Sunday, May 2, 2010

The rewards of AOL

By Zhoro, in response to comments on the previous post.

Anonymous @ 12:29 am and yourdad:
Do you guys really think this is going to fly? I mean, do you seriously believe that the readers of this blog are so naïve that an attempt as pathetic as this is enough to undermine it? Guys, this is not AoL anymore. A simple brush off of an issue by the guru or a senior operative is not enough. Let me address your questions, anonymous, as well as the oh-so-typical yet utterly flat commentaries by yourdad.

Anonymous @ 12:29: “1) Are all of you saying that you gained nothing of value from your time in AOL and contact with SSRS?”
Of course I did! Even time completely wasted can be the basis of a potentially invaluable lesson. The most wonderful lesson I scraped out from my time with AoL is that I should never again yield my free will to anyone and that I should not let ultimately narcissistic persons manipulate me by appealing to my most intimate idealistic concerns. Besides that, my involvement with AoL led me to explore various traditions in spirituality (against the explicit direction from TTC to not do so, mind you!) and helped me find true teachers such as Ramana Maharshi. So, yes, ultimately it led to very rewarding things of lasting value. That’s why they say that when a devotee is sincere, even a fake guru will do.

yourdad: “They obviously gained many things, or else why would they spend so much time with AOL?”
A graduate of the Sri Sri school of oversimplification, I see. You are right, actually, I pointed above. I did gain invaluable lessons from my association with the cult. But you are not correct that I spent so much time (6 years in my case) because I was gaining so much. The time was spent because I let my idealism overcome my discrimination and was willing to justify all the fishy things I was encountering. Following your ultimate idealistic concerns is gratifying in its own right and that drives you through walls of doubt for a period of time, but it is ultimately unsustainable when the reality of what AoL represents is consistently inconsistent with them. Truth ultimately prevails and we leave.

Anonymous @ 12:29: “3) Did any of you actually have good experiences with AOL techniques (SK, Sahaj Samadhi Meditation, etc.)?”

My answer to your first question partially answers this. Beyond that, let me state that pleasant experiences and truth are two different things. The techniques mentioned are not themselves conducive to arriving at truth. Refer to Ramana Maharshi’s expositions of the nature of reality and you will see how far off the mark is most of what AoL people focus on.

yourdad: “Yes they had. Thats why they went on to become teachers. Now they have some issues with AOL. They cant explain their behavior, where, they liked it first and then are not liking it.So they come up with theories like AOL is cult and that they were innocent victims who were trapped. Such pathetic arguments from weak minds.”
I am perfectly able to explain and I already did. AoL appealed to my idealistic streak, my ultimate concerns. AoL managed to convince me initially that it was the right arena for me to act upon these concerns. It purposely targets those aspects of a human psyche. For many people these types of concerns are very important yet they don’t easily find ways to express them in modern society. AoL seems like the answer to this conundrum. Ultimately, it fails as such. That’s why people leave disappointed. In all honesty, I was never impressed by SK, it did nothing for me during my first basic course. The reason I went back was that most pure and intimate desires seemed to have found fertile soil for growth.

Why do all of you seemingly obsess over SSRS's alleged siddhis? I've never heard a single teacher talk about them as some sort of selling point for AOL nor have I ever heard SSRS talk about them.
I don't see who here is obsessed with siddhis. On the other hand, the so called guru stories are very prevalent in AoL. In fact, they are an essential part of the curriculum in courses at later stages of involvement such as DSN, TTC, Blessings course and Guru Puja course. To say that they are not emphasized in intro level courses or marketing does not deny the big part they play in indoctrination later on.

It is a classic bait and switch situation. AoL markets itself to potential recruits with programs for relaxation, stress management, improved efficiency, etc. These are things that appeal to people in our times. RS is kept largely out of the picture, at least in the West. In many cases, there is no RS photo shown in courses and his name is mentioned only in passing in intro courses. Once a certain level of involvement is achieved, new recruits are exposed more and more to the mythology of RS’s person. Anyone who has gone through those stages can attest to this.

There are special guru story sessions in TTC courses. Bhanu is never shy to relate her own guru stories in Guru Puja courses. As I am writing this, I recall the story of how the angel of NYC (a very benevolent entity, it was said) showed up in RS’s hotel room and ask him how he could assist him on his mission in the city.
The switch from the focus being on stress management and relaxation to guru worship happens not so subtly, but somehow group dynamics make it possible for people to overlook it. While at times RS would pay lip service to the idea that siddhis are insignificant to the sincere spiritual seeker, they are very much emphasized in AoL in the process of drawing people into guru worship. In contrast, Ramana Maharshi always cuts any inquiry about such extraneous matters at the root and invariably points the attention to the source of the perception.

Anonymous @ 12:29: “4) If you don't like AOL and SSRS why are you obsessively talking about it? What are you trying to resolve? I think you're trying to resolve something but you're not sure what it is. Simply trashing something or someone rarely works.”

