Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My days as a door-keeper of the holy room


This is the first time I break ”my silence” as a former insider and now ex-cult member of Art of Living. I spent 13 years whole-heartedly supporting the AOL, the then foundry of my life. I was a teacher for seven years, a full-timer four of them. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar was my Guru whose words I put before anyone else’s – even my closest family.

I have witnessed and experienced many of the incidents described in this blog. I have the same wish as the other collaborators to shed some light about the dark side of the organization. We all somehow know how criticizing SSRS in particular is a big no-no, especially as an insider, and how critical thinking around the movement is banned and justified with statements such as, ”You have low energy level. Do more breathing exercises” or ”be more in the knowledge and listen to Ashtavakra Gita” (SSRS´ comments on the Hindu text by the same name).

I was very close to SSRS and had fairly easy access to his room. He called me by name, I had his personal mobile number I could call whenever and I back-massaged him - dressed - in his room many times. The latter was for me not connected with any sexual energies but with a feeling of honor and extreme privilege.

I often played the role of doorman or door-blocker to his meeting room - a place where many people wanted to get in even without a real important agenda. People just wanted to “hang out”.

I remember one of the first times with this ”extremely important” job, realizing the complex and un-written rules that go with such a position:

1) Only a specific segment of people have free access to SSRS´ room: those with lots of money, media-influence, political influence or opinion makers such as actors and other public figures. This lets you right in because such a person could be used as a means to expand SSRS’s agenda.

2) Male senior German, Dutch, Indian and Swiss teachers also go right in.

3) Ordinary people with no titles or special influential powers stand very small chances for personal meetings.

Being the door-keeper was an akward situation to be in. You have to tell a lot of people SSRS is very busy and that they can´t come in. Though it is sometimes true, he often is just sitting on his couch watching CNN and/or not doing much besides chit-chatting with the ”lucky” one inside. Often people inside just sit on the floor – at his feet!! – and stare at him and carefully laugh at every one of his silly jokes or at any of his ”charming and playful” gestures. If an outsider (non-cult member) took a look inside, he would not understand what was so interesting – actually, nothing! So called ”devotees” believe they sit in the presence of the embodiment of God, a rather big deal for them.

Spending a lot of time ”inside” the room, both as a door-keeper or as a hang-out, it often struck me how bold and rude SSRS would comment about people who were not in the room (not a behavior you would expect from a dispassionate avatar-Guru!). I have often seen him making fun of people by ridiculing them in front of the crowd inside. Comments such as, ”She has such an artificial laughter – something is not quite right with her” or ”I think she/he is a blue-star” (a Sri Sri word for someone who is not right in the head).

Once he did not feel like going the ART Excel perfomance the kids had prepared for him. He said, ”It is such a poor performance”. I once overheard a phone-conversation he had with a full-time teacher who was upset and crying. When he hang up, he told the rest of us that because this person was not well because had been made teacher too young.

One of his most senior teachers of Germany, a very nice guy I happened to teach with and spent a lot of quality time with, decided to leave the movement after realizing that following ethical and, especially legal guidelines for organizational leadership was NOT vital to SSRS. The teacher sent a farewell letter explaining the motivation behind his decision. I happened to be in the room with SSRS and a group of people shortly after the teacher’s official departure was in effect. SSRS´ comment was pretty much like this, ”He is free to leave the organization. He anyway never did anything to promote my work!”

Even a hard-headed and true-believer myself then, I felt it was an unnecessary and insensitive thing to say. I never understood why SSRS, in his position as a leader, would ridicule anyone in front of others in that manner. I seems too far from the standards one expects from a Guru of compassion and, furthermore, truly very unprofessional.

The above experiences are just a few I had over the years and though I had a good time during my first years with the AoL, I soon started seeing how things really work behind the scenes. It is fair to say that these insights were the beginning of the end to me.


lax said...

Hi "Roaring Wolf",
Welcome to the world of "Sevaks". Your post is a true seva and possible eye opener for others who are "Addicted" to AOL. A post from one who had spent 13 years, need to be taken seriously.
Tell us about other "episodes" which used to take place. Anything on "Nithy's" lines.. Such revealations would only get wide and quick reception and would also have a huge impact on all. Don't wait. Like how they used to promote DSN ," Don't live as if you are living in a coocoon.. Come out and be brave and live the momement"....

Anonymous said...

None of the stuff you mentioned were big enough to leave. A guru also sometimes should be free to say he is a bluestar or what a poor performance. What is your story ? What exactly were the reasons ( about SSRS or the organization) that disturbed you?

