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A Deeply Disturbing Story

May 28, 2012

The following letter was sent to us by a very concerned husband. To protect the identities of those mentioned in the letter, all names, dates and places have been redacted.

To give some background to those who are unaware, the DSN is one of Art of Living’s supposedly more “advanced” courses. However the reality, as many of us here have already experienced and can attest to, is that it is a course in which Art of Living employs a number of brainwashing techniques to turn course participants into more willing servants of the organization. Sleep deprivation is heavily used during this course, which is known to induce a state of psychosis and thus makes subjects a lot more susceptible to for example the many “Guru stories” – stories about SSRS and his alleged magical powers, “grace” and so on – which are related by teachers during the course.

It is also during the DSN that participants have to undergo one of the most infamous Art of Living brainwashing processes, the so-called “hot seat” exercise, which involves each person in a group taking it in turns to sit in the “hot seat” and be criticized by all other members of the group. Many times this just turns into a deeply personal insulting contest, and has result in people breaking down into tears and developing complexes. It is an unnecessarily cruel exercise, and in fact is based on a brainwashing technique which was developed by the in Chinese during the Korean War in the early 1950s to break down the identity of an individual and bring about a change in their core beliefs. Which seems to be why it is used in Art of Living.

Dear Sir,

I would like to share the my wife’s experience with you. She did her basic course around ***** years back from a center in *****.

Since the last 2 years she devoted a lot of time in AOL classes and follow ups.

The incidence that I am writing below happened on *****.

Her teacher at the ***** centre *****, suggested to her to attend the DSN course. She attended the course at their center in *****. The course teacher was someone by the name *****.

She got so involved in the proceeding that she lost all sense of time and surroundings. She became a total mental wreck. On the final day of the course, donations are collected by repeatedly instructing to the participants that if they give X amount they will get back 10X from the Nature.

My wife committed *****, which she didn’t have. She picked up the money lying with us as a safekeeping from someone and gave it away. She was not in her senses then and on the next day she picked up all the money lying in the house and picked up a big suitcase , filled it with her clothes (even new unused ones), our child’s saving box and many other things and gave it all to a maid working in our house.

In the evening I was in my office and I got a call from her friend that she is with her and there is some problem. I rushed there and found her to be in a very bad shape, Crying and shaking and not in her senses. I took her to my brother’s home along with the children and stayed there for the night, as she refused to come home. According to her there was some negativity in the house as her instructor at AOL visited our house and said so.

In the morning of ***** I decided to consult a Psychiatrist and took an appointment for the afternoon. I suggested to her to come home with me and the children and get ready. When we reached home she became totally hysterical and behaved like she was possessed , for 15-20 minutes it was very hard to control her and we somehow picked her up when she was a little exhausted and carried her to ***** Hospital, which is near our house. At the hospital she was given a sedative and was reffered to ***** ( a speciality hospital for psychiatric problems) . She was in the hospital for 4 days. She is well now but is on short term medication.

The way there [Art of Living] people played with her emotions and influenced/hypnotised her is totally wrong and unethical on their part. How can you ask for donations in a course in which you are participating after paying a good amount as Fee. And there people did not give any receipt for the money that she gave away.

I emailed at the AOL HQ , and there centers around one week back , but there has been no response. Even her teacher/ instructor said that we cannot do anything.

I request you to follow this up and share my experience with everyone, and try to expose them.

Yours Truly

When I heard stories like this, it really causes me a great deal of pain and misery. To learn that someone has been so badly abused and exploited in this manner by an organization which claims to want to rid the world of stress and put a smile on everyone’s faces.

If you are in Art of Living and you are a sincere, well-meaning person, please share this with everyone in Art of Living that you know. This sort of thing has to be stopped. If you don’t help to stop it, then you are a part of the problem. If you turn a blind eye while this sort of thing is going on, then you are only encouraging it to happen and it will continue to happen in the future.

Those who follow and support this blog stand against these things. If you are in any way sincere, then you too will do whatever you can to help put an end to these abuses.

  1. VSS permalink
    May 28, 2012 9:44 am

    @ The Doctor

    When you can’t prevent AoL members from abusing you as well as others on a blog that is in your control — not in AoL’s control, how can you ask the members of AoL to prevent abuse during programs and courses in AoL’s control ?

