blog intended. It is really worth reiterating a key part of this here: what is contained in this blog is the opinions of those posting, based on experiences they had with AoL. As such, it is extremely difficult to moderate any information for accuracy. In fact, there is very little moderation which goes on, and most comments here are accepted. Free speech is actively encouraged here.

Comments from everyone and anyone who has something to say are greatly welcomed, and healthy and civilized discussions are greatly encouraged.

Requests

I have a couple of requests I’d like to make here.

On the subject of honesty, I would really appreciate it if anyone posting here refrained from out and out lying just to make AoL look either really bad or for that matter really good. It goes without saying there is absolutely no need to lie, and if anyone does it just reduces the overall message of these blogs. That said, from the great many things that have been alleged, so far so good no solid evidence has come to light that anything is untrue. Conversely, a great many of these are still allegations, so we need to wait until the truth comes out about them.

Now as far as mudslinging is concerned, it would be great if we could collectively refrain from mudslinging if it can possibly be avoided. This really detracts from the discussions here, and most things can be said without calling each other names.

I especially want to raise one issue I have, and that is that a great many people who are associated with AoL and who are defending the organization and SSRS on this blog are being referred to as “brainwashed lackeys”. There are two reasons I mention this, and they are both centered on the logical implications of the term. Firstly, if someone is truly brainwashed, they have no idea they are brainwashed and they believe they are acting of their own free will. Thus, if we refer to them as a brainwashed lackey, we are on the one hand pointing out that they have been manipulated to have a certain set of beliefs and as such are a victim of brainwashing, and then proceed to insult them about them about it!! This leads to the second reason I am concerned about this: by calling AoLers these things, we are actually creating more enmity between them and those people who are supporting these blogs. This is counterproductive to what we should aim to achieve here: to raise awareness about the issues in AoL in the hope that people will realize them and make a more informed decision about whether they wish to begin or continue their association with AoL or not. If we just call them “brainwashed” all the time, this is going to push them away from us and our message will have no effect on them whatsoever. This will also lead to calling these blogs “negative”, which again will work against us.

These are just my own personal opinions. I’m not going to go around telling people off or complain if I do see mudslinging. 😉 It would just be good if we all toned it down and concentrated our efforts on the main issues at hand.

Otherwise, please do contribute if you have anything to add to any of these discussions that can help to shed any more light on the various issues discussed. All input greatly welcomed.

Frequently Asked Questions

We should probably start a separate section for this, as I am certainly seeing a lot of recurring questions coming from both neutral observers and pro-AoLers. For now I’ll address so of these here.

Many newcomers have been commenting that what is written here is lacking in substance and there is no proof. What I would say to you is that we are expressing opinions here, and it is down to individuals to make up their own mind as to whether these resonate with any experiences they themselves have had. With a great many of these allegations, see them simply as allegations until the truth about them comes out, if it ever does. Above all, use your discrimination to determine whether these things should affect you or not. If you haven’t had any direct experience of them, then it is very difficult to accept them.

Now, a great many comments are being posted by pro-AoLers which go something along the lines of “Guruji has done so much good for the world, you shouldn’t write bad things about him / we shouldn’t listen to these bad things.” This is completely flawed as it is an attempt to make people see only one side of the coin whilst ignoring the other, pretending it doesn’t exist. This in fact goes against a major knowledge point in AoL itself which is to always see the good qualities and bad qualities in everything, at the same time. If Sri Sri or AoL have done anything which is questionable, people have to be made aware of these things. So people who have ever been involved with AoL that have had bad experiences should definitely share these with the rest of the world, on these blogs and anywhere else they can. Telling people not to make such comments here works against AoL and will just instil anger from the contributors. In fact it seems to me that the entire reason for the existence of the Art of Living Life Stories Blog (link on right under pro-AoL) is to try and deflect any attention from the bad qualities in AoL by highlighting only the good qualities.

As far as the identities of the various contributors is concerned, the majority of us have chosen to remain anonymous for our own reasons. This is no way makes us cowards, rather it is for our own protection. I for one do not want prospective employers finding my name associated with Art of Living at any time in the future, as this will just hamper my job prospects. Further, I didn’t previously believe the things that KLIM claimed AoL had done as far as threatening people was concerned until I saw both Swami Sadyojatha’s post, The Truth about the Negative Blogs, and subsequently Ewald Poeran’s vicious comments on this blog, which is included in the post Disgruntled President Speaks up for his CEO. If senior members of AoL are reacting in this way, I would naturally want to maintain my anonymity for the sake of my own personal safety, as would all other contributors.

The Choice is Yours to Make, and Yours Alone

No one here is telling you what to believe, or to take sides, although it may seem like that at times. Rather, if you are considering becoming involved with AoL at any level, or are already involved at some level, especially if you are about to become a teacher, it is important that you see both the good and the bad in AoL and then decide for yourself whether it is for you or not. In fact, these things should have been made clear by AoL from the ouset instead of being hidden in this way. Sooner or later these things were bound to get out, and in fact these blogs are a direct consquence of this.

Above all, I would ask you for your own sake to exercise critical thinking as much as possible as you read these posts, and then make as an informed decision as you possibly can given the data available.

Love & Peace,

The Doctor


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148 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink
    October 2, 2010 9:49 pm

    I don´t know how to contact you. I don´t want to give nor my name nor my emailaddress because I´m scared. Please post something about how to deal with this.

    • Attendance percentage permalink
      October 3, 2010 6:58 pm

      Sri Sumeru Realty: an Aravind(SSRS nephew company)

      Please see the link below.
      They are selling a 3 bed rom house near the ashram for 300k -400k us dollars.
      http://www.sumerurealty.com/soudhamini/expression-of-interest-form/

      Are these the projects which AOL Part-1 course money collected from most USA courses is going to ? Are we making some nephews (Ajay Tejasvi, Aravind Varchasvi) billionaires / millionaires in the name of spirituality ?

      TM organization did the same to Maharshi’s nephew. Most TM volunteers / full time teachers barely lived while Maharshi’s nephew (according people on TM free blog) became very wealthy by cash flow from TM.

      Are we heading in the same direction in AOL ?

  2. Create a fake email id on hotmail and use it permalink
    October 2, 2010 10:26 pm

    Create a fake email id on hotmail and use it to communicate with other people on this blog. Don’t be scared or confused. Life is always good and hope filled. Trust your self , every thing will be alright. Trust God, use your discretion, do the right thing. You will be just fine. Believe it and you will be so.

    • Anonymous permalink
      October 3, 2010 3:20 pm

      Thank you for your empathic words… I will follow this…

  3. Bling Bling permalink
    October 3, 2010 12:03 am

    Hey Skywalker,

    Can you make this a “sticky post” so it stays on the top.
    See http://codex.wordpress.org/Version_2.7#Sticky_Posts

    • October 3, 2010 7:42 am

      Done.

      • goneagain permalink
        October 3, 2010 3:25 pm

        Can you also make links to recent posts on the right?

  4. goneagain permalink
    October 3, 2010 1:01 am

    Thanks to Doc, another great post. While “The Prosecutor” post gives more detailed account – this post can be a great summary/introduction to this blog. And agree, we do have to restrain ourselves even when provoked by people like Sad swami. Hope this will help many people to know both sides of AOL and take a balanced approach with AOL instead of believing anything/everything (including the propaganda guru stories) said by AOL/RS.

  5. Anonymous permalink
    October 3, 2010 1:17 am

    I think it should also be possible to communicate with the owner of the blog by simply writing in the Comment box and marking it: “Do not post” or “Private/Confidential” so it’s not posted. That way you don’t have to create another email id if that is too much for you.
    Will that be possible Skywalker/Whistleblower?

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      October 3, 2010 1:42 am

      Yes, that would be absolutely fine.However, if you would like a reply from us, you need to give us an email address.It is very easy to create anon. email address with gmail or hotmail or whatever.

    • October 3, 2010 7:45 am

      Yeah, no problem, like WB says. Gmail is safe and easy to use.

  6. anonymous permalink
    October 3, 2010 2:24 am

    I see this blog has been maturing over time and definitely the Doctor’s contribution made a difference in this regard. When many AOLers read these balanced articles they would give more thought and will ignore warnings (from AOL clan) about not to visit “negative blogs” and more likely to understand the inner workings of AOL and take more balanced attitude towards AOL than they would have done otherwise. Great work Doc.

  7. Doreen permalink
    October 3, 2010 4:08 am

    Thank you, I think you have created a foundation for a real discussion which will be genuinely helpful to many.

  8. October 3, 2010 7:07 am

    @ Doctor,

    I appreciate your contribution and ideas. FAQ idea is fantastic. That would help answer the general queries and also define the way how one should contribute on this blog and what one should not do on this blogs, whenever possible. Like Dos and don’ts. E.g. no insults, mudslinging, frustration, abusive words.

    I wonder if this blog could become a pre-requisite for TTC to create super immune teachers for AOL!

    Doreen your contribution is also praiseworthy. I like the way you write. Someone should in fact give a special place to the questions raised by Doreen.

  9. Independent Observer permalink
    October 3, 2010 6:03 pm

    Hey Doc,

    Terrific post. Your message captured much of what I have been feeling within me but somehow wasn’t able to voice. From within me I feel the folks on this blog are my real satsang, that which I had missed when I was at AOL. I don’t say this because of the seemingly anti-AOL framework. I stopped paying attention to AOL the moment the grand realisation sunk in. I say this because I have been longing for friends that display the integrity, the intelligence, the sensitivity, the strength, the humour, being truly spirit minded, the openness and the willigness to accept what is grey, the willingness to take responsibility and change, most of all the ability to listen to ones voice of reason. All of which I find among many of the contributors to this blog. If we meet in physical form, great. If not…no issues…..its nice to know that you guys exist.

    Guys, I cant wait to meet all of you. The moment I say this, I realise the grand difficulty behind this….The question is how are we going to do this. Someday sometime….whats the hurry ?…..there is no agenda anyways…..its just a camaraderie thingie.

    Just for our Info…The Earth’s cycles are increasing in their frequency. Recommend that we catch up on the construct of holographic time. During transition times, to make the next grade, the right energy levels are important. Without you feeling the truth within you this is not going to happen. Those who follow rules and laws that are not yet their experiential truth essentially are following other people’s truth. ie being a football. ..or just echoing a belief system. To the person on the journey, this is mostly a hollow lost feeling and feels so NOT authentic and therefore there is automatically a feeling of being a victim as you are not living life on your personal terms.

    So here is truly to giving us back to ourselves.

    • Independent Observer permalink
      October 3, 2010 6:15 pm

      Also, this blog became active in May 2010. It took 4 months (about 16 weeks) to get a 100,000 hits. I feel that the next 100K hits are likely to happen in less than 8 weeks….”This is also speeding”…..the acceleration is accelerating. If you are a player for the next stage, all the Karma will be balanced this life cycle…I guess we will not need to have to wait for the next round. Hence in your awareness any balance of Karma with AOL will also complete. For each of our individual journeys…just realize that the authentic gifts that AOL gave you will stay (such as your true friends and some universal truths). The rest of it will just fade away. It has also left you with the great strength and confidence that you can rely and depend on the God within. if you have a God on the outside that you can relate to, thats a bonus…..otherwise there is always what is within.