Anonymous said...

If people keep on beating around the bush and not cite specific instances with date and time, then it's kinda "alluding" to something that you can't prove. So who knows if Roaring Wolf really did Seva to SSRS

KLIM and CO. said...


Give me a break! Why don't you ask Ravi for evidence for absolutely everything?

KLIM and CO. said...

You wouldn't believe how many people listened to Hitler and how many to Benny Hinn. Unlike what AoL thinks, numbers do not indicate how good something or someone is.

IAmNotSurprised said...

Anonymous @ 6:39

You guys are bunch of hypocrites. Could you give an accurate number on how many people have taken the first course? Per my experience the number is usually rounded in millons depending on how the teacher feels. 20 million or maybe 30 millions or maybe even 120 million. Who knows what the real number is. Could you post some proof about the accurate numbers on the AOL website. Thank you.

Prairie Princess said...

It is amusing that people would ask
KLIM for details when they are shilling for an organization that cannot disclose fully where the money goes. If the anonymous lemming crowd wishes to have real credibility instead of simply whining, let them disclose this financial information in full.

Anonymous said...

Klim, remember you started this blog to cite all these stories and not S3 Ravi. So the burden of providing legally defensible evidence rests with you and not the Guru, who couldn't care less about anything anyway.

Anonymous said...

ha ha ha, anon. Everybody whos anybody in the aol knows that Roaring Wolf did more than his time. In fact ravi bitch shankar, was soping when Roaring Wolf left him.
Just shows that you are a fool who knows nothing about aol history.....

Go suck it, you braind dead zombiedrone

Looking forward to hear more of the story Mr. Roaring

KLIM and CO. said...

"remember you started this blog to cite all these stories and not S3 Ravi."

Thanks for reminding me but I did not start this blog to collect evidence to trial Ravi. Read and understand the purpose of the blog carefully. These are all experiences of former members and they don't need to present any evidence of how much they have been brain-washed or abused. No evidence will satisfy an AoLer. I have plenty of times repeated: no DNA, no kinky pictures or videos, no dirty bed sheets, no time card. These are experiences not facts. In any case, demand evidence to the AoL for all the facts they state and spread. If we all would have asked for it long before we went into it, we would have saved ourselves of a lot of lost years. Somehow, we did not ... we innocently believed. Our mistakes. The mistake of many other "millions" (how many were there? "120 million people have done the AoL courses world-wide" - see I still know the phrase by hard - and we NEVER kept a database nor system to calculate how many people had done a course even in a city!). It is ridiculous someone is asking Roaring wolf for evidence of his seva. Can Ravi give evidence of most of his statements and history? He got what degrees at the age of 17? Come on! From where was it? And he cognized the SK where? Come on! Someone except himself saw him? etc. Again, this is not about putting anyone on trial but AoL people seem to read it all like that. If you don't agree with them then you are against them. We are just sharing our experiences! Why don't they start asking their students to give evidence to their experiences after sharing of the SK experiences or Part 2 experiences, for example?????

Shakti said...

I suppose you feel a so-called enlightened guru should always be sweet and pay complements to everyone else? I can imagine being at the head of such a huge organization, one needs to tell it like it is, make tough calls and shake things up now and then.

A sweet tongued guru would make many friends, but would be unable to bring order and discipline in his organization. If I were running his AoL, it would be like an iron-fisted CEO running a tight ship. I'd roast the crap out of anyone who's under-performing and lay waste to anyone who doesn't buy into my megalomania! Yeah.

Anonymous said...

Dear Klim and Co.

I have a sincere question,.. you must be knowing I am sure the facts about this and I also feel this is very true - That Guruji knows what are our thoughts and all. Like he has that power and is omnipresent in that manner.
I have had an incident first hand. But it is not as "major" as the ones I have read or heard about. But still....


crackerjacklady said...

@ Shakti,

Then don't call yourself a Guru! Call yourself a businessman or a honcho out to make a killing lusting for money and fame. If spirituality is a business, then you are out selling your spirit like a pimps selling and buying bodies for sex. In a business venture like the AOL, bodies, souls and minds are brought and sold like commodity to the bedeviled Guru! And if you think "beating the crap" out of some shishyas (disciples) will initiate you into megalomaniacal Gurudom, you are practicing sadomasochistic spirituality! Your brand of spirituality is smutty like the porn industry.

Anonymous said...

sorry KLIM, your blog lacks credibility. No names, no data, no facts or pictures. Just your point of view which is very, very irrational.

