Showing posts with label TTC. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TTC. Show all posts

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The chair is sizzling

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Ravishankar vs. Nithyananda

Once during a tour, one of Nithyananda’s teachers approached Ravishankar as he walked into a satsang and gave him a brochure of the activities he was running in the country. I found it quite audacious. As RS sat on stage, his expression was that of worry. He kept looking at the brochure and seemed distracted during the entire satsang. He barely attended the public with the usual whimsical charisma. In fact, he was even rude when taking some questions, snapping at people, saying they were boring him with their dumb questions. “If you want good answers, you need to think of more intelligent questions.”

Some of the people who were seeing him for the first time were righteously offended. Of course I justified his replies, felt small and dumb, and interpreted their attitude as that of big ego. If the guru said we were stupid, of course, he had to be right. We had to make an effort to work on our sharpness!

That satsang was shorter than the usual. He rushed back to his room and urged us to hurry our work in the area before Nithyanand took over! “Call everyone tomorrow early for a meeting! We will make everyone teachers! Everyone needs to hurry and go out to teach! We cannot let his group take over! There is no time!” He made us go into their site and started dissecting it part by part. He claimed everything was an imitation of the AoL and RS: the logo, the design of the website, the poses of the pictures, the content of the knowledge, the kind of courses and activities (note how he reveals the thought out business. It is not spirituality. It is business). He was appalled at the cheap imitation yet worried “the cheap imitation” would take over. He did not have the "come what may" smile then.

The next morning, he yelled at everyone for being lazy, slow and “chickens”. He alerted them another group, which was not as good, was doing a better job and would take over before we did. If that happened, he warned us it’d be our karma for allowing bad knowledge to be spread. He discounted all the TTC requisites and made everyone a teacher! There were people who had only done one basic course. “Make them watch Ashtavakra and give them the tape! Quick! Quick!”

The group left with the expression of little children scolded for being useless and stupid. “He called us ‘chickens and lazy’, then we must be! Oh, it will be our fault if that guru reaches every state and city before we do! What are we going to do?” Frustration, impotence, guilt, feeling of inferiority, failure, anxiety, are some of the feelings people took from that meeting – their encounter with the Master. Guilt, manipulation, abuse. He was a master at that. Somehow, we were always blamed for the failures and he was only responsible for the achievements.

I think about this Nithyanand scandal. How bizarre, how eerie. I can’t imagine what his devotees must be feeling! The confusion, the deception, the nausea! To know that your guru has done wrong and/or is a fraud is already horrible enough (I know it well), but to have it on tape! ... I can’t but remember the above story and conclude what a crook this RS is! He was worried about a con-man? He was competing with a fraud? Why would he worry about competing with worse knowledge and techniques? I thought he knew everything! Didn’t he know everything???!!!

Nithyanand definitely did not take good notes. RS is a lot more careful and controlling. Only brain-dead robots have access to his rooms and belongings. Hidden cameras, copies of accounting, etc. would never be a possibility … or so I think. Honestly, I hope I never get to see any tapes of RS fondling and “playing” with men.

Somone commented earlier: On Nithyananda's scandal, SSRS has commented 'People should live the values. Otherwise such things will only happen. So only people should have faith in spiritual tradition'.

You got to be kidding me! I guess the show must go on …

(make sure to read the first comment posted under this article)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Violence and deceit promotes you

A common satsang question was, “Why are you surrounded by such horrible people?” A usual clever Ravishankar response was, “because they’d do more damage in the world” (implying it was his “seva” to keep them close to him). Witty. People laughed, some applauded. I have never met anyone with such a talent - an expert orator, creative liar, most brilliant manipulator. They say Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Castro possessed this skill with the words too - mesmerized and hypnotized the masses.

When I joined “the club” I believed spiritual qualities, values and growth was what promoted someone or made someone a Part 1, Part 2 or meditation teacher. With time, I realized anyone could become a teacher (in fact, in some areas, you can do so in 3 weeks: TTC1 and TTC2), even those with violent psychopathology. Furthermore, the ones most capable of extortion, distortion, manipulation and violence were the ones who got promoted the most to higher positions.

