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Revealing Questions about Art of Living and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

March 11, 2012

by anonymous

Q: Dearest Guruji, what are the signs that I am growing on the path? I did my first course 10 years back. I have done 10 advanced courses and I am a teacher. However, I still get angry. Sometimes I feel people who don’t do any practices are better when compared to my behaviour. Please guide.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: You got it all wrong. You think that just meditation is going to do it all for you. You are just enjoying meditation. Why would you get upset if you are deeply soaked in knowledge? You think keeping quiet for ‘sometime’ is going to do everything for you and you forget the knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge is glaring on your face saying, ‘accept situations and people as they are’, and you are not doing it.

I have said so many times, anger is a sign of attachment to perfection. If you are dispassionate why would you get so upset? Listen, you may do ten advanced courses and you may be just hearing things, but if you don’t take it in then it is not the fault of the course or the meditation or the knowledge or wisdom.

It is like one of those rubber suits that people who go for scuba diving wear when they go into the ocean. You may get in to the water, but when you come out of it you are dry. Not a drop of water has gotten into your body because you are in that wet suit.
In the same way, you may do ten or twelve advance courses but if you don’t have dispassion, which you hear so many times then you are bound to get angry. Dispassion is the second pillar of knowledge. If that is not there, then you are bound to be angry and upset, you are bound to be possessive and jealous. No dispassion.

I have said so many times, ‘So Hum, and So What!’ You haven’t heard ‘So What’. Many times you take it for granted. ‘Oh! So what, I have heard it, okay.’ For now you just sit and meditate, and then you go and never remember. Recollect, let it soak into you. It is not the wisdom that is to be blamed. It is your inability to live it, to take it in and soak it into your soul.
Do you see what I am saying? You can’t say, ‘I have all this attachment and still I am going to be spiritual’, no!

Spirituality is to relieve one from the obsession of perfection. Spirituality is being centered. In spite of ten advance courses you are getting angry. Just imagine if you had not done any advance courses, what would have been your status.

Q1: How many more “advance” courses does the person asking this question need?

Q2: Doesn’t this exchange reveal that ten “advance” courses are not effective?

Q3: Doesn’t this exchange prove that “Guruji” does not know if teachers are enlightened or not, and that therefore, many un-enlightened people are becoming teachers?

Q4. Doesn’t this exchange prove that the only way he knows if a teacher is un-enlightened or not is if the teacher tells him?

Q5: Doesn’t “Guruji” sound frustrated, agitated, and, angry?

Q6: How many “advance” courses does “Guruji” need to overcome his own anger?

Q7: Most importantly, doesn’t this exchange reveal that we’re all human, including “Guruji”; no one has special powers; and, the art of living is nothing but the art of selling “advance” courses?

Q8: Doesn’t this exchange prove that even if “dispassion” is the goal, neither the teacher asking the question nor “Guruji” have achieved it yet?

Please feel free to add to the list of questions, if needed.

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91 Comments
  1. Anonymous permalink
    March 11, 2012 5:31 pm

    @VSS, You’ve hit it exactly. These were the exact conclusions I came to and so I left AOL — nothing improving in spite of endless exposure to the Guru, doing multiple courses first, of course. In my case he said “more seva” (of course). In one discussion, I asked him privately how he was any different from a drug, wherein the person takes the drug, feels ‘high’ for awhile, and then leaves and it wears off. He became red faced and angry and tried not to show it. I pointed out to him how often he became angry with anything I’d say, and he passed that off to “taking my bad karma from me and putting it in his own body” because he “didn’t mind being angry”. You are very right, VSS, Ravi Shankar is often very very angry. He doesn’t appear to live the knowledge he spouts at all. And he doesn’t know the state of any of his teachers, in my opinion. He also, when I asked him what he could do to help me through this problem, said ‘what can I do?” and looked very helpless, sheepish, and guilty. He knew I was trying very hard to overcome my very ordinary emotions and thoughts and usual human problems, getting angry in challenging situations, and that none of the knowledge seemed to be helping me. None of the kriya was helping me, nothing seemed to be making me grow. And he at least in that case, admitted there was nothing whatsoever he could do. At least that was a bit honest, but I frankly wished he had told me that the first time I met him and he promised me enlightenment, big spiritual growth, since he was a great master (he didn’t use the words great master, but said he was sent by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi to enlighten people like me who had not taken up with a living master yet). So VSS, you hit it exactly. He can’t do anything. The techniques, if anything, just make people worse after some time. They feel high, then it wears off, and so they return to spend more money and time on the courses, the pujas and satsangs, sponsoring whatever they think will give a better ‘high’ The ashram and Ravi Shankar are just a different type of drug, and no less dangerous than the stuff on the streets, sorry to say. In fact, more dangerous, I think, because he pretends it’s all spiritual. It’s not. He is not the first person to give experiences of a great ‘high’ to groups of people who do whatever he says, feel exhilarated, happy, enthralled with his words and presence. There have been many dictators on the planet thorough history who had the same effect and could control far more than Ravi Shankar can. They controlled whole countries with their charismatic charms. He is like that. A charismatic man, cashing in big time on people’s want for something more from life, using the oldest trick in the book: say something that is truthful (like if one is dispassionate they will be happy) and then mix it up with his own agenda which is false. This way, the person says ‘well, ABC is true, it says so in scriptures, so XYZ must be true as well, since he is speaking truth….” This way, people go out and do whatever he says and further him, his family and a few friends. What a scam.

    • VSS permalink
      March 12, 2012 11:30 am

      @ Anonymous [March 11, 2012 5:31 pm]

      Your comment is extremely insightful. I’m going to research some of the issues you’ve mentioned and respond in detail in some time. For now, I wanted to express how sorry I am to know that you had such awful experiences with AoL and Mr. Ravi Shankar. Some months ago, I got in touch with a member of AoL in the Bangalore Ashram. I was planning to relocate to the Ashram and live there for god knows how many years. However, I found this blog, and my plans changed. I wrote to this person (in the Bangalore Ashram) and told him the reason why I had changed my mind. I even sent him a link to this blog. He said I was mistaken.

      A few weeks ago, he emailed me again. He told me that everything written in this blog is true. He also mentioned that he has nowhere else to go so he cannot leave the Ashram. He thinks he cannot find a job anywhere and has no skills or experience. He cannot return to his family either. His family is poor. Then he said that unless and until someone influential leaves AoL and decides to expose what goes on in AoL, the organization will continue to exist. However, what this blog does is that it successfully prevents those people who do some research (before joining) after receiving invitations from AoL to join. It also helps those who are thinking about leaving AoL by empowering them.

      He said that he had left AoL in his mind a long time ago. In his last email, he sent me the above exchange (the one in the post), and he said that he would send me more such exchanges that would help expose Mr. Ravi Shankar. He also sent me most of the questions below the exchange. (I just added two to the list.) One thing that he has been repeatedly saying in his emails is that AoL thrives on making people feel inadequate.

      The moment a technique or strategy that is recommended does not help someone, the person who it is recommended to is blamed aggressively and ruthlessly. According to him, this is the reason why people remain in AoL, even though it doesn’t work. They feel so bad when they are ridiculed, humiliated, and, slighted, that they become desperate to be told they are fine by the very same people who ridiculed, humiliated, and, slighted them.

      No matter who else tells them they are fine and there is nothing wrong with them, they cannot overcome their craving to be acknowledged as being adequate human beings by the ones who’ve branded them inadequate. So, they start working twice as hard to “please” those AoL teachers who’ve branded them as inadequate human beings. They do whatever they are told and more. This behaviour also has an impact on those who are not benefiting from the techniques and strategies recommended but are too afraid to express themselves; they become more afraid and get completely silenced.

      He said the Ashram is full of people who are frightened out of their wits, and would do anything to not be “caught feeling unhappy”, because if anyone is “caught feeling unhappy”, that person is made to feel so small that the person starts thinking he or she is a lesser human being. All human beings are not considered equal in AoL. “Unhappy” people are discriminated against.

      I cannot begin to imagine what it must be like because I have never lived in a place or worked in an organization where being “unhappy” is considered a sign of “individual weakness”. It shocks me that such a place exists. To me, such a place represents the death of an individual — a place that actively facilitates a sort of induced suicide that unravels so slowly that it goes virtually undetected.

      What shocks me even more is that AoL people ask for proof. I think if even one person felt persecuted by the atmosphere, techniques, and, strategies recommended by AoL and Mr. Ravi Shankar, then AoL is not healthy or spiritual or service-oriented.

      Long ago, I had seen a video of Mr. Ravi Shankar in which he says something like “You can bring all your problems to the Ashram, but you can’t take any back with you”.

      How can a human being be FORCED AND COMPELLED INTO ACCEPTING ONE SOLUTION OR ONE FORMULA FOR SOLVING ALL PROBLEMS?

      This is nothing but ABJECT CRUELTY.

      I think that those who have walked out of AoL are extremely courageous, and, I salute them. I am certain that you are very courageous too. I am relieved to know that you realized there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s nothing wrong with anyone. We are all human beings. It is natural to feel happy and it is natural to feel unhappy. Happiness and unhappiness are human emotions — universally experienced by all human beings. It is also natural to not be “healed” by AoL’s strategies and techniques. At best, AoL is simply one path; it is not the only path. If it was the only path, no one, absolutely no one would have suffered in or because of AoL.

