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How To Recognize a Cult – Video

July 1, 2011

This was posted a long time ago on KLIM’s Blog, however it seems that there are many have not seen it, and there is no harm in posting it again.

Update: The following comment, made by anonymous in response to this post, contains so many astute observations that it deserves to be included as part of the main post itself.

Wow, I just took the notes while watching this, and seems exactly like my experience with AOL.

1 – Get a ‘commitment’ from some one to take part in a course – “This is awesome, this will improve your health, I’ve benefited greatly”.

2 – Brand that course as something – ‘personality development’, ‘mangement course’, ‘health sibir’

3 – Give them some knowledge, course points, personality tips, tests, meditations. Promise them their dreams – “We can teach you special stuff to make the world better, let us make the world better”

4 – Give them attention, separate them from each other, surround them with true believers -“Follow up”

5- Surround them, find their week spots,bring in the group ego in them.

6 – Provide a glorified message – “Nothing in this world is more important than the higher cause”

7 – Control their behavior. Describe them a schedule – “Weekly sadhana, seva, satsang”

8 – Restrict their eating habits – “Satvik food, no egg and fish”

9 – Control their emotions

10 – Create some hallucinations, hyperventilation stuff – and then make them feel they are evolving – “Wow, you are evolving. SK will purify you. You experience the energy”

11 – Pour in credibility – “SK is very scientific, lot of research happened”

12 – Make up mysterious stories about the leader – “He has done this, wow. he is amazing. He can talk to Gandharvas, he can talk to Vasishta”

13 – Make them practice meditation – “Your friends and family is dragging you.. focus on master.. focus on master”

14 – Encourage isolation from outside the world – Re write their past as terrible.. “I was not having any awareness before joining, I was having full of ego.. I was a loser.. thanks to the master, now I’m a winner..”

15 – Bring guilt in them – “Lot of people are suffering.. the world out there is full of crisis.. people are dying.. you are not doing anything..”

16 – Block information – make some of them feel special .. make them “apex body members” 😉

17 – Make them feel of a special innate group– “You should come to the ashram”.. “World is mundane..”. Develop the feeling of ‘us’ and ‘them’

18 – If some one is leaving.. make them feel guilty – “You need to sacrifice. You are mentally week, are you dropping the higher cause? Our leader is flawless, his doctrine is flawless. There must be something wrong with you if you leave…”

19 – Suggest them if they leave, they won’t survive – “You can’t survive with out the master.. if you leave you’ll re-incarnate as something else.. you are dropping a life time opportunity.. damn, only after 10000 lives you’ll have a human birth.. still you are leaving???””

20 – Take away everything.. take their families, their bodies, their minds, their money.. make them say “You are my only focus master, I’ve left everything else.. you are my focus…”

Wow, just wow. All AOL guys should see this. I think this was the reference for SSRS to bring up AOL anyway 😉

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30 Comments
  1. Dev D permalink
    July 1, 2011 3:52 pm

    I like this song
    “We love the leader the leader is love”
    This should be included in the standard aol bhajans – just after the ‘Om Namo Bhagavathe Vasudevaya’
    JGD

  2. Dayalu permalink
    July 1, 2011 4:02 pm

    See quotes from SSRS interview on ‘Walk the talk’. You’ll laugh at some of these:

    http://www.indianexpress.com/news/i-always-tell-activists-unparliamentary-words-should-not-be-used…i-only-pity-them-who-use-such-language/806397/

    His first statement: “Nice. I always walk the talk. And it’s nice to walk the talk with you”
    We all know how much he walks the talk.

    Bragging about his part in getting Ramdev to end his fast:
    “And I told him, look, I may look younger, but I am elder to you, so you have to listen to me”
    He believes what his sycophant devotees tell him about his looks. At least Ramdev looks much fitter, more like a yogi and does not have a paunch.

    “He used to say that I am his elder brother”.

    I have witnessed both of them harshly criticising each other. Earlier when Ramdev used to appear on TV for yoga sessions, he used to advise people against doing SK and also against doing Bhastrika the AOL way. In one of the TRMs (in 2003- 04) I heard SSRS say “Lot of people are getting sick doing Ramdev’s yoga. This is not the way yoga should be taught”. Perhaps at some point of time both of them realized it is better for PR to refrain from criticising each other and to exhibit a facade of brotherhood. In the same TRM, SSRS was bad mouthing Swami Agnivesh for defaming India in front of westerners.

