Reflections After Leaving Art of Living
The basic essence of spirituality for me is about truth and integrity. All the knowledge that is provided by a spiritual system, to me, is meant to integrate me back to the truth and to nature. For me, the presence of truth is very palpable, its a great feeling….and it moves me very strongly. And, there is much truth that I experienced when I was in AOL. I realize that up to a point they created the platform for me to reach deep within myself and experience the best of who I can be. I am grateful.
Looking at how I am used to operating, at most times, I have noticed, that I am usually just a function of my own acquired habits. There are times however, when I am alert to my own thoughts and programing. At these times, I make it a point to make sure that I do not BS myself….and I make corrections to my perceptions and to the best of my ability I subsequently I attempt to communicate this to all the stakeholders that my new decision will impact.
Overall, for me, it was not really about any criminal prosecution or about any retribution/redemption. What had happened earlier, is that I had aligned myself fully and completely with AOL (actually SriSri) with the belief that this is my home and only path. Soon, I found that I had become a face to the organisation and that many others followed me blindly because I was involved and so also the rest of my family. Their whole thinking was Oh….these guys are involved…..they saw my family as a unit being very dedicated and assumed that the rest of the AOL was the same. This is fine as long as the intent and source was pure. I too, at one time had assumed the same…..and this came of great personal admiration for SriSri’s stamina and the immense travel, work and dedication and tirelessness which I had witnessed. However, as it became evident later, this aspect turned out to be only a part of the Whole picture. Much of manipulation and lies are hidden from easy viewing, until you go close and choose to observe all that happens on the inside with all your senses / values intact your intellect switched “ON” and on to high alert.
Now that I have been away from AOL for a while……..I can see how zombified I was when I was on the inside….and there is only one reason for this. “ME”. The buck starts and ends there. I had bought in totally to my romantic notions about AOL and about life and that clouded my judgement and actions for a very long time. Plus, at that time, I believe that I enjoyed sharing my so called views somewhat passionately with the world at large…and in the process ended up with a fairly large AOL circle with yours truly in the centre. During these times, AOL occupied 80% of my mind and all my external activity. It was a love affair and now I can see, even a major obsession. An end all and fix all for all problems and therefore it was mandatory for very human, as far as I was concerned. There had also been moments with myself when I had asked myself the question………”Dude, would you give up your teachership ?”. And the honest answer was a BIG NO…….”this is my whole life…..what ? Give up he love of my life ? why give it away ?….for what ?. Forget it.
Life has its way of surprising you. It never tires out like we do. It very elegantly showed me from outside the AOL system the flaws within the AOL system. And for those of you that are following this blog ….when this happens it is painful. Life needs to create the pain for us to bring in the voice of reason again. Life wants to set us free with the truth and if we refuse to wake up she has our way of waking us up. Most folks that are caught up deep in the AOL framework are inwardly deeply unhappy. All you need to do is look closely with diligence and you will see that the smile is purely external and plastic. Within them is a lot of conflict. Which human has no conflict ?. We all do to varying degrees. But AOL folks will mostly claim that they have none and that they are in complete acceptance of WHAT IS. Some anger, some frustration etc have been labelled as negative and you train yourself to fake it until you make it. Make it for what exactly ? To be seen as the perfect devotee ? There is just no authenticity of being. The perpetuity of the zombification process starts this way. Soon, you feel drawn to and compelled to conform. You start demonstrating certain characteristics as that is shows that you are happy and positive. You have to smile all the time and say YES to everything an AOL teacher says. Very soon, there is a certain set of prescribed notions that everybody starts to subscribe to rather automatically. (Wear white flowing robes, wear a tikka, say Jai Gurudev, smile all the time, carry the favorite AOL texts with you and talk about it, grow a beard, have long hair, go for follow-up and satsang every week, play AOL Cds in your car).
When my waking up process happened it was easy to identify with the stuff that does not work….(The money management, the potential tax evasion, the lack of integrity amongst the entire 2nd tier AOL fraternity, the bogus fronts and other AOL companies). However, what became important was to me was that I needed to find out the truth behind the many many repeated mystical moments that I had had when I was in AOL. Now how did that work ? Luckily for me, existence provided all of them for me. I could see clearly how the many types of healings that manifested in many of my classes, how certain other elements fell into place….and that many of these phenomenon had several parallel explanations. I could easily relate to this as I had explored deeply with other spiritual schools before coming to AOL. Even while at AOL I never fully restrained myself from reading about other schools and paths. Many a times, Sr AOL faculty and SriSri himself will pass casual remarks and indirect comments that allude the following
1. Anyone still doing spiritual shopping is blind and stupid…!!!! Bawa is very good at making a sales pitch or creating a tag line that indirectly points to such a leaning.
2. All the good stuff cannot happen without the grace of the master. Thats the ONLY stuff you can be sure about. This is pure Myth. SriSri is just one element of existence. At AOL at some point in time they will start drilling into your head that existence had to find a way to reach out to us, hence it decided to manifest itself in the human form of SriSri.
Now I realise what this was. It was to keep us all within the compound. A clear herding strategy.
I wonder whether you have all have seen the Leonardo Di Capiro movie “Inception” ?. In that they show that that the best way to totally brainwash somebody is to plant an small idea in their head until the idea consumes them all together. AOL does that amazingly well. Every follow-up, every satsang, every email, every video….none of this is without the subtle programming. The more frequent and regular you become with the activities, the more deeper you will sink.
Before long you career moves, your home that you buy, your new born’s name, your daughter’s marriage, even your own name, your holidays, your family expenditure, the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the people you invite to your homes and events……..will SOON be all AOL. The many non-AOL people once in your life would have now gone away. You would have not noticed that and even if you did see it you and your family would be saying amongst yourselves “Poor them” they do not know what they are missing. Its good that we are away from them. For those that are within AOL, that is the only world they need and want. Everything they ever wanted is within there. Why look anywhere else. Looked from one angle this almost feels like contentment. Actually, thats only a partial view……viewed from another angle its a complete negation of everything else that Life is offering you. Also, by making you believe that all your answers/requirements are within AOL, they will kill all your skills/abilities and instincts to do well and succeed in the outside world. This is what many of the senior teachers are finding out. Without AOL they cannot fit in anywhere. Hence, here is the moral and ethical dilemma….and they end up taking the easy way out….”for me to survive, I have no choice but to close my eyes to some of the untruth about AOL…. let me take what is good for me and leave the rest”…..and by not calling the untruth a lie and by not stopping its continued propagation …..the madness continues to grow. This growth however, is not sustainable. While there is some goodness in the movement, there is too much darkness, hidden agendas and lies that continue to remain relatively hidden till date….It is only a matter of time before the implosion happens.
For those that actively contribute to this blog, we managed to overcome the AOL stupor. Either we were plain lucky or we have been helped. Somehow, we managed to retain our spirituality and keep our instincts intact. We managed to stay somewhat alert, despite many many years of subtle but powerful influences and lies that we at one time actively subscribed to and allowed to happen, either because we were totally blinded or because it was still convenient and not yet painful enough to start questioning.
I am generalizing here since I do not know any of the other contributors personally. If we could all break free and be happy and pursue active lives, then so can the very many others who are still trapped in the AOL fold. Hence, for me, this BLOG is a symbol and representation of HOPE and therefore Healing for all those people.
By contributing to this BLOG we keep that hope alive. My post is dedicated to all those who are currently caught up with AOL, but have not ceased following their hearts altogether. Some of them, at sometime in their journey may need a sounding board for themselves. I pray that this blog will provide them that service.
Namaste, With Much Love and Blessings