    I had hoped that you would lead by example.

    Some days ago you had posted a note about the tone on this blog. Do you think that those who want to post on this blog will feel empowered to post on this blog once they see that the moderator of this blog is being subjected to the worst kind of abusive language ?

    Can you empower yourself ?

    Can you empower others ?

    Can this be a place of healing ?

    How is it that you think the tone of those who post is offensive but the worst kind of profanity is not offensive and hurtful ?

    Do you think those who have doubts about AoL will feel free to post here or do you think they will hesitate because of abuse ?

    Why is it that you think you deserve to be abused by members of AoL ?

    Do you like being abused ?

    Do you suffer from low self esteem ?

    When you are tolerating abuse from AoL after leaving it, why should anyone in AoL not tolerate abuse ?

    And, don’t you think that by providing an abusive person with a platform, you are harming the abusive person ?

    Don’t you think that if he is a fringe element in AoL, you are doing injustice to those who are not fringe elements in AoL ?

    Kindly recognize reality. More and more people who have doubts about AoL are reading this blog. Members of AoL have descended on this blog to frighten them. Please read Ronin’s post about the same. It’s a request. Please reflect. I care about those people because I am one of them. I was terrorized into silence. It has taken me great courage to post this post. If you allow abusive comments on this, then you’d be causing abuse.

    • The Doctor permalink
      May 28, 2012 10:17 am


      Harshal losing his temper and calling me various names on this blog is NOTHING compared with what happened to this poor lady.

      I did not feel victimized at all, I was not psychologically damaged in any way, I did not have to be admitted to a hospital, I did not pledge money I didn’t have, and I did not have to seek psychiatric treatment. In short, I did not feel abused in the slightest and still don’t. I don’t know how you consider these things to be the same, they aren’t.

      Maybe you would find those comments abusive if they were directed at you, but they were directed at me and I didn’t. I can handle them perfectly well, they’re just words after all.

      However, what happened to this lady is in a completely different league. She has obviously suffered extreme abuse, to the point whereby she clearly had a breakdown as a direct result of her involvement with Art of Living and subsequently had to seek professional help.

      That this sort of thing is still happening in Art of Living is disgraceful and does need to be stopped. That’s the whole point I was trying to make, and I still stand by that. If you disagree with this, that’s absolutely fine, I’m not forcing anyone to share this view. But it is exactly how I feel.

      • VSS permalink
        May 28, 2012 10:49 am

        @ The Doctor [May 28, 2012 10:17 am]

        I agree with you entirely on the issue of what happened to the lady being in a different league.

        I went through seven months of 24 / 7 torture at the end of which my home broke but the torture didn’t end. It went on for several years after that.

        The person who was the instrument of torture — was extremely weak — everyday AoL’s knowledge sheets were indoctrinated into his mind by his dear friend who works for AoL — and everyday he would be propounding what those knowledge sheets said.

        As I’ve mentioned earlier, if suffering is a factor, then I have suffered more than most who post on this blog. I have yet to recover completely. Imagine being in the hot seat for 7 months almost non-stop with the instrument of torture being someone who went from bad to worse — and you’d know. He is now an employee of AoL. As I’ve also mentioned earlier, if I could afford it, I’d take AoL to court on the contents of the “knowledge sheets” alone.

        Therefore, I am not questioning the lady’s suffering even for a moment, and I appreciate this blog for bringing such abuse to the fore. This blog is a stupendous effort and I’ll always be grateful to it and I’ll always be supportive, even if I am abused. I may have days when the abuse troubles me whether it is directed at me or someone else, but, as you said, these are just words.

        However, if one has the option of not being abused on this blog, then I’d appreciate it very much if I am not abused in the future.

      • June 1, 2012 2:41 am

        I would suggest to all of you who have been abused to initiate a class action.

        I’m pretty sure that there would be many good lawyers offices ready to take your cause on a commission basis, mainly in USA.

    • May 28, 2012 12:46 pm

      @ VSS and Doc

      Some of VSS’s comments were valid…..looking at it from a certain view….so I thought about it for a bit…

      Here is my take on some of the pointers
      @ The Doctor

      When you can’t prevent AoL members from abusing you as well as others on a blog that is in your control — not in AoL’s control, how can you ask the members of AoL to prevent abuse during programs and courses in AoL’s control ?

