Friday, June 4, 2010

Moving Beyond the Art of Living

The few friends and family that know of the existence of this blog have been, since its conception, worried about the consequences of my involvement with it. I still find it funny that others perceive AoL as something dangerous, hostile, vicious, “capable of anything” whilst AoLers insist they’ll bring peace to the world with their Sudarshan Kriya and the Grace of their master. Having made the click in my head, I wonder today how they will actually change the world with a breathing technique and call that “conflict resolution”? Again, I go back to the question: what about me did not allow me to see through it all, and instead, just like my peers, found ways to justify the politics, the nasty things that went on behind the scenes, and the magical gullible thinking?

Friends, family, even I, myself look forward to the day I do not mention the Art of Living or Ravishankar again. Further, I look forward to the day I am fully fixed and free of the traumas the AoL left in my mind and health. Overall, it was an experience that snapped me out of stupidity and extreme ingenuity and abusable niceness. I learned great lessons and thank to them grew immensely.

This blog played a big role in my recovery, as well as the readers who supported and even those who insulted. I was able to drop my fears, confirm that my decision to leave was a sign of health and self-preservation that, thank God, still existed even if 0.5%, transcend the guilt and my past history with these people, see the AoL and the education I got there for what it is and not for what was marketed. Recognizing I once belonged to a cult and helped promote it comes with a lot of sensations that range from anger to shame.

The truth is I have been trying to leave the blog for a long long time. For one, I grow tired of hearing and discussing the AoL – they are not the best nor the most important thing in the world and should not occupy the space they do in my life. While RS was fully immersed in his belly button, feeling important with an attack that was not, there were serious problems going on in Gaza and other parts of the world. Though my new life still suffers the consequences of my years of involvement with AoL, it is new, great, free and mine. I have a lot to be thankful for. I have rediscovered spirituality in its true essence and I have recovered my own source of joy and authenticity. I am again who I am and not what I should be or programmed to be. Together with the help of invaluable friends and professionals I have been working on myself the way we did not in the AoL.

A good friend I wished would get involved in the group said after a few months, “People in the AoL do not work on themselves” and walked away. I never quite understood his remark until I left the movement. Of course! We faked it until we made it, we repressed negative emotions and real life desires, we worked on ourselves through SK, hollow and empties, and being in “the Presence”. It was a good for all package for people with different problems. How could that help anyone truly work on him/herself? The most common remark teachers and long-time devotees said was, “I feel stuck.” After all those years, noone changed, except becoming more feverish, aggressive, greedy, competitive. We worked on ourselves through seva: organizing courses and enrolling people. People were judged as good or bad based on how successful they were at organizing courses or enrolling, not on their behaviors and quality of the heart. Why not call it a business then, instead of cheating people with a promise of spiritual growth? To be honest, I doubt anyone would be upset then.

To my dislike, readjusting, deprogramming, recovering, reinventing oneself is a long challenging process, however, I trust my new life should only be as good and even better than it was pre-AoL. When people ask me what I learned with AoL, I say, “I learned everything one should never do in life!” I learned the worst side of human beings, I learned that anything that creates separation, or takes one to any extreme is not healthy, I learned never to give my power again, I learned not to accept any abuse from anyone anymore, I learned to discriminate, I learned to live with opposite values, I learned to distinguish a manipulator, psychopath from miles away, but above all, I learned to love and value myself.

Ravishankar robbed me of many precious things in life. Most importantly, my faith and thirst for knowledge. I must confess I am still quite allergic to any kind of practices, satsang, new age talks, swamis and gurus, and still have problems trusting people or my own decisions. In my opinion, robbing someone’s faith and spiritual yearning is his worst crime. Fortunately, he was unable to take away my integrity, courage, authenticity and hutzpa. If Krishna stole the mind, RS stole the soul.

When I recently saw pictures of former colleagues who are still caught in the web, I was shocked to notice something was absent in them, as if their soul was not there and their expression dull. It’s funny I used to think they were bright! I whole-heartedly wish them the best. In fact, I pray they open their eyes and gather the courage to snap out of it. If they don’t, I wish they remained completely numb so that they never need to deal with the pain of realization. I truly wish everyone the best, including RS, who projects anything but peace, joy or relaxation. Unfortunately to him, there will always be someone better out there, and people finding flaws in him. Surprisingly, that pushes the buttons he still has. Power and fame corrupt even the ones good at heart, I guess.

This last incident-that-was-not, humored me but also bored me intensely. It became all too obvious, just as it became obvious that my time with the blog had reached its end. It’s a drag to still have AoL in my life even if through writing, further, my healing through it has reached its end. I can still write a lot about it but the subject has become tedious. They are who they are and we know what they are. What matters is I am free, you are too and soon, many will be too.

