Friday, May 28, 2010

Run Forrest! Run!!!!

BY KLIM

Teachers come and go. Just as devotees come and go. In fact, contrary to the AoL declarations, more go than come, and it is few who stay. Yet, despite all that fuzz AoL makes around the “sacred tape”, when a teacher leaves, they do not demand him/her to return the tape and manuals. It is often the teacher him/herself who does it out of a sense of duty or just to get rid of “that”; or otherwise, if in an area there is a despotic teacher, that one will most likely savor the opportunity to exercise the power and authority to request for them. All in all, the saddest funniest thing is the one returning the tape is happy, the one demanding for it is mad. I then wonder, actually how truly sacred is that tape and those manuals after all? How real is the copyright symbol we see in almost all their materials!?

There is a big dramatization around how difficult and sacred it is to have that tape, as if it was some Holy Grail. One needs to go thru torturous TTC, where bashing and smashing are part of the payment, thousands of dollars in course fees, followed by endless expenses that come before and thereafter organizing courses to prove one is deserving, attending courses to keep purifying, following RS for a drop of grace or two, buying books and tapes, etc. As a former teacher friend of mine said, “Don’t return the tape. You paid for it.” I had never thought about it until I heard it. Cheers to that wise observation and advise!

Unlike all other former teachers I know, RS asked for my tape when I turned down his offer to buy my silence. It was the first time I fully reckoned “the guru has a big ego" - a combination of hurt huge ego and worry is what I finally concluded. As funny as it seems, he worries I will create my own stuff, teach courses with the material he plagiarized and put in the form of “Art of Living courses”. Bottom line, that I become a competition. In another lifetime, I could have prided his fear is an indication of my competence. However, in this lifetime, I find it pathetic for it is revealing of the true nature of the organization and how little did he really know me. Though for a long time his bashing haunted me in paralyzing effects that impeded me from doing anything, today I realize I am more capable than I have ever been accredit for, and that because of it, RS and CO. trashed me but not before extracting all the juice out of me.

Though this blog was created out of a personal need, and a humble and shameful space, perhaps I am not wrong to state this is one proof of it. When I hear the efforts he is doing with his teams to undermine this blog, a little voice in my head says, “You want to copy even a blog you copy-cat? You are seriously afraid of a little blog? Of a little someone you trashed? You should have been nicer to me and I would have blogged in your favor! ;) ”

On another hand, another ex full-timer got this note from the "Holy Offices of His Excellency": “Further, we would like to state that you cannot use our name or any of our techniques / content for any purpose whatsoever.”

If anything, one cannot argue they are hilarious - hilariously arrogant and stupid. They try too hard to be the best and the professionals they are not. Maybe they should try harder. What does he mean? That this person, or in any case, all of us who left, cannot breathe, meditate, be vegetarian, do yoga, accept people as they are, live the present moment, not see intentions behind people’s mistakes anymore? It reminds me of the time he ridiculed the journalist who asked him if AoL was for everyone and he replied, “What do you mean? Breathing is not for everyone?” Ravi, dear, you really contradict yourself too much yet you still think the world is stupid?!

In a self-analysis and criticism, I notice that many teachers (especially full-timers) have in common 1. a distorted combination of arrogance and low self-esteem. The more arrogant the teacher is, the lower their self-esteem; 2. an unreal need to get the approval of a paternal figure/authority/people in general - in this case, RS and, often, students; 3. an incapacity to cope with their own life, a need to run away/hide/shelter from something; 4. some almost cute degree of gullibility; 5. the more involved, extreme behaviors that include being abusive, lacking sympathy, non-stop crying, sudden shouting (called, as per AoL teachers, "pita outbreak"), vulnerability, constant ups and downs, and unmeasurable anger, etc.; 6. some intense desire/need to serve, though for some, an intense desire to be served.

As a full-timer/teacher leaves, the sense of vacuum is too vast many don’t know how to cope with it. The sense of guilt and shame are overwhelming. The feeling of incapacity – the head does not work, the memory is not there, the ability to use the intellectual faculties neither, the lack of sense of reality with regards to the world, the loss of friendships/family/ networking, the lack of curriculum to find a job, the lack of financial means and many times, legal paperwork, problems with the spine. You go from being surrounded by people, emails, importance to absolutely NOTHING. Not even one email from your best pal asking how you are. Even worse, the one you considered even more important than your own life and family is nowhere to be found, but you still remember he told you he’d love and take care of you for ever. The inner struggle and pain are, thus, excruciating and confusing.

