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The False Guru Test

July 27, 2011

From both looking at the various responses to How To Recognize a True Guru and also from talking to various Hindus I have spoken to on the subject, there doesn’t seem to be any way to determine if a guru is genuine, especially when so many of the more obvious signs are very easy to fake. However there do seem to be many ways to tell if an individual claiming to be a guru is inauthentic.

I have a gathered a number of useful resources on this subject which I will publish in due course, however for now I want to focus on a disturbingly familiar article I came across on my recent travels through cyberspace and which I thought regular followers of this blog may find interesting.

Just to make everyone aware, the author did not write this about SSRS, and actually has very little knowledge about SSRS other than he has heard his name before. He even states in a disclaimer on the original article:

“Please note that this test is only a rough guide, and it was written without any particular guru or teacher in mind — any likeness is purely coincidental.”

It really makes you wonder if there exists a manual, or classes that one goes to where one is taught all the basics on how to be a false guru, since it seems that our very own (ex-)(false-)guru is far from alone in his endeavors.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. Originally posted at: http://www.energygrid.com/spirit/ap-falsegurutest.html

The False Guru test seems to have struck a cord here in the West because of the outrageous abuses and exploitation by gurus, many self-proclaimed and completely misguided.

TAKE THE FALSE GURU TEST. If seven or more of the following describes your guru or spiritual teacher, then unfortunately he or she may not be be as enlightened or good for your soul as you would like to believe:

