Thursday, March 25, 2010

My story with AoL, Guruji and his family


Dear Readers and Contributors,

I too have my story which is very similar to those of the contributors of this blog.

I know some of the deep dark secrets of this family run business (Art of Living, VVM, IAHV, etc.) down to where the money flows. Mr. Narsimhan, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's brother-in-law (Bhanu didi's husband) being on the VVM board India, ashram trust, signatures on bank accounts, and money movements. Having Art of Living related businesses (companies) setup for their (Bhanu didi and Narsimhan's) sons, Arvind and Ajay, and many other things.

I think we all should not lose our basic common sense. We should listen to our inner conscience. Like we teach our children - don't do anything Immoral, Unhealthy or Illegal. Yet all this I have seen in the Art of Living.

1. Being a spiritual organization. I too have seen the hypocrisy in the organization. They don't seem to live the principles they preach or seem to be spiritual at all. On the contrary they could be worse than some participants sitting in front of them. I think all teachers actually need to learn the Art of Living. I have also doubted Sri Sri himself because I have seen him back stage and in private settings. I don't think the spiritual masters I have known of the past have been like him. I have experienced what KLIM has to some degree first hand. I have seen what goes on in his meeting room and inner room. I have seen the worst side of people and humanity around Sri Sri, the very opposite of spirituality.

2. Being a non-profit. I think first of all there are certain standards for this. You can't run it like a family business or go on for too long deceiving people. It is NOT a non-profit in reality. At least Deepak Chopra runs it like a business and doesn't deceive people. Art of Living in reality is a family run business and very aggressive at it. Its deceives mostly the teachers, then the volunteers and finally the participants. The teachers and volunteers are feverishly working non-stop to get a little bit of approval and attention from their Guru, neglecting themselves and their responsibilities. And like a science experiment of mice being given a little teaser of nectar asked to keep running harder and faster with the enticement of getting privileges and recognition, like getting into Sri Sri's room. For those 5 minutes in his room they slog the rest of the year competing with each other thinking, "see I do much more than him/her, I should be allowed inside Guruji's room". Everyone competes to be a lead organizer. So much mania and feverishness! Wow, it is the best sales model in the world. Pay them nothing (volunteers), get max revenue out of them, lure them with attention/approval of the Guru, and then use the money they raised as you wish.

I know all that is posted here about the service project and many other things and in great detail. But in order to protect myself I can't divulge all the information in this public forum.

If not the government (US or India) I hope the public implicates Art of Living and Sri Sri, like the ex-disciple of Nityananda. How long will this deception go on? How many more lives and families be destroyed. I am going to do something about it now. Will you?

3. The good side. Nothing is totally wrong or totally right. No one is totally good or bad. There are so many good qualities that Sri Sri has. He has tremendous amount of knowledge, Vedic and Yogic, he does seem to have powers that I have experienced firsthand. However not being all knowing myself I may be mistaken too. Further, these “siddhis” can be misused and are not an indication of enlightenment. But again, I am confused at the dichotomy of his other side seen in private. Art of Living also has good things: the Course points are universal principles on peace of mind, the meditation, breathing techniques, yoga. The cultic elements start if and when one gets involved in the organization. I have seen many people get destroyed. It is the same with Hare Rama Hare Krishna for e.g., which I think is a cult and again I don’t want to brand it as evil, dark, devilish.

My understanding is that everything is part of God, even the unhealthy, illegal and unhealthy things. We need to be wise to make the right choice. I for one want to be firmly established in the knowledge of Vedas, truly seek answers for 'What is the purpose of live', "Who am I", "what is truth", and be free.

There is much more I know. Enough to digest for now! More later... :-)


Vinaya said...

Most of the AOLers know the reality of AOL and this article is quite true from my own experinece. Ravi Ravi's family cointrols everything. As an ex-full time volunteer in AOL I can claim with complete certainity that the so called seva and social service is all a big sham. I feel sorry for myself that I was so badly used for seven months. Like most others I silently slipped out of AOL.

Moving on with Life said...

