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Update from Skywalker on the Lawsuit

June 1, 2012

It has been a while since I wrote a post on the blog. I do check in once in a while to read the posts and some comments, and I am amazed at the activity going on here. Soon the blog will have 700.000 hits, and 10.000 comments. I never expected that much interest, when I started it two years ago. Amazingly, the posts are still covering new angles and thoughts on AOL. Thanks Doc, for doing a tremendous job editing the blog.

The lawsuit that AOL has filed against me and the other Does is still ongoing. With the help of our amazing lawyer Joshua Koltun, to date we have defeated most of the claims against us, save one. You can read the highlights of the case here. Note that we have managed to protect our anonymity. Apparently that is an important precedence in US internet law, potentially benefitting many future bloggers.

If not for the lawsuit, I would have left this blog long ago, finally taking my last step Beyond. I am confident that I will be able to do so soon, and I think I will do so without ever looking back. Life is rich and sweet post-AOL.

I got past my bad experiences in AOL by reading Klim’s blog, the books recommended on this blog and by writing posts. And every time someone writes a comment that this blog has helped them think for themselves, and trust their own judgement regarding AOL, I get the feeling that it was worth it: the sleepless nights, the anxiety and the countless days spent working on my defence. If I have managed to help someone, then it was all worth it.

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33 Comments
  1. June 2, 2012 12:52 am

    Dear Skywalker,

    Like I said in a previous post, we moved to Saint-Mathieu-du-Parc, QC, Canada, on July 27, 2011.

    Up to recently, our experience with our neighbors, AOL, was good.

    On XMas time, they even invited us for a party with their group. We invited one of our partners, J. C., to go with us.

    But… things changed fast. J. C. started “missing” for 2 days a week, then 3, then for the full week.

    We didn’t know where he was going up to the beginning of May 2012, when he came back home with a pick-up truck.

    When asked who was the owner of the pick-up truck, he never answered us and started talking about something else.

    We called the Police and asked them who was the owner of that truck parked on our property without our permission. It was AOL.

    During all that period between XMas time and last week, our “friend” was trying to break up the relationship between my wife and me, behind her back and mine. He was saying to her that I would die before 1 year, trying to destabilize her mentally,etc… To me, he was saying that she was bi-polar, mentally sick, etc… He was doing everything he could to put her down and stress her.

    Enough is enough !!! I said to him that he had to make a clear choice between his new self-proclaimed His Holiness Ravi Shankar Guru or us.

    He was neglecting all his commitments with us such as taking care of the gardens, plants and golf, his duties here, to go to AOL and take care of their gardens instead, for free.

    Recently, I wrote to P. L., the AOL General Manager, to let him know that we were not very happy about what was going on and that our small group would have contacted them immediately if somebody from AOL decided to come here, in honesty and ethics.

    I also gave him the links to the California judgement against AOL and your blog, discovered at first by 2 of our USA directors.

    He wrote me back fast and said that he would call me back very soon.

    I got his phone call this week and I feel that, even if he tried to downplay the whole issue, saying it was a only a problem between J. C. and myself, with no fault for AOL, that they were operating in 154 countries without problems, he is very worried.

    Anyway, our former partner finally decided, on Wednesday, to work full time for HHRS and he moved completely yesterday.

    He left his “studio” as a pig pan, but… what a relief!!!

    We’ll never, never invite one of our friends again to go to AOL, in front of such a lack of ethics.

    We suffered many thousands of dollars of damages and stress, caused by what I would no more hesitate to label as a cult.

    My wife is 72 years old and I’m 65. We feel that we have been deeply abused.

    Michel J. Grenier

    • DrPeter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      June 2, 2012 11:00 am

      Michel, with all due respect, what does your former partners behavior towards you have to do with the AOL? It seems that he became irresponsible towards his commitments with you because he was spending his time doing work at the AOL. Okay….. That’s a problem between you and him. That’s how he decided to act. Am I missing something here?

      • sadhana permalink
        June 3, 2012 11:54 am

        No..you are not..Mr Michel,may be your partner has found something in AOL that he decided to work full time for them.It’s his own decision..May be his earlier commitments to you are affected due to his decision..but then he should have thought about that..why organization will worry about that ? and how AOL can be blamed for that?