      Thank you again for your insightful comment.

    • Jr. permalink
      March 12, 2012 8:49 pm

      VSS – this might be the most valuable post on this blog to date. It really shows a common frustration that I would say most feel in the organization over time. I also felt “stuck,” and nothing seemed to be improving. Some friends in AOL (who’s intentions were good) told me to stay with it and things would change.

      The answers above also show the master getting angry and blaming the sincere seeker for their problems rather than explaining what they should do. He doesn’t really explain how to “soak in” the knowledge, but I guess we’re supposed to assume that many more advanced courses will somehow “get us to there.” The “one day I’ll make it” is one of the most dangerous things AOL plants into their members minds. That day never comes, until you get out of the organization.

      • VSS permalink
        March 15, 2012 3:07 pm

        @ Jr. [March 12, 2012 8:49 pm]

        I’m sorry you had to go through that experience. I feel very grateful when I read comments like yours because it’s precisely these kind of insightful and heartfelt comments that saved me from the clutches of AoL. I think this whole business of inviting people, and then slighting them, to make them feel inadequate so that they are easy to manipulate, is very distressing. I don’t see how making anyone feel small can even be in the vicinity of a “spiritual” activity. Increasingly, I’m beginning to think that someone like Mr. Ravi Shankar, who does this for a living, must be very ill. He probably feels so inadequate that he needs to do this on such a large scale. He probably needs an army of followers to help him feel less insecure. Maybe he’s more needy than all those people who go to him.

  2. March 12, 2012 12:40 am

    This post points out the basic conundrum that I faced while I was in AOL, which was I wasn’t overcoming some frustrating character flaws. I would ask him personally what I should do and he would usually tell me to teach more, do more seva. He would also tell me not to worry about it. I did as he said to the best of my abilities and nothing really changed. I just couldn’t figure it out why I was so stuck and not growing. Once I left AOL, those particular issues just fell away. I became unstuck. It was really quite a relief. In time, I saw my dependence on AOL and the guru’s grace, was a part of the problem and was keeping me stuck.

    I feel for the person who asked the above question. They are putting their hope in the guru and his grace and they are still frustrated. They are not growing no matter how many courses they do. SS’s response is a catch 22. He says that the questioner needs more dispassion. Meditation, Kriya, the knowledge and all the courses are there to help one develop dispassion. The person does all that and still hasn’t developed dispassion and then he gets blamed for not letting the knowledge ‘soak in’. Oh, it’s letting the knowledge ‘soak in’ that is needed for dispassion; not all the meditation, courses and breathing. But how do you get the knowledge or dispassion to ‘soak in’. You need to meditate, breath, courses, . . . . What is one to do?

    I say that dispassion is possible to develop, but it is really hard when one is taught to be feverish and dependent for and on the guru. When someone can take true responsibility for oneself without waiting for the guru to save oneself, then dispassion has a chance to grow. As long as one is waiting to be saved by the magic of grace it can take a really long time. I found it really hard to grow and mature when I was so busy trying to please guru and God. Once I dropped the ass-kissing, I began to mature and grow again.

    • VSS permalink
      March 15, 2012 12:25 pm

      @ DW [March 12, 2012 12:40 am]

      Your comment is extremely insightful.

      Your articulation of the AoL trap is absolutely brilliant.

      Some of us see it and some of us don’t.

      The core questions that your comment highlights for me are these :

      Can a series of physical activities cause mental transformation such as dispassion ?

      Or, can a mental activity-physical activity combination trigger dispassion ?

      We’ve seen on this blog that the set of activities prescribed / recommended by Mr. Ravi Shankar do not automatically trigger mental dispassion.

      We’ve also seen on this blog that the set of activities prescribed / recommended by Mr. Ravi Shankar almost automatically make people in AoL intolerant, and, therefore, abusive.

      Far from being conscious of what they are saying and how they are behaving, they seem to be in some kind of stupor.

      Another highlight of your comment for me is in the last few lines, and raises the following issues:

      Does subservience necessarily have to be a subset of “spiritualism” ?

      Does “spiritualism” mean not taking responsibility for one’s life ?

      Is dependence on a “guru” or “god” the only way to reach one’s spiritual goals ?

      Why does AoL recommend specific activities instead of encouraging independent thought and resilience ?

      Why does Mr. Ravi Shankar take decisions for everyone in AoL ?

      Does he think that all human beings are inadequate ?

      Why does Mr. Ravi Shankar think on behalf of all those in AoL ?

      Is AoL based on the principle that there’s only one person who knows everything and whatever he says is the law ?

      Isn’t equipping people with the ability to think independently the purpose of education ?

      Isn’t it about not giving people fish but teaching them how to fish ?

      What about diversity and individual preference ?

      Why doesn’t he teach his followers that there are all kinds of people in the world, each one is adequate, and, those who are not in AoL do not deserve abuse ?

      Why doesn’t he teach his followers that there are a number of gurus and people should select a guru based on whether or not a certain guru’s recommendation works for them, because one method may not work for everyone ?

      Isn’t it nothing but arrogance that makes Mr. Ravi Shankar project himself as the only guru who can facilitate spiritual growth for each and every person in the world ?

      Isn’t humility a prerequisite for spiritual growth ?

      What kind of example is he setting for his followers ?

      Does he know that they are abusive when they bump into anyone who doesn’t agree with them ?

      Is he okay with his followers becoming intolerant ?

      He probably is. In fact, he probably encourages it. He must be thinking that the more he fuels their aggression, the more they will work towards the expansion of AoL. Maybe he thinks he can achieve world peace through this kind of “aggression”. Maybe all his friends and family encourage him to think in this manner. Maybe it’s not his fault. Maybe he’s ill but he doesn’t know that. Maybe out of all the people in AoL, he is the one who deserves maximum help and compassion.

      Thank you again, DW, for your extremely insightful comment. I learnt a lot from you.

      • B. Holt permalink
        May 4, 2012 2:04 am

        Is this service to master stuff taught only to teachers?
        As a normal participant in Australia all that was taught was reducing stress and living better

    • Shankara permalink
      March 27, 2012 6:42 am

      We talk about selfless service to the master and his ideals, craving for guru’s grace and so on. Even in the depths (or heights) of spirituality, if what you are being told to do brings you discomfort, then something is obviously wrong, yup? Let’s see what a real master has said about this:

      This was Ramana’s answer to an American in the same predicament:
      “The Master is not outside you as you seem to imagine. He is within, is in fact the Self. Recognise this truth. Seek within you and find Him there. Then you will have constant communion with Him. The message is always there; it is never silent; it can never forsake you: nor can you ever move away from the Master. Your mind is outgoing. Because of that tendency it sees objects as being outside and the Master among them. But the Truth is different. The Master is the Self. Turn the mind within and you will find the objects within. You will also realise that it is the Master who is your very Self and there is nothing but Him. Because you identify yourself with the body you have accepted objects as being outside you. But are you the body? You are not. You are the Self.”

      And about the people in the theosophical society chasing behind masters:
      “The master is within; meditation is meant to remove the ignorant idea that he is only outside. If he is a stranger whom you await, he is bound to disappear also. What is the use of a transient being like that? But so long as you think you are separate or that you are the body, an external master is also necessary and he will appear to have a body. When the wrong identification of oneself with the body ceases, the master will be found to be none other than the Self.”

      Why are you all taking life so seriously? If Ravi Shankar’s teachers are driving you nuts, just drop it and get out of the ashram life.

      • VSS permalink
        March 27, 2012 9:03 am

        @ Shankara [March 27, 2012 6:42 am]

        Thank you for your concern.

        Thank you also for such a profound, perceptive, and, lucid explanation about “the master” and “the self”.

        I have absolutely no doubt in my mind about what’s going on in AoL after reading this crystal clear explanation. This should be on posters, and those posters should be put up all over the world.

        Also, we won’t take “life so seriously” in the future.

        JGD ! Have a nice day ! Please continue with whatever you are doing.

      • Ronin permalink
        March 27, 2012 11:37 am

        As another simple master Nisargadatta Maharaj once said:

        What do you wish to gain by practicing spirituality ?

        Realize “THAT” which is the root of all that is true and everlasting

        Otherwise, it is only entertainment

        It would seem that entertainment and creating dependence is a high priority in the AOL Coorporation

      • B. Holt permalink
        May 4, 2012 2:11 am

        Thanks Shankara for your explanation of the master within oneself.
        I went into AOL knowing we are all spiritual beings and equal in everyway.
        I went astral traveling one evening of my second advanced course and met RS on an equal level. He was not pleased! 🙂

  3. Anonymous permalink
    March 12, 2012 10:47 am

    Lets face it Bloggers….its all over facebook…..

    Dinesh Ghodke
    ‎#SriSriInPak: @khurshed &my YES!+ in Pak; looks so similar2Indian YES!+ #ArtofLiving teachers Naeem&Shahnaz also in pic http://t.co/qQFP5mu0

    Darshak Hathi
    No idea if India-Pak WC semifinals was fixed or not. All that i know is India – Pak love and peace is fixed by Sri Sri. #SriSriInPak now
    Like · · @DarshakHathi on Twitter · 2 hours ago via Twitter ·

    Thanks to Swami Sadyojathah – Latest Pictures from Pakistan – Gurudev in a Historic Peace Mission to Pakistan

    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji @ Delhi airport now! Delhi-Amritsar, will cross wagah border around 10.15 am. via twitter @AOLSwamiji

    When you go higher, you don’t see borders. Borders are just our illusion. The planet is a home for everyone. We are one family- SriSri

    (Behind the scene – If we can loot Indians, why not loot our neighbours ???. Thats being fair and Just.) New markets !!!!

