Friday, April 30, 2010

Free Free Censored Censored by Sri Sri?

By Skywalker

the latest post on our ”ghostblog”,, was suddently edited recently, omitting the following RS quotes. In the interest of objectivity and fairness, we have decided to re-publish them. Really I find that they speak for themselves, and I fully understand why they were suddently deleted. This is the original Free Free post:

Tuesday, April 27, 2010
A Favor

I got a chance to talk to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar today. I mentioned to him that i had started this blog, basically to counter the stuff that some of those bilious minds seem to come up with about him. I told him how it could affect many people's opinions about Art of Living and him adversely, and what he said left me quite speechless.

He said, Oh let them write whatever they wish. As much bad things they want to write they are welcome to write. it's good.

Seeing the quizzical expression on my face, he smiled and continued. If there are any people who believe this and are going away, then they are weak minded people. People who want to deny the overwhelming evidence that is staring at them in their face, or who doubt their own experience and listen to some bunch of people criticizing us are being filtered away from us. and that is good!

We will be able to find out who is intelligent and who is strong. We should thank them. They are doing us a big favor.

What a different way of looking at things.

Later, I asked some others why Art of Living had not put up any official counters to this disgusting (at least to me, most of them seemed not to be bothered about it), they said in different ways, we are too busy.

Very few were concerned about it, but when i told them what Guruji had said to me earlier, they all brightened up and encouraged me to write more on this blog. Some of them even said they wanted to contribute.

One of them told me about an interview that Sri Sri had given sometime ago. He had been asked, Guruji can you predict the future? With a smile He had replied, wise men don't predict the future, they make it!

This volunteer told me i have much to do, to make the future, can't be bothered by Guruholic and co.

I asked another, what about Satyameva Jayate? That truth should prevail.
She smiled and said, in time, truth will always prevail.


OK, J, since you are an ardent reader of this blog, please answer the following questions (i will submit this post on the free free blog also, as a comment, just to make sure you read it). If you are left speechless, as seems to happen to you quite often, you may bring the questions to your Master, for him to answer.

If there are any people who believe this and are going away, then they are weak minded people. People who want to deny the overwhelming evidence that is staring at them in their face, or who doubt their own experience and listen to some bunch of people criticizing us are being filtered away from us. And that is good! We will be able to find out who is intelligent and who is strong.”

Please show me the overwhelming evidence, staring me right in my face. Really, I am not being sarcastic! Finally RS comes to the level of sound arguments and reason, instead of asking everyone to simply have faith. I will be most happy to study any evidence you may submit, arguing the claims that

  1. RS is an enlightened being, with no self-interest

  2. has the power to know people's past and future, as he claims (uups, then why does he need this blog ”to find out who is intelligent and strong”?)

  3. has heightened awareness/supernatural powers, thus being able to predict/manifest the future

  4. has any other siddhis or powers, like for instance these guys, who miraculously levitate (It's true, they actually fly through the air, watch the video! My rationalist point of view was shaken watching it... or not!)

  5. ....Oh, I could go on, but what is the point?

Okay, please explain to me then, why RS wants to ”filter away” the ”weak minded”. Isn't the whole point of a guru to help the weak get stronger? Or could it be that what RS really intends is to filter away the strong minded, those who dare question and think for themselves? Does he feel threatened, maybe? It reminds me of a quote from one of Nick's posts:

"Joel Kramer describes in his book "The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power" how cult leaders often show great love, compassion and tolerance, as long as their growing needs for personal ego gratification are met. As soon as the cult's popularity and growth starts to diminish, the cult leader will often react by weeding out the weak of faith, and strenghening his grip on the remaining members." (Nick)

Maybe the weak of faith are the strong of mind, intelligence and integrity?

People (...) who doubt their own experience and listen to some bunch of people criticizing us are being filtered away from us. And that is good!

J, listen up: we are the ones who stopped doubting our own experience. That is why we left. We write now to the people with secret doubts, the ones who are in pain and who need a way out. When we share our pain and insight, our experiences in and our liberation from the cult and its leader, these people gain hope and inspiration. If you are happy in AOL, fine. If ever you should feel that nagging doubt about the integrity of your Master, you will probably find -like we did- that nowhere in the organisation are you allowed to openly express those doubts. Yes, you may criticize the organisation -it has become quite the fashion amongst senior teachers, to openly do that, as if they feel the need to demonstrate that the organisation is open and transparent enough to allow this. But who criticizes or questions the guru? Once you start doing that, you are weeded out.

Is doubt really just lack of prana? Or are doubts your own good judgement desperately trying to be heard, through the AOL mind conditioning? If doubt is lack of prana, how come so many people in the prana-enriched AOL community are having secret doubts? RS, if you are really only interested in the strong of faith, why do you threaten your remaining teachers, telling them "they will be eaten up by their own minds" if they leave AOL? Don't you know that fear makes you weaker, not stronger? Or is it all really about (your) power and (your) control, rather than about empowering and freeing people?

No wonder Sri Sri censors censors Free Free!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Sri Sri, Free Free, Fraud Fraud, LOL LOL


Apparently what came out of the meeting between the AoL US board and Sri Sri to discuss how the blog “Confessions of a Guruholic” has “become a virus” is the creation of another blog led by two of their marketing people (Harish Ramachandran, CEO of Sumeru India, and Bharathy): In the same way I no longer read “esatsang” or visit any AoL websites, I also have not checked out this one. I have no doubt, however, they will do a good job - in style, content, schemes. After all, the AoL is what it is due to witty marketing!

I am, however, still processing my thoughts and feelings about it. It is the ultimate fall of someone who once was my “idol”. If I still had any hopes or ideas that perhaps RS was a good person corrupted by power, I sadly have no longer any doubts we are facing a man greatly blinded by power, led by acute narcissism. I don’t know whether to worry, laugh, pity or fear them. This is the story of a man who claims to be a spiritual enlightened master, but also of one who is afraid of losing power to a blog. If there is truth in anything he does and who he is, including his condition of “spiritual master” and “enlightened being”, then, he/they would not even bother campaigning against it by defending themselves, convincing anyone of anything or “exposing” anything. Truth speaks alone. A blog that desperately goes out to negate another only insinuates weakness and deceit. I am afraid Ravishankar is neither well-assessed nor thinking with the “big mind”. The ultimate, absolute fall of my former “idol”.

A "blog blog" will only weaken their status and bring more popularity to this one. I and Co. are not interested in numbers, hits, popularity. I keep insisting this blog was not created with the intention of defaming anyone or anything. This blog was created with the sole purpose of allowing healing, sharing, recovery (mainly, that of my own). If I were interested in defaming, other kind of stories would have been published, with full names, details, locations, etc. Whereas we used to justify the “nasty” by exhonerating the guru of any wrong-doing, this finally teaches me it is all only an expression of the guru. As the popular saying states (and he also does), “we become like the one we love.”

However, I only have one question that rhymes to “where have all the flowers gone?” - “Where did all the knowledge go?” Wasn’t it that we should not be “football of other people’s opinions”, “not see intentions behind people’s mistakes”, “not make the mistake of going against other’s mistakes”, “we are all responsible for everything”, “I belong to you”, “accept people as they are”, “love our enemy”, “love is not an emotion it is our very own existence”? Where did all the knowledge go???

I understand the blog has 2 “free” in its title, and something about “exposing the guruholics”. Thus, my second question: can fanaticism lead to so much stupidity they actually cannot even think? The title “Confessions of a Guruholic” is a criticism of myself, of my years of brain-washed, brain-dead guru addict. I was a “guruholic” and no longer am, thus, the “confessions” (though they say, once an addict, always an addict. I, for one, do not want to see a guru in any size, shape and color for quite many life times). Whatever attack or exposing they do to the “guruholics” will only be of themselves since they are the only “guruholics” here! Noone following this blog, except AoLers, are “guruholics”! Sadly, their hatred and fanaticism does not allow them to realize this. Is it all only about conquering the world or smashing those who do not agree with them? Is it really all only about money, as I am told by many?

Further, in a logical equation, “artoflivingfree” means, free of AoL. By double negating it, their subliminal message is one cannot be free of the AoL. Whatever you do to free yourself of it, they will eliminate because there is nothing such as being free of “it”. Freeing the free means there is no free. Question: Wasn’t it that spiritual evolution gives and leads one to freedom? What happened with “a master is happiest when the disciple transcends him”?

With just a little bit of reason and critical thinking, any half intelligent person will see the only message AoL is sending with this attempt is the confirmation they are a cult of a bunch of fanatics who rule with despotism.

Many people have expressed they find this campaign ludicrous. I find it sad and disturbingly embarrassing. This is what the man whose feet I once touched and the organization I once represented narrows down to. Not even an ounce of dignity, integrity or elegance. Further, they keep accusing a friend for being Klim and leading this blog. In the last month she’s received 2 written threats from Ravishankar. Excuse me, wasn’t it Ravishankar knows it all?

And so, in the spirit of maintaining the true essence of this blog, we will add their link to ours under "Helpful Links", for the love and respect of freedom of speech and of the being and because “opposite values are complimentary”. We were not allowed to express nor think on our own while with them, and though they try to censor us even when we are no longer with them, it is our intrinsic birthright (just like “having a body free of diseases and a mind free of stress”). It is sad to see how many people leave the organization totally destroyed, disheartened, shaken, confused, ill. Few people understand the pain of spiritual rape and deception, of cult abuse and brain-washing. Though I have attempted to shut down this blog many times due to lack of time and (I must confess) interest because I grow tired of hearing about AoL, “Confessions of a Guruholic” will remain here for those who need a place to heal, share and be heard, because there is need and it is a free world. People are only righteously demanding for transparency. That is all. There is nothing wrong with that. RS/AOL should not be afraid of it nor defend themselves. If they humbly understood this, they could improve their organization.

However, it seems RS & Co. are in the mood for war but I am not. It was never about that. It was about love, love for myself, the love that I did not have while blindly working for him while worshipping him, thinking I was being led towards spiritual growth. Scream, threaten the wrong people, threaten me, lie, but, if you could see me now, you will see a big sincere smile in my face and peace in my heart. I am happy to be truly FREE. If RS were a true Master, he would only just be happy for me and give me his blessings (instead of curses).

