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Reasons Why I Stayed in Art of Living

March 30, 2011

by DW

Below is a list that I came up with a few months ago for why I stayed in AOL. It is a partial list. I keep discovering other reasons why I stayed and didn’t move on with my own life. I want to share this with others for it might prove helpful.

Before I give my list I want to acknowledge that this list is not a defense for Punditji or AOL. I find no need or inclination to defend them. This is a list of my mistakes that led me to buy into and stay in the foundation. In acknowledging my weaknesses, I hope to correct them and not fall prey to them again. Also, in understanding my part in all this, I find I take responsibility for what happened and I don’t have to demonize Sri Sri or AOL to keep myself free of them. I can just let them be who and what they are and walk away from them cleanly. I want to be free from AOL in all ways and that includes being free of the anger and resentment I have for AOL. I hope you all find this helpful.

Reasons why I stayed in AOL

I really love being special.
Being connected to a divine guru, an avatar of God is a heady experience. Not many people can say that they know and are personally known by God’s representative on earth. This made me feel so very special and being this special made up for a lot of feelings of inadequacy. Being part of the ‘chosen few’ played into my need to like myself. I have/had my share of self criticism and instead of dealing directly with that criticism, I just glossed over it with the idea that I can’t be all bad because a divine incarnation loves, protect and values me. Getting my validation from a divine master kept me from having to validate myself. And not only was I validated, I was special, about as special as anyone could be. I couldn’t ask for more.

I wasn’t honest with myself.
I said ‘yes’ to many things when I really wanted to say ‘no’. I would lie to myself and say that that was ok with me when it wasn’t. Examples of this are when I said ‘yes’ to helping out with a tour when I didn’t want to. I said ‘yes, I am fine’ to Punditji when I wasn’t and when I had lots of doubts and confusion about him. I said, ‘Yes, it’s ok with me that I give my life to service,’ when I really didn’t want to and what I really wanted was to have my own life. I wasn’t honest with myself in other ways. I turned a blind eye to inconsistent and unethical behavior on Punditji’s and AOL’s part. I justified the exaggerated claims of AOL and overlooked the not so omniscient and omnipotent behavior of ‘The Guru’. When I look at it, there were a thousand and one ways in which I deceived myself.

I indulged in magical thinking.
I believed things like; “Guruji knows everything I am thinking.” “He knows what is in my heart.” “He knows what is best for me and can see all my lives before him.” “He listens in to every course I teach and personally knows every participant.” “He is all powerful and will take care of me life after life.” “He is the highest divine incarnation of this age and will save humanity from ignorance and destruction.” When I look at these statements honestly, I want to ask, “Really? Where is my proof?” These were mighty big claims I was making and did I ever really look at them in the clear light of day? The answer to that question was not for many, many years. It’s like I split my mind it two: a rational, logical mind and the magical-thinking mind that believed all kinds of fantastical things. When I really started to look at the underlying assumptions I was making about Punditji and AOL, I felt embarrassed and foolish. They were just so much make-believe. I was living in a fantasy land, and was somehow convincing myself that I believed it.

[Magical thinking is a funny thing. It gets the most intelligent people to believe all kinds of things like the Noah’s Ark story and the boy Krishna holding up a mountain with his little finger. Rational people believe these wild stories basically because they were told that they’re true. Do we believe everything we are told? I believed in many of the guru stories because there was something in me that wanted to. And it is that ‘something’ that is what I have to take responsibility for if I don’t want to fall into fantastical thinking again.]

I confused seva with propaganda.
I thought I was doing the highest service to others by getting them connected to the grace of the master. I lost sight of helping people in a straightforward way. I saw that the basic and advance course helped lots of people and I wanted to share it. That is all well and good. My mistake was confusing that with the promotion of the guru mythology. In looking back, people didn’t need the baggage of the guru-trip to get the benefits of these courses. I was confusing helping people feel better, more relaxed and happier (seva) with getting them to believe in ‘the Guru’ and his grace (propaganda). I think the basic and advance courses could easily be taught without any connection to ‘the Guru’ or ‘His Grace’ and they would still be very powerful courses. By confusing seva with propaganda, I was idealizing and mystifying the simple benefits people get from breath work and meditation and I was perpetuating the guru mythology.

I confused love and devotion with commitment.
I fell in love with Punditji and became deeply devoted to him. That did not mean I needed to commit myself to him or to his cause. I mistakenly believed that I could prove my love and devotion through commitment. I didn’t realize that love doesn’t need proven and that my commitment to him wasn’t really out of love but a way for me to manipulate him to love me back. I stayed longer in AOL than I would have because I didn’t want to lose his love and approval. In doing so, I betrayed myself. I betrayed what I wanted and confused being dedicated and committed with love. I can love and feel devotion to someone and still walk away from them without betraying them in any way. With AOL, it took me a long while to realize this. Love give freedom, not obligation.

I confused my self worth with other people’s approval, especially the guru’s.
I believe that this is a mistake that many people make. I think we all try to get other’s approval whether it is a boss’s, teacher’s, spouse’s, child’s . . . to boost our sense of self worth. When I believed Punditji was a divine avatar, I went crazy trying to get his approval. I practically did anything to get ‘divine recognition’. This kept me working for Punditji and AOL long after I stopped enjoying it. This confusion was the main motivator to push me to do more and more seva. I really wanted to get Punditji’s approval so that I could feel that my life was worthwhile and that I was lovable in the most basic way. I, belatedly, realized that working for someone else’s approval is a really painful thing to do to myself. Yet, I did it for years always hopeful that once I got that magical approval I would feel whole and complete inside. Out of all the fallacies I told myself, this one is probably the greatest, and the one that caused the most pain.

Some of you may feel that I am being too harsh on myself and that I should not blame myself for falling for the manipulations of a cult. All I can say is that I don’t feel harsh to myself nor do I blame myself. I am finding that I am just understanding myself. Whatever AOL or Punditji did or didn’t do doesn’t really matter in the end. I chose to stay. No one tied me down. If I did so under a delusion or because of some deception, it was still my choice. I stayed because I was still getting something from Punditji and AOL or at least I chose to believe I was getting something from them. I was getting some kind of affirmation, a sense of specialness, a delusion of grandeur. I was getting love and approval. I was getting something that I thought I needed. And I gave accordingly. I traded a lot to get what I thought I needed and that trade was worth it to me for a long while. Once it wasn’t worth it to me, I left.

I think the freedom many of us feel upon leaving AOL is that deep recognition that I don’t need other people’s love, respect, and approval. What I need is my own love, respect and approval. Once I have that, then such strength and peace wells up. It is like standing on solid ground again. The painful and fruitless search for approval and love through the guru or some vague sense of God has ended. I found that the simple truth of respecting and loving myself gave me such strength to stand on my own. I could stop begging for attention and approval from a divine guru or even from some idea of God. I didn’t need theirs. I gave what I wanted to myself. And in that lies my strength and freedom.

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97 Comments
  1. Anon permalink
    March 30, 2011 10:13 am

    Who is Punditji?

    • March 30, 2011 2:11 pm

      Punditji is what we call Sri Sri Ravi Shankar early on. It was the name he had before Sri Sri.

      • anon permalink
        March 31, 2011 12:49 am

        That was a ploy to cash in on the real Pundit Ravi Shankar’s (Sitar Maestro) goodwill, respect and popularity in western world. It went on for a few years and when Pundit Ravi Shankar objected to misuse of his name, he changed his name to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

      • OASCS permalink
        March 31, 2011 1:46 pm

        This is a little off topic but the Sitar Pundit Ravi Shankar had no goodwill and respect Popularity maybe but goodwill and respect no.. he had two wives and was a well known as a pervert.

