Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Elephant and the Fly - a Final Note

by KLIM 

Here I am, writing in the blog again, a little rusty, a little too distant from my Art of Living days. Somehow forced by the AoL/Ravi Shankar to do what they wanted to have me punished for: writing.

As many of you know, several months after I said good-bye to "Leaving the Art of Living - Confessions of a Guruholic" and its activities, Skywalker and I received a subpoena. AoL wanted to have our identities disclosed to sue us for defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement, publishing “trade secrets”.

Thanks to the brilliant work and tireless dedication of our attorney, Joshua Koltun, we won against defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement and created a precedent in US law by refusing to require the disclosure of our identities. In fact, the Court ruled that the case against Skywalker could even proceed to trial without Skywalker having to disclose his identity. And the case against me was dismissed completely.

If we had gone to trial (which we were willing to), they faced the risk of losing and making their manuals and Sudarshan Kriya notes public. So they agreed to settle the case, and we agreed because the proposed settlement did not require any compromise on our part. We are not required to pay anything, or to compromise our rights of free speech.

Clearly, the risk that the manuals and Sudarshan Kriya notes might be deemed to be without any legal protection meant the risk of losing clients and income (no doubt, their main motivation behind the law suit) as they would then lose control over everything they claim work only under the grace of the guru, and by allowing people see the extent of magical thinking and irresponsibility behind their teachings.

I have no doubt Ravishankar will most likely present this as a, “I forgave them. Karma will take care.” Well, I am glad a good lawyer and a lucid justice system took care instead!

I consider this a victory not only in Court, but also, a tribute to freedom of speech, and, above all, vindication for victims of cult abuse!

They did not manage to censor us and have our blogs removed from the internet. I have to do what I  already had done two years ago: freeze the blog (contrary to their psychic interpretations, I was no longer active in the blog world, or interested in discussing AoL), and Skywalker has agreed to do what he was planning to do anyway: freeze his! (see what he has to say). Moreover, they did not manage to have us censored either for the rest of our lives nor anyone else out there. In fact, check out Obi-Wan's blog, “Life Beyond the Art of Living” (you can post your comments on this note there). And they will kindly pay our attorney’s fees (and theirs!). All right, and we publish a joint declaration!

Only hard core true-believers will keep believing his/their nonsense arguments. No one otherwise will be able to deny the rulings of the US court: “dismissed with prejudice. (Wikipedia: “If the case ends with prejudice, the effect on the defendant (for the purpose of punishment) is the equivalent to a finding of not guilty and they cannot be retried.”).

Once, at a Guru Purnima, Ravi criticized Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his guru, for using fear to control his people. According to him, that was Maharishi’s way to prevent people from joining him in the Art of Living (similar, perhaps, to what he tried to do with the blogs, together with countless lies and vicious random attacks based on futile suspicions?).

“You can lead through love or fear. Love is more powerful”, he said, implying he was doing that. Well, maybe that is why he did not get what he wanted in court. He tried everything except love! Fear, falsely defaming anyone he could, threatening, harassing, and again, fear and more fear. Imagine that at the very very end, in a desperate attempt, they even tried to file a lawsuit against another former teacher too! And again, dismissed with prejudice! Skywalker, Klim, AND the ex teacher!

What they could not understand was this was a matter of principles and that no one in the world fears him/them. In the world, at first glance, AoL comes out as a religious cult and, Sri Sri Ravishankar, regardless of all the prizes and titles they try to collect to build his senseless sense of grandiosity, a charlatan. In fact, we were willing to sacrifice for freedom of speech, for exposing cult abuse and for making people question if Art of Living is one.

Though having a legal battle was cumbersome, I do not regret at all having started the blog. It all only further convinced me I had done the right thing. Someone had to take the first step. And thanks to Skywalker (and many other Does), the “tradition” continues! However, I am excited to finally be Art of Living free. I had started the blog for that reason. I am finally there! I wish the same to everyone who left and to those who are still stuck in it. And to those who cannot decide or fear not “making” it without it/him, do not doubt a bit! There is life out here and a much better one too!!! READ! Read as much as you can! (there are other sites that present the other side of AoL/RS!). QUESTION! Question as much as you can! You are free to do so and it won't hurt anyone's prana! TRUST! Trust your intuition! Trust your gut feeling! Trust yourself! DARE! Dare to be happy! Dare to be free! RUN! "Run Forrest! Run!" :)

Healing is not easy. It takes time. I still am, for example, struggling to overcome health problems induced by the practice of SK and the psychological abuse. However, despite the threats, the difficulties and the pain I endured these years, I only have but immense gratitude for having had the courage to leave, stay away, and face my mistakes and weaknesses. Gratitude to my family, the many friends and professionals who accompanied me throughout the process.