I salute those who have deceived, betrayed, hurt and lied about me. The feverishness, hatred, fanaticism, ambition, fears I’ve found and keep discovering in the AoL have taught me great lessons, and keep further adding maturity, strength and depth in my life. As I often say, ever since I left the AoL, I have found real spirituality. In humble gratitude.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eaten Up By My Own Mind (part 2: The Curse)

BY NICK (continued)

Well, the meeting ended badly. He hadn't read the mail. I had anticipated that, so I had a print-out which I handed over to him, on my way out -in complete shock. This is what I wrote down on my laptop, immediately afterwards:

I gotta write this down before I forget. I went to the meeting. He started telling us about a great spiritual time starting from 2011, and how until then we would see people losing faith and falling into darkness. I told him then that I personally had lost faith in him, but I did not feel particularly in darkness, quite the opposite. I told him I had some issues with the organisation and in particular his person. He cut me off and started talking about faith, how important it is to be faithfull. I told him I had lost faith in his Divine status, and felt no worse for that. He got angry and started shouting: ”Do you know me? Do you think you really know me?” I was pretty subdued at that time, not able to do anything but stammer something. That happens, when a person that I have considered for 10 years to be the closest thing to a living God starts shouting at me. Then he went on shouting, ”I know your past as well as your future”. Something else -I was scared out of my wits at this time, I don´t remember clearly- and then he said ”you can just leave anytime, nobody is stopping you."

So I left. Clearly he didn't know my future that well, at least he did not seem to have anticipated that: 10 minutes later I got a call from one of his people asking me to come back. I said no. Then another call asking me to come back and give my Kriya tape back to him in person (I had left it with his secretary on the way out). I refused. Another call -I didn't pick it up. Then an sms asking me to hand over the course manual too. I answered back, ”you can have it all”. Then another sms asking me to hand over the course manual -to the Guru, in person. I didn't answer that one.

I wonder what he told my (ex) colleagues after I left? That I was severely deluded? Possesed be a Demon, perhaps? Or maybe that he staged the whole event, to deliberately set me free, for my own sake? I am curious, but I no longer care about his opinion. This event established it for me: the guy is a fake. He lost it, the nice facade cracked and an altogether too human nature shined through.

I am sure some of my ex-colleagues feel very sorry for me right now, as I used to feel very sorry for the people who left the organisation. All I feel now is relief and great joy!

The next days and weeks are a blur in my mind. The emotional stress of leaving AOL after 10 years was tremendous; fear and doubts made gave me bouts of regret. Had I thrown away the most precious thing in my life? Was this the ultimate, bad karma? Immediately after leaving, I sent an e-mail with the two letters above attached, to all the people in AOL that I knew personally, including the people I had taught on courses. It caused some upheavals, as people started forwarding it to others, but curiously enough the only hate-mail I got back was from a German senior teacher, to whom I hadn't sent the mail:
Dear Nick,

I have read your two Emails concerning you views on Guruji and AOL. Maybe Art of Living just needed a "bad" guy; thank you very much for playing that role. But please make sure that u don't drown in the bitterness and hatred. You are so compassionate to save people from being cheated you're your are sending mails to everybody to make them aware so that they don't get cheated . Is it out of compassion for others or out of your own hatred in which you were reeling for some time. Actually its too late, you have been party to it for so many years yourself! Your words have no value now. Did it take so many years for you to realize this???

To know somebody is a fraud, you need to know that person in and out. You never had a chance to know Guruji from close corner. Perhaps that jealousy is what makes you act like. Ask yourself, is it not jealousy that makes you act like this? I have seen Guruji from close corners. His sincerity and simplicity is just mind-blowing. You call him a fraud, yes, but this is absolutely ridiculous.

With best regards

With best regards, Lars? Oookay, if you say so.

A few weeks after my dramatic exit, I met with a former AOL teacher colleague, who also happened to be a friend and business partner. He had been present at the meeting also. Out of curiosity, I asked him what had happened on the meeting, after I left. He told me that SSRS had read my letter. Then when asked by one of the teachers what would happen to the teachers who left the organisation, he had replied: ”They will be eaten up by their own minds”.

Hearing those words, I was paralyzed by fear. My worst fears were confirmed, just like that! I was damned, by my sinful actions! And because of my mail, there was no way back to the Guru's Grace!It took several days of counselling by good friends (also ex-teachers) for me to realize the fact that curses only work on those who believe in them. One very good example is this:

Two years have passed since the Guru's curse. I still haven't been eaten up by my own mind. In fact I feel fine, better than ever. I certainly don't miss the stress and sense of urgency permeating AOL, putting most of the teachers in a state of heightened arousal, making them easier to control and manipulate. These words of Janja Lalich have been a great inspiration to me:

"Now that you are no longer on a mission to save the world or your soul, relaxation and rest are no longer sinful. In fact, they are absolutely necessary for a healthy, balanced, and productive life." (Lalich, Janja: "Take Back your Life: Recovering from Cult and Abusive Relationships")

With your mind conditioned by AOL to believe that SSRS is enlightened, a lot of the craziness in AOL doesn't make sense. Still, we excuse His erratic behavior with the usual arguments: it is for the good of all, the Divine works in mysterious ways, etc. An incompetent leader is allowed to keep her job ”because she needs it for her personal growth”, and we are in awe of His compassion.

But once you ask yourself one simple question: ”What if He isn't enlightened? What if He has self-interest?”, then everything makes sense. An incompetent board president is allowed to stay, because unquestioning loyalty is valued more than leadership skills, and because it makes the group easier to control. Fits of rage from the Guru suddently makes sense -the anger is not ”faked”, it is genuine. And the primary motivation of the man who started it all is no longer love and compassion, but greed for power, money and personal fame. As a senior teacher (an elderly Indian woman living in Bad Antogast) once told me: ”He feeds off devotion”. She meant it lovingly, but I think she was right back then, and when I think of the consequences of this -that He is addicted to devotion, seemingly wanting it more and more- it makes me shudder in horror. Joel Kramer describes in his book "The Guru Papers: Masks of Authoritarian Power" how cult leaders often show great love, compassion and tolerance, as long as their growing needs for personal ego gratification are met. As soon as the cult's popularity and growth starts to diminish, the cult leader will often react by weeding out the weak of faith, and strenghening his grip on the remaining members. So my advice to any AOL members reading this is: get out now, while you can, it is bound to get even more crazy than you have experienced until now.

I no longer believe in enlightenment. But do I belive in the opposite, then? Is SSRS the Anti-Christ of all time, purely evil? Actually I believe that he might have started out with the best of intentions, back then. But, as often happens -in the words of Lord Acton (1887): "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men." The power you are offered as a Guru, when devotees surrender their free will to you -that is absolute power. If you take it, you are lost, you have gone to the Dark Side.

The whole point of democracy is to limit power, and make the people in powerful positions accountable for any abuse of their power. In business, legislation prevents companies from monopolizing the market, thus preventing them from becoming too powerful. Nothing in the AOL prevents SSRS from aquiring and exerting absolute power; quite the contrary, in fact. Of course the poor guy turns out megalomanic. Yes, he is dangerous. But he is also a victim himself. A victim of misplaced devotion. For as long as there are people in this world willing to trust the word of another above their own judgement, thus bypassing their intellect, we will have Bad Gurus. Maybe it is time to think for ourselves?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Art of Living = Money, sex, scam, fraud, deceit


Is the Art of Living Foundation a scam? Is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar a fraud?
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi called Ravi Shankar "sugar coated poison". That kind of sums it.

The latest is that in his current US tour, RS (Ravi Shankar) is summoning his people to raise more money, get to the wealthy, for another project, Sri Sri University. Another scam! Raise money from others using volunteers (who do it for free and sacrifice their life, rather than earn it for themselves) and then invest it in property who's beneficiaries are his family members and use the front of Sri Sri University! Wow! that the best model in the world don't you think? Very similar to that of Maharishi his master. They say the devotee out does the master!

Before the Nithyananda scandal broke out, Rajshree Patel, the executive director of the Art of Living LA Center went and met Popat Savla, the head of the Nithyananda org. in LA. Mr Savla then mailed Rajshree a $50,000 check!

He gave $2.5mil to Nithyananda to buy and build the temple in LA. Even after the scandal broke out Sri Sri had the guts to visit them in LA. You all read the article in the Deccan Herald about Sri Sri going to visit the Nithyananda temple and Mr. Savla contacted the newspaper and told them if felt like a corporate takeover. Yes, he's a good candidate for take over since he gave millions in the past.

After going past the "sugar" it takes wisdom to recognize the "poison". I am eagerly waiting to read more articles from Whistleblower on the deep dark secrets of Sri Sri. I hope that all of you read Whistleblowers extremely intriguing comments under the post Comment on the "Teacher’s pompous answer to a devotee’s sincere question."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Eaten Up By My Own Mind (part 1: Anonymity and Confrontation)


It is exactly two years now, since my exit from AOL. I was a member for 10 years, a teacher for 8 of those. Reading this blog, I sympathize deeply with the people who have been hurt by their affiliation with the organization. I understand the need for anonymity -I myself do not want my full name associated with the organisation. I imagine a future prospective employer googling my name, and there I am, linked to a religious, new-age cult. How embarrasing! So, I am using my ”Nick”name, to write these posts. People who knew me back then will know who I am, and they can make their own judgements as to how reliable my story is. Anyone else... sorry guys! My years in AOL are not something I am proud of. If I am going to be able to put them behind me, I need to be able to keep my name clear of AOL.

Some writers have expressed fear of violent reprisals by AOL'ers, lest their identity be known. I have no fear of that; the AOL teachers and organisers in my area are basically good people, albeit severely deluded. True, there are some genuine nutcases also, more powerful now that many of the good people have left. But the violence in AOL seems to me to be primarily emotional. There is quite a lot of that, though. But I live in a quiet part of the world. Ex-devotees in other countries may have different experiences. As for the fear of legal reprisal: Imagine the organisation suing the authors in this blog, for libel. ”We are not a cult. We do not use mind-control techniques. No money has been siphoned off to private accounts.” Can you imagine AOL doing that? No, me neither.

