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10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases

October 11, 2010

dubhasa permalink September 27, 2010 5:45 pm

This fits so well to AOL.

10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases ( by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.) 

1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

 2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

 3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be “the one.”

 4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who function as spiritual teachers.

 5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is “bullet-proof.” When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and — bam! — you’re enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of “spiritual superiority” is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that “I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual.”

8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional co-dependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with “group mind” reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

9. The Chosen-People Complex: The chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that “Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group.” There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher or community for themselves, and having found The One.

10. The Deadly Virus: “I Have Arrived”: This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that “I have arrived” at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

  1. freeagaiin permalink
    October 12, 2010 5:12 am

    It would be ideal to begin this posting by introducing myself, however my AOL experience as you will discover was harrowing enough and having witnessed the harassment, unethical behaviour, and character assassinations first-hand (not just the Sad Swamis) on a local level, makes it an un-wise thing to do. I have a family and siblings and friends who I do not wish to drag into this. So I hope readers of this post understand.

    I assure you that this posting, is done with the utmost honesty and integrity. I assure you that I have not embellished anything in any way. I assure you that this is an accurate description of my experiences, after a very long period of reflection and self-analysis. I have decided to post my experiences in the hope of allowing people to open up about their experiences and maybe even see the truth of their situations. I have no doubt that current AOL’ers frequent this site.

    I did my first AOL course and within a year I was made a part one teacher. Yes…streamlined through the process. I had done one advance silence course and that was that. I was not questioned on whether I had completed the Ashtavakra Gita classes, the Yoga Sutras or Bhakti Sutras. I had just been identified as someone who could recruit and had disposable income and good contacts in the entertainment and media industry.

    My first basic course was incredible. Of course little did I know that I was just hyperventilating and my desperation to change my life at that stage, let me to make mountains out of molehills. I looked at every event as a sign, as a message for me to embrace AOL. In the beginning I was looking for anything that would make me feel good and allow me to fit in somewhere.

    The basic course teacher, I had was incredible. In my entire AOL experience and to this day, the basic course teacher I met had the most amazing integrity, honesty and sincerity in her quest to find true inner happiness. That unfortunately was the basic course teacher’s downfall.

    Needless to say, I got indoctrinated into satsangs (not by the basic course teacher who I can say did try her best to protect her students from questionable tactics of the die hard AOL’ers) but rather, by the die hard AOL’ers who had latched on to me, and I slowly began cutting myself off from my friends and family as I wanted to find this happiness and the source of eternal smiles that everyone around me had. No I hadn’t heard of “fake it till you make it” at the time.

    I was hungry for an advance course in silence. I should have taken more notice when I inadvertently found out that there was an advance silence course happening in a nearby city, but it wasn’t advertised in our local chapter. I also later found out, that there had been a previous advance course in silence but because all the volunteers in the hierarchy and inner circles were devoted to creating an uprising against the only basic course teacher in the city they prevented dissemination of the information. As I found out, it was to prevent information of the underhanded tactics and battle for power going on in the local chapter to the regional chapters and senior teachers that the courses had not been advertised or promoted. Actually the entire die hard AOL’ers made a special trip to the nearby city where the Senior Teacher was to convince her of their stance. Without hearing the basic course teacher, the die hard AOL’ers and the Senior Teacher became judge and jury and it is no secret in the local chapter that underhanded and dirty tactics were used to force the basic course teacher to eventually leave.

    I travelled to do the advance course in the other city and yes it was a very “special” experience for me. For I had again been identified as someone with “potential” and was given all the adulation and attention by the advance course teacher who I later observed to be very skilled and adept at the art of manipulation. My grooming to become a basic course teacher had begun!