      Lets take the control factor away. Lets answer to ourselves, who owns this BLOG ? To me its not Doc, or Skywalker. Its all of us who visit here and who use this Blog (even if you did not post). You use it, its yours for that time. You could abuse it too…..but it comes down to how you use it and why. To learn, to defend, to share, to explore, to heal, to nurture, to relate to each other, and yes even to abuse. Thats entirely up to you.

      Lets take a look at our planet and all of us that come here….the same thing happens. So, each one of us is accountable for how we use this blog.

      The control thing is just a voluntary service that Doc is doing. That keeps the Blog alive. Thank you Doc for volunteering. No doubt its a closed volunteering opportunity, but its a job, a responsibility which needs to be undertaken. I am happy that it is in Doc’s hands, even though he is still a faceless being.

      I had hoped that you would lead by example. Some days ago you had posted a note about the tone on this blog. Do you think that those who want to post on this blog will feel empowered to post on this blog once they see that the moderator of this blog is being subjected to the worst kind of abusive language ?

      IO : Now, this to me is a just question. Doc, allow me to share why. Its difficult to accept that a friend / relative is being abused unnecessarily. On this Blog, its not just about how you perceive it, its also about the rest of us. Harshal’s posts and energy off late are pretty obnoxious. In every house there is a housekeeping system. Why shit in the hall when you have a toilet. There need to be some agreeable guidelines where such abuse is not shared. Henceforth, allowing such abusive posts, only serve to showcase Harshie in seriously BAD LIGHT… serves no other purpose. All the other angles have been explored and bared to no end in all previous posts by all of us. So, why pollute things further ?

      Can you empower yourself ?

      IO : I believe that each of us needs to ask this of ourselves…..Is it really necessary to ask this of each other. The fact that you are here says it all. The blog provides the platform…..AND how we use it is our call. Empower, abuse, ignore….its each ones personal call.

      Can you empower others ?

      IO : You can intend it. You can pray for it. All the rest, the other has to do.

      Can this be a place of healing ?

      IO : The Blog should also not become a crutch to anyone. It should be like a transit point. Learn and move on with your journey. Some will stay a little longer and contribute, but at this stage I feel, that should be more of an exception than a norm. Its simple, look at the number of visits we have and the number that actually contribute.

      How is it that you think the tone of those who post is offensive but the worst kind of profanity is not offensive and hurtful ?

      IO : We shouldn’t. It is pretty insensitive and hurtful to the average reader.

      Do you think those who have doubts about AoL will feel free to post here or do you think they will hesitate because of abuse ?

      IO : I think, they will hesitate. many will not want to be associated with an abusive Blog. This is a valid question.

      Why is it that you think you deserve to be abused by members of AoL ?

      IO : A Classic case of perception management. While in truth Doc may be totally dispassionate about the abusive posts…what the others construe of it is important.

      When you are tolerating abuse from AoL after leaving it, why should anyone in AoL not tolerate abuse ? And, don’t you think that by providing an abusive person with a platform, you are harming the abusive person ? Don’t you think that if he is a fringe element in AoL, you are doing injustice to those who are not fringe elements in AoL ?

      Doc, These are very valid and interesting questions. I don’t think there are Black and White answers for any of these. But important to think it through.

      • The Doctor permalink
        May 28, 2012 2:16 pm


        I hear what you’re saying and yes they are valid questions.

        But at present you need to consider that the blog is FULL of abusive comments from certain a small handful of Art of Living supporters. I certainly am not going to go back and remove all of these, since I just don’t have the time nor the inclination. If people choose to read what is written here, they have to take this into account when they do.

        Historically we allowed all comments to be posted. Only very recently did I take a decision to start censoring certain comments at my own discretion, usually because they are just outright abusive to others. Since I made that decision I have actually censored the majority of what Harshal has posted. The only reason I published his comment yesterday was because his abuse was directed at me so I didn’t mind too much, but really I wanted to know why he was getting so angry in this particular instance.

