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!

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

i for one would surely buy (and recommend to others) the said book when (hope there is no "if") it comes out. good luck with your future endeavors.
- TR

Peaceful Warrior said...

Klim,

Thanks for sharing...This blog helped me through the healing process too. Good luck and god bless!

PW

WhistleBlower said...

Dear Klim,
Even though I do not know you personally, nor even I know your real name; even though I only know you through your writings in your blog & only for couple of months, you have become a friend to me.
A friend for whom I have a lot of respect & gratitude.

So it is not surprising that I felt sadness when I finished reading your post. But at the same time, I feel very happy for you my friend.
I thoroughly understand where you come from & I am happy that you are honouring yourself. You sound very empowered person, one who has been through a huge challenge, but managed to keep her/his essence of humanity & come out wiser & stronger.

When I read your post , as with so many of your other posts, I could totally understand & feel everything you have written. You had again expressed so powerfully & so beautifully your experience of AOL, but also my experience of it & no doubt experience of many ex-AOL teachers. It is your sincerity & honesty & ability to express your feelings so well, that is so appealing to your readers.
When I read your post, it is as if you have spoken for me too, as if you said what I also saw & felt about AOL & my experience of it all. I can ditto everything you said.
So it is hardly surprising that I feel sad for not being able to come to the computer & finding a new post from Klim in her/his blog.
But I do feel so happy for you too. It cheers my heart to see you have gone from strength to strength & that you talk from such empowered space. To be honest, until I came across your blog, I had decided I want to get away from AOL & would be happy to never ever hear anything about it. Reading your blog, brought so much healing to my heart. It was so validating to know there is someone out there who not only has experienced what I have experienced with AOL, but also has the ability & courage to put it on the internet for benefit of others.
It was you who made me realize that I can also do my bit to help others still trapped in AOL wanting to get out but not knowing how. I realized that the reason I wasn’t quite finished with AOL is because I had not shared my experiences with it, that can be useful to many others. Klim you were a pioneer in this & a light bearer. The torch you lighted will carry on & hopefully many others will come forward & share the truth about AOL.
I sure hope you write in http://aolfree.wordpress.com/ whenever you feel like contributing in whichever way, with no pressure whatsoever.
And I , no doubt like many others, will be looking forward to your book. I have no doubt it will be a best-seller. I sincerely hope any editor, publisher who comes across this blog to contact you & provide the assistance needed in getting this book out there. It is truly the need of the hour. There are so many out there that will be helped to get out of RS/AOL trap & hopefully many more will never be trapped in the first place. Knowing your sense of humor, I know it will be a best seller & will do as good as eat,pray,love , if not better.
So with Much love, some sadness, but a lot of joy for you, I say Go well my dear friend, best wishes for your life, for your book & for everything.
With love & gratitude
WB

Anonymous said...

Good luck Klim!
Thanks for enlightening me!

a humble witness said...

Dear Klim,

I cannot thank you enough for having the guts to "put yourself out there" and share your intimate experiences with AoL, and provide a safe space to share mine. I truly believe that your presence in my life has had a huge impact on my own recovery from AoL. Like you, I am looking forward to living my life truly Art of Living free, now that by closing this blog, you have helped me come to a sense of closure as well. I have read every article, and have followed every comment since the beginning, and I am truly better for it.

I cannot say that I will miss reading and writing about AoL on this site, but I can truthfully say that I will miss you. Thanks again, and until I have your "voice" as a constant reminder on my nightstand...

Love and Blessings,
A Humble Witness

Awakened2010 said...

Hi Klim,

I will miss you. You provided a channel for my soul to validate the resistance I have been developing for AOL, including local teachers. They are on a constant mission to sell the courses or organize some healing sessions with Sangeeta Jani (that's the latest big thing in bay area)whose only purpose is to bring as many "numbers" as possible to Guru Purnima or further courses.

The ego boost and powerful feeling that the teachers and volunteers get thinking they are "helping" another poor/depressed soul is like an addiction. It is that addiction that AOL is capitalizing on. It is fascinating to see this play and be an observer.

Will miss you terribly!

Gopal said...

good decision Klim. You have fulfilled your heart and your heart is making you move to a rich and creative live. Best wishes for you future live. May you enjoy a creative and fulfilling life.

