Friday, January 15, 2010

Another disaster, another marketing opportunity

I was wondering when aol was going to start capitalizing on the Haiti tragedy. And behold, I got a short e-mail today shamelessly sent by the “Artofliving Marketing Team” soliciting donations for “immediate supplies and food”, “trauma relief programs”, and “long-term rehabilitation” for Haiti. You’d think that something like this might fall under a “disaster relief team” category or something along those lines.

Anyway, another e-mail, much more detailed and well constructed, came a few minutes later from the same marketing department. They are seeking experienced graphic designers, photographers, and videographers to create posters and other marketing media for the foundation. The process of selecting who would be enlisted for such an honor was outlined in great detail.

You’d think that a disaster relief effort (a much larger undertaking) might warrant at least a similar attention to detail if it is genuine, and those supporting it monetarily are to be assured of its success. I for one have sent my donation to the Red Cross.


zhoro said...

Now watch your email be removed from all AoL mailing list (if they can identify you). After I left and brought out a couple of examples of the internal propaganda that goes on, I was promptly cut off from all important distribution lists.

Anonymous said...

You did the right thing. Better to give it to Red Cross or where you find Americans handling affairs.

I have completely lost my trust in indians.

JIvani said...

Speaking of emails from AoL and marketing, How do I get these AOL people to stop trying to get me to do the course? The marketing email made me think about this because I just got another email inviting me to do the course. I had already had my money refunded for the course after getting an unsettled feeling about RS and AoL.

I'm on this blog because I grew up in a hurtful spiritual community with a leader who took advantage of us and I want to stay informed about AOL since I almost got involved with that organization. No need for a repetititon here--I've learned my lesson!

Isn't saying I don't want to do it once, enough? It was just a friendly email suggesting that the course might be fun so it's hard to reply with a "get off my back" email. I guess I'll just ignore it. It reminds me of opening my door to a Jehovah's wittnesses. I try not to open the door.

I gave to Haiti $ but definitely not through AoL!

a humble witness said...

Hi Jivani,

Yes, I know the e-mail spamming and calling tactics very well, which I myself used to recruit for courses. Any one in my area who had ever shown interest in taking a course was given a "friendly reminder" of upcoming courses (by phone or e-mail), and anyone who had already taken the course was urged to repeat it, especially if it was going to be given by a different, more senior teacher, who was always lauded as the greatest teacher ever to walk the face of planet earth and bless you with their presence.

Sure, the e-mails and reminders seem friendly enough, but I assure you, they probably will not stop unless you actively and assertively request for this.

To understand why you keep getting pestered, you have to understand the dynamics of the organization and where the pressure for recruiting comes from. If the organizers of the course in your area are newbies who got "inspired" by an aol teacher to organize another course, they probably have that teacher breathing down their neck, checking with them every day, threatening to not come for the course unless there are a certain number of participants already signed up. If the organizers of the course are not-so-new volunteers who aspire to become aol teachers themselves, bringing a certain number of people to a course through personal contact and organizing a certain number of courses are pre-requisites for the teacher training. Finally, if the organizers are already teachers, there is an internal competition to teach more and more courses to win the good favors and blessings of ravishankar. If I recall properly, there was also a rule put in place a while ago where full-time teachers needed to teach a certain number of students each month in order to continue to get their stipend--perhaps KLIM can verify this.

So in short, there are all kinds of pressures sent from the top to all volunteers (from the most senior full-timers to the newbies) to organize more and more courses and recruit more and more participants. So Jivani, you are their prize, and they will not let you go easily, especially if they think they've got you on a hook.

Good luck with that...

Love and blessings,
a humble witness

Anonymous said...

Jivani ,

My advice. Give up even this wee bit of desire to stay informed about aol. Visiting this blog & Jody's would suffice. Don't engage anyone into any kind of conversation. My so called close relatives & friends betrayed me several times. Not just in gurudom practically in all matters don't let any indian come close to you. Englishman's talking about weather makes lot of sense. Indians know nothing about others' boundaries.

You can complain to none not even to police. Being an Indian you ought to know. Not just aol , even Navarathiri betel leaves exchanging I dread. For some years I escaped telling all I was perioding.

Kanchipuram Dhothi said...

Great job KLIM, the fact that your blog has over 13,000 hits in less than two months shows that there are people out there searching for the truth. You have done a greater seva to humanity compared to the days you taught the art of living.