      • harshal permalink
        October 4, 2010 12:27 am

        one more psychiatry referral…

    • Bling Bling permalink
      October 3, 2010 8:46 pm

      Just for our Info…The Earth’s cycles are increasing in their frequency. Recommend that we catch up on the construct of holographic time. During transition times, to make the next grade, the right energy levels are important…. If you are a player for the next stage, all the Karma will be balanced this life cycle…I guess we will not need to have to wait for the next round.

      @Independent Observer

      Dude, you are spooking me out 🙂 Are you regurgitating AOL stuff here ?

  10. Svetana permalink
    October 3, 2010 7:45 pm

    Dear Doctor,
    Thank you for your wonderful summary of things discussed on Skywalker and KLIM’s blogs. It should really help people discovering these blogs for the first time.
    I quite agree with you that people writing their comments should not use “bad” language, insulting each other. On the other hand, some people posting here were deeply traumatized by AOL and its leader. Being victims, they come to this place to share their experiences and heal. I believe, they can’t be very picky about words. Main thing is that they should stay sincere. For example, look at KLIM’s posts. They contain all sorts of “good and bad” words, but they are written with such deep sincerity that it helped a lot of AOL victims to realize true nature of the organization and RS. In fact, a lot of things were brought to light thanks to KLIM, and unfolding process is going on.

  11. goneagain permalink
    October 3, 2010 11:35 pm

    “They also claim that over 20-30 million people worldwide have done the Basic Course, and that they have a presence in 150-160 countries.”

    Actually AOL claims that they have reached 300 million people in over 140 countries with its various programs’ – not just 20-30 million.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_Living_Foundation
    http://www.newswiretoday.com/news/17261/

    With 300 million in their pockets, why would they worry about bunch of nut heads (here)?

    • Kitapati permalink
      October 4, 2010 5:06 am

      These claims doesn’t mean anything and can never be proved. This is an art perfected by cult leaders. Look at Nithyananda’s site with the new updates. They claim:
      Presence in 197 countries, 4.4 million devotees and1200 full time volunteers.
      http://dhyanapeetam.org/web/default.aspx

      • Jano permalink
        October 5, 2010 5:33 am

        197 countries have Nithyananda’s followers? Amazing, since there are only 195 countries in the world.

        http://geography.about.com/cs/countries/a/numbercountries.htm

        I guess they counted the penguins in Antarctica, and some of those unpopulated islands around the Pacific rim.

        What a bunch of liars and crooks.

    • Doreen permalink
      October 5, 2010 2:01 pm

      Actually they say 300 million people have been “touched” by AOL. Different than saying 300 million people have done the AOL course. This is marketing language. It probably includes people who have attended the gargantuan maha satsangs led by SSRS in India.

      • freethinker permalink
        October 5, 2010 5:13 pm

        Even then it seems off the charts, another example of AOL exaggerations/manipulations.

      • dayalu permalink
        October 5, 2010 7:56 pm

        Also the people who watch those Satsangs and SSRS’ discourses on telivision.

  12. PaulTheOctopus permalink
    October 4, 2010 7:17 am

    I think Harshal might be Harshal Pulekar.
    http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=752572373&ref=fs

    Poor guy is an extreme case of Cool Aid ingestion.

  13. Hey permalink
    October 4, 2010 8:27 am

    Dude,
    You seem to be in love with Sri Sri. 🙂
    You know what, you will always doubt that is positive. Thats what your current state of affairs is. And the most striking part is, you call the spritiual knowledge absurd, this only shows that you are the most shallow entity present on the face of planet Earth. There have been great Gurus at some point of time but He is the greatest Guru of all times. Your small mind will keep doubting Him. I tell you to doubt Him 100%. I feel you still dont doubt Him 100%. Please doubt Him completely from the core of your existence. Dont leave even a single cell in your body which doesnt doubt Sri Sri. 🙂
    Warm Regards,
    Love

    • Researcher permalink
      October 4, 2010 2:00 pm

      Sorry, Mr. “Hey”, we are not doubting SSRS at all, not an iota of doubt that he and his gang of hucksters are taking the public for a ride, having experienced first hand their tricks and shenanigans. I repeat what others have said here, we’re in the process of moving on and beyond the grips of the cult of AOL, but as is wont with most “devotees” of the grand huckster, you reflect your own twisted warped mind by twisting facts to present it in your own pro-AOL way, and your words reflect typical AOL brainwashing. “He is the greatest Guru of all times.” Love that 🙂

      Cool with me, buddy, whatever floats your boat. Me, I’m chilling with a cold glass of smooth Black Label on the rocks. Keep posting, it’s fun to read the pleadings, rants, and curses from the AOLites. I’ll get the popcorn.

    • Garuda permalink
      October 4, 2010 7:02 pm

      There have been great Gurus at some point of time but He is the greatest Guru of all times

      Puhleez! Have you heard of Ramana Maharshi, Ramakrishna Paramahansa, Sri Aurobindo Ghosh? They radiated spiritual waves which silenced the minds of those in their presence. Ravi can’t do that.

  14. harshal permalink
    October 4, 2010 2:17 pm

    @ Researcher “Me, I’m chilling with a cold glass of smooth Black Label on the rocks”

    nice. ……Get in touch with the “The Earth’s cycles are increasing in their frequency, Recommend that we catch up on the construct of holographic time” -guy(independent observer)……..his mind apparently is independent of his observations…..you guys can have a great time together…..he wont need any alcohol…and you will need less of it…..

    • Guru-ouch permalink
      October 4, 2010 8:41 pm

      Dear Harshal,
      Of the numerous questions or comments or calling names here that you specifically posed, you have always received answers or replies, whereas, you have conveniently side-stepped specific questions or asking you about opinions about a few things that happen in AOL. Take for e.g. about the sweepstakes page. What do you have to say about it?
      But, I have an answer, you will conveniently avoid the question or will recommend to AOLers to have that deleted from the website.

  15. 2bit permalink
    October 4, 2010 2:44 pm

    Is AOL doing more good (in terms of health, peace, joy, sense of community) at the cost few profit mongers, or is it really harmful social force? Anyone for a bird’s eye view of this?

    • Attendance Percentage permalink
      October 4, 2010 3:48 pm

      @2bit:

      I have to post a response to your question. In my personal opinion, AOL’s SK, Meditation and Yoga techniques are good for you. They relieve your stress, improve your quality of life. Are other organizations techniques equally good or better ? They could be. But i don’t have experience with other stuff. In my experience, AOL Satsang groups are mostly ok with some of the groups being a drag (irritating / nagging / emotionally black mailing you to do seva). This entirely depends on the teachers. Full time teachers are the worst. They don’t have a perspective on life. They live and breath AOL and want any Satsang group memebers (people who attend follow-up long kriya) to sacrifice their life for AOL. Most Full time teachers are trouble. Run from them, if you meet them.

      AOL at shallow involvement seems good for you and good for the world. If you do any Seva projects and get involved in depth, you start experiencing the mediocrity, bad example and some unethical behavior from the people who run the organization.

      In short, AOL is good, if you don’t go more than a foot deep into it. If you go too deep, you may see what doesn’t seem right ? If you walk in with blind faith, you may end up being disillusioned one day. I feel for all the full timers with AOL. I don’t want them to get disillusioned one day. If it happens that will destroy their life. Every thing will fall apart. Most AOL people are good people being lead incompetently. I don’t know if the leaders have wrong intentions.

      Every one, use your mind to think through and follow your heart. Don’t allow AOL teachers to hoodwink you with all the miracle stories. Ask them for proof’s not just hearsay.

      Use AOL for what good it can give you and move on …

      Good luck and God(our higher self) bless 🙂

      • 2bit permalink
        October 4, 2010 5:27 pm

        @Attendance Percentage, thnx for the detailed response.
        >>Use AOL for what good it can give you and move on…
        Seems like there is some good AOL is spreading, but one needs to be alert in order to not get rubbed
        the wrong way?

        The other sides of my question are
        A. Would stopping AOL in its tracks would bring more good or more harm?
        B. Or recommending AOL with caution would contribute to greater good?
        C. Or just be indifferent is the way to go?

      • deepak permalink
        October 5, 2010 7:48 am

        It is like saying alcohol in moderation is good for health. But the trouble is if you stay long with moderate alcohol in the long run you are most likely to become alcoholic. It happens to most people. If you stay long enough one day or other you are bound to go deep.

  16. Doreen permalink
    October 4, 2010 3:19 pm

    Doctor,

    Thanks for summarizing so cogently.
    I could put the accusations you list into three categories: money, claims about the practices, and AOL culture.

    I would like to share my observations on all of these at some point.
    For the moment I’ll just write my thoughts on the money accusations:
    – course fees don’t go to charity as claimed?
    – money goes to SSRS and family?
    – Aol commercializes sacred Hindu practices?

    COURSE FEES DON’T GO TO CHARITY AS CLAIMED?
    I am not so sure that SSRS really makes this claim.
    – I have heard SSRS tell a group of teachers NOT to say that course fees go to charity projects. He said the fee is payment for a good received (the AOL course), not a charity donation, and so the organization is free to use the money as it sees fit. If any of you have heard him or any of the senior staff say something different, please do share.

    It’s possible that one or more teachers have at some point told their students something different but I’m not sure that represents the official word of the organization.

    – The European website does make this claim:
    “The proceeds from our paid courses are used for our humanitarian programs.”
    http://artofliving.eu/index.php?id=56&L=4
    There are two possibilities here:
    1. The EU AOL group is intentionally trying to scam people by telling them that course fees go to charity when they really don’t
    2. The FAQ section of the website was put together by a volunteer who didn’t have the full facts, and was not properly reviewed by someone who did have the full facts

    MONEY GOES TO SSRS AND FAMILY?
    Where’s the dosh? I don’t know for sure but I’ll tell you what I think.
    I think the money coming in from courses goes to an AOL bank account, to be used as needed by the organization, at SSRS’s direction.
    My guess is that AOL spends money in the same way that any spiritual organization does; they use it to advance their outreach and platform.

    I think SSRS is in charge of the finances and spends the money as he sees fit and probably a whole lot is saved for future uses. It’s possible that his sister/brother-in-law draw a regular income from AOL. I have no idea. But is SSRS raiding AOL’s coffers to buy himself and his family diamonds and rubies and properties in the Seychelles? I’m open to evidence of the contrary, but I find it highly unlikely.

    His nephew in the US has a full-time job.

    AOL COMMERCIALIZES SACRED HINDU PRACTICES?
    This is subjective.
    – Some people are of the opinion that sincere spiritual organizations shouldn’t ever charge for their services. They find mixing money with spirituality distasteful.
    – Some others have no problem with it, to them the AOL model makes it easier to share something useful with a wider group of people.
    – Then there are people whose feelings about this lie somewhere in between. They understand why AOL charges for courses but also think they sometimes go overboard with the marketing.

    I can’t say there’s one right answer on this. Each person is entitled to decide where they stand and what they’re comfortable with.

    Overall I’m open to hearing counter-evidence. Hit me with your best shot.
    The commitment is to the truth.

    Peace.