      • Anonymous permalink
        June 3, 2012 1:09 pm

        Grenier’s partner’s sudden change of behavior, dropping his job, not informing the employer, refusing to say why a truck was now parked in Mr. G’s yard, or whom it belonged to, all these strange behaviors are those of someone who has joined a cult. Mr. G’s partner suddenly changed. He became a different person, and it sounds, not for the better. That’s what the problem is. You know that perfectly well, Peter and Sadana. Please stop defending the obvious bad behaviors of others just because they are now in Art of Living.

      • Mangal permalink
        June 3, 2012 2:56 pm

        “Michel, with all due respect, what does your former partners behavior towards you have to do with the AOL?”

        Don’t you think Peter that it was Guruji’s Grace which was acting through J.C. ? Isn’t that how it works ?

        @Skywalker

        Your case should be named “Skywalker vs SweetTalker”

      • June 3, 2012 7:20 pm

        Dr Peter,

        Yes! I think you’re missing something here.

        It’s a great lack of honesty and ethics for AOL people to take advantage on us by “stealing” one of our partners for the benefit of their organization.

        What I can say is that J. C. changed a lot after XMas time, for the worst. Is it the clear signs of a cult?

        We didn’t know why he changed so fast. Now, we know…

        It was confirmed to me by AOL general manager, P. L., last week, that J. C. decided to make “his seva”.

        J. C. and ourselves didn’t even know what “seva” was.

        Who taught J. C. about it ?

        Not us, for sure !!!

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 2, 2012 1:38 pm

      @Mr. Grenier, I was sorry to read of your terrible experience with Art of Living. Unfortunately, this is how people learn about them — by seeing their friends, or even worse, their family members become irresponsible, and beginning to lie and cheat others. This happens often. And if someone ‘joining’ doesn’t defend AOL, blaming those (like you) who are rightfully complaining, they are blamed and told of bad karma and even threatened. Hopefully, you and your wife will not be bothered again by them. Too bad they are your neighbors. It’s only a matter of time before they bring themselves down. Cults always do.

  2. VSS permalink
    June 2, 2012 7:03 am

    @ Skywalker

    “An artist is never ahead of his time but most people are far behind theirs.”
    Edgard Varese

    The fact that you have been able to protect your anonymity is indeed a major step towards ensuring the freedom of speech and expression of bloggers.

    I haven’t been through all the documents that you’ve uploaded yet, but I have been through some. It’s remarkable how you’ve ensured freedom for all of us — irrespective of which part of the world we’re from — especially because you and Klim are not US nationals and are not even residents of the United States. You speak as and for the global citizen. Some days ago, there was a discussion this blog about whether or not Indians who are posting have the same rights as Americans. Interestingly, someone who has been in AoL since over 20 years raised the issue.

    I was also amazed to see one of the judgments clearly state that all of us have the right to actively discourage people from joining what we perceive is a dangerous cult — with the intention of cautioning people — so that they may have insights into the experiences of others and take informed decisions. Again, this issue is repeatedly raised by several people who condemn the mere act of being critical — attributing all sorts of motives to it.

    I cannot begin to imagine what it must have been like for you to go through all that you’ve been through. Yet, it is incredibly comforting for me to know that soon all this will be over for you. This blog has transcended its purpose and empowers its readers in more ways each day. People from other cults post here and mention how they are helped by this blog. The internet is more powerful than any individual — no matter how enlightened he or she is. It erodes man-made boundaries more and more each day. It is the exact opposite of all that a dangerous religious cult promotes and propagates. It does not discriminate against anyone. The internet actually unites everyone — almost in the same way that compassion does. And, most of all, it is about the freedom of expression.

    It is impossible to predict when this blog will be covered by the Indian media and when the Art of Living will be thoroughly investigated openly — but whenever that happens — this blog will speak fearlessly. It is a living document. Thank you for creating it. You’ve helped a number of people. I am one of those who was helped by this blog. I’ll do all I can to express my gratitude for as long as I can. It’s a privilege to speak for a cause that is as profound as saving people from the worst types of abuse that takes place in the name of spiritualism. All the best for the last phase of the case — my guess is that the trade secret violation charge will also be dismissed.