“Here is this evolved soul who will teach my advanced course.” Wrong. In the AoL violence and deceit is what qualifies someone for promotion. Let’s face it. How qualified and evolved does one need to be in order to play the Hollow and Empties while the class undergoes trance induction, keeps silence, cleans toilets and does dishes, and if someone wants to leave, you tell them and the class it is a sign of their weakness, fears and ego? How difficult is to teach meditation when mantras are listed and given by age and gender? How advanced does one need to be to physically, verbally and psychological abuse in DSN? How deep does one need to be to press play for people to breath in and out with “So Ham So Ham So Ham”, and recite, “Expectations reduce the joy in life”, “accept people as they are”, etc.?

If you carefully observe, the people Shankar coincidentally places in position of power are the ones quickest and best in manipulating and lying without any ounce of remorse. “The means justifies the end”, stated Machiavelli. I learned the meaning of this in the AoL, though even today I cannot agree with it. How can one create a better world if values are corrupted in the process? What good can be created if it is done with “bad”? What kind of apples will a tree grow out of a rotten seed? What kind of education, moral values, role models will people act upon if what they learn is crookedness is what gets awarded, celebrated, promoted? Is this the man who claims will “change the world”? If this is the methodology he proposes to implement the change, I rather it all remains as it is. At least, “in the world”, I have encountered a lot more people with ethical and moral values, conscience, and most importantly, discrimination between correct and incorrect.

I know of teachers and board members who have secretly falsified signatures, or fabricated emails someone did not write, or stolen money, or simply, lied, lied, lied. Just recently a friend who left the organization found out, they were using a bank account under her name to organize courses! To her dismay, they did not seem to understand the unethical and immoral aspect of it. “They were just being ‘practical’”, they explained. And, instead of apologizing, they were offended by her demand to immediately cancel the account. Other than the financial implication, using a bank account with the name of a former teacher indirectly implied she still supported AoL activities - deceitful in many ways. In the world, such action is labeled as unethical, illegal, immoral, whereas in the AoL it is “practicality”. Anything in the name of the greater cause.

Another friend still whines about not having ever been promoted to advanced course teacher despite her seniority, sadhana and unconditional seva. She is convinced she never evolved in the path. She still cannot understand she was too nice, gullible and na├»ve! Being "evolved" in the AoL means, being crooked, not having values or sense of morale, and being capable of anything “for the greater cause” = “the interests of the guru.” (Ravi gives many vegetarian brownie points for such behaviors!)

One will never find a correct, ethical, deep, genuinely nice person in a position of power or leadership in AoL, though for the public they may project great PR skills. I always struggled with this distorted model that was presented as “the best form of spirituality”.

Some of the most senior teachers have histories of violence that seem never to disturb Ravi. One of his all-time most senior teachers is known for his physical violence but whenever incidents were reported to Ravi, he nodded in disbelief, turned around, made the victims into the aggressors and losers, demoted them and instead, promoted the aggressor. I know of at least four women (though there are more than 4) this TTC, Part 2, Sahaj, etc. teacher, assaulted, and had the “privilege” to witness one of the incidents. He was physical with two of them, almost seriously injuring the head of one of them, and he strangled the other two. The funny thing is – big AoL secret - one of the people he tried strangling is another one of the most senior teachers (Part 2, Sahaj, TTC, etc.), also known for her disproportionate violence, apparently right in front of Ravi (aren’t you wishing I gave names at this point?)! In the world this is known as criminal offense: “attempted murder”, but Shankar instead promoted them both to advanced course teachers, and higher positions thereafter! (Perhaps, for having had the audacity to strangle someone and the other for fighting back? Kinky! Perhaps if they choked each other to death then, they would have spared many people from later abuses.)

The other teacher is known for throwing things, e.g. chairs, forks, knives, even an entire painting over the head of someone while yelling the life out of the person (yes, like in the cartoons or movies, except cartoon characters are not real, and in movies, professional extras and special effects are used).

Once she completely lost her head for some little incident in a store of the neighborhood of a family that hosted her (common complain of many of her hosting families). She yelled and cursed the store owner in such outrageous manner the family is not welcome to return to that store! Not every family member was involved in AoL, thus they properly asked the question, “Doesn’t AoL teach people to control their emotions and transmit peace?” Back then, a brain-washed true-believer myself, I patiently explained about pita imbalance and how because she is so evolved she feels everything, blablabla. She herself justified, as usual, as expressing the repressed anger of the person in front of her.

Cursing, kicking, abusing and all, knowing her irrational violence and temper tantrums, Ravi promoted her to Blessings course teacher. “One can never understand the Big Mind,” devotees correctly explain. Excuse me, where is the “big mind”? A histrionic top “role model”, teacher trainer who has often publicly cursed the guru himself, teaching Blessings courses. Go figure.