I no longer do any practice, except for some occasional yoga. I regard the AOL practice as helpful in many instances, potentially harmful only if you overdo it (as many of us did back then) or regard it as a miracle cure for all personal problems, mental and physical -thereby not seeking proper, professional help (yep, we did that too).

In the years before leaving, I had gradually ”lost faith”. A clinical depression, lasting several years, had not lifted, despite SSRS's claim that "I was in a difficult astrological phase, and it would get better next year". A trip to India, personally invited by SSRS to travel with him, left me feeling empty and even more depressed than before. There were no answers to be found in the Holy Land. Personal time with the Master turned out to be... well, boring. And the hysteria, the manipulation of devotees and the general bad craziness was worse than ever before.

One day, sitting in the throes of deep depression, with suicidal thoughts, I suddently realized: He won't be able to save me. In fact, no-one will come to save me. I am alone, and I have to face up to that reality. In that very moment, my three-year long depression lifted, just like that. I also lost the last shreds of faith in the Guru as a person of supernatural power, able to communicate with and and influence people through metaphysical means. I still had faith in his good intentions, though, and a couple of months later, with this new conviction I left home for a National Teachers' Meeting with the man, to test whether my newfound belief would be accepted.

You see, I really enjoyed teaching the course. And I figured, why not be the first atheist AOL teacher? Sure, maybe SSRS believes himself to be enlightened and in posession of divine qualities and supernatural powers. Well hey, everybody are entitled to their own personal beliefs, so why not him also? Maybe some people actually need a guru to whom they can surrender their free will, someone to relieve them of the responsibility of life. Maybe he is doing good things for some people, and only unintentionally messing other people up.

Two days before the meeting, I sent him an e-mail, with copies to my teacher colleagues. This is the mail:

Dear Guruji,
I have two important issues that I would really like to discuss on the National teacher's meeting Saturday, where I will also be present. One regards the Art of Living organisation as a whole, the other regards the local organisation.

My main concern is the emphasis and focus on your person, as a Divine being with supernatural powers. A new Messiah, you might say. In fact, are you aware that a lot of people -teachers in particular- actually believe you to be a reincarnation of Christ? Some of them even claim to have heard you yourself say so. I am not saying that you are not, although personally I find it very unlikely. All I am suggesting is that you either deny those claims, or get ready to prove them should they become publicly known, as is bound to happen eventually. Can you imagine the reaction from the christian community?

Already on the internet many of these stories are being told, by "defectors" from the organisation. If you don't believe me look at and it continues at

Now of course these examples could just be someone trying to drag your name through the mud. It just strikes me how similar my own thougths regarding you have been recently.

I used to believe in your Divine powers, your ability to hear and answer prayers coming to you from across the globe, your ability to be present in two places at the same time, to heal the incurable etc. etc. Why shouldn't I? I was surrounded by people who were prepared to swear that their miraculous experiences in your name really happened. The fact that I myself never saw you perform any miracles -defined as "exertion of supernatural powers", something that could not be explained by reason and science- made me feel very shameful. Maybe I was not a proper devotee? Maybe I was not worthy to get a glimpse of your true, Divine being? Not strong enough? Not surrendered enough?

For many years I used to pray to you, to give me a sign -give me my own "Guru-story" that would vaporize my doubt and make my faith strong! Shame and guilt grew in me, because of my secret doubts about my Guru. I was told repeatedly on courses and TTC, that doubt was just lack of prana. As a way to compensate for my guilt, I would try my best to convince other people that you had these special powers.

The teacher's training reinforced my inner conflict. We were told countless "Guru-stories" documenting your Divine powers, and many stories going "My Guru told me to do this-and-this and I didn't and I was miserable and then I did it and everything became fine", and "this person left the organisation and look at him now he is miserable". Maybe these stories are meant to be inspiring. In me they created fear - fear of independent thoughts and actions. Fear of following my heart, should my heart tell me to do things that was not related to Art of Living. For many years I was afraid to ask your advice in personal matters. What if you told me to do something that went against my own, innner conviction? Then I would have to do it, because not doing as your Guru tells you is extremely bad karma. So I had been told. So better not ask. And then lots of guilt for not trusting you.

It seems to me that you have allowed a whole mythology to be created around your person. The closer you get to the "inner circle" around you, the more people act as if you are the ultimate answer to all the problems of the world. You are all-knowing, you posses special Divine insight etc. As a concequence, very few dare question you at all -and may even be feeding you wrong information about your own organisation, based more on what they think you might want to hear -based on your "prophecies"- than actual reality. It is certainly a joke how AOL activities and achievements are routinely exaggerated. Maybe you are surrounded by yes-sayers, of the worst kind? Certainly a strong dogma among the teachers is that you do not under any circumstances question the Guru.

At the root of every religion is the notion that "We have the ultimate truth. Everybody else are deluded". Too many people are treating Art of Living as a religion. I can't say that I blame them. I used to believe myself that you will save the world, that your ultimate and Divine knowledge will envelop the whole world. If we do nothing to stop this tendency, then I believe the Art of Living will end up just like that -another religion, of which the world has too many allready. Just recently attemps were made to throw me out of the TTC group in my country, on the grounds that "I was not adhering to the proper teachings of the Guru". It was demanded that "I declare the nature of my relationship with you". Many teachers have been blinded by faith, to the extent that declaring your proper faith becomes more important than living basic human values. The whole Guru-hype culture and in particular the massive indoctrination happening in the TTC is creating this, and I can not at present recommend teachers training, DSN or even phase three courses to anyone. The risk of getting caught up in the myths surrounding you, and thereby loosing trust in your own judgement is too big.

I have lost my faith in you as the all-knowing, almost-omnipotent, Guruji. And it is a great relief, as it has allowed me to gain faith in myself. I no longer believe in Grace as an actual thing transferred from you to me -and I am experiencing more Grace in my life than ever before! It seems to be coming from inside of me.

We were told on TTC that we were "The Chosen Ones" -hand-picked by You to spread the light in the world. And oh, it felt wonderful to be among the select few. Unfortunately it widened the distance between me and the rest of humanity (non-aol people) and made me feel increasingly lonely. After climbing down off my pedestal I feel such relief and so much more belongingness to everyone. I no longer follow the advice from TTC to "hide your attachments", I no longer feel pressure to maintain a proper front as an Art of Living teacher. I am just... me, mr. Average Joe, no better or worse than anyone else. Wonderful!

I believe I would have followed you even without the promise of enlightenment through Divine Grace. I acknowledge the tremendous, positive difference you make in people's lives. And I wonder why you allow people to attribute every single positive change to your Divine intervention, thus creating a false dependency on the Guru. As I see it, when people relax and gain knowledge, they heal themselves. It is a perfectly natural -not supernatural- thing. In fact, my innner conviction is closer to that of atheism than anything else. And frankly it offends me to read talks by you in which you claim atheists to be stupid. As if we are unable to perceive and appreciate the beauty and wonder of the world without a belief in God.

I just recently finished teaching a Basic course, and I must say -I enjoy it very much, and I would like to continue giving these courses. And although I certainly do question your judgement, particularly in regard to how you allow cultish worshipping of your person, I do not question your authority in the Art of Living. I will bring my kriya tape Saturday, and if based on this mail you do not wish me to continue teaching, I will hand it back to you, no hard feelings. I don't really expect you to change anything, purely on the basis of my humble opinion, and I am ready to drop my involvement in the Art of Living complety. I am writing this out of love for the knowledge, the organisation, it's people and... well. You.

See you saturday!

(to be continued)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Comment on the teacher’s pompous answer to a devotee’s sincere question


I have to comment on the teacher’s pompous answer to a devotee’s sincere question posted by anon on 4/19 @ 5:10 PM under “Ravishankar’s Hankering for NPP (part 2)”. I remember going through the teacher’s training part 2, and having to debate over this course price issue. I also felt that the price of the course was a barrier to those who most “needed” the course, and I was hoping for a chance at the TTC to air my concerns and get reassurance that in fact the exorbitant cost of courses was justified. This was not allowed—instead, we were made to defend an opinion that opposed our own in a sort of group debate. How clever of them to try and get us to do our own brainwashing, and I am sure it worked on some. As for me, I became only more convinced that AoL caters to the rich and ignores the poor because rs is interested in the money, and not in rendering any kind of service.

“Q> I am a staunch follower of Art of living and have done part 1, part 2 and Sahaj Samadhi courses. I thoroughly enjoyed them and love Guruji. But I always felt the courses are expensive. I thought spiritual knowledge should be distributed at the minimal cost and it is upto the seeker to offer how much ever it pleases him/her for Guru Dakshina. There were a few other situations when I was a bit under financial pressure to donate atleast $300. This has bothered me quite a bit even though I am a philanthropist. If people are rich and can afford it, it is a different matter. Sorry for my ignorance. I am not really clear. But if you can please explain to me in detail, I would really appreciate it.”

The answer posted by the teacher on his/her blog is clearly a compilation of arguments that the teacher trainers have taught us all to parrot, and some of the arguments are misleading, silly, evasive, or simply untrue.

“Spiritual Knowledge has never been at minimal cost .. earlier you would have had to go and do Seva in an Ashram for 10-15 years before you even got a whiff of learning about meditation… Then after all that, you would give a Guru Dakshina if at all…”

Okay, so why doesn’t AoL accept service and time commitment as payment for a course? These days, volunteers are asked to pay to volunteer at an event, especially for those events where rs will be in attendance. And why pressure course participants to give a dakshina at the end of the course? I am a westerner, and I might be misunderstanding the concept, but shouldn’t Dakshina come from one’s own inspiration, and not a result of external pressures? Clearly in this argument, traditions of the past are being twisted to justify the practices of aol today. Either stick to tradition, or call it what it is—a business.