        Regrettably, I am none the wiser. However it did confirm a suspicion I have had for some time and that is that Harshal is a deeply troubled individual. Strange as it may sound, I see him as just another victim of AoL, though he probably doesn’t see it that way. If he himself is a victim then he also needs help, which is exactly what I suggested. I strongly believe he does, especially if you consider the fact that he spent most of the day on this blog. AoL is messing him up just as it has messed so many other people up, and as such this really needed to be highlighted.

      • VSS permalink
        May 28, 2012 4:22 pm

        @ The Doctor [May 28, 2012 2:16 pm]

        I truly appreciate your efforts to protect people like me. I’m very grateful. Since I didn’t know that this was the case, I was puzzled about how Harshal was continuing to be abusive but only targeting you when a few of his recent posts were published. And, although it was very distressing to see you and others being abused badly yesterday, I think you are right when you say that it wasn’t as obvious (as it was yesterday) that Harshal is unwell. I hope that all from AoL who are reading and know him personally do all that they can to help him. I sincerely hope that he is on the path to recovery soon.

        The other really important consequence of what happened yesterday was IO posting the Face-to-Face interview in which Mr. Ravi Shankar clearly says that people should not get lost in “unverifiable jugglery of concepts”. I had not seen that interview. All the talk about “Guru’s Grace” that Dr. Peter has been indulging in is the “unverifiable jugglery of concepts”. The same is the case with Uttam who recommended “the transmutation of energy” to deal with memory issues and speech clarity. Mr. Ravi Shankar also clearly said that he is a human being like everyone else. The pursuit of knowledge was also expressed. Scientists were mentioned. Effectively, all that he said in the interview is contradicted completely by members of AoL. When the issue of the definition of enlightenment was brought up, why didn’t Dr. Peter say what Mr. Ravi Shankar said — which was — that enlightenment is a rare combination of innocence and intelligence. (Then, when Karan Thapar asked further, their conversation went on to the concept of a mature child.) Why did Dr. Peter take the discussion to the “unverifiable jugglery of concepts”?

        Dr. Peter says that Mr. Ravi Shankar is his buddy and that he has been with AoL for more than twenty years — in that much time — surely Mr. Ravi Shankar would have shared his definition of enlightenment with him. Why was there any discussion at all about a working definition of “Guru Grace” when Mr. Ravi Shankar says he is like anyone else? Mr. Ravi Shankar also referred to SK as being something like an intuitive poem. Then, why does anyone say that it’s a Divine Revelation? There’s a huge disconnect somewhere. How can Mr. Ravi Shankar say one thing in a television interview and Dr. Peter say the exact reverse ? Would request you to investigate this issue whenever possible. We all deserve to know what’s going on in AoL. Why do Dr. Peter, Sadhana, Uttam et al say one thing and Mr. Ravi Shankar say the exact reverse ? Why are they in the dark ?

        @ IO

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts, and thank you, especially, for posting that video.

  2. Former practitioner permalink
    May 28, 2012 2:52 pm

    “To whom it may concern” and others in search of other opinions. The unfortunate case of the woman is not uncommon. It is a lot more common than what you can imagine, except teachers and RS have arrogantly ignored them, blamed someone else (even the victim) for the tragic episodes post course, and hid under the rugs. I witnessed several of these cases. The one for which I feel the most is someone who ended up in a pyschiquiatric hospital for almost half a year. She is now to be medicated for life. She used to be a very good dentist. Today, she cannot treat anyone, nor do anything else. When the teacher was confronted, he turned his head elsewhere and blamed the local teacher who had organized the course. And then, blamed it on the victim’s bad karma.” And imagine if it was not with AoL under the Guru’s Grace! It would have been worse!” He never showed concerned for the person, or needs to be more careful in future instances. When confronted the Guru, he denied any such possibility and then, said, “Nothing you could do if someone had bad karma.” In one of the courses, the teacher asked what was everyone’s fear. To the one who confessed was scared of darkness and be trapped in a small room, he had his group drag him, and dump him in a small closet, while cheering everyone outside to yell, “coward!” and stuff of the sort, while the person yelled from inside. You question if teachers are qualified to teach SK? Well, we should be questioning a lot more than that. Are teachers qualified to play people pyschologically, with psychological problems, thinking they know it all? RS and company look down on the word “psychology”. They know very little about it. What they are doing is very dangerous. And again, in the course registration, one agrees to release AoL of any responsibility. One should start by questioning why is AoL so interested in freeing themselves from responsibility from the beginning?