    I returned all high from the advance course to my city, only to find that the mutiny had occurred in the most devastating way possible for the only basic course teacher in our chapter. A “name, shame and accusation” campaign had begun. Every person registered with this chapter, including all regional contacts and nearby countries were copied and blind copied into emails. Even the Ashram and SSRS had been copied in to emails. Most people requested to be taken off the email lists, some voiced their disgust at the name shame and accusation campaign, but there was no response from the Ashram or from SSRS – who apparently reads every email that is addressed to him. His silence and the Ashrams silence endorsed the behaviour of the die hard AOL’ers hungry for a basic course teachers power, without being basic course teachers themselves.

    It was horrific to stand by and watch and when I questioned the ethics and behaviours being displayed, I was told I did not know the real truth and they could justify their actions by telling me a story which of course portrayed the teacher as the villain. I made it very clear to everyone involved in the group that this was totally in contradiction to AOL spirituality that I had been taught in the basic course and in the advance silence course, spirituality in general and humanity. I refused to follow the pack.

    In doing so, I had set myself for damnation by our local AOL chapter.

    The teacher in question, who was of non-Indian ethnicity, despite all that was going on, all the embarrassment of having to face the entire chapter who had been emailed or heard of the unproven allegations, was still committed to AOL, still gave Long Kriya, and organised courses, which of course were unsupported by the rest of the group. In effect there were two AOL groups in one city – a city that could barely sustain one chapter of AOL!! The harassers and perpetrators of the name shame and accuse campaign, would still turn up to Long Kriya and pretend nothing had happened for that moment, and would even try and hug the teacher and make small talk. It was bizarre to watch.

    I took it upon myself to make sure I spent time with the basic course teacher – being aware of the situation and understanding how embarrassing it must be for them. . The basic course teacher refused to drag me in to the drama and such was their integrity, did not discuss the matter with me. Rather, spent the time talking of spirituality in general, the Ashtavakra Gita and their personal journey in AOL.

    And then there was the grand announcement of a “Special TTC of 21 days {for the Chosen Ones}. And somehow or the other, I ended up on that. Looking back, I can honestly say, at the time, I had been so influenced to believe this was my calling. The TTC was of no special significance to me – it was a haphazard course, with no real thought to the structure of the course – everything was made up as the course went along. Again, because of my good command in English, my ability to speak in public, my qualifications, I was spared the hot seat, and all other atrocities. The only thing I noticed was that people I thought were friends, became angry, bitter and twisted so much so, that one person had a physical altercation with me. Yes believe it or not. I was trying to have a conversation with someone from a different country, and this person, felt that I was avoiding them, and actually grabbed my seat and pushed me and then pulled me towards them to force me to talk to them. I was horrified and in tears. I spoke to the TTC teachers, and they gave me some wishy-washy explanation of how the person was going through their own process. Looking back its incredible how the safety of the person who is stressed out to the maximum and the safety of other participants are ignored.

    I kept to myself as it was just too strange and besides I was utterly exhausted. I didn’t realise that sleep deprivation, hot-seating people and the subtle brainwashing made people that way.

    With regards recruiting process, I could not within myself participate as I believe that each person finds their own path in their own way and just happily accompanied the die hard recruiters, and managed in this way to sight-see the country.

    We did the begging process and of-course I did not realise it at the time, but certain people in each group were advised that the money had to come back and be accounted for. I myself found it especially hard knowing that we had taken a share of the “real beggars” money. When I asked the group if we could give the money back to the beggars, who actually gave their money and food to us, their was a real conscience struggle going on with some people, but of-course those with the loudest voice won. All they had to say was “but teacher-ji said we have to take the money back”. To this day, I do not know where the begging money went to. Yes, nothing was accounted for.