        Only respect he had was for his skills on the Sitar and nothing else.

      • Dayalu permalink
        March 31, 2011 7:28 pm

        anon’s suggestion that it was a ploy to cash in on the real Pt Ravishankar is too much of a stretch. anon, you are beginning to sound like AOLites. Now you will suggest that RS’s parents named him with this ploy in mind. C’mmon!Let us be fair.

      • The Doctor permalink
        March 31, 2011 8:53 pm

        Dayalu – I recommend you read this post then make up your own mind:

        https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/06/02/his-holiness-titles-lineage/

  2. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    March 30, 2011 1:15 pm

    wow!!! your honesty and frankness are admirable. Hats off!

    • Harshal permalink
      March 31, 2011 8:32 pm

      @Peaceful Warrior: ya you need to learn from him.

  3. Observer Jr. permalink
    March 30, 2011 2:48 pm

    I think most of us can relate to this story. The specialness is one of the biggest reasons why many of my friends are still consumed by this cult. Who doesn’t want to belong to something that we believe makes us better than the average person? And they tell us that on courses all the time that we are so lucky to be one of the few.

    “It’s like I split my mind it two: a rational, logical mind and the magical-thinking mind that believed all kinds of fantastical things.”

    That is the same duality I struggled with. But once it snapped, I was surprised how good it felt to be free again.

    Thanks for sharing

  4. anonymous permalink
    March 30, 2011 7:31 pm

    why no post from harshal? eating his own words, is he?

    • harshal permalink
      March 31, 2011 2:35 pm

      what can i say? I have been calling you ‘idiots’, you all are just accepting it all over this post…such big fools you have been.

      Quoting DW

      “I chose to stay. No one tied me down. If I did so under a delusion or because of some deception, it was still my choice. I stayed because I was still getting something from Punditji and AOL or at least I chose to believe I was getting something from them. I was getting some kind of affirmation, a sense of specialness, a delusion of grandeur. I was getting love and approval. I was getting something that I thought I needed. And I gave accordingly. I traded a lot to get what I thought I needed and that trade was worth it to me for a long while”

      This is taking responsibility for ones own mind. None of you are doing this. if you had a bad experience it was someone else’s fault……if you had a good experience it was because you deserved it ?All I see here is blame blame blame…from a bunch of miserable anonymous people.

      • Mike permalink
        April 4, 2011 2:33 am

        Harshal – just curious which AOL courses have you done so far?

  5. anonymous permalink
    March 30, 2011 8:45 pm

    iI had a great job, that is a coveted job and I messed it all up. I lost my competitive spirit, lived in a bubble and used to find it hard to focus on my job. I was lifeless and disinterested in everything around me. I turned my back to cinemas as my TTC teacher, Vikram Hazra, said that by going to movie theatres one’s prana gets affected, to good food, gave up onions, garlic, tea and coffee ( i\I’m a vegetarian, so that was not a problem) . My only sole interest was AoL, satsang and “guruji”, for which I was applauded by AoL followers. I missed out on all the normal things that a young 20 year old enjoys as I was too busy doing kriya as that was my appointment with God ( bloody BS) I would talk the AoL jargon even at work ( so embarrassing!!!) and my attitude, in the real world, was considered abnormal. I know my work colleagues found me wierd. I lost the ability to think straight. I was forced to resign from work because of my inability to concentrate ( had i not resigned I would have been sacked) My world became AoL, and I found it difficult to relate to anybody outside of AoL. I believed that I was the chosen one, that Guruji was now going to take care of me, that I had spent lives in search of him, and many lives with him and again , in this life I had found him. And from now on, I would never be lost. I also believed that ‘GURUJI” would be there for me when I die, ushering my soul into the next world. I was so lucky because souls those not under his wing are confused and lost at the time of death. I stopped going to temples as that was not required and a waste of time and energy now that he was in my life ( these sentiments voiced by Bhanu and Vinod Menon, after I returned from Tirupati) and that I should only pray to him. I removed all the idols of Gods in my alter at home and placed his picture instead. I also placed his slippers on the alter, next to the pictures of Gods. Weekely satsangs in my house gave me a sense of importance and I believed that my home was getting positive energy because weekly kriya was happening in my home. My pet dogs were put on a vegetarian diet ( poor things) because meat should not be cooked in the house where satsang and kriya take place as my pets were also absorbing the guru vibrations. Now that I;m out, life is back to normal again. there is a spring in my walk, my interest in life and life activities is regained. I have a new career which I’m passionate about, my topics of conversations have a wide range. I am involved in life and so life is interesting. I’m quite happy to let my mind oscillate between the past and future because it’s okay and there is no reason to use my breath to bring it back to the present moment. Simply living a full life is the deepest meditation and is living in the present moment. I have goals in my career that I want to achieve and am working towards that. I really enjoy that. People around me find me interesting and I’m alert again. I can think logically and clearly now. Life is not a blur. My only association with AoL is this blog as I’ve consciously moved away from anything/ any people related to AoL. I like this blog because when I read comments from Harshal and his likes, I realize I’ve come a long way. His rants, his logic and anger remind me of what I had become while in AoL. It’s like taking a step back to review yourself and to thank God for out of AoL. There’s not one person there who is happy, apart from Ravi and his family and Bawa and his family. The rest are living as escapists and in denial. And the ugliness of AoL people becomes more pronounced when around SSRS, it should be the other way round. Kriya is crappy, Ravi is an asshole and AoL sucks. JAI GURU DEV!!

    • Observer Jr. permalink
      March 30, 2011 10:56 pm

      Wow, excellent response. This response alone could be another blog entry.

    • March 31, 2011 4:54 am

      You have not mentioned why you left AOL?

      • anonymous permalink
        March 31, 2011 6:17 am

        I left AoL ecause I saw “senior” teachers true colors. Misappropriatin of funds, lies, double lives. I started questioning Ravi. Questions regarding my personal spiritual growth- he never answered, and would literally look the other way. I had started feeling sensations, like a pull on tpo of my head, even when not doing kriya or Sahaj, I asked him what it meant. He ignored it and then later told me to ignore that sensation too. So I felt like I was spirituall advancing. Corruption among teachers, chapter heads ( can’t remember what they’re called) was so off putting and I brought it to Ravi’s attention. I can still remember his expression, it was total discomfort and he stared into space. He preferred to side those guys ( important connections, senior teachers who made a lot of money for AoL), I felt betrayed. I was let down by “GOD” ? !!? For a man who I spent the most productive years of my life, this was not godly. I would see how he would like to surround himself with sycophants, it was disgusting and again, not godly. One time, I excused myself from the “meeting” as really nothing serious was being discussed, just a lot of ass licking by Nitin, Sangeeta, Atika etc. And how Ravi was enjoying it. Anain, this was not godly. I started conducting classes for the prominent social personalities in my area, that was my gatepass to him and become important in the org. Organize meeting between him and those personalities ensured a private audience, that felt good. For him to know me by name felt good. To sit by his side on a flight felt good. To carry his asana or that famous black bag felt good. To be awarded his slippers felt good. Just to get noticed I also started conducting large courses, organizing media to cover AoL activities. How I wanted to further his name to the point it affected my health, my job and my reputation in the real world. But seeing him turn a blind eye to follies was disheartning ,and I got totally disillusioned that he was not doing the honest thing, but behaving like a CEO of a large company. One time ( this is when I honestly elieved he was there for my spiritual advancement) I did something that was totall not right ( rather not mention that, even though I’m anon it;s still embarrassing) and I brought it to his notice. I wanted to receive instructions from him to not do that ( I was just 20, so pretty innocent and naive) he turned a blind eye as long as I was touching his feet and conducting courses. Getting instructions from guruji would make me feel so special, like he was taking interest in my personal life, but that never happened. He just enjoyed seeing me so feverish in my desire of wanting to be with him ( selfish bastard). I was always anxious and if he ignored me, I felt like a “bad” person. Totally disillusioned at seeing the unspiritual side of an org, that claimed to be spiritual was the reason I quit. And I’m happy I did.