Can the blog be translated to Mandarin - the herds are getting bigger and bigger in the Chinese speaking countries - they are so blinded by devotion and faith, someone has to expose them to the truth.

Please do not stop writing this blog - I feel it brings great solace to people who have had bitter experiences with AOL and for the ones considering this path - to tread it with caution.

Good Luck and watch out for the AOL cybertroopers who will be sneaking around here.

Naveen said...

I was expecting this from the aol scamsters. They must be all excited. What a divine oppurtunity. More money and Satsang in the carribean beaches. There is no business like the holy business.

Rajat said...

I have received a few mails from AOL for donations. My request to all the folks - never donate anything to this fraud organization unless your intention is to help Bhanu buy exoctic sarees and purse.s
There is also a new Euro a day program. on the same lines as the fradulent dollar a day. All money goes into Guruji's coffers with nothing in return. In AOL there is nothing more intresting than a good earthquake.

Shrim said...

My advice to Hindus in India. Hindus would be better served if they donate to Hindu charities who have a clean track and organizational record.Ramakrishna and Chinmaya Missions are two such. They have built service based hospitals, schools, colleges have a transparent way of accounting, have involved themselves in service projects in remote areas, publishes and propogates original Hindu scriptures at cost price.
Beware of personality cults and family enterprises else Hindus will spread themselves too thin.

Anonymous said...

A breathtakingly whopping amount of money sent by a WHITE European stranger explicitly wanting it to be used for Pujas ALONE in Rameswaram Temple was brazenly diverted to power sector & some ministers" wallets. This was proudly reported in a regional paper & justified by a whole lot of comments from indians. So incorruptible & honest & faux pious we the hindu devotees are ! Horripilating indeed !!!

KLIM & CO. said...

"Can the blog be translated to Mandarin?"

Anyone who can help with translating the blog to other languages, esp. Mandarin and Spanish, it'd be of great help to those fast growing areas which I know have their good bit of doubts but no information in English that shows them the other side of AoL. Contact me pl.!

KLIM & CO. said...

I cannot believe they are asking for donations already! What will they do? Send 2 full time teachers (who anyway work for free or little stipend) to teach victims of the tragedy breathe??? Where will this money go now?

Lakshmi said...

That was expected from AoL. In the past, I have been fooled into giving to AoL in times of crisis. Thanks to KLIM, I am shifting my donations from AoL to Doctors without Borders.

Anonymous said...

While Rome was burning Nero sang and played the lyre, numerous calamities,tragedies happening around the world and what does SSRS and the loonies of AOL do. They spent money and time organising the ANTARNAAD - thousands of musicians performing on one platform.

What good does it do for mankind, how do the down trodden and underprivileged benefit from this. The only ones who benefit is SSRS and his family - more fame and publicity translates into more money.

KLIM & CO. said...

Sorry, I meant there is no information other than in English showing the other side of AoL, making those non-English speaking areas more isolated and vulnerable. Those who can help translate, or have ideas of how to make this happen, pl let me know. I've had many requests already about this. thx

Prairie Princess said...

Maybe they should send Bahnu to dig people out of the rubble? I got donation requests as well to AoL. Save the Children got my cash. If AoL wants to be considered a real non-profit, they need financial transparency and a published, available to every donor financial report. However, if AoL does do those things it might be a sign of the apocalypse.

Shiva Bhakta said...

Great going dude...exposting mr fraud fraud..
Check out the article "How genuine is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar"

The veils are lifted and you have seen the BS of this organization. Kudos to you.

Here is my view of Sri Sri

Shiva Bhakta said...

Question - why is the audio of So HAM so closely guarded? I wonder why the AOL herd is so fearful and not uploaded it anywhere - shows the power that Sri Sri wields on his rank.

Jivani said...

Thank you for your comment to me Humble Witness and Anonymous. The issue I have with getting rid of AoL is that a close friend invited me to join. We are still friends. How this is going to affect our friendship is yet to be determined. So, that adds another dimension and makes it more difficult to just cut off ties as you suggested Anonymous. She claims she does not know of anything negative about AoL and just goes for the community and practices. She wanted to know what I knew about it so she could be educated but I did not want to say much since I don't know firsthand as KLIM and others do. She also is not a follower of SSRS and said she's uncomfortable with him as a Guru figure. She seems to be an innocent bystander. BTW, we are both Americans, not Indians. Yet, she has still asked me to do the course about 4-5 times. I don't think she will again though since I was honest with her.