    Now, the worst thing was to watch people clamber like animals to see SSRS. In the presence of SSRS, you tend to see the ugliness in people. I was lucky, I managed to bump into him a few times accidentally, and I managed to swim right next to him and had the pleasure of him throwing water in my face. Apparently I had been blessed!!! Each time I bumped into him, I honestly could not humble myself to even put my hands together. Call it gut instinct. I felt quite let down, when he handed me my Kriya tape and manual and a sweet and asked me if I was happy? I did expect something more profound and more personal – surely he could see into the future, being an enlightened being and all and knew all his teachers inside out, their strengths and weaknesses. Surely he would send each one out with some positive affirmation or even a caution or something profound that would carry them through good and bad times. Oh well…maybe some other time I rationalised.

    But what was really sad, was at the end when it was time to go, a few of us were leaving early so would not be able to have the official audience with him. So we were taken to his room in the five star hotel of course, to have our audience with him. It was an extremely amusing spectacle to watch someone who had an audience with him for the entire week, take us to the door, walk in and shut the door in our faces. And then come out fifteen minutes later and say he has no time for us. Imagine those of us who paid $5000+ to be there, and to be told that the Master has no time for you – his new teachers who were going to spread his word and message. It was confusing and painful. But again, I think I was lucky, that someone in the heavens was trying to keep me from being further influenced and brainwashed.

    So I came back to our local chapter all excited and ready to start teaching. Lo behold there were more barriers. This time by the new teachers who were part of the rogue group who named and shamed the original basic course teacher in our chapter. They obviously didn’t trust SSRS’s judgment in making some of us teachers, so it was ordained that we were unable to teach unless we were supervised by one of them (of-course I didn’t know at the time, but it meant that the number of courses they taught would increase by inclusion in courses organised by us incapable teachers. I co-taught one course and was so restricted that I don’t think the guru’s grace could have flowed through me even if it wanted to. The teacher I co-taught with, who also had become a teacher at the same TTC as me, had imposed on me more rules than the Teachers manual. Participants were restricted in their verbal contributions to the course, i.e. their experiences didn’t matter because they forgot to add in the teacher’s manual to let participants speak a bit. My contribution to the course was really sitting next to the basic course teacher and nodding my head in submission and agreement. Because of-course the grace only flowed from him. He said it did. He could feel it. The grace, told him to not let me speak, the grace told him to not let the participants speak. The Grace told him that I could not drink from my water bottle, because it had been in the room where people had done kriya etc etc…

    What happened to the only basic course teacher in the local chapter prior to all these new teachers being appointed – well that teacher was sidelined, marginalised and cut out. The local chapter became a totally “India-hindu organisation”. No acknowledgment of other religions special holidays were made – even though apparently at the Ashram everything is celebrated. Almost every teacher became an Auyurveda specialist based on the hand me down tid-bits received in TTC, some became astrologists based on the occasional email that would be sent out warning us about a certain month being dangerous, some could interpret how the climate in our area would affect our thinking and of course most became mind readers of SSHRs mind to be able to interpret his wishes and desires for the local chapter.

    Following the influx of the new teachers, were a series of bizarre episodes in local chapter. A few people had been identified as “non-pliable”. So it was decided that they needed to be broken down. Their egos were in the way of their growth and the chapters growth. Their constant questioning of unethical behaviour, of questionable policies and tactics was frustrating the growth of the chapter. So a new name, shame and accusation campaign began.

    Allegations began circulating of these basic course teachers supposedly inappropriate behaviour with one teacher in particular, they were labelled as unstable, one person was inappropriately approached by a certain teacher and when complaints were made about that teacher’s behaviour, it was all swept under the carpet; because of course that teacher belonged to the inner sanctum of the local chapter. The final straw was when a meeting was organised and those who were identified as “not pliable enough” were attacked verbally for their perceived failures as AOL teachers. A few teachers left and never looked back. I was one of them.