    • freethinker permalink
      October 4, 2010 5:21 pm

      “I am not so sure that SSRS really makes this claim.
      – I have heard SSRS tell a group of teachers NOT to say that course fees go to charity projects. He said the fee is payment for a good received (the AOL course), not a charity donation, and so the organization is free to use the money as it sees fit. If any of you have heard him or any of the senior staff say something different, please do share.”

      Biggest flaw with this argument is when you call the fees as donation (compulsory though) and call the your company as non-profit to get all the tax benefits. You must declare your company as for-profit and pay applicable taxes. You can’t have both ways.

    • Dayalu permalink
      October 4, 2010 10:26 pm

      Doreen,

      I quote SSRS. ” Truth is Spherical, so don’t expect consistencies in my statements”. Although he used to say this in a ligher vein, this statement characterises Art of Living and SSRS. Inconsistencies can be found in every aspect of Art of Living, including finances. You have heard him say that the course fees are payment for goods received. I have heard (and am sure many of the others here would have heard) him publicly state that course fees are collected for charity. SSRS changes his statements to suit the audience. He would say one set of things to his teachers, another set of things in his public appearances, yet another set of things to his “inner circle” and so on and these statements also change with time. Is that characteristic of a spiritual person?

      Now, it might not be the case that SSRS buys diamonds and Rubies for his sister and fast cars for his nephews (I don’t know and cannot comment on that), but the fact is that there is no accountability in how the money is being handled. They claim about low overheads, but there are gross inefficiencies in their activities. I was there when Vishalakshi Mantap was being constucted. SSRS had come back from a long tour and was inspecting the construction. He did not like the way the pillars were positioned and had no qualms in ordering all the huge pillars to be demolished and rebuilt. Think of it, all these constructions were being done out of course contributions. Similarly, I have seen loads of food being thrown away in the Ashram when there are extremely poor people living just outside the Ashram complex.

      If you observe closely, you will also find that the “service projects” are all in areas of media interest. When the media interest wanes, Art of living moves on to the the next area of interest, irrespective of whether the work in those earlier projects are complete or not. I remember SSRS’ two pet projects in India in the late 90s. One was “Swadeshi jagran” – buying only Indian brands purportedly to support the Indian economy. List of purely Indian brands were distributed in the AOL basic courses and teachers were asked to aggressively campaign for the “Swadeshi” movement and against foreign brands(That was the time when Swadeshi economics was getting pretty popular in India, supported by the BJP party. But after the BJP government came to power, they did a volte face and started adopting globalization policies). The next time I went to Ashram, I was appalled to find all those foriegn brands proscribed by my Art of Living teacher being sold in the Divine stores. It appeared SSRS’ outlook changed along with the BJP.

      The campaigns against neck ties and Jana Gana Mana (the Indian national anthem) are other similar projects which were launched with a lot of fanfare, but had quick deaths as SSRS’ views and priorities changed with time. Now is that a characteristic of an enlightened person? Who knows.

    • goneagain permalink
      October 4, 2010 11:46 pm

      @Doreen

      “I have heard SSRS tell a group of teachers NOT to say that course fees go to charity projects. He said the fee is payment for a good received (the AOL course), not a charity donation, and so the organization is free to use the money as it sees fit.”

      This seems a dishonest attempt to shove everything under the rug. This is exactly the ploy AOL plays all the time, If this had worked this blog wouldn’t be here.

      If you ask every ex. teacher/devotee or current devotees, where is the fees go that AOL changes? they will parrot “Service projects”, “service projects” and “service projects”.

      If you say the fees are for AOL to use as it pleases, why it is called donation and why should be AOL tax exempt (from all the countries)?

      • Doreen permalink
        October 5, 2010 2:38 am

        @Goneagain

        I agree that it should not be called a donation if it is not a donation.

        I was not aware that teachers were telling people that courses fee went to service projects, but the link above to the Swami’s blog post obviously showed that they are.
        I agree that this is wrong.

        Peace.

    • goneagain permalink
      October 5, 2010 1:32 am

      RaviRavis own words in this interview – AOL clan can’t claim he never said it. Many things said by him has been disputed by many posters in this and KLIM’s blogs.

      1. 100’s of millions people benefited by the teachings (yes 100s of millions not 10s of millions)
      2. Addressed 2.5 million people in silver jubilee celebration (which is his biggest crowd)
      3. At age 4 – he recited whole Bagavath gita (not part – whole) and learned the bhagavad gita in former life.
      4. At age 8 – he said all over the world people are waiting for me and one day I will visit them.
      5. Father was in automobile business
      6. Grand father was with Gandhi
      7. 1982 – 10 days of silence after 10 days – started teaching to 50 doctors and they said it is fascinating.
      8. I don’t need SK these days.

      9. Q. Your charge for teaching these techniques.

      Any charitable organization is supposed to do charity right? Charity can’t happen from empty bowl, we do charge minimal amount and most of it spend on the expenses of the programs but whatever remains we put on the charitable projects that we do.

      – His own word that the money earned are put on the charitable projects …
      – I am pretty sure you can find many many of his own interviews/speeches claiming course money goes to charitable projects.

    • goneagain permalink
      October 5, 2010 1:52 am

      @Doreen

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

      AOLF representatives declared: [11]

      “You can’t do charity out of an empty bowl. We do programs, we earn money and we spend it on charity”.

      http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/feat/archives/2007/08/04/2003372759

      “You can’t do charity out of an empty bowl. We do programs, we earn money and we spend it on charity,” said Kakar.

      – I am sure you can find lot more evidence about his lies inside and in public. If you are not convinced still do your own research.

    • Doreen permalink
      October 10, 2010 1:54 pm

      A friend sent me the 2008 IRS docs for AOL US which are public online. They show that AOL gave $1 million to charity for that year.

      AOL didn’t give all course revenue to charity (which I haven’t heard anyone claim) but they did give a substantial portion to charity. Which means that what Sri Sri and Swami said was true.

      • October 10, 2010 5:49 pm

        Sure, AOL US can be trusted to file their taxes truthfully (if your information is correct) or can they ? 🙂 Going by their record of asking for donations (when it should be called fees) and trying to do charity by doing photo ops, one can draw their own judgement.

      • Bling Bling permalink
        October 10, 2010 6:20 pm

        A friend sent me the 2008 IRS docs for AOL US which are public online. They show that AOL gave $1 million to charity for that year.

        @Doreen

        As I understand, there are 3 questions here
        (a) cash collection which can be hidden and
        (b) accounting in India
        (c) charity money has to be raised by local chapters. Bangalore doesn’t contribute anything.

        Since you seem open-minded to hearing both sides, why don’t you get a private audience with SSRS and see if you can directly resolve many of the questions raised on this blog? It seems futile to expect any answers from AOL commenters like Harshal and others.

  17. XXX permalink
    October 4, 2010 4:38 pm

    @Doreen:

    I was told at least a few dozen times by many AOL teachers and AOL senior teachers, that all the course money after overheads (less than 10%) goes to humanitarian work. I live in USA and this is how AOL instructors present the course in USA.

  18. Attendance Percentage permalink
    October 4, 2010 6:49 pm

    @2bit

    ——————————————————————–
    The other sides of my question are
    A. Would stopping AOL in its tracks would bring more good or more harm?
    B. Or recommending AOL with caution would contribute to greater good?
    C. Or just be indifferent is the way to go?
    ——————————————————————

    In my opinion, AOL is neither a criminal organization nor a role model organization. But the organization has too many flaws for a non profit. Extremely poor quality and marginally unethical leadership. Is it serving some good in the world ? Definitely yes. AOL is not a drug peddler. AOL is selling dreams of happiness and self realization. Are AOL’s promises real ? May be marginally yes, marginally no.

    Should AOL grow beyond its size and encompass other areas (not geographies) (i.e. womens conferences etc.). In my personal opinion, AOL already grew out of its core competence area and is operating in areas where its competence is marginal at best (Sri Sri Ayurveda, Sankara Cosmetics, Sri Sri Yoga etc). In my opinion, AOL should try to improve the quality of its organization and leadership, instead of madly trying to hard sell its basic course.

    AOL needs to change. It needs to get better. It is rotting some where on the inside. It needs to learn to come clean. AOL also should adapt financial transparency.

    Spiritual evolution is not selling and promoting your basic course or hard selling and asking people to become AOL teachers.

    If AOL thinks its a spiritual organization. It should cringe at every dollar/ rupee/ euro it collects wondering what bad karma it can incur, if not spent wisely.

    If AOL wants to teach “how to live”, they have to make sure that their leaders live decent values (not AOL’s messed up values where revenue is God and Hersey Guru miracles are Bible and Gita).

    About time AOL concentrate on quality of spirituality and stop running after quantity and revenue.

  19. Think permalink
    October 4, 2010 9:19 pm

    @Doreen

    Below is from swami sadhyojathah article. I am also posting a link to the article.

    http://www.kashikar.net/2010/08/the-truth-about-the-negative-blogs-%E2%80%93-by-swami-sadhyojathah/

    In the above linked article …

    8. I personally have been involved in the …… “The charity we(AOL) do is supported by the fees we charge for the courses”.

  20. Bling Bling permalink
    October 4, 2010 10:50 pm

    @Dayalu

    “The campaigns against neck ties and Jana Gana Mana (the Indian national anthem) are other similar projects which were launched with a lot of fanfare, but had quick deaths as SSRS’
    views and priorities changed with time.”

    Neck ties? Anthem? Can you provide some details on these campaigns ?

  21. The Doctor permalink
    October 4, 2010 11:19 pm

    @ Doreen,

    I could put the accusations you list into three categories: money, claims about the practices, and AOL culture.

    You could indeed do this, however I have already grossly oversimplified a great many things into one simple post, and in fact the things I have mentioned here barely scratch the surface of what is contained in these blogs. In some respects, by doing this I have done a great disservice to many of the people who have posted very detailed and vivid accounts of their experiences with AoL. In particular I haven’t captured any of the emotions found in a great many posts across these blogs, which will give far more insight as to how the people who wrote these posts felt as a result of their experiences. These in no way should be overshadowed by this post, and I do apologize to anyone if I missed out something which is key. Please get in touch with Skywalker (email in the Disclaimer at the top) and I will rectify as required.

    I did it purely to give those who are unfamiliar with these blogs a starting point for further exploration. My hope really was that people would see this post and understand where we are coming from and why we are saying what we are saying in these blogs. We are not being negative and we are not trying to defame, we have had experiences that we want to share and we want others to benefit from hearing these.

    Before this post existed, a lot of newcomers were just wandering upon new posts which seemed completely random to them becuase they don’t have the foundations of what a great many of us already have who have spent time following these blogs until now. It may seem to them that we are talking about something substanceless or irrelevant, however the marjority of the posts here do have a great relevancy, it just helps tremendously if before reading these things people at least had an adequate understanding as to the background behind what we’re doing here. That was the intention of this post, to summarise as much as possible the main things that we have been discussing.