“…The Art of Living courses are typically 18-40 hours in length, assuming you are paying $300 for an approximately 25 hour course, you are paying $12 per hour which is utterly exploitative … Would you even be able to get your toilet fixed for $12 an hour? Are you not willing to spend more money on getting your mind fixed, than you would on your loo?!...”

AoL courses are typically 18 h for a part 1, and 26 h for a YES plus. And since there is a 12-person minimum for the number of course participants, we’re talking at least $140-$150 per hour. And what’s “utterly exploitative” is the fact that the volunteers and teachers who do the work don’t see any of this money. And personally, I would rather pay that money to get my toilet fixed, because at least the money would have gone to a good cause--something real and tangible and useful to me. Claiming the AoL course fixes the mind is preposterous, and as we have seen for many who have shared their experiences on this site, being involved in AoL has done quite the opposite.

“…You talk about yourself, but you do realize that there are so many teachers and an entire organisation to run which has expenses… No government, corporate, UN agency funds Art of Living. When teachers travel, they have to pay the bus/train/air fare. In our homes we have to pay telephone and electricity bills, and for the food we eat.
We have to pay for the hall rent, the rent for the audio system used on the course, etc … Many people work to make an Art of Living course happen, we have to pay them at least their expenses. There is a pretty big bill thats there at the end of the course.
$300 is peanuts to pay for a course that you know gives you so very much….”

I have been involved in every aspect of course organization from the recruiting to the accounting and everything in between. Only 25% of a part 1 course revenue is allowed to go to such expenses as the teachers’ travel, hall rental, etc. For a part 2 course, its even less—a set amount ($300) has to go to VVM for each participant, and food/lodging is a separate expense that each participant has to pay. Often, volunteers have to dip into their own wallets to make ends meet for such courses, and hosting expenses for the teacher are non-refundable. So keeping things in perspective, if one pays $300 for a part 1 course, only $75 of it is allowed to go towards all those expenses this teacher has mentioned. Where does the rest go?

“…Another thing that we wanted was that we did not want people to be obligated and pay. We charge a certain fee for a service rendered. Its nice and clean….”

I’m confused. People ARE obligated to pay if they want to take a course, aren’t they? Also, this sounds more like a business transaction to me, than a service rendered by a charitable organization.

“…Finally, if you want to buy yourself a car, a solid education, a home… at this point you dont say its too expensive do you? You take a loan and get it. An Art of Living course is on par with these big investments of life. If needed, take a loan… you know its worth it….”

So is this teacher suggesting that one who cannot afford an AoL course should take out a loan for it? I personally object to this—I have seen people in my area who do exactly that in response to the prodding and pressure to take this or that “amazing” AoL course. These people cannot afford the basic necessities, and yet are asked to beg for, borrow the money, or launch a fundraising effort to take the next AoL course, instead of being smacked back to reality and told to get their life in order before going off the deep end with these courses. Its sick. Also, I’m sorry, but an AoL course is certainly not “on par” with a solid education, a car, a home, or even a functioning toilet.

“…Finally, some of the money collected on courses is pumped back into society, it doesn’t line anyone’s pockets. It could be used to rehab prisoners, or in some disaster area, or in some war zone to help people. It could be used to help children, women, etc…”

I have yet to see a single “service project” come from the money that has been raised in my area and pumped into the AoL national/ravishankar’s bank account. In addition to courses, I have helped to organize rs’s visit to my city, and have helped raise thousands of dollars for the org. through that event. We were allowed to keep a small fraction of the profit for our city to help offset costs of future aol events, but then had to return any unspent money after one year. The only “service” that money was used for (while we still had it) was to organize more courses. On a separate occasion, when I was ready and willing to join in a trauma relief effort overseas in a war-torn area, I had to seek out my own source of funding, and apply for a grant. I was told by the aol accountant that money raised in a particular area stays in that area, and does not go toward service projects overseas. We had to do our own fundraising campaign for that. So if aol “service projects” are funded by external sources and our own fundraising efforts, then where does all the course revenue go?

“… It could also be used to take care of our full time teachers and their families whenever needed, It could also be used to build up our Ashram infrastructure so that when you come there, you can be taken better care of…

Really, the full-time teachers and their families are taken care of using hard-earned aol course dollars?? Do full-timers have any health insurance? Do they earn at least minimum wage for their efforts? I don’t think so. As for the ashram infrastructure, I have yet to see any improvement to the Montreal ashram after donating to that cause year after year.

“…Our idea of doing Seva is not out of an empty bowl, so that we have to go to various people to get us money so that we can do Seva....”

So I see as of late, you’ve been reaching into Nithy’s bowl to do your “seva” (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

“…Our teachers and volunteers work hard to make courses happen, a solid value is given to the participants in the course and then out of the profits that are made on the courses, our bowl are filled…. “

Yes indeed your bowl is filled by the hard work of the teachers and volunteers—the first truthful and direct statement I’ve seen.

Out of a full bowl which has been made so by dint of hard work, we do philanthropy. (Though of late, quite a few funding agencies have finally woken up to the fact that Art of Living is doing some great work and have expressed a desire to partner with us towards mutual goals… and thats a nice feeling too 
I think thats quite noble,…”

I and others have yet to see any philanthropy come out of the “full bowl”. From what I can tell, anything positive that has come out of the org has come from the good intentions and inspiration of some of the duped participants who eventually wise-up and leave. And didn’t this teacher just say in the beginning that no corporate organization funds AoL? Anyway, someone should alert these funding agencies about the AoL fraud.

… and you should feel privileged to give money to such an organization… even if it means a bit of a stretch for you….”

No thanks, I think I’d rather flush my hard-earned money down my working toilet than to give it to such an organization.

I do hope that the poor devotee who had the guts to pose his/her question was able to see through all the AoL B.S. in that teacher’s answer, and has since left the org. If not, then God Bless and good luck.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Ravi Shankar's Hankering for NPP (Part 3)

By “His Holiness Sri Sri Whistleblower Ji”
(Did you notice the extra Ji at the end of my title? nice, hay?)

And the day before the official announcement, AOL people were expecting the NPP to just fall on SriSri’s lap. These kind of emails were circulating:
Friday, 7 October 2005 -Dear All,Jai Guru Dev!Tomorrow at 11am (Oslo, Norway time) will be the announcement we have all been waiting for. Attached is a media release. Please feel free to copy as you like.

Ever pleasing Francois Gautier (SriSri’s puppet journalist) even prepared this press statement for AOL centres:
*** It is with great pride that we receive the news that His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2005. His Holiness has been working tirelessly for bringing peace in the lives of people for the past 25 years.

Attempts to bring peace in society have been largely confined to the realms of economics and politics and have often missed the spiritual perspective. That’s where His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been making a difference. Using his globally acclaimed breath-based stress-elimination programmes, he has been able to promote a stress-free society as the only permanent antidote to terrorism and violence.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has not only motivated thousands of volunteers to action towards peaceful co-existence, but also traveled extensively to strife-torn places to heal the wounds of victims and calm the aggressors. Thus he has been able to bring together people from opposing opinions. From Kashmir to Kosovo to Israel, he has worked to create a desire and drive for peace among the people from both sides of conflicts. A case in point is Sri Sri’s all inclusive pan-Kashmir approach to promote collective peace in militancy-hit Kashmir Valley, where within a short span of time, he reached out to all sections and rallied them together to create an atmosphere of mutual trust and dialogue.

This award will help encourage people to set aside all barriers of caste, creed, race, nationality and religion and join Sri Sri’s ceaseless crusade for peace. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar hopes that the recognition bestowed by this award will go a long way in realising his vision of a stress-free society.

It could not have come at a more special time when the Art of Living Foundation is gearing up to celebrate the completion of 25 years of service to humanity. Though this event will be feted throughout the year in major cities around the world, the main celebration will be in Bangalore, India in February 2006. Heads of governments, spiritual and other leaders from all over the world will come together at the event, …………..

What a laugh! Sri Sri’s own press office in Bangalore Ashram were so sure about Sri sri receiving NPP that they sent a press kit to all centres, even releasing Guruji’s statement to them, all ready to go:
We are delighted to learn that His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been awarded this year’s Nobel Prize for Peace. The first ever Indian to win this accolade, His Holiness views this as an affirmation of our country’s long-standing spiritual ideals of knowledge, non-violence and harmony......

Very humble acceptance statement, don’t you think so?!!(Esp knowing he had got it prepared beforehand!!!)

And just to be sure no enthusiastic devotee published the above statement before the official announcement from Norway, they added these warnings to the emails:
...Please note that the statement by the Art of Living Foundation will be shared with the press only after the NPP commitee makes the announcement.


So funny, don’t you think so?! They sure were salivating waiting for the news & most of it from SriSri himself.

And what a shame that all that preparation came to nothing when the next day, NPP 2005 was awarded to the International Atomic Energy Organization & not to SriSri !!!

And before the national coordinators had a chance to breath , after all the work they did for NPP 2005, they received the new directive from Sri Sri through the same project team:
After several consultations with Guruji, we are very delighted to once again invite all colleagues in the NPP project network to embark on a fresh undertaking: to put forward Guruji’s candidacy for the NPP 2006. Guruji’s message to us all is that we should not not lose heart in not making it to our goal this year. Instead, the challenge is for us to strive and persevere with more dedication and creativity in the cause spreading his living legacy of peace. We have learned so much from our past NPP project experience, and we should continue to put to bear our 100% efforts on the noble aim of calling the attention of the whole world to the great works of Guruji.
………..We know that the NPP is a “Euro-centric” political process and we are calling on all European NPP Coordinators to re-double their efforts to secure many more NPP nominations from Europe.

No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Not again?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Do we have to go through all that again?!!!! Yes, Sri Sri wants a NPP. Can we just give one to him ourselves, to make this megalomaniac happy? No, he wants the one from Norway!! Can we buy him one?!! Well, that is what we have been trying to do & continue to do, ie buy influence!! I wish buying a NPP for SriSri was at easy as buying some stamps with his pictures on it & saying Govt of that country issued them in his honour!! It would have saved all of us so much time & effort!

