The Duality is Gone!
-by the Observer
My experience with AOL is I believe like most people on this site – it wasn’t black and white. There were many things AOL gave me that I still believe to this day have helped me, and continue to do so. For a long time, I was in limbo in how I felt about the organization and its founder. The conflict inside took a long time to sort out.
My story began about eight years ago. I was a college student suffering from a lot of stress. I was agnostic, although I started to pray for the first time in my life. I felt so hollow and empty in my life – there was a lack of meaning and great deal of confusion. I had trouble sleeping at night and would worry constantly.
One day I stumbled upon the AOL and soon afterwards took my first course. It appealed to me because I wanted more out of life. I wasn’t content with going to bars and sleeping around. I wanted more from my life than cheap thrills. I wanted to feel more spiritual, more alive, healthier, etc. I also didn’t want anything to do with organized religion or cults.
I felt my prayers had been answered. I saw signs, the subtle kind that only the person experiencing them can see. Sure, I didn’t agree with the teacher on signing an agreement not to teach the techniques. But I signed it anyway because I gave them the benefit of the doubt and tried to keep an open mind. I had just had some surgery done a few months before my basic course. My first kriya experience was intense, although nothing flashy happened. I noticed that the area of my body which had surgery, was getting a lot of physical sensations from the breathing. The kriya also gave me some relief from the overwhelming emotions and thoughts I was feeling in college.
Weeks and months after the course, I continued to do the practice. I noticed that I also seemed to get sick less. My eyes also looked different when I looked in the mirror. The bags were gone under my eyes. Surely this was only a positive thing, right? Years went on and I finally did a few advanced courses and the Sahaj meditation. I surely felt that the meditation processes, healthy food and silence was extremely refreshing to my agitated mind and tired body. Sometimes I was even in the presence of SSRS.
I continued to question why teachers when asked about showing these techniques to others replied that “showing people opposite nostril breathing is not a good idea.” I couldn’t understand how anyone could do that technique wrong or hurt themselves. I also thought that “shouldn’t this knowledge be free and available to everyone who needs it?” Certainly not everyone could afford the $300, but they needed this knowledge as much as myself. But I still gave the benefit of the doubt to the teachers because of the positive experiences I had with practices. I couldn’t find any bad information about this organization on the net, so I assumed the founder and the teachers had good intentions.I became so convinced that this was my calling and that I wanted to become a teacher.
One problem for me was that I struggled to be a strict vegetarian, which everyone who wants to become a teacher knows about. For years, I forced upon myself this diet without doing proper research. I felt spacey at times, but surely this was just cleansing for my body from all the toxins of eating meat. I would struggle with this so much being in a western country that I was always in guilt for eating meat at times where it was impossible to avoid. I felt like I wasn’t strong enough to become a teacher. Inside though, I also felt a conflict. I felt that eating meat a few times a month would certainly not affect ones ability to teach for AOL. “How could this possibly affect the ability to teach” I would ask. But then, I would hear others say that teachers have a big responsibility to be clean on the inside. Again I gave AOL the benefit of the doubt.
I also noticed that many of the teachers and some long time members of AOL did not smile much or seem to enjoy their life with much enthusiasm. Some looked unhealthy and very pale. Some developed lots of allergy problems or other health problems. Some seemed so void of joy and could only seem to get excited in life when some knowledge with Guruji was presented. I thought “Is this really what a person should become like after enlightenment? Is being dispassionate really a good thing in life?”
More years went on and I continued to live in this duality of doubt about the organization vs. faith in SSRS and the AOL knowing better than myself. I continued to do the kriya and meditation but I noticed that I wasn’t feeling so good after kriya. I talked to teachers and asked them why I was feeling tired and unfocused. The answer was usually “keep doing it…” or “your body is working through something…” I continued to do it, still seeing that my immune system was strong. But I couldn’t ignore the feelings of fatigue or the health problems that were starting to come into my life or the increasing allergies. I decided to give it a break.
To my surprise, I felt so much better when I stopped doing kriya. My mind felt sharper – I could think critically again. My endurance and concentration was back. I no longer felt sleepy in the afternoon or evenings. I no longer yawned excessively during the day. All the things I was told kriya would help with were now what I was experiencing when I gave it up. My allergy issues also began to go away once I stopped practice. For the first time in my life, I decided to listen to my body and not just go by some ideals that AOL was prescribing me.
Then there was the day I was looking for the sequence to one of the yoga practices and I accidentally stumbled upon this blog. I was horrified in many of the things I had read. I never thought such corruption could exist in this organization.
After carefully reading this, I felt the long years of the duality of conflict finally died. A shift had happened in my consciousness and it was very clear to me that I did not want to be part of this organization anymore, and that I certainly did not want to become a teacher. The clouds had cleared and I felt so much liberation and relief.
Those of you who have shared your personal stories should be very happy knowing that you have saved me (and others) from going over the edge. I am so grateful to you all for doing this seva for me. So now this leaves me with a wiser perspective on things. I certainly don’t wish to do any harm to AOL – I only want the facts to be out there and let people decide for themselves. Much of the knowledge I have learned from AOL I still practice. Helping others with seva is still something I believe in. The yoga and meditation practice still helps me feel relaxed in my daily life. I still eat a mostly vegetarian diet, but I don’t force it upon myself strictly. These are things I feel AOL helped teach me.
But the best lesson I learned from all this is that things in life are not black and white. Just because your prayer gets answered with some course does not mean one should embrace everything without challenging it. One should pick and choose what works for them without giving the organization the benefit of the doubt and forcing any practice against oneself. I believe some of these techniques were shown to help me along my journey, but now I realize I need to use my own discrimination and listen to my body and mind.
I hope some other persons in their twenties can read my story – perhaps it could help them. That’s why I’m posting this. I’m not here to say AOL is bad or good. Take all this in and decide for yourself. Chances are, your conclusions won’t be black and white.