    For this reason, I think the categories you have mentioned are an even grosser oversimplification and in fact do even less service to a great deal of what has said here. If we were really to break things down to the core issues, we are looking looking at the following:

    • HONESTY – is AoL completely honest or does it use deception to achieve its ends? Does it out and out lie to people? Here we can ask questions about its financial practices, its charitable status, where the money goes, does it lie about the effects of kriya, gurus grace, statistics about course attendees and teachers, stories of SSRS performing miracles.
    • INTEGRITY – does AoL preach one thing and do another instead, sometimes even the opposite thing? Here we can ask why we have seen many examples of all the AoL core values being broken by various members of AoL, most prominently senior teachers and SSRS himself.
    • ABUSE – have people in AoL been abused physically, psychologically, or otherwise? This includes harm as a result of practicing techniques, and being taught by people who are inexperienced to teach these techniques. Have people not involved in AoL suffered as a result of AoL? Does AoL abuse its trust in any way?
    • CORRUPTION – is there, as so many people are suggesting, any corruption in the organization, and if so at what level? Ultimately who is responsible for this corruption? Is it one or two volunteers, teachers, senior teachers, or Sri Sri himself?
    • CULT CULTURE / BRAINWASHING – this issue essentially encompasses all of the others: is AoL pulling people in using tried and tested brainwashing techniques to surreptitiously draw them in, with the ultimate aim of bringing in as many people as possible who will surrender their money and power to the guru, and take any level of abusive because it is purportedly for their spiritual growth? Does AoL make people dependent on on SSRS, the organization or both? Is any of this healthy?

    Throughout the majority of posts I have read, there is one common overriding theme which I have seen over and over again: that a great many people appear to have suffered as a result of their association with Art of Living, and in many cases suffered badly. This I find completely and utterly unacceptable, as this sort of thing should not happen in any organization, least of all a spiritual organization.

    So if people are suffering because of Art of Living, this actually goes completely against what they are all about: to make everyone happy, to “put a smile on everyone’s face.” It sounds to me that they are failing in this one simple task, being able to keep the people who are devoted to them happy.

    There are those who might make the argument, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, but I think that’s nonsense here. No one should be suffering because of Art of Living, as this goes completely against what they claim to be doing. As such, it is our job to make the world aware that this is happening. In my eyes this completely overshadows any of the good work that AoL is doing in the world.

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      October 5, 2010 12:04 am

      Dear Doctor,
      Excellent description of the core issues. Could you please put these core issues as a separate post.
      To me they really sum up what is wrong with AOL.

    • Doreen permalink
      October 13, 2010 3:03 pm

      Your list raises some interesting questions:

      HONESTY/DECEPTION:
      – what would AOL have to do to prove its financial credibility?
      – do you think the public is entitled to financial transparency from all spiritual organizations that accept money, eg a church that asks for and accepts tithes? which spiritual organizations that you know of have financially transparency?
      – where does marketing cross the line into lying? for example, if honda runs a campaign saying they make the best cars in the universe, is that lying? or marketing?
      – if you were in charge of the organizatino how would you prevent volunteers or participants from talking about miracles, or from generally acting nutty?

      INTEGRITY
      – what are the core values of AOL?
      – if you were in charge of the organization, how would you hold people accountable to living by those core values?

      CORRUPTION:
      (so far there have been general insinuations of corruption, but nothing specific. details would be helpful in examining whether this is true or not)

      CULT CULTURE/BRAINWASHING/ABUSE:
      – what level of responsibility does each adult have for the choices they make?
      – what level of responsibility does the organization have for its own culture?
      – if you were in charge of the organization, what would you do to set the culture back on track?
      – what level of responsibility does each person have for their own happiness?
      – what responsibility does the organization have for people’s happiness?

      • October 13, 2010 6:48 pm

        Doreen,
        brilliant questions. I am eagerly awaiting Doc’s response.

  22. Sincere Seeker permalink
    October 5, 2010 9:44 am

    After 12 years in AoL and believing Guruji was God, I feel so cheated and relieved at the same time. Spirituality is our core and when someone messes up your inner core there is a lot of deep damage, confusion, questioning and for me realization. A lot of things I had questioned now explained and my brain much clearer. I think most of us in AoL had become brain dead and brain washed like robots programmed and remote controlled by SSRS.

    If you are smart enough you will see through it. I think Maharishi’s statement of SSRS wraps it up perfectly – he is Sugar coated Poison. If you read SSRS blog even you see how he uses knowledge to entice (the carrot) and then finally comes end with something like Guru is God. I have heard it over and over again. Unfortunately it is very hard if not impossible to find a ‘Sat’ Guru in the ‘Kali’ Yuga.

    The Technique – Sudarshan Kriya – like several people have mentioned. It is very vague what are the origins and notice one thing – each time he does a live Kriya it is different – seen it over the last 12 yrs and used to wonder how come it’s not the same as the tape. Ah! that’s why the tape was made and only 1 version because if it’s recorded it would be different. Then there was a new version a few yrs ago at GP Chicago – and lo and behold it was different, of course deliberately – SSRS said they don’t need a long version any more. I think personally he does his own, long, medium, short version each time he leads it live, no science to it, just estimates the time. People who consider him God think it’s all divine.
    Now there is the Kriya Yoga (of the Paramahansa Yogananada for e.g.) that Kriya Yoga is authentic, ancient and same version each time. Not something invented or patented by anyone like Sudarshan Kriya (SK).
    If SK were to become really popular in US – I would love to have doctors look into it’s side effects. In KLIMs blog I remember reading several doctors saying the negative effects of the hyperventilation that occurs. AoL would be sued. But it’s not so popular yet and no real 3rd party research has happened. The AoL folks who are doing the research will, I hope, not put the negative effects under the rug like SSRS does. I know of many students with negative side effects and when I brought it up it was completed hushed. Also, my other feedback was that we must ask satsangees in the long kriya to let us know if their medical situation has changed since the time they took the course. I know of people who developed high BP, heart issues, and other problems and SK was causing shortness of breath, headaches, dizziness, vomiting, and many other things and then I realized it was their medical condition and the short cycle.
    For all those of you out there reading I would highly recommend that you do NOT do the short cycle – most people are hyperventilating. That’s what gives you the high – that’s why SK is so popular – it’s like a drug shot high. Many teachers reported that the students were not getting the same exp. when the shorter tape came out few yrs back, in fact is had been recalled in US. Don’t know the latest status of that…

    Also, SSRS has also scared me many times. It seems he is like a Tantric (black magic is the closet word). He has said many times in front of me that he controls all his full time teachers, and when people become a teacher his spirit enters them. I have seen people behave very possessed sometimes in his presence like something has taken over them and I too have felt an overpowering energy take over several times. It is not a good feeling, not a pleasant feeling. If he was a Satguru then it should have felt positive and the people I have seen won’t act like they are possessed. You won’t believe what I have seen – so I will leave it out. For that matter he and other senior people also use scare tactics and also keep referring to the Guru’s Grace – well I don’t know about that – i think our faith and devotion is a way more powerful tool to enlightenment. Meera only had a stone statue.

    As for money matter – I know first hand how it’s controlled. I wish someone still inside would bring these folks to justice. If I had saved the evidence I would have got it published in the newspapers.

    • Thanks for saving me permalink
      October 5, 2010 12:45 pm

      I think what you say about being possessed seems to be my experience too, though I was neither part-time or full time teacher. When Iwas doing these courses part2 & DSN where you do long kriya. You feel quite different may be because of sleep deprivation. I did not feel the same way in SSY. May be this long kriya numbs intellect and after these sahaj meditation one feels more like zombies rather than any more enlightened.

    • Yoga permalink
      October 6, 2010 12:38 am

      “believing Guruji was God” – there lies the problem. typical cult mentality. Have some balance man. U went to extrames like some teachers here and blaming it on SK, SSRS etc. I have enjoyed every bit AOL courses and practice many of the techniques….but with a balance.

      • The Doctor permalink
        October 6, 2010 9:26 am

        @Yoga,

        “believing Guruji was God” – there lies the problem. typical cult mentality. Have some balance man. U went to extrames like some teachers here and blaming it on SK, SSRS etc.

        I completely agree with two things you have said here:

        1) This is where the problem lies, and
        2) This is typical cult mentality

        But the rest I disagree with, because to put it simply, EVERYONE I know who is a teacher or an ardent devotee believes that SSRS is God, without exception. This is one of the main things we are tyring to get across in this blog, and it really begs the question, WHY DO THEY BELIEVE THIS?

        When I first started with AoL, I too just like you enjoyed the courses and practiced the many techniques, and I would never have believed in a million years that SSRS was God. Yet at the time when I discovered these blogs, I fully believed he was God incarnate. How on earth did I come to this conclusion?

        The answer is the subject of a post in it’s own right, and one which I’m certainly going to publish as soon as it’s ready, but I will tell you right now that if you spend any serious amount of time with AoL, over this time period you will be MADE to believe this and a great many other things. Senior teachers are actually telling people this exact thing, verbatim, so there is no way anyone can tell me this is just limited to a small group of zealous teachers. It is the result of something much deeper, and stems from SSRS himself. And there is a very useful term we have to describe it when someone makes you believe something to achieve a particular purpose: BRAINWASHING.

        By the sounds of things, @Yoga, you have been very sensible with your association with AoL and haven’t been fully sucked into it like the rest of us. For your sake, I hope you never do, but becuase you never have experienced it, you shouldn’t criticize others who have and then blame them for being manipulated in this way. I can assure you from my own personal experience, none of us had any choice in the matter other than to belive this. I will elaborate on all of this more in my dedicated post on the subject.

      • goneagain permalink
        October 6, 2010 11:13 am

        Read how indoctrination happens within AOL, it is not even subtle – directly telling you he is god.

        https://aolfree.wordpress.com/secret-aol-knowledge/9-steps-to-organise-a-part-i-course/

        “Before embarking on anything you do, always pray to Guruji.”

      • Elle permalink
        February 26, 2011 12:42 am

        To Yoga;

        I keep hearing people say that you should accept the good and the bad in AOL, that the principles taught in the course are good, just not the organization. My question is, and forgive me for being blunt, why would you continue to support something that has been found corrupt? I don’t care if there is truth being said; I can hear truth from a homeless alcoholic on the streets, that doesn’t mean I will follow his example. It says something about who you are to continue to entertain anything coming from a corrupt source. If you don’t take a stand for something, you will fall for anything.

  23. Albert permalink
    October 5, 2010 10:29 am

    If you search … true guru is like Baba Faqir Chand.

    “This is the hard fact: the plain truth does not help in establishing centers; it does not increase the number of followers. But how is anyone to understand it?” – Baba Faqir Chand

    Truth revealed

    Baba Faqir’s devotees went to him as devotees always have done in India and elsewhere with following message:
    Dear Guru Ji! I was in a very dangerous situation. But then suddenly you materialized in front of me and saved me!
    Up to now most Gurus would smile and nod and say that they indeed were there to save the devotee. A happy devotee would after this event donate a lot of money to the Gurus ashram.

    Now people also started come to Baba Faqir with the same experiences. But His answer would be a shock to the believer:
    I was not there saving you. I have no knowledge of the scene you refer to. Actually it is your own strong faith and inner power that has materialized in my form to save you!

    This message was honest – but not good for ashram-business. Faqir’s Ashram went bankrupt
    short after he revealed this truth.

    • Chuckling permalink
      October 6, 2010 4:40 am

      This is by far my favorite comment on this blog.