I’m sorry but this is a disingenuous question. It seems to come from a desperate desire to be left alone and not criticized. KLIM has explained many times what he/she is trying to resolve and the purpose this blog serves towards that. Besides, it is only in AoL’s book of formulae that not bringing something up for discussion when you don’t like it is the correct thing to do. Coincidentally, following that rule in this case would seem to be in AoL’s best interest. It is not a convincing argument at all. Simply trashing is not what happens here, although some people may have a tendency to express their emotions in a more abrupt manner (just as AoL people do, by the way). Very necessary alternative to the party line points of view are expressed here. Sorry for the inconvenience this may cause AoL.

yourdad: “Because they have nothing else to do. Before joining AOL they had nothing to do, after having left AOL they have nothing to do. So how to spend time? Hence talking trash online, trying to damage other people's name and achievements.”
Now what kind of response do you give a trite statement like that? What would Sri Sri do? Probably come up with something even more childish.

57 comments:

zhoro said...

Skywaker, did my reply to Anonymous's second question get lost? Let me know and I will answer it again, if necessary.

Skywalker said...

@Zhoro: yes, please re-send and I will add it to the post.

Sincere Seeker said...

I think such a poor attempt at a propaganda against this blog doesn't deserve a lofty response. Marketing campaigns and propaganda's make AoL seem like a political party - it's not spiritual nor is it honest.
You should speak for yourself and your viewpoints rather than attack those on this blog.
Remember the knowledge point: Accept people and situations as they are? People here have taken a position you have your position, each ones positions and opinions are always changing.
We are not telling you to leave AoL or convince you that it is bad. Why are you trying to convince us it is good and to stop this blog? Live and let live. Opposite values are complementary right?
I for one am not saying that anything is completely wrong or right. I have seen both sides in AoL and in SSRS. I feel a sense of relief and freedom in sharing my experiences here. If SSRS and AOL are insecure about honest people sharing true experiences then it shows that there is something being hidden - there is something wrong.

In the spiritual realm nothing can be proved. But in the tangible world it can. Maybe those who posted the questions against those contributing to this blog have not seen the operational and money side of AoL deep enough. Would be good if you asked SSRS if the VVM Trust (Art of Living India) accounting books, tax returns can be made available upon request, what the Govt. policies are for a trust such as VVM to be audited. You should find out how many assets are in SSRS' family's name. Did you watch Shobha De's interview of SSRS? It's on YouTube. Listen to all the rhetorical questions - she exposes SSRS and Bhanu didi.
I have handled the some of the money in AoL and I know some of the closely guarded secrets, I don't know everything but what I came to know is enough for me to say it's a scam. I don't completely understand this dichotomy of SSRS' personality. How can he do the wrong things inspite of all his knowledge? But same goes for Nithyananda and other fake gurus I guess...
I justified the illegal, immoral, the scam and fraud just with the knowledge, techniques, grace...One day balance tilted and I realized I was not alone...
I truly and sincerely wish that people's lives do not get wasted because of AoL and SSRS. People's hard earned money doesn't go towards Ajay, Bhanu didi or his family's properties and assets.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Dollar Ravi and his minions are now infiltrating this blog and are barking loud. The best test of Dollar RAvi's genuineness is to conduct all his business FREE for one year. If his message and intent is really genuine, crowds will flock. If not, it'll prove he is nothing but a slick Rasputin.

Anonymous said...

I've read few blog posts from here, and almost decided I'm not going to do the AOL course. But then one of my friends pointed me to a couple of videos, like this one

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dbDZMAdDBU

Do you guys think that entire video is a fluke? Those are some of the great words I've ever heard.

Anonymous said...

AOL is a money making machine mainly targeted toward urban western ($) Indian crowd especially in USA.That is what keeps the operating cash flowing.Annual Guru Purnima has to be in USA. That is the largest cashing event.This has worked well and has reached its crux.

No mainstream non-Indians fall for it. There are a bunch of leftover TM'ers and accidental non-Indian misfits that are far and few in between in AOL that do get exposure mainly for higher marketing goals.But most disappear in a short time.And some are shackled to it by other means.

All these spiritual movements (Nitynanda, Sri Sri & others) place more emphasis on the Guru and Guru stories or Guru Marketing than the technique or the practice itself.That is why they do not sustain too long.

AOL get togethers focuses more on propaganda(marketing) and little on the meditation or core individual spiritual growth.

Meditations are reserved for Part-II ($) courses.
For the little guy it is all about generating dollars for an unknown AOL higher cause.

Now follow the money ....

Anonymous said...

Zhoro, I think the first stage of healing is the "trashing". The recognition that the "other" is a "bad object" (if I my indulge in some psychoanalytic prattle). But some of this victimhood stuff is a little too much. Big mean SSRS gave me a bad cookie. Butch-up children! Not you, so much, but others posting here. I completely disagree with your final assessment of SSRS, but at least you don't wallow in victimhood, which is quit refreshing! I love Ramana Maharishi too and find no conflict or difference from SSRS. Techniques, of course there is a difference. But Atma Vichara is only effective with a sattvic mind. Even Ramana acknowledges this. He mentions needing to do "the basic work" before Atma Vichara will "work." I used to think SSRS was the reincarnation of Ramana; same darshan in my experience. You only spent 6 years in AOL? Shame on you! You weren't cooked yet. You need 12 and then you get the prize! ;-) Be well.

zhoro said...