    • Jr. permalink
      May 28, 2012 5:24 pm

      So glad I never took a DSN course. It sounds like a variation of Landmark Forum. This is yet another story of many people who have payed a big price because of their time with AOL. I hope she recovers fully.

      • Landmark permalink
        May 29, 2012 8:25 am

        DSN course is an imitation of Landmark, yes indeed. Just like Blessing course was “loaned” from Oury’s Communication Seminar (most likely without his authorization, and then, why did he suddenly disappear from the movement when his courses had become so popular? Maybe bc Ravi was afraid of the competition?). DSN was put together by Nitin and Bawa. Nitin came from Landmark, prior to AoL. AoL does not seem to worry about “copyright infringement” when they take other people’s techniques, do they? Of course, they insist everyone takes away from them. Ravishankarji is the source of all techniques and knowledge! Very funny. The “hot chair” is not even the most “dangerous” technique. Playing around with people’s safeguarded fears and secrets, for example, is way more. Poking and provoking without prior knowledge of professional psychology can lead one to a psychotic breakdown, as shared by one too many victims. Participants are dragged from one extreme to the other, from being exposed to absolute vulnerability to fear, and then during any free time, washing their minds with guru stories ……

    • May 28, 2012 8:52 pm

      @ VSS

      When did you get to read the KT comment posting ? As far as I know, its not been approved yet. Its still under moderation….even as of this moment….

      @ Doc / VSS

      I am curious……do folks get to see comments even while they are still in the moderation queue ?

      • The Doctor permalink
        May 29, 2012 8:36 am

        No they don’t – it was approved then I decided to unapprove it.

      • VSS permalink
        May 29, 2012 9:32 am

        @ IO [May 28, 2012 8:52 pm]

        As Doc said, both your comments appeared as regular comments for a short while. I have no way of reading the comments that are still in the moderation queue.

      • The Doctor permalink
        May 29, 2012 10:23 am

        In fact @IO, if people could see comments that were awaiting moderation, that would defeat the whole purpose of moderation 😉

    • VSS permalink
      May 29, 2012 7:44 am

      @ Former practitioner [May 28, 2012 2:52 pm]

      It is extremely important to raise awareness about these issues that you have raised. This awareness is critical for all individuals as well as for society as a whole. One should look at the “hot seat” exercise from all perspectives. For the person who is put under the microscope and attacked, the experience can be anything from disturbing to distressing to severely damaging. It cannot be a good experience for anyone. No human being can possibly like the experience of being targeted by all around. Some people say that only the end matters. However, time and history have repeatedly shown us that the means as well as the end matter. If the objective is to help people overcome their fears, then there has to be a better way than assaulting them — whether physically or psychologically or both.

      We need to think about those who assault. Why do they think that it is alright for them to follow the instruction of the teacher? Why do they forget their humanity? Is being humane something that one can temporarily suspend or is it something to be remembered at all times? To all those who go on and on about consciousness — what happens to the consciousness of those who gang up and target an individual during the “hot seat” exercise during DSN? Doesn’t the loss of consciousness point to the fact that whatever they have achieved through SK and meditation is not good enough to make them stay humane? Why does the presence of one AoL teacher giving instructions enough to make people forget their humanity? And, what about the teacher? Whose instructions is the teacher following? How does the teacher becomes someone who instructs several participants to forget their humanity? Where does the buck stop?

      — And again, in the course registration, one agrees to release AoL of any responsibility. One should start by questioning why is AoL so interested in freeing themselves from responsibility from the beginning? —

      This is really where it all begins. I had asked this same question in an earlier post. Why does one need to sign an agreement of this nature to pursue stress relief and world peace?
      Usually, one signs such agreements before doing something that could be fatal, such as surgery. So, what’s really going on in AoL? Can someone please explain without getting into “the unverifiable jugglery of concepts” ? I’m certain that many who are reading would like to know.

      @ Uttam

      You had asked what is wrong with being brainwashed into believing one is happy.