Or you have the story of the senior teacher who has people line up for darshan, whose picture many people place in their altar, who has affairs though he himself is married. We know his wife suffers with the incidents. Who knows how many families he has broken though! Despite knowing about his extracurricular activities, Ravi promoted him to Rishi – the married saint. Go figure!

I will never forget the conversation I heard between one of the most dynamic teachers and another one (who had been her student), wondering why she never got promoted, instead the lousy horrible ones were, etc. Her student's reply was loud and clear, "Because you are too nice."

I have myself witnessed and been informed of TTC teachers slapping students, throwing water at them, etc. in the name of their tough egos. Participants would be gathered to swear they would never talk about the incident. This is an indication even the teachers knew it was wrong but they’d justify it “for the greater cause.” Poor people believed they helped students move forward. Somehow, the participants also knew it was wrong but they also were persuaded to believe it was for their own good. At the end of the day, they bowed down to their teachers “in tears of gratitude” or rather, in stretched psychological dissonance, like the beaten wife who rushes back to the husband, with broken ribs, fractured jaw, because she was made to believe he loves her and it was all for her own good.

A senior old time teacher who was often described as "Hitler" to even RS himself, even in official letters asking she was removed ... TTC teacher and leader of an entire area, and more. Another old timer who was known for sending Nazi propaganda ... advanced course senior teacher. Go figure.

In DSN I saw teachers literally physically drag students into a dark closet after confessing they were afraid of dark, enclosed areas. The yelling and shivering of the person was an indication of the tough ego that needed to be cracked. The more the person did not calm down, the more the teacher would uncontrollably yell at the person. Note under such stress, people who suffer of claustrophobia can break down into a panic attack, choke to death or fear, or have a psychotic breakdown. But of course, “the ego and the greater cause”, and the “grace of the guru” is there to protect you. In the world, it is irresponsibility, and if something happens to the person, it is a crime (though I am sure AoL would explain it in terms of karma).

I wonder though, are the students the ones with the big egos or the teachers and the guru? These are only a few examples of what teachers of high level courses or in positions of power hide behind the “fake it until you make it” smile, “walking like a king, being a perfect servant.” In the AoL, such people get promoted, whereas in the world they get reported, treated, locked up or medicated.

Conclusion: if you want to be important in the AoL, either have a lot of money, or think and act like a mafia godfather or better, learn Thai-box, to kick and punch, with style … and a smile.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Qualities of a Guru

I don’t know why I keep remembering an exercise that was done in TTC 1 and DSN: naming the qualities of the Guru. I remember the first time I heard this command. I suddenly wondered, “Really, what are the qualities of Guruji? Why is it I like him?” By the time 3, 4 people started timidly listing adjectives, the rest was just an act of imagination and poetic skill. By the end of the exercise, we were sitting in front of a flipchart with a list of adjectives that insinuated the existence of a Sri Sri Holy 108, the embodiment of God on earth. But, did we all really think that or was it fantasy, group enthusiasm induced?

Examples of qualities listed are compassion, funny, giving, loving, all encompassing, caring, wise, intelligent, responsible, hard working, etc. (interesting, even today I have a hard time working out this list).

Basically, the obvious lesson was we become what we love, we become what we hate, thus, better love than hate, and because we loved him the most, we would all become as amazing as he is. We were the best. The hidden lesson was worship HIM, there is nothing more perfect and more truly amazing than HIM. You are the chosen one, you have the blessing of being with the reincarnation of God on earth.

It’s funny. If I had to work on that list today, the first qualities I’d call out are disloyal, ungrateful, arrogant, unscrupulous, machiavellic, ambitious (in a negative way), power hungry, wealth hungry, fame hungry, narcissistic, lacks empathy, self-centered, selfish, vain, lacks compassion, incapable of loving, incapable of feeling, incapable of establishing deep bonds with anyone, distorted sense of grandiosity of himself, revengeful, abusive, manipulative, liar, sinister, stressed, explosive, deceitful, hypocritical, and I’d end it with a few “etc.”

It’s interesting but these are the qualities that prevail above all in the movement, especially amongst the teachers, even more so, the senior teachers. People with these qualities are the ones he supports, promotes and upgrades. Thus, indirectly, passively, showing these are the qualities and behaviors that get rewarded and awarded. Those who have a hard time living by these qualities find themselves in a more vulnerable situation, attacked, exposed, hammered ("it’s your ego"). Historically, humankind has always casted those who dare be different. It is not different in the Art of Living path (unless you have something to offer the organization that it still wants from you, eg. money, connections, status, etc).