Here's the answer to question 2:

I don't see who here is obsessed with siddhis. On the other hand, the so called guru stories are very prevalent in AoL. In fact, they are an essential part of the curriculum in courses at later stages of involvement such as DSN, TTC, Blessings course and Guru Puja course. To say that they are not emphasized in intro level courses or marketing does not deny the big part they play in indoctrination later on.

It is a classic bait and switch situation. AoL markets itself to potential recruits with programs for relaxation, stress management, improved efficiency, etc. These are things that appeal to people in our times. RS is kept largely out of the picture, at least in the West. In many cases, there is no RS photo shown in courses and his name is mentioned only in passing in intro courses. Once a certain level of involvement is achieved, new recruits are exposed more and more to the mythology of RS’s person. Anyone who has gone through those stages can attest to this.

There are special guru story sessions in TTC courses. Bhanu is never shy to relate her own guru stories in Guru Puja courses. As I am writing this, I recall the story of how the angel of NYC (a very benevolent entity, it was said) showed up in RS’s hotel room and ask him how he could assist him on his mission in the city. The switch from the focus being on stress management and relaxation to guru worship happens not so subtly, but somehow group dynamics make it possible for people to overlook it. While at times RS would pay lip service to the idea that siddhis are insignificant to the sincere spiritual seeker, they are very much emphasized in AoL in the process of drawing people into guru worship. In contrast, Ramana Maharshi always cuts any inquiry about such extraneous matters at the root and invariably points the attention to the source of the perception.

Anonymous said...

This entire blog is a bit shocking to me :(.

I don't have any first hand so called 'experience' with SSRS. But in my area, AOL is functioning in a much constructive way.

I've myself got participated (I'm a doc) in a number of medical camps they conducted, and contributed to free food campaigns. How ever, I can't comment anything about how it is some where else.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:02 AM, the doc,

I think you have to take much of what is posted here with the proverbial grain of salt. I'm sure there are people complaining here that have a degree of legitimacy, but much of the complaining is completely over the top trashing which is ridiculous. Trust your own experience. There is, quite obviously, much good in AOL as you experienced. Be leery of fanatics of both the positive and negative stripe.

To Be or Not to Be said...

Yourdad said: “Because they have nothing else to do. Before joining AOL they had nothing to do, after having left AOL they have nothing to do. So how to spend time? Hence talking trash online, trying to damage other people's name and achievements.”

Thank you for this wise statement. Let me try now to figure out what it means. It, probably, means that if you are just trying to make your living and support your family before joining AOL, or after leaving it, “you have nothing to do”. Right? Only in AOL they know “how to spend time”. Once you read e-mail from AOL pasted below, you will know what AOL member duties and achievements are.

Tue 4/27/10
“Hi Dear Ones,
Jai Gurudev!

It is our privilege to co-host Guru Purnima with Hartford this year, and host not one, but two renowned international teachers, Sangeeta Jani and Swami Pragyapad before Guru Purnima, to raise the energy in Boston!

How can you get involved in this monumental event? Be a part of one of the teams working on these events. If you would really like to go beyond your boundaries and become unshakable, take up the lead of a team! It would be ideal to have at least one/ preferably two leads for every team.

We need help in the following areas:

- Media (Creating the media database, putting information about courses in online events pages, creating press releases, sending the press releases to the media)

- Flyering (printing flyers, actual flyering around Boston and suburbs)

- Advertising (T-stations? Newspapers? Radio stations?)

- Internet marketing: This includes mass emails, meetup, facebook, sending e-flyers

- Calling up (phone lists)

- Scheduling and conducting refreshers

Lets go :)
Jai Gurudev and love”

Yes, it is really a great “privilege” for you to “get involved in monumental event “, and “you will go beyond your boundaries and become unshakable”, plus, all the above mentioned activities will be done in a hurry, in a “let’s go” manner. This is a Real job! Right? And last, but not the least, you will never be paid for the job (not mentioned in e-mail, though, but every volunteer knows that their labor is free, naturally). All money goes to the Guru.

Anon 11:31 PM said “Do you guys think that entire video is a fluke? Those are some of the great words I've ever heard”

Words and deeds do not always coincide. Unfortunately, that’s the case with many AOL teachers and Guru. When people pretend to be what they are not (especially, a pretense of virtue, piety, etc.), it is called hypocrisy.

Anonymous said...

Zhoro said,"Ramana Maharshi always cuts any inquiry about such extraneous matters at the root and invariably points the attention to the source of the perception."

I love Ramana too and have read about everything out there written by and about him. And I agree with you, RM always "cut to the chase" in almost every question. But I think it is way too easy to idolize saints of the past. We have no active interaction with them, so we don't know what our experience would have been with them on a daily basis. We love to see Jesus, Buddha and Krishna, as "perfect". And we can because we can't directly experience them so they can fulfill our ego ideal of a perfect master. But I'm sure there were plenty of people back in the day that thought Jesus was a bum, Buddha was an asshole, and Krishna, damn, don't even get me started on that sex addict! All these current, flesh-and-blood saints, and I include SSRS here, function through genetically and culturally determined personalities, just like we all do prior to and after realization. This is the concept of "leisha vidya", remains of ignorance in the realized. I'm not using this as an excuse or a rationalization for behavior that upsets someone, but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater when it comes to SSRS. He is not a conman, he is not running a scam. You might have problems with aspects of him or his organization but this does not negate the profound spiritual experiences his presence and the practice of his techniques evoke in many.