      Hope you know now. And, kindly do not engage in the “unverifiable jugglery of concepts” to respond as your own Guru says that — that’s not productive.

      You had said in a comment to IO that people should raise issues to facilitate reform. What are you willing to do to stop this “hot seat” exercise from being a part of “DSN”? Or, will you now say that you don’t know anyone in AoL who said that the “hot seat” exercise is a part of DSN? I wonder.

      @ anyone who is reading

      Has anyone here done DSN without the “hot seat” exercise or heard that the “hot seat” exercise is not a part of DSN? I would appreciate it if you could share your knowledge on this subject. My guess is that many others would also appreciate the same.

      • "The Revolver" Anonymous permalink
        May 29, 2012 8:33 am

        I heard this “hot seat” exercise being followed in the TTC attended by my wife. It seems there was this participant who apparently had a lot of “ego” (because he was asking uncomfortable questions?) and the teacher decided to bring it under control! And he triggered a hot seat exercise. This poor chap was abused verbally in all possible ways by around 100 people for 15 minutes and finally he ended up in tears. I felt very sorry to hear this. You can guess what the outcome would have been, the guy ended up being a very obedient teacher!

  3. anonymous permalink
    May 28, 2012 5:46 pm

    i have been into aol for about close to 5 years and i havent heard of anything like this well ive never done the dsn because in the yes++ adv courses we learn the padmasadhna which is copied frm joshimath… i donot do kriya everyday just long kriya i just follow guided meiditations and chanting of mantras like hanuman chalisa ,japuji sahib and other prayers … sri sris techniques have also helped many including me some techers brainwash tooo much some of the older lot of teachers are way more open and better off and more genuine infact my body reacted to home kriya and none other than dinesh ghodke yes you got right suggested i do yoga and guided meditation and chanting he even said a sincere prayer frm the heart will not bring down the grace of the guru or god.. another teacher frm panjab said a guru is means to find the path how we walk the spiritual path is upto us.. aol is still growing inspite of internal politics and theyre doing some genuine work too but every organisation has people like these maybe this lady inerpreted the knowledge too literally.. my mom has done the basic course and is an asthamatic but after doing nadi shodhan and ujjayi breathing which she learnt at aol her health improved but then those are ancient yoga techniques rvived by ssrs and modern gurus, the guru puja is also the same as the joshimath one and done in most of the new age spiritual movements…..well i neither am for or against aol practices but some tecahers are genuine and so are some volunteers tese sort of incidents ave to be stopped

    • Landmark permalink
      May 29, 2012 8:32 am

      Of course, you would have never heard of any such stories. It would not be good marketing to come out and recognize students have gone to sick or psychotic during or after taking their courses, right? Pragyapad used his asthma as a sales item: he also got “cured” of it with the practice of SK …… well, was it the SK? or the pranayamas that are known yogic practices that were not invented by RS? or was it just, he got cured because neither of one or the other, he just did? And then, OK, suppodely he got cured of asthma …. well, he just suffered of a serious heart attack at the age of 38/39 …. and it is a very small % of people who take the course who actually continue with the practice and/or the group … many of the sad stories are not allowed to be made public, and if they are, they are labeled as “dissidents asking for $3,000”, “blue stars”, “bipolars”, “negative energy”, “bad karma”, “difamation”. Why don’t you start by asking that question? If there was nothing to hide, then why do they work so hard, spend so much money to hide so much??? Many teachers and volunteers are genuine in their intention, but they are just too brainwashed, and in most cases, great actors who fight for their guru (and their mental health …… recognizing your guru is a sociopath, and your spiritual path, the business of a conman, is a very very harsh reality to face).

  4. visitor permalink
    May 28, 2012 7:58 pm

    just thought to put a comment on pschycology: (dont take it as sth in favor of aol). even phsycologists experiment, their cure is not fail proof, though i hope that their approach is more with a better understood risk than the hot seat stuff. i think the faith factor dampens the possible worse effects of half cooked techniques used by aol and similar.