Furthermore, many teachers (especially full-timers) leave with a sense of paranoia. Often when I talk with one they underline the same phrase many times: “Please do not tell anyone what I told you. Promise you won’t tell.” One is constantly fearful people will be discussing about you or that someone is going to betray you by divulging something about you. In fact, being more exposed to the lions and to the war zone, a full-timer is more vulnerable, has been more abused and been under more abusers, thus, more exposed to betrayals than anyone else. A friend is never a friend but a potential enemy who will sell you at any given time but until then and despite it all, you belong to each other and you got to reciprocate "to be in the knowledge". At the end of the day, it is inevitable one develops some degree of neurosis and paranoia.

Unfortunately, I still don’t know of any teacher who has left immaculate from the organization. Using AoL words, no one has left “stronger, more capable to cope with the world and difficulties, more centered, at peace and mature”. To begin with, the psychological trauma one has to overcome and all that comes with it is not a deal of just a few months, a year or two. Many, still scarred by the AoL brain-wash are ashamed of seeking therapy. The physical damages require all sorts of medical supervision that not even doctors understand. Unfortunately, it is not until one gets strong that one can take care of life, step by step. In the meantime, trying to find a job, earn money, learn to be in the world again, make new friends (or, in some cases, make friends!), patch holes with the family (which often one ignored for so long). It is not easy at all, certainly, not quick either. Looking back, I see a gap in my life and, gee! I got to catch up!

I am lucky I kept in touch with non-AoL friends who, despite always knowing I was in a cult, offered me unconditional support, compassion, empathy and love. Without them, recovery would have been even more difficult. The loneliness, confusion, disappointment, pain I felt for so long, and which sometimes still hit me are so deep, the only thing that serves as consolation is reminding myself that being in that shithole, loosing my freedom and my own identity is worse. Somehow, one is a phantom citizen who reappeared on Earth after a long absence, as if one resuscitated from a comma.

I feel those who are still living in La-La land need to hear the other side of a story too. The one not many dare to share but exists. If the education we got in AoL was that good, I guarantee, most senior old-time teachers would not be there anymore! Setting someone free is a sign of growth and love. Believe me, most senior teachers are not there because of their conviction, love and faith in the path but rather, because they fear not making it in the world! They are broken individuals themselves but are the role models in AoL. At the end of the day, instead of uplifting human values, one looses the value of oneself and those that should be practiced.

My basic course teacher was eager I became a full-timer but when I was big time screwed by the AoL and when the damages of being a full-timer became evident, especially financially, she was not there for me either. It is like the story RS tells in the Ashtavakra: the man stole for his wife and his children to have a good life, but when he asked them if they’d share the karma of the actions with him, they said, “No way.”

When I was a full-timer people praised me for my courage and selflessness. Everyone reminded me I’d get such good merits. They admired me. They wanted to be my friend. I wonder, does not being a full-timer for RS now mean I don’t have courage, selflessness, good merits, virtues? What does it say about those who help you only when you belong to their same beliefs? Is that not cultic behavior after all? Fanaticism? You’d be surprised to know how many people are afraid of helping a former full-timer even though they know the abuse the person went through and the struggle therafter. It still upsets me when I hear of someone donating to the AoL phantom seva projects, despite knowing about the frauds, but won’t give someone whose life was spoiled by it even masala for one cup of chai.

There is nothing glorious about being a full-timer or a part-time teacher. It is gloriously stupid to give ones life to a fraud. Seva can be done in myriad ways and anywhere. Growth can happen without locking oneself to an organized path. Spirituality can occur at all times, without the need to kiss anyone’s feet or abide to any practices. Giving up one's life, avoiding it, pausing it, giving it away is not a solution or a sign of superiority. Certainly, it should not be an option.

Learn from those who today have the courage to share their mistakes, pain and struggle. As one of my favorite movies wisely said, “Run Forrest! Run!!!!”