Anonymous said...

Sincere Seeker,

Where in the Shobha De interview are the questions regarding VMW trust? It's a long interview and I watched the first part and near the end. Seems like a pretty positive interview.

Krish said...

Anonymous @10:02 AM

Some committed volunteers probably get some small social projects done once in a while despite resistance from AOL.

Do you mind sharing where and when these medical camps were held so curious minds can verify the information.

As you can see in the AOL email shared by 'To be or not to be said' at 12:38pm, the AOL focus and energy is mainly on marketing AOL events and not on social projects.

Anonymous said...

For those who still think SSRS is enlightened....

How can enlightened people make mistakes and write a book with so many mistakes.....

Here it is debate with Zakir Nair

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHMBrdtqhos

Peaceful Warrior said...

@Anon 1:05

it is one thing for a person to be human - it is another for him to sell spirituality to make $$ for himself and his family. It violates the basic tenets of spirituality.

We are all told a lie that the money goes towards service projects - unless of course RS considers his seva to be a service project. Unpaid volunteers work hard to make it happen, and RS collects the $$.

How is that lesha avidya ? Does he need so much money to maintian his body and lifestyle. In that case his I'm more enlightened than him - we are happy with much less.

Peaceful Warrior said...

@Anon may 3

In one of the tapes RS is questioned about lesha avidya, and if enlightened can make mistakes.

His reply was that there is total awareness and no doership, so question of mistake does not arise.

He is the one claiming to be perfect. We are not imposing our ideal on him.

Anonymous said...

For those who still think SSRS is enlightened....

How can enlightened people make mistakes and write a book with so many mistakes.....

Here it is debate with Zakir Nair

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHMBrdtqhos

zhoro said...

Anonymous @ 8:30 and 10:05:

I understand what you are saying and I don't agree. I am aware that it is easy to perceive dead masters as ideal, yet I am not claiming Ramana was ideal. Rather, I am referring to the teaching and its steadfast focus on the essential truth. In RS's case, there are elements of that essential message, but they are diluted with so much nonsense (sanctioned by him, as it is an integral part of his training programs) as to render it of not much use ultimately. Yes, if one were so inclined, one could justify this situation as his attempt to teach his devotees discrimination, but such an explanation fails Occam's razor test. The evidence pointing to alternative motivation - narcisism and lust for power - is much more convincing. Seeing his face on most electricity poles in Bangalore during silver jubilee (your dollars and rupees humanely invested) and having a credit card launched by an Indian bank in the name of Art of Living are just the types of things that make me gag.

There is no evidence that he is not running a scam. When he claimed to me that all cash flows are documented, I asked him for detailed documentation showing how the money is distributed and what projects are implemented and received no further reply. I personally co-led a fund-raiser that collected more than $5,000 for an orphanage AoL was supposed to build in small village in Tamil Nadu after the tsunami. Where is the orphanage after all these years? It doesn't exist.

You may have experienced profound states in his presence. This proves nothing. People experience profound states in all kinds of circumstances given a certain phychological preparedness. They are not caused by him. You may claim his techniques promote that phychological preparedness and his events offer the milieu where deep insights can be experienced, but this can be interpreted as a version of the placebo effect where the major driver was your own desire.

In addition to all that, who can define a real spiritual experience? How can you separate the experience from interpretating intelligence? What is the value of such experiences?

Concerned Meditator said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4dbDZMAdDBU - in this video, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says at the end that his weakness is an inability to show anger. Sometimes one needs to get angry, but when Sri Sri tries to do that, he ends up laughing. Ex-teachers on this blog - do you support his claim? Did you find him laughing instead of getting angry even when he was trying? It is surprising to find people getting deluded and perverted despite having the theoretical knowledge and some practical techniques of spirituality. Ego is indeed a great trickster. I do not know whether like Nityananda, Sri Sri has also lost the way as per the assertions of this blog, but the entire phenomenon is a bit dishearting. Someone knowing about breathing and meditation exercises and the nature of Self becomes a Nityananda! What a sad downfall! How strong the illusory energy of Self, called Maya, is? May we all be saved from disgracefull downfall in our spiritual journey.

Sincere Seeker said...

Answering question about Shobha De interview...
You know what a rhetorical question is I suppose. Shobha De is basically making statements and posing them as questions:
"So this is a family business" she says to Bhanu didi...
She mentions that Bhanu is on the VVM Trust and...
"So you write the checks" she says to Bhanu didi stating that Bhanu's name is on the bank accounts...
Shobha De also remarks somewhere that you (Bhanu didi) and your husband (Narsimhan) are the beneficiaries of all these ashrams and properties across India.
Even the questions she poses with SSRS are all like messages to the audience to voice her view point.
Depends how you see this interview - my friends who are not in AoL and who watched it thought it was exposing SSRS, his sister, and his org. If you have your AoL glasses on then everything may look positive.
I have seen the "business" side of AoL and know that SSRS is a very different personality when it comes to handling money. He and his family consider AoL as "Ravi Shankar & Family Private Ltd."

