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Double-Edged Sword – Part 2

December 24, 2010

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.

Seva

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.

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5 Comments
  1. smruti permalink
    March 26, 2011 10:59 am

    I think u r a sensible person writing here with sum thought n logic. What I feel is u shd try n understand concept of ‘Guru’ in Hindu religion.I think that will make things a lot clear.
    I hv also attended an advance course with Rishiji n heard ‘OFS’.. I think when he says ‘surrender to Guruji’, certain closeness n love for guru from the participients is already taken for granted…What I personally feel is, Rishiji has spiritually achieved a lot with Guruji.What he knows n what he feels for his Guru is expressed in his talks.I actually did not feel it was an attempt to promote courses.Ultimately what we take from courses n how we use it for our up liftment depends on us.
    I hv gone through all these blogs n one question has been on my mind since beginning. All of you seem to be involved in AOL for quite sum time.I take it for granted that u all must be doing daily ‘kriya’. R u actually telling everybody that u have never had any spiritual experience during ‘kriya’ or meditation ? Can you say that u have never experienced ‘ Grace’ in all these years ? I in fact all the readers will like to know this.
    I am not involved in the organization.So I don’t have any authority to comment on other things discussed here. Only thing I can say is I have personally had beautiful intuitive experiences in the meditative state after the kriya. I am a postgraduate doctor in clinical practice n I can vouch that it wasn’t due to hyperventilation.
    I also take for granted that u all must have listened to ‘Patanjali Yogsutra’ . Scientific basis of ‘kriya’ can be found there if we sincerely give a little thought to it.
    Guru parampara is part of Hinduism n vast Vedic knowledge n traditions belong to all of us.Hence there is never any question of anybody stealing things from others. It’s all already there. We learn it through Guru.
    I feel u r a sincere seeker n I have sincerely written this comment. ‘Guru’ is a principle (‘tatva’ ) and it’s going to be there with you in fact with all of you whether u are associated with art of living or not….

    • The Doctor permalink
      March 26, 2011 4:01 pm

      “What I personally feel is, Rishiji has spiritually achieved a lot with Guruji.What he knows n what he feels for his Guru is expressed in his talks.I actually did not feel it was an attempt to promote courses.”

      I’m not so sure how spiritually advanced Rishiji really is. He is certainly knowledgeable, a good communicator, charismatic, a general all round great performer, and above all a good salesman. I 100% got the impression that he was trying to promote courses and also promote the myth that Sri Sri is actually God because these were things he told us during his talks!

      He specifically told us, whilst shedding a few tears for good effect, that Guruji was an incarnation of the Divine Mother. He also gave us “homework” which was to go out and bring at least 2 people to the Advanced Course he was going to be teaching. A friend in another city recently told me that he received 7 independent phone calls from devotees canvasing for course participants to go to an Advanced Course which Rishiji was teaching in her city. If you look at videos of Rishiji on youtube you will also find that many of the “seva projects” which he gives involve volunteering and bringing people to Art of Living courses.

      “All of you seem to be involved in AOL for quite sum time.I take it for granted that u all must be doing daily ‘kriya’.”

      I can’t speak for everyone here but the majority including myself have stopped doing kriya. Many of us including myself have reported our lives have improved greatly as a result of stopping kriya.

      “R u actually telling everybody that u have never had any spiritual experience during ‘kriya’ or meditation ?”

      What exactly do you mean by “spiritual experience”? Do you mean have we felt good? Do you mean have we “experienced the divine”? Or that we felt high, light-headed, relaxed and perhaps considered that to be a spiritual experience? I have certainly felt various things during both kriya and meditation, however I cannot say whether they count as spiritual experiences or not. I actually still practice meditation daily, and I continue to derive benefits from this.

      “Can you say that u have never experienced ‘ Grace’ in all these years ? I in fact all the readers will like to know this.”

      Again, please define “Grace”? In Art of Living, we were conditioned to believe that every good feeling we ever had was due to “Grace”, specifically “Guruji’s Grace”. But this isn’t this just another ethereal idea which cannot be defined objectively and as such can very easily be abused, as it seems to be in Art of Living?

      “I am a postgraduate doctor in clinical practice n I can vouch that it wasn’t due to hyperventilation.”