I can claim to be a long timer as I have been with AOL for well over a decade now. I am completely in agreement with what Sincere Seeker is saying....especially about finding many conflicting indications within the same framework where what is being said and what is being practised are 2 opp ends of a spectrum . The hypocrisy is obvious. There is complete and total lack of transparency in the AOL money management. This is the case in most parts of the world. I have been and done everything that there is to do at AOL....including the teachership bit. I have seen the folly of giving up on the voice of reason and always allowing the benefit of doubt to overshadow the clear lack ethics and values that we witness. Its the bunch of pure, good hearted devotees, who give AOL its credibility. As for me, it is time to move on. And from everything I have witnessed so far, SK practitioners definitely are not enjoying better memory. I wonder if I do more of SK it will help me forget my AOL memories and experiences and get on with my life....I have much catching up to do with all those who loved me and who I ignored and was indifferent to..just because they did not buy into AOL the way I had........I gave more than a decade of my PRIME TIME to AOL. Thank you KLIM.....even if this BLOG was originally not meant to be what it has grown into today.

josh said...

I have been with sri sri for over 12 years now. maybe more. dont remember anymore. got my ego busted. tears of joy sometimes, and of pain often. lots of doubts came up after a few years and tons of courses. doing seva did not make it more easy for me either. group pressure(did you do your seva?), lack counsiousness in teachers(they are all poor i seem to observe), rules to follow etc. meeting guruji was painfull as my longing was immense when he left. my life got really hurtfull, but beautiful also in many ways. then my doubt was strong enough to actually "leave" AOL and sri sri. found other gurus and systems. did those for some years. the grace was MUCH less than what I experienced in AOL. my conclusions was that AOL provided me lots of blessings compared to other gurus etc. went back to AOL. became a teacher. loved meeting sri sri again but made a clear decision: there is a BIG difference between the guru and AOL. loving sri sri is easy.loving AOL is difficult ha ha. have him in your life(if you want) and take some courses etc. once in awhile. do NOT get involved in AOL and seva if your mind easily can get pushed and you see flaws everywhere like I do. AOL is BIG. its full of flaws. Ego's everywhere. and dont make sri sri into something he is not........ he is NOT perfect. he is as beautiful as YOU are, and as HUMAN as you are. perfection in imperfection. he delivers knowledge and blessings to those who wants them. I do NOT run after him anymore with my old puppy love. he is my friend and equal. I smile when I see him, and he smiles when he sees me(maybe ha ha). thats it. no mystical anything. keep things simple. your expectations becomes your misery. save yourself. dont wait for a guru to do everything for you. take what you can use of teachings from everywhere. even in the supermarket and freeway. and take responsibility for yourself. do not depend on others. incl your guru. don't make a big deal out of anything. its only your own pain anyway. but LEARN from him how to be strong within yourself. or learn from your neighbor. its the same deal anyway.
I have heard wierd stuff from sri sri. heard beautiful knowledge also. seen beautiful things done by AOL, and insane things. its ALL filtered and judged by MY mind.
it reminds me of something.... hmmm oh yes got it: its called LIFE.
: )
there is a blog with criticism about pretty much EVERY guru on this planet. this one is just 1 out of many. mostly written by people who had unfulfilled dreams and hurt egos. or lack of ability to see how the pain inside is a blessing to grow. I am one of them sometimes. sometimes im not. and thats ok. I still love myself. and all of you in here. in the end when all the dust has settled and things becomes clear: there was all along the whole time only 1 guru anyway: YOU my dear : )
personally on a practically level I am doing this for the future: I will see sri sri sometimes. teach if I feel the inspiration and calling in my heart, not because I HAVE TOO. I will not be pressured. dont care about other peoples opinions. get very little involved in AOL on a practical level and if I do, hover above it like a lotus flower with non attachments and keep my vision alive: I AM the source of all wisdom, hence I seek NOTHING outside of me. no confirmations. no acceptance. so no conflict and I will not end up suffering in the long run.
You are bigger than THAT, move on dear brothers and sisters and see that AOL and sri sri are just miniversions of LIFE itself anyway.
love you.
keep up the good work on yourselves.
Im off for 21 days of fasting. noone to blame but myself in that process....... whatever happens. ha ha

manju said...

I tend to believe what Sincere Seeker has mentioned about the AOL being a family-run business. I remember during TTC 1, when we lived like 'cattle' in a huge dorm (ok, I'm not cribbing about this since it was a good military training). Due to the constant pressure of work and seva and yoga, our dorm was a tad messy. Someone came up to us and said "Clean this room, Bhanu didi's husband is visiting'.