    “This anti-corruption movement, we brought it up together—Anna Hazareji, myself, Arvind Kejriwal, Swami Ramdevji”.
    Yes, all of us ex AOLers know how much of an opportunist this guy is. He has the knack to sniff the bone from far and pounce on it. Ramdev has brought irrepairable damage to the anti corruption movement in India. SSRS’ active invovement might well be the nail in the coffin.

    About giving bribes: “We never did, we said no to it, even if the work doesn’t happen, never mind”
    We know how much of that is true. The motto of AOL has always been to get the job done through any means. I have never heard SSRS of speaking against giving bribes, in my decade long association with AOL. I have seen Senior teachers giving bribes to get railway tickets/berths. I’ve seen bribes been given to govt. officials for organizing the mega events for his visit. And he never bothered how things get done and knows very well that bribes were being paid. Now, when the topic of corruption becomes the headline in the country, he joins the bandwagon.

    • anonymous permalink
      July 1, 2011 7:48 pm

      Anyone who thinks that anything at all ever gets done in India without bribing someone has never done anything in India. It’s a fact of the place, although a sad fact. SSRS is not against corruption. He is against getting caught, that’s all. Just like every other monied person in India. There is not a single small thing anyone can do that doesn’t involve bribing in India (except maybe buying food) LOL When the ‘wrong’ government is in place, he will ‘get caught’. EVeryone knows, but he is in the right place right now.

  3. Panku permalink
    July 1, 2011 4:12 pm

    It is already there in many forms.

  4. stupidseeker permalink
    July 2, 2011 12:51 pm

    Havent seen anything this enlighteneing for a long long time.
    Kudos

  5. Anonymous permalink
    July 2, 2011 3:21 pm

    @anonymous – I’ve absorbed this comment into the post, many thanks for taking the time to right it.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    July 2, 2011 6:06 pm

    Was watching the Berlin cultural festival, it is raining cats and dogs during the opening ceremony 😦

  7. Chamiyar permalink
    July 2, 2011 8:17 pm

    “Was watching the Berlin cultural festival, it is raining cats and dogs during the opening ceremony 😦 ”

    You are right ! There are photos posted on http://www.worldculturefestival.org/en/ of people with umbrellas.

    If you see Harshal with his umbrella, ask him why SSRS cannot stop the rain now. Why have his powers failed him at such a crucial moment?

    • The Doctor permalink
      July 2, 2011 8:36 pm

      Damn straight!!

      If you read this: http://bawandinesh.name/weisshorn, at the very end it says:

      Later in the night, I asked Guruji that there had been a storm warning, how had He been so sure that it would be clear? He laughed and said the storm can wait… my devotees cannot!

      Maybe his powers are starting to weaken? 😉

      • Peaceful Warrior permalink
        July 3, 2011 1:38 pm

        Clearly, the gods are not co-operating anymore 😛

      • Prairie Princess permalink
        July 3, 2011 1:46 pm

        Maybe he simple has no “powers”?

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 3, 2011 6:07 pm

        The fact is, if you are an insider, you’ve some peer pressure to convince yourself that what ever that happened is awesome.

        Take the example of the Silver Jub Celebrations. I’ve brought some of my non AOL friends. They were least convinced about the event after the first day and wanted to go back – and had concerns about dust, travel arrangements, hygiene etc.

        They felt it is like a rally normally organized by politicos. How ever, I was trying to convince them about the ‘magnitude’ of the event, and how the meditation will add up to the brownie points of positive energy surrounding the entire world. The point is, as long as you can’t form an opinion yourself, you’ll try to vouch for the opinion of the AOL group.

        How ever, I think the only genuine benefit some one can get in AOL is via the meditation involved in the processes. So, few good things also happen via peer pressure, but in the end of that, you’ll get manipulated in the name of the ‘experience’ 😦

    • zhoro permalink
      July 4, 2011 1:50 pm

      Ah, my country’s performers are on the headline photo there. I apologize to everyone who I have helped be drawn into this mess.

  8. The Doctor permalink
    July 3, 2011 6:11 am

    I’ve just seen a lot of photos that friends have taken of the festival in full swing, and all I’m seeing is a half empty stadium (or half full if you really want to be more optimistic).