YES. RUN!!!

"It's our choices Harry, that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities." (Harry Potter)

22 comments:

Free Mind said...

Dear Klim,

This blog opened my eyes and am out of AOL. Thanks to you and you never know how many would think before doing an AOL course after seeing this blog.

I think most vulnerable people fall prey to AOL, like me who was going through very difficult time in life and AOL was a perfect shelter and at that point I had almost lost my thinking capacity and nothing appeared amiss to me. Even wanted to become a fulltime teacher.

If I was taught to handle tough situations early , I think I would not have needed AOL. I want my children to be equipped emotionally to handle tough situations.

Bottom line, If I had not been in a tough situation , I don't think I would be thinking abt doing this for my kids. I feel we need to make our lessons useful for others. Today I don regret for whatever happened because something good has come out of it.

Hats off to you for starting this blog never make any experience/lesson go useless good or bad. Everyday is a learning experience. You think if you were treated well in AOl, you would have opned your eyes nor would many have.

Believe me ur experience will transform many lives. You will see a sea change in few years and Good luck....

WhistleBlower said...

Dear Klim,
SUPERB post, both in content & Style. Your insights are so sharp & so well-expressed. Klim, if you ever write a book, it will be a best-seller & no doubt you will be approached for making your book to a movie. You have done such a great service by creating this Blog. I do believe Divine acted through you to create this blog & provide a forum for sharing, healing & support. Many people, esp. in West, are gullible victims of RS/AOL. Your blog has gone a long way to educate & inform people. Anyone who knows a little bit about AOL, immediately recognizes the truth in your blog & it will help them to make sense of all those discrepancy in AOL & free themselves from this soul-destroying & fraud organisation.
And Klim, it is true, you are extremely capable person, full of courage, integrity & honesty & selflessness. You have great mind, great sense of humor, sharp observation & great ability to express yourself from heart. You will be able to transform all your suffering to beautiful gem, helping thousands , if not millions through this blog (As you already have done). I do believe your insights & wisdom will help not only those harmed by AOL, but also by any other cult. Bless you & go strong my friend.

jivani said...

I'm with Whistleblower and vote for a book by KLIM. I envision something like "Running with Scissors" by Augusten Burroughs only "Running From RS". (similar to running with a scissors, no? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Compliments CLIM. Beyond words.Book is a great idea, meanwhile can you please post all your comments so far together? It will make a balanced reading about imbalanced cult.

Anonymous said...

Dear KLIM:

Thank you so much for such beautiful article (and many many others). I was an aol full time teacher as well. I wish this blog could be in other languages so more people would be saved from aol. I was inspired by you and I have written something about aol and will write more in my own language. Let's keep up with the good work. You are great! Thank you so much again.

Love, DL

KLIM and CO. said...

Dear DL, Thanks and congratulations to you too! Please send your article to this blog in your language with its English translation. It'd be great to publish it as it was done on a previous occasion. It'd be great to open to other languages with your initiative. Looking forward to your post.

Prairie Princess said...

Powerful writing, KLIM. Although I was not involved that long with AoL nor was I ever a teacher, when I stopped participating I wondered what was wrong with me and if there was some fatal flaw in me that made me susceptible to cults because I had become a part of this one. I thought AoL represented the highest ideals of humanity. At least, the lip service of the organization indicated it was about high ideals.And then, bit by bit, I saw senior people who were deeply disturbed and did not act in accordance with the principles of human dignity and decency. Senior people who were just plain mean as snakes and liars to boot and treated others like they were slaves or human garbage. How does it help someone to be unkind to them, to "push their buttons"? Never understood that way of treating people or the jockeying for being noticed by the "guru". It would seem if one had dropped the ego substantially being next to the guru wouldn't be that much of a big deal. Keep up the good work . You are a man who will make a difference. In fact you have made a difference to those who experienced the dark side of AoL. Write your book and write it soon.

ex teacher from india said...

I agree with all of you that Klim has great style of expression.Klim writing book with definitely a great idea.even the movie made on this theme would be great hit. But before you could do so I am sure Ravi and his gang would definitely offer you cash to keep your mouth shut. Be courageous enough to decline their offer.tour brave writings is going to transform many life

Catscratch said...