So here we went again. There were new set of orders from top echelon to win NPP2006:
Last year, we were not able to secure a single nomination from “peace research institutes and institutes of foreign affairs”, as a category of eligible nominators. This year, it should be our high priority to get nominations from these institutions.

Unlike last year where our efforts to secure nominations were concentrated in the month of January, this year we must come up with the needed nominations by end December 2005.

Nominators who agree to write a nomination letter for Guruji will be given assistance in drafting their letter if so requested. Attached to this email are a list of points, duly noted by Guruji, which our nominators can choose to highlight in their nomination letters. Please study these points carefully and consider which ones can be personally endorsed by a nominator whom you have approached. As in the past, drafting assistance will be extended to NPP National Coordinators by members of the International Coordination Team.

…So let us please quickly, discreetly, and with renewed enthusiasm re-launch our NPP campaign. Guruji has given his blessings to each and everyone of us. This round has to be the final round!

The NPP project international coordination team will immediately contact all coordinators by phone for consultations and follow-up.
Jaina Desai
Frederique Lebelley
Ewald Poeran
Christoph Glasser
Fahri Saatcioglu
Werner Luedemann
Peter Payoyo

(Please note Guruji’s secretary’s name, Jaina, appears at the top of SriSri’s NPP project team list.)

We were all wondering, didn’t His Holiness, Himself , bless the project last year? So what was the use of his blessings?!! And if no good last year, what good it would be this year?!!

Only if Norway Noble Committee knew what we had to endure to get this guy a NPP, surely they would have shown some compassion & just give it to him. Just for one year!! That is all he wanted, to be known as the winner of NPP, so he could get more money from George Bush & alike to build his real estate business. What is wrong with that?!! Just another title he could add to his name. Why Oslo Noble team couldn’t get it that this guy was GOD; that he could add any title he wanted to his name. So he was really giving them an opportunity & a great honour to confer Sri Sri the NPP title & earn good merits! What an honour would be for Nobel committee if SriSri got NPP!!! They didn’t think about that, did they? Silly silly boys! As Gautier would have us believe, it would have increased the integrity of NPP so many folds if it was given to Srisri!!! Right Francois?
And if NPP could have been bought by cash, that would have been no problem either. SriSi may be short of integrity & honesty, but not short of cash!

To be continued....

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NEWS ALERT: Sri Sri telecon with Nithyananda


Sri Sri telecon with Nithyananda from defunct Los Angeles temple
Chandan Nandy, Bangalore, April 18, DH News Service:

Art of Living Foundation guru Sri Sri Ravishankar visited godman-in-hiding Nithyananda’s now defunct Vedic Temple in Los Angeles on Friday and spoke to him over phone briefly before denouncing him in private to some of his former devotees.

During the brief telecon, Nithyananda is believed to have “welcomed” Ravishankar to his temple which, along with another one in Seattle, was shut down on Saturday following an intense power struggle among his devotees a majority of whom have taken a dim view of the godman since the sex scandal broke early last month.

When contacted with specific questions, Ravishankar's media relations manager at his Kanakapura ashram here, Charu Garhwal, admitted that the Art of Living guru did visit the Nithyananda's LA temple. "He met and talked to some of the traumatised devotees of Nithyananda."

But within an hour Garhwal called back Deccan Herald, saying: "Actually, he (Ravishankar) is in Los Angeles to inaugurate a new temple where some of Nithyananda's traumatised devotees came to meet him." When asked if Ravishankar spoke to Nithyananda over phone, Garhwal said she would "check and get back". She never called back.

Some former Nithyananda devotees Deccan Herald spoke to over phone said Ravishankar visited the so-called Vedic Temple on Friday evening. "He went around the whole temple complex, visiting all the departments," a senior former devotee said.

While at the temple, whose possession has become a bone of contention among some former and a few last remaining devotees of Nithyananda, a temple attendant got the godman-in-hiding on the phone for Ravishankar to speak to.

"The two talked briefly after which Ravishankar told the temple priest in private that if they needed help they could approach him," an influential NRI, who is a former Nithyananda follower, told Deccan Herald.

Ravishankar has had past association with Nithyananda. On Nithyananda's invitation, Ravishankar had visited the so-called godman's Tiruvannamalai Dhyanapeetam on August 6, 2009. Photographs of the two together are prominently displayed on the Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam website.

Sources in LA wondered whether one of the primary reasons behind Ravishankar's visit to the LA temple was to "win back" devotees who are cut up over Nithyananda's sexual indiscretions. In this context, a former devotee said: "A few years back, no less than a dozen of Ravishankar's followers deserted him to join Nithayananda's order in which they became 'acharayas'. Ravishankar is returning the favour and trying to wean them back."

Former Nithyananda devotees believe Ravishankar is trying to capitalise on the situation and may be looking for ways and means to take control of the LA temple and to have donors, who till lately contributed to the disgraced godman's coffers, make monetary offerings to his foundation. "This is almost like a corporate takeover," an Nithyananda ex-devotee said.

Ravishankar's Hankering for NPP (part 2)


They were starting to believe their own lies:
We have good information that Guruji is one of the top two candidates in the running to receive this prestigious recognition. It will be such a befitting award in the lead up to the Silver Jubilee next year!

At the height of “feverishness”, advice was coming from left & right:
...What we need now are letters of support from influential people in the community. They do not need to have done the Part 1 Course.

.... I NEED TO REPEAT no devotional letters be wise and get influential people to write letter of recommendation.

...Teachers or high-profile individuals connected with doing a lot of activities for AoL is not eligible; This would disqualify the nomination.

Didn’t the other one in NPPP Committee told us , just the week before, he wrote one himself & encouraging others to do so too?!!!!!!!!!
Guruji must be referred to as His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Art of Living Foundation;

You have heard that one before, haven’t you? Suddenly conferring on himself all kind of titles. First it was Sri Sri , now he added His Holiness as well! So I decided to rename myself “His Holiness Sri Sri Whistleblower”!!

While SriSri was totally involved in all aspects of promoting himself for a NPP, publicly he & his PR machine would deny that. The following are some such quotes:
Nobel Peace for Indian?
....the ‘Guruji’ was totally nonchalant about the speculation that is doing the rounds in India.Sources note that he is not only dismissive about such rumours, true to his character, he has openly queried as to how being awarded a peace prize or not being awarded one, for that matter, would ever change him, or his work.“Sri Sri is more interested about bringing happiness to people than hoping or wishing for the Nobel Prize,” AoL sources here claim.In fact, the world will remember him for what he has done than for getting the Nobel Prize, others add.

Of course , behind the scenes, SriSri’s PR campaign was still in full swing. see some quotes from the following official directive from his campaign team:

RE: Nominations that have been confirmed and are being secured:

1. All NPP National Coordinators and NPP project contacts are urged to re-double their efforts to make sure that nominators who have confirmed their support must sign and immediately send their nomination letters to Norway a.s.a.p.
2. Nominators who are still writing their nominations must be asked to write their nomination letters using their own language and articulating their own personal inspiration. Please note that the ‘model nomination letter’ circulated earlier is a general suggestion only, and is not meant to be copied verbatim. Make sure that individual experiences and local accomplishments are also added and prominently projected in the letter. In those cases where a nominator requests for your drafting assistance, please immediately consult with me so that we can help each other come up with varied formulations to put into the nomination letters.
3. In the remaining 13 days of the project, you can intensify your campaign and multiply results by using a recommended technique, described as follows: If a heavyweight nominator in your country (e.g., Prime Minister, or respected legislator, or professor) has agreed to give you a copy of his/her nomination letter, please ask other qualified nominators to associate themselves with, or express support for, this particular nomination. The formulation in the supporting letter for each of these other nominators would then be:
“ xxx Dear Members of the Nobel Committee, I am honored to associate myself with the nomination for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize forwarded to you by The Honorable .... / Professor ..... I fully share the belief and the conviction that Sir Sri Ravi Shankar is most deserving of this noble award and the great tradition it stands for. Yours Sincerely, xxx”
4. It would be a wonderful gesture on the part of the AofL and National Coordinators to send a thank you card, or a token gift of appreciation, or a flower bouquet, to each person who has written a nomination for Guruji. Kindly note that each one of our nominators is not only distinguished in his/her own right but is also now part of our own network of friends and allies who share Guruji’s vision of ‘one world family’.
RE: Nominations that are still being solicited
5. We need many more fresh nominations to create a truly significant political impact. The NPP as you know is a very political process. So we should not lose the momentum we have already gained in obtaining as many nominations as possible before the February 1 deadline. BUT PLEASE ... make sure that the nominations we are getting are from qualified or eligible people only. As you will see from the attached summary, the list of confirmed nominators includes many individuals who are not clearly qualified to submit nominations. This may lead to embarrassing results for Guruji. So I earnestly plead to all NPP coordinators: let us play by the rules.
9. In your spare moments, please take time to surf through the Nobel Peace Prize website, which is very informative and can possibly give you further inspiration in your NPP project work:

AOL Teacher & Sri Sri puppet journalist, Francois Gautier, even published the following article, giving ultimatum , among heaps of propaganda, to Oslo Nobel committee to choose Sri Sri or else he would accuse them of being anti Hindus!!
and notice that he doesn’t mention being an AOL teacher & his close association with SriSri & the fact that he is one of the top haram journalists & ever ready at “Guruji”’s service!!!! That tells you the amount of journalistic integrity this guy & the rest of “SriSri-bought” journalists have!!

Pay special attention to what he says, the message within reflects the propaganda Sri Sri specifically wanted to promote. Gautier’s writing would have been checked by SriSri before being published, same as the rest of his & other puppets’ articles for SriSri. He even puts down others (including his previous guru/spiritual organisation he was involved with) to promote SriSri!! He goes so far as saying giving NPP to thousand women “would dilute the dignity of the Nobel Peace Prize”. If giving NPP to thousand women would dilute the dignity of the NPP, I wonder what it would do to dignity of the NPP, if they would give it to a megalomaniac, deceitful, self-promoting & psychopath guru !!