    I’m beginning to understand why in the months leading up to the event there were so many emails going around pressuring people to sell as many tickets as possible. One email even offered places to stay in the same hotel as Guruji to anyone who could sell a hundred tickets to the event. Isn’t this really just a bribe?

    This event could prove to be a disaster for Art of Living, and not just financially. It could very easily shatter the faith of many who were led to believe that they would sell all tickets to the event, because they are led to believe that Guruji has somehow foreseen that this will happen or will mystically make it happen.

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 3, 2011 12:27 pm

      I don’t think many people are concerned.. the number of followers for the art of living accounts in twitter and facebook is very telling.. in fact, even the indian media hasn’t given any extra ordinary importance to the berlin event.

      Also, here are few reports.. AFP says 20K people attended the event and “Yoga festival gets off to a damp start”. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jWTCZinvg3kw5sOeRfWkYz1xAQaA?docId=CNG.d97d1583cba2c514095cbdcb58e788d5.61

      And see this.. one ‘devotee’ says..

      http://mangalorean.com/news.php?newstype=local&newsid=248925

      “It rained throughout the day and it continues. I was really worried about how the artists will perform but everything went so well. I think it was the blessing of guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) that the four-and-a-half hour function continued despite the rains,” an organiser told IANS.

      The function started with playing of nadaswaram — a popular classical south Indian musical instrument – by artists from Indian and Sri Lanka. The beats of the barrel-shaped drum filled the stadium with energy as people clapped along, forgetting the chilly winds.

      “All of us were freezing as it was so cold here but once the programme started, I completely forgot about rains. I danced and clapped and it made me feel warm. It was fantastic and I enjoyed it,” said an excited Mary Basel, a devotee from South Africa.

      Lol, in the end of the day.. you can twist it any way, and apply the ‘blessing’ factor anywhere.

      • The Doctor permalink
        July 3, 2011 1:26 pm

        20,000 people, down from an estimated 70,000?

        This isn’t one of those things you can really put down to bad weather! If people who live halfway across the world have bought tickets then they will turn up, come rain or shine.

        They’re just using the weather as an excuse. What they really mean to say is that only 20,000 people turned up because only 20,000 bought tickets for the event.

        And honestly, I can’t help but feel really sorry for all the volunteers who spent so much time and effort organizing this event, some of whom I know reasonably well. With all the feverishness that has been going on over the last few months surrounding the WCF, this turnout must be a real kick in the teeth for them. 😦

      • devd@devd.com permalink
        July 4, 2011 7:55 am

        ” I think it was the blessing of guruji (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) that the four-and-a-half hour function continued despite the rains,” an organiser told IANS”

        But we were told by guruji himself that he can control nature. Stopping rains is a small thing for him. Thats what he told in ashtavakra. Thats what the aol teachers told us. Or is it that he can stop rains only in India and has no control over european weather.

        I was there yesterday in the stadium and overall the whole festival was a farce. There were hardly 2 thousand people which aol in usual style inflated to 20 thousand. The stadium was so empty and it would have been wiser if they had taken up a smaller venue. At least you get a full house in that case. The programes were horrible to say the least. Most of the indian fellows who had paid for the trip were more intrested in sight seeing than being with the guru troupe.

  9. July 3, 2011 11:49 pm

    Om Namah Shivaya,

    Thanks for having this forum in exposing life-robbing cults like the Art of Living / Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. In related cult news… the Cult of the self-titled Paramahamsa Nithyananda (Nithyananda Swami) with his alter ego organizations including the Life Bliss Foundation, the Nithyananda Foundation, and the Nithyananda Vedic Temples, has new legal trouble. The Ramanagar Court in Karnataka, India, has declared Nithyananda Swami’s top lieutenant, Mr. Gopal Reddy Sheelum, a.k.a. Swami Bhaktananda, as absconding from the law. He his now a fugitive. It seems that Mr. Gopal Sheelum (Swami Bhakta) was suppose to report back to the court on May 12, 2011 after traveling to the U.S. on bail relaxation. Instead of doing his taxes and visiting his ‘sick’ wife, Mr. Gopal Reddy Sheelum (Swami Bhaktananda) terrorized Nithyananda’s rape victims and witnesses. False criminal charges and expensive bogus lawsuits have been slapped on these people. Nithyananda has good reason to worry. Since April 15, 2011, there is a petition in court to revoke his bail. So, if these people get a chance to testify against him, then it is back to jail for this cult leader (Mr. Gopal Reddy Sheelum / Bhaktananda will also be going back to jail.)