  1. States his or her own enlightenment: The wisest masters tend not to state their own enlightenment or perfection for they know that it is both unhelpful to themselves and to their students. The false teachers often make this claim because they have little else on offer to attract followers.
  2. Is unable to take criticism: False teachers strongly dislike either personal criticism or criticism of their teaching; they do not take kindly to ordinary unenlightened individuals questioning them. They or their organisations will even undertake multi-million dollar law suits to stop ex-members from spilling the beans.
  3. Acts omnipotently with no accountability: Some spiritual communities are run like concentration camps, with guru and his chosen ones acting like Gestapo officers. Unjust or outrageous behaviour by the guru is passed off as what is needed to help the followers grow (how kind). These are the dangerous gurus who have often severely damaged their students. A real master respects your will even if he or she understands that your particular decisions may not be in your interest, and he or she will act accountably to an ethical code of conduct.
  4. Focuses on enlightenment itself rather than teaching the path leading to it: It is amazing how much false gurus have to say about enlightenment. They argue their points in the same way that the scholars in the middle ages argued how many angels could sit on the head of a pin. Any fool can talk about the end goal because what is said is irrefutable to most of your listeners. What is skillful is guiding those listeners to having awakening within themselves. The real teacher focuses on the path and strictly avoids any talk on enlightenment.
  5. Does not practice what is preached: Contrary to spiritual myth, you don’t reach a point of realization whereby you can then start acting mindlessly. If a teacher preaches love and forgiveness, then he should act that way, at least most of the time, showing suitable regret for any lapses). If he teaches meditation, he should meditate. If he insists that his followers live in austere conditions, so should he.
  6. Takes the credit for a particular meditative or healing technique: The fact is that meditation and guided visualisation work. Anyone doing them will experience major changes, benefits and realizations. The false guru will try to own or trademark particular methods and techniques so that she has something unique to attract followers. And she will hijack the effects of meditation as the guru’s blessing rather than each individuals natural potential. Often the students or followers are forbidden from divulging the techniques to maintain a sort of intellectual property right, usually under the guise of needing the technique to be taught correctly.
  7. Specifically gives satsang or darshan when it is not part of his culture: Darshan is when the disciples or students of a master line up and to pass their master, who is usually seated, with either a bow or traditionally kissing their feet (yes it does happen). In the East, this is part of their culture and a normal thing to do to show respect and reverence (even children will kiss the feet of their fathers). However, here in the West, such copycat behaviour is a strong indication that the guru is acting a role. Satsang, on the other hand, means literally “the company of the Truth”. In a deeper sense it is an affirmation of the Guru-Disciple relationship in Eastern traditions. But some Western gurus will use this terminology because they are playing a role.
  8. Lives in total opulence: There is nothing wrong with living in luxury or being wealthy. But when that luxury turns to unnecessary opulence using funds that were not explicity donated for that purpose then you are probably dealing with a false guru. Money is collected from followers usually in the form of donations, and those donations are given as an act of love, appreciation and to help spread the influence of the master. However, a genuine master is more likely to use such wealth to lessen the suffering in this world, not to buy another yacht, private jet or Rolls Royce.
  9. Encourages or permits adoration from his followers: Avoid any group that focuses on the “master” themselves rather than the teachings or spiritual practices. This will be a hindrance to your self-realisation for your focus will be drawn outside of yourself, and usually indicates that there is not a lot more on offer than guru worship.
  10. Presents himself or herself overly fashionably and glamorously: Beware of masters who present glamour photographs of themselves and dress overly fashionably (whilst proclaiming that they have no ego and leading ego-death retreats). Yes it does happen!
  11. Demands love and devotion from their students: Keep clear of any master who demands love and devotion. One very well known Western guru stated, “Anyone who loves me is guaranteed enlightenment”! Real love and devotion is earned over time when we begin to really know the whole person and not their public image.
  12. Speaks with an Indian accent or vernacular when he is in fact a Westerner: Not sure how much this happens now but there are some high profile Western gurus who have (or had) Indian accents, mannerisms and vernacular. Unless they have genuinely spent considerable time in other cultures, they are probably playing out a role.
  13. Runs expensive miracle workshops and courses: You are unlikely to reach enlightenment after a few weekend workshops with cheesy titles. In our society of “must have now”, we want to be able to purchase spiritual development with minimal fuss. Also, avoid meaningless accreditation — it is often used merely to encourage followers to do more courses.
  14. Takes sexual advantage of his or her followers: This happens much more than many believe. It is not being prudish to include this one because when a follower falls under the spell of a guru he or she is likely to do anything for the Chosen One. It is only afterwards that it may dawn on the follower that his or her openness has been used and abused. This can be very psychologically scarring.
  15. Flatters you and treats you as very special: Sure we are all special in some ways, but this is one of the things that a false guru may do to hook a potential follower or to get a current follower to do a particular task. Nothing can be more intoxicating to the ego than to be selected by the master or leader (or any high profile person). A real master will stand back and allow you to make your decision whether to accept his or her teachings without trying to influence the process.
  16. Talks bollocks: It is surprising what a person will listen to when he or she is devoted to the speaker. It is always a good idea to get hold of a written transcript of what has been said and really read the message. Then tell an open-minded friend who is not a follower what their opinion is purely on the strength of the words. You will soon find out whether there is any real substance to the teacher’s message, or whether you are merely being drawn in by the charisma of the messenger.
  17. Overly relies on slick presentation: Slick presentation can often mask poor content, and so it is important for you to look past the lovely music and video shows at the actual message. The slicker the presentation, the harder it is to see what exactly the teaching is.
  18. Gives him or herself outrageous titles: Not satisfied by being “merely” an enlightened being, many false gurus give themselves titles (or allow their followers to do so) to indicate that they are literally God-Incarnate, the reincarnation of the Buddha or Christ, or THE chosen one. Some continually change their names, to keep pace with their burgeoning egos.
  19. Runs abundance workshops: A guru or master is there to help us find an authentic life. This is nothing to do with becoming more successful at work or making more money, although this may or may not follow from being more authentic. There is nothing wrong with abundance weekends, but if we mistake spirituality for increased business success, then we are guilty of spiritual materialism and we find ourselves deeper in the illusion. (The Japanese say that the Gods laugh at those who pray for money.)
  20. Is not interested in you personally: If a teacher or guru does not have time to interact with you personally, then you may as well read his teaching from a book, because merely being in his presence doesn’t help you find realization inside you. You may model some of his spiritual characteristics, but that often only places you deeper in illusion.
  21. Allows his followers to set up a hierarchy of access: A guru must be accessible. If he is not, or if he allows his followers to block your access, then he is playing the role of a king and not a spiritual guide. A guru is only useful to the process of awakening if you can directly interact with him. With the false guru, it is often the case of the more you donate the greater your access.
  22. Makes false claims of lineage: Many mistakenly believe that realisation can only happen under the guidance of a realized master. In this belief system, gurus are only authentic when they come from a line or lineage of realized gurus. Desperate not to be left out, some gurus claim a false lineage of enlightened masters to bolster their authority to teach. Another pseudo form of “lineage” is to recount a miracle that once happened to them (maybe they cured themselves of some disease or God spoke to them personally) which infers that they are “chosen” and therefore have the authority to set themselves up as teachers and gurus.
  23. Presents themselves as non-profit whilst raking in the millions: Often, the false prophet will present her teachings for free, whilst strongly encouraging her devotees to make large donations. In this way she can appear above money considerations, whilst maintaining her greed and opulence.
  24. Collects a large band of angry ex-followers: This is an indication that something is seriously wrong. If she has used kindness and love in her interactions with her students, and has discouraged them from projecting denied spiritual characteristics onto the guru (rather than encouraging their integration into the self), then it is extremely unlikely that there would be more than a few disheartened ex’s. Many might drift away and feel they have wasted their time, but they are only likely to have the great anger if they have put their teacher on a pedestal, given him their power, and later realized that he was never worthy of such adoration. Contrary to what some believe, it is actually the teacher’s responsibility to strongly discourage students from putting them on pedestals, for this is counterproductive to finding realisation inside.
  25. Uses pseudo-technology: Many false prophets and organisations base themselves around pseudo-technology in the effort to appear scientific — special meters, communication devices (do you really expect the aliens to use a mobile?) and energy clearing instruments and pendants that involve crystals and copper wire. Once again, this is to distract the unwary from the poor quality of the actual teaching.
  26. Acts like a complete paranoid mad person: If your Precious One acts like a complete paranoid schizophrenic or psychotic then he or she probably is. Run! Remember that there is no such thing as “crazy wisdom”—wisdom is the art of being balanced. However charismatic they may be, and sane between moments of madness, you WILL be damaged by them.