People have continued reading this blog and sending comments. I take this opportunity to apologize to all those whose comments did not get posted. I checked out for real June 4, 2010. I took this chance to re read many posts and comments. My heartfelt thank you to so many beautiful, inspiring, sincere comments, readers and fellow colleagues! You helped me too in my healing process! If inspired, who knows, one day, I will write again, and I hope you will be there too.

There will always be scars but the wounds are healed. I will always ask myself how and why I joined a cult, and remind myself of my vulnerabilities and mistakes. This will prevent me from falling prey again of such situations and characters, and remember to remain humble. I have, since then, lost ingenuity, the narcissistic need of “saving" someone and/or the world, the low self-esteem of handing my power to someone else. Most importantly, I can sniff scams from far away!

One day, “art of living” will only be a whisper I won’t even hear. I have concluded, there is only one guru: oneself. Only one path: one’s life. Only one cause: one’s own.

... I can almost hear him say in his quirky voice, “and the elephant did not even know there was a fly on his leg!” Ah, Ravi Ravi, stop being a fly!!!!

Thank you ALL for your support. Infinite thanks to our lawyer, Joshua Koltun, the true "seva warrior"! I wish you all the best in a cult free life!

This was truly, at last, a real "victory to the big mind"! Consider it yours too!

“Good morning! And in case I don't see ya’, 
good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”  
(The Truman Show) 

You can find further information regarding this litigation in www.koltunattorney.com 
You can view the Joint Declaration here

Joint Statement of plaintiff Art of Living Foundation and defendants Doe/Skywalker and Doe Klim:

The parties have resolved the case of Art of Living Foundation v. Does 1-10, (N.D. Cal. 10-5022 LHK) by a settlement agreement. Pursuant to this settlement agreement, the blog entitled “Leaving the Art of Living,” located at <artoflivingfree.blogspot.com> and the blog entitled “Beyond the Art of Living” and located at <aolfree.wordpress.com> shall be frozen as of June 19, 2012. However, nothing in the settlement agreement restricts the rights of Defendants to create new blogs, or to comment on other blogs. Nobody’s identity has been or will be disclosed in this litigation, or pursuant to this settlement agreement.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Moving Beyond the Art of Living

The few friends and family that know of the existence of this blog have been, since its conception, worried about the consequences of my involvement with it. I still find it funny that others perceive AoL as something dangerous, hostile, vicious, “capable of anything” whilst AoLers insist they’ll bring peace to the world with their Sudarshan Kriya and the Grace of their master. Having made the click in my head, I wonder today how they will actually change the world with a breathing technique and call that “conflict resolution”? Again, I go back to the question: what about me did not allow me to see through it all, and instead, just like my peers, found ways to justify the politics, the nasty things that went on behind the scenes, and the magical gullible thinking?

Friends, family, even I, myself look forward to the day I do not mention the Art of Living or Ravishankar again. Further, I look forward to the day I am fully fixed and free of the traumas the AoL left in my mind and health. Overall, it was an experience that snapped me out of stupidity and extreme ingenuity and abusable niceness. I learned great lessons and thank to them grew immensely.

This blog played a big role in my recovery, as well as the readers who supported and even those who insulted. I was able to drop my fears, confirm that my decision to leave was a sign of health and self-preservation that, thank God, still existed even if 0.5%, transcend the guilt and my past history with these people, see the AoL and the education I got there for what it is and not for what was marketed. Recognizing I once belonged to a cult and helped promote it comes with a lot of sensations that range from anger to shame.

The truth is I have been trying to leave the blog for a long long time. For one, I grow tired of hearing and discussing the AoL – they are not the best nor the most important thing in the world and should not occupy the space they do in my life. While RS was fully immersed in his belly button, feeling important with an attack that was not, there were serious problems going on in Gaza and other parts of the world. Though my new life still suffers the consequences of my years of involvement with AoL, it is new, great, free and mine. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have rediscovered spirituality in its true essence and I have recovered my own source of joy and authenticity. I am again who I am and not what I should be or programmed to be. Together with the help of invaluable friends and professionals I have been working on myself the way we did not in the AoL.

A good friend I wished would get involved in the group said after a few months, “People in the AoL do not work on themselves” and walked away. I never quite understood his remark until I left the movement. Of course! We faked it until we made it, we repressed negative emotions and real life desires, we worked on ourselves through SK, hollow and empties, and being in “the Presence”. It was a good for all package for people with different problems. How could that help anyone truly work on him/herself? The most common remark teachers and long-time devotees said was, “I feel stuck.” After all those years, noone changed, except becoming more feverish, aggressive, greedy, competitive. We worked on ourselves through seva: organizing courses and enrolling people. People were judged as good or bad based on how successful they were at organizing courses or enrolling, not on their behaviors and quality of the heart. Why not call it a business then, instead of cheating people with a promise of spiritual growth? To be honest, I doubt anyone would be upset then.