Gautier’s grovelling is truly sickening, but of course music to the ears of his master:

Read some of the quotes from his article:
Will Sri Sri Ravi Shankar get the Nobel Peace Prize? ( September 28, 2005)

Is there still a prejudice in Western society against Hindus?
Amongst the front runners for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, is Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Guruji, as he is known amongst his disciples, truly deserves the Nobel Prize because he is a universal man of peace.
Yet, it is an uphill task for a Hindu leader to get the Nobel Peace Prize.
Yes, Mother Teresa got it, but she was a Christian and not a natural born Indian. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's teachers and volunteers are from all religions -- Hindus, also Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Parsis, Sikhs etc.

But since then there has been a relapse. As a Frenchman and a Westerner, I have been privileged to have met the Mother of Pondicherry, herself a French by birth. Her association with Sri Aurobindo and her deep knowledge of Indian spirituality helped bring a certain understanding of Hinduism, but that was only limited to France.

It is true that there is untouchability in India, and that it has harmed her image. For instance, by refusing access to Westerners in certain temples, such as in Banaras, Hindus have not created the right picture.

But is also true that Hindus have been made untouchables by a certain section of Western intellectuals (with the help of Indian academic residing in the West), whereas Tibetan Buddhism and the Dalaï Lama, who practice a religion which is derived from Hinduism, are fashionable in the West.

Yet, compared to Desmond Tutu and Mother Teresa, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has done more work and his peace movement is phenomenal, from Argentina to Siberia, from South Africa to Fiji.

Mother Teresa mostly catered to Calcutta, but Sri Sri's social programmes in India are making a difference everywhere through service and spirituality.

I was watching Bono, another front runner for the Nobel Peace Prize on CNN the other day, along with Bill Clinton and Klaus Schwab, chairman of the Davos Economic Forum. True, Bono has done good work raising money for poor countries through concerts, but I thought that it pales when compared to the scope, universality and breadth of Sri Sri Ravi.

There has also been talk of a thousand women getting the Nobel Peace Prize. But this is would only be a face-saving gesture, which would dilute the dignity of the Nobel Peace Prize

And this again raises the question: Will His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, an apostle of peace for all, not get the Nobel Peace Prize, just because he is a Hindu? That would be a sad day for India and for the world.

Francois Gautier is the South Asia correspondent for Marianne, the largest selling French magazine and the editor of La Revue de l'Inde, a Paris-based magazine solely devoted to India.

To be continued…

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ravishankar's hankering for the Nobel Peace Prize (part 1)


In spite of all his lectures to his followers on avoiding feverishness & just observe their desires & let go, Sri Sri was very feverish about getting a Nobel Peace Prize. The guy , so ever hankering for more fame and glory and power & political influence, wanted a NPP badly and was flogging his senior teachers/members of his inner circle, at full speed, to get it for him. They, in return, hoping for more recognition from the master and earning his favour, were flogging everyone else. Without any trace of shame or humility, Sri Sri , casting all cautions to the wind, was demanding his lackeys to get this NPP for him. When confronted with the question as to why a godman claiming he has no desire for fame & glory wants NPP, he would say he doesn’t want it for himself, he wanted it for his organisation to get recognition for all the good work they were doing. And when asked why he wanted recognition for the organisation (was the work being done to get recognition?) , his reply was so that with a NPP under our belt we can do more work!!!! Oh, ya!!!

Next question of course was how come Guruji, this self-claimed God & Master of universe, who had nature under his command & was reincarnation of Krishna, Christ, Shiva & God & Gurudev & Buddha what not and someone who could perform so many miracles & even bring people back from death & make things happen like magic, how come he couldn’t just wave his magic wand & get a NPP easily. And the answer , for those foolish enough to ask, was that he wanted to give his teachers and followers an opportunity to grow and learn & earn good merits!! If he would make everything happen so easily then they wouldn’t have opportunity to grow!! A reply heard many times from Guruji in sticky situations!!

In Sep 2004, all AOL centres received an email saying:
The Nobel Peace Prize (NPP) Project has been launched with Guruji’s designation of an international team to work quickly and quietly on this initiative, initially with the following members:
Peter Payoyo, overall coordinator, Netherlands
Christopher Kiran Byrt, Norway
Christoph Glaser, Switzerland
Werner Luedemann, Germany
Ewald Poeran, Netherlands
Fahri Saatcioglu, Norway

and were duly advised in the same email:
A final note: We urge everyone to be very discreet about this matter. It is the standard policy of the Nobel Committee that nominators and nominees must not publish nor advertise their nominations. Guruji’s nomination will be unnecessarily jeopardized if we allow the NPP Project to be exposed publicly. So let us all just keep the smile, keep the silence, and wish for the best.

ie, even though WE know & even though YOU know the orders for getting a NPP for Sri Sri comes from Guruji himself, we all have to keep this as a secret!!

These top echelons in turn were asking for National coordinators (NC) to assist with this project. But in no time, as Sri Sri’s pressure on them increased, they changed their tone to the NCs from one of asking them for their assistance to one of demanding for reports re how many letter of nomination they have got.

It went from:
The National Coordinator will act as a focal person for our collective efforts and will become part of the global coordination network to assist in Guruji’s NPP nomination.

To the National Coordinators who have not shared any news to the International Coordination Team, you may wish to get in touch ASAP and kindly let me know what is the real score on your grounds.

In the coming days and weeks in the run up to February 1st, I and the other members of the International Coordination Team will be calling you individually by phone so that we may be able to share personal updates about progress made on the project. This is in line with the instructions given by Guruji yesterday to the effect that the International Coordination Team must call each one of the National Coordinators for encouragement and solidarity.

Guruji has the list of NPP National Coordinators and he mentioned that he is counting on you, and each one of our national coordinator-colleagues, to rush this project to the finish (end of this month) and to accomplish our mission with a smile.

In line with this latest directive from Guruji, may I therefore request each one of you to send me a.s.a.p. (at the latest this Friday night) the NAMES OF NOMINATORS whom you have approached in your own countries.

The committee members & Guruji’s secretary Jaina, would send personal emails to those involved saying things like:
Gurudev asked me to get in touch with you personally. HE said approach parliamentarians and professors... and finish the work by end of January

so there was no doubt whatsoever Guruji was personally pushing this project & exerting all pressure he could on his senior teachers & they in return were pressurizing others!

The above NPPP committee members were sending emails left & right, saying things like:
Yesterday in Brussels, I had the opportunity to talk to Guruji about our project. His message and his blessing to all of us is:

Let us work harder and give our very best to come up with many NPP nomination letters before the end of this month.

The pressure is building and is wonderfully upon us to make a miracle happen! May I enjoin everyone, in typical Art of Living fashion, to rush and make haste, and create wonders for Guruji and the NPP project during this auspicious New Year.

This Saturday, January 15th, Guruji will meet with the members of the International Coordination Team in our Ashram in Bad Antogast (yes, he will be in Germany this weekend). His instruction, relayed by phone last Sunday, is for us to come up with the LIST of people who have definitely agreed to write NPP nomination letters.

They were sending draft letters & glamorised biography of Guruji to coordinators & basically harassing them to get nomination letters, throughout quoting Guruji said this & that, making it plain obvious the orders came from Guruji himself & using it as an opportunity to boast about their closeness to Guruji!! And for these lackeys to get closer to the Guru, everyone else had to bust their butts, so they could get the credit!
Guruji met with of the NPP Project Coordination Team last Saturday afternoon in his room in the Ashram at Bad Antogast, Germany. The members of the team that went to see him were Christoph Glasser, Werner Luedemann, Ewald Poeran, and myself. Also in attendance in the meeting were some Art of Living colleagues who had an interest in the project.

Guruji was presented with the list of all confirmed nominators as of Saturday morning, which was a compilation of all the names of individual nominators that you have sent me, or which you have notified to other members of the international team. The list of confirmed nominators is subdivided into three categories: (1) those who have actually already sent nomination letters, (2) those who are already writing their nominations, and (3) those who are very likely to send nomination letters before the Feb 1 deadline. The list also indicates the NPP country/project coordinators responsible for the confirmed nominations..... Guruji went through the list page by page for several minutes. I can certainly report to you that Guruji expressed satisfaction on the fact that we have secured at least 130 confirmed nominations as of Saturday morning. It was mentioned to him there were four heads of government (1 president and 3 Prime Ministers) who have supported his nomination so far. It was also mentioned that many more new nominations will be secured in the coming days.

Guruji sends his love to all. He has also given specific instructions addressed to particular countries and coordinators which I shall communicate individually to those concerned in due course.

Guruji’s general directive remains: the members of the interntional team as well as our roving NPP project contacts will continue to call you via phone or email to facilitate progress and to exchange information up to the last day of our project. So please have patience with us on our follow-up calls, and do kindly keep the international team directly posted on the most recent developments concerning particular nominators in your own jurisdictions.

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you for the assisting in the effort to prepare the report presented to Guruji last Saturday. Gurji was certainly happy with our report, and with our overall performance thus far. May I also thank the NPP coordinators and AoL leaders who were there in the Ashram to give me personal updates concerning the NPP project in their respective countries.A full and final report on our project will be submitted to Guruji in February.

And after sending those involved particular drafts of Nomination letters & asking them to send those, suddenly they sent an email saying:

Due to widespread concern, and on account of numerous feedbacks received by the International Coordination Team, may I reiterate the following reminders:
1. The ‘model nomination letter’ circulated earlier (Word document: “Example and Elements of a Model Nomination Letter”) is for your guidance only. Use this document to get a general idea about the particular nomination letter which you need to draft, when this drafting is called for. The ‘model nomination letter’ should NOT be copied verbatim. Some nomination letters have already been forwarded to the Nobel Committee in Norway using the text of this illustrative nomination letter. The sincerity and political impact behind the massive nomination of Guruji to the 2005 NPP will be seriously impaired if there are any more letters sent to Norway using the monotonous text and style of the ‘model nomination letter’.