Although the majority of the points listed above are relevant, number 16 really stood out for me as it is something that has been going through my head for some time. Were his talks ever really that deep, or were we just so mesmerized by him that we assumed that anything he said was profound?

I’m sure other things will also stand out for you as you read it.

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44 Comments
  1. Peaceful Warrior permalink
    July 28, 2011 12:35 am

    I think you expect too much from one person. If you ask so much from one person, you are asking for fraud. To me, important things are – solid grasp of spiritual principles, ability to communicate well, and be a person of good character and integrity.

    Even with those, I’m not looking to find someone to surrender to. If one is looking for that- one is stupid, and life will teach him a lesson. I would expect a guru to be an assertive person – not all sugar and honey – just like anyone else. And in my relationship outside the classroom, I would assert myself – as I would with anyone else.

    It’s not as much about what qualities a guru should have – but what qualities one should possess as a student. Then one can learn from anyone. Critical thinking and being confident in oneself are crucial.

    • Jr. permalink
      July 28, 2011 5:25 am

      While I agree with you that we shouldn’t expect so much from anyone, the reality is, most AOL followers do believe and expect that most or all of these things on the list are not part of it’s leader. AOL cult members do expect him to be perfect. Why? Because all the teachers and old timers teach it that way. Of course most of them sadly do apply to AOL and it’s leader.