Anonymous said...

Thank you from my heart, KLIM. I was a part time Art of Living teacher and was going through an intense inner conflict, unable to reconcile with the contradictions between the walk and the talk within the organization. You gave me the guts to quit and the posts your blog reinforced the conviction that I was right in quitting. Good luck in all your future ventures. May God bless you!!
I will miss you for sure.

-Dayalu

Anonymous said...

I started following your blog only a week ago. ...It was perfect timing (even though I wish I would have read your blog a year ago!)

The blog is a gem. ...In a way, you've become what I've always wanted in a guru or my AoL teachers to be--genuine givers AND practitioners of knowledge. Your words have become a role model for me. Amongst the many qualities of your thoughts I've come to admire and use for my own character building,...I look up to your quality of not hating RS. I look up to your ability to see how even doubts and our own mistakes have a role in unfolding our paths.

I look up to how beautifully and simply you express your thoughts. You gotta have great internal clarity to express in such specific, moving, courageous, and mindful words. I can't wait to read and promote the book! We have to find you sponsors ASAP.

With gratitude and love,
dv

Anonymous said...

I will miss you .. every morning i turn on my computer just to check if there is a new post.. :(
i think i have to start re reading the blog now..
i dont kno what more to say ... all the best..
i will really really really miss you...

luv
pk

Anonymous said...

Bullet meant for wild dogs strayed into AoL ashram

http://beta.thehindu.com/news/cities/Bangalore/article446787.ece

WhistleBlower said...

@Awakened2010
Great observation re the addiction that RS/AOL capitalize on.

You made me laugh by mentioning "healing sessions with Sangeeta Jani"
What a joke! If Sangeeta Jani had any healing abilities she would have healed herself fom her thyroid problems, diabetes,HBP, etc.
She can't go a day without her medicines and no they are not Ayurvedic tablets from Ashram!

Rajeev Trikha said...

"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."

I am delighted to read that your heart is soaring again and rejoice at your new freedom. There is a saying by Vivekananda that it is a blessing to be born in a church but a tragedy to die there. He also advocated that there should be as many sects as there are people. A Guru can only provide fences, it is your effort which elevates you. You have realised that one has to work on oneself. The blog is good as a drama surrounding an organisation but does not negate the fundamental truth of spiritualism. Some of your 'followers' had moved on to Richard Dwakin's 'The God Delusion' but you have realised the essential truth of one of AoL teachings that what you resist persists. You truly have the opportunity to go beyond name-calling. 'Finally, I have even dropped Ravishankar from my existence. He is a sad sick man who truly believes he is God-almighty.'
Now you don't have to define yourself as in opposition to something but be someone.

Enjoy!

ex teacher from india said...

Good luck Klim
your blog was part of daily routine i will eagerly wait for your book
blessings

Observer said...

Dear KLIM,

I came across your blog only recently, and I couldn't resist spending time to read through all the posts and comments. I have never been in AoL that strongly (though enjoyed some sessions and even brought people into it), and consider myself an observer rather than a devotee (I have only myself to thank for the strength of my conviction that no one can claim to be God). My association with AoL was rather a compulsion as many of my loved ones and good friends are still trapped there, and I want them to find their escape route by themselves. But I will stay with them, and hopefully endure the AoL onslaught without damaging myself, just to try and discreetly nudge them away from potential dangers of this obsession.

I have quickly developed a strong liking to your clarity of thinking as well as expression, which closely resemble my own way of looking at things around - particularly the spiritual stuff, AoL and others. I will miss your blog, but I fully understand the reasons for you to move on. I wish you all the best, and look forward to reading your book. I hope you will announce the book on these pages as and when it is ready.

Take care.

The Reformer said...

Klim.. Well what can I say.. I'm not really jumping with joy, now that you are not going to post here anymore i.e considering I'm still very much in AOL. On the contrary I was wishing you would stick around a bit more.

But I must admit, I am overjoyed that you are finally out of whatever it is that was eating you up all this time. Whether that is true or not, at least that is what your post conveys. And the feeling I get is in a way similar to what I feel when I remember my not-so-healthy days and how my ailments got decimated through my practices. WOW!! I'M FINALLY FREE!! Am I right? :)

Do let me know if you need any help with your book. I'm sure I could be of some use with a neutral standpoint. Of course I could always be viewed as a tricky AOL watchdog. I have no way of changing such a thought, if at all it does exist. You'll just have to take my word for it.