  5. "The Revolver" Anonymous permalink
    May 29, 2012 7:56 am

    I am very sorry to hear the story. I completely understand the trauma you might have gone through. Show lot of empathy to her and try hard to safe guard her from taking other course.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    May 29, 2012 1:05 pm

    When confronted with the “insult” process, as I call the “hot seat”, I simply refused to do it. I said some polite things to the poor lady in the hot seat, and the others started ordering me to be more “open” (means abusive). I just couldn’t. The woman was extremely unattractive by any objective standard, and I didn’t think that she should be battered for that. She was also mentally compromised in some way, not sure what was wrong with her, but she was obviously disturbed. And others were blasting her, laughing at her body, her way of expressing, it was horrible. I just refused. And then I was, at the end of the session actually ordered to bow to the Guru. I also refused to do that, saying that respect is earned not demanded. Some of you who have been AOL can imagine what that earned me! LOL “Judas”. “Bad Karma”. “Evil Person” etc.
    The hot seat exercise is vicious and unnecessary. I’m not surprised it affects many people the way described here.

  7. D-Seeker permalink
    May 29, 2012 1:16 pm

    In the DSN course which I took they did this Hot seat stuff and asked a few people to come out on stage and face criticism. After two to three participants came a middle aged lady who was a house wife. She looked kind of underconfident and introvert.She was the silent type and had a pale face. Now when this lady arrived on the stage our ever so enlightned teacher said that start criticisizing her and do not stop to think that she might get hurt or something. You just have to criticize in one line and thats it. Now mostly the criticism came from her team like you are introvert, silent, boring and so-on because they had spent two days with her.Then when they were finished the teacher asked other people to criticise the poor lady who were not in her team,people who did not even had the faintest idea of how she behaved or what she actually is as a person.Now the other guys were thinking what to criticise about her as they did not know her, our teacher again urged everyone to start criticising.One of the girls(much younger to the lady on stage) said “You are not graceful”, pat came another criticism “You are ugly”.Then again came a criticism “You dont have a dressing sense”.The poor lady who was previously smiling on all other things suddenly begin to feel embarassed on stage.I felt so much anger and felt like thrashing the teacher and the people who commented on looks and gracefulness.

    Q-Is this really criticism??

    Q-Do you need to point out to a middle aged lady who does not look good, that she is ugly just because some ass clown teacher of a self imposed mediocre guru asks you to do so??

    Q-Where is the respect for the individual here?? Dont the teachers know that respect for the elders is the basic indian ethic??

    Q-Criticism should be healthy,contructive and it should do some good to the person pointed at.What kind of criticism is pointing out the physical shortcomings of a person who has no control on it??

    Q-Why doesnt Ravi play this Hot seat exercise once in his lifetime with all those people who have been hurt, abused, betrayed and discarded by AOL.??

    I was silent throughout all the exercise because I was not sure what to criticise of a person whom you do not know and why should I criticise anyone just because for the sake of criticisinng.I dont know how the lady took it but I really felt bad for her.
    Further more One of the participants of that Yes+ DSN asked a simple questions

    Q- If Guruji is all so mighty and powerful why doesnt he take a DSN course for all the politicians and teach them the value of responsibility and make them create a Divya Samaj, afterall the motto of the course is Divya Samaj Nirman or Do Something Now to improve the system, the society and the world right?

    To this Bawa blatantly replied “If Guruji will do everything then what you will do”.
    Is Guruji really doing everything? Is he really taking care of those who left family and friends and bright careers just to help people because they wanted to make their lives more meaningful?