Henceforth, new nominations that are in the process of being obtained by NPP coordinators must ensure that the nomination letters are original and worded differently – to reflect the unique personality of the nominator, and describing his/her personal experiences with Guruji as well as the local/national situation concerning Guruji’s work. If you need any drafting assistance, please let me know.

The email below sent by the above NPPP committee exposes the sham so beautifully. It is so revealing:
The continuing CONFIDENTIALITY AND SECRECY of the NPP project – our concerted and collective campaign to solicit nomination letters for Guruji – must be absolutely maintained and protected with utmost diligence. One leakage of any single aspect of the NPP project to the public domain, or public knowledge of any written suggestion that Guruji is somehow involved in this project, will spell immediate disaster.

To preserve the integrity of our mission, I ask everyone involved to take a step back and examine each and every communication that you have sent out (especially faxes and emails) to “others”, even those addressed to other Art of Living colleagues. Please check whether you have mentioned any fact or reference about Project that may be interpreted wrongly and cause prejudice to Guruji. For example, have you communicated to some other person a message to the effect that “Guruji has instructed that he wants you to get a nomination from so and so” or, “Guruji wants to know who are nominating him” or, “Guruji is asking whether you can help us in the NPP” or, “Guruji has asked us to work fast on nominations”? If you have, please let me know a.s.a.p so that we can rectify the situation.

Lapses or mistakes along lines that could prove damaging to Guruji might have been made at the height of your eagerness or excitement to obtain nomination letters for Guruji. It is part of our responsibility to immediately correct these mistakes.

The confidentiality and low-profile approach underlying our NPP Project does not mean that what we are doing is wrong. On the contrary, we are engaged in a quiet, noble mission. The reason why we keep our Project top secret from start to finish is simple: we must not give any reason to the Nobel Committee (or political opportunist therein) to mis-characterize what we are doing as a self-promotion campaign by Guruji. The secular politics behind the selection of the Nobel Peace Prize winner will never be able to comprehend the meaning of our “Jai Guru Dev”.

And from time to time, the use of the words were so revealing too, Freudian slip perhaps,:
For NPP Coordinators and Contacts who have notified me of their 'harvest', please check the numbers reported against your own records.

As the pressure was building higher on NPPP committee members, they started to send contradictory directives. One minute it was:

Only eligible nominators must be approached to write nomination letters. Potential nominators who do not fall clearly and categorically in the list of qualified nominators should NOT be requested nor invited to write a nomination letter for Guruji. Please disregard any rumor or message saying that the Nobel Committee has relaxed its rules concerning eligibility requirements for nominators. Dignitaries or high officials who are not included in the list of nominators, are to be excluded. Stick to the relevant guidelines set in previous NPP Bulletins.

The next minute was:

At this critical juncture, Guruji’s candidacy urgently calls for our support, literally everyone’s support, to ensure victory. How do we give our support? This is what we propose to do: let us send “letters of support for Guruji” in the thousands to the Nobel Committee in Norway. The elements of this new campaign are as follows:
1. The names of the individuals and organizations officially nominated to the NPP 2005 have been published. After the nomination process, any person can now send a letter or communication or declaration to the Nobel Committee to express support for, or make a comment on, any nominee.
2. Given this opening, we are in a position to harness the power of world opinion in favor of Guruji. We will ask anyone and everyone FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE to write a letter of support for Guruji, to endorse his candidacy to the NPP 2005, and/or to thank all those who have nominated Guruji to the NPP 2005.
3. A letter of support from anyone means exactly that – anyone inside or outside the Art of Living community can write a letter. Children, students, soldiers, policemen, prisoners, business people, government officials, households, community leaders and shakers, Muslims, Christians, professionals, migrant workers, fishers, the sick or hospitalized, those in conflict zones, the wealthy, womens’ groups, scientists, artists, politicians, school teachers, VIPs, etc., etc. – in short, anyone who cares for Guruji and his cause for peace and human values can send in a letter of support.
5. I myself have written a letter of support for Guruji, in my capacity as the head of a non-profit foundation extending care to seafarers in the Port of Rotterdam. Each one of us, and all those around us who have been touched by Guruji, can surely send a letter to support Guruji’s bid to the NPP this year.
6. The only CAVEAT is: a person should NOT identify himself or herself as affiliated with the Art of Living Foundation or the IAHV (or any other organization founded by Guruji) when s/he writes a letter of support, because this will be seen as an unethical and indirect self-promotion by Guruji. If an author cannot affiliate himself with a proper role or position (like, “as a Budhist” or “as a 10 year old child” or “as a businessman”, or “as an ordinary worker”, or “as a citizen of Norway”), then he can simply write: “as a human being who is deeply concerned with the peace situation in the world [or, peace situation in my country] , I am very happy to know that Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has been nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize. Our world will be a more harmonious and peaceful place for all if Sri Sri Ravi Shankar wins this award. So please make him win. Thank you, xxxx”, or something to this effect.

The good news is that Guruji’s candidacy, from all indications, is being taken very seriously indeed by the Nobel Committee. But Guruji is not the only leading NPP contender. There are other NPP candidates that have launched powerful, mass-based campaigns. Let us back up Guruji with the power and a force that the Nobel Committee cannot afford to ignore, namely, the inspiration and peace that Guruji has himself gifted to all who celebrate his grace.

[Did you read number 6 caveat carefully? Even though they were emailing AOL members to write these letters of support, they were telling them to lie & do not reveal their connection to AOL/Guruji. This widespread act of deceit of course was not confined to NPPP, but is a common strategy in all AOL PR. All those articles you see by so called independent journalist praising the Guru & his work are witten by AOL Teachers, his communication team & his PR machine.]

And then in their next email they would say:
It has come to our attention that the email I sent earlier this week, which was addressed to all former national coordinators of the NPP project, has been circulated indiscriminately by one or two of our colleagues, treating that email as if it were a ‘chain letter’. As a result, that email has reached people who could potentially misunderstand the purpose of our undertaking.

To avoid further confusion and misunderstanding about our enterprise, I am therefore sending out this cautionary reminder to everyone concerned:

1. The goal of our campaign is to have many 'letters of support' written and then sent to Norway. The best approach to realize this goal is to have intensive person-to-person meetings or discussions in order to explain our campaign and to get results. If a national coordinator or focal person feels that my email should be shared to other people for information purposes, then please please be extra-cautious in your choice of contacts or addressees to whom you forward that email. Make sure that only responsible and discreet colleagues get it. Like this email, that email was meant as a confidential and very personal communication.

2. This campaign is NOT Guruji’s campaign. Basically, it is a campaign of independent, like-minded individuals all over the world who believe that Guruji should win the NPP 2005. This means that it is NOT an official project of the AofL or the IAHV. To illustrate the point, may I refer you to my own letter of support (attached) which was mentioned in my last email, and which will perhaps clarify the important guideline that letter-writers should NOT be seen as AofL or IAHV officers/representatives when they write their letters of support.

Two other guidelines for your kind and immediate consideration:

4. I mentioned “children” in my last email as subjects included in our campaign. However, the focus should instead be on “young people” (or teenagers) who have achieved a certain level of maturity and discretion. So let us please focus on encouraging young but sufficiently autonomous/mature people to write letters of support for Guruji (and not little children, lest we be accused of manipulating infants for our campaign).

Yes, you read it right (#2 above), suddenly we went from Guruji designated a team to win him NPP & Guruji chairing the meeting &his hands on approach to project and Guruji said this & that to it “is not Guruji’s campaign”!!! That It had nothing to do with Guruji, it was “a campaign of independent, like-minded individuals all over the world who believe that Guruji should win the NPP 2005”.

What fun!!!

"I said YES. This was my mistake, I agree."


I have gone through your blog and I really appreciate the work you have done. It has relieved me in many ways. This is an attempt to share my experience with you like others.

Recently, I was tortured, troubled and forced to go to AOL course by one of my close friend. The thing is, I was going thru bad patch of life, some emotional failures, job hurdles etc. I shared this with my (so called) friend. She started coming to my house, sending SMS, emails, early morning phone calls etc to "convince" me to go to course. This continued for 4 weeks. Already I was suffering emotional failures, so just to get rid of it, I said YES. This was my mistake, I agree.

Later on the course day, just to check whether I am really going or not, she came to my house to drop me to course location. To verify whether I am doing full time course, she kept watch during course end timings every day. I struggled to do course as I was noticing that this is FAKE. They asked to do stupid things, such as abuse person sitting in front of you and let him abuse you. Whatever he says, just smile!! This was so called as knowledge point, 'accept people as it is'. I am against compromising when I haven't done any mistakes. Then they played stupid games, asked to dance and SK. At the end Ravi Shankar chanted some mantra. I asked teacher that what is this mantra, she said "Guruji went into 10 days silence and Lord Brahma appeared in him and gave him that mantra." I was surprised. I realized that I wasted my Rs. 1250/- Then they asked to purchase gifts from gift counter and share them with course-mates. I realized that this was marketing strategy. I wasted few bucks there.

My friend came to my home saying that I can give you guruji's blessing. Asked me to close my eyes and kept hands on my head. Later she said that guruji has come via me and they are relieving you from pain. Later she started coming to my office and started asking me to get more people from office to relieve them. I was going mad. Didn't know how to get out of this nexus.

Course ended. I thought I was out of it. But I realized I made a mistake by leaving my address details and phone numbers with them. After 2-3 days, teacher along with there colleagues came to my apartment. They asked me to gather set of people so that they can 'spread' the word. I strongly opposed them. They asked why? I told them I don't have faith in them. They asked - in whom you have faith? I told as I am Buddhist, I have faith in Lord Buddha. I am not die-hard follower but I have some faith in him. I was shocked with there reaction. They said this: "Lord Buddha is dead. Our Guruji is alive and god resides in him. Why are you following a god who is dead? Follow Guruji, the Living God. As he is alive, he can sense your feelings. Forget Buddha, Follow Guruji" I was shocked, how can they play with such feelings? I strongly insisted them to go out of my apartment and not to call me again. They replied: "Foolish people learn from own experience, wise people learn from others experience." They left and I was relieved a bit. I thought its over, but was unaware of there nexus.