Dear Klim

My heart goes out to you for what you have been through. I admire your courage to discuss such a painful experience with us. This insight will definitely save the lives of many lost souls out there searching- the prey of AOL

I completely understand how AOL functions. They reel you in, make you think of how sad and sorry your life is and then try to buy you into their way of thinking.

I have "lost" 2 family members to AOL. They both have this weird sense of entitlement and every conversation inevitably comes back to the cure-of-all-troubles; virtuous AOL.

I value and respect the love-for-all-teachings but dont get why its has to be such a violent attachment. In none of the world's largest religions do they ever preach idol/people worship.

I wish you all the best with your future endeavors and your expedited journey on the path of healing

Anonymous said...

very well said klim..!!i really hope ppl who r on verge of becoming aol teachers learn from this..esp young ppl leaving their career..

i can see the copyright sign nxt to the blog's name ... hahahahah..well done ..now aol ppl will kno it is not jst a mere blog..u hav the copy right as well... victory..

Svetana said...

Dear Klim,

Thank you for your beautiful post. What a great gift you have of expressing yourself so clearly and yet deep from the Heart.
Just yesterday I was thinking about the book that you can write to help and educate a lot of people and was quite shocked, when I found out that Whistleblower, Jivani and others have exactly the same thoughts. After all, we are all One and some deep transformation, or rather shift in Consciousness, is searching its way to be born. It’s already happening. But book written with your skill will be the best tool to reach for more people, and it may be translated into different languages. Thanks again, and know that we are together.

The Reformer said...

I'm really surprised how everyone had this thought about the book, independently, on the same day. Including me! This thought came to me at first when I made the attempt to read the whole of the blog non-stop. And then yesterday it was a pretty strong thought. I'm sure you have tons of content that you haven't added yet. And then there is the task of organizing and editing the information, to make it a good reading.

To someone new to the concept of cults, this whole thing would be very boring. Like 'I know!! I know!! But I didn't buy the book to read all this cribbing!!' To someone who is already exposed to such experiences, it would be like, 'Man!! Enough already!! What else is new?!!' Do you get what I'm saying? The content should be able to educate people about the negative aspects of getting involved blindly in anything. It shouldn't be appealing only to people who hate the very name of RS and AOL. It should have a universal appeal. And that is going to take a lot of skill, which I believe you already have.

To be frank, many posts in the blog, while being very informative and serving as a warning beacon, also hurt me a little bit. Because I still consider RS to be my teacher, no matter what. Because all my experiences, starting from a particular point in my life, from which I have been learning a lot, have come through my association to him and to AOL. Of course, these experiences could have come to me even on some other alternative path. But this is the path that I chose and this is what happened. Whether good or bad, right or wrong, he is still my teacher. The good experiences make me feel good. The bad ones make me stronger. The right ones, boost my faith. The wrong ones give me the opportunity and the courage to question, to defy blind faith. And the ultimate lesson is to remain unattached to all these experiences. I am different from and beyond all my experiences.

At the same time, I'm not worried at all. There is no point in me worrying about a name getting tarnished because, like I said before, 'even the most pious person, if he does something wrong, has no choice but to pay for it.' So whats my point? My point is, if at all you decide to write a book, it should make your experiences, a warning sign and a lesson. As a blog, when one reads, different posts, at different points of time, one is able to empathize with your experiences. But from an eagle's eye, 'holistic' view, while looking at all the content together, it looks like as someone said in this blog earlier 'wholesale trashing'.

And of course, you need to get a lot more stronger, because when you are going to write a book, I'm not sure you can remain anonymous any more. Maybe it is possible. I'm just not sure. And you will probably be expected to provide a lot of proof of authenticity. Otherwise, it is going to end up as a run o' the mill, bad-experience book.

Having said all that, I eagerly await a book, that turns your experiences into a lesson for all of mankind. May the one pure consciousness that pervades everything, guide and nurture you. Love and blessings.

Chris Williams said...

BOOK! SOON! SOONER! NO, WAIT A MINUTE, NOW!!!! :)

jivani said...