One of the questions I pondered on for a long time was, “When I grow up, who do I want to be like?”

I searched deeply and vastly in my list of worldwide teachers and long-timers. I looked around … no, no, no, no …. NOOOOO … no, no no …. No …..!!! There was not one person I wanted to be like. Even worse, I did not want to ever be like any one of them! (If you know them off the course setting, even less!). And then came the big fish: not even when I was a devotee, I wanted to be like Sri Sri Ravishankar.

What are many people learning in that spiritual path? That being disloyal, ungrateful, machiavellic, betraying, etc. in the name of their devotion for Sri Sri or in the name of achieving whatever it is they want, adding the words “greater cause” to it, gets you away from anything and is the ultimate act of devotion, faith, spirituality.

What did I learn in my many years in that spiritual path? Everything I did not ever want to be like ever in life and everything I should never do if I want to live a life with integrity, values - success beyond success.

What would AoLers say about this article? That I am actually doing a “projection” and blaming on Sri Sri the things that actually are mine. It takes one to recognize the other, they say. There is one thing I am clear about: it is because I did not want to become those qualities, because I never agreed with them, that I finally left, that I finally lived the experiences that I did. Fortunately, the education I got from my parents, my grandparents, my elders, was a lot better than the one I got from Sri Sri. Fortunately, I have some discrimination left.

I stopped loving him and, fortunately, I never hated him nor do I hate him. I hope that saves me from ever being like him. Needless to mention, I work hard on myself so that I don’t repeat the mistake of regarding THAT as the ultimate HIM.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Fake it until you make it

In fact, even after leaving the organization many of us felt embarrassed to share certain experiences and insights. Somehow we knew something was wrong, yet the fear-based education we received was stronger. Even no longer a member of the organization, we feared being ridiculed, ostracized, punished, having made the mistake of leaving the blessings of a Guru.

One day, I asked someone who had recently left the movement if she was still doing her practices and if she had ever felt sick with them. After crossing the first barrier of “we don’t talking about these subjects”, specially former teachers, she confessed she had not felt good with her practices for many years. She described feeling her head oppressed and in a bad, irritable mood the rest of the day, among other things I no longer remember. She admitted, almost in shame, she had stopped doing her practices some time before leaving the organization and noticed a remarkable difference. Feeling guilty about it, she’d do it again, and again, she would not feel herself and well.

Curiosity led me to ask other “drop-outs”, who would take a long time before they’d feel comfortable to confess, and, to my surprise, most of them (not all, but most, easily 80% of them) had the same experience. Not only that, the common description was that since they stopped doing the practices they felt more themselves, more real, more here, enjoying better health, finding improvements in various ways.

I had the same experience. Every time I sat for my practices, I felt a strong pressure in my skull, and inevitably, as if someone else was sitting on top of me, in my head. My mind was no longer my mine, everything dispersed in one way or the other, to the point, I had no control, no use of my faculties. I felt numb during and after, and definitely, I no longer felt the relaxation, the lightness, the relief all first time students claimed to feel. I would, during the day, feel like a zombie, inert, dead, unable to remember anything, unable to think of details or focus on anything.

Somehow, we, teachers, had the strong obligation of selling the product, without questioning. If anything went wrong, it was never the technique, the course, the organization, or the Guru to be blamed. It was our fault. Being guilty of something made you an easy target of ridicule, isolation, shame. If one ever felt anything that was not joy, peace, enthusiasm, the most common question was, “Are you doing your practices?” If you had never stopped doing your practices and you still felt things that were not joy, peace, enthusiasm, you felt guilty about it and people treated you differently. Somehow, you were dirty, worthless, unworthy.

As teachers, we needed to “fake it until we made it.” That was part of Sri Sri’s teachings, just like faking joy until it became our nature. Excuse me, wasn’t joy, to begin with, our nature? Then, why the need to fake it?

Bottomline, we faked it so much we no longer knew really what we felt, and if at all we ever felt anything bad, we hid it, repressed it. It was a lot of blablablabla followed by a lot of empty beautifully decorated words, just to enroll more clients (I remember once in a TTC, the guru called and only asked the teacher one question, “Are they strong at enrolling already?” Even then I could not believe my ears. That was all he cared about. He did not care about how much they were understanding the knowledge, how deep they were going in their practices and processes, but just that they enrolled a lot! In the meantime, those poor TTC students had the illusion (probably still today), the Guru called, concerned about their well-being).