    Hidden message and wake up call —– Common guys….even the Paki’s have endorsed SKY, Bawa, Dinesh and RS ….what are all you Indians and PIO folks waiting for ?????

    • VSS permalink
      March 13, 2012 10:05 am

      It appears that expansion opportunities in India have already been exploited by AoL.

      I just saw a part of the live webcast. Mr. Ravi Shankar actually recommended the promotion of tourism in Pakistan to increase revenue.

      LET ALONE MEDITATE, I DON’T THINK HE THINKS.

      WHO (IN THEIR RIGHT MIND) WOULD GO TO PAKISTAN IN 2012 AND SUGGEST THAT PAKISTAN SHOULD PROMOTE TOURISM ???

      MR. RAVI SHANKAR DOESN’T SEEM LIKE A SANE PERSON AT ALL !!!

      HE GAVE THE EXAMPLE OF GREECE, THAILAND, AND, BALI !!!

      THIS MAN DOESN’T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PLACE THAT SUFFERS BECAUSE OF TERRORISM ALMOST EVERY DAY AND PLACES THAT HARDLY EVER SUFFER BECAUSE OF TERRORISM !!!

      HOW CAN HE POSSIBLY HELP ANYBODY ???

      [INCIDENTALLY, HE ALSO “DEMONSTRATED” THE POWER OF “MAGIC DROPS” !!!]

      I am in shock !!!

      How can anyone believe this person ? It must be dire circumstances that compel people to buy anything that this person says. I think those of us who didn’t fall into the AoL trap, and, those of us who fell but were able to get out of it, are very, very, very fortunate. We should thank our stars. We’ve been saved from the clutches of someone who has no sense at all, let alone wisdom.

    • Harshal permalink
      March 13, 2012 3:29 pm

      lol..these guys are just burning in jealousy anger and hatred……… while AOL keeps growing by leaps and bounds. They cant stand the happiness which aol brings in peoples life…so they write huge essays on it…there is a saying in india, when an elephant walks in the town, dogs bark, but the elephant doesn’t care..good analogy for these guys…

      • Hari permalink
        March 14, 2012 1:23 pm

        perhaps AOL keeps growing in leaps and bounds, so does the mutated influenza virus… AOL is a disease to humanity… the problem being, the affected people are into a trance that they are completely oblivious to the perils that AOL has taken them into… and those who realize it early, bow out without much damage… but those who realize it late create blogs like this here to share their experience and try to give hinters to the unsuspecting people out there about the harm AOL could cause… I have seen examples, several of them around me… they changed from being “normal” to complete “weirdos” that they have become a social pariah among the people who they were friends with, when they were “normal”… my problem here is, the my non-AOL friends are as successful as my AOL friends are, just more happier, truthful and successful… AOL, AOL’s exaggerated claims in their courses and its “fake seva” and “fake spirituality” has only made AOL richer, but, in turn made normal people into zombies and weirdos…

    • visitor permalink
      March 13, 2012 6:39 pm

      i dont know if ssrs made some special securiy arrangements, or is he crazy, or really so passionate that we went to pakistan in private visit (and with the yoga package about which many fundamentalists could get unhappy..). personally i think…not everyone is benefitted by aol courses, and not everyone is damaged by it..
      i am curios to see how it works in pakistan….even if its business, if successful, i would admire ssrs for discovering sth that makes common platform between the people of the two countries…

  4. kavitha permalink
    March 12, 2012 12:12 pm

    “In spite of ten advance courses you are getting angry. Just imagine if you had not done any advance courses, what would have been your status.”

    A very normal human being leading a normal life! Something the AOLers cannot afford!

    • Anonymous permalink
      March 13, 2012 5:30 am

      very true… 🙂

  5. Dayalu permalink
    March 12, 2012 2:33 pm

    See the latest innovation for collecting more ‘donations’: Art of Living Credit card

    http://www.cardlabconnect.com/AffinityPortal/visitorAction.do?affinityName=artofliving

    They have managed to rope in Capital One.

    • Hari permalink
      March 14, 2012 1:34 pm

      Isn’t that a stroke of a genius of a businessman like none other?

  6. Anonymous permalink
    March 12, 2012 2:37 pm

    VSS & DW All so true! So many people have gone through the same thing as the questioner in the original post. Many have been able to leave. Some, like the questioner, are totally dependent on Art of Living and Ravi Shankar for their livelihood and are terrified to leave. Everyone they know is now in Art of Living. They’d have no friends, no associates anymore. Many times, their families are now 100% involved, entrenched (and paid) by Art of Living. Or the family has given up on them and they think their own family is “low prana” or “negative”, etc. You know all of it. Really sad. All the violence, all the abuse, all the mental cruelty that has gone on at the ashram, and evidently continues to go on, considering that comment from that person still there, afraid to leave, saying others are “afraid out of their wits” to even ben caught “unhappy”, will not be stopped easily. If you are in India and read the local papers, you will find that even the government can’t do anything to Art of Living — they stole land, Banglore is out of water, lakes are to be used only for irrigation, yet, the case against Ravi Shankar seems to always be put on indefinite hold. They just don’t take the lake back. They don’t require the buildings to be taken down. And the local, very poor farms and village people, suffer because of his “charity”. It’s truly disgraceful. But what to do? India is very very corrupt. The questioner thinks that only if someone “very influential” leaves, will anything be done to stop the bad conditions. He is, unfortunately, wrong about that as well. A very famous Indian person has left. Someone well-known, looked up to. Spoke out about all this mess. And their own family turned on them because they had now joined and were thoroughly brainwashed. So that person was called crazy (of course). Other “influential”, wealthy people who have left just decided to lay low. They wanted to protect themselves, and leave as quietly as possible, seeing what happens if one dares to speak out against the “happiness dictator”. It’s like any other place fascist that’s ever existed. You mustn’t disagree. You must stay in the party line. All I can say is “Thank You God” that I escaped the place, and realized before too much time had passed, and before I had given too much, that nothing good was happening to me there. Only an attempt to slowly dehumanize me and make me into an AOL zombie. May God protect those who have fallen into the trap and let them see the light.

  7. sunilgaol permalink
    March 12, 2012 4:18 pm

    hahaha

  8. visitor permalink
    March 12, 2012 6:02 pm

    you were wandering…not really knowing where to go….ssrs came driving a fancy bus..and said get in i know where to go..i will get you there…you got in…the journey with ssrs was no so bad..it was fun at times..but you doubed now and then ..where is he leading you to…does he himself know where his going…you have come so far from where you were…you dont have the courage to go back and start walking again…you want to believe in ssrs…that he is going the right way…happy journey!

    • Vuvuzela permalink
      March 14, 2012 7:15 am

      Wow!

      Great perspective on AOL, some people are so deep in it, they have no where to go. How do they face all the people they cast out of their lives, because of AOL propaganda???

      If AOL collapses tomorrow, how will so many people adjust back to normal society, its really sad to see the dilemma they face. A lot of time has been wasted on empty promises, but rather get out of AOL sooner than later.

  9. anonymous permalink
    March 13, 2012 10:48 am

    @VSS…man this is seriously a shame. I’ve been following this blog for quite a while and I must tell you that the posts exactly match what I myself realized, AOL is crap and for that matter every religion, doctrine, cult or a system of blind faith is crap. You wrote that AoL is just a path. Please don’t mislead people, they may take it in the wrong way and instead join some other ‘path’. yes Aol is a path but nothing more than any path of booze and smoke. I think it’s a psychological sin to buy into all these things. I really appreciate your effort in this direction. Salutes to you. But instead of just blaming the AoL I think it’s also the people who are to be blamed for this because it is they who are so weak and naive that they don’t even want to think critically before entering into this death trap. I hope people in general and we Indians in particular realize this asap.

    • March 13, 2012 5:44 pm

      I still feel it cannot be brought down to the level of “boozing and fagging”, the reason its such a mess is that its somewhat good mixed with manipulations… so there are some positive sides to it .. but then they come with a price which may be much more than monetary ,,

    • VSS permalink
      March 16, 2012 10:14 am

      @ anonymous [March 13, 2012 10:48 am]

      You’re right. I must clarify that all foreign nationals and Indian nationals must be cautious while selecting “gurus”.

      I would not select a guru who has one or more of the following attributes:

      1. The “guru” has abused, deceived, and exploited people.

      2. The “guru” does not extend compassion and empathy to all human beings, and neither do his or her followers.

      3. The “guru” is asking for a non-refundable, pre-defined course fee, that is taken in advance.

      4. The “guru” claims that the mental activity-physical activity combination that he or she has arrived at is the ultimate mental activity-physical activity combination that is supposed to work for everyone, and if it doesn’t, then there is something wrong with the person who is trying out the mental activity-physical activity combination that the “guru” has arrived at.

      5. The “guru” does not provide followers with a list of other “gurus” who are equals, in case the “guru” is unable to address the concerns of a specific seeker.