@ Reformer: "It should have a universal appeal"

Actually, I wasn't thinking KLIM should write a book about cult awareness or education, oddly enough. Though a book on cult awareness could help many people, I think KLIM is so good, that would be a waste of his/her literary genius. Besides, that's already here on the blog and people love it.

I likened it to "Running with Scissors" because that's a memoir. A very funny memoir about someone trying to make sense of a bizarre situation and insane people (adults) who are supposed to be protecting Augusten but really end up hurting him. Gotta love the title of the first Chapter "Something Isn't Right". I'd like to see KLIM's memoir with a highlight of his/her time in AoL. Augusten has another book called "Dry" about his time recovering from alcoholism and one called "A Wolf at the Table" about his father. Those would all make great models for what KLIM could write and definitely have universal appeal.

Another style I like is "Eat, Pray, Love" where Elizabeth Gilbert describes her horrible divorce and recovery. That also has univeral appeal.


On Running with Scissors (might describe this blog too at times when KLIM injects humor):

"A memoir that is both mordantly funny and horrifying" San Francisco Chronical

"A hilarious and horrifying memoir"-
LA Times

"It is as funny as it is twisted"-GQ

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, can u pls stop this crap! websites like these from disgruntled people which spew hatred almost cost sri sri his life today....outrightly miserable! Cmon guys get a life and move on!

Catscratch said...

hey Klim,
Did you read today's headlines- there was an attack on RS with an assassination attempt....

KLIM and CO. said...

Dear Anon, believe me, blogs like these with what you call, "disgruntled people" are not the cause for attempting agst Sri Sri's life. He's been boasting about it with self-importance since the jubilee saying he received threats and he had to save us all from the attempts against him. Rather irresponsible I say, that he kept the show going just to keep his name growing. Many thousands of people could have been harmed. Don't worry. There are people who hate him way before we started seeing the fraud. And, using his own words and teachings, "If he had no violence inside him, then he would not attract any violence." In other words, no, it is not because of blogs like these but bc of what he holds inside and all the karmas of his actions. Maybe karma is catching up?

Anonymous said...

KLIM-I have saved your comment..forget about sri sri being enlightened or not...one thing is for sure that you are stupid. Even if you have hatred for sri sri, you cannot condone an assasination attempt and your comment seems to indicate that you actually feel sad that the attempt failed. You are a miserable creature thats all!

KLIM and CO. said...

No dear. I don't hate Sri Sri and I definitely don't wish him dead. I don't find it funny that someone tried to kill him. But his incoherences are definitely pathetic and hilarious. It is time AoL and SS show coherence. Through sympathy he and you won't gain our vote of respect.

WhistleBlower said...

Rahul, I think you may actually be onto something here. Watch this video:
No assassination bid on Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: IB sources:
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/No-assassination-bid-on-Sri-Sri-Ravi-Shankar-IB-sources/videoshow/5993680.cms
Anyone who knows RS well long term can be forgiven to think the whole thing was a publicity stunt. He is master in coming up with publicity stunts & getting media attention by any means.
In this case, just look at the number of different versions of this story from AOL sources. Some said Vinay was standing next to the car, some said he was in the car with RS. No gun shot was heard by those present! Most residents in Ashram (huge number were there because of the Ashtavakra Gita course) didn’t know about this incident till RS told them & his version (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9PdMgb-J-U&eurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fartoflivingtv&feature=player_profilepage) again totally different from the earlier ones said by Charu & Rajit from Ashram( http://www.ndtv.com/news/cities/sri-sri-ravishankar-safe-after-attack-28778.php?u=0019)
They can’t even agree on the kind of the car he was in! Nor they can agree on the time of the assassination attempt (if indeed there was one!!)nor the kind of injury Vinay had! No sign of Vinay himself either!How strange is that? Usually media would want to talk to injured victim, but not even one could get hold of him? Is Vinay real or imaginary? how about his injury?Did it happen from a shot or was he involved in a fight?
And the way RS says contradictory statements, like the gunman shot at the crowd (not at him!) and the way he tries to portray himself as an enlightened master from this incident & promote himself: “ I welcome attacker to join me in ashram” or asking people to enroll 10 people each to AOL course, right after the incident and in fact using the incident.
He says :”I have no animosity with anyone” ( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/I-have-no-animosity-with-anyone-Sri-Sri-Ravi-Shankar/videoshow/5993404.cms) , but didn’t he say previously: “During a trip to Scotland, he casually mentioned while speaking to Edinburgh-based Evening News that he had received death threats from militants and went on to gleefully say that it "doesn't concern me at all". "Islamic militants have put me on a hit list," he told the paper's bewildered reporter while beaming widely.( http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/754754.cms?headline=Islamist~militants~threaten~Sri~Sri~Ravi~)
Was he saying the truth or coming up with a lie again to give a bad image about Muslims for his own political gain/opportunism (as he often does).
Was he lying before? And why he has been using armed bodyguards for so many years now, including in his own Ashram? Why he arrives in the International events with bodyguards? To give an image of himself as a VIP or is he really scared for his life?
Liars have short memories. That is definitely the case with RS & his different versions of the event & the contradictory statements.
IB will do well to check out the facts of the story, including the bullet Ashramites found & gave to the police, the one no one seemed to have heard it being shot in the first place!!Something really fishy here!
And did you hear how in his video he was trying to gain points that the gunman only shot once, due to transformative energy of his satsang? One has to ask why the gunman shot at all? To create some publicity for SriSri?!