Prakash said...

This is an intresting blog. my friend an ex-AOL recommended me to read this. I have done AOL basic and advanced course. I 100% agree that these people try to build of all kinds of stories about Guru siddhis which are all fake. one of my teachers vinod menon used to tell all such fake stories. when i met ravishankar all he was intrested and told me is to do another advanced course. to compare him with Ramana is ridicoulous and stupid. he is after money. For me pranayama was good in AOL but sudarshan kriya never agreed with me. I went to other gurus Nithyananda of bidadi ashram and visitied him and did his techniques. this is also many techniques copied from osho in vigyan bhairav tantra. I still follow nithya's technique of mahamantra and some meditations. it has done well for my health. But i know that people like Nithya and ravishankar are frauds because they operate in the same way and after money. they talk big about social welfare and finally they end up with posh ashram and big balance.Pranayama, yoga and meditation are good but these gurus exploit that to gain followers.

Utthara said...

Ravi Ravi has gotten into real estate business big time. They can rename their holy business into Art of converting land fom charity to real estate and personal fortune for Ravi Ravi. They have sumeru real estate firm and they are devoloping a gated residential community using the Ashramland in bangalore. The aol ashram land was taken from government at no price in the name of charity and social welfare. Now this land is being sold for building resedential complex. Ravi Ravi is targeting the rich IT crowd for buying these houses and they have posted several advertisements in major IT firms across bangalore. It is time someone exposed this mafia.

Uttara said...

Check this soudhamini business venture:

http://www.sumerurealty.com/soudhamini/overview/

With all this how can AOL people talk about charity and social welfare with a straight face. It takes a special kind of psychopathology to lie and cheat like AOL.

Anonymous said...

yourdad: “Because they have nothing else to do. Before joining AOL they had nothing to do, after having left AOL they have nothing to do. So how to spend time? Hence talking trash online, trying to damage other people's name and achievements.”

I THINK THIS LAST STATEMENT SAYS IT ALL - VERY SIMPLY SAID BY THE BIG DADDY OF ALL (aka yourdad)

The reality is this only - AOL needs n breeds on people who have nothing else to do , nothing better to do , people who cant survive anywhere else , ppl who cant earn money n name for themselves but thrive on donations that come from ppl like us.

I AM ATTACHING A PIECE OF MIND BLOWING RESPONSE FROM THE GENIUS BAWA ... WE NEED SOME ENTERTAINMENT ON THIS BLOG RIGHT...SO HERE IT GOES -

the fees issue we charge for aol -

Anonymous said...

hope you enjoyed the answer-
I SAY : so people please be generous donate as much as you can even if you have to stretch way beyond your limits after all ashramites teachers who are enlightening the world - need ipads, ipods, blackberry, apple laptops, make fancy rooms, fancy food or french manicures and spas or trips to bali or arosa...cos they are the big time teachers preachers they work so hard or else you know what will happen to this world if spiritual knowledge was coming for free...I THINK THEY HAVE FORGOTTEN AND NEVER HAVE SEEN OR READ HOW THE SEEKERS IN THOSE YEARS WOULD LIVE WITH SO MUCH OF DISCIPLINE AND SANITY...THEY WONT PREACH IN DAY,CHECK THE BANK STATEMENTS IN AFTERNOON ,DO SATSANG IN EVENING AND THAT TOO SATSANG FULL OF LATEST FILM SONGS AND EVENTUALLY SLEEP AROUND WITH THEIR LATEST GIRL IN THE NIGHT, , SO ..please donate generously and help them live their dreams through ur hard earned money

Anonymous said...

The fees Issue we Charge for AOL Courses!
Question> I have heard so much about you and your clear thought
process.

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 at least $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.

Answer by Bawa (Khurshed Batliwala (Bawa), Directors of World Alliance
for Youth Empowerment( WAYE) and Faculty of Art of Living):

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 :)

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?!

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.
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.
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.
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 … 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…
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. 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 is filled. 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 that’s quite noble, and you should feel privileged to give
money to such an organization… even if it means a bit of a stretch for you.

Anonymous said...

About photos and all - At least according to Indian tradition, respecting/worshiping the teacher (Guru) who gives knowledge is not a sin.

Though I'm practicing meditation for some time, I havn't yet gone through any AOL courses. But I've read various books and went through the Sivasutra talks of RS. I found what he talks is all about knowledge of the highest order, that of consciousness.

About the organization that forms around the key person - I was involved in another spiritual organization, and I did quit when I found the organization went mad.

Bottomline - You can't expect the organization to be fully in compliance with the knowledge :) - It has nothing to do with the knowledge if you understand it properly.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:02 AM, Don't get confused too much about this back and forth mud throwing - be your own judge

Anonymous said...

Hey Klim

Where is Whistleblower?miss his very
detailed and interesting posts.

