It’s not only a cult, it’s a dangerous cult
(In response to this comment)
The “fantasy” others, as you put it, include someone I spent hours and days talking down from a suicide threat made while they were in Art of Living. That suicide threat was made by that person because they were told by the ‘master’ himself, that there was no chance for enlightenment because the said student had had an affair (!) This was before sex was considered “okay” with SSRS, and many were told that they should abstain if they wanted to attain the highest (enlightenment). Granted, the person I’m speaking of had become imbalanced through several years of association and very very very close contact with Ravi Shankar. Completely believing in ‘Guruji’, there was no doubt that the prouncement of no enlightenment was real (in their mind, at least).
That person lived on, thankfully, and did leave Art of Living, as I did also, due to so many sick, dysfunctional things happening close to SSRS. These are not fantasy people I saw them happen to. And the happenings were not fantasies either. The place was (and sounds like, from other posts I’ve seen here continues to be) like some kind bizarre other world, filled with the Guru’s paranoia, blanket prouncenments, orders which made no sense at all to anyone with a brain left.
You are right in saying that on the periphery, people who don’t get very involved with Ravi Shankar, stand a chance of not being in a cult environment to some extent (although they are duped into raising funds for dubious purposes when charity is claimed). And it appears that over the years the periphery has grown so that you may even be one of thsoe people, who just go around and take some courses, or even teach a little, without seeing how it is near the core.
If you are near the core, then you know fully well just how sick and sickening the “high up” teachers are and how deluded Ravi Shankar himself is. If you are, as I’ve said, on the periphery, good for you — you are unscathed. But be aware of what you are supporting and defending. This is a man who has no pity on anyone who crosses him and will do anything to harm them, at the very least, destroying their reputations, when he can, with vicious, vile rumors and half-truths. That’s his M.O.: take a few facts people know are so, then add a pile of lies that are truly ugly, and presto chango, the person who left magically becomes “mentally unbalanced”, “a problem”, “spiritually unready for the path”. As you can see from postings here, the blogmaster and others are being sued!!
When I left, I heard things about myself which actually made me laugh they were so far from anything true! And those who knew me, where I had been, what I had been doing since leaving, also left, knowing that these lies had been told. And in each case, the source of the ‘information’ was SSRS. People who were brave enough to confront me, to meet me, in spite of his warnings that no one should contact me (bad karma, you know), were dumbfounded when they saw a completely differently reality than the one he had spread around. And these were not things that were amorphous — they were solid ‘facts’ that when someone came to see me, they saw immediately, were simply a joke, and completely untrue!
It is not negative anti-cult mentality to simply be truthful, as people here are many times. I never even thought about Art of Living or Ravi Shankar for many years until he made a fool of himself a year ago with his assassination attempt nonsense, claiming that Kashirmi terrorists were after him. When someone called me to tell me this ‘news’, I came across this blog and Klim’s blog when searching the articles on the supposed attempt. People here posting seemed to think it was for publicity. The tragedy is that it probably was not, but rather, the ‘guru’ I knew some years ago, having become so totally out of touch with reality, that he actually believed his accusations. (It turned out to be a neighbor firing bullets into the air to scare dogs away from livestock, and was proven to be so by all authorities, but SSRS refused to believe it, claiming that the government doesn’t care about Godmen, or some such rot.)
Read Klim’s blog — it’s linked on this page. From it I learned that rather than improving after I and many others left, Art of Living and SSRS simply got worse and worse and worse, using and abusing people and power. It’s not only a cult, it’s a dangerous cult. His own guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi told TM practitioners that “Ravi Shankar is sugar coated poison”, and to stay away from him at all costs. Doesn’t that tell you something?