    So, any leads or information that can be passed on to the Ramanagar Court or the Indian Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Karnataka that can lead to the whereabouts and arrest of Mr. Gopal Reddy Sheelum (Bhaktananda) will be well appreciated. You may contact them at these numbers:

    (011 91) 80-22381894
    (011 91) 80-22942602

    Many thanks for your support and awareness to bring down organized criminal cults like Nithyananda and the Art of Living.

    Jai Maa.

  10. stupidseeker permalink
    July 4, 2011 6:42 am

    This world festival gig didnt even generate so much as a wheeze at my end of the world, in contrast to the media overhype that happened during the silver jubilee celebrtation. Even the response of the indian media appers to be curiously muted this time around.Have they realised that significant sections of society have had their fill of these gurus, their empty words and publicity grabbing antics?

    • anonymous permalink
      July 5, 2011 3:52 pm

      Never even heard about it except to receive a glossy invitation to buy tickets, which I threw away. Never heard anything else about it except what I’m reading here on this blog.

  11. Anonymous permalink
    July 4, 2011 10:11 am

    From Francious article here..

    http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/comment_the-power-of-the-rain_1562069

    “On D Day, everything was ready. But that was not counting the vagaries of the weather: that morning, it started to rain, hard and steady. 40.000 disciples of the Art of Living prayed silently to their Master so that the rain stopped before the performance. But another miracle happened.”

    “And finally, that was what the miracle was about: not some cheap stunt of the rain stopping, by some power, or just a freak chance, which would have had many in religious ecstasy. But thousands of performers transcending adversity — which that day took the shape of unexpected cold and rain — through their devotion and love of their Master, and in the process, attaining heights of performance, which they might not have achieved in perfect conditions.”

    What a twisted observation :). So the miracle is triggering the rain to enable people to acheive the heights of performance, not some “cheap stunt” of rain stopping.. LOL.

    Finally, they can’t live with out miracles. Can they?

    • Sri Sri Paramahamsa permalink
      July 4, 2011 10:56 am

      This is so typical of that idiot francois gautier. A typical cult explanation on guru grace bullshit. Heads you win and tails you loose . Recently Ravishankar’s ex-buddy and partner sex swami Nithyananda smilingly gave wonderful explanations about the accident which led to his fractured hand. I am just wonderstruck about the stupdity of all those idiots in berlin who beleived this crap.

  12. stupidseeker permalink
    July 4, 2011 12:47 pm

    “On D Day, everything was ready. But that was not counting the vagaries of the weather: that morning, it started to rain, hard and steady. 40.000 disciples of the Art of Living prayed silently to their Master so that the rain stopped before the performance. But another miracle happened.”

    Didnt they allow non AOLers in ? Were all the performers AOL people ?

  13. Original Anonynmous permalink
    July 5, 2011 4:47 am

    Q: There is a saying that even if God grants a boon, the priest denies it. Why is this so?

    Sri Sri: Mmm…so that you become the priest? What is the priest’s role? He is the middleman between you and God. Why do you need a middleman? You deal with God directly. Maybe this is the reason why…..

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 5, 2011 8:10 am

      Aha, if only all AOL folks can take that..

      • anonymous permalink
        July 5, 2011 3:51 pm

        Interesting video.

  14. anonymous permalink
    July 5, 2011 3:54 pm

    This video seems just like what it’s like to be indoctrinated into Art of Living over time, although I don’t remember a song “We love the leader the leader is love” haha But we were encouraged to believe that Ravi Shankar was God incarnate, by senior teachers, who always were talking about his supposed miracles and powers.

  15. anonymous permalink
    July 5, 2011 3:57 pm

    The best part of this piece is where they tell you how bad and negative you are if you have a difference of opinion from the ‘leader’ or ‘group’. This is exactly what happens as one moves up into the teaching circles of AOL — we were told to “doubt the doubt” and that any doubts about SSRS were our fault and dirt in our minds, which would be cleansed with more seva and practice. It’s really what happens in AOL. This video appears to be about any cult, Eastern, Western, whatever, and I didn’t realize it applied in other places. But much of it really is exactly what happens in AOL.

  16. anonymous permalink
    July 14, 2011 5:07 pm

    Happy Guru Poornima!

    • anonymous permalink
      July 15, 2011 3:07 pm

      Love this video — it’s right on point.

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