AoLers may cheer this announcement, or even think I am doing it out of fear of retaliation. On the contrary, because I realized I no longer fear their threats that I realized my healing through the blog came to an end. Moreover, honestly, how much longer is one willing to “read” those imbalanced, vicious, all-righteous fanatics? or write about these insanities? Even a guruholic in recovery like myself has a limit. At the end of the day, not only is it flabbergasting but also very sad. Most of those nasty coo-koo commentators I knew, hang out with and loved.

“Confessions of a Guruholic” will remain in cyberspace. Hopefully more people will find it and find solace reading it. I have plans to fully live my new life “art of living free”, with its many undefined projects waiting to anchor and blossom. I shall miss everyone and this lovely space of healing. If I ever have the itch, I may contribute in Beyond the Art of Living.

I have come to terms with those “friends” and students who betrayed me. I know my students did not have another choice. They did not act upon values but for “the cause”. Brain-washed, I most likely would have done the same. I wish they open their eyes soon and find sincerity and transparency again in their lives. I see my “friends” did not have another choice but to stab me and later hate me too for what they did. I know they suffer daily for just too many years. You’d be surprised how many senior teachers are depressed, lonely and in angst most of the time. Their hearts are sour but they don’t mean ill. They are ill and do not get the care and attention they really need. Furthermore, I no longer feel guilty for having brought so many people to “the path” and starting so many centers. At some point, we are all adults responsible for our choices. There are those who go and those who stay. Those who choose to stay obviously have issues to solve, just like I had too. I have even forgiven my basic course teacher. She was truly a nice lady – lost but good-hearted. Finally, I have even dropped Ravishankar from my existence. He is a sad sick man who truly believes he is God-almighty and his own delusions of greatness.

Let there be only love, healing and discernment for us all who woke up. Tough love, or rather, sick love taught me that spirituality happens whether you seek for it or not, practice it or not. God has made us perfect just as he has made life perfect.

As many readers predicted, a book project is baking in the oven. Maybe next time we meet will be in the midst of the beautiful scent of paperback pages, on your night table as you turn around just when you are about to fall asleep. Hopefully, sharing my experiences "in the path" has further added insights in your life. May you not make the same mistakes I did. At least, be creative and make new ones. But above all, cherish, love and value yourself. Do now what I did not do for so many years, turning, thus, into an easy prey of spiritual abuse and a brain-washed guruholic.

I have been looking for sponsors to help with the book project. If you wish to collaborate or better, finding possible sponsors or editors, it will greatly be appreciated.

So long for now. I wish you the best. Wish me the best.
Cheers to spiritual freedom and truth!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Proverbs 16:10-16 The Message

A good leader motivates, doesn't mislead, doesn't exploit.

God cares about honesty in the workplace; your business is his business.

Good leaders abhor wrongdoings of all kinds; sound leadership has a moral foundation.

Good leaders cultivate honest speech; they love advisors who tell them the truth.

An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives; you're smart to stay clear of someone like that.

Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives; they're like spring rain and sunshine.

Get wisdom - it's worth money; choose insight over income every time.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Food for Thought: Does it really matter?

As sad and disrespectful as it may seem, I only have one statement to make, “I really don’t care.” Do you realize this one incident is very insignificant in the world that matters? What does it matter if it was meant for Ravishankar or someone else? What does it matter if it was a terrorist attack or an internal rivalry? It won’t change my life and it certainly won’t change yours. It may, however, change the lives of those who are still in the AoL, but that is also not a problem. I thank my aggressors every minute for having helped me get out of that blurry world.

The fact I write about it does not mean anything other than I am writing about it, just as a journalist writes about a story. There are days I have more time to moderate the comments, and there are days I don't. There are days I don't care, there are days I feel motivated to. It is only clicking a button after all! Writing for this blog has helped me see through a lot of things in me and in the AoL phenomena, as I understand it has also helped many current and former devotees process their confusion and pain. It was not just me. I know there are a lot out there going through what I went through for so long.

The only thing that makes me sad though is to see the hatred, feverishness, fanaticism, thought process, lust, greed, immaturity that the AoL commentators project with their comments. Yet, with all due respect, of course, they are convinced they make smart remarks and are absolutely correct in their conclusions. Where did the spirituality go? How can they teach and spread spirituality when they handle those who don't agree with them this way? At least I am not teaching anymore and probably, like many, I should have never taught at all. It is not just about reciting a few cute phrases or counting 4-4-6-2 or pressing a play button to a So Ham tape. Not even Ravishankar lives the knowledge, and if the teachings led people to true spirituality, then many things that happen, would not happen, and an AoL police would not be here together with other devotees posting with aggression. There is a lot more responsibility involved than one fathoms in teaching those courses. I would think true spirituality should lead one to greater humbleness and all-encompassion.