  8. K.Chandra Sekhar permalink
    May 30, 2012 1:38 pm

    I am seeing some ananymous blogs here and don’t understand why they should be ananymous. Why they are afraid? I wonder why these people took so many years (after joining AoL) to understand the basic human traits. Why can’t one understand the laws of this nature. After all, we are products of this nature and RS is no exception. Hunger, ego, greed (for money, power, recognition, so called ‘enlightenment’, so called ‘spirituality’ or ‘divinity’, etc.) are quite normal to our human beings. We can’t do away with these. We have to live with these. After all we are social animals. Basic problem with the people complaing about RS or AoL (or for that matter anyone or organization), is that they were greedy for happiness. Some one promised them some happiness for ever (or so called enlightenment) and they wanted to grab that without any thinking. What happened to their common sense!!! The over-expectation beyond senses is the root cause of this. If some one could give solution for enlightenment, it could have happened 3000 years back itself.
    Just think logically and systematically. What RS (or any other similar organization) is doing is very logical to achieve set targets. If you set some targets and breakdown to tasks to achieve those targets, you realize that they are very logical. For any organisation to grow or sustain, people are needed – some dedicated, some part-time, some volunteers, etc. And money is the most important thing. To get money they have to target the rich and affluent. The only way to target them is to play with their weaknesses, frailities, and most importantly with their guilty concisousness. If I too had the ambition to achieve the targets, I too would have worked in the same lines. Any politician or any commercial organisation would work in the same fashion.
    Lastly, if you are feeling for your fellow people, what I suggest you is to collect the email-ids and send them these blogs. Let them read and decide.
    I am available at

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 1, 2012 7:23 pm

      @K Chandra Sekar, The reason for the anonymous ‘handle’ for me is fear of retribution, being called and threatened, having someone visit my door and call me names, etc. Since this happened to me when I left Art Of Living, I don’t trust to put my name here safely. The people in the organization can be really weird.

      I agree with you that everything about Ravi Shankar is very ordinary. That’s always my point: why would I follow some ‘master’ whose habits and problems and vasanas are at least as bad or worse than my own? Especially if I don’t like those around him as well? It seems obvious. Please read the whole blog and you’ll see lots of people have the same problems with him, or at least with his teachers. They are not people anyone should be learning from.

  9. Wanderer..sid permalink
    May 30, 2012 3:01 pm

    very common in AOL, been in AOL for more than 5 years, i have seen it by my self. they ask for donation on the name of services and grace and say that people who donate will get 10 times more or one wish would be granted happens in every DSN course. .. i believe basic course teacher who organize these DSN also get some share..

  10. Wanderer..sid permalink
    May 30, 2012 3:42 pm

    Hot seat kind of activity is also done in Scientology, i have done that once (but didn’t like). but they follow very hard rules and perform only in the presence of one trained teacher and they don’t allow any participant to do that, only people who have practiced it . Although in Scientology, this activity is done for a long period. Unless person himself stopped getting affected by all ill words and criticism , they continue with it. …

  11. May 31, 2012 12:28 pm

    xtremely sad to know about the lady. In all my encounters with AOLites, I have found them totally closed minded, corrupt, haughty because RS has promised them `moksha’, contempt and intolerance towards others’ spritual path and totally brainwashed left with no individual original thinking. God help them but more than that God must give us the patience to handle them specially when one of them is a family.

  12. Anon permalink
    June 1, 2012 9:09 pm

    When Mr. Ravi is put on the hot chair, he files a law suit against them or threatens them. Is that because he is God? Enlightened? Spiritual?Or actually, because he is none of that?

    • VSS permalink
      June 2, 2012 10:09 am

      @ Anon [June 1, 2012 9:09 pm]

      He doesn’t seem to be any of that. Going to court was a violent reaction — absolutely nothing enlightened about it. All that talk about “accept people as they are” is not practiced by him or those of his disciples who post on this blog to attack the freedom of speech. One of the judgments clearly says that it is our right to actively discourage people from joining a cult which we think is dangerous. But he can’t accept that. If he could, no one from AoL would have a problem with any post on this blog — starting with him.

  13. wandering sage permalink
    June 4, 2012 1:10 am

    The true story of a false prophet

    Please post this as a article in this blog

  14. Gross ist Gott permalink
    June 15, 2012 8:17 pm

    The thing is, people that reach AoL (me included) are often in a desperate situation and psychological state (including depression, anxiety or any other disorder…) in search of the magical solutions they promisse for stress and the above mentioned inbetween the parentheses.
    Instead of exposing oneself to face to face with a proper therapist, partly fearing being judged and partly looking for a rapid solution, one goes for an AoL course and expect to solve the problem easily and at home.
    Two things can happen: there is an inmediate wellness sensation which encourages the disturbed person to keep up with AoL; or there is common sense showing you that there is no easy way out of a hard time in life. No matter how hard you breathe.
    “Normal” people (meaning people that are not going thru a tough time) will not search for AoL, because the have no problems to be solved.
    Have I made my point yet?

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