Anonymous said...

@ANon 5:44 am

The talks are from the old days. The organization was new then, the knowledge and sri sri were pure.

Now it's different. Power and Money corrupts. RS now is very different from the RS that used to be. Now it's all about $$, and selling courses. Not much spirituality is left.

zhoro said...

Anon @ 2:39:

Yes, the attitude has changed. Before I left, a routine answer to questions at public events had become "I've already answered that question. Go buy my books and read them". You spend effort to get your friends to a talk and this is what they hear from the supposed enlightened being. Ridiculous.

Nagesh said...

"The talks are from the old days. The organization was new then, the knowledge and sri sri were pure."

Old days meaning when. When Ravi Ravi was a baby. I had been in AOL from 1990 - 1995 and I found it to be the corrupt organization with a corrupt guru. The markings of all the false stories, propoganda, hype was very much there. Except that Ravi Ravi was not that popular then. My friend a trader in telephony equipment who set up some instruments in ashram in 1991 was cheated of his legitimate bills and was emotionally blackmailed by Ravishankar and one of his ashram administrator. I don't buy this innocene corrupted story at all as I know factual things aboyt Ravi Ravi and his corrupt means.

yorudad said...

I have a story to tell. I had a friend in college, and he was so much in love with this girl. His relationship continued for many years. After few years , he started realizing that his girl was not that good, had some problems. He wanted her to change , but she refused. Now this guy , although he liked her, didn't like the fact that this girl was changing (or appeared to have changed). He was annoyed by the fact this his girlfriend wouldn't change but he still loved her. One day he got really really angry and then called of his relationship.

Now he was lonely and started missing his girl. Few days later he found out, that his girl had some ex-boyfriends which he didn't knew earlier. He communicated with them, and they realized that they were also hurt. Suddenly he realized that he was not the only one who is hurt. Misery loves company, so he started hanging out with these ex-boyfriends. Together they would complain and badmouth this girl.

When I heard this I told him: Dude you need to move on. You feel in love with this girl, you enjoyed her. She didnt invite you to fall in love? You were the one who was attracted. So if she appears to have changed now, and that you dont like her. You just need to move on. There is not point in thinking and complaining about her and bad mouthing her.

I think Zhoro and his friends are in the same boat and would tell you the same thing. You were the once who fell in love with AOL. Everything about it was so good! And you enjoyed it! That's why you stayed with it for years together! Now you want AOL to change because it doesn't match 'your' idealistic concerns. And it wont. You don't realize the fact , that many many people want AOL just the way it is. They want a guru and they love Sri Sri. They don't want anything to change. They know that AOL has some issues, but they are ok with it as they can see that its doing so much more good than any harm.

So I guess if you dont like it, the way it is, you should just move on. Stop writing this blog. You think you are helping a great cause by exposing AOL etc ,thinking that would be silly. You know how many teachers AOL has and how far and wide it has spread. Three or four of you cant do anything. When an elephant walks in the town, dogs start barking. Elephant doesn't care. You don't want to be these barking creatures. You would just be wasting your time (and the time of people like me) and hurting some others who are really committed to AOL. So just move on. Stop this blog and get on with your life. Take these words seriously, as these are coming from yourdad.

zhoro said...

@ yourdad @ 6:43 am:

:)))) That seat-of-the-pants wisdom is not as one-directional as you'd like. The elephant seems to be bothered by these so called dogs, after all. It's not like he's kept his royal airs passing through this village. There have been meetings, there have been action committees, counter-blogs have been started. :))) Why is the elephant bothered? After all, what can these little dogs do to harm his course? Or is it that they are "barking" about things that the elephant would rather not be known to the villagers?

You say we are wasting YOUR time? What? You have given us so much power, really? Why are you here, yourdad? You'd rather not have to deal with damage control, I understand. So why don't you close your eyes to alternative points of view, AoL style, and not waste your time?

I know you are eager for us to "move on" and leave the AoL behemoth unchallenged. Maybe you are right and we won't change much. But let me refer you to one of AoL's favorite parables about the boy and the stranded starfish on the beach. Even if this blog makes a difference to a few people and helps them avoid some traps, it will be worth it. Even if the AoL elephant tramples many more.

Now you move on and don't waste your time here.

Anonymous said...

yourdad: thanks for agreeing with sri sri is that girl who is a cheater running from one to other (is that for money and power?); what you don't understand is they are not writing this blog to get back to that cheater instead they are doing a favor so that no more innocent victims enlist to this cheater.

Krish said...

yourdad - go sell more courses and don't waste your time with your silly stories. Your silly stories may just be doing more damage to AOL than damage control.

Anonymous said...

The core of the problem that all you ex-AOL teachers have is that you never experienced the Divine through Guruji. I could be wrong and please correct me if I am. But, because of this you had a concept of Divinity rather than its actual experience. Once you experience Guruji as the Divine, it puts everything in a different context. Until you have this experience, you have to go on faith, and faith can only last for so long. Like the teacher who decided that he no longer "believed" in the divinity of Guruji. Of course beliefs come and go. So his faith, over time, left him. Hopefully though, faith is replaced by direct experience rather than faith in something else! I didn't experience this Divinity until after two years. Then, the whole thing opened up and it changed everything. I'm not encouraging anyone to then surpress feelings of conflict or deny what you might perceive as unethical. Address that; confront that and do not let up till your conflict is resolved. I think you all quit after the first couple of wind sprints, so to speak!