      6. The “guru” claims that he or she is all-powerful and can solve all problems experienced by everyone all over the world.

      7. The “guru” demands subservience to the “guru”.

      8. The “guru” demands that the “guru” be worshiped.

      9. The “guru” imposes rituals of a particular religion, especially on people who belong to other religions.

      10. The “guru” claims that community service includes — existing followers getting more followers — through direct and indirect marketing techniques.

      I shall add to this list, if I chance upon any other attribute.

      However, please feel free to ignore this list. It’s just my perspective.

      As far as succumbing to the AoL “death-trap” is concerned, all I can say is that I did not succumb to it because of all those people who joined AoL, left it because of abuse, deception, and exploitation, and shared their experiences on this blog. I’m grateful to every single one of them. I’m also sorry they had to go through excruciating experiences in AoL. I think that anyone can succumb. To err is human. However, I am also certain that those who have succumbed once won’t succumb again, and, will be more discerning in the future. While being abused, deceived, and, exploited by a cult is one of the ugliest experiences ever, I think that one learns and protects oneself better. I wish with all my heart that all those who have suffered in and because of AoL are not trapped by any other abusive, deceptive, and, exploitative cult in the future. May your painful experiences empower you and make you resilient. Yet, if you err again, please remember that to err is human, and forgive yourself for making a mistake. Please don’t let your self-esteem be held to ransom by one or the other cult. These cults are very manipulative and deploy all sorts of tactics to abuse, deceive, and exploit unsuspecting individuals.

      We owe it to ourselves to protect ourselves from all kinds of abuse to the best of our abilities — whether it’s substance abuse or spiritual abuse. As far as I am concerned, any kind of abuse is damaging. It may begin with the mind and extend to the body, or, it may begin with the body and extend to the mind. Ultimately, any kind of abuse, affects all dimensions of our existence.

  10. Will tell u later permalink
    March 13, 2012 7:00 pm

    Sri Sri is showing the effect of magic drops in Satsangs in Pakistan. I read the article you sent where people say that it is just a old japanese trick. My point is – I do not think Sri Sri is that stupid to advertise this in open so blatantly if he does not have any proof.

    Any thoughts?

    • visitor permalink
      March 13, 2012 9:39 pm

      well…i have seen at times that many gurus are not technically that good…and i have seen them making statements which are technically very incorrect, in a strict sense. i think their followers interpret that in a modified way, because somehow they cant believe that their guru can be wrong. ssrs is not stupid but he can be mistaken like anyone else. i dont know anything about the drops…i am talking in general.

    • Vuvuzela permalink
      March 14, 2012 7:31 am

      My parents bought the magic drops, and after i got a sports injury,they insisted i take it. I can honestly say it made no difference.

      As for advertising, he already advertised the effects of SKY, and backed it up with his own scientific research. Not much people have questioned this, and just bought into SKY being a cure for all. Maybe he is expecting the same thing with the magic drops…

    • Anonymous permalink
      March 29, 2012 6:24 pm

      For what makes a guru please google “Sri Kumare” and go to that site. It’s really hysterical, and all these Americans fell for this guy! He’s an Indian actor, and now has made a movie out of his faking being a guru, and has films of his ‘satsangs’. People really believed in him!

  11. March 14, 2012 10:12 am

    Shakthi of your faith cures your illness not because of this drop.
    RS knows that very well, in that way he is 100% sure of what he is saying.

  12. March 14, 2012 3:46 pm

    Another issue:
    So lot of AOL folks on facebook are sharing this article (Why I am leaving Goldman Sachs), which appeared in New York Times.

    My point is this is exactly why I left AOL and I see not much difference between them and the ways of financial firms. In fact AOL is worse as they dupe people on the name of spirituality – which is CRIMINAL.

    Here is an excerpt from the article and it aptly summarizes my views on AOL:

    “How did we get here? The firm changed the way it thought about leadership. Leadership used to be about ideas, setting an example and doing the right thing. Today, if you make enough money for the firm (and are not currently an x murderer) you will be promoted into a position of influence”

    This is exactly what is happening with AOL. Phew….I am happy I realized it and moved away.
    Good luck to those who are still on the fence.

  13. Sanjay permalink
    March 14, 2012 9:11 pm

    At the outside let me congratulate you people for bringing in the awareness among people about AOL.I am not that spiritual or religious guy,but when I read so many adverse comments about AOL,I decided that I will do the AOL part I course.With a critical mind I was reviewing all that was happening.Didn’t feel anything special.First time when I was doing Sudharsan Kriya I was not breathing properly.But suddenly something happened.Without my knowledge my hands started to console me like a mother consoling its baby.My eyes were closed but I was fully aware that I was doing it.Then I heard the teacher telling me to lye down.After sometime the teacher told me to get up slowly on my right hand side and open my eyes whenever I feel complete.When I opened my eyes I was in complete Bliss.Never in my lifetime I had experienced anything like that.All my fellow students were departing from the class.But,I was just sitting there in the room in complete Bliss.The teacher asked me do you want to share something.But I was not able to talk.I just smiled at her.Their were tears in the corner of my eyes.I was in this Blissful stage for 10 minutes.Why it happened to me.I went their to critically review the AOL.Was I hypnotised.Please suggest

    • VSS permalink
      March 15, 2012 9:34 am

      @ Sanjay [March 14, 2012 9:11 pm]

      I have a few questions.

      1. Did you go to AoL for consolation ?

      2. Why were you seeking consolation ?

      3. Would it bother you if you discovered that SK is nothing but a way to send a dose of oxygen to your brain ?

      4. Do you genuinely feel that the reasons why you were seeking consolation are resolved now ?

      5. Does it matter to you if the technique that was recommended to you for consolation works for you but does not work for a number of other people ?

      6. Do you mind if those people exercise their freedom of speech and say openly that what works for you does not work for them ?

      7. Do you think you will become abusive towards those people after adopting the techniques recommended by AoL, as is the case with almost every AoL member who posts on this blog ?

      8. Does it matter to you if you will become abusive or not ?

      9. Do you think that people have a right to explore what works for them and provide feedback to AoL if AoL did not work for them ?

      10. Do you think that if people felt cheated / abused / exploited by AoL, they have a right to express themselves freely without being targeted for sharing their experiences ?

      11. Do you think that taking “a pre-defined guru dakshina” in advance (non-refundable course fee) is a fair interpretation of the concept of “guru dakshina” as it exists in the realm of Hinduism ?

      12. Do you think that the concept of “seva” should include “conversion” — meaning selling AoL to non-AoL people through direct and indirect marketing ?

      13. Do you think that those who have not been consoled by SK as you have been, are, in any way whatsoever, less than you ?

      14. Do you think all human beings are equal — meaning those who are in AoL are as adequate as those who are not in AoL ?

      15. Do you think that the way AoL defines consolation is not the only definition of consolation ?

      16. If you found out that someone else experienced similar consolation by listening to Mozart, would you be able to accept that person’s perspective ?

      17. If you found out that someone is not a part of AoL, but spends time, effort, money, and, energy, in helping people, without expecting anything in return, that person is as much a good human being as someone who does “seva” as defined by AoL ?

      18. Do you think that the only true definition of “sadhana”, “satsang”, and, “seva”, is the one provided by AoL ?

      19. Do you think that Mr. Ravi Shankar is the only true “spiritual guru” in India, or, in the world ?

      20. Who, according to you, are the other spiritual gurus in India and the world ?

      21. Have you tried the solutions recommended by all claiming to be spiritual gurus before arriving at the solution for consolation offered by Mr. Ravi Shankar ?

      22. How did those experiences compare with those facilitated by Mr. Ravi Shankar ?

      23. What about fees ? Who all charge more than him and who all charge less ?

      24. You seem to be an informed spiritual seeker since you think critically before seeking spiritual consolation. You seem to have tried several options before choosing Mr. Ravi Shankar’s solution for consolation. So, could you please share with readers some more information about the options you have tried out and your experiences ?

      25. Are there any other tips you’d like to offer to those who are in the market for “spiritual consolation shopping” ?

      I am also looking for an effective spiritual consolation package, and, so these are some of the questions in my mind.

      • Sanjay permalink
        March 15, 2012 3:18 pm

        @VSS Here are my Answers:

        1. Did you go to AoL for consolation?
        Ans:No I went for curiosity generated by this blog.

        2. Why were you seeking consolation ?
        Ans:Not applicable since answer for point 1 is No.

        3. Would it bother you if you discovered that SK is nothing but a way to send a dose of oxygen to your brain ?
        Ans:It won’t bother me. Ultimately its helping me at the physical and psychological front.

        4. Do you genuinely feel that the reasons why you were seeking consolation are resolved now ?
        Ans:Not applicable since answer for point 1 is No.

        5. Does it matter to you if the technique that was recommended to you for consolation works for you but does not work for a number of other people ?
        Ans:I am using the technique for my spiritual growth. Every individual may have his own viewpoint about the technique.

        6. Do you mind if those people exercise their freedom of speech and say openly that what works for you does not work for them ?
        Ans:Everyone can express what they feel about the course. Infact they must express it openly in front of the teacher as the course completes.

        7. Do you think you will become abusive towards those people after adopting the techniques recommended by AoL, as is the case with almost every AoL member who posts on this blog ?
        Ans: If a person is abusive then I feel this course has not worked for him.