    • anonymous permalink
      March 31, 2011 1:33 pm

      Sounds just like my story! I couldn’t have put it better myself, right down to the his being there when I die, the advice not to go to temples, knowing that he would take care of me (not). BS is just the right word for all of AOL and HHSSRS’s claims. It’s a pure cult. And know what? Even he and his family are not happy. They are, from what I’ve seen, miserable people with lots of money (now — they used to be poor before they took money from the organization for personal gain, calling it charity). Yes, thank God you got out! Thank God I got out. There are no friends in AOL. Only competition and mental sickness. Only those who leave finally understand how messed up AOL made them, what they lost or were losing by getting involved in such a mess. Good you had the courage to leave. Many who are long time full timers do not have that courage, and they look like sickly clones of their “master”, don’t they? Right down to imitating his voice, intonations, dress. Such a sickness. I agree — comments like those from Harshal are so typical of the anger and ugliness within the confines of the mental hospital called AOL, that those very comments reinforce my decision to leave, and be very grateful I did.

    • FishFan (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      April 7, 2011 2:24 pm

      Very good post. You made the essentially unavoidable mistake of over-identifying with a spiritual movement at a young age and suppressing your very natural and dharmic desires. A spiritual path is one of balance which at times can be hard to achieve. The challenges you faced in the AOL will be experienced in any spiritual group. Another thing I have learned is to be very, very cautious and discriminating when it comes to spiritual advice from other people no matter how “senior” or “evolved” or “special” they my seem to you. Your relationship as a student or chela in a spiritual organization is with the spiritual teacher or guru and nobody else. People can say all kinds of crap and give all kinds of bad advice. Most of it is useless. Like Buddha, we need to follow a middle path; following teachings that bring value to our lives over time and rejecting teachings that bring no value to us. Easy in theory, difficult in practice! Fanaticism in either direction helps nothing.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        April 7, 2011 4:48 pm

        “Your relationship as a student or chela in a spiritual organization is with the spiritual teacher or guru and nobody else.”

        How do you know he is genuine….you hardly meet him, all you hear are guru-stories, which are spun by chelas of his. Plus there is all this personal wealth he has garnered in the name of doing charity – is such a person worthy of being a guru ?

  6. Anoop permalink
    March 31, 2011 6:12 am

    Good post

  7. Anonymous permalink
    March 31, 2011 7:27 am

    Excellent post..I can’t agree more to this, have felt the same way.
    And hey please dont spoil this page with Hashal’s comments, because of his worthless explainations the whole essence of the post and dicussions gets lost.
    Please don’t put harshal’s comments (where he throws mud n crap and his English which is terribly pathetic , he can’t even spell treadmill, instead he calls it trademill in the previous post LOL )
    Keep it clean, keep it simple for everyone to gain from it .

    • Franny Fran Fran permalink
      April 8, 2011 4:49 pm

      A well-rounded discussion includes viewpoints from the opposing argument. If there were no opposing arguments, everyone here would just plod along happily in their ‘group think’. I’m afraid that many of you have swung so hard to the other side of AOL that your love has flipped on its head and is now hate. Many of you haven’t moved on or grown much at all. I am saddened by your distress, and even sadder at the poisonous statements you make to each other. At least take the lessons you have gained from the AOL courses and apply them in the real world (as I think the author of this blog is trying to do). Harshal’s comments bring some balance to this discussion, and he should be allowed to comment as freely as anyone.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        April 8, 2011 5:51 pm

        We’ve never stopped anybody from posting any kind of comments. However, good viewpoints from AOL are hard to come by. Most of the time they just blame us for being anti-AOL, or call us immature, instead of making the case for AOL or SSRS. Which leads me to think that it really is not very complicated at all – all we need to do is separate knowledge and vedic tradition from the personality cult of SSRS.

      • harshal permalink
        April 8, 2011 7:31 pm

        @Franny Fran Fran: I do not have any intention to indulge in any debate. I am here only for some entertainment. I think debates can never be constructive and helpful in changing beliefs. Beliefs can only be changed by positive experiences which these loggerheads can never have. They can only see negatives .
        These people have always allowed me to comment freely though. However, the only problem is that if anyone else writes something pro-aol…they think its just me .

      • Observer Jr. permalink
        April 8, 2011 11:06 pm

        “Harshal’s comments bring some balance to this discussion…”

        hahahahahahaha, that’s a good one!

      • Anonymous permalink
        April 9, 2011 2:17 pm

        @Franny Fran Fran

        “Harshal’s comments bring some balance to this discussion, and he should be allowed to comment as freely as anyone.”

        Very nice! Can you please give the same advice to pro AOL forums also? Somehow none of the AOL forums seem to share your concern for free debate.

      • anonymous permalink
        April 9, 2011 2:26 pm

        Fran,

        The basic course has wonderful knowledge, imo. And I apply it to my life. However, it is not the property of Art of Living or Ravi Shankar. I was mislead to believe that it was. Applying the basic points doesn’t preclude me from saying, because I know it to be true, that the organization and it’s master indulge in many things that I consider immoral, illegal, etc. It was my direct experience that althought the knowledge was right, it could be had in many places, and I need not suffer the cult environment of AOL to get that knowledge. It just isn’t necessary. The abuse and cruelty that goes on inside of the orgnization is inexcuseable. It is good that these people (who are being sued for their efforts) have put up this blog to expose such abuses. Calling teaching for personal gain “charity” is difficult to catch when something gets as large and influential as AOL has. Instead of just asking Google to take down this site, it appears that the Google is being asked for the names of the blogmasters. Why do you think this is? Can you guess? This is a whistleblower’s site, basically. People like Harshal find it entertaining that people have been used, abuses and discarded by a large organization headed by someone claiming to be benevolent. I don’t find this fact the least bit amusing. And those posting their true, sincere expressions of hurt on this site may very well be applying the basic points in other parts of their lives. They are trying to save people not so involved from ruining their lives by getting too close or too involved in AOL. Why would that bother you? Why does it bother Harshal and all others who come here to “pity” those posting here? The fact is, if you have been at all deeply involved in AOL, and will admit what happens in the ‘inner circle’ areas, you know very well that there is lots and lots of sickness there that goes all the way to the top. Why complain that this is being put forth? Perhaps you just don’t like the way it’s expressed? In any case, I view this blog as a public service. I already knew everything I’ve read here, and more also that can’t be printed in polite company, frankly. Considering the consequences suffered, it’s amazing to me that the blogmasters have even kept the site open at all. It appears from some of their writings that some of them were never even very close to Ravi Shankar, and don’t even know the worst of it! I commend them for their efforts. If sometimes the word “zombie” gets used too frequently, that’s forgiveable, since it’s, unfortunately a true portrayal of the most of the inner circle of AOL — brainwashed zombies. Sorry, it’s just so. You are right in that opposite values are indeed complimentary — without crooked organizations like AOL, there would be no way to see the greater good done by others possibly in this world. Without gurus like Ravi Shankar, one might not ever know the opposite: a True Guru, filled with Love Light and Benovolence, helping the world without need to glamorize, or for self-glorification and financial reward for himself and his family.

      • Anoop permalink
        April 9, 2011 6:57 pm

        “I am saddened by your distress, and even sadder at the poisonous statements you make to each other”

        Look at the blog posts. Almost all are constructive only. It just exposes some of the bad practises of AOL . Freedom of expression allows it.