      • anonymous permalink
        July 28, 2011 1:53 pm

        People forget that SSRS was not always a rich, powerful man. He was a simple little man, who genuinely seemed to want to teach a few people something great, deep and meaningful. Over time, as he became more and more popular and the crowds started coming around, he definitely changed. Ask any sincere person who ‘knew him when’. He was not always the way he is now. It’s very sad. A fallen yogi is something that happens. It’s clearly happened to SSRS. A real pity, in my opinion. But it’s always possible that he will take a handful of his old timers and just walk away from all this foolishness that is passing now for ‘spirituality’, and that they will sit, meditate, and he will regain the graciousness that he once possessed. I really believe that by being too much in the world, he has fallen prey, having come from a very simple background. Don’t forget his age when he started all this — he was in his early 30s, inexperienced in the ways of the world, etc. Some forgiveness has to be there in our hearts for such a sad happening as a man who once wanted to teach pure enlightenment, and has now become a ‘glamorous’ figurehead of a multimillion dollar organization. He’s a source of employment for many. If all the money went away, if people knew more about him as a person, how many would stay to simply learn? I’m assuming, of course, that he could regain the initial level of understanding that he seemed to be displaying some time ago, before all the adoration and money started flowing. We should all pray for him and those who are closest to him, that they should remove themselves from this sad mess that has become Art of Living, give back all the monies collected in the name of charity, and just retire to the mountains for deep contemplation and meditation. After all, if he could produce just a handful of enlightened disciples from the group of abusive people who now surround him, it would be a great Blessing to the earth. Anything is possible. I pray for that outcome.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      July 30, 2011 5:14 am

      @Peaceful Walker,

      When a person declares his/her “enlightenment”, then there is no such thing as a person anymore.
      If the Bhagavad Gita, even if in only one of the various interpretations available, is to be believed, then the enlightened one is past duality, and is seated in the supreme so as to be subtler than the subtlest and as absolute as the absolute itself. In such case what burden is there to be carried, and can there be anything called a personal volition.

      But I digress.In the very first line you answer my question that Ravi ravi is nothing more or less than a person just like I am. So in that light the rest of your answer makes sense.

  2. Original Anonymous permalink
    July 28, 2011 4:40 pm

    ya the question that arises here was why did Sri Sri carry on the movement for the whole of 1980s and 90s when he was not getting success?

    If he was seeking money and fame, could he wait so long for it? An ambitious person will get really restless and frustrated very soon. Sri Sri seemed to be not bothered by the numbers for around 2 decades, would he be bothered now?

    If somebody who has been with Sri Sri in the 80s and 90s please share their experiences and solve the riddle it would be very nice.

    • Peter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      July 29, 2011 10:31 am

      Who says Guruji was not getting success in the 80’s and 90’s? How are you defining success? The riddle exists in your mind, not in Guruji’s!

      • anonymous permalink
        July 29, 2011 1:53 pm

        Filling for Harshal, are we, Peter? 😉

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 30, 2011 1:15 pm

        @Peter .. Were you there with Sri Sri in the 80s and 90s? I was looking for somebody with a first hand experience to reply to my post. I had seen some posts of people who were there for a long time with Sri Sri who had commented in this blog before.

        Of course its(the riddle) is there in my mind, why would I bother if it was there in Sri Sri’s mind and when did I say that the riddle existed in Sri Sri’s mind.. and how do you know whats there in Sri Sri’s mind? I have every right to find out things I do not know in the manner in which I want to find it out.

        btw out here I mean success in the terms of number of people and money?( Not spiritual contentment etc )

        Also my post is not an accusation, its just something you can say a cross between curiosity and wonder.

    • anonymous permalink
      July 29, 2011 1:41 pm

      They say that people get corrupted by power and money. This is apparently what happened to him. And his ambition grew as he saw the opportunities as they presented themselves. I really don’t think he started out with this ambition, but this is clearly how he ended up, and has lost sight of his original duty/path. Too bad.

  3. TomTomGuru permalink
    July 29, 2011 2:39 am

    A real guru is not someone who runs an organization that is based on MLM model to rope in new followers. A real guru leads a simple life and avoids lime light and will not run after media even to spread spirituality.

    A true guru will initially avoid a ‘mumukshu’ (a rookie seeker) and discourage the individual. This is to test the earnestness of the seeker and suitability for spiritual pursuit. It will be difficult for a seeker to get accepted as a disciple by a real guru.

    To learn a few yoga/pranayama/meditation techniques and use them to reduce stress, one of these corporate gurus will suffice. Such gurus will sugar coat their messages and mostly con their followers with falsehood and politically correct answers to get more money and fame.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      July 30, 2011 5:16 am

      Wow you just identified me as a true guru.