Anonymous said...

You claim you are trying to stop others from getting involved with AOL. No you're not. You're trying to resolve your own conflicts. Let innocent people be and let them decide for themselves. We pro and con idiots will just argue with each other, okay? ;-)

yourdad said...

@ Zhoro

Your problem is that you have too much anger and my problem is that I have too much time and compassion for you. I find it difficult to move on and let you be what you are.

Go to secure artofliving and see so many courses happening all over the country! Those who are going to be in this path , will be in this path. No blog can stop them.

Who told you that there are action committees? Who told you that AOL is bothered? These blogs? That would be funny. By thinking this you are just making yourself feel important!

Prairie Princess said...

AoL is a sad little group, full of delusions. Some of us experience the divine in places than ravi ravi. Had there been something like this blog when I took my part 1, I never would have bothered with this group.
Gurus are not necessary in the 21st century. There is a wealth of spiritual information available. Why go to a con man pretending to be god? Why not just go straight to god? Yourdad, this blog is about people healing from psychological abuse and dissonance that they experienced in AoL. Please find something else to do if you cannot contribute to the healing process. Please remember..true freedom does not involve worshiping a guru. I see god when I look at my dog as well as others. Perhaps my dog should start a movement and support me as ravi has supported his extended family. KLIM & CO,keep up the good work. You are the ones doing god's work.

yourdad said...

@Prairie Princess : We have heard enough of your crying on this blog. Who abused you? Do you even understand what the word abuse means?

Nowhere does this blog claim (look at the disclaimer) that it is a place for healing. This is a place for sharing and the blog owner has been generous enough to pass comments which do not agree with the blog. You cant be healed by this blog anyways, you need a good psychiatrist.

You can see god in your dog. Good for you! But many others cant do that? What about them?

True freedom does not involve worshipping a guru? Who told you that? Do you even know what a guru is? You have the power of your keyboard, doesn't mean that you can type any enlightening non-sense.

Dr Quentin Jones said...

Noticed that the counter blog is dead and all the followers have bolted.

Guess the strategy didnt work, piled on more than they expected.

Keep this blog going Klim, be that grandson in the famous parable and make that difference.

Good Luck - you will need loads of that.

Skywalker said...

@ yourdad: I am moderating the blog at the moment, while klim is on a well deserved break. whereas I value freedom of speech and constructive debate, still I kindly ask you to cool down a bit. Some of us actually feel abused. This is our experience. You come across as very blunt and insensitive in your comments, trying as you do to negate our experience.
Please, yourdad... although you are welcome to read and comment, bear in mind that this blog is not for you. It has been said countless times, by many people posting here. Yes, it is a place of healing, Klim and I can confirm that. If you feel fine, fine. If ever that secret doubt about the guru should arise in you, and you contribute it to more than just lack of prana, then come back and read some of our stories. You will not be alone then, as many of us were.

a·buse
–verb (used with object)
1. to use wrongly or improperly; misuse: to abuse one's authority.
2. to treat in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way: to abuse a horse; to abuse one's eyesight.
3. to speak insultingly, harshly, and unjustly to or about; revile; malign.
4. to commit sexual assault upon.
5. Obsolete . to deceive or mislead.
–noun
6. wrong or improper use; misuse: the abuse of privileges.
7. harshly or coarsely insulting language: The officer heaped abuse on his men.
8. bad or improper treatment; maltreatment: The child was subjected to cruel abuse.
9. a corrupt or improper practice or custom: the abuses of a totalitarian regime.
10. rape or sexual assault.
11. Obsolete . deception.

Anonymous said...

@yourdad, what kinda' moonshine are you and Dollar Ravi imbibing these days? It's easy to quote Ramana Maharshi and kinda seek shelter in his philosophy, but try practising it.

Chris Williams said...

Guys, who's this "yourdad" character? Comes across as bein a bit too out of balance for someone who's been trained by the great dude/elephant/candy of a million eyes! Why not just block all his comments? I mean, it could easily be that many angry readers could start resorting to profanity and such, seein his comments.
@yourdad: tell me kind sir, why, every time I go to these "satsangs" AoL has, I see people trying to hit on each other, dudes trying to hug dudettes whom they're meeting the first time, just coz they look hot? Why does my friend, who happens to be a great disciple of "the dude" act lewd in these so called places of inspiration? What's more, your great dude doesn't seem to be bothered by such stuff even in big gatherings...one would expect the air to be full of purity. The way I see it, it's becomin like a facebook for the spiritually inclined. Nuthin wrong with that, but when things like cheating people, abusing them, manipulating them and blaming the victims come in, questions naturally rise! As for your thing about "four people", I have to say, that's all it takes. Four people. If you know things about the internet, go look at how many hits this blog gets in a day. There's rumors already that Nithy's news is stale, so the media is targeting AoL. Ahem, ahem....well, I don't know much coz I'm just a "low prana" dude hangin around :P

Anonymous said...