Catscratch said...

Lol! Good one Whistleblower!

Anonymous said...

Dear Klim - before you disappear I just wanted to give you my heartfelt thanks for your blog. I totally understand your reasons for shutting up shop and your decision has prompted me to let you know what a huge difference you have made. I am an Ex-AOL Teacher who as quietly as possible slipped away from AOL as I could no longer bear to have any responsibility for bringing people into such a dysfunctional and unsafe organisation. I kept teaching in the face of very vitriolic, very personal attacks on me thinking that at least there was value in " bringing people to the knowledge". But it just became untenable, the discrepancies were too huge. The difference between "the knowledge" and the ambitious, venal, self-serving behaviour I was surrounded with was just too much. So I quietly exited.

It was not until I read your blog that I realised that what I had experienced (along with other teachers who stood up and asked questions like where does all the money go) was not an aberration, that it was an experience shared by many others, in many different countries. Reading your blog has helped me to piece it all together, I had many aha moments reading it and often felt I could have written some of those experiences myself. So I got to see that the organisation itself was corrupt, not that I was stuck in some small pocket that had gone haywire but that the whole thing was rotten to the core.

The most important part for me has been the realisation that the reason the organisation was so dysfunctional was because the CEO created it that way and encouraged that behaviour. That for me was the most valuable realisation from reading your blog - that the emperor has no clothes. Once I realised that I was able to finally let go of the whole charade of "having a guru". It's been quite a journey but oh how I love the freedom.

I don't know that I believe in karma any more but I see such poetic justice - those who behaved so badly, who sold their souls to the devil, have got exactly what they deserve - an empty, ambitious, self serving "guru", who can give them nothing, except a highy inflated opinion of themselves. I think of Sangeeta Jani who SSRS has told will become enlightened in this life. A more morally lazy person you couldn't hope to meet; she is coasting on her guru's promise -she manipulates and plays politics, encourages shameful behaviour without batting an eyelid -she has been promised enlightenment so she doesn't care about the consequences of her behaviour. How perfect - when do you think she will realise that she has been given an empty promise. When will all the others who have backstabbed and betrayed in the name of their "guru" realise that all they have done is reveal their total lack of integrity and their naked ambition.

As for all that "knowledge" - I have destroyed all my literature, CD's DVD's, I have burned all the photos, and burned all the manuals - that was an incredibly satisfying experience. Wouldn't it be great if all those "senior" teachers came out of their respective closets and spoke the truth. Bawa and Dinesh would do more good for the youth of India by standing up and saying we're gay and we're proud than all their Yes courses combined. But that would take courage and integrity, not qualities that are encouraged in AOL teachers.

Thank you Klim, for helping to set me free. I am sure there are many others who like me have read your blog avidly but have not written. Please know that the service you have performed for all of us is immeasurable.

Good luck with the book - may the force be with you.

(it goes without saying that I need to send this to you anonymously - the knives are still being sharpened)