Next morning, I stared getting SMSs about following kriya from my friend. I was tired of this. I thought as she is a Doctor, well educated and from well established family, I had to quit this friendship.

Atlast I am out of this AOL nexus and living a happy life. Suggesting people to read your blog. I have already sent your blog link to her to realize the truth.

Thanks for doing this graceful work. Keep it up!!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hi from another ex-AOL Teacher


Another teacher passed me your blog & it has been very healing for me to read it. I knew it’s content to be true as soon as I read it, as I had experienced most of it first hand. It also came across very clear to me that the writers of this blog are doing this blog out of good intention of healing anyone hurt by AOL & informing others & provide a much needed medium for people to express their truth & first hand experiences, to share & support each other. As inside AOL there is no place whatsoever for speaking up & those who do so are personally & viciously attacked. It is an atmosphere of secrecy & terror (some of it spiritual terror, ie using people’s love & devotion against them speaking up or explore their doubts!)

I had come to see the web of deception for a long time & hence stepped back. But the path of recovery (emotionally & spiritually) was a lonely & tough one. I wish I had access to a blog like yours when i had to work everything out on my own & felt isolated & on my own & had to deal with all kind of emotions (As I once was so devoted & dedicated to guruji & gave so many years of my life to him, so to get free was very painful, but the right thing to do.)

I know how the organisation works & I know how the policy of divide & rule works, how they get people to spy on members & how to attack people personally, isolate them, defame them, etc, etc. I am sure any person of integrity will come to the same conclusion re Sri Sri & his organisation. Those who continue deception have no integrity & have their head or hand in the trough!!

Anyway, just wanted to tell you how much I have appreciated reading your blog & how healing it has been for me. Few other teachers & volunteers who have also read your blog have found it useful & it has speeded up their recovery & helped them to break free.

I can not reveal my name as I don't want the Gestapo police on my door. I have been attacked personally many times for standing up & speaking out & knowing too much. And I know how low the Guru's bulldog terriers get!

Anyway, God bless you & all other contributor. I will be passing on your blog to others who wish to know more & free themselves from this web of deception.

Please keep up your good work. I don't think you have any idea how many broken hearts & disillusioned people are out there because of AOL. Once the word gets out about your blog (& I will do my best to do it), it will grow exponentially. And I do hope it will help to prevent any innocent people from getting caught & hurt & used in AOL as we once were.


PS. Looking forward to the day, we can talk to each other by first name & not worried about the dangers of speaking freely. Now, it is too dangerous as I know how Guruji uses his dogs on leash & how threatened they feel when someone speaks up.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Any suggestions?


Dear Klim,

You may post this as a separate entry.

What can be done if one member of the family is still under the influence of 'Art of Living' web of lies and pressures?

We are associated with AOL for more that 10 years in India and New Zealand. After our last year visit to Sydney to attend a Part III course with SSRS, it became apparent that the movement is more about publicity, number game and money than any real spiritual experience. Since than I have quietly disassociated myself from most of the volunteering activities in Auckland.

However, due to my partner's attachment to Sudershan Kriya and Satsang, I am unable to totally leave AOL social circle. Her attachment is so strong that I fear revealing my true feelings about AOL and SSRS. The fear is more about her state of mind which will be shattered and she may not be able to cope up with that. I am slowly and slowly making efforts to stay away from AOL activities. Currently, due to SSRS visit to our city she is devoting much time in AOL slavery.

What suggestions can someone make so that I can take her and our family life away from AOL and SSRS?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The chair is sizzling

In order to be “somebody” in the AoL, one has to go through the hot chair at least once. It is a process done in DSN (a requisite for TTC) and in TTCs. RS explains one has difficulties criticizing and being criticized and both are an indication of ego. Thus, the infamous “hot chair.”

Though I agree with this “knowledge point”, I believe criticism should be constructive instead of random and destructive. Unfortunately the “hot chair” was more an exercise in which the teacher vented all his/her unresolved power issues and frustrations, and the participants their aggression and fears. By the end, the participants were broken down, vulnerable, demoralized, some traumatized, perfectly ready to be manipulated and brain-washed (a common exercise done in cults).

I remember a woman being yelled horrible words, including “slut!!! bitch!!!” just because she has big breasts. A gay man was called, “Fagget!” and many other demeaning things related to his sexuality. Another, who confessed she had been beaten up by her husband and had an abortion, which she still, 20 years later, felt guilty about, was yelled, “You deserved to be beaten up! Look at you! Who would want to be born to you! You deserved it! You bitch!” Can someone please explain how this can help anyone in a positive way? Definitely, neither the one criticized nor the one criticizing. It is not criticism, it is insulting. Worse, insulting in the name of knowledge, spiritual growth and “your own good”!

Teachers often misused their power and this exercise in various ways. I remember, for example, there was a teacher who wanted to get rid of someone. She thought this man was not worthy of being a teacher (although he had been made one) because he was “gay, fat, ugly and poor” (her words). She, the head in her community, gathered the rest of the teachers and the board just to put the man on the “hot chair”. It was demoralizing and abusive. I reckon the person had a lot more studies, knowledge and centeredness than many other teachers of the area. Unfortunately, they simply did not like him, felt threatened by him and were jealous of him. Not only did this person leave the AoL but it took him years to overcome the trauma it caused.

Looking back I see love was often used as an excuse to abuse someone. “This is all for your growth, to make you stronger, see how much the guru loves you.” Whenever one was abused, one was given that explanation. I guess, love can kill too.

I remember once the organization and the guru had done something horrible. My students, confused, asked a senior teacher why they were treating me so poorly. Her explanation was, “Understand that the more you are attacked and suffer in the AoL the more it means you are evolving.” For heaven’s sake! Some twisted thinking we followed!

I remember always asking, even when I became a teacher, how come so many senior teachers were still so nuts and mean if they had dedicated so many years to the path. The answer would be, “Oh, but you should have seen how he/she was before!” Funny, I found myself giving the same answer many years later, when perhaps, the correct one was, “this is just a sect, there is no growth here, it is all an excuse.”

Someone who was beaten up by the man RS told her to be with, was told she had to observe her own violence because she obviously was provoking the beating. The point about “we attract violence because there is violence within us” (the famous Gandhi example Shankar makes: Gandhi, the man who preached non-violence, died in a violent way because he was violent to his wife and to himself) is not always valid. Everything needs to be applied with logic and reason, rather than to justify “the means to the end”. What was so violent about Tibetans before the Chinese took over, tortured and killed? What is so violent about a child who is raped and killed? Of course, I can almost hear someone whisper, “past life karma.” Come on!

Anyway, some wicked lousy arguments we listened to and followed! Challenging them made one a rebel, with shaky faith, no devotion, lacking surrender.

What is even more funny is the man who preaches about the value of criticizing and being criticized cannot and does not like to be on the chair himself. If you never want to be in bad terms with Ravishankar, NEVER tell him you disagree with him or that something he did is wrong. Like, never tell him his organization lacks ethical practices and values, or that his teachers are bad, or that the Silver Jubilee was not really that successful and people were unhappy, or that an article someone wrote about him with some negative remarks were actually quite accurate. In any case, failures and mistakes are always ours, and achievements and glories always his.

I am often surprised by the reactions of AoLers leaving comments in this blog – aggressive and quite off-centered, and the fact that RS is apparently worried about the existence of it. Is this what I think is happening? RS is shaking on his hot chair! Yet he still does not and cannot understand this blog is not interested in destroying his organization, but rather to offer people a space to express themselves and find healing. Not everyone needs to agree with AoL/RS or think AoL/RS are the best. If they see it as a criticism of their actions and people, there is a lot I guess they should ponder about their own ego, maturity and hidden agenda.

Apparently the head of the AoL marketing department (what a joke) and the US board are planning a meeting with RS to discuss how the blog has become a virus for the organization. Apparently even teachers are disturbed and having doubts after reading the blog.

1. If none of these stories resonated a little bit with ones experiences, then one would neither have doubts nor feel disturbed. On the other hand, many who have left, actually find healing with the blog because they identify with many stories.

2. If the organization really was about spirituality and its guru so great, then why even discuss “the blog” at the board level or at all? If a program is good, no virus could affect it. (I wonder if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have a board meeting to discuss all the news published about them. Imagine then Berlusconi would be in meetings only to discuss the press!).

3. The blog is overflowed by comments and emails from AoLers “daring” and “demanding” to be published. They are full of rage, hatred, often, quite imbalanced. Beloved ones, we left an abusive relationship and we will not enter another one, especially with mini-SriSris, thus, please don’t boss us around and tell us what to do. So far we posted every comment, unlike Bawa and Dinesh who only post those in favor of their voice. However, there is no room in this blog for AoL abuses nor demanding tone. Having been slaved and slapped around for whatever time was enough. On the other hand, we have received many messages from former members thanking the blog and requesting we keep this going as well as the space for healing. Thus, this is what will be respected.

4. If the organization really was about spirituality and the teachings effective, why do their followers write with so much rage, hatred and off centered? Why do they even check out the blog? Why do they perceive it as a personal attack towards them? Why are they even sending damage control teams to police activities of freedom of speech? We are all free to believe whatever we want, and it is OK if not everyone thinks AoL and RS are the best. It is time to grow up and realize it is OK.

5. It is interesting, when one is in disagreement with “them”, they label it as “bad energy” or “negativity.” But if they are in disagreement with “us”, they are “righteous and evolved.”

6. By the way, they have even tried to "hack" the account by sending faking an mail from "Gmail" requesting our full name, password, phone number and country within 7 days, otherwise, our account will be closed. Unbelievable. Why all this fear? If it is that good, why fear anything at all? It is more a mafia than a spiritual organization. Where did the spirituality go?

Can someone please find logic to any of these points?
What about you don’t see intentions behind my actions and I accept you as you are?

What can I say? It seems not even Ravishankar lives the knowledge and certainly his asana is sizzling. But don't worry, as we were often told, "It will be good for your ego and your growth. We love you."