        Why talking against AOL is such a sin ? It gives balance and a different point of view.

  8. freeagaiin permalink
    March 31, 2011 8:01 am

    Great post…resonated with me as well.

  9. belle permalink
    March 31, 2011 12:43 pm

    @anonymous

    Your post resonated with me aswell and I really admire you for having the courage to leave the cult.

    • anonymous permalink
      March 31, 2011 1:44 pm

      You can take it one step further: I witnessed not just his ‘turning a blind eye’ to follies, as you’ve said, but also ordering totally immoral, paranoid, unjust things. And people would not question, just blindly go and do these things. Those who think it’s the “others”, those teaching, who are mainly at fault, are dreadfully wrong. HHSSRS knows fully well what is going on, and orchestrates most/all of it. He has nothing else to do. If anyone were to question his commands, they would be labelled traitors by some full timers. Truly a sick group of people. He would sit and laugh at unfortunate people behind their backs, making fun of them, with not a light sense of humor, but real malice. It was very ‘ungodly’ as you put it. He would do this even about aged people who had given him their life savings, and were living on his ashram. He and his family had special names for foreign people who had given up their money and careers and lives to him: Foreign Beggars, he told us. And they’d all laugh. He and his family assumed if one were from Bangalore, this would be a nice inside joke. They assumed wrongly: I found such talk disgusting. What I saw was foreign devotees coming at great expense to be with him, giving up their lives and money, then being abused by HHSSRS and his family behind their backs (sometimes on their own faces). Most Indians went along with this to be in the inner circle. So many cruelties, all in the name of spirituality. Very glad to be gone from AOL.

  10. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    March 31, 2011 1:57 pm

    Actually, I would add one more thing – we all went there looking for spirituality and a place were you meet people with similar values. But what we got was a distorted form of spirituality – and we took it all in the name of following the path. Things you cannot justify otherwise, become justified in the name of following the path. Truly in the end we all realized that despite lot of knowledge there was not much spirituality in the organization.

    • Lucky Fred permalink
      March 31, 2011 2:43 pm

      Of course there’s no spirituality in an organization! The spirituality is in you. The organization helps you with the external structure to facilitate your spiritual growth. The problem with many that post against AOL and SSRS is that they over-identified with the organization and suppressed their authentic feelings. You you need a balance of outside structure and internal authenticity on a spiritual path. So far,everything is fine between me and AOL and SSRS. It stays that way because of that balance.

      SSRS is GOD!!! Oh, sorry, that just leaked out……

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        March 31, 2011 5:07 pm

        I don’t know Fred, why do you go easy on an organization for not living it’s values. To not expect organizations which you work for, to live up to certain standards of behavior is a bit lame don’t you think ?

        Any organization, esp. spiritual/religious runs on shared values. That is why people come there. To see spiritual organizations act without regard to ethics, is disturbing, I don’t think I am wrong to demand that spiritual organizations conduct themselves with integrity. If I take voice lessons from someone, I expect my teachers to sing well – why should I not expect teachers of spirituality to be spiritual ?

        So far,everything is fine between me and AOL and SSRS. It stays that way because of that balance.

        It is in balance because you want to be in AOL and with SSRS, so you rationalize/learn to ignore “negatives”. Actually it takes all three AOL, SSRS, and you to keep things in “balance”. It is not your job alone. The moment AOL or SSRS become corrupt, things cannot remain in balance no matter how much you want – their actions are not under your control.

  11. Lucky Fred permalink
    March 31, 2011 2:35 pm

    What a great, insightful, mature post. Whether one stays or leaves SSRS doesn’t matter. You learned from your experience with him and matured as a spiritual seeker. Most of the chuckleheads that post here learn nothing and assume no responsibility for themselves. They’re still looking for the perfect guru who will please their egos. Good luck and blessing to you (and to the chuckleheads too!).

    • anonymous permalink
      March 31, 2011 3:55 pm

      How is it possible to take responsibility for trusting SSRS? He’s the one who lied (said he was God). He is the one who said spiritual progress would be made only by staying with him and doing seva and following his instructions. He is the one who took and takes money and says its for charity when it’s for himself and his family. Why in the world would I take responsibility for being innocent and believing in him? I’d never had a guru (I will never, ever have another, or trust anything/anybody labeled as guru again, certainly). It’s his fault he lied, not mine.

      • April 4, 2011 2:39 pm

        I find that no one can make me do anything unless I want something from them. No one made me follow SSRS. I followed him because I wanted spirituality. If that was all I wanted then I wouldn’t have turned a blind eye to the inconsistencies I was seeing in SSRS and with AOL. I would of been less likely to fall into any denial. I wouldn’t of played the game of ‘I do more seva for more special blessings and grace’ game. Underneath wanting spirituality was a strong desire to want to be special and chosen and loved by a higher power. It was this desire that made me blind. It was this desire that made me compromise myself in many small and big ways. And it is this desire that I take responsibility for.

        I can’t take responsibility for SSRS or for AOL. What they do is their business. How I play into their actions/teachings is my business. I was willing to believe lots of things for the sake of getting grace and love. This made me very open to manipulation of all kinds – especially self deception. It is not the job of SSRS or AOL to give me grace or love. It is my job. It is up to me to love me. In loving me, I become very strong in myself and much less open to outside manipulations because I am not begging for anything. If I am not looking for love and approval, than how can anyone manipulate me? I am free to come and go at will.

      • hi5 permalink
        April 4, 2011 3:28 pm

        most people ARE looking for love and approval. Chances are that they come from dysfunctional homes and nothing wrong with that. And assholes like bastard ravi and an insulting/ angry Aol just take advantage of this. As if dealing with childhood issues was not enough,these f******ers only worsen the problem. And they JUST DON’T CARE, THAT HOW SELFISH THEY ARE. So for those , who for no fault of theirs, have such issues, really seeking therepy is a much more fruitful solution. There is no mumbo jumbo there, and it;s really being proactive in life. Aol just sedates you.

    • Anon2 permalink
      April 1, 2011 3:58 am

      “Most of the chuckleheads that post here learn nothing and assume no responsibility for themselves.”

      Just like some rape victims who never accept that it was partly their responsibility in being at the wrong place and wearing wrong clothes that led to their rape!

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 1, 2011 6:18 am

      Welcome back to the blog, nice to you yet again posting under a different alias!

      You talk about us taking responsibility, well we have taken responsibility. We took responsibility for our having been involved with Art of Living in the first place, we took responsibility for admitting to ourselves all the faults in the organization, we then took the responsibility to leave the organization, and now we’re taking the responsibility to warn others about the dangers of being associated with Art of Living.

      Now the big question is, when are Art of Living going to take the responsibility to admit to all the wrong-doings and then take the responsibility to make amends for everything we’ve uncovered throughout theses blogs, instead of brushing everything under the carpet and pretending none of these things are happening?

  12. Observer Jr. permalink
    March 31, 2011 5:40 pm

    Fred = Harshal behind a different proxy to hide his IP address…

    • Harshal permalink
      March 31, 2011 8:30 pm

      Observer Jr. : nice catch, yeah its me…lol

    • anonymous permalink
      April 1, 2011 3:48 pm

      How would you know it’s Harshal? What if he’s posting from a business computer? Then it could be anyone pro or con AOL posting from that address, don’t you think? I don’t care about harshal particularly, but I’m not sure how you could be sure it’s the same person, and not someone else at his work (?)

    • FishFan/Fred (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      April 7, 2011 2:28 pm

      No, I’m not Harshal. Notice I can spell! 😉

      • FishFan/Fred /harshal permalink
        April 7, 2011 10:20 pm

        its just me..sorry

  13. belle permalink
    March 31, 2011 5:47 pm

    @Lucky Fred
    “You learned from your experience with him and matured as a spiritual seeker…..”