  3. Anonymous permalink
    June 2, 2012 12:03 pm

    Gods of the New Age

  4. Anonymous permalink
    June 2, 2012 1:40 pm

    Thank you, Skywalker, for bravely walking through the fire that is Art of Living, and fighting them. You have saved many people who have visited here. The idea that I was alone having left the organization, having been abused, was dissolved by reading the many accounts on this and Klim’s blog. Thank you.

    • DrPeter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      June 2, 2012 5:24 pm

      Skywalker created his own fight when he published confidential teaching material. If he had not done that there would have been no lawsuit. He brought this on his own head.

      • Jr. permalink
        June 2, 2012 5:44 pm

        Maybe so, but he did take the documents down. That should have prevented a “spiritual organization” from pursuing it further. But we know AOL was more interested in finding out Skywalker’s identity than interest in copyright. But wasn’t there some problem with failing to prove they had the copyright anyway?

      • Ronin permalink
        June 2, 2012 5:48 pm

        Dr. Peter

        That is where your wrong Pete, not his own. It just took one to stand up.

        By the way how is the pitta thing going remember there is always the pitta pacifying churna’s.

        sure you remember those as you said you are a tm teacher and old timer. I wonder who”s products are better.

      • Drpeter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
        June 2, 2012 6:43 pm

        Jr., maybe you’re right, that after Skywalker took the documents down maybe AOL should have backed off. I have mixed feelings about it.

        And Ronin, come on man, you have too much class to try to bait me with snarky comments. Let some other posters do that!

      • VSS permalink
        June 2, 2012 6:46 pm

        @ Jr. [June 2, 2012 5:44 pm]

        You’re right. The copyright charge was dismissed. Dr. Peter is unable to accept the court’s verdict. However, AoL has accepted the verdict. As for the trade secret violation charge, AoL has been given one last chance to prove “particularity”. You see, they have to prove they even have a trade secret in order to prove that it was disclosed on this blog. As Ronin has pointed out on several occasions, and so have others, most of the AoL content has been taken from one place or another so it’s tough to prove it’s a secret. If at all, it might have been someone else’s secret. It’s possible that they are able to manufacture a trade secret quickly, but highly unlikely. Manufacturing trade secrets is a little different from manufacturing ayurvedic products. They cannot be manufactured in a factory / facility. Nor can “enlightenment” be proven. “Guru grace” can also not be proved. Nor can they go tell the judge that she has an “ego”, is “anti-AoL”, or has “low prana” or she should not say anything without trying SK. Can you imagine what the judge would think about them if they said all this court? I can.

      • Ronin permalink
        June 2, 2012 11:42 pm

        Peter,

        It not about trying to bait you never was. Honestly from your many posts on the blog that you made there were quite a few where you were doing just that. I will leave it to the oppinion of those reading both your and my comments to decide who’s comments are snarky.

        In the end what more can we do really.

      • Anonymous permalink
        June 3, 2012 1:07 pm

        And as for the “Klim” blog, where nothing like that was published? Why was that blogmaster sued? For expressing their own true experiences with disapproval of Ravi Shankar and Art of Living.

      • VSS permalink
        June 4, 2012 4:22 am

        @ Ronin [June 2, 2012 11:42 pm]

        You’re right in trusting the innate intelligence of readers — most already know who snarky incarnate actually is — those who don’t know yet shall eventually find out. It’s just a matter of time.

      • DrPeter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
        June 4, 2012 2:20 pm

        Ronin, If you say you weren’t trying to be be snarky, then I’ll accept your word on that! Sometimes nuance is quite lost in everybodies postings. I use the MAPI ayurvedic products, by the way!

  5. Anonymous permalink
    June 2, 2012 7:32 pm

    @DrPeter (aka drpetersutphen)

    “Skywalker created his own fight when he published confidential teaching material. If he had not done that there would have been no lawsuit”

    You sound like an AOL spokesperson but always deny it. Do you really think AOL would not have sued Skywalker had he not published some material. You have been policing this blog for a long time and know the truth but as always make up things to defend AOL’s ugly actions.