        8. Does it matter to you if you will become abusive or not ?
        Ans: Buddy,If I am abusive then the course has not helped me.

        9. Do you think that people have a right to explore what works for them and provide feedback to AoL if AoL did not work for them ?
        Ans:There are different paths to spirituality.So giving feedback infact helps a organization to grow more.But at the same time the organization must also have the right to defend their viewpoints.

        10. Do you think that if people felt cheated / abused / exploited by AoL, they have a right to express themselves freely without being targeted for sharing their experiences ?
        Ans:Everyone can express their viewpoints.

        11. Do you think that taking “a pre-defined guru dakshina” in advance (non-refundable course fee) is a fair interpretation of the concept of “guru dakshina” as it exists in the realm of Hinduism ?
        Ans: Spirtuality and Religion are two different paths. For me Spirituality is important. If my heart feels so, for the purpose of Spirituality I am ready to spend any amount of money.

        12. Do you think that the concept of “seva” should include “conversion” — meaning selling AoL to non-AoL people through direct and indirect marketing ?
        Ans:If an individual feels so what’s wrong in it. If you ask me I wont be able to do it. But you and I can’t judge it for others.Christanity and Islam feels converting other religious people to their religion as the biggest Seva.Nobody is stopping them from doing that. So why the fuss if a Hindu saint does it for the betterment of the society.

        13. Do you think that those who have not been consoled by SK as you have been, are, in any way whatsoever, less than you ?
        Ans: Not necessarily. Even a Butcher may be more enlightened than SSRS.

        14. Do you think all human beings are equal — meaning those who are in AoL are as adequate as those who are not in AoL ?
        Ans: Not necessarily. Even a Butcher may be more enlightened than SSRS.

        15. Do you think that the way AoL defines consolation is not the only definition of consolation ?
        Ans: There are different paths to spirituality. If it doesn’t work out you may easily quit it.No harm in it.

        16. If you found out that someone else experienced similar consolation by listening to Mozart, would you be able to accept that person’s perspective ?
        Ans:Why not.

        17. If you found out that someone is not a part of AoL, but spends time, effort, money, and, energy, in helping people, without expecting anything in return, that person is as much a good human being as someone who does “seva” as defined by AoL ?
        Ans: Definetly brother. AOL is not “THE only path, but it is definitely one of the path”.

        18. Do you think that the only true definition of “sadhana”, “satsang”, and, “seva”, is the one provided by AoL ?
        Ans:Not necessarily. But AOL sadhanas are simple and effective. Seva can be in many ways, not necessarily monetary. I like Saint Nicolas’s way of Seva.

        18. Do you think that Mr. Ravi Shankar is the only true “spiritual guru” in India, or, in the world ?
        Ans: Well he is one of them.

        19. Who, according to you, are the other spiritual gurus in India and the world ?
        Ans:You will find lots of them. But the biggest GURU is within you.

        20. Have you tried the solutions recommended by all claiming to be spiritual gurus before arriving at the solution for consolation offered by Mr. Ravi Shankar ?
        Ans:Guru’s are not the only way for spiritual growth. However for your knowledge let me tell you I have practiced Astanga Yoga based on Patanjali for 3 months.Was practicing it daily for 3 hours.Had positive results but was not able to mediate so deeply has now after doing SK.Was following ISHKON for a long time but could not connect with their concept of GOD.Bhramakumaris perspective also didn’t work for me .Vivekananda/Ramkrishna Missions works were good at intellectual level. But again for mediation it was not that effective.

        21. How did those experiences compare with those facilitated by Mr. Ravi Shankar ?
        Ans:SK is simple and very effective.

        22. What about fees ? Who all charge more than him and who all charge less ?
        Ans:AOL fees very more but it was also effective.

        23. You seem to be an informed spiritual seeker since you think critically before seeking spiritual consolation. You seem to have tried several options before choosing Mr. Ravi Shankar’s solution for consolation. So, could you please share with readers some more information about the options you have tried out and your experiences ?
        Ans: Friends there are different paths to spirituality.Infact you can create your own path. AOL is also one of the path. Since VSS want me to share my perspective I will brief mention it.If you want to elaborately discuss about it I am ready for it. According to me based on my knowledge you need to follow two principles in order to grow in spirituality. They are:1)Practice (Abyasa) and Detachment(Vairaghya).
        1)Practice(Abyasa):A spiritual seeker need to practice to connect his body mind and soul in a very synchronized manner. This is known as YOGA.In order to achieve this he may follow one or more of the following techniques :
        i)Bakthi Yoga:In this technique a spiritual person seeks his GOD(or enlightment) through worship.For Eg,Meera’s and Kabir’s Bakthi to Krishna.
        ii)Ghyana Yoga:In this technique a person seeks enlightment through Knowledge.Jiddu Krishnamurthy and Deepak Chopra are practitioners of Ghyana Yoga.
        iii)Raja Yoga:This technique is widely famous all around the world. This basically involves the Astanga Yoga technique of Yama,Niyama,Asanas,Pranayama,Samadhi,etc.
        iv)Karma Yoga:In this technique a seeker finds his enlightment through his work.Mother Theresa was a greatest follower of this principle.
        You can practice any one or more of the above techniques.

        2)Detachment(Vairaghya): Even though you are religiously following the above techniques, its not necessary that you’ll attain entitlement. Because everything has got its time and much depends on your Karma. This is when resentment catches you and you will start to blame the technique. Hence its very much necessary that you be detached even if you are not growing in your spiritual journey. But don’t blame any technique if you are not growing. It just like blaming the cricket bat if you get out for a loose shot.

        25. Are there any other tips you’d like to offer to those who are in the market for “spiritual consolation shopping” ?

        Ans: Sunno Sabki Karoo Maan Khi (Listen to everybody but do what your heart feels has right).

  14. March 15, 2012 12:29 am

    @Sanjay

    No you were not hypnotized or anything. My experience with the course was great as well. The content is great, the knowledge is awesome, music is equally good – so it is indeed a good value for your money. It is just that after a while when you get yourself involved at a deeper level these teachers start using cheap marketing gimmicks. This was a major turn off for me. Courses are great, I do not have problem if they charge fee or even market themselves, but for heaven’s sake be clear on what you want.

    Let me give you an example – 3 or 4 years ago they invited a bunch of us at the NY AOL center, after all the initial pleasantries and some snacks all the people in the room were given a slip where they asked for a donation in cash or credit card number. It was an awkward situation for me as they were watching who is paying what. They kept on pitching that this center is your home and people have donated their monthly salary. I was too naive and gave few hundred dollars. I have lost all the trust and respect for these buffoons and do not go to the NY center any more. As I mentioned money is not the problem but treachery and deceit are.
    Deeper involvement in AOL is good for people who want to major in MARKETING. If you are looking to dive deep in spirituality I will not recommend this organization. As I know for sure that people at the top in US are jealous of each other, some single teachers in 40s want to get married or are looking for relationships. It is just one big mess and the most annoying part is they will not admit it.

    The 1st step on the spiritual path is to be straight with oneself and others, if you cannot do this you have wasted your life before you start living it, forget about being spiritual !

  15. Jai Amma permalink
    March 15, 2012 5:57 am

    Why it happened to me.I went their to critically review the AOL.Was I hypnotised.

    Pshaw. this is nothing, come to Amma – she will give u 10 times this. and need not take any “course”.

  16. Sanjay permalink
    March 15, 2012 8:15 am

    Thanks…Jk…Do u suggest there is no harm in continuing with short kriya at home.I want to continue it since its very simple and also effective.

    • March 15, 2012 11:08 am

      @Sanjay

      I see no harm in the techniques and teachings. But be careful of the vultures in the organization and do NOT get yourself emotionally dependent on it.
      Other than that – ALL IS WELL!
      Good Luck

    • March 17, 2012 4:45 pm

      Over a period of time there can be hypertension and high blood pressure because of the breathing n all .. So for the first few years there are benefits after wards if you feel anger or something then be natural with the Kriya and don’t force yourself to do it every day .. but the padmasadhanas and the meditations are good .. that you can do everyday ..

  17. March 15, 2012 11:09 am

    @ JK

    “It” above refers to teachers/volunteers with the foundation

  18. Sanjay permalink
    March 15, 2012 11:30 am

    @Jk

    Got it.Thanks for your genuine comments

  19. VSS permalink
    March 15, 2012 5:54 pm

    @ Sanjay [March 15, 2012 3:18 pm]

    When I read this blog, I realized that a lot of people felt inexorably abused and exploited by AoL. I found almost all the posts moving beyond measure. I could tell that many people have suffered because of AoL. My conscience didn’t allow me to go to an outfit that abused and exploited so many people, even though I had compelling personal reasons to go to AoL. I don’t know the complete definition of enlightenment yet but I do know that it includes compassion and empathy for all human beings. Perhaps your definition of enlightenment is different from mine.

  20. StrongVolunteer permalink
    March 15, 2012 6:22 pm

    @Sanjay.

    May be Sanjay Got lots of money to be enlighted. I wish all the best to him. May God help him to survive him longer in his goal with AOL.

  21. Sanjay permalink
    March 15, 2012 9:15 pm

    Brother Strong Volunteer,

    Its your will to survive which helps you in Longer run and not money.True seeker wont have scarcity of anything.