  4. freeagaiin permalink
    July 29, 2011 8:03 am

    a sad memory : I was going through one of the roughest patches of my life – my world as i knew it had shifted. I had the NTC of AOL in the area i live in living at my place, and i was at my wits end. And he would tell me that he had spoken to SSRS the night before. So i asked if next time i could speak as i had lost so much hope (and still believed in SSRS). The NTC said “No i don’t think so, Guruji doesn’t have time, and i don’t think he will speak with you”. At that time, this so called “guru” had no time for a devotee, a teacher of AOL. It reinforced that he is only there for those who could do his bidding, only those who could in some way bring riches to AOL, though the people they bring in or the money they offer.

  5. Peter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
    July 29, 2011 10:29 am

    So many are seeking a Satguru from their ego’s perspective. Nothing wrong with this because we do this with everything and everyone in a condition of avidya/ignorance. Trust your direct experience in choosing a guru, not your conceptual understanding of what you think a guru should be. Be with a teacher you are drawn to. Take value from their teaching and then you may stay or move on depending what your realization dharma is. Don’t waste time denigrating your former guru because he confuses your mind at times! And stop fooling yourself by claiming you are doing this for others. We are all big boys and girls in this spiritual search and don’t need “protection.”

    • anonymous permalink
      July 29, 2011 1:46 pm

      SSRS doesn’t confuse me in the slightest. What has happened to him is obvious and terrible. I pray that he will be delivered from whatever delusions he is now suffering under (which he was not always suffering under — that he is some God, needs ‘numbers’, crowds, etc.) I went to him with a clear heart and desire for enlightement, believing he could help me on my path. I was wrong, and found out so in very short order by close contact with him. He is interested in a huge following, not sincere seekers of Truth. He has no time for such things. He was never my guru. I never called him “Guruji”. He wanted me to, but I refused, feeling that there was much to be learned about him before I decided on such an important choice. Maybe others should be as cautious, and question him closely and personally, before accepting him blindly as they have.

    • Jr. permalink
      July 29, 2011 2:23 pm

      Nope Petey, other’s do need protection. And if you spent any time reading this blog, you would know why. This blog saved me and others from the abuse of AOL.

    • Peaceful Warrior permalink
      July 29, 2011 9:09 pm

      “So many are seeking a Satguru from their ego’s perspective.”

      People who don’t have ego, don’t need a guru also. Lets be realistic. That’s how everyone starts. Why expect people who begin the spiritual journey to act like masters with no ego.

  6. Harshal permalink
    July 29, 2011 4:06 pm

    “This blog saved me and others from the abuse of AOL”

    So this guy has no bad experience with AOL, why is he barking like a dog then? who are the others who were saved?

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 30, 2011 12:20 am

      Oh, Harshal, this is the language you learned from AOL? If you have difference of opinion, state it decently man instead of using abusive language.

    • Doubt permalink
      July 30, 2011 6:43 am

      I was saved from clutches of AOL and its teachers. They keep on sending me SMses, emails and many a time phonecalls almost every week. Despite telling them that I am no longer interested, AOL teachers are more like telemarketers. The biggest mistake one does in attending these AOL courses, is to leave yr mobile number and email addresses in the registration form.

      • anonymous permalink
        July 30, 2011 1:02 pm

        If anyone doubts the type of people closest to SSRS in Art of Living, just go to the right of this blog, look in the “AOL Propaganda” portion, and click on the two items labeled “Sad Swami….” which are remarks from one of the closest people to the leader. They are so hateful, filled with abuse, and just so typical of what the very top of this organization represents — striking out at anyone or anything who speaks out against the leader or his group. This particular person was absolutely normal when he joined AOL. It’s unbelieveable that he has become such a venomous snake, so fearful of the remarks of those who have left his organization, having to tell lies about those people at such length, trying to destroy them (further than they might have been destroyed by leaving their careers and lives behind to serve the ‘master’ SSRS. Horrible. Just read it. You can see for yourself what the topmost tier of Art of Living is.

  7. freeagaiin permalink
    July 29, 2011 9:09 pm

    Peter would you be any chance from Germany!