      That’s funny, because in this study on Sudarshan Kriya, the abstract clearly states:

      Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) is a procedure that involves essentially rhythmic hyperventilation at different rates of breathing.

      So, who exactly are we to believe here?

      “I also take for granted that u all must have listened to ‘Patanjali Yogsutra’ . Scientific basis of ‘kriya’ can be found there if we sincerely give a little thought to it.”

      Can you show me where in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras we can see the scientific basis of specificallySudarshan Kriya? Isn’t this just another myth perpetuated by Art of Living in order to give it some historical context and credibility even though the technique was actually only cognized by (or revealed to) Guruji only 29 years ago ( even though bizarrely enough the organization is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year?)

    • anon permalink
      March 26, 2011 7:12 pm

      Going by the way you write, you sound like a really bad doctor, that;s the reason you got into AoL. Your career was in a bad shape, and the only place where you would get some importance for being a doctor was AoL . And you are lying when you say that you are not involved in the organization. Why else will you write your tale but for ulterior motives? Who knows, the way you defend Rishiji, maybe you actually are Rishiji? Frankly, your logic makes me even doubt that you are a doctor. And from there I can even tell that your mental state is in shambles. As is your personal life. So, with such a personality, how can your opinion even matter? To make this grandiose, you are talking og ” grace” as this is something that cannot be verified. So you see, your experience stands invalidated.

      Ludicrous? Of course, but that’s exactly how young harshal writes.

    • Dayalu permalink
      March 26, 2011 11:09 pm

      Smruti, if you’re not involved with the organization, why do you pass judgment absolving it. Most of the people contributing here are ex volunteers including ex teachers who have seen the organization very closely, the unethical practices, the brainwashing, the hype, false healing and miracle claims et al. Don’t cite the principals of Hindu dharma to defend the wrong doings of this organization. You denigrate ‘Sanatana Dharma’ by associating its principles with AOL. They manipulate you based on these”experiences” and “grace”. Wake up baby. Get introduced to real spirituality, read the Gita, Ashtavakra Gita and Yoga Sutras and stop listening to those fake commentaries. They are trash.

  2. Prakash permalink
    March 27, 2011 7:09 am

    @Smruti:

    “What I feel is u shd try n understand concept of ‘Guru’ in Hindu religion.I think that will make things a lot clear.”

    First of all, stop maligning Hindu religion for the failure of AOL.

    In Hinduism, a guru is supposed to take a disciple step by step on a spiritual path till the disciple realizes his own nature, which is complete freedom. On the other hand, in AOL a disciple is taken step by step on a path of dependence which culminates in complete intellectual (and sometimes physical) slavery to the master. From the very start, an AOL devotee is encouraged in many subtle and not so subtle ways to transfer her responsibility to guru. Many AOL devotees would not take an independent decision on important life decisions such as job, relocation, marriage or divorce without guru’s blessings.

    Secondly, which shastra of Hinduism allows Gurus to demand their disciples for monetary compensation for spiritual instructions? And in case of AOL, it is not just compensation, but a perpetual hectoring for money, money and more money to maintain super lavish lifestyle for the guru, his relatives and the members of his inner caucus.

    Please realize that, in the name of Guru-Shishya parampara, AOL is actually promoting a dysfunctional and sick relationship where one party is completely dependent on the other.

    “R u actually telling everybody that u have never had any spiritual experience during ‘kriya’ or meditation ? Can you say that u have never experienced ‘ Grace’ in all these years ?”

    Any type of meditation will give you a relaxed state of mind regardless of “grace”. A relaxed state of mind is conducive to spiritual pursuits but I am not sure if by itself it can be called a spiritual experience. For example TMers had maintained for long that TM works through “grace” and each disciple was provided mantra as per his individual constitution. However, their bluff was called when old timer TMers started defecting. It was found that TM was nothing more than the good old japa meditation which was mostly helpful for the sadhak, but in some cases just neutral or in some cases even harmful. You can imagine that when even an innocuous technique like japa can cause harm to some people, what could be the effect of a violent breathing technique like SK on people who are not suited to it? However, AOL indiscriminately sells this technique to all and sundry and their greed for higher profits stubbornly deny that their technique could be harmful for anyone. Have you ever seen or even heard of anyone who went to an AOL teacher with full fees but was asked to not take the course because it might be unsuitable for him?

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