    Bear in mind that Skywalker’s fight is not his own but it’s of those who have been abused by
    your dangerous cult. Skywalker is successfully leading the fight suffering all the inconveniences but has the support and blessings of thousands who know of AOL’s true colors.

    Which is the ‘confidential teaching material’ KLIM has published, for he too was sued.

    • Drpeter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      June 2, 2012 9:16 pm

      Anon, if Skywalker had not published confidential teaching material I doubt very much that AOL would attempt to sue him. On what grounds would the suite be based ?As long as there was no libel, there’s not much that can be done.

      • Anonymous permalink
        June 3, 2012 1:14 pm

        uh, Peter, not reading everything? “Klim”‘s blog was sued for ‘defamation’ and AOL lost that too. Because whoever Klim is, was just stating their own experiences, which were negative, with AOL. Ravi Shankar and Art of Living just don’t like criticism. Face it — your beloved Guruji and his business organization are set on trashing anyone who says anything negative about them. Why don’t you go and post on pro-AOL blogs, since you are so sure that Ravi Shankar is so great. Obviously he needs no defence from you if he’s such a big master. Why bother here?

    • VSS permalink
      June 3, 2012 5:27 am

      @ Anonymous [June 2, 2012 7:32 pm]

      You’re right. KLIM did not publish any so-called confidential teaching material.

      Dr. Peter, as always, is trying to obfuscate the truth.

  6. Ronin permalink
    June 3, 2012 12:18 am

    @ VSS

    One always has to choose one’s battles carefully. In any courcase both parties are entitled to all the information the process of disovery.

    The tm organisation lost a couple of times in court and lots of their inner workings were brought to light. An outcome they would have rather avoided I am sure.

    Judge Says U.S. Funds Can’t Be Used Teaching TM in Public Schools by Marjorie Hyer, Washington Post. Friday, October 21, 1977 ; Page A9 Section: First Section. (Excerpt)

    “A federal judge in New Jersey has ruled that Transcendental Meditation (TM) is a religious practice and therefore cannot be taught in federally funded public school programs. U.S. District Court Judge H. Curtis Meanor in Newark held that the TM program, also called the Science of Creative Intelligence, violates the separation of church and state mandated by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendement. Meanor’s 7
    8-page opinion upheld the contention of the plaintiffs, who challenged the teaching of TM in five Newark area high schools.

    United States District Court DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY, Civil Action No. 76-341, ALAN B. MALNAK, et als, Plaintiffs, v. MAHARISHI MAHESH YOGI, et als, Defendants

    These judgement gave the TM movement a set back.

    • VSS permalink
      June 3, 2012 9:48 am

      @ Ronin [June 3, 2012 12:18 am]

      I agree. I just read the document which contains the extract you quoted. In fact, I read this entire document — Doc 138 redacted 2nd MTS. I think the trade secret violation claim will be dismissed too.

      @ Doc

      Would you, by any chance, know when the court will be pronouncing its judgment on the trade secret violation claim ?

    • DrPeter (aka drpetersutphen) permalink
      June 4, 2012 2:31 pm

      @Ronin,
      Oh what did that judge know, he was just unstressing! (joke). I actually wasn’t surprised with the courts decision in the TM case because it placed such a strong emphasis on itself being “scientific” yet had a puja as part of learning TM, which certainly was outside the concepts of science. I think the courts decision was based on what it claimed were “religious elements” in the puja.

  7. The Doctor permalink
    June 3, 2012 8:49 am

    @IO, @Freedom Found, @Anonymous – a number of your comments left over the last few days will be published separately as posts.

  8. June 4, 2012 5:13 pm

    Skywalker,

    Thank you very much for all your hard work with this blog and having to deal with the lawsuit. I think this website is very important source of information on AOL and I often found it helpful in my process of mentally disentangling myself from AOL. I wish you the best of luck with the lawsuit.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    June 7, 2012 8:16 am

    Hi,
    You got so much hits because you have used name of one of the biggest volunteer driven NGO of the world! Secondly, I am not here to waste time and efforts in justify about AOL .. because anyways you will be using it as you are just “publicity freak”. Most of the concerned raised by your website is more related to – “Perfection of the technique”. I have seen the example that wrong Yoga posture can lead to serious trouble! Anyways, It is good that you are out from AOL. People do give many attempts and at the end give up when they feel that they can’t do it in this life. Spirituality is not for everyone as it depends on many factors. I appreciate critics but tone should be neutral.