  8. freeagaiin permalink
    July 29, 2011 9:42 pm

    Interesting – AOL is apparently a “one world family”. The word family connotes, caring, understanding, respect and love. However here, we see, abuse, manipulation, disrespect – so a One World DYSFUNCTIONAL family is more accurate don’t you think?

  9. freeagaiin permalink
    July 30, 2011 8:44 am

    re the tele marketer’s – i advised that i would report a breach of the privacy act and finally it stopped. Use the law where you have to. Thats the only thing that stops them!

  10. stupidseeker permalink
    July 30, 2011 3:23 pm

    Dear All,
    I wished to post my vidoe here rather than the other topic. Perhaps copying one’s guru right down to the “hmmm” should also be declared a test of authenticity

  11. Original Anonymous permalink
    July 30, 2011 7:07 pm

    @ Peter..

    How are you so sure what thoughts exists in whose mind ?

    You don’t know me, so its better you don’t comment about me.

    Were you there with Sri Sri in the 80s and 90s?

    In the above question i am defining success in terms of number of people the linked to the movement and the turnover of the organization.

    I am not talking about the spiritual side of success right now. So please don’t start a debate on that.

    I am looking for experiences of people who were with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji during the 80s and the 90s.

    And my question is a very neutral one, I have not asked it with the intention of accusing him.

  12. stupidseeker permalink
    July 31, 2011 6:50 am

    Im kinda surprised that the ancient non(hindu) texts that waxed eloquent about the importance of a guru and the importance of surrender to the guru to reach “salvation” didn’t set down standardised criteria to identify the “real” stuff from the mould.
    But then again there isn’t any standard definition to what “enligtenment” is, so expecting identifying criteria for an “enlightened” being may be too much to ask for.

    • You am I permalink
      July 31, 2011 8:23 am

      But then again there isn’t any standard definition to what “enligtenment” is,

      enlightenment cannot be defined ..that’s the standard definition.. now go figure or find a guru

  13. stupidseeker permalink
    July 31, 2011 10:31 am

    It’s ok I knew a long time back that “enlightenment” vis a vis the classical non(Hindu) texts couldn’t be defined.
    The personalisation of truth and by extension that of “mukti” is the direct consequence of such lack of definition.
    Faith and faith alone decides the triumph of one personal truth over another.

    • You am I permalink
      July 31, 2011 2:20 pm

      @stupidseeker

      the disappearance of the polarities of truths/untruths is enlightenment.personalization is the job of abrahamics and the reason of their delusions.

      faith is a starting point not the end point..how could it be? faith is an attestation of duality

      • stupidseeker permalink
        August 1, 2011 3:33 pm

        @You Am I,

        I thought I’d make a little compilation of your valuable quotes.

        “The entire world outside is always a personal truth for any given individual at any point of time (in your reply please quote a non-personal truth). Incidentally, in science too there’s a scientific truth for today , which may become a falsity tomorrow.. but that does deter millions of people from considering the scientific truth of today as the truth. same goes for the seeker . s/he may , based on her/his spiritual level treat a relative truth as the ultimate truth.”

        “enlightenment cannot be defined ..that’s the standard definition.. now go figure or find a guru”

        “the disappearance of the polarities of truths/untruths is enlightenment.personalization is the job of abrahamics and the reason of their delusions.”

        Three quotes, one person. Thank Goodness I’m not on the “enlightenment” train.

      • You am I permalink
        August 5, 2011 11:08 am

        @stupidseeker

        thanks for collating the “pointers” to truth ..yes i agree ..they are way beyond you

  14. Harshal permalink
    July 31, 2011 10:36 am

    loads of crap followed by “Isurrender to the guru to reach “salvation” didn’t set down standardised criteria to identify the “real” stuff from the mould”

    I think the idea of enlightenment and surrender of the ego to the guru is probably more realistic than a bearded man sitting in the heaven or someone rising from death and saving our souls.

    • Anonymous permalink
      August 1, 2011 4:42 am

      I can see Harshall here is showing us the true breath of aol spirituality, not to talk about respect for other peoples religion. Nothing but a pimped up version of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.

