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Some see AOL as a cult straightaway…

October 17, 2010

Bobsy permalink September 30, 2010

Good on the critics for exposing this phony narcissist. I went on an AOL course last weekend, and felt really good to start-then I realised what a sham it all was when they showed the 15 minute video of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, talk about, ahem, idolatry, vanity, greed, lust, covetousness etc.

I had a funny feeling about the course when there was stuff about breaking down barriers between people-as a survivor myself, I am very familiar with the mind games, manipulation etc used by sociopathic narcissists to brainwash others-give ‘em an inch, they’ll take a mile. This is a CULT in every way.

 If you read in a more discerning manner about spiritual matters, you’ll see there are a few things to say about false prophets masquerading as angels of light-Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing.

 God-the initial course is full of “love” bombing. And the exercise at the end where we had to sit as close to 3 people as possible without touching and look into their eyes was creepy and deeply inappropriate. In fact, the course tutor seemed to be hugging people quite a bit-also deeply inappropriate given what some of the course participants may have been through in their lives.

Thank God the man upstairs gave us a brain I say, to discern truth from a lie. And never trust a spiritual teacher who drives a Mercedes Benz or uses “faith” healing like a snake oil merchant. I’ve been in 2 other CULTS in my life, and they all operate in the same way. Spirituality should never be about control, it’s supposed to be about setting people free from bondage. I worry about vulnerable people being abused by this organization, but of course, one can only do so much individually, thank God I wasn’t involved for 10 years before I saw the light, but I must say, I was upset yesterday when I read the blogs offering the truth on this organization.

The real deal with spirituality don’t come as easily, I’m afraid, and this was all too good to be true, no real spiritual discipline, just icky feely slogans (and worse I’m afraid) and cliche ridden nonsense stolen from every other self-help book under the sun. So if you are feeling vulnerable, be careful whom you trust with it, as the prancer has a nasty bite.

MAY THE REAL GOD PROTECT AND COMFORT THE EX AND CURRENT MEMBERS -AND KEEP THE WOLVES AT BAY. I HOPE YOU FIND SOME PEACE IN YOUR LIVES

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14 Comments
  1. Abhilash Shastry permalink
    October 17, 2010 2:28 am

    “Some see AOL as a cult straightaway…”

    One good thing that has come out of my association with AOL is that now I can smell a cult from a mile. No amount of reading of “Guru Papers” or Steve Hassan could have given me this first hand knowledge.

    One of my friends once took me to Amway presentation. Till then I had not heard of Amway. Once they started their Amway pitch, I started laughing. My friend was like “what is wrong with you?” And I said “Nothing wrong with me. This organization is a cult and you are wasting your time here.” He asked me how I could say that. Amway was not into religious stuff and all. I said that it did not matter. I had had my ordeals by fire and I could detect a cult when I saw it. After returning home, I searched on this organization and realized that it was indeed a cult.

    All religious congregations do not act like cult nor all non-religious organizations automatically become non-cults.

    Someone on this blog mentioned about Ramakrishna Mission. After my AOL ordeal I was looking for some alternative spirituality and somehow got involved with Ramakrishna Mission. Later I found that their approach was very pedantic and did not suit my temperament. So I left that also. However, even though I have left my involvement with RK Mission I can say with full confidence, that this is not a cult. I did not like them is a different matter but they are a transparent and genuine spiritual organization. And I wish them all the success.

    Many cult members (such as AOL-ers) argue that those who left the organization did not like it, hence they have labeled it a Cult. I do not think so. Liking or disliking an organization does not have anything to do with cult character. I do not like many religious organizations however I also know that not all of them are cults. Similarly, having a guru or spiritual leader as a head of the organization does not necessarily make it a cult. Cults have very distinct characteristics that can be fully appreciated only by those who have been involved in a cult and have come out.

  2. October 17, 2010 6:34 am

    I think it is very simple – does their spiel, marketing, tactics and philosophy keep brainwashing you into going back to the org again and again, is that where you are supposed to feel at home? If so, they are a cult. AOL fits the bill perfectly. Amway and the other pyramid marketing schemes too.

    • Wondering permalink
      October 17, 2010 4:25 pm

      Some of you say that AOL is so terrible and that’s why it has such poor “retention” – most people do the course and then go on with their lives. But based on your own words “retention” is the sign of a cult. Isn’t the low retention a good thing, then?

      • Blasphemous Prophet permalink
        October 18, 2010 5:18 am

        Retention is not the sign of a cult. Unnecessarily high degree of devotion, achieved through systematic brainwashing, among those who are retained is the sign.