However, their minds and practice are all about good vs. bad, you vs. me, us vs. they, policing those who do not agree or control, whether they are out or in the AoL. Sadly, it happens also to teachers and volunteers inside the organization! But, as I grew out of it, I found out life is a lot more than that!

Believing that those who do not agree or do not see RS as the God almighty does not mean anything but simply that. What happened with “not seeing intentions behind people’s mistakes” then? Why can’t they see it as just as mistake? There is a lot of ignorance in the world and as far as it concerns me, it is all relative. Maybe I am ignorant for not seeing Ravi as god, maybe they are ignorant for seeing Ravi as god. At the end of the day, does it really matter? The truth is it only matters to them.

Some of the people whose comments are the most nasty are people I remember way back when they just joined the movement and/or even before they became teachers. Most of them were very nice and sweet people. Somehow, inevitably, as people become teachers and get more and more involved, something shifts and the niceness disappears. I wonder what will happen to these people if AoL falls one day, or if RS decides to run away with USD 7 million like Nithyananda did.

There is no good vs. bad, no us vs. they. As far as it concerns me, they can blame me of anything they want, insult as much as they need to. Of course, with an incident that hits so close, someone needs to be blamed because otherwise it could only mean there are problems inside the organization and RS. How can anyone, but a disgruntled idiot, not like RS? I was shocked myself when I found out there are many out there! Reading the Guruphiliac and other articles that questioned the AoL or denounced certain discrepancies was perhaps one of the most shocking yet liberating experiences after I left the organization. I had been convinced for so many years AoL was the best and if anyone doubted it, it was due to ignorance, jealousy, bad karma, low prana. One of the most embarrassing moments in my recent life was when someone asked the name of the organization I belonged to for so many years and a day later, having not shared anything about it or the reason why I left, said, “How long did it take you to realize it is a scam?” I was stunned. How did it take me so many years to realize but one second for this guy? To make matters worse, as the first AoL hate comments started flowing into the blog yesterday, I sent a few to him to see and he said, “You are not taking them seriously, are you? These people act like teenagers and write brainlessly!” Again. How did it take me so long to realize this but one second for this guy?

Thus, I always come back to the question: what inside me did not allow me to see thru the truth and instead permitted so much abuse in my life? What was wrong in me? I don't hate them. I know they have no other choice but to attack me and anyone else in my similar stand. People like me challenge the comfort zone in their mind and heart. If anything, I feel bad for them. Nothing about the AoL comes with peace, soothingness, belongingness, harmony. Do I remember those days!

Of course, reading these hate mails is not fun (and I know it upsets many) but it certainly confirms my decision to leave this toxic community. I pat myself in the back realizing I no longer fear them and my mind is clearer everyday. Sadly, I probably had become zombie like them at some point or the other. It is impossible not to when that is your environment, association, language and education, and when one is trained to be and think that way. It is impossible to reason with them. It is impossible to reason with arrogance, self-righteousness and greed. They have their fanaticism to defend, but beyond that, they have feelings and a life to defend and justify. Waking up to the truth, questioning the validity of it all is a lot more painful. I went through it. I know.

They take this blog as a personal attack, they see intentions, they fire hatred, as if I was the only one who thinks and feels this way and in an act they are convinced is "ahimsa". How contradictory of all their teachings and actions? Maybe I was the first one to have the courage to express myself in a written form, publicly. But there are many out there too. Perhaps Vinay was luckier for getting only one bullet in his thigh. These bullets of hatred and insanity in the form of comments and blog persecution are a lot worse. But, unfortunately, nothing that is not familiar to me of the AoL days. Fortunately, I was well groomed for it during my extensive stay with them.

Believe it or not, I don’t care if AoL falls or not, if RS comes out of the closet or not (not in the sexual connotation). I repeat, this blog is just my journal to help me heal and deprogram. If I was interested in exposing or defaming, I would be writing different stories, with full names and details. This blog has served its purposed in marvelous ways and thru the writing, I have gained "consciousness" after a long deadly comma.

Art of Living-free people: please do not waste anymore time with this incident. It really does not matter who was the target nor the contradictions of the stories. We left. We are free. We own our minds and lives again. Is there anything more important than that? Just sit back, relax, let them feel important and enjoy the fun of the drama. Someone will tell you the end of the story. Whether the truth of the incident is unveiled or not, it also does not matter. Not everything that is good prevails and not everything that is bad falls. The only thing that matters is we are free! And it certainly feels SO GOOD to be Art of Living-free!

I do wish everyone the best. I do wish my former friends find peace beyond the indoctrination and fanaticism. I do wish Ravi the best too. He is a guy who started with good intentions (I hope) and I do hope that at some point, he remembers what they were.

The only truth is there is a lot more to the world than the Art of Living. The Art of Living does not even account for 1% of the world population and, just as it came, so shall it go. It is the nature of life. Wasn’t that one of the pillars of knowledge?

It is all changing.