    Hah! nobody learns anything in a cult, ultimately and sadly, theres nothing “spiritual” going on in a cult. A cult is about “spiritual abuse” and nothing else. You’ve been duped mate.

    • FishFan/Fred (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      April 7, 2011 2:33 pm

      Belle, AOL was a cult for you. It’s not a cult for me. It takes two to dance. Any organization and especially a spiritual one can become a cult for somebody if you allow it to. Duped? no, not at all. You find no value in AOL that’s fine, move on. Other people, obviously, find value in it.

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        April 7, 2011 11:03 pm

        “You find no value in AOL that’s fine, move on. Other people, obviously, find value in it.”

        We have moved on. Why do you want us to shut up and not critique AOL ? What is so wrong about offering people alternate perspectives ?

        People are intelligent enough to make up their mind about AOL.

  14. Harshal permalink
    March 31, 2011 9:17 pm

    “The Doctor PERMALINK
    March 31, 2011 8:53 pm
    Dayalu – I recommend you read this post then make up your own mind:”

    If someone ,even , unintentionally says something which is pro AOL these bastards cannot digest it.

  15. The Doctor permalink
    March 31, 2011 10:02 pm

    No Harshal, most of us have already stated on numerous occassions that we have had great experiences in AoL. In fact, the very first thing I said in my first post on this blog was to this very effect. Please go back and re-read at least the first paragraph if you don’t believe me:

    https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2010/09/02/can-we-help-to-save-the-art-of-living/

    And I know I’m not the only one here who has said things to this effect, the majority of us have.

    You just can’t / won’t accept that those of us who are being critical of AoL on this blog can have both pro-AoL and con-AoL opinions. It doesn’t compute for you as you have been conditioned to see only the good and ignore the bad, and hence you assume that anyone who talks about the bad is just disgruntled, negative and lying. But if we were any of these things, please answer me this: why on earth would we even mention we had good experiences? Surely if we were negative / disgruntled we would only focus on the bad experiences and not even mention any good experiences?

    And if you look at what I said to Dayalu: “I recommend you read this post then make up your own mind.” I would say it is you who clearly cannot digest what we are writing, and the fact that your posts are getting more and more desperate in your failed attempts to discredit us is more than enough evidence of this.

  16. The Doctor permalink
    March 31, 2011 10:13 pm

    “That was a ploy to cash in on the real Pundit Ravi Shankar’s (Sitar Maestro) goodwill, respect and popularity in western world. It went on for a few years and when Pundit Ravi Shankar objected to misuse of his name, he changed his name to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.”

    I want to add one other thing which I believe supports this. During the Advanced Course, there is a video segment where Sri Sri talks about the Four Pillars of Wisdom, specifically Vairagya (dispassion). During this segment he talks about people being attached to names, actually mentioning Pundit Ravi Shankar and he clearly pokes fun at the musician because he objected to SSRS stealing his name. It was something along the lines of “80 years I’ve had this name and you come along and take it from me!” (paraphrasing mine).

    Interestingly enough, the first time I saw this I found it very disturbing that a spiritual leader would act in this way, and more so that so many people both on the video and in the room around me found it funny and were laughing out loud at it. Yet subsequently, the deeper I became involved with AoL, the more I actually started to find it funny and eventually I couldn’t wait to see Sri Sri poke fun at the musician and join in the laughter. But it isn’t funny, it’s very crude and the sign of major insecurity. It also made me realize as I was reading KLIM’s blog how badly my mind had been screwed up as a result of being in AoL when I would accept and even laugh at things like this.

  17. harshal permalink
    March 31, 2011 11:09 pm

    “I want to start by saying that Art of Living has completely transformed my life. Since being taught Sudarshan Kriya, which I have found to be an incredibly powerful healing technique, and through taking various Advanced Courses, my health and general well-being have improved beyond all recognition from what they were before I discovered AoL. My relationships with my family and friends are now much deeper, as I am much happier, more alive and less egotistical than I have ever been before. I also feel a tremendous sense of belonging with everyone in the world, and a burning desire to spread joy and make everyone feel happy. I am very grateful to AoL for the wonderful changes it has made to my life”…

    I had read this part of your post long time back and …this is exactly why I think you have psychiatric condition. For heaven’s sake, be honest and tell me -are you on any medications?

    • The Doctor permalink
      April 1, 2011 6:29 am

      So now you’re saying that anyone who benefits from Art of Living must have a psychiatric condition?

      The ultimate irony here Harshal is that I did become a much better person from my association with Art of Living, whereas as is evidenced by everything you’ve written on this blog, it seems to have made you angry, abusive, hypocritical, unethical, egotistical, and a downright liar. It also seems to have warped your mind in such a way that you are unable to grasp simple concepts, and unable to accept that people can have both good and bad experiences with Art of Living. I even still agree with and follow many of the knowledge points I learnt in Art of Living, whereas you clearly don’t. It begs the question, in what way are you even an Art of Living devotee if you don’t listen to anything they teach you and act in the manner you have done on this blog?

      To date, you have yet to successfully challenge one thing that has been written on these blogs. Instead all you’ve done is to reinforce everything we’ve been saying on this blog, and in spite having being told this so many times, you still persist. And you say I am the one who has a psychiatric condition?!

  18. profhughakston permalink
    April 1, 2011 3:48 am

    @Harshal

    “I just meditate everyday without fail”(previous post)

    Is your meditation making you a better human being- more loving, more peaceful, more joyous, more open-minded(i.e. able to respect others’ viewpoint)?

    “such big fools you have been.”
    “a bunch of miserable anonymous people”
    “… these bastards cannot digest it.”

    I guess not!

    So what good are your practices?

    p.s. Did you meditate today?

  19. Harshal permalink
    April 1, 2011 9:46 am

    @profhughakston

    You seem to have a wrong understanding of what meditation is. Your understanding is that everyone who meditates will be calm compassionate peaceful blah blah. You also understand that people who meditate are rather loving, timid, not using harsh words etc. However you are wrong.

    People who have achieved meditative states of consciousness are completely normal human beings. They get angry, annoyed , are irritable and they might even gossip. However, they only difference is that they are constantly and continuously aware of what is happening inside and outside them, they are aware of all their emotions feelings and changing them is as easy as turning on and off a light bulb .

    I am no way implying that I have achieved any such states.However, your idea of what mediation does to people is wrong. eastern literature is filled with examples of individuals who had attained highest states of conciousness , but , however, showed some rather interesting behaviours. for example Parshuram . I am not justifying my behaviour here, however,trying to correct your perception. And yes, I mediated today. Everyday, I do not leave for work unless I do my 30-45 min meditation.

    @ doctor: what I am trying to say is, I do not understand how, someone , who has benefited so much from AOL can be such a hypocritical traitor. Either you must be a really horrible person or you must have some psychiatric condition. You don’t sound like a horrible person, so I am suspecting that you have some psychiatric condition. Correct me if I am wrong.

  20. The Doctor permalink
    April 1, 2011 12:29 pm

    “I do not understand how, someone , who has benefited so much from AOL can be such a hypocritical traitor.”

    This is exactly what I said about you in my above post, and have alluded to in many responses to your comments thus far:

    “It [Art of Living] also seems to have warped your mind in such a way that you are unable to grasp simple concepts, and unable to accept that people can have both good and bad experiences with Art of Living.”

    It is clear from your statement that you still cannot accept that people can have both good and bad experiences in Art of Living. Or maybe you seem to think that if we had both good and bad that we should only talk about the good and keep quiet about the bad. This is the exact type of thinking which Art of Living promotes and which you are amply demonstrating here on this blog, but you have to realize that it only works on those people who are still in Art of Living. For those of us who have left, we can now openly talk about all the bad things as we are doing here.