      • WebSeva-ite permalink
        October 18, 2010 6:10 am

        All cults at some stage or the other, have poor retention, its all part of the game. Your poor attempt at ‘wondering’ is noted.

  3. BrightFaith permalink
    October 17, 2010 1:07 pm

    Yes, I too can smell a cult a mile away now, after being in one. And, yes, it all did seem too good to be true with AoL. So much charity work! I was impressed breifly but then something clicked in the brain and I just kind of shook my head. How is it possible they do that much charity, I thought.

    Cults are all the same. It’s unfortunate that so many of us have had dealings with sociopathic narcissists (yes, I agree this is the best word for them!), but great that we can see them for who they are-manipulators. I held out hope for awhile that because of my experience and intellectual knowledge of cults, my friends in AoL would listen to me and see through the scam. But, no such luck. They just all the more fervently tried to get me to stay in the group. I guess they think I need help seeing the light or something. It became a game of them trying to prove that AoL was okay and me resisting more and more and trying to show them that getting out was a better choice.

    Here is a list of AoL Youth Programs in schools. Based on my time in AoL, I would never want a child exposed to this cult. Does anyone know if this list is current? These schools need to be sent a copy of this blog.

    http://us.artofliving.org/files/press-kit/SchoolsInProgram.pdf

    • goneagain permalink
      October 18, 2010 12:28 am

      Agree, people in charge of these school programs should know both sides of the coin to make an informed decision on whether it is good for the kids in those schools.

  4. Confused permalink
    October 17, 2010 7:32 pm

    8th Day: Over 50,000 people from 60 countries attended the Chandi Homa yagyas in Bangalore Ashram in the presence of Sri Sri, I am confused, if AOL is not what it potrays
    itself to be will all these people who travelled far and wide from 60 countries be present at the
    Ashram to celebrate Navrathri.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      October 17, 2010 11:28 pm

      firstly most of the 50000 people (assuming numbers are accurate – of which there is very little chance) are from India. The few people who are there from other countries are there either because of AOL’s marketing speil – telling them how wonderful AOL navratri is – or they are long timers who are there on spiritual tourism to India.

      Just because someone has large number of followers does not mean they are saintly and great (Nithyananda being a recent example). For that you have to evaluate their actions on their own merit – and unfortunately ravi shankar and his organization leaves much to be desired.

    • WhistleBlower permalink
      October 17, 2010 11:49 pm

      I agree with Peaceful Warrior. AOL numbers do not impress me. Most are exaggerated. Even if true, 50000 for any celebration in India is a really small number.

      Re people from other countries, they usually pay an extravagant amount to attend (most are AOL teachers) and are usually penned like animals in a zoo, close to stage, for maximum publicity for Ravi and camera taking good shots of them.

      I wonder if Ravi repeated his usual act, pretending mother Divine entered his body and he going to a state of bliss and Bhanu Didi running around him, looking worried for him and all that energy he is carrying in his little frame!

      And then all pretending that the water container has become all heavy due to all the prayers and pujas and people struggling to carry it and then the superhero Ravi coming and helping them!

      What a show!! I hope the foreigners enjoyed the show for all the money they paid to get a close look!

    • goneagain permalink
      October 18, 2010 12:52 am

      @Confused

      AOL reached out to 300 million people (AOL numbers not mine http://www.facebook.com/pages/Art-of-Living/110412075645491
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_Living_Foundation ), but only 50k they could able to get to the Ashram for Navrathri. That doesn’t sound teriable big (provided 50k is true) to me given that they have reached 300m. Numbers/Statistics and AOL are like J Goebbels and Truth ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Lie ).

    • WebSeva-ite permalink
      October 18, 2010 6:18 am

      Yea! ‘confused’ and ‘wondering’ are the new avatar of web sava warriors! JGD. Let us all ask questions on this blog gently doubting all that is said here, and expose to the world what HATERS these ppl really are…

  5. Doreen permalink
    October 18, 2010 9:41 pm

    I’d like to bring people’s attention to this post on KLIM’s blog. It’s constructive guidance on how a group could potentially avoid turning into a cult:

    http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/2009/12/inspiring-words-from-john-knapp-how-not.html

    • goneagain permalink
      October 19, 2010 12:02 am

      That was good suggestion indeed, given that was posted in KLIM’s blog almost an year earlier, haven’t seen anything changed in AOL. It probably gone from bad to worse, become more defensive and ready to attack (sad swami ex.) anyone it thinks causing problems to its businesses.

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