I guess you will not publish my comment, hah?

Anonymous said...

To the poster who asked about SSRS knowing everyone's thoughts:
I once knew and worked for a man who truly can hear people think, I saw it many times. He was also one of the most paranoid, abusive, manipulative people I ever met. Knowing someone's thoughts is just a siddhi and the Indian traditions warn of fascination with siddhis as a major obstacle to liberation. There are also many psychological tricks that are used by professional psychics to make you think they know your thoughts. Many of the assumed siddhis of Indian gurus have been debunkend by scientists who demonstrate pretty much everything the gurus do just with stage magic or psychological tricks.

crackerjacklady said...

Does this remind you of someone? :-)

It's a parody about the inane and psychotic mutterings of a Guru at it's best set to some otherworldly, heavy death metal Iron Maiden "musick"!

Anonymous said...

Why would Ravi implicate himself needlessly by giving anything out at all? All his supporters and detractors know that. So it's upto the detractors to compile legally admissible evidence and bring him or his organization to book. Until then, these may be just interesting stories, however you and others may claim martyrdom at the altar of this supposed Guru

IAmNotSurprised said...

Anonymous @ 1:01

I feel sorry for you. You are so brain-washed by AOL that you dont want to respect opinions of the outside world. What is irrational about this blog?

And speaking of names and pics... Why dont you display your name and pic here?

Anonymous said...

Upanishad event in LA is sold out, sorry you folks will be missing all the knowledge. You can still get in as a Donor paying some premium donation.

I had varied experiences in the holy room of which only one of them I thought was overstating of something by guru about himself which I will share it later.

Had very nice compassionate one on one conversations as well in the holy room a few times the moments I cherish even now as the way it should be with the Great guru or a well wisher, though I don't endorse all the AOL stuff these days due to a better understanding of the organization. Me still thinks they should stop over charging for the courses and activities as most people participate are from lower middle class.

By the way did you all caught up with the abuse stories this week emerging from germany connected with the Pope!?

Prasad PN said...

Guru is a teacher. Why people start worshiping them? No Guru has patentable discovery. All techniques are in the scriptures and given to in new packaging.

One need to learn from the learned meaning from one who has learned it ahead of time. Does this make him HOLY GOD?

People get trapped in kinder garden preschools and never graduate to Universities. Like KG schools these gurus and their cults start you in the path of evolution of the inner kind. But after the KG this journey has to be undertaken by individual discovering his inner self. But persons get struck in KG Class awed by the KG Teacher and if one realises (if ever) that he has wasted his life time at the foot or door step - who is to be blamed.

Rules of the game for those who dare to go near these GURUs
1. Take what you can from these gurus
2. Never get branded
3. Never surrender and join the cult
4. Never promote any guru or cult
5. Move on or move in

Be Happy

Anonymous said...

Prasad PN - Well said! Especially I see lack of God realization techniques directly taught in AOL and at the most it is Guru Realization if you care for that. However I must admit it has effective techniques to put one in to the right track so you can comfortably rule out lot of things including c.......n..y and jihadi mentality of I...m

Anonymous said...

hahah ... ravi is a big fraud .. everytime someone askes aol where are the accounts ... its time for them to do kriya and seva .. lol

Anonymous said...

I have a question out of curiosity. Does Ravi Shankar ever do his SK or even yoga/pranayam regularly?

PoorSinfulKLIM said...

Bogus - it's very easy to write these things sitting in the comfort of your room and having a frustrated mind.

I have been with Sri Sri for over 12 years and have easy access to his room and have spent many many hours with him. He is very much the same in the room that he is outside - the same gentle mannerism and integrity. Just taking a few words out of context is truly irresponsible on your part!

Do some introspection - you may find yourself in the same boat in any other places too. Spirituality is not for the meek - even Jesus said that. The meeks complain and leave the truth, so grow out of your small little mind my friend, doesn't matter if it's with Art of Living or somewhere else.

Wishing you all the best!

KLIM and CO. said...

PoorSinfulDevotee, LIFE is not for the meek and you think you are the strong one hiding in a path of brain-washed, brain-dead zombies in which everything is decided by A MAN?! "Guruji says this, Guruji says that." Anyway, what could you understand! You are too brain-washed. We are sorry for having upset you and taken you away from your spiritual center, please don't see intention and accept us as we are, we are just meek lost souls who got off the road! But gee! Why do we feel so much happier where we are? It is all about preferences, isn't it? Or maybe, vivek. All the best.