    I would strongly recommend you go and watch a talk given by Rishiji, where he explains the two sides of the coin, the positive and negative qualities in each and every person, thing, place and situation. And then apply this to Art of Living, and you will hopefully start to see what it is we’ve been trying to get across on this blog the entire time.

    Also, in terms of being unable to grasp simple concepts, I don’t think “hypocritical traitor” means what you think it means:

    – A hypocrite is someone who publicly professes a set of beliefs but who in actual fact doesn’t follow them.
    – A traitor is a person who betrays, in other words is disloyal to, another person or an organization.

    To date, I can’t find a shred of evidence to support that I am either of these things. If you can provide me with any, I will happily consider it. And just to pre-empt you on this, loyalty is completely moot here. My entire association with Art of Living has been based on the exchange of money for services rendered, i.e. courses. Loyalty has never once come into it.

    • Geetha Muralidharan permalink
      April 2, 2011 5:35 am

      @Harshal:

      “I do not understand how, someone , who has benefited so much from AOL can be such a hypocritical traitor.”

      So what?

      None of it came free. I paid for it through my noses, trusting duplicitious claims of AOL sewa vultures. There was no meherbani. Now if I feel that I bought something overly hyped at exorbitant price and tell it to others I become a traitor? What about that bearded thug who is looting everyone in the name of charity and then hoarding all the unaccounted cash with his relatives?

  21. Observer Jr. permalink
    April 1, 2011 2:45 pm

    Harshal is right. The true purpose of meditation is to make us become more angry, irritable, blameful, less compassionate, and gossip more. That’s what we should be aiming for. He is right. The goal of humanity is to hurt others and see things from only one side and not consider the other side of the coin. Everyone else on this blog is 100% wrong, and Harshal is 100% right on everything. We should all follow his lead. His spiritual growth is far beyond anyone else on this blog. He even knows fantastic medical advice and can tell everyone on this blog what is wrong with them without even seeing them. Congrats Harshal, you’re a true example of what we should all strive for! I applaud you!

    • anonymous permalink
      April 1, 2011 3:44 pm

      Couldn’t care less what Harshal says now — he’s just someone who is working for AOL, will deny it, and who cares? He has nothing to do with the blog. Why spend so much time on ha ha ha harshal? Harshal lost his job, and so he’s here posting all the time.

      • Observer Jr. permalink
        April 1, 2011 4:48 pm

        It was April Fools sarcasm. But you’re right, we should just ignore the troll…

    • anonymous permalink
      April 1, 2011 3:59 pm

      When I first learned in the basic course, I felt it helped me, knowing the points. I always felt uncomfortable with the SK — it made me numb and sick feeling, and I kept waiting for it to get better, but it never did. I just got sick from it. Because Sri Sri claimed to be a great guru, and recommended I continue, I did so. When I was teaching for him, I stopped practicing, as it interfered with my thinking (!) I really believed in Sri Sri, but he lied about many many things. He disguised the truth about himself and claimed to be things that he was not (won’t go into that here). The basic course points are valuable, but I’ve since found that they exist in numerous places. You don’t have to pay Art of Living to get them, and they should not be allowed to be copyrighted. They are ancient concepts. Anyway, I perfectly well see how someone could have an initial positive response to Art of Living, then find out that underneath the basic course is lots of lies and deception and even stealing! It’s shameful, really. I left because of people who claimed to be spiritual, but who were angry, nasty, egocentric, claimed to be meditating regularly and thought they were enlightened. It was one of the most ungrounded, selfish groups of people I’ve ever encountered. Some of the full time teachers would have hysterical fits over something trivial and then write it off to being “sensitive” (to themselves only — not to others, of course), or to absorbing other peoples’ bad energies. Ridiculous. They never took any responsibility for any of their actions. Beatings occurred, and many other horrible things. So I left. I observed what I observed, and decided that Art of Living was not the place for me. I never regretted having taught the Basic Course because I felt that the points are good for people to know, but I do regret teaching the Kriya, because I have seen it harm people. Under the post of heart problems I saw a post about Guruji saying that people died and he brought them back to life. I had heard the same stories. So even he said they died during the Kriya. If he did in fact bring them to life, what would happen if someone died on a course and he wasn’t there? Doesn’t anyone else think about these things? I know I did, and stopped teaching after I heard these things. I did have one person lose consciousness during the practice, and was very frightened. That person did awaken, but was ashen and grey and didn’t know what had happened. When I questioned it Guruji said that his grace would always be there. I’m not so sure about that (in fact, I don’t believe it at all). Hyperventilation is dangerous, in my opinion, and I’ve found out that Sudarshan Kriya is a form of hyperventilation.

      • FishFan/Fred/Semi-Lacky (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
        April 7, 2011 2:43 pm

        Anon, why did you become a teacher of SK if you never found it personally beneficial? Seems like you went with your concepts rather than your experience.

  22. Prairie Princess permalink
    April 4, 2011 9:08 pm

    DW..great post. Most of us gravitate toward unconditional love and approval and if it comes from “god” even better. You recognized the falseness of AoL, that it was just words and nothing real and moved on. I was only slightly involved for a short period of time because what I was seeing in the way people treated each other and the “seva warriors” did not match the words that were spoken. The words were much sweeter than the treatment I received and saw others receive. This didn’t seem very god-like but did seem very ego-like. After an earlier experience with fundamentalist Christianity, I questioned myself and why I was vulnerable to organizations like those. I left and went to work on myself. God is within each and everyone of us. And you don’t need a guy in a dress, either guru or pope, to tell you how to think or live your life.

    • anonymous permalink
      April 7, 2011 6:40 pm

      @ Fish/Fred —
      Became a teacher because the Almight Guruji said it was good for me. I believed him. I’d never had a guru. I’ll never have one again, that’s for certain. He cured me of following anyone.

      You say you benefit from AOL and that’s all that matters. But I disagree. I think it matters greatly if others are being harmed by the Guru and AOL. Just because you are having a good time doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot wrong there. It’s kind of like Wall Street crooks saying “I got mine, the hell with the rest of the world” and then there is a crash. Just being self-centered this way is not my idea of spirituality. Everyone is connected from my point of view. When something is rotten, if we can warn someone not to eat that rotten food, we might save them some stomach ache. You happened to be on the fringes, perhaps, and so you benefitted. Or else you are in the “inner circle” and a cloned, brainwashed zombie like the many I’ve seen in AOL. Whichever it is “I got mine” is not a good reason to stay, imo.

      • Observer Jr. permalink
        April 7, 2011 7:13 pm

        Amazing how not one pro-AOL person ever posts anything intelligent on here.

  23. goneagain permalink
    April 5, 2011 1:49 am

    May be some of the AOL folks do follow what guru preaches. Art of Slapping.

    • FishFan/Fred/Semi-Lacky (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      April 7, 2011 2:41 pm

      Goneagain, I didn’t get the point of you posting the video. Art of slapping?

      • Thappad=Slap(Hindi) permalink
        April 7, 2011 4:38 pm

        Yes, but you need to understand Hindi – how the “guru” advocates slapping, towards the end, is what the video is about.

      • Blossom permalink
        April 9, 2011 12:26 pm

        Check the video on you tube.The gist is written in english and you don’t have to watch the entire satsang.

  24. herenorthereathomenowhere permalink
    April 8, 2011 4:30 am

    i am that point where i like doing the kriyas, if not everyday at least on most days, but i want to have nothing to do with the people hard-selling aol. i see feverishness everywhere including the Master to get more, more and more. i have a question. Sri Sri seems to have a strong voice in India’s fight for corruption. he is out there giving sound bytes. how can he do this when he is not being transparent himself about his organisation? more importantly, why is no one questioning this and instead lapping all the gyan he is sharing. in short, what is his justification to advocate non-corruption when he is himself an epitome of the syndrome?

