Saturday, November 28, 2009

You won't die if you leave

In my beginning days with Ravishankar, he often called me into his room – just him and me – to tell me terrible stories of people who dropped out of the movement. Some woman got cancer and died. He had to send his devotees to visit her. “Poor woman, if she would have stayed with me …” Another committed suicide. Such stories were endless, and told not only to me, but many others, who in turn, would tell their students. Leaving the path was a confirmed disgrace with stories of people we had never met or questioned.

When an active volunteer left, Ravishankar declared he would never again, in any life time, have the chance to be in a spiritual path. He had lost his chance for spiritual evolution and was forever doomed to misery. He warned us all about it and were advised not to contact him. The truth was he left to follow another spiritual master and years later, when I finally had the courage to contact him, I was surprised to meet a positively changed, happy person! Another teacher who left, according to RS, would eternally be doomed to failure and unhappiness, had also managed to be successful in his job and led a very happy life.

Ravishankar never takes responsibility for wrong doings. If someone leaves it is because they became delusional, negative, or someone else influenced them. I have even heard him blame people for influencing someone’s decision to leave, when in fact, there was no truth in it. I have even heard him blame the stars! “Old timers will be leaving because of the position of the stars.” It is funny. The man who teaches about responsibility, does not take any. It never occurs to him he may have done something wrong, or that his organization is not perfect. It is always someone else’s fault.

It took me many years to finally leave. I was basically trapped by the idea that dropping out of the path was the most terrible thing that could happen to a human being, as, being in a path was a privilege “only for a few”, as he often described. Sadly, I dare say a lot of teachers want to leave. In fact, in our private conversations, many would confess their unhappiness and wish to leave, but 1) some feared the world. At least within the movement they received help, had a community, were somebody; 2) some worried they would not find a job or know what to do to keep them going in life. Unfortunately, many live in terrible conditions even within the organization, begging most of the time for the basics.

I myself also thought I would die if I left. You find yourself in a highly neurotic situation, suffering if you linger and dying if you leave, unable to make a definite decision.

Leaving was painful, but dealing and justifying the incoherences, manipulations and constant abuses was worse. To my surprise, I discovered not only is there life after the Art of Living, but it is a lot better!

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