However, I had joined her in yoga and had made friends there, not knowing anything of AoL. So, I guess I may lose some friends if I discontinue the yoga group. It's hard to know just how involved some of the yoga practicioners are in AoL. I suppose there are different levels of involvement. I have had a long conversation with a close friend in the group who is Indian. He is completely skeptical and refuses to do the course. He just told the person who sent me the "friendly reminder" email about the course that he is absolutely NOT ever going to do the course.

Are these people my friends or do they just want to get me into the course? You know, many AoL people are legitimately nice people so it's confusing. I don't like it when friendships mix with my friends selling me something. It just gets weird.

Thanks for your comments to me though. They are helpful.

a humble witness said...

Dear Jivani,

I wouldn't doubt the sincerity of friends that you knew before aol, who then got roped into the org. AoL teachers are well-versed in some very cunning tactics that seduce course participants into a certain way of thinking. Newbies who get sucked in and try to recruit genuinely think they are doing a service to their friends and loved ones by bringing them to this wonderful "knowledge". The brainwashing process is very subtle at first (in the part 1 courses), and becomes more and more apparent in part 2 courses and beyond.

My suggestion to you would be to refer your friend to this blog. It may or may not deter her from the org, but at least she might begin to question things.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jivani ,

Thanks for the feedback. So that explains it. Indians a whole lot of them have only used me without even a fake thank you leave alone feedbacks.

You are only being firm & honest to yourself. If this is going to upset anyone that friendship is not worth it. You can send this & guruphiliac link to your friend.Don't launch into discussions - waste of energy. These posts are adequately patently self explanatory. Despite this , if anyone miaows "however..having said that..." all the red flags ought to go up , even if the bloke is ceobeoIITMBBSwhatever.

About smiling & bonhomous indians , oh don't I know they can breathtakingly feign love , piety , compassion , bereavement & whatnot.

Prairie Princess said...

Jivani, if you lose friends because you leave AoL behind, you never HAD a friend in that person. That person was using you for something. When you are ready to leave something the path to freedom appears. If your friend is really your friend, they will still be a friend when you leave AoL. There are many, many yoga classes.Good luck.

Anonymous said...

how do you know its not going to be used in Haiti relif! Do you know IAHV was voted a certified as "best in America" by Independent Charites Of America. I have friends who have been working in Haiti long before this happened.

Anonymous said...

As a former fulltimer in the aol, in can only state one thing. When ever fulltimers hangout the talk sooner or later would always gravitate to the same subject. Have you ever seen any of the humanitarian projects? I have known fulltimers working all over the world, and I never met anybody who had seen any of the humanitarian projects. They just weren't their. I know ravi shankar is talking large, but nobody has seen any of it. The few times anybody seen anything it was always extremely embarrassing.
This is not saying that the humanitarian work is not out there, its just I have never seen any and never met anybody who had seen any. So to the crowd who is so eager to challenge Klim, heres a challenge. Produce any hard evidence of humanitarian work done for aol money. And just to mark up the court for the game, the kids school at the Ashram does not count, as it is the payment to the state for the land that the Ashram is on. So that is just good old business,
On your marks go!

Anonymous said...

I now constantly monitor two blogs to get perspective: yours and to remind myself how people can be so full of themselves..
From their blog:
Reviews by bawa on avatar(James Cameron movie) and 3 idiots(Amir Khan's movie):
"There are many scenes in the movie that seem to be inspired by Art of Living. There is a particular group Kriya scene that’s unmistakable :)… there is also some group chanting that could have easily been a type of Satsang … It’s wonderful to see popular media being influenced positively by Art of Living and becoming a run away best seller "

3 idiots:
All out YES!+ Knowledge points have been touched upon, Aamir khan’s character reminded me strongly about myself and dinesh put together when we were in IIT… though i was never top of my class, and the director’s daughter was already married
3 grouses:
They should have credited YES!+ and Art of Living somewhere in the movie.
Having said that, i would tell everyone to go watch the movie… and then tell them, if you liked the movie, you will LOVE the YES!+ course!
I mean really? you dont think that there are cultures and tribes out there that do practice group chantings way before the 'satsang' was invented?breathing exercises that predates kriya? such things make me so mad.. how can people be so full of themselves?