Most teachers are unhappy. Specially, full time teachers. If you want the pretty package, then meet them only while they teach. When teachers are on stage, “the grace flows through them”, thus they shine, they smile, they exude an unbelievable energy and joy. When teachers leave "the seat", they are bitchy, histrionic, hysterical, psychotic, tired, sick, unattractive ... ordinary humanoids with a lot of flaws and zits. We all became great actors, just for the sake of that moment in which one had power and the attention of so many desperate souls, for the sake of having the Guru's approval. We were immature people, unprepared to hold so much power and the responsibility of influencing people’s lives. That is what we were. That is what they are.

When I was still a teacher, I asked someone what made her decide to leave the organization. Her answer was, “I looked around and I noticed all teachers, specially the senior teachers, are so unhappy. I don’t want to be like them.”

End of the conversation.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Mozart vs. Freud

I've heard Ravishankar state classical music is tamasic and brings one to a space of depression. How can such statement be made when one can go high simply listening to Chopin, Mozart, Bach? Is it not the impartial observation of someone who does not understand the classical western scales and, instead, prefers the Indian dissonant scales? When Nietzsche wrote, “Life without music is a mistake”, he did not state, “Life with western classical music is a mistake”! How can one judge a culture for being less "pranic" or more sattvic than another? Is that a genuinely objective spiritual possibility or just narrow-mindedness, prejudice, cultural bias?

Therapists are regarded as bad by the AoL, however, I have known a lot of people who, without the help of a professional, would be locked up or “gone”. Some people suffer of chemical imbalance, some cannot handle circumstances alone, whatever it is, certainly, noone likes to be depressed or suffer of any personality disorder. Those very few who do choose to be in these states, of course, they need professional help too. Those who do not know how to get out of this state, of course, they need help, not discrimination. With the notion therapy is bad, a lot of AoLers feel guilty when they have the need to seek for psychological care, or when they fall into depression. People who fell into any of the two categories were made fun of, especially behind doors by SSRS himself and teachers, or out-casted, if their secret was revealed.

I unfortunately have witnessed many of these occasions in amazement and embarrassment. However, my biggest surprise was when a devotee had a psychotic breakdown and was on the verge of suicide. Desperate, against my will, I dragged him to the psychiatrist. To my surprise, when I called SSRS and described the situation, he replied, “What did the therapist say? If he does not get better tomorrow, give him Prozac.” For heaven’s sake! Everyone knows Prozac is a controversial medication used to treat depression. We had a severe case of psychosis, not depression! That day, I dropped my imposed-aversion towards psychologists. The man, still feels embarrassed about his condition and his need of a psychologist, however, he has geared all his faith towards SSRS as his key to salvation. He hides his condition by feeling SSRS favours him, and as long as this happens, noone in the AoL, will push him away or question his condition, although it is commonly said, “He is nuts, but he must have something, the Guru likes him.”

After all, it is all about being friends with the right people, though, everyone knows there is something wrong with him. Noone understands the attention SSRS gives him. Maybe because he is a pretty boy, or because his family is influential, or simply because he is, as diagnosed by SSRS, “bipolar, multiple personality, psychotic.” As Ravishankar always declared, “The nuttier the better.” Professionals urge the boy’s family to medicate him for the rest of his life. SSRS encourages him to become an AoL teacher instead!

Many cultures that once discriminated therapy are now more open and accepting of the fact some people need therapy, and even medication. There is nothing wrong with either of the two. Following SSRS's thinking, if one needs a doctor for the body, a guru for the spirit, then why should one not seek a therapist for ones psyche when it is needed?

I suspect SSRS is against the Freudian school of psychology, which has been replaced widely by cognitive therapy, counseling, etc. One cannot deny the AoL advanced courses, including TTC, are full of "cheap therapy.” There is nothing more harmful and dangerous than an untrained person performing psychological games and “counseling” others who are in a vulnerable state, especially when those “senior teachers” are unresolved nut cases themselves!

In my opinion, making therapy evil is a judgment made by SSRS based on his cultural bias and limited vision about the current world and academia. Or maybe he is afraid any therapist would be able to figure out the mechanisms of manipulation and brain washing performed in the movement, or how imbalanced the devotees are! After all, a devotee should not have a mind of its own! That would not be a sign of surrender.

