Sunday, November 29, 2009

TTC: Teacher Training Course or Terror Torture Camp?

I have witnessed the courses of at least 7 teachers of different continents. Whereas I have to make justice by stating that the TTC of the early years were healthier and truly more loyal to the declared mission of the AoL, later courses became, unfortunately, boot camps with the emblem “spiritual” attached. Every teacher competed with each other trying to prove who was best. Each one projected his/her many unresolved personal issues on the students. Each one made damages. Each one escalated in his/her fearful state of unlimited ego, supported by the SSRS himself.

Humiliation was seen as necessary to transcend the ego, as well as the uncensored destruction of the self-esteem. By the end of the courses, students were different. Not because they had rounded long hours of meditation and received knowledge, but rather, because they went through extensive hours of sleep deprivation, brain-washing, self-destruction. Without any exception, students who were before humble and sweet, became arrogant and aggressive. To be a teacher was to be someone “more evolved” – the chosen one. Again, “us/they”. Instead of understanding really what this meant, people enacted the meaning they gave to it.

A former TMer, renown psychologist of her country, who underwent a TTC, was in awe with the processes of the course. She insisted the teacher was lucky since she constantly drove many students to the verge of a psychotic breakdown.

I would not be surprised her assessment was true. The teacher herself is on the verge and blames everyone but herself for her constant temper tantrums that could break anyone’s ear drums and mental health. Somehow, in her opinion, we all provoked her to express the energy we were repressing.

I personally was shocked to witness one of her opening processes: one had to look at everyone in the room and choose who was the most disgusting person, someone who’s everything was repelling and disgusted you profoundly. Then, without saying anything, you had to follow that person and make sure that person knew you were following him/her. A few minutes later, she would stop everyone and yell at everyone, calling everyone, “Chickens! Cowards!” and insist they needed to make their selection clear. If one had no guts to pick on someone, it was one’s ego, one’s incapacity to feel one with the other.

The exercise resulted in 50 aggressive people trying to cover their egos and avoid being called bad names or humiliated in front of the class, and 1 or 3 people whose self-esteem, for the Love of God, was damaged forever, in the name of spiritual growth.

I have seen teachers provoke with physical violence, slap students, throw water at them with the excuse the student was a tough rock, too stuck in the head or had a big ego. I have witnessed teachers wake up in joy because that day they would “destroy them.” I have seen teachers encourage people to confess – only the deepest humiliating secret would be classified as satisfactory – and then used as an attack. For example, a woman confessed she had been battered by her ex husband and aborted as a consequence. The very next day, the students were encouraged to criticize each other, with no prior selection of words or thoughts. Again, anyone holding back, would be called names or humiliated in front of the class. Participants ended up yelling at this woman she deserved to be beaten up and that no soul would want to be born through her!

I have even been told of a teacher calling one of her students “Prozac!” during the whole course. This student suffered of depression and was under medicated treatment.
Everything was done under the justification of destroying the ego, increasing belongingness, living the knowledge, making one transcend, ultimately, your karma. Unfortunately, I have experienced that egos become tougher and bigger after TTC, especially after becoming teachers. At the end of the course, students became experts at enrolling, instead of going deeper in the knowledge or understanding of themselves. It was only all about that. About losing the shame to enroll people to the course! And the biggest egos were those of the Teacher Trainers!

As a very wise four year old girl said once, “Ego is being an Art of Living teacher.”


Anonymous said...

Is this really true?

I have done a few of these courses, and was even singled out once as "a tough nut" but it was never anything to the extremes of what you're describing.
The only reason I felt I was focused on more was because Vinod Menon saw potential in me to turn into another teacher. I wasn't interested. I don't believe it's ethical to sell spirituality. I did see some value in some of the techniques to transcend psychological boundaries. Some of the techniques were rather silly.

I took Bawa's course and, though brainwashed, found him to be quite hilarious and engaging and his course was relatively enjoyable. Vinod had a big ego, but he also meant well. I met many people in AOL who seemed spiritually inclined and lovely. I take issue with many things about AOL, but if the teachers really did all that you say, I would be interested to know who they are.

What I really find most objectionable about AOL is the breathing technique. I find it unsafe. I had a terrible experience in 2001 that I believe was largely induced by the breathing techniques and general mania in the air to 'acquire' spirituality at a breakneck speed propogated by sri sri's halfbaked minions. As the child of Vedantins I should have known better. I should have realized that the constant push to take more and more courses and bring in others was mainly to bring dollars in the door. I became very ill. I am still dealing with the fallout. When I approached sri sri for help, I could tell he tried and wanted to help, but couldn't. I had seen him several times when healthy and a few preventative words from him could have saved me. He even mentioned some advice for me to a friend of mine (a rich vulnerable kid who sri sri gave lots of special attention to) that only was relayed to me after I became ill from spiritual practices. While I take responsibility for my own foolhardiness, I feel that Sri Sri is being irresponsible with people's health and well-being, and when they run into trouble, there isn't much he can do about it.

I do believe he has some siddhis. I have seen them. A psychic healer who I trust has said he has a natural healing presence, but is not operating at the high frequency range (if you want to call high vibrational frequency of energy equating to wisdom in a sense, the higher, the more universal).

Anonymous said...

A long while ago when I was into AoL I did the DSN and have experienced the "hot seat" of abuse first hand, but this? Physical violence? Is it really true? I can't believe this. Could it have just been someone getting carried away in the rush and adrenaline of things? Can this be corroborated?