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      April 8, 2011 3:12 pm

      “why is no one questioning this and instead lapping all the gyan he is sharing”

      Because media have bigger fish to fry. Media knows all about his shenanigans, but the story right now is corruption by politicians. Don’t worry – his time will come soon.

  25. Prakash permalink
    April 8, 2011 9:13 am

    “Sri Sri seems to have a strong voice in India’s fight for corruption. he is out there giving sound bytes. ”

    In fact Sri Sri seems to have a strong voice in everything that has PR potential. Rest assured that he will not be there long after camera crew have gone.

    • Independent Observer permalink
      April 9, 2011 4:28 am

      Talking about Cheap Publicity…check this out…..”THE I AM WITH YOU IS SO RESOUNDING !!!!!” That is what Nithyanand also used to say too.

      These parasitic gurus (gurasite from now on) are banking on the fact that the poor dumb listener will already have a totally grandiose version of the “I” that is being referred to .. (In the “I am with you quote”)……and its a correct assumption…..Afterall why is he/she here in the first place…because they are willing to lap up all the borrowed knowledge and hand me downs I throw at them.

      Seekers by function are looking for something hence will lap up anything that is dished your way…especially if its for FREE….. Show them the shadows and the sky and tell them “This is it”…..

      The story of the fish…..it latched on to the worm and did not see the hidden hook……it happens again and again…. generations after generations after generations……will the fish ever learn ?????….

      Guess thats from where the term arises ……”Sounds Fishy”…….sure it smells…..but it is also a trap which is not so obvious.

      Now, since Sri Sri blessed the Indian Cricket team…..can you see what happened !!!!! The Indians won the finals of the World Cup.

      http://videos.desishock.net/1618651/Sri-Sri-blessing-Indian-Cricket-team

      ===============================================
      R-h-umour !!!…..

      In fact did you know Dhoni does Sudarshan Kriya. Guruji especially made the short SK as 20-50-50 for him. So he could win the T-20 and the WC-50 over version. Guruji also asked Dhoni to lose his long hair and do LONG Kriya once a month (500 cycles)….so he can also win the World’s no 1 Test Match ranking for the country.

      Potential Problem for Indian Cricket Fans.

      AOL has opened up a centre in China. Soon AOL teachers and SriSri will be blessing Chinese cricket.

      ============================================

      After the Pakistan attack on the Srilankan Cricketers…none other than our famous SAD Swami had the SL cricketing team do Sudarshan Kriya so they could get over the trauma. I suspect that there are more players in the current Srilankan team onto Sudarshan Kriya than individuals in the Indian team.

      Visit http://aolsanjaysharma.blog.com/2009/09/04/srilankan-cricket-team-doing-art-of-living-trauma-relief-prog/

      Also http://www.i-newswire.com/sri-lankan-cricket-captain-calls/86195

      Question for all of us…..do you think Grace is nation specific ?. If the soul took on an Indian body, Grace will work a little better than it does if you were Sri Lankan (World Cup Cricket Finals) ?

      What about adopted citizenships or Person’s Of Indian Origin ?

      I think better to be sure than sorry. After with such powerful grace everything is achievable.

      AOL-Lites…Time to call mom or the family astrologer and check your birth coordinates (Google earth will also do). Take precautions immediately

      You do not want anything to get in the WAY OF HIS GRACE. If that happened that would be a DIS GRACE ….No ?

      PS – What a cheap publicity stunt !!!! I look at what he is doing…and feel so dumbed down…..how could have been a part of this movement for 10 years AND NOT REALLY SEEING IT ALL THAT TIME !!!!!

      In between, in my days as a teacher, there were strong indications coming from the FIRST office that Cricket is a Waste of time and should be indulged in (Watching or playing). I also remember some of my TTC teachers, other so called Sr Advance/DSN course teachers and Banu saying “Guruji would not even kick a football…”It pains him”………

      All this was happening while some of them secretly hogged junk food, over many cups of chai, watching the 1 day matches in a devotee’s house where they were hosted. Especially, when ALL of this happened during Prime AOL advance Course Timings ….You see they had a local enthusiastic teacher/volunteer that gave up his cricket to take the yoga sessions for the advance course participants and also for hitting the play button on the advance course tapes…..so that Shallow and empty can be sustained mind state amongst all participants. The devotees need to STAY Shallow and empty….otherwise if they start thinking for themselves the game is surely UP !!!!! No ?

  26. Adyut permalink
    April 10, 2011 3:10 pm

    RS is probably kicking himself for not doing what Anna Hazare has done. Imagine the mind boggling publicity AOL would have received.

  27. Anonymous permalink
    April 10, 2011 4:06 pm

    Well today I received the following text message from AOL (Phone No: ***DELETED***)
    Good News!!! AOL Special Mega Part I course from 26/4 and 3/5. Participants will get free gift vouchers from Titan. Register now.

    Great… Free watches for spirituality. Amazing marketing.

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 10, 2011 9:09 pm

      how sic is that!!!

  28. Harshal permalink
    April 11, 2011 10:20 am

    @Anonymous : No it is not sick. It is so difficult to encourage people to adapt practices which can cause growth. People like you can easily spend money in pubs/bars/clubs and what not, however, you will not be willing to give a donation to learn some meditation which will help you for lifetimes.

    There are people who genuinely care about others and want to guide them to peace love and all those things (which are just a concept for you). However, there is so little awareness that incentives like these have to be given to attract people.

    You find it sick. I think you are sick. Come to daddy to learn some mediation.

    • Anouk permalink
      April 11, 2011 4:32 pm

      @Harshal,

      DO you know something called ‘choice’? You need to give incentives to people to learn something which will help them for lifetimes??

      Aren’t these these the same practices which have led people to this forum to be relieved of whatever trauma they went through while learning these “all those things” for lifetimes?

      And ‘donation’ means good only if someone gives it to your ashram, right? Because anything else would be something out of your purview??

      I am surprised at how dumb someone can be to miss the point of this blog completely..

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        April 11, 2011 6:13 pm

        While it offends my taste to see marketing of spiritual products – that is not exactly the reason for this blog. It is against dishonesty, lying, brainwashing and corruption in the name of spirituality that we raise our voice.

      • Anoop permalink
        April 11, 2011 6:56 pm

        Hmm.. so is the “titan watch freebie” thing true ?

        After doing AOL I still get calls from AOL people for the new courses. I dont pick it up now. SMSes or Mails are fine. Calling you directly is putting you under pressure to participate in more events, courses.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      April 11, 2011 6:32 pm

      “People like you can easily spend money in pubs/bars/clubs and what not, however, you will not be willing to give a donation to learn some meditation which will help you for lifetimes.”

      Aren’t we being a bit presumptuous here…or is AOL target audience those people who routinely spend $$ at clubs/bars/pubs – instead of wasting $$ on bars and clubs waste it on us, seems to be the message. Believe it or not, most ordinary folks like us do not have mountains of cash to blow on alcohol and clubbing. If aol aims to to be the drug of choice for people with loads of cash – it would explain a lot of things. Woe to the genuine spiritual seekers who come there looking for answers…

      • Anoop permalink
        April 11, 2011 7:00 pm

        AOL is always under pressure.. If 250K people attend indian event, Berlin event has to have more participation and more global leaders…

        If 5000 artists performed in Indian event, then 10000 has to participate in Berlin.