Anyway, all the best in any endeavor you undertake. Blessings.

Tahir-ul-Qadri said...

Dear Klim,

Wishing you good health and happiness. Reading your postings in this blog was a wonderful experience. I would like to thank you for sharing facets of your life story with all of us. I hope you achieve success in your future endeavors.

Tahir-ul-Qadri

grateful_reader said...

Good luck Klim,

Thanks for all the information. You've helped many people including myself.

A book would be amazing.

Anonymous said...

Dear Klim:

Thank you so much for all the beautiful writing and healing. I got a lot of healing and courage from this blog like many did and will do. I was an aol full time teacher for many years also. I actually just wrote a book about addictions, and mentioned the "love addictions" people had toward "spirituality" or "guru" in my own language. Like I told you last time that I wished this blog would be my language. If you will write a book, please do let me know, I will help your book to be translated. It will help a lot of people out there, not just from aol, but all the people who gave their power away to someone else.

Wish you all the best for whatever you touch in life. Let's keep in contact somehow....I don't know how yet, but we will figure out.

Sincerely and love, DL

KLIM and CO. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JIvani said...

Honestly Klim, half the reason I read this blog is because of your pure literary genius--the humor, the raw descriptions of horror coupled with deep and honest emotion.

On the other hand, your blog opened up an old, extraordinarily deep wound. At times, I've felt like I hijacked this blog because I'm not an AoL insider though did do volunteer work for AoL, went to quite a few AoL yoga classes, and have friends entrenched in the path. Though I've healed from my own childhood wounds of cult immersion, I feel you did what I could never do. You helped others. You told your story. You shared openly and honestly. Thus, reading your blog helped me become a better person in feeling like though I've shared but a little, I've done at least something small in sharing what I know of cults.

As an avid reader, I truly believe if you play your cards right, you'll be famous. People love you. I wish you much love, joy, and peace in life. And to all the readers. Good luck with your next step. And, damn if I better not see that book on my nightstand!

I might be able to connect you with an editor. Do you have anything yet?

P.S. I'm mad at you for stopping this blog ;)

RB said...

Dear Klim,

I was directed to your blog after an incident that brought about my disassociation with AoL, when Ravishankar decided to call MF Hussain a terrorist! The same Ravishankar who has preached love for all and who says that even inside a criminal is a victim crying for help. So when a 95 year old artist is deemed worse than a terrorist by an 'enlightened soul', just so he could please some hindu religious and fundamentalists bigots, I realized its time to move on from this madness called AoL. Your blog posts have put everything into perspective for me.

I have read all your posts; and realized that if I could feel the pain of betrayal that this one incidence of utter hipocrisy brought about; the amount of pain that you have undergone must be collosal!

I have deep respect for you and for what you have accomplished. You have made me experience a sense of freedom from all those stifling concepts that I've been living with. Through you, I know now that I can now live a much richer life.

I wish you the very best that life has to offer and that nothing but peace, happiness and tranquality have a place in your life.
Lots of love and gratitude to you.
RB

Anonymous said...

Dear Klim,
I will miss your writings. Thank you for helping me make my disassociation with AOL complete.Last few months I had been disturbed about some incident or the other which clearly indicated their hypocrisy and this last 'shooting incident' was the final straw.Had your blog not been there,I dont know how I would have coped with my feelings.Thank you once again and I wish you the very best with your book and in all that you do in life.

MP

Anonymous said...

U WILL BE MISSED.
on the side note check out how aolers are chewing shobhaa de for her post on guru
her blog:
www.shobhaadeblogspot.com

her post on sri sri was on june 4th
http://shobhaade.blogspot.com/2010/06/raajneeti-rocks-i-loved-it.html

Hari said...

Dear KLIM,

Yours was a very fresh voice. It was nice reading your blogs.
All the Best for the book you will be writing. Do note to translate it into Hindi so that you would be able to reach a larger audience.

Wish you the very best for the life ahead.

Anonymous said...

