Double-Edged Sword – Part 2
Knowledge Point: The Three Doubts
During the Advanced Course, we were taught that three types of doubt are likely to arise as we went through the various processes in the course: doubts about the processes, doubts about oneself, and doubts about the master (Guruji). We were then told that when any of these doubts arise in us, all we had to do was to just drop them.
By the time the course came to an end, everything did actually turn out alright, and so I realized that indeed there was no reason for these doubts in the first place.
As far as the Advanced Course is concerned, this knowledge point seems innocuous. However when it is looked at in the greater context of one’s time with Art of Living, it does appear to serve the purpose of instilling the idea that when one has any doubts about AoL they should simply drop them and instead have faith.
In my own case, I can safely say that I did have doubts about Art of Living many times, but through a combination of the Basic Course knowledge point “Accept people and situations as they are” and this Advanced Course knowledge point, I generally dropped all doubts as they arose and accepted the situations, no matter how questionable I believed them to be. Especially when there were those present who tried to further allay any doubts by stating that “Guruji said xyz …”
Whatever the benefits of this knowledge point, I can see now that this is also another method Art of Living employs to manipulate followers into having blind faith in the organization and to its founder, and to suspend critical thinking.
Knowledge Point: Doubting the Negative
The following statement was made by an AoL devotee here here on this blog, and is actually something which has been stated by Sri Sri previously, for instance http://wisdomfromsrisri.blogspot.com/2010/02/there-is-no-caste-for-spirit.html:
[…]We never doubt the negative, only the positive.[…]
@DW made the following comment in response to this, which really speaks for itself and which I believe echoes what many of us have experienced during our time with AoL:
The knowledge point about how the mind doubts the positive and believes the negative just isn’t true. When I was in AOL I doubted the negatives quite a bit. I didn’t believe that anything could be wrong with AOL or SSRS. Doubting the negative is called denial. All of us at some point in our lives go into denial and doubt the negative and believe the best in people – even when there is overwhelming evidence that people are not at their best.
What I find frustrating is when people use the ‘knowledge’ as a weapon to control and intimidate people. Saying that the mind only doubts the positive is just a plain old lie used to manipulate people into conforming when they sense something is wrong.
One of the most wonderful things I picked up from Art of Living was the idea of seva, selfless service. This is something which again is greatly lacking in the world and which goes hand-in-hand with the sense of belongingness which AoL also promotes.
However, as with belongingness, as I went deeper into the organization, I was led to believe that the greatest seva one could perform is Art of Living seva, which in the first place involves organizing and bringing others to Intro talks and courses, and which taken to its natural conclusion culminates in one becoming an Art of Living teacher.
Very few people I know in Art of Living are doing what I will call real-world, or non-AoL, seva. Those who are carrying out any service projects are doing it off their own backs and with their own money, yet they are happy to credit Art of Living for it even when AoL has nothing to do with it.
Belongingness and “One World, One Family”
At both the start and end of the Basic Course, we were told to go around and say to all the other participants present, “I belong to you”. At the start it did feel a little awkward, but at the end it felt very sincere for everyone. The teacher at the time said something to try to convince us that it was because we had just done the Basic Course, this was entirely responsible for what we were feeling.
It actually did occur to me at the time that this same sense of belongingness usually arises within any intimate group situation over a period of several days, and that it had little to do with the Basic Course, however my mind was so high from all the fun we had that I just went along with what the teacher said.
I strongly feel that the idea of belongingness is a good idea, however the way this is promoted in Art of Living it is more about encouraging people to feel a stronger sense of belongingness to others also in Art of Living than to those who are outside of the organization. In other words, it is used as a means to keep the group cohesive.
The same can be said of the vision of “One World, One Family”. Again this is a beautiful idea, but in reality what they are really promoting is that everyone in the world should become part of the Art of Living family.