  24. October 5, 2010 1:16 pm

    If Sudarshan Kriya revealed in deep Meditation, (i.e. Gift of God/Divine) then how can it be shortened?
    There is no short bible or short Kuran. (Not small size) Bible is bible, Kuran is Kuran, Geeta is Geeta, no short version possible of divine gift.

    • ex-JGD permalink
      October 5, 2010 3:31 pm

      Ah, Ram, it can be shortened, because God himself is doing the shortening. How dare you question him? The wrath of a thousand JGD’s will rain down upon you 🙂

    • Yoga permalink
      October 6, 2010 12:33 am

      Logically, why not? if there is Bagavatham and Naryanayeem…why not shorter and longer versions of Kriya? At the end of the day, it is helping me and helping thousands. You can keep questioning the source.

      • Sincere Seeker permalink
        October 6, 2010 6:36 am

        That’s twisted logic. Can’t compare apples and oranges. If there can be longer and shorter versions then why not do a 2 hr SK, or have 20,40,40 done 10 rounds rather than 3 rounds. If you know that Yoga is a science like Ayurveda. Yoga is taught as technique by a teacher, the more precisely you follow the technique the more benefit you will have. I compare the long Kriya to a prescription drug since it’s such a powerful technique and things can happen, it has to be done in the presence of a teacher, more than once a week, etc. all understandable.
        The point I wanted to make is that if SK was a yoga (pranayama) that was revealed to SSRS then how come it has different versions each time when only 1 version was revealed to him? So he comes up with his own variations at will or just does it for 30 mins sometimes and 45 other times and 20 mins. I have experienced all different variations of the long, medium, short.
        I believe I read somewhere in KLIMs blog that the weekly follow up was the idea of teachers so people keep coming back every week. And another teacher came up with the (20-40-40) x 3 because we need to give them a home technique. (You can read all these posts on KLIMs blog)
        Also, I have heard that SSRS learnt Kriya Yoga from a teacher in Karnataka and he was actually doing the So-hum (originally Hong Saw mantra) breathing. Initially he did not even teach the SK just meditation….
        Anyway, I have serious doubts on the SK technique and rather follow the ancient Yoga technique mentioned in Patanjali, Kriya Yoga, Gita (BTW none of them are the 3 rythms long medium short – just one – you can read about this online).
        Also, I have heard SSRS say many times that just the 2 SKs in the course are enough for a lifetime. If you read his blogs he always mentions ‘do pranayama and meditation’ he very rarely keeps mentioning SK. He himself does not do SK.

      • Abhilash Shastry permalink
        October 6, 2010 7:08 am

        “The point I wanted to make is that if SK was a yoga (pranayama) that was revealed to SSRS then how come it has different versions each time when only 1 version was revealed to him? ”

        Your “small mind” is raising too many doubts.

        Revelations keep happening to Him all the time. That’s how He keeps introducing new versions for the benefit of lesser mortals.

  25. fire permalink
    October 5, 2010 5:07 pm

    We are supposed to be of an educated nature, yet it is difficult to teach critical thinking (reasoning) without inevitably offending someone. Does this mean we should altogether abandon intellectual reasoning and let emotional and psychological pursuit of religion continue its irrational course?

    • October 5, 2010 5:43 pm

      There is nothing wrong with the pursuit of religion, or spirituality. Some religions, though, are very wrong: Those that seek to manipulate and control its followers, through authoritarian power abuse. Those are the religions that tend to get offended the most, also, by scepticts and critical thinkers who question the existence of God and the relevance of religion.

      AOL people are very easily offended, when you question their guru. That is very interesting.

      • SCS_Sincere Confused Seeker permalink
        October 6, 2010 8:00 am

        Well said!!

  26. 2bit permalink
    October 5, 2010 6:02 pm

    @Doctor, @WB, @PW and other Admins
    Is it possible to put up a survey/voting type thread on this blog? Would really love opinions of all on the following scale…

    A. AOL is 100% good and pure.
    B. Benign Influence: AOL does more good than harm.
    C. Corrupting Influence: AOL does more harm, and very little good.
    D. Dump AOL: It is the pure evil.

    Thnx!

    • Shallow waters permalink
      October 5, 2010 6:12 pm

      @ 2bit,

      Putting poll options will not work. as AOL members in favor are in majority would clearly change the result. Just like they attack any news paper or magazine critics against sri sri with sheer numbers.

      • Niranjana permalink
        October 6, 2010 3:14 pm

        “Putting poll options will not work. as AOL members in favor are in majority would clearly change the result”

        I do not know about the exact numbers but what AOL has created are a set of what are known as ‘Web Seva Warriors’. Other similar cults like Nithyanada also has them. The solicitation for doing Web seva is openly done in courses like DSN and Yes+. I have been a witness to this.
        What these people do is look for any anti aol news in the internet and bombard the sites with comments using multiple IDs. You can see this comments in sites like Churumuri or Shobha De’s article or Guha’s article or the you tube jai hind satire on the fake assasination bid.
        One typical web seva warrior strategy is to claim that the commentator is not a follower of ravi ravi or aol but having observed the humanitarian work done by aol you should not be criticising them.

      • freethinker permalink
        October 6, 2010 5:26 pm

        @2bit
        “Attract AOL followers in large numbers to this blog, and be exposed to the other views about AOL”

        Busted, it is not AOL follower going to come to this blog to respond to the poll instead ‘Web Seva Warriors’ (directed by AOL clan) known to be safe ones responding to the poll with multiple or hundreds of ids to have favorable view, then our “Sad swami” will write/post even people going to the “negative blogs” actually voting favorable to AOL.

        – Promote free speech means – you can provide whatever your opinion regarding the topics discussed, doesn’t mean this blog has to do whatever AOL/RaviRavi or his PR agent want.

        – Pro-AOL blogs are linked here – no one is worried about alternate views here.

        If this blog doesn’t do what you want it doesn’t mean we are afraid of free speech. This simply means we don’t have to play to your narrative dictated by RaviRavi/AOL.

    • freethinker permalink
      October 5, 2010 6:35 pm

      I don’t think we are seeking to see what is the majority opinion of sort. This is a place to provide alternate view and of course it is up to the individual to take it or leave it or provide input to it.

  27. fire permalink
    October 5, 2010 6:21 pm

    “A free society must have the scope to debate, criticize, proselytize, insult and even to ridicule belief and religious practices in order to ensure that there is full scope – short of violence or inciting violence or other criminal offences – to tackle these issues.” The Daily Telegraph

  28. 2bit permalink
    October 5, 2010 6:49 pm

    Majority or Minority may not have anything to do with truth. But vote will really put courage behind the convictions expressed in various posts here…

    Besides it will
    1. Attract AOL followers in large numbers to this blog, and be exposed to the other views about AOL
    2. Make this blog a truely unbiased forum, or you too are censoring what you don’t want hear

    You may or may not “win” the popularity vote…but is that what you are after?

    • freethinker permalink
      October 5, 2010 6:59 pm

      “1. Attract AOL followers in large numbers to this blog, and be exposed to the other views about AOL”

      Good point, still I think it is just a distraction.

  29. 2bit permalink
    October 5, 2010 7:17 pm

    This kind of distraction shouldn’t bother a free thinker. What kind of free thinking is that which gets fazed by majority opinions? If the blog descriminates against popular opinions, thoughts, and audience, it is no free speech either. How are you different than any of those you seem to criticise?

    • Kitapati permalink
      October 6, 2010 2:51 pm

      Why not have an opinion poll on

      Do you beleive that Ravi Ravi has an advanced degree in Physics:

      Choose from:

      1. Yes Sri Sri got his advanced degree of physics along with master degree in Vedas at age 17
      2. Don’t know as no records available
      3. Hey he got a phd in physics and is eligible for the nobel prize in physics
      4. The blogowner has low prana by questioning the very divine incarnation
      5. No he is as usual bluffing

      You can easily identify the number of lackeys who visit this site from the results.

    • freethinker permalink
      October 6, 2010 5:38 pm

      @2bit,
      -Polls and sweepstakes – AOL is the best place. Probably you should bang there.

  30. Kitapati permalink
    October 6, 2010 3:01 pm

    How about having a poll on the charity money.

    Do you beleive AOL really does charity from the money it collects in the name of charity:

    1. Yes as HHSSRS always says we do charity with little overhead.
    2. No it is hedged into profit organizations like sumeru solutions, sumeru reality, inwiniex and lot of other family owned enterprises and secret bank accounts
    3. The blogowner has low prana for questioning the holiest of holy.
    4. No idea no proof available except for the photo ops

  31. 2bit permalink
    October 6, 2010 3:38 pm

    yes, have that too…but don’t be afraid to put up my poll too…
    Especially after all this talk about free speech..

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 6, 2010 3:55 pm

      While free speech is certainly encouraged here, there is a very definite reason why these blogs are here and given what they represent, having a poll of this nature doesn’t really jive with what this blog is about at all. I would actually call it tacky, as it won’t add any value to what we are doing here.

      @2bit – I like the nature of some of your questions so far, and I can also see where you are going with this poll, but I would prefer to explore this in detail in a separate post. Watch this space. 😉

  32. 2bit permalink
    October 6, 2010 4:38 pm

    Instead of assuming where my questions are going, why not put them out there…I myself don’t know yet…it is probably tackier to jump to conclusions. I don’t understand why ya’ll are so fearful of any outcome…this is just an opinion poll….Are you are not controlling the content to stack up odds in one way or the other?

  33. Anon permalink
    October 6, 2010 5:34 pm

    The results of any polls will be a foregone conclusion since majority of the pollers will be AOLers.

    • freethinker permalink
      October 6, 2010 5:41 pm

      They are called “Web Seva Warriors” not typical devotee. RaviRavi/AOL can’t risk ordinary devotee to visit this blog.

  34. fire permalink
    October 6, 2010 5:39 pm

    Revelation is a communication of something which the person to whom the thing is revealed did not know before. For if I have done, a thing, or seen it done, it needs no Revelation to tell me, I have done or seen it done nor enable me to tell it or write. Revelation therefore cannot be applied to anything done upon earth, of which man is himself actor or witness .

  35. Svetana permalink
    October 6, 2010 6:15 pm

    @ Doctor
    “While free speech is certainly encouraged here, there is a very definite reason why these blogs are here and given what they represent, having a poll of this nature doesn’t really jive with what this blog is about at all. I would actually call it tacky, as it won’t add any value to what we are doing here.”

    Totally agree with you.

    For those who don’t know, click on “About” to read:
    “This blog is intended as a space for healing, for people recovering from AOL. You may comment as you like, or if you want to share your story in a post send it to reklawyksekul@gmail.com.”

    So, the aim of this blog has nothing to do with polls and activities of the kind. People who are very much into this kind of things should go elsewhere, or start their own blog. Good Luck.

  36. Doreen permalink
    October 6, 2010 6:33 pm

    Although it’s not as juicy to read about, real life is usually more grey than black or white.

    Some of you used to think that AOL was the BEST thing since sliced bread, and now you think it’s the WORST thing since sliced bread. You have gone from being a passionate AOL fundamentalist to a passionate anti-AOL fundamentalist. No wonder you are disillusioned. You live in extremes.

