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The Elephant and the Fly – a Final Note

June 22, 2012
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Please Note: This was originally published on Klim’s Confessions of a Guruholic Blog.

by KLIM 

Here I am, writing in the blog again, a little rusty, a little too distant from my Art of Living days. Somehow forced by the AoL/Ravi Shankar to do what they wanted to have me punished for: writing.

As many of you know, several months after I said good-bye to “Leaving the Art of Living – Confessions of a Guruholic” and its activities, Skywalker and I received a subpoena. AoL wanted to have our identities disclosed to sue us for defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement, publishing “trade secrets”.

Thanks to the brilliant work and tireless dedication of our attorney, Joshua Koltun, we won against defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement and created a precedent in US law by refusing to require the disclosure of our identities. In fact, the Court ruled that the case against Skywalker could even proceed to trial without Skywalker having to disclose his identity. And the case against me was dismissed completely.

If we had gone to trial (which we were willing to), they faced the risk of losing and making their manuals and Sudarshan Kriya notes public. So they agreed to settle the case, and we agreed because the