    • stupidseeker permalink
      August 1, 2011 3:40 pm

      @Harshal,
      Your call which story you wish to subscribe to. but in your case i think no matter which story you subscribe to your always gonna itch for your endosulfan spray.

  15. Full Disclosure permalink
    July 31, 2011 12:17 pm

    Thanks for the blog… I’m the type that likes full disclosure – especially from non-profits who solicit funding and have a good deal of influence over others. I have been involved with AOL for about a year (so I’m very willing to be disabused of my opinions), but here’s my thoughts:

    – I like the weekly community that involves seemingly healthy activities: yoga and breathing.
    – I want to support the program and I want want many seem to have: joy and calm
    – AOL seems to be one of the few disarming spiritual practices in town (after I left the Christian church… there’s not many mature movements that let me ease into the spiritual practices
    – I meet alot of cool people at AOL… and smart MBA types… at Evangelical Churches? not so much
    – I think the advertising is misleading – AOL is not just about relaxation and a calmer life, but you’re being called upon to immerse yourself in the Indian Philosophic tradition (this is all the specificity I can give, because they never just tell you what they believe, but it’s obviously a dense cannon)…
    – I don’t know what to make of Sri Sri… sometimes a little interesting, sometimes seem to take a long time to give universal spiritual truths (i.e. accept what is)
    – If Sri Sri is there to interpret the Upanishads and other Vedas, I find his ability to do this to be poor
    – Kind of freaks me out… have none of the people in AOL read a comparative religions book? Many of the “OMG, did you hear what Sri Sri said?” are universal spiritual truths: forgive, live in the moment, accept, we’re all connected, God is everywhere, meditate, etc)
    – They never say it, but AOL is clearly a fund-raising organization – they’re constantly pushing the “next course”.. courses which many praise…. but my $250 for a meditation course was a disappointment – a 3 day class that could have been taught in 2 hours
    – Back to full-disclosure – if you’re asking for a donation – can you tell me what that money is being used for?
    – Btw, the *real* breakthru that you’re going to experience, always seems to be one class or speaker away… but wait, I thought yoga, breathing, and meditation can make a huge difference? (I haven’t seen the change yet in my own life, but I’m going to keep working on it
    – If they need to raise money – just say it… I wouldn’t mind paying $15 for the weekly yoga/ breathing classes for instance

    • Prairie Princess permalink
      July 31, 2011 8:27 pm

      You can probably find a yoga class in your home town that also teaches pranayamas.

  16. suneitha permalink
    August 1, 2011 7:26 am

    yes well art ol living has its positives and negatives as well been there 7 years and i dont do kriya everyday -i do more of ashtanga yoga , some guided meditation , naadi shodhan pranayam and of course ive done a whole host frm different yoga schools : in aol most of the ppl are highly educated and genuine well meaning ppl who do community service like planting trees…i guess each unto his own.. yes sri sri is guru a spiritual teacher of meditation but ultimately one has to surrender to God and god alone …padmasahna is good for the system its a 5000 yr old practice being revived by aol hehe… also the way sri sri is promoting indian culture and spirituality in the west is remarkable…he may be a fallen yogi now but he wasnt like this in the 80 and 90’s he was a simple humble dude wanting to teach meditation and make ppls lives less stressed and do community service.. as for profit i run an ngo in india and the government of india rule is all donations are exempt frm tax but once an ngo starts to make a profit then only 15-20% of its profits are exempt from tax im sure the same applies to aol as well now that it has become a spiritual corporate…

    • stupidseeker permalink
      August 1, 2011 4:10 pm

      Is that what he says?? That he’s spreading (non)hindu/indian culture abroad?? I heard he actually tells those palefaces he’s actually secular and non denominational and all his practices are also secular and non denominatinal.

      • anonymous permalink
        August 1, 2011 9:35 pm

        Well, Stupidseeker, I don’t think it’s nice to use words/phrases like “palefaces” to refer to white Europeans and Americans. Do you think it would be nice if they referred to Indians as “black faces” or “brown faces”? Then you’d be screaming ‘racism!’ Get a life, and get on the subject. You don’t even know SSRS. Go somewhere else with your racial/religious hatred. I strongly disagree with policies of Art of Living and it’s leader, but you are just as bad.