    You say you were brainwashed but you haven’t looked at the holes in your own sense of discrimination which made you take everything so literally and so extremely. There are plenty of people who take from AOL what resonates with them and leave everything else. Most people, in fact, though you may not notice it because they are quietly going about their lives.

    A cult is a group of people without discrimination. Some of you were culty in AOL, and now you are culty here. You have found a new kind of belongingness, a new important purpose in life. Before it was “I’m going to save the world by introducing them to AOL!” and now it’s “I’m going to save the world by saving them from AOL!”

    It takes maturity to be able to take an unemotional look at the facts, whether you are pro-AOL or anti-AOL or somewhere in between, and see things as they really are. Some of you are so hurt by your disillusionment that you’re not able to do that. You interpret every little thing that AOL does as evil (whereas pre-disillusionment, everything AOL did was perfect). It’s the other side of the same coin.

    • October 6, 2010 6:59 pm

      @ Doreen,

      As such your view is correct and applicable to many people posting over here.
      But all these little silly points as already collected on “The Prosecutor” when joined togather will create a different picture.

      • Ronin permalink
        October 6, 2010 8:46 pm

        Prosecutor,

        Your very right when we link it all together one gets an overall view of the AOL machine that is very questionable.

        It is like a picture that is kinda hazy out of focus and then suddenly becomes sharp in a blink of an eye one can distinguish all the detail and actually see the image being captured.

        In this case the picture seen is not a pleasant one, suddenly you can not leave it up to your imagination anymore wondering if it is this or that. The image has become real you now know what it is. And indeed ones reaction could be one of many depending he angle of involvement.

        Doreen, there is always another side to the coin ???. The experiences of those on this blog are very real. You are treading a fine line are you suggesting that the victim actually asked to be victimized. That is exactly the what they tried to convince us of on TTC. There is nothing spiritual about that, it only breaks the psyche and self esteem of people. So I have to say unfortunately there is a black or white. It takes maturity to see through it all to see it all for what it is, once the picture is in focus there is no turning back…..

    • dayalu permalink
      October 6, 2010 7:37 pm

      You are so naively wrong, Doreen. Someone who has understood AOL can have only one of the two positions, for or against. I hate to sound like Dubya Bush, but I guess most here will agree that in AOL context, this is true. A person with Integrity can be pro AOL as long as he or she sees only the bright side of AOL. When you get the full picture, you have to take side, black or white. There is no grey area. Those who stick to AOL after long association fall into one of the categories below
      1) They have no other option in life
      2) Blind devotion to SSRS (They are exposed only to his distorted brand of spirituality and are overawed by it)
      3) They are addicted to the adulation they receive as AOL teachers
      4) They benefit personally (materially)
      5) They are too timid to go against the herd.

      You’re either too new to the organization or fall into one of the above.

      • Doreen permalink
        October 7, 2010 5:54 pm

        Each local AOL group is different so I may not have run into the same kind of behavior as you have.

        Where I am people aren’t so quick to jump on the devotion bandwagon. Students really wouldn’t tolerate arrogant teachers or grandiose claims about enlightenment or the superiority of one path over another. The focus is on the practice and on the knowledge.

    • Thanks for saving me permalink
      October 7, 2010 12:30 pm

      @Doreen
      Probably, elsewhere you would have been absolutely right. But in the case of AOL, it is simply not true. Though I am/ was not AOL teacher nor was I ever deeplly involved with the organisation. I always felt during the number of courses I have done that they seem to have some really good thing to offer. However, another thing I have realised they want you to do attend their courses/ satsangs by hook or by crook. like any other sales person. And only thing that matter to them is just money.

      When their brainwashing techniques don’t work, they answer all your questions by saying that it is KUTARK. AOL including Srisri has only one example by which they illustrate Kutark is “If door is half open that means door is half closed, therefore if the door is fully open that means the door is fully closed, is a Kutrark.”. What has this logic got to do with any uncomfortable question you ask their teachers, it does not matter to them. It is simply Kutark.

      So I thank my stars that I never got very involved with AOL. Otherwise I would have come out as totally mad and broken person.

  37. 2bit permalink
    October 6, 2010 6:41 pm

    Perhaps I overestimated “free thinkers” over here…show some fire, you could prevent this bog from turning into another pothole of censorship…so much for talk about brainwashing.

    • anonymous permalink
      October 6, 2010 7:34 pm

      @2bit

      It is funny, if they wont play your games – you would call them not having free speech, not free thinkers or pothole of censorship. Man you guys never stop these silly games.

    • October 6, 2010 7:34 pm

      The technology on WordPress.com to create polls doesn’t exist. Even if it did, it would do nothing to prevent censorship. We do our best to ensure that all opinions find a voice on this blog by publishing all comments, by linking to pro-aol blogs and by even posting letters like Ann’s, https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/349/.
      Also, we do our best to keep posts in a sensible, reasonable tone, arguing our points rather than just mudslinging.

      What more can we do?

  38. WhistleBlower permalink
    October 6, 2010 7:24 pm

    You can’t blame 2bit for being so enthusiastic about a poll. After all, AOL people are expert in mob voting tactics. He and his team in Ashram can’t wait for a poll so they can then flood it with their votes continuously!

    While in AOL, I received many emails instructing all AOL people to vote Guruji for this and that, a sample is below.
    By the way, “2bit” is a really suitable name, as most JGD people are a bit “2bit”. Pun was intended!

    From: VVKI Trustees
    Date: Mon, Apr 27, 2009 at 5:53 PM
    Subject: Fwd: Nominating Guruji as “Bharat Ks Paryavaran Ambassador”: 30th April 09 12 am midnight (deadline)
    To: VVKI Trustees

    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Art of Living Program Management Unit
    Date: Fri, Apr 24, 2009 at 2:31 PM
    Subject: Nominating Guruji as “Bharat Ks Paryavaran Ambassador”: 30th April 09 12 am midnight (deadline)

    This is a wonderful opportunity to propose Guru Ji as “The Environment Ambassador in India”, through the ongoing campaign, launched by Hon’ble President, Smt Pratibha Devi Patil of India and in collaboration with The United Nations titled, “”Kaun Banage Bharat ka Paryavaran Ambassador (KBPA)….

    I am also in touch with UNDP on this parallely for it is their collaborative venture with Govt of India (KBPA ambassador) and MGESUTA was with us (UNDP-AOL)…Pls revise the mail , when sending it through your networks on your best discretion.

    Steps

    1. Send a required mail to (marked to all the three mail ids together)
    1.kbpa@ceeindia.org AND
    2.palak.chitaliya@ceeindia.org AND
    3.prabhjot.sodhi@undp.org

    2. Broad Suggested Subject of the email:
    “My Choice for Bharat Ka Paryavaran Ambassador is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Ji

    3. Broad Suggested Content of the mail (the content has to 1. spell the nominated candidate, 2. the reason for nominating a particular person, 3. the name of the person nominating and 4. the full address of the person nominating)

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I cast my vote for the campaign”Kaun Banega Bharat Ka Paryavaran Ambassador”for His Holiness, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder, The Art of Living.

    The reason for my nomination is that Under The Leadership of His Holiness, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, The Art of Living, world wide, stood up against poverty and for the millennium development goals and took concrete action for the 7th MDG which is “Environment” by enabling 9.6 Million Plantations across 26 states of India and 36 countries outside India and pledging an additional plantation of 55 million by July 09. This was done with Art of Living’s local partnerships with various governments, educational instituions, corporate hourses etc”.

    Detailed evidencial world report report can be seen on http://www.standuptakeactionaolunmc.org.

    Thanking You

    Your Name (of the person sending his/her nomination)

    Your Detailed postal address (of the person sending his/her nomination with phone number, mail ID, street address, state, country etc).

    We are many in no and have the same vote—Guru Ji…..So let us do it with full vigour…..You can activate all the teacher network channels, VVKI channels, VVMVP, channels, WAYE YES Plus channels globally and i shall do the non AOl channels who joined us for MGESUTA09… all other AOL trust channels world wide can be activated…

    Very Very Imp: The voting closes on 30th April midnight 12 pm 2009(India time). Anyone, anywhere in the world can cast their vote.No vote will be counted after this time and date.

    Send in your vote and also forward this email to all nears and dears.
    Love,
    Richa

    • freethinker permalink
      October 6, 2010 7:54 pm

      Manipulation of every possible aspects of life to get fame, power, $$$ to RaviRavi.

      Apparently the new set of drone warriors – don’t show as typical AOLer, no JGD, no typical signs. They pretend to be neutral and get upset when you don’t do what they want you do, go along with their narrative or play their little games.

  39. 2bit permalink
    October 6, 2010 9:23 pm

    @skywalker: aha…Thnx for explaining why this blog can’t have poll due to technical limitation.

    @others: Im not in AOL circle, at least not yet…I was merely exploring…as such I am not interested in any organized activity….I came to blog to find some balanced views, and came across all the psychics like you, who are taking wild guesses about me in order to avoid putting up a simple poll…it is quite amusing. Do you get nightmares of AOL warriors (or whatever that is) ?

    • goneagain permalink
      October 6, 2010 11:35 pm

      Good luck 2bit. Atleast being here will help you what not to do in AOL if you want to take away something from here.

    • Observer permalink
      October 7, 2010 6:10 am

      @2bit:
      @others: Im not in AOL circle, at least not yet…I was merely exploring…as such I am not interested in any organized activity….I came to blog to find some balanced views, and came across all the psychics like you, who are taking wild guesses about me in order to avoid putting up a simple poll…it is quite amusing. Do you get nightmares of AOL warriors (or whatever that is) ?

      Riiiiggghhhtttt! You are *merely exploring*….. what other organizations like AoL are you exploring and where else have you put up polls? You have so much time and energy to research all the spiritual orgs. before picking one to join?? Wow!
      And that too, look at you, insisting that if the blog doesnt do what you ask, then its all bad. Ever heard of jumping to conclusions?
      Also, you can only see “psychics” here? There are all kinds of opinions expressed here, with or without polls. Take it or leave it.
      With all these kinds of clues from your posting, it is no “wild guess” as to what your intent here is…

  40. Chandra permalink
    October 7, 2010 8:28 am

    –delete the previous comment. adding new comment with link.

    There is one opinion poll about the fake shooting drama of drag queen Sri Sri Ravishankar here. Inspite of all their webseva morons these guys have very badly lost.
    http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2010/05/31/churumuri-poll-target-sri-sri-ravi-shankar/

  41. 2bit permalink
    October 7, 2010 10:30 pm

    @skywalker: based on chandra’s post it seems you can do the poll (i.e. if you ever want to)

    @observer: I am exploring AOL because a close person wants me to do a course. I don’t want to, as I am not interested in joining “any” organization. Enlightenment is not my top priority. I can’t say just “no” . I need to rationalize my inclination (rather bias)….this blog provided some good reasons until I decided to probe further. It just revealed how the very people touting integrity, honesty and what not…can easily do the similar things if they suspect anyone doesn’t fit in their own agenda. The dodging, attack on my profile name, accusing me to be “one of them” provided some good humor. But is is also tragic that something traumatic drive them to behave this way. And that in itself is my justification to not do that course.

    In a way you guys won over AOL. Cheers!!