    • StrongVolunteer permalink
      March 16, 2012 3:44 am

      Wow. What’s a Answer. How about you are enlighten and asked to bring more people to be enlighten by bringing more money for the organization ? Do u think its a spirituality or Business ?

  22. Sanjay permalink
    March 15, 2012 9:47 pm

    Brother VSS,

    Yes, enlightenment includes compassion and empathy for all living beings.If you read Dalai Lama’s books you can find that he has given lots of focus on compassion and empathy.But do you know that Dalai Lama and lots of other tibet monks are Non-Vegetarian.So can we say that Dalai Lama is not practicing what he is preaching and hence all the people in world must stop is movement of free tibet.

    Brother,I do know that wherever money is involved there are bound to be vested interests.But that does not mean that we should not appreciate the positives of that organisations.Rose plants do have thorns but that should not avoid us from picking rose.

  23. Jr. permalink
    March 16, 2012 2:54 am

    Sanjay – the breathing techniques can work for some people, but they are NOT for everyone. Numerous people have had their health extremely damaged by breathing techniques. I also felt like they were good at first, but over time, they were making me sick. I stopped doing them and my health normalized. No one here is trying to tell you SK is bad, we only want to give you an appropriate warning. Every medicine has negative side effects, and SK is no different.

    Important to remember that things are not all black or white. AOL is not all good or bad. Not everyone can eat the same diet, so it’s not ok to say that SK is for everyone. If you do continue to do the techniques, I would warn you to monitor your health carefully. Pay attention to if you start getting dark circles under your eyes. See if your concentration becomes worse and if you start yawning a lot. These are signs that SK is harming you.

    • Sanjay permalink
      March 16, 2012 2:04 pm

      Brother Jr,

      If it is true then its a matter of concern.Why the World Health Organisation is not banning SK considering that AOL is an NGO with UNESCO consultative status.

  24. StrongVolunteer permalink
    March 16, 2012 3:46 am

    Agree. But more you involved in the organization you will come to know that Rose is delusion only there are only thorns which is hurting you for sure.

  25. Sanjay permalink
    March 16, 2012 7:31 am

    Brother Strong Volunteer,

    I am not saying that everyone should surrender their whole and soul to AOL.What I am saying is that there are also positives of AOL.We need to cherish those and practice it if it suits to us.

    Presently what I feel is high price and favoritism are the basic negativity in the organisation.The course as such as got nothing wrong in it.

  26. VSS permalink
    March 16, 2012 7:44 am

    @ Sanjay [March 15, 2012 9:47 pm]

    It really is a matter of personal choice. My conscience does not allow me to go to an outfit that has abused, deceived, and exploited human beings, that to — for, and in the name of –enlightenment. My definition of enlightenment does not include abusing, deceiving, and exploiting people to make money. My definition of enlightenment does not include any “vested interests” and how they might manifest. Your definition of enlightenment is different from mine. I would humbly request you to accept my perspective. I own it. I accept your perspective. You own it. For me, compassion and empathy are not emotions that are subject to any other factors. I believe that every human being deserves compassion and empathy irrespective of anything else. The enlightenment that I seek does not include a lack of compassion and empathy for any human being. I think that “world peace” cannot be achieved unless all human beings extend compassion and empathy to all human beings.

    Perhaps the enlightenment that you seek includes the lack of compassion and empathy for some human beings. Maybe you even think that your approach will lead to “world peace”. Maybe you think that those who have been abused, deceived, and exploited are collateral damage. I don’t. As far as I am concerned, “vested interests” can go take a hike. I would not like to take a hike with “vested interests”. Those who wish to take a hike with “vested interests” are free to do so. Ultimately, we all do what our hearts say. My heart says that enlightenment and world peace cannot co-exist with “vested interests”. Your heart says something else. You believe in something that I don’t believe in. You are free to believe in what you believe in. I am free to believe in what I believe in.

    • Sanjay permalink
      March 16, 2012 8:28 am

      Brother VSS,

      I totally appreciate your perspective and thanks for appreciating my belief.Everyone must listen to what their heart says.

      I was just clearing out your misconception about my belief.What I feel that in the name of compassion and empathy we must not discredit the good works of an individual or an organisation. Robin-hood is considered has an hero in English literature.What was he doing ,robbing from the rich and distributing it among the poor.Believe me AOL is atleast better then Robin-hood.

  27. VSS permalink
    March 16, 2012 8:56 am

    @ Sanjay [March 16, 2012 8:28 am]

    “I was just clearing out your misconception about my belief.”

    Sir, I have no misconception about your belief. You believe in an organization that has abused, deceived, and exploited human beings. I don’t.

    “Believe me AOL is atleast better then Robin-hood.”

    Please don’t be desperate for me to believe in what you believe in. I am not desperate for you to believe in what I believe in.

    I really don’t care about how AoL compares with anyone else whether that’s a real person or a fictional character.

    I want to be a human being who extends compassion and empathy to all human beings. I believe that when every human being extends compassion to every human being, world peace will be achieved. I don’t believe that world peace can be achieved by organizations like AoL who abuse, deceive, and exploit human beings.

    Therefore, as far as I am concerned, AoL is an organization that abuses, deceives, and exploits human beings — for, and in the name of — enlightenment. For me the definition of enlightenment does not include abusing, deceiving, and exploiting people. This is not a misconception. This is my perspective. Everybody’s definition of enlightenment is not the same. Your definition of enlightenment is different from mine.

    Feel free to believe in what you believe in. Let others believe in what they believe in. Don’t succumb to the desperation to “make others to believe in what you believe in”. If you truly believe in what you believe in, you won’t experience this desperation. I’m not experiencing any desperation, so I am not asking you to believe in what I believe in. I am also not referring to your perspective as a “misconception”.

    Everyone has a right to their own perspective. I don’t have to agree with you and you don’t have to agree with me.

    Please accept that my definition of enlightenment does not include abusing, deceiving and exploiting human beings. It simply does not. That’s just how it is. Your definition of enlightenment includes abusing, deceiving, and exploiting human beings. I accept it as your perspective on how world peace can be achieved. You are free to think what you like and free to do what your heart says.

  28. Anonymous permalink
    March 16, 2012 8:59 am

    @Sanjay

    “Robin-hood is considered has an hero in English literature.What was he doing ,robbing from the rich and distributing it among the poor.Believe me AOL is atleast better then Robin-hood”

    What do you have to say about the land grabbing issues (grabbed from poor farmers from neighbouring villages) and the real estate business done by occupying the lake which was meant to be used by the local farmers?

    Aol is not only grabbing from the rich ……..its grabbing as much as it can from everyone possible, unfortunately in the name of Seva, Charity, mega satsangs that yeild nothing more than aol publicity and entry into guiness book of world records etc….

    So lets not compare Robin Hood to Ravi Shankar / Aol

  29. Sanjay permalink
    March 16, 2012 9:26 am

    Brother VSS

    “Please don’t be desperate for me to believe in what you believe in. I am not desperate for you to believe in what I believe in”.

    Ok so you are not desperate for me to believe in what you believe in.Then why did you send those 25 questions?

  30. Sanjay permalink
    March 16, 2012 10:27 am

    Brother/Sister Anonymous

    “What do you have to say about the land grabbing issues (grabbed from poor farmers from neighbouring villages) and the real estate business done by occupying the lake which was meant to be used by the local farmers?”

    Do you know,Mr. Agni Sridhar the person who has accused AOL of this land grabbing issue is a don turned tabloid owner/publisher with a criminal background.

    So if you feel a Don’s statement is true I have nothing to say about it.

    • Anonymous permalink
      March 29, 2012 6:30 pm

      Sanjay, I don’t base my knowledge of the land grab(s) (there have been more than one, and even the initial intended use of the original ashram land is now gone!) on Agni Sridhar at all, but rather, on my personal knowledge of Ravi Shankar and his family in Bangalore. Many many people who know of his family know the facts about them and these matters. It doesn’t take a don to bring them to light, although I must admit, I post here anonymously out of fear of Ravi Shankar and his minions. They are thugs. Worse than Agni Shridar, sorry to say — they pretend to be spritiual, yet they carry on all sorts of nefarious and illegal things! At least the don admits he’s a don. He is notorious. At least he doesn’t pretend to be a saint like Ravi Shankar does. Get to know your Sri Sri and find out just what, in fact he is, and his family as well. You’d be shocked.

  31. VSS permalink
    March 16, 2012 10:30 am

    @ Sanjay [March 16, 2012 9:26 am]

    Perhaps you did not read why I asked you those questions. Here’s what I’d said right at the end:

    “I am also looking for an effective spiritual consolation package, and, so these are some of the questions in my mind.”

    Please feel free to believe what you believe in. Do what your heart says.

    I always feel free to believe in what I believe in. I always do what my heart says. Right now, my heart says that the definition of enlightenment does not include abusing, deceiving, and, exploiting people.

    It also says that if you are okay with believing in an organization that abuses, deceives, and, exploits people, then it is your decision. Feel free to enroll for more courses at AoL. Feel free to become a teacher at AoL. Feel free to do whatever your heart is telling you to do.

    It should not matter to you whether I think AoL is better than Robin Hood or not.

    You should do what you feel like doing. Follow your heart. Forget the rest, including me. I am an ordinary human being. Don’t let my questions or comments prevent you from exercising your freedom to do what your heart says.