    That period, was one of sadness, grief, loneliness and isolation. We were cut off, had no avenue to speak out or to even ask for help even from the Ashram. It amazes me to this day, the number of teachers who say why don’t you speak with Guruji? Unfortunately we were not of the inner circle to even have a phone contact with Guruji and no one volunteered a phone number. Actually we approached one person for the number and were advised that Guruji would be too busy to take our call. For a while, I continued to do Kriya and when specific direction came to chant Om Namah Shivaya and not drive recklessly, I would follow it, but then slowly, away from the influence, I started questioning everything. I drive everyday of the week, I don’t drive recklessly, what an assumption to make. I am not Hindu, so chanting ONS has no significance to me, and it dawned on me, the subtle conversion that goes on. No one even discusses how you can supplement the practices with your own religion to have it make more relevant to the person. The practices take a “one size fits all” but the reality is not all of us are the same size.

    And I came to realise how I had become a shell of the vibrant, confident person I used to be. And I realised I liked the person I used to be. I liked the person who embraced life, with vivacity, with passion. I liked embracing all practices and teachings and taking what worked for me and discarding what no longer served my spiritual growth. I finally started to come home to myself.

    It hasn’t been an easy road. In reading all the postings on this site, I have to say I am not interested in where the money goes or Bhanu’s love for handbags and jewellery or all the swamis and their sordid love affairs and ménage a trios, what I am more concerned about is the innocent people who in their quest to find peace and happiness are caught up in AOL.

    What I am concerned is about those people who have given up the core of who they are to be a stereotypical “seva warrior” or teacher i.e. to be someone void of their own unique personality and traits. What I am concerned is about how people are closed off to other teachings around the world that may be of benefit to them. What I am concerned about is this “kriya” which is actually hyperventilation colourfully packaged as a instant fix it. What I am concerned is people learning yoga from unqualified teachers and suffering severe injuries as a result. What I am concerned about is people who may be going through depression or other ailments and are encouraged to come off their medications sooner than required and rely on the hyperventilation technique to cure them. What I am worried about is people who have suffered trauma and other atrocities and mishaps in life, who undergo hot seating and sleep deprivation and other techniques done by people whose only claim to a qualification is that they have the Masters grace.

    So if I can through the posting of this story, which is my personal experience make a difference for one person and help them realise that the doubts they harbour within themselves about AOL and its practices, are worth having a second look at, that it is in your best interests to question the things that don’t seem right, that the kriya that makes you feel sick and gag and creates more havoc in your body seems wrong, to actually step aside for a while, to take some time out alone and see you can come to a decision for yourself, either way – whether to stay or go, then this rehashing of my experience which I assure you was very painful, very exhausting, financially crippling experience and one that left me isolated for a while, has been worth it. You are worth it so just do it – Take some time out, from the organisation and look at it from all perspectives. Ask your family and long time friends, not your AOL associates, how they feel about you, how they feel about your association with AOL. What changes have they observed in you. Ask your collegues how they feel about you constantly trying to recruit them for courses. Ask your neighbours how they feel when you continuously invite them to introduction talks etc.

    Then based on that, and how you feel, make a decision. An informed decision. Like you would if you were to move to another country, like you would before you purchase a car or a house, before you leave a partner for good or go into a partnership, make sure your decision is one that comes from you, and not one that you have been dragged into without realising it.

    Be aware and find out how you feel about your association with AOL. Ask yourself, if the money you spend on courses is actually worth it. Surely the master would give you his grace and knowledge for free or a minimal cost. Surely the money that you expend on the five star hotels and the airline tickets can be better spent doing some good for people who have nothing. Surely, an organisation that is responsible would give clear accounts back to its donors to let them know where their donations go.

    If you don’t stand for something, you might just end up falling for everything. So stand up for true spirituality, stand up for real charity, stand up for basic humanity, stand up for integrity, stand up for yourself. Stand up for an authentic spiritual journey, that may lead you to the highest of your hopes, the corner of your smiles and the most special places your heart has ever known.

    • Seva warrior permalink
      October 12, 2010 6:41 am

      Go to Jail, Guru Dev!

  2. anon1 permalink
    October 13, 2010 1:04 pm

    such a brilliant list, thx m. caplan.

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