Anonymous said...

In fact SSRS can give away bhanu's designer boutique sarees , jewellery, the aircraft he owns plus plenty of American Dollars which his late mother Visalakshi herself told OTOH as " given by gullible WHITES" for trauma relief in Haiti to everywhere.

Narendra said...

2 New Idiots from AOL:

Why don't they claim Royalty from these movie producers?

Earlier the same happened with movie 'THE SECRET'. which was said to be inspired from Guruji Teaching.
Every spiritual organisation and masters are inspired from AOL.
Osho copied Ashtavakra Geeta from Ravishankar.
(You bloody non-belivers, how can you doubt this?
Who is the idiot, asking that Osho delivered his discourse in 1975 to 77 and Ravishankar delivered in 1991 - after Osho's death. Haven't you heard about miracles? )

Jai Bharath said...

The posts claiming film producers to acknowledge AOL clearly shows idiocy of Bawa and Dinesh. Their followers also display such intellectual poverty they think the world began with SriSri.

Naveen said...

Most Indian gurus - Sri Sri, Jaggi, Nityananda copy Osho. He was the guy who read quite a lot and synthesized the western thinkers with eastern philosophy. He was quite well versed in many schools and could synthesize from western philosophers, existentialists to writers like alan watts, suzuki, JK, Gurdjieff,Martin Buber and many others.
Most words, behaviour and ideas gurus like Ravishankar, Jaggi and Nityananda use were popularised and introduced into Indian guru lexicon by Osho. The only key change the gurus have done is tone down some of the radical ideas of osho and made it palatable to the yuppies and the genral status quo. Osho was more adventourous and played to the hippie crowd of the 60/70s. In a way he had a higher degree of freedom in his expression. But these gurus are more like ploiticians who play to the gallery.

Kiran said...

To the anon person berating indians, you're starting to sound racist, so tone it down. There's a billion of us mate, in all shapes, sizes, hues, colours, religious persuations, what have you. And unlike some other countries where the government tries to impose thought control from early childhood, we grew up in a democracy, so were're not all thinking or behaving alike either. AOL & SSRS probably have many more detractors in India than outside

Anonymous said...

" anon person berating indians, you're starting to sound racist".

Kiran , your presumption is not my burden. It was Jody's blog & now this one that never muzzled sceptics like me. Unlike Indian blogger sin general.

Whatever I write is my opinion. You an allegedly enlightened person should not give importance to a (sic) " racist ".

Anonymous said...

Kiran (& Jivani, Gopal etc ) who makes a sweeping allegation of me " berating Indians ".

It is obvious I am talking about those fellow Indians lacking in empathy , solidarity I have interacted with. Obviously , I can never claim to be the representative of billions of " all shapes, sizes, hues, colours, religious persuations, what have you".

All that you holy cows do is pounce upon some isolated phrase or word to engage me in futile verbal rebuttal.

Let this not become a forum for slanging match between me & you patriotic holy cows. This is no india shining promotion forum.

KLIM & CO. said...

People, this blog is not here to bash cultures. Every culture has its good stuff and its bad stuff.

Anonymous said...

Typo correction:

Unlike Indian blogger sin general should read Unlike Indian bloggers in general.

Klim , please post this also or else Jivanis , Gopals & Kirans etc would tear me apart crying wolf.

I have never in my life had to put up with this kind of needless remonstrations with non indians particularly Americans to Australians & ofcourse few mature mellow Indians.

Only proves Indians living in America also carry the same malady of wantonly misconstruing & arguing.

Anonymous said...

Typo correction:

Unlike Indian blogger sin general should read Unlike Indian bloggers in general.

Klim , please post this also or else Jivanis , Gopals & Kirans etc would tear me apart crying wolf.

I have never in my life had to put up with this kind of needless remonstrations with non indians particularly Americans to Australians & ofcourse few mature mellow Indians.

Only proves Indians living in America also carry the same malady of wantonly misconstruing & arguing.

DotBusters Inc said...

To anonymous
"I have completely lost my trust in indians"
"practically in all matters don't let ANY indian come close to you."
"About smiling & bonhomous indians , oh don't I know they can breathtakingly feign love, piety , compassion , bereavement & whatnot."
Hats off to anonymous. Brilliant sterotyping, eh? You should consider coming & working for us (or maybe you already do :)