I was aghast. First of all, I thought, who is he to visit? Secondly, ours was a women's wing, and why were they sending him over? Internally, I rebelled over this. I quietened myself saying 'drop the mind'.

I am soooooo happy to have left the Art of Living. But I am also happy to have gone through the learning and am grateful to Guruji. He still 'visits' me in my dreams- but perhaps this is just a mental projection of mine.

I think we are destined to go through experiences and we must just let it be at that. I think if we evolve, perhaps our conscience starts to prompt us with 'hey, you dont agree to the means and method (never mind the end goal), why not simply move on then always with gratitude?

As for those who are still runnin' and runnin' in the org, well, their time will come too some day. I don't want to break their hearts (or their purses!) with my thoughts. After all, I believe truly in a Higher Being who will surely show the way...

I am indeed very grateful.

Have a good day and thanks for sharing your own experiences. I read this with dispassion. No one said that we shouldn't be discerning in the world that we live in...

Anonymous said...

Family. Ahh... where do we start? I've been a long time AoL-er and have experienced some of these problems first hand. I still practice kriya since it keeps me healthy, but don't have anything to do with the org beyond that.

On the other hand, my wife went and plunged headfirst into the org. She joined AoL two years after I did, but was sucked into it completely. She did all the courses possible, spent money to travel to India to do some more courses, and the TTC1 and TTC2 for SSYoga.

I ran into the peer-pressure side of AoL during this phase of hers. AoL *was* family, and though we have a young son, this biological family took second precedence. It truly strained our relationship to the extent I seriously considered divorce & custody and even consulted a lawyer.

Things are settling down now, and I'm working to get our family together again.

Anonymous said...

What kind of powers or siddhis does Ravi have? Can you please share some examples.

Peaceful Warrior said...

It is so heartbreaking to see sincere seekers and devotees drop out of seva. Like all of you, I feel conflicted - at one hand is a dysfunctional organization and a guru caught up in a numbers game - on the other hand is suffering humanity; Knowledge indeed is a force for good, and probably the only way to remove suffering. What a difference we could have made had RS not been caught up in glory.

Nobody said...

@ Anon from March 27, 2010 10:45 AM

You do realize that the existence of "siddhis" or "powers" would contradict almost all known laws of physics? While it would be truly amazing to have verifiable, repeatable and consistent experiments that demonstrate powers outside the known realms of physics, nobody, and I repeat nobody has ever managed to do so.

Think about that for a bit. For instance, if I could read your mind, then it would require either (a) another fundamental force to exist outside the known four - electromagnetic, gravitational, strong and weak or (b) that the information transfer (mind-reading) was accomplished via a modulation of one of these four and that while our physical body could sense and control that force, we couldn't make any instrument that could do the same.

(a) is untrue because something like that has not been found to exist yet.

(b) is untrue because we have devices to at least measure all four fundamental forces, so that modulation would at least be detectable and no such detection has happened yet.

Apply Occam's razor and you will have your answer.

Anonymous said...

Anon March 27, 2010 10:45 AM

My first hand experience of Sri Sri Sidhdhis

He reads minds, he tells your name your past and present problems. Sometimes he indicates future to some people. He can tell before someone calls him up. He can manifest things you swear did not exist in that place 1-2 seconds ago. Most of the times he chooses to act like a polite commoner. He springs surprises when you least expect it. I am an Indian from India. I have met Indian mind readers and people possessing sidhdhis before I met Sri Sri. But He seems to be capable of someting infinitely more deep. It seems he chooses to act out of ordinary only at his own sweet will. I have met him personally 3-4times. Meetings were without my asking for any appointment. He called to meet. Please dont ask me how because I dont know. I don't have much money nor I do any work for aol. I can't volunteer because I have too many responsibilities. Also I don't like volunteering. Whenever I have met him I was not looking for anything from him. It was a chance encounter. My observation is that when you just meet him not expecting anything material or spiritual he is relaxed and free. He then feels free to play with his sidhdhies just to have pure fun with a chosen few or because he senses some sheer necessity of his visitor. He doesnt seem to feel big deal of his sidhdhis. He didn't lecture me or anything it was just fun, games and laughter everytime. In my observation its quite possible that he has temper. He is not afraid to display that.
Honestly I truely liked him as a special extraordinary human being.