    • Original Anonymous permalink
      August 2, 2011 5:37 am

      Either he was fallen then or has not fallen at all, its very unlikely that if he was good at the start he got corrupted by power and fame. Or if he was bad at the start he got good in between usually that never happens and is very unlikely to happen. I have a cousin who has gotten into politics to earn money by however means. Its unlikely that 5 or 10 years later he may turn good and change his ways . . there will be too much pressure and he won’t be able to do it. . same applies to somebody if he goes to do good and then then he gets surrounded by good people and then in sometime you just cannot do any bad. Coz everyone arround you is good…

  17. ex aoler permalink
    August 1, 2011 11:42 pm

    I really feel sad and angry…had been such a fool . have spent so much money fought with my parents, lied to them and attended workshops. although i never felt it extra-ordinary i thought it is just my perception.

    all the promotion videos are so misleading.. art of living has a habit of representing peas as watermelons. cats as tigers and grass as trees.it just magnifies all the small doings in such a skillfull fashion that one is bound to believe its a nobel organization.

    I had been associated for quite some time and feel so bad .its even worse thank a break up. its all goody goody till part 1 . then you start turning into a volunteer and see the way the organisation functions . no respect to anyone , if you are rich successfull famous.. then yes these leaches will suck all they can.the amount of money i have wasted in aol …i could have easily got a good car out of it…its so disgusting

    when you are in it. it seems as if you are doing for the good of society but then you see their motives is to just get money out of whomever they can and thats it. JUST MONEY MONEY MONEY.

    they hire big places like wembley stadium and olympiad stadium and then go into losses and finally charge huge amount for a simple technique which is not also a technique.

    trademarking and copyrighting at what our rishis wanted to freely distribute is so offending to our ancinet culture. hmm patanjali should have been alive now…so that he could have copyrighted his teachings and the world would have been saved.

    people like harshall and others who want to become swamis are just not aware what they are supporting…or do they and want to even get their hands filled in this money river,

    the posters are so promising but then you do the course and dont feel much difference.. the difference is just with the personality development modules which i belive is not even theirs…wonder when are them gonna be copyrighted..

    leaving all this copyrighted they say so MANY LIES SO MANY LIES.

    it doesnt mena there are no good people in aol…but their voice is notheard .. in order to be a decision maker in aol you got to be as shrewd as batliwalas and others.

    very sad very angry and very disgusted…it stinks even worse than BS.

  18. stupidseeker permalink
    August 2, 2011 9:57 am

    anonymous permalink
    August 1, 2011 9:35 pm
    Well, Stupidseeker, I don’t think it’s nice to use words/phrases like “palefaces” to refer to white Europeans and Americans. Do you think it would be nice if they referred to Indians as “black faces” or “brown faces”? Then you’d be screaming ‘racism!’ Get a life, and get on the subject.

    Actually i wudn’t be screaming racism. I’m as brown as a nut meself and if someone calls me a brown nut thats really the last thing I’m goin to take umbrage it. however I apologise if you took my phrases otherwise.

  19. Anonymous permalink
    August 4, 2011 12:35 pm

    someone spoke of trademarking: mmy trademarked and copywrighted tm meditation, bikram chowdhury has trademarked his yoga so has bharat thakur .. the americans tried to trademark tumeric, echinacea and aloe vera so why shouldnt sri sri ttrademark hios technique?? all yoga orgs in india and us are trademarking their yoga i guess thats the trend these days to keep it safe so what..

  20. stupidseeker permalink
    August 7, 2011 11:46 am

    You am I permalink
    August 5, 2011 11:08 am
    @stupidseeker

    thanks for collating the “pointers” to truth ..yes i agree ..they are way beyond you

    Thats ok. It’s not as if I’m writing my posts from the astral plane or something. I’m afterall writing them in the physical plane like most other “unenlightened” “persons”, don’t know about you though, so expect only that much from them.

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