    • Observer permalink
      October 8, 2010 9:26 am

      @2bit:
      Let me clarify what my agenda here is. I will quote the words of “Doctor” from elsewhere (it has been put so well, and I agree):
      “And a great many beautiful, well-meaning souls are still abound in the world who are vulnerable enough to be taken in and who may potentially go through the same bad experiences we are describing here. I really want to help them to see the light before they even have a chance to be sucked into it.”

      I hope , for your own sake, you are merely exploring, as you say. Good luck!

  42. goneagain permalink
    October 8, 2010 12:39 am

    Another post about AOL business.

    http://shajiwriter.blogspot.com/2009/07/art-of-living-business.html

  43. 2bit permalink
    October 11, 2010 12:59 am

    @observer:I hope , for your own sake, you are merely exploring, as you say.
    >> Good, at least you seem to be giving benefit of doubt…quite refreshing on this blog!
    On the other hand, your “doctor” comes of as quite presumptuous, who already assumed where I am going…wouldn’t be surprised if his/her opinions are based on such extrapolations. Also generally if the writer provides “what was his/her involvement, and what specifically caused the trauma”, then it gives a better context to the conclusions drawn…also it alerts people of specific Dos & Donts….but thnx anyway, I’ve managed to dodge the course for a while at least.

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 11, 2010 6:19 am

      @2bit,

      Is AOL doing more good (in terms of health, peace, joy, sense of community) at the cost few profit mongers, or is it really harmful social force? Anyone for a bird’s eye view of this?

      Seems like there is some good AOL is spreading, but one needs to be alert in order to not get rubbed
      the wrong way?

      The other sides of my question are
      A. Would stopping AOL in its tracks would bring more good or more harm?
      B. Or recommending AOL with caution would contribute to greater good?
      C. Or just be indifferent is the way to go?

      Is it possible to put up a survey/voting type thread on this blog? Would really love opinions of all on the following scale…

      A. AOL is 100% good and pure.
      B. Benign Influence: AOL does more good than harm.
      C. Corrupting Influence: AOL does more harm, and very little good.
      D. Dump AOL: It is the pure evil.

      From just these comments, I concluded that you were someone interested in finding out how much good and how much harm AoL is doing, and whether one outweighs the other on the balance of it all. So to do this you asked us set up a poll to see what the general consensus was and from this I gathered that you didn’t really know the answer yourself but wanted to find out what everyone else thought.

      If you had some other intention than this, then I concluded incorrectly.

      But you then followed up with:

      Instead of assuming where my questions are going, why not put them out there…I myself don’t know yet…it is probably tackier to jump to conclusions.

      Which I actually found very odd for two reasons, firstly that based on everything you had written so far, there seemd to be a clear direction which your questions were going in, which I stated above, and secondly because I found it very strange that you were asking questions but didn’t seem to have a reason why!

      You then came out with:

      Im not in AOL circle, at least not yet…I was merely exploring…as such I am not interested in any organized activity….I came to blog to find some balanced views, and came across all the psychics like you, who are taking wild guesses about me in order to avoid putting up a simple poll…it is quite amusing. Do you get nightmares of AOL warriors (or whatever that is) ?

      Whereby you pretty much confirmed exactly where I thought you were going with this based on your first few comments above … and then proceeded to insult us, particularly me. I don’t have a huge problem with insults, because they tend to detract from any argument which the person who is making the insults is making, but then you just assumed that I didn’t know where you were going with the poll when in actual fact you made it pretty clear from the outset and then proceeded to confirm this. You just assumed that I hadn’t worked it out, but honestly, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to see where you were going with this. 😉

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 11, 2010 6:26 am

      Oh, and in response to:

      Also generally if the writer provides “what was his/her involvement, and what specifically caused the trauma”, then it gives a better context to the conclusions drawn

      in my own case, this post pretty much sums my involvement with AoL:

      Can we Help to Save the Art of Living

  44. 2bit permalink
    October 11, 2010 5:00 pm

    @Doctor:If you had some other intention than this, then I concluded incorrectly.
    >> Yes, I had other intention. Poll was just an excuse to check if this blog controls the what gets posted at the top of the thread…to check if efforts are made to color opinions, by controling the “key” content. And it does control, so one needs to apply appropriate filters on the opinions expressed here. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if AOL blogs react in the same way. I suspect “Greater good” is too complex to be popularity contest. So the outcome of the poll is not at all important to me.

    I would love to hear “Guru Stories” version on this blog, I am more interested in the individual, than the an organization. Individual story is a quantum insight, all the talk about organization, and a mega figure is a Newtonian approximation. And tranuma, hatred or admiration operate at quantum level.

    Thx for the reply.

    • The Doctor permalink
      October 11, 2010 9:32 pm

      @2bit,

      Poll was just an excuse to check if this blog controls the what gets posted at the top of the thread…to check if efforts are made to color opinions, by controling the “key” content. And it does control, so one needs to apply appropriate filters on the opinions expressed here.

      I don’t think this is really a fair comment, as it’s evident to anyone visiting this blog that we don’t actually try to control the content. We publish anything, even comments by pro-AoL devotees to their sites telling us how good AoL is, and even abusive comments towards us. I personally feel this leaves the blog open to abuse, but at least people can take this into account when they are reading it.

      Setting up the poll you have described is completely irrelevant to what this blog is trying to do, which is described at the top of this post. It doesn’t actually benefit anyone here except for you, so I don’t really see any reason why we should acquiesce with this request. If however you can make a convincing argument that the poll is in some way relevant to what we are doing here and will help to highlight some of the issues in AoL, thus benefiting other visitors to this blog besides yourself, then we will definitely consider it.

      And for future reference, if you do want to make a “key” post, please email Skywalker on the above email in the Disclaimer and, provided it’s relevant to the blog, he will post it.

      If you aren’t convinced that we don’t censor things, please read the following post: A Letter of Concernt. And also see: Disgruntled Swamiji Speaks up for His Master Again. If we did censor things, these posts would never have appeared.

    • freethinker permalink
      October 11, 2010 10:18 pm

      @2bit

      one can argue that comments that doesn’t suit people here are not posted, so how do you know whether all comments (pro/con) posted or not?
      – Ask yourself – you have posted many comments here whether those are posted?
      – Look around on different post to see if alternative views are represented or not?

      I would also recommend this post – it was concluded that only one person posted all these comments – all of them were published here as a summary you can see all sorts of views.

      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/07/04/srisri%e2%80%99s-pr-man-on-our-blog-every-bit-as-deceitful-as-his-master/

      -It may be hard as an outsider (as you claim) to know something said here is true or not – if you had been there in AOL for reasonable amount of time – it may resonate with you the things you have seen and heard matches with the experiences of the people here.

      Other thing is you can also ask hard questions to your friend (whoever insists) that you take AOL course based on information here and see what you can get from him/her.

    • goneagain permalink
      October 12, 2010 12:11 am

      @2bit,

      Online polls are least scientific not a representative statistical sample. You can not infer much on these polls as, is simply an opinion of the people choose to participate. Lets assume people here are very opinionated and likely result in AOL being really bad or AOL web robots can manipulate to show AOL is really good. You could be better off with coin-toss instead of using these polls to decide whether to do AOL course.

      Many people here reported good effects of AOL course (even those oppose AOL practices) and many reported many ill effects including health and other concerns. I don’t think anyone here would insist that you don’t do AOL course or get involved, if you want to validate the things said here you could do the courses, get involved in AOL and see for yourself. Given that you read all these information in this blog you are less likely to loose you mind there instead you may be able validate things said here given that you know what to expect.

  45. Bling Bling permalink
    October 11, 2010 5:12 pm

    Skywalker

    What was the reason for the latest temporary suspension of the blog ?

  46. 2bit permalink
    October 13, 2010 1:01 am

    @Doctor
    Again, was never interested in the poll, but rather in checking the reactions of “keepers”

    @Freethinker:
    Yes, you allow people to post, but prime blog estate, (the top thread post) are reserved for repetitive con-opinions. Pro posts are buried under. The devil is in the dashboard. That’s fine, just one has to factor that in. And yes, those who recommend the course to me respond to hard questions as Option A (10%) or Option B (90%) on my poll. Surprised?

    @goneagain:
    >>Good effects of Kriya vs. Ill effect:
    Ill effects are concern if large number report bad effects…I suspect it is a small group, but I could be wrong. If it is indeed small (or large) number would you add that to your posts about ill effects? The devil here is in skipping or adding the details. No medicine/technique is without few cases of ill effects, that doesn’t diminish the value of that medicine/technique. A statistical view of this situation is more constructive.
    >>Money in AOL
    It is complex issue. Claims are everything goes to Bangalore, and seems like money is controlled centrally by SRSS. Now, it could be right thing to do if the money is indeed going to tribal children. Tribals are perhaps the most deprived. Resources directed in that direction from more affluent locations is tipping the balance towards greater good. But if charity is mere disguise for family business, then it is serious problem. If you really believe in these claims you should peruse the books. Making the issue merely a talking point is no good either.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      October 13, 2010 2:45 am

      “If you really believe in these claims you should peruse the books. Making the issue merely a talking point is no good either.”

      RS has been made aware of these things time and time again, yet no one has seen the books. Considering the size of the organization, it is surprising there is no audit, or financial statement of VVM. Most organizations in the real world are audited annually by an independent third party auditor. But not AOL. If AOL can get an independent third party audit done (preferably by one of the big four auditing firms), and release the name of the auditor, it would be a great thing.

      The least that this so called “spiritual organization” can do is be transparent in it’s financial dealings and act with integrity – like most organizations (both corporations and non-profits) do.

      Of course there is the question about where the money to set up sumeru software, sumeru real estate, inwex pharma come from. I’m sure RS did not materialize it out of thin air. Neither are they private investors who are gave their money to RS to invest. The monies are diverted from money VVM collects from AOL course fees, and since these things are illegal, they never have nor will never disclose the accounts.

  47. goneagain permalink
    October 13, 2010 1:58 am

    @2bit

    -“Pro posts are buried under. The devil is in the dashboard.”

    This blog is a “Critique of The Art of Living, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar” which clearly stated in the beginning and pro-aol blogs are linked which you can go through when you need. You can also find many AOL websites in web to get their views. Obviously purpose of the blog is not post AOL propaganda – I am pretty sure they have plenty of it that you can find outside (fact is you only find good views in AOL websites/blogs – as your friend who recommended said all 100% good).

    -“No medicine/technique is without few cases of ill effects, that doesn’t diminish the value of that medicine/technique.”

    Many people didn’t fault the techniques by itself but the quality of people who teach it and their understanding of the techniques as one size fits all. So if you find a real good teacher who take a balanced view on these techniques acknowledging there are side effects and only certain people should be taught then you may benefit. (ex. https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/a-typical-aol-center-and-a-sincere-sharing/ see the poster complimenting his/her basic course teacher)

    -” A statistical view of this situation is more constructive.”

    I personally don’t think you can get statistical view here or on any pro-aol blogs. It is up to you decide given all these information. End of the day you are responsible for yourself. Given that you have choose to investigate even before joining AOL, you are already better off than most people who only realized later.