@skywalker who is abusing who? lol #rtofl - and you guys are healing yourself by abusing SSRS!!. Jokes all around

Neutral Observer said...

@skywalker

To be just - I guess Prairie Princess is more hot than yourdad.

It is ok to share your observations, pointless babble won't add any value to this blog. Probably time for everyone to cool down a bit

SpirituallyConfused said...

Where do I go from here?

I am completely turned off by Art of Living, and I can't believe that I ignored the warning signs that were always there, and I instead got sucked into the herd mentality.

But, what next? Is there any help for the spiritual seeker, without associating with a large organized spiritual business such as AOL? I do like to meditate, but cannot make myself to do sahaj as the reverence is gone.

PLEASE HELP!

I have been browsing http://itisnotreal.com/subpage19.html

yourdad's dad said...

Some of you like Zhoro think that there are true gurus and we should get their help etc while some like princess think that you don't need guru and guru means loss of freedom.

I wonder how come ex teachers have such different takes?

Hari said...

Dr Quentin Jones said...

"Noticed that the counter blog is dead and all the followers have bolted".

I guess, It’s not difficult to understand why the counter blog has died down, considering the huge PR disaster it was.

Also the sudden Pro-AOL characters (Dad & family ) that have emerged since last 3 weeks make me feel that AOL has changed its strategy with the counter blog.

Why not unleash the AOL PR team onto the comments and posts of this blog. It will be much simpler, more effective, isn't it? There are no conventions to follow, no tone to be set, no respect to be shown, and most of all their comments will not be treated as an official AOL or SSRS Communiqué.

But still I would want these guys contributing rather than blocking them as Chris has suggested, will help to understand the AOL point of view as well(even though still fact less till now).

jivani said...

I also wondered if the AoL PR strategy had changed to infiltrate this blog. The blog tone definitely seems to have changed with the emergence of more pro-AoL people.

It's mostly succeeding in keeping me even further away from AoL.

zhoro said...

Just quick note that I've been too busy in the last couple of days to reply to the latest posts in the comments. Will do so on Monday.

yourdad said...

tell me kind sir, why, every time I go to these "satsangs" AoL has, I see people trying to hit on each other

What point are you trying to make son? Are u telling me that you have visited all the AOL satsangs on this planet in 140 countries and you founds guys hitting on girls? Are you just generalizing?

You guys just don't have any valid points and hence putting out silly stories.Dont you see that you are not making any point?

Some of you were hurt and hence you left AOl, while others like Zhoro had idealistic concerns which AOL no longer addresses(Zhoro : how can you talk about this. You have betrayed the trust and faith of all those who took TTC with you. You shared things which you were not supposed to. If you really had problems with AOL with regards to its money, you would have given some solid evidence instead of pointing fingers and make accusations) and then some of you get healing by abusing a Guru.

Do you realized that you guys are the ones who are actually abusing faith and devotion of hundreds and thousand of other people who respect and consider SSRS as their Guru? You guys write any nonsense stuff...like the sad frustrated princess says "AOL is a sad group". I think you guys are sad. You have left AOL many years ago, and still you like gossiping about it, badmouthing it under the pretext that you are saving others? Shame on you guys! Just search for Art of Living on Facebook and you will see so many groups with joyful smiling people everywhere!

Hari: ya son . I am a big shot in AOL PR trying to do whatever you think. You can put out all your other theories so that I can have a nice laugh.

Vinaya said...

@yourdad
My problem with AOL is I was taken for a ride by their hypocracy. They lied to me about the so called 4000 villages adoption in India. I had a geniuine inclination towards social service and AOL exploited that to further their money making agenda and made us do photo ops in the name of social service. We collected donations for natural calamities and it went into the pockets of the top mafiasos in the organization. I have seen the money and operational side of AOL deep enough and that is what made me and may others leave. It is to put in plain terms a fraud organization quite similar to Nithyananda and Kaliki bagwan. I am thankful for the blog owner and other contributors who have the guts to say that the emperor wears no clothes.
For those like you who live and benefit by this fraud you can describe the fascinating colours, texture and grandiosity of Ravi Ravi's clothes. But for those of us who know he is exposed.

Peaceful Warrior said...

Ever heard of the straw-man argument ?

Bashing yourdad is not the way to go. Like it or not, we have to patiently reply to his arguments, instead of attacking him. Otherwise we will just be acting like RS, republican party etc.

People hitting on each other is not just an AOL thing. Teenagers will be teenagers. If RS tries to rein in their behavior, he is controlling, if he does not then he is ignoring things. Anywaym what's your problem if two people are flirting ? Are you moral police or something ?

By raising such trivial issues, you seem to be diluting the more serious points raised by this blog. Lets stick to those shall we.

Voila said...

Zhoro, haha! I am remembering the story of the NYC angel myself and how he approached RS, as he always said, even the trees, even all angels feel compelled towards him. Hilarious. And he still does not think he suffers of some degree of megolomania. Ah of course, there is a difference between that and being god reincarnate. We must not be able to see!