        AOL is a nice place for celebration. Go and enjoy maadi…

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 12, 2011 3:29 am

      F**** off, harshal, your ass*** of a brain is totally dead, presuming things without knowing me, how I spend my money, myy attitudes, my lifestyle…..I don’t need to go to “daddy’ to learn anything….however you do, you need to learn to use that feeble brain better, make it stronger to function in a cohwerent manner…maybe you need to go to mommy for that..

    • Krish permalink
      April 12, 2011 5:25 am

      What are the chances that Harshal is paid by AOL to write positive reports about SK by coming up with some manipulated medical tests/results ?
      He probably has not done many AOL courses either. Knows enough to not practice SK himself.

  29. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    April 11, 2011 7:14 pm

    @Anoop

    I’d rather party with my friends….lot more fun and much much cheaper. If I have extra money – would rather go and listen to virtuoso musicians.

    • Anonymous permalink
      April 12, 2011 3:06 pm

      Appears that this Harshal fellow is something of a schizophrenic: in one post he said he comes here to get “entertainment”, watching everyone here who has been so abused by HHSSRS and AOL…..In another post above he talks about learning meditation from people who “genuinely care about each other…..peace and love….” Hmmmm If these people really cared, would they have abused so many people so heartlessly? Which is it for this guy H? Is he entertained, sadistically by the hurt of those posting here who were used by AOL and all the ‘caring’ people who hurt them? Or is he into peace and love and caring people? Very confusing person. Not to be taken very seriously I guess, since he seems so confused himself as to how he feels.

      I doubt this person has to be paid by AOL to write this stuff. HHSSRS inspires such things in people. Pity they all come off as confused, flip flopping, brainwashed zombies most of the time. The only “genuine and caring” people in AOL that I ever saw were not very involved, and had not been there long, and had little contact in personal settings with Guruji. Once you get close you see the sickness, and it’s rampant. The longer term the teachers, the weirder they become, dressing like Guruji, talking like him, encouraged to do so by him. It’s ridiculous. Learn meditation somewhere else. Justifying paying for something that is called charity when it’s used to further a megalomaniac’s agenda is pathetic. Of course, nobody knows that when they take the basic course, or even the TTC. But after that, if you still cannot figure it out, then you are going down into the abyss called Art of Living.

  30. Dayalu permalink
    April 12, 2011 4:24 pm

    Read this. They have managed to dupe this NY Times blogger. But for how long?

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/11/seeking-bliss-among-the-honks-and-hisses/

    • Krish permalink
      April 13, 2011 4:58 am

      It’s encouraging to see people coming forward (in the comments of this NYT blog) to share how AOL ruined their lives. Word is getting out and people feel the need to speak out and warn others. This is great!

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      April 13, 2011 3:13 pm

      AOL teachers and volunteers are out in full force – and of course it’s orchestrated PR – not spontaneous comments by people who read NYtimes.

  31. Kirsh permalink
    April 13, 2011 12:18 am

    “True Guru will never humilate you nor he estrange you from yourself. He will constantly bring you back to your inherent perfection and encourage you to seek within. He knows you need nothing not even him and is never tired of reminding you about your ownself. The self-appointed guru is more concerned about himself than anyone else”
    Quotes from IAM THAT Spritual classic by great Advaita Master Nisargadatta Maharaj.

  32. April 17, 2011 2:10 pm

    I just wanted to say thank you!! your blog has inspired me to start my own project reflecting on my experiences in Art of Living, and how it wasn’t at all an isolated incident, but part of a pattern in my life of seeking for answers outside of myself and my own capacity to discriminate. As part of my self-induced cult recovery, I’m hoping theartofleaving.wordpress.com will be a place to reflect and remember the good things as well as regain my freedom from the really unhealthy aspects of AoL.

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflections and for being there when I started to doubt! I was up until 5 AM some nights reading aolfree and Guruphiliac when it all started coming together/falling apart in my head. I needed the different perspective, especially when so many of my AoL friends literally swooped in on me if I told them I was having doubts. Thankfully the way they all said EXACTLY the same things made me feel that much MORE doubtful. Like I was in an Orwell novel but with dotis and the smell of cumin.

    one of the expressions I still need to substitute for is Jai Guru Dev. Whenever I feel grateful, happy or awestruck it’s the first thing I think to say! Any suggestions? 🙂

    • anonymous permalink
      April 18, 2011 11:56 am

      Dear ArtofLeaving,

      There is nothing bad about “Jai Guru Dev”. In fact, in saying it now, you are simply thanking the Satguru (True Guru) for delivering you from the falsehood of a false guru and corrupt group. You are simply saying “Victory to the Guru who is God” or “All Glory to The True Guru” Something to this effect. And that Guru is always in your heart, leading you. I don’t know how, but I know it’s so. It may manifest in the form of dreams, saints coming to you in them. It may come from strangers helping you. But Guru is always there helping us, guiding us. From Art of Living I learned what a Guru is NOT. I learned what spirituality is NOT. I learned that Siddhis (powers) are not enlightenment. I learned that charismatic control over groups, crowds, doesn’t make people enlightened or kind or spiritual. All these things were very important for me to learn. Each of us has learned whatever we needed from wherever we’ve been in life to move forward. You didn’t get stuck in AOL! Jai Guru Dev!

      • April 20, 2011 9:23 pm

        Thank you very very much for this lovely reminder. I remember an explanation in a Part 3 course where a swami was explaining that it mean “victory to the Big Mind!” .

        i like to think of it like i would saying “hallelujah!” or “praise be to god!” or similar. I like your explanation a LOT.

        also, the reminder that guru doesn’t have me mean RS, or even a PERSON. it’s a force in the universe and sometimes it’s embodied but it’s always with us. and on that note, jai guru dev! 🙂

  33. belle permalink
    April 17, 2011 5:09 pm

    @Fishface/Fred/Ha ha Harshal/Harsha
    “Belle, AOL was a cult for you. It’s not a cult for me. It takes two to dance. Any organization and especially a spiritual one can become a cult for somebody if you allow it to.”

    Ha ha Harsha… I barely wrote two sentences and still you couldnt understand that! I specifically said that in a cult, there IS NOT anything spiritual going on in the first place. So how is that organisation spiritual?

    And if there is something spiritual in an organisation, then it doesnt become a cult.

    But try as you may you cannot make a cult a spiritual organisation.

    If you have succeeded in doing that, I commend you, you are possibly the first person ever to do this! You should be honoured and put in the record breakers.

    But I think its obvious to all here that it hasnt happened for you either, because whenever you come here, you behave like every true beleiver of every other cult with your constant mockery and hatred of exes. But hey its not a cult!

  34. Anon permalink
    April 20, 2011 11:14 pm

    @theartofleaving

    You don’t have to stop using ‘Jai Guru Dev’ since it is not Ravi Shankar’s creation but copied from TM. TM might have received it from elsewhere.

    Jai Guru Dev!

    • anonymous permalink
      April 21, 2011 2:27 pm

      And it’s not even copied from TM. It is an age old phrase used by disciples to praise their Guru, feeling the Guru is God (Deva). It’s not unique to either TM or Art of Living. It simply means something to the effect of “All Glory to the Satguru” or true guru. Or “Victory to the Guru who is God to us…” That’s all. It has nothing to do with Ravi Shankar. He just says it, and others mimic him.

  35. Doreen permalink
    June 7, 2012 4:20 am

    @DW

    Heartfelt appreciation for your honesty, thank you. For me personally this is the most useful post I’ve read on this blog. There are connections to my own personal experience.

    Would you agree that some people in AOL, even possibly some teachers, are able to participate in it very simply and purely, without getting ensnared in the drama? Or do you think getting stuck in the drama is integral to the AOL experience? There are lots of people who don’t look as stuck as I have felt at times in the past.

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