    Let others do whatever their heart says.

  32. Sanjay permalink
    March 16, 2012 10:49 am

    Brother VSS,

    Thank you very much and best of luck for your search for for an effective spiritual consolation package.

    • VSS permalink
      March 16, 2012 11:15 am

      @ Sanjay [March 16, 2012 10:49 am]

      Please don’t thank me. You own your freedom.

      I’m not relying on “luck” for finding my path. I’m looking for an organization that stands for compassion and empathy for human beings all over the world and does not charge any pre-determined fee whatsoever for facilitating enlightenment. I don’t think enlightenment can be bought or sold. If such an organization exists, I shall definitely find it through my efforts, and not “luck”. Till then, I shall listen to Mozart, extend compassion and empathy to all human beings I come across (to the best of my abilities), and, do whatever else my heart says.

  33. Sanjay permalink
    March 16, 2012 1:53 pm

    Brother VSS,

    I am not thanking you since I am compelled to do so by you.I am thanking you due to my compassion and empathy towards you.Perhaps your definition of compassion and empathy does not include courtesy towards other human beings.

    Didn’t knew Mozart can be listened free of cost.

    • VSS permalink
      March 16, 2012 2:41 pm

      @ Sanjay [March 16, 2012 1:53 pm]

      Sir, you are absolutely right. My definition of empathy and compassion does not include extending courtesy by thanking people arbitrarily on blogs for my freedom. I own my freedom. I do believe that you own your freedom too, and also that I have no role to play whatsoever in your freedom. Your freedom is your freedom. Therefore, my definition of empathy, compassion, and, courtesy does not include thanking people — who have no role to play in my freedom — for my freedom.

      Mozart can be heard free of cost if a friend or family member gifts one compositions by Mozart. It’s not unusual for me to receive music CDs as gifts. I thank those who have gifted me music CDs. That to my mind is extending courtesy. I won’t join AoL because I extend compassion and empathy to those who have been abused, deceived, and, exploited by AoL. That is the extent of the compassion and empathy I experience for those who have been abused, deceived, and, exploited by AoL.

  34. Sanjay permalink
    March 16, 2012 3:26 pm

    Brother VSS,

    You don’t need any organisation.You are true Ghyana Yogi. Definitely would like to listen Mozart CD’s in future.Please do send me details of any organisation which you feel is better then AOL to my email id snjypinto@gmail.com

    As per as AOL is concerned,I would like to continue with their courses but definitely would keep in mind what has been informed in the blog.

    Wish to have meaningful conversation in future too.

    • VSS permalink
      March 16, 2012 3:42 pm

      @ Sanjay [March 16, 2012 3:26 pm]

      I am an ordinary human being.

  35. VSS permalink
    March 17, 2012 6:58 am

    @ The Doctor

    I would appreciate it very much if you could critique the following post in the next post on this blog:

    http://dearnakul.blogspot.in/2012/03/why-they-dont-like-sri-sri.html

    I’m certain that I’ll learn a lot from your critique and so will many others. Thank you.

    – VSS

  36. Jr. permalink
    March 17, 2012 7:10 pm

    “This was an opportunity for our media to show some class. Skepticism is healthy, cynicism is not.”

    I can sum up this article in that it does focus on only part of the picture. It’s not the media’s job to “show class” by reporting only the positives and creating a false image of the organization. It’s also not the media’s job to report only the negatives. It’s not cynical to ask for the full picture of what is going on. There’s little doubt about some of the positives written here, but this article does nothing to address the negatives.

    • Dayalu permalink
      March 19, 2012 1:04 pm

      “Skepticism is healthy, cynicism is not.”

      This is another one of those Sri Sri’s ‘gems of wisdom’, which his teachers parrot time and again. If they come across anyone who questions Sri sri in any way, they immediately label them as cynics and states ” He/ she is a cynic and not a skeptic”

  37. VSS permalink
    March 18, 2012 3:13 pm

    @ Jr. [March 17, 2012 7:10 pm]

    I hear you. I have many thoughts on the post. For instance, I felt it’s written in rage. The writer sounds extremely bitter, unhappy, and, frustrated. The post is full of venom for all those who are not in AoL. I see that in the sentences you quoted as well. (I am hoping the blog owners will review the post in detail.)

  38. Anonymous permalink
    March 19, 2012 4:42 am

    Pls go thru the folowing links :

    http://news.oneindia.in/2011/10/15/hc-notice-to-art-of-living-pil-alleges-illegal-construc.html

    http://www.tehelka.com/story_main50.asp?filename=Ne100911Art.asp

    Agni sridhar might be a don. However, does it mean that we turn a blind eye to whats happening only because its coming from a don?

    Btw, the owners and the regular contributers of this blog were guessed to be Jihadis, by AOL!

    Anyways, go by ur experience. enjoy ur sadhana. Practise SK regularly….if possible everyday for some years.

    • VSS permalink
      March 19, 2012 1:19 pm

      @ Anonymous [March 19, 2012 4:42 am]

      Thank you for the links.

      I think that those who are not affected by the unethical acts of AoL should simply not visit this blog or comment on it.

      They should indeed spend time meditating about why they are not affected by the unethical acts of AoL.

      If the thought stresses them out, they should do SK.

      • Anonymous permalink
        March 20, 2012 3:37 pm

        @VSS
        “They should indeed spend time meditating about why they are not affected by the unethical acts of AoL. If the thought stresses them out, they should do SK.”

        I agree with you. However, I had a different reason for suggesting SK.

        “SK” certainly will not help anyone destress.
        When practised continously for some years, the side effects of the technique will definately wake them up !!! I mean first hand experience of getting conned is no match to a zillion proofs given by others.

        Thats the only soln I could think of…. for a person who is not affected by unethical acts of AOL or by how much the organisation as a whole has damaged peoples lives..

    • March 19, 2012 4:38 pm

      Someone should let these people in AOL know that they are the TALIBANS/Al Quaeda of the spiritual world. Bloody crooks can go to any extent to register a person for a course.

      I must make a confession that 2 years ago I was one of them i.e. an AOL teacher, not anymore.

      • VSS permalink
        March 19, 2012 8:08 pm

        @ Hi [March 19, 2012 4:38 pm]

        Glad that you’re “enlightened” now. Be kind to yourself. To err is human. It could happen to anybody. What’s important is that you’re out of AoL and freely sharing your powerful insights with the rest of us. Thank you for that.

  39. Hari permalink
    March 19, 2012 6:29 pm

    look at a leading national daily such as the Indian Express gobbling up the Shakthi Drops
    “phenom” and publishing an article + a picture of the demo – https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=226495720782920&set=a.152721711493655.30140.152717801494046&type=1&theater

    And the whackos looking at it as if it was a P C Sarkar’s magic show… jeez… when do they stop!

    • VSS permalink
      March 19, 2012 8:00 pm

      @ Hari [March 19, 2012 6:29 pm]

      I saw the video clip of that “performance” by Mr. Ravi Shankar. He has to be really deluded if he thinks that “magic drops” will succeed in converting Muslims. Those who believe in Islam do not worship idols, particularly not living ones. Plus, just as Right Wing Hindus were upset with Mr. L.K. Advani when he went to Pakistan and called Jinnah “secular”, Right Wing Hindu forces in AoL are secretly cribbing about Mr. Ravi Shankar’s trip to Pakistan, at least in the Bangalore Ashram. Besides, there are instances in history that prove that Hindus have converted to Islam en masse but there is no evidence of the reverse happening. It is very likely that this is the beginning of the end for AoL. Of course, AoL could well start a beauty parlour chain or an airline, but as far as Pakistan is concerned, conversion is nearly impossible. Even if Mr. Ravi Shankar ensures that “magic drops” rain on Pakistan, Pakistani nationals won’t become idol worshipers. If they do, then that would truly be historic — totally worthy of media coverage for being “breaking news”.

  40. Hari permalink
    March 19, 2012 6:36 pm

    https://www.facebook.com/SriSriAyurvedaPanchakarma?sk=wall

    “Sri Sri Ayurveda Panchakarma
    Beauty Tip of the Day:

    Lemon juice, wheat flour, turmeric powder; Mix all the three ingredients. Yogurt can be used in place of lemon juice. Apply all over the face and let it dry. The acids in the lemon juice treat dark spots on the face clearing the complexion. Turmeric brightens your face.”

    Looks like the tip has come from Bhanu didi or the HHSSRS himself

    • VSS permalink
      March 19, 2012 7:32 pm

      @ Hari [March 19, 2012 6:36 pm]

      I cannot thank you enough for this post. This is absolutely hilarious !!!

      Mr. Ravi Shankar and his sister should really start a chain of beauty parlours !!!

      Later, they can start a chain of restaurants too (the art of eating). They can get into the banking sector too (the art of banking). They can enter into the world of public transportation (the art of traveling) — they could start with a fleet of buses and then venture into the airline industry.

      AoL flight attendants will have the perfect smile. Their skin would be perfect too — no dark spots. AoL videos can be played during flights. Before people reach their destination, they can be enrolled for courses. Meditation and SK can happen during the flight. Even enlightenment could be facilitated. The airline can be called “the art of flying”.

      • TomTomGuru permalink
        March 20, 2012 1:04 am

        What about the ‘Art Of Looting’?