To my dislike, readjusting, deprogramming, recovering, reinventing oneself is a long challenging process, however, I trust my new life should only be as good and even better than it was pre-AoL. When people ask me what I learned with AoL, I say, “I learned everything one should never do in life!” I learned the worst side of human beings, I learned that anything that creates separation, or takes one to any extreme is not healthy, I learned never to give my power again, I learned not to accept any abuse from anyone anymore, I learned to discriminate, I learned to live with opposite values, I learned to distinguish a manipulator, psychopath from miles away, but above all, I learned to love and value myself.

Ravishankar robbed me of many precious things in life. Most importantly, my faith and thirst for knowledge. I must confess I am still quite allergic to any kind of practices, satsang, new age talks, swamis and gurus, and still have problems trusting people or my own decisions. In my opinion, robbing someone’s faith and spiritual yearning is his worst crime. Fortunately, he was unable to take away my integrity, courage, authenticity and hutzpa. If Krishna stole the mind, RS stole the soul.

When I recently saw pictures of former colleagues who are still caught in the web, I was shocked to notice something was absent in them, as if their soul was not there and their expression dull. It’s funny I used to think they were bright! I whole-heartedly wish them the best. In fact, I pray they open their eyes and gather the courage to snap out of it. If they don’t, I wish they remained completely numb so that they never need to deal with the pain of realization. I truly wish everyone the best, including RS, who projects anything but peace, joy or relaxation. Unfortunately to him, there will always be someone better out there, and people finding flaws in him. Surprisingly, that pushes the buttons he still has. Power and fame corrupt even the ones good at heart, I guess.

This last incident-that-was-not, humored me but also bored me intensely. It became all too obvious, just as it became obvious that my time with the blog had reached its end. It’s a drag to still have AoL in my life even if through writing, further, my healing through it has reached its end. I can still write a lot about it but the subject has become tedious. They are who they are and we know what they are. What matters is I am free, you are too and soon, many will be too.

AoLers may cheer this announcement, or even think I am doing it out of fear of retaliation. On the contrary, because I realized I no longer fear their threats that I realized my healing through the blog came to an end. Moreover, honestly, how much longer is one willing to “read” those imbalanced, vicious, all-righteous fanatics? or write about these insanities? Even a guruholic in recovery like myself has a limit. At the end of the day, not only is it flabbergasting but also very sad. Most of those nasty coo-koo commentators I knew, hang out with and loved.

“Confessions of a Guruholic” will remain in cyberspace. Hopefully more people will find it and find solace reading it. I have plans to fully live my new life “art of living free”, with its many undefined projects waiting to anchor and blossom. I shall miss everyone and this lovely space of healing. If I ever have the itch, I may contribute in Beyond the Art of Living.

I have come to terms with those “friends” and students who betrayed me. I know my students did not have another choice. They did not act upon values but for “the cause”. Brain-washed, I most likely would have done the same. I wish they open their eyes soon and find sincerity and transparency again in their lives. I see my “friends” did not have another choice but to stab me and later hate me too for what they did. I know they suffer daily for just too many years. You’d be surprised how many senior teachers are depressed, lonely and in angst most of the time. Their hearts are sour but they don’t mean ill. They are ill and do not get the care and attention they really need. Furthermore, I no longer feel guilty for having brought so many people to “the path” and starting so many centers. At some point, we are all adults responsible for our choices. There are those who go and those who stay. Those who choose to stay obviously have issues to solve, just like I had too. I have even forgiven my basic course teacher. She was truly a nice lady – lost but good-hearted. Finally, I have even dropped Ravishankar from my existence. He is a sad sick man who truly believes he is God-almighty and his own delusions of greatness.

Let there be only love, healing and discernment for us all who woke up. Tough love, or rather, sick love taught me that spirituality happens whether you seek for it or not, practice it or not. God has made us perfect just as he has made life perfect.

As many readers predicted, a book project is baking in the oven. Maybe next time we meet will be in the midst of the beautiful scent of paperback pages, on your night table as you turn around just when you are about to fall asleep. Hopefully, sharing my experiences "in the path" has further added insights in your life. May you not make the same mistakes I did. At least, be creative and make new ones. But above all, cherish, love and value yourself. Do now what I did not do for so many years, turning, thus, into an easy prey of spiritual abuse and a brain-washed guruholic.

I have been looking for sponsors to help with the book project. If you wish to collaborate or better, finding possible sponsors or editors, it will greatly be appreciated.

So long for now. I wish you the best. Wish me the best.
Cheers to spiritual freedom and truth!