(I was told Argentina is known as "the Freudian city of the world". I wonder then, what is his opinion about Argentines?).

I was recently informed by the head of the psychology department of his country of the overall worry among their professional community about the large number of patients-AoL members they are receiving, profoundly damaged psychologically, many, already in need of medication. I have heard of many doctors and psychologists diagnose some AoL teachers with some psychotic disorder, followed by the rhetorical question: “The Guru does not know?”

But, what do they know! They are only psychologists and doctors!

In AoL, when someone “flips out”, it is said they are having a “spiritual experience” or need to “get grounded”, followed by instructions such as, “eat potatoes, eat bananas, walk barefoot, do yoga, don’t eat white flour.” I know of someone who, years later, still walks, walks, walks, walks … It is either that, or go nut, but never ever seek for professional care: “Doctors don’t understand spiritual evolution. We are sensitive people. We meditate, the body processes differently.”

And then, of course, there are sad cases of people ending up in a psychiatric ward. Noone talks about it. Noone ever talks to those people again. Of course, it was their karma and the guru did everything he could to save them from it.

TTC: Teacher Training Course or Terror Torture Camp?

I have witnessed the courses of at least 7 teachers of different continents. Whereas I have to make justice by stating that the TTC of the early years were healthier and truly more loyal to the declared mission of the AoL, later courses became, unfortunately, boot camps with the emblem “spiritual” attached. Every teacher competed with each other trying to prove who was best. Each one projected his/her many unresolved personal issues on the students. Each one made damages. Each one escalated in his/her fearful state of unlimited ego, supported by the SSRS himself.

Humiliation was seen as necessary to transcend the ego, as well as the uncensored destruction of the self-esteem. By the end of the courses, students were different. Not because they had rounded long hours of meditation and received knowledge, but rather, because they went through extensive hours of sleep deprivation, brain-washing, self-destruction. Without any exception, students who were before humble and sweet, became arrogant and aggressive. To be a teacher was to be someone “more evolved” – the chosen one. Again, “us/they”. Instead of understanding really what this meant, people enacted the meaning they gave to it.

A former TMer, renown psychologist of her country, who underwent a TTC, was in awe with the processes of the course. She insisted the teacher was lucky since she constantly drove many students to the verge of a psychotic breakdown.

I would not be surprised her assessment was true. The teacher herself is on the verge and blames everyone but herself for her constant temper tantrums that could break anyone’s ear drums and mental health. Somehow, in her opinion, we all provoked her to express the energy we were repressing.

I personally was shocked to witness one of her opening processes: one had to look at everyone in the room and choose who was the most disgusting person, someone who’s everything was repelling and disgusted you profoundly. Then, without saying anything, you had to follow that person and make sure that person knew you were following him/her. A few minutes later, she would stop everyone and yell at everyone, calling everyone, “Chickens! Cowards!” and insist they needed to make their selection clear. If one had no guts to pick on someone, it was one’s ego, one’s incapacity to feel one with the other.

The exercise resulted in 50 aggressive people trying to cover their egos and avoid being called bad names or humiliated in front of the class, and 1 or 3 people whose self-esteem, for the Love of God, was damaged forever, in the name of spiritual growth.

I have seen teachers provoke with physical violence, slap students, throw water at them with the excuse the student was a tough rock, too stuck in the head or had a big ego. I have witnessed teachers wake up in joy because that day they would “destroy them.” I have seen teachers encourage people to confess – only the deepest humiliating secret would be classified as satisfactory – and then used as an attack. For example, a woman confessed she had been battered by her ex husband and aborted as a consequence. The very next day, the students were encouraged to criticize each other, with no prior selection of words or thoughts. Again, anyone holding back, would be called names or humiliated in front of the class. Participants ended up yelling at this woman she deserved to be beaten up and that no soul would want to be born through her!

I have even been told of a teacher calling one of her students “Prozac!” during the whole course. This student suffered of depression and was under medicated treatment.
Everything was done under the justification of destroying the ego, increasing belongingness, living the knowledge, making one transcend, ultimately, your karma. Unfortunately, I have experienced that egos become tougher and bigger after TTC, especially after becoming teachers. At the end of the course, students became experts at enrolling, instead of going deeper in the knowledge or understanding of themselves. It was only all about that. About losing the shame to enroll people to the course! And the biggest egos were those of the Teacher Trainers!

As a very wise four year old girl said once, “Ego is being an Art of Living teacher.”