  48. Anonymous permalink
    October 25, 2010 7:48 am

    i am an ardent follower of AOL. But i must say, you guys sound more coherent, thought-out, logical and educated than most pro-AOL people. You have provided some valuable information to rest of us. For one, I did not know in so many years that Sumeru group of companies are a personal business of Arvind and family. There was a time when i was about to scrap my job and join AOL. I feel so relieved now that i didn’t.
    There is something about AOL, that we fall in love with it. Like, i was there in ashram during Navratri and had absolutely amazing experience.
    But i also have lot of regrets for last 10 years that i have been with AOL. Under the spell of AOL, i messed with my academics, career, friends etc. My biggest complain is that it gives false promises, such as all problems will be solved by Guruji. It did not solve my problems in 10 years and because of ignoring myself, i have gained lot of new problems. But the good thing is i have woken up to this. Now, i don’t rely on AOL for anything. I feel much better and empowered with this realization.
    But i think AOL does provide some solid value also in terms of spiritual experience. I have had my best experiences in AOL courses or ashram. So, my general belief is that AOL is a good thing but some teachers are to be blamed who give false hopes and promises and encourage students to mess their own lives, so they have nothing else to do and they can be “harvested” to become next generation of full-timers.
    I attended a workshop on financial literacy by you know who. and he was suggesting yes+ grads there that they should leave their jobs and start business because it makes more financial sense and they are being exploited by their employers even if they get 10Lpa. Some of the people followed his advice and ended up in ashram as full timers. What a fine way of recruiting sevaks? If this is not deception what is? You should investigate this aspect and write more on it. Jai Gurudev.

  49. Anonymous permalink
    October 25, 2010 8:23 am

    JGD. Great work, this blog. Please also put labels as in KLIM’s blog. So we can browse efficiently. Thank you.

    • anonymous permalink
      February 15, 2011 3:00 pm

      The fact that Ravi Shankar possesses siddhis doesn’t make him great or enlightened, in case you didn’t know. Some great masters display siddhis, doing “miracles”, and some very unkind, sick people also display the same talents. Ravana was a rakshasa and had many siddhis, which he used to go to war and control people. It didn’t make him nice, great, wonderful, just talented. He also had a huge following of people who were his kingdom. People remain ignorant of these facts, because they like to feel good. Just because someone uses a siddhi to impress you or make you feel good temporarily, doesn’t mean you are progressing. It just means he is impressing you, and you feel good for awhile. That’s it. Look deep.

    • ANON permalink
      February 15, 2011 3:07 pm

      That’s nothing, dear. Dushyant was revived after death- by JGD power.

    • Anoop permalink
      February 15, 2011 3:59 pm

      I just shared the links… I found it funny !

    • anon permalink
      February 15, 2011 7:46 pm

      ROLF…..great linls Anoop, thanks!! Anyone who buys into those idiotic stories has a pea sized brain. The food story is similar to the story of Krishna and Draupadi and one grain of rice…and the school story, who knows, Ravi might have been 14 and his parents wanted to start him on kindrgarten…LOL…..when I read these stories I feel so embaressed that I associated with such a foolish bunch of people. What was I thinking? In Bombay, a senior ”aunty” ( dont want to name her because of respect for her age) said in a DSN that she had to do the laundry, all clothes to be hand washed. And it was satsang time in her house so she decided that she’d do this chore after satsang. After satsang, when she went to her laundry room, lo! behold! bucket full of clothes were all washed and dried and ironed!! Guruji came in his subtle form and performed this task!! Apparently Guruji does that for this devotees, performing household chores, if you have satsang in your house. We should all start satsang in our houses, think of the money you will save, some one to clean the house, do the yard, laundry….maybe even cook, while you are singing away in satsang!!

  50. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    February 15, 2011 7:12 pm

    It would be okay if these were someone’s personal beliefs or articles of faiths – but they use this kind of miracle mongering to coax others to worship SSRS as their personal saviour. May of the these kind of guru story sessions are not at all spontaneous – they are very much orchestrated, with the aim of building loyalty and devotion to SSRS. Ultimately people become so brainwashed, that they rationalize everything that RS does with the thought that he is god.

    • Anoop permalink
      February 28, 2011 2:45 pm

      i attended art of living course 2 months back ( 3 days). 80% of course contents was very fine. But too much importance on “grace of guruji” and “arent u grateful” questions made me sick. so googled and found out this site.

      But now i am finding pro-aol sites more attractive to read… they are so funny –
      http://dushyantsavadia.net/2011/02/naada-vaibhavam-aura-pictures/#more-724

      • Kitapati permalink
        March 1, 2011 1:28 pm

        All those photos are created in adobe photoshop. And they are pathetic graphic work to say the least. This guy dusyanth seems to be one big crook making up miracle stories upon miracle stories. This might help in getting more gulliable people into AOL so that they can be squeezed high and dry of their monies.
        Kirlian photography itself was completely debunked as a fraud ten years ago. Most intelligent new agers would be too ashamed to even talk of Kirlian photography. But the AOL frauds are still caught up in the old times. BTW this thing they claim as kirilian photogrphas cannot even be Kirlian photography as it is contact photography where the object of photograph had to be in contact with the film placed underneat a charged electrode. But this guy Dushyanth blatantly claims the photo with all those colors during this function is kirlian photography. This is a fraud based on another fraud. I hope aol people who have still some brain cells left from hyperventilation can see some light into these lies.

      • anon permalink
        March 1, 2011 3:22 pm

        @kitapati.

        thanks for shedding light on this. i hope people, not well versed with technology ( like me, technophobic) read your post. it makes aol look so pathetic. complete, total scam

      • Panchama permalink
        March 1, 2011 3:34 pm

        Something is seriously fishy with these photographs. Releasing them after five years after the incident. Agree with Kitapati, this is plainly doctored.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        March 1, 2011 6:40 pm

        I was flipping through some old photographs and one of them had a halo around my head. Earlier I thought it was poor focus, now I know it was not – it really was a sign of my divinity 🙂

  51. Doubtful guy permalink
    March 1, 2011 5:31 pm

    I too agree with Kitapati comment. I have seen the scene the You tube showing that program in Chennai and nothing miracle was claimed on that day. Then how is it suddenly this incident being claimed. These guys are simply making the whole world Fools by this utter nonsense propaganda.
    If you go through pure spiriual knowledge, there is no origin for Figures, Pictures like Krishna, Ganapathy, Saraswati etc. have come just by picturisation by famous painters like Raja ravi varma and all. Devinty has no forms . It is simply an existence. That being the case how come the Pictures have just come as Gods. It is all made by human being to just to get concentration. Masters of real Truth knows it all.

  52. Doubtful guy permalink
    March 1, 2011 5:40 pm

    The Other day I watched a TV program having an interview of SSRS. To a question about his Guru, he answerd it as his Mother.Is it correct? He does not even consider Mahesh Yogi as his Guru.He uses very cunning answers to all Questions, which any one can give being in this business for a long period.

  53. Anoop permalink
    March 2, 2011 7:24 am

    One well balanced post on YES course –
    http://deepakvenkat.com/2009/05/art-of-living-and-yes-my-perspective/

  54. grateful permalink
    July 10, 2011 11:29 am

    Many Many thanks to all of you for sharing what you went through- I had just signed up for the Basic course and wanted to check on the side effects of the Kriya (toxins coming out stuff!) when I bumped into this blog- it has been an eye opener for me. I stopped going to the class after 4 days and I have been spending a lot of time on these blogs – I have never been impressed with rs or aol per se, but it’s just incredible how such narcissists become so powerful….may be the courses should be renamed Narcissism for dummies.

  55. Ana permalink
    July 13, 2011 8:01 am

    I would also like to thank you for this blog. My mother has joined AOL and I am terribly concerned about her, and it is good to know that it is not just me being paranoid.

    Unfortunately, she has quickly passed the stage where I can stop her from this path. She has never been much of a rational woman, and now has gone beyond any point where I can reason with her. I wish I would have found this blog sooner, when maybe she could still accept a second opinion. Every time I talk to her it seems like she is more and more immersed in AOL and ignorant of everything else.

    • anonymous permalink
      July 15, 2011 3:06 pm

      Sorry to hear about your mother Ana. All you can do is show her this blog, and Klim’s blog, and advise her not to get too involved. Also advise her (if she will listen) not to do the Sudarshan Kriya very vigorously, and to stop if she gets stiffness in her hands or body because it will harm her health. Explain to her that a temporary “high” from breathing too much, or from sitting near a charasmatic leader like Ravi Shankar, is no different from a drug or alcohol high, and she will come down later and have to face life again as usual. Just as drug users often mistake their ‘high’ as ‘ecstasy’, so too do many who practice in Art of Living make the same mistake about what they might feel during the course. A true spiritual ecstasy is entirely different from the false one experienced near Ravi Shankar. The points of the basic course in Art of Living, however, are basic, ancient truths, not something Ravi Shankar invented (even though he may say otherwise), and they can be helpful to anyone to hear, who has not already read them in scriptural studies. There is nothing new, really, in the course, but she may not have heard any of it. Hope this helps.

      • Ana permalink
        July 15, 2011 6:26 pm

        I did show her the blog, and explained that the exercises might end up doing her some harm if she overdoes it…but she said it’s just me believing anything I hear and wanting to harm her. Ever since I tried telling her about them she has become very distant and very against me.

        She at one point said she felt sick, and I recognized hyperventilation symptoms(I tend to hyperventilate myself)…but she was convinced it her was her health problems going away during meditation. Apparently she also stopped taking medicine for her health problems because she feels so good after the exercises.

        It is very weird, because when I first told her AoL was a cult, she was not that much into it…she even made fun of a few members who didn’t want to try any new mantras from other places. Refused to believe it was a cult, though. Last time I visited she already had two picture of guruji on her wall.

      • Jr. permalink
        July 15, 2011 7:10 pm

        Very sorry to hear this Ana. I think I speak for most of us in that we also believed AOL was not a cult we were in it. I also became a bit distant to friends who accused it of being a cult. Just continue to show her the posts on this wall about the damage Sudarshan Kriya has done to many, and she’ll eventually figure it out.

        P.S. just ignore Harshal – he’s a twat.

  56. Harshal permalink
    July 13, 2011 9:32 am

    @Ana: your mother is gone . She cant come back now. She is trapped by evil evil forces.You should consult some black-magicians to get her out of this.

    • Ana permalink
      July 15, 2011 6:27 pm

      What?

      • anonymous permalink
        July 16, 2011 12:09 pm

        Dear Ana,

        Just ignore Harshal, he’s an AOL person, trying to make you uncomfortable for speaking up about your mother. He just comes here to insult and hurt people. (so much for how wonderful AOL makes people, eh?)

        Anyway, Just be patient with your mom, and keep trying to bring up the subject if you can. Eventually she will see and hear things that are totally unacceptable to her in the behavior of the students, will be told to ignore them, etc. Because it appears that it’s very difficult to actually sit with Ravi Shankar these days, unless one is an inner circle member, she is unlikely to see any of his objectionable behaviors. That’s a pity, because if she got close to him she would find out that those teachers at the ‘top’ who act so badly are just acting like he does when he is not in public. Have her go to Klim’s blog if possible, and read there. There are some more personal accounts of things that have happened around SSRS. Over time perhaps she will understand that she is in a cult. Don’t give up on her. She really needs your support and help.

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