    • Anonymous permalink
      March 29, 2012 6:32 pm

      Last time I looked in his bag, SSRS was using “Fair and Lovely”…. not anything vaguely ayurvedic.

  41. VSS permalink
    March 20, 2012 2:23 pm

    @ TomTomGuru [March 20, 2012 1:04 am]

    You are very perceptive.

    Actually, all the arts that I have mentioned are different interpretations of “the art of looting”. Never in my life did I think that there’d come a day when “happiness”, “bliss”, “enlightenment”, “good karma”, “smiling”, “breathing” etc. etc. would be sold for a sum of money.

    I am pretty sure that after some time, every time “guruji” moves, people will have to pay. For instance, if he takes a step forward, there’ll be a fee for it. If he blinks, there’ll be a fee for it. If he nods, there’ll be a fee for it. If he laughs, there’ll be a fee for it. The art of living is actually the art of selling anything. One day, people who go to the Bangalore Ashram might even be charged for the “divine air” there.

    As long as people pay, AoL will thrive. As long as people think that everything is a commodity, AoL will thrive. As long as people think even spiritualism is a product, AoL will thrive. Contrary to popular opinion, I don’t think people outside AoL are cynical. I think people inside AoL are cynical — they are so extremely and irretrievably cynical that they think that in twenty twelve, if someone’s selling “enlightenment”, that’s fine. They think it’s too idealistic and too utopian on our part to want “enlightenment” without paying for it.

    Mr. Ravi Shankar says that people don’t value things they don’t pay for. The question is — is that a good thing or a bad thing ? I think it’s a bad thing. People should not judge everything by how much it costs. But what does Mr. Ravi Shankar do ? Mr. Ravi Shankar validates the thought that everything should be judged by how much it costs. He is the “guru” of materialism. In the desperation for “enlightenment”, people pay any amount of money. I don’t know the definition of enlightenment, but I do know that it does not include the validation of materialism.

    But he is a unique businessman. His achievement is historic. Never before has spiritualism been sold to people who desperately want it. These days, money can buy one love, friends, enlightenment, happiness, blessings etc. etc. in AoL. AoL is thriving on what people want. So, to that extent, the art of living is probably the art of looting people who want to be looted.

    • Hari permalink
      March 20, 2012 3:54 pm

      The problem with AOLers is, they are okay with the kind of businesses that is going on within AOL, they are okay with AOL building humongous ashrams at prime localities, they are okay with kriya sessions on a cruise ship and resort islands, they are okay with the RS (the quack doctor) promoting his “sakthi drops” as a panacea, they are okay with exorbitant fee for the same “shit” packaged into different courses as long as some are provided directly by SSRS and some by some other “trained” and “hierarchically” placed teachers, they are okay with AOL not not using their resources to their best for charity work… I think RS is the modern day devil to have gripped people’s lives and careers to dupe them into “pesudo-spirituality” and exploit them in the name of “seva” to keep the AOL system running

  42. Mantas permalink
    March 20, 2012 4:41 pm

    The point was: if u have ferrari and somebody with bicycle drives faster maybe you need more practice and improve your driving skills. Not just enjoy sitting in ferrari and not knowing what to do with it in streets. Sri Sri makes knowledge to be understandable even to villagers, but even that doesn’t help to everybody. Maybe next life time..

    • Dayalu permalink
      March 21, 2012 1:49 am

      “Sri Sri makes knowledge to be understandable even to villagers”

      Wish he knew what he talks about. Watch Zakhir Naik video where he apologizes publicly and then talk about Sri Sri’s knowledge.

    • Anonymous permalink
      March 21, 2012 3:04 pm

      Or it may be you who needs to wait for the “next life time”, Mantas. Hopefully not.
      Try reading this and then see how you feel about your “guru”.
      http://luthar.com/wisdom-eye/

  43. VSS permalink
    March 20, 2012 4:44 pm

    @ Anonymous [March 20, 2012 3:37 pm]

    I hear you. I’m sorry you suffered, but like you said, maybe people will learn when they suffer. I just hope they don’t suffer too much before realizing how harmful SK is.

  44. Anonymous permalink
    March 21, 2012 6:54 am

    @VSS
    ” I just hope they don’t suffer too much before realizing how harmful SK is.”

    Exactly! and thats the whole idea behind contributing our experiences on this blog. So that others dont suffer like some of us did. Wanting Aol followers to suffer because they dont agree with me….would make me no different from them.

    However, people come here asking for proof……more proof….all after reading this blog! or they bully you or they very kindly say ” If you have a problem, its your problem”

    To the aol people “I belong to you” holds good only if you agree with all that the Guru/AOL says. Family and the rest of the world come much after AOL.

    When I first knew about the blogs, I was eager to let my AOL friends who were also jr. teachers know about it, as many of my doubts (about sk that the guru clearly avoids answering) were cleared.

    I was instantly ostracized and people spoke nasty things about me, behind my back. Oh they are so frustrated….. Too much of Ego……they will lose the Guru! Stuck in the mind….No faith. Karmas …..

    Sorry the “One World Family” does not include people who dont say YES!! to what the Guru says.

    I realised trying to help people understand doesn’t work. If one is indifferent to others suffering, then the Human values are certainly missing in them…..forget the intellect which helps one learn from others mistakes.

    So, for the brainwashed people only personal experience can help them. atleast they have a source now, to validate things when the first signs of doubts / negative effects show.

    If a person is truly brainwashed there is some hope of that person waking up at some point of time. However, there are some people in Aol who bully others. They know the truth but dont want to exit because they cant make it in the real world….or because they are so stuck to their titles and the adulation that they cant live like a common man in the outside world.

    I used to feel sorry for them earlier but now I dont. Its only a matter of one’s choice….U choose to summon up your courage and face the real world or you chose to succumb and continue suffering in aol…..damaging more lives!!!

    The owners and the contributers of this blog are truly the courageous people.

    • VSS permalink
      March 21, 2012 10:02 am

      @ Anonymous [March 21, 2012 6:54 am]

      “The owners and the contributers of this blog are truly the courageous people.”

      They saved me from the AoL trap. I’m very grateful to them. They got nothing out of helping me but they still helped me. I found my peace in their words.

      I was very troubled, and was unable to think clearly, much like these people here:
      https://aolfree.wordpress.com/2012/03/20/amusing-video/#comment-9995

      I find most of Mr. Ravi Shankar’s anecdotes very bizarre. So do the people above, but because they are instructed not to ask questions, they don’t ask questions.

      Human beings ask questions when they are not afraid of asking questions. Mr. Ravi Shankar says “be like a child”. But when people ask questions, just like fearless children who are curious to learn would, they are silenced. They are publicly and privately condemned. To my mind, this is absolutely ridiculous.

      The education system all over the world encourages us to ask questions. We learn by asking questions. When we complete our education, we work. When we work, we earn money. Then, some people go to AoL and pay money to be told not to ask questions. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I think that most people who go to AoL and keep spending money endlessly genuinely don’t know what they’re doing. They’re lost. Then, they’re manipulated, and feel even more lost. If they are told they are inadequate because they are lost, they feel worse. They do anything and everything to get people around them to say that they are not lost. Additionally, they have to do all this with a smile, which makes their plight really, really sad.

      As for the bullies, I think those who bully others are terribly insecure people. They must be really hollow inside — so hollow that they have no sense of ethics and no compassion for fellow human beings.

      People usually sell a product or a service.

      Happiness and enlightenment cannot be bought and sold.

      It’s really as simple as that.

      If enlightenment and happiness could be bought, then all wealthy people would be enlightened and happy.

      Mr. Ravi Shankar is in the business of selling materialism of the worst kind. He is truly a pioneer. No one has sold enlightenment and happiness like he has. Till the time people think that happiness and enlightenment can be bought for a sum of money, he will definitely be in business. People who believe in the power of money will go to him willingly. The art of living is nothing but the belief in the power of money. Everyone in AoL, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is treating money like God. Mr. Ravi Shankar has successfully created a new God — Money.

      I do think that money is important. But I am convinced that money cannot facilitate happiness or enlightenment.

  45. Shankara permalink
    March 27, 2012 6:15 am

    Pardon me if I sound a little blunt, but this has to be said. You talk as if any living master can simply hand you enlightenment in a bag, and you blame Aol, Ravi Shankar and others for not becoming free of your problems, anger, desire, and so on.

    Tell me something – how on earth do you expect to be freed from your very nature? Show me one human being who is totally free from all these emotions, and I will show you either a liberated master or a fake. In most cases it is the latter.

    How often do you come across a Ramana Maharishi or Shirdi Sai Baba or a Buddha? Yes, that’s right, almost never. Yet we all want to be like them, and we get frustrated in the effort to reach that state, not knowing the least what that state is all about. Fact is – most of us will never reach that state through our desires or efforts. When it comes, it comes.

    Stop wasting time chasing these spiritual goals. Go live your life with your family and friends. Stop wasting your time doing seva and kriya and hanging around the ashram. Look after your career. Go live a decent, honest life.

    As for Ravi Shankar’s words, you know, he’s right when he says “so hum so what”. You don’t even need his knowledge. Just go and live with awareness.

  46. VSS permalink
    March 27, 2012 5:30 pm

    @ Shankara [March 27, 2012 6:15 am]

    You’re absolutely right ! JGD !

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