    If you have activated moderator then surely you will not post it. Jai Gurudev

    • VSS permalink
      June 7, 2012 10:02 am

      @ Anonymous [June 7, 2012 8:16 am]

      What exactly do you mean by “the perfection of the technique” and who is responsible for ensuring that it is learnt perfectly?

      According to you, when SK is practiced, should breathing be gentle or aggressive?

      What are the factors that make an individual suitable for spirituality?

      Thus far, the only factor that has been mentioned time and again by Sadhana, Uttam, and Dr. Peter is complete surrender to Mr. Ravi Shankar and never ever questioning anything he says or does — which to my mind — only means — being a robot controlled by Mr. Ravi Shankar.

      Is that what you were referring to ? Or, were you referring to some other factors? Please feel free to express yourself in detail. That’ll help me and other readers understand what you mean. Everyone is free to present their perspective on this blog.

      Also, I do not recall seeing videos of Skywalker and Klim on this blog. But I do recall seeing videos of Mr. Ravi Shankar and company. I do not recall reading anywhere that Skywalker and Klim have several ashrams in which their life size posters are displayed — and guru puja is performed — nor do they have various videos of their discourses (as well as the discourses of their disciples) on the internet. No one refers to them as being avatars of one or the other God. As far as I know, they have not started a religious cult and are not cult leaders. I do not recall seeing them on TV or appearing in newspapers. I don’t even know their names.

      If, therefore, between Mr. Ravi Shankar and Skywalker, you think that Skywalker is a “publicity freak”, then let me just say that this is a completely false perception. It has absolutely no truth in it. An anonymous blogger who has fought tooth and nail to preserve his anonymity cannot be a publicity freak by any stretch of imagination.

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 7, 2012 11:12 am

      Wow, you are very special it seems, much like other guys in AOL. 😉

  10. Anonymous permalink
    June 8, 2012 2:50 pm

    One thing that amazes me -regarding AOL´s attempt to legally sofocate our right to share information in order to warn people-, is: Has the Judge bothered to read “the purpose of these blogs” section, has he browsed the blog at all? Doesn´t he believes that “the contents” of those manuals -beyond the trademark right they claim”- need to be investigated by specialists in order to check how harmless (or dangerous) AOL´s adocrtination methods are? If those manuals had instructions to brainwash people -and America has learned the dangers of such manouvres in the hands of the mystically delluded- shouldn´t the Law do something about it? Has the judge read Harshall´s agresiveness and verbal hostility? If Harshall happens to be an active AOL member, shouldn´t be a reasonable doubt about his mental state as a result of his fanatic adoctrination? What if Harshall was able to find out the identities of Skywalker and Klim? This attempt to repress AOL´s inner dirty laundry, is only the TIP of a huge iceberg and the integrity of thousands of human beings -and their right to freely choose without being talked into- are involved… doesn´t the law care about that? RRSS is too smart to repeat Rajneesh´s mistakes, so he won´t stablish an ashram in American ground, still, his marketing techniques are contagious enough to spread and captivate the people´s minds without risking himself. With AOL´s hostile fanatics -such as some of the ones that have posted here-, it makes total sense our need to be protected by anonimity, but,,, what about the rest of innocent, well intentioned people being exposed to the brainwashing? Has the judge read in this blog Mr. RRSS expectations by the time he turns 80? Doesn´t sound “dangerous” and little dellutional his wishes of becoming adored by EVERY FAMILY in the world ??? Just wondering… feel free to share this with Skywalker´s attourney…!

  11. Teodor permalink
    June 8, 2012 3:49 pm

    You most definitely have helped me realize a lot of things about AOL. Good thing I found your and Kim’s blog before I get too deep with AOL and their practices. I’ve stopped doing all the practices and I feel very good. I do consider doing breath and meditation practices in the future, but most definitely not the AOL ones. So, a BIG thank you. Your work is GREAT ! 🙂

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