Please go to this link, Klim & Co to see the "Deliquent" status of Art of Living Foundation's Charity Status with State of California:

http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/Details.aspx?agency_id=1&license_id=1076458&

At that site you may also see when AOL was founded, by whom, the original (some still with AOL) board members, and the fact that it has, as of 2010, been "Rejected" for charity status.

Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hi,
Read your last blog, got only this to say that there is something to learn from every experience. It is one's own samskara's that is responsible for everything that happens in our life, in short, we create our world. I did do an AOL course and went for an Advance one too, luckily I was already into Ramana maharshi and had begun my spiritual journey with his teachings, hence the moment I saw SSRS, I knew a Fraud. God exists and there are Great Masters who may not bodily be here, but are listening to the calls of true aspirants. As for SSRS I can assure you that He and there are lots of others like him today will definitely be dealt with by that Ultimate Power . So, concentrate on your spiritual growth and forget about frauds who are using spirituality for name, fame, money, power, lust etc.

HappyAgain said...

“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 hutzpah”


My dear, I feel your pain deeply! You have spoken for me... every word of it. Know that you are not alone and you have inspired many to come out of their AOL coma. Like you I am beginning a new life right now. Wish me well. I know how hard it is to get that joy, innocence and faith back... But you will definitely get there. Love and hug to you.

PS: One more thing that helped me greatly in my recovery is this book called Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University. May not appeal to all. But some will find it helpful.

Anonymous said...

Hi, just discovered this blog and it is great. my big concern is that since you are on your way to writing a book, would it mean that you will close this blog? please don't do that...this blog is needed BADLY

Riddhi Maniar said...

I have worked (or rather done Seva) the way AOLf puts in the Art of Living International HQ in India for some months. Although I went there on my own will, I realized after some months that the place was not for me… It was full of hypocrites who did not believe in doing anything substantially good for the society but just took the Guru’s name day and night. There is a lot of brainwashing and blind following that goes on there. They make you feel that you are incomplete and your life is full of conflicts without doing their courses. They make you do seva of all sorts… sweeping the ashram etc in their advanced courses in the guise of earning good karma etc. I also encountered an incident while doing the DSN course…. a course participant ended up coming late on the first day and shockingly the volunteer of the course asked her to shell out Rs.2000 as penalty or gave her the option of going back home. The participant was foolish enough to give the money too.Also, how come Sri Sri’s sister’s children have studied in the best schools abroad with our hard-earned money? Whatever happened to the vedic system of education and the vedic schools that are run in the Ashram?

Also, I remember forcing the Content Manager of their website to display where the donations are being used, just as any credible NGO would do. She kept dodging that topic. They have not put up any such thing till date.
I have lived with the inmates. There were so many robberies that took place in the Ashram in my presence.

Anonymous said...

Some of the AOL teachers like Bawa, Dinesh and there is one in Tamilnadu by name Damotharan should be in politics. They are such hypocrites. They are afraid of small things and they are contemptous of junior teachers. Actually there is nothing spiritual about them. It seems it is just like another career or business for them. All is definitely not well with the organisation teachers most of whom are hypocrites. And they teach naturalness to others.
with love AKASH

Anonymous said...

This BLOG justifies my feelings to AOL, as I was constantly thinking that I may be doing something wrong by deciding to stay away from the Group.

I started feeling that this is another COMMERCIAL ORGANIZATION when they first started seperating the people seatings based on how much you have paid. You PAY more, you are given the the FRONT seating otherwise you get the back seat.

Also, they are so aggresive on the courses with astronomical and unjustifiable PRICES. If they were a sipiritual group one would not be charging such a HUGE $$$ numbers for the courses.


Also, some of the AOL group try to do BUSINESS with other group members or use it as a NETWORKING TOOL. These guys are cunning and with little OR no PROFESSIONALISM, you tend to trust because they are from AOL and you are part of it, and you get the nastiest surprise of your life. I lost thousands of Dollars trusting someone from the group. That was the last stretch which made me push the button of SAYING GOODBYE TO THE GROUP. TRUST ME, IT IS GOOD TO BE OUT OF AOL FOR WHAT IT IS WORTH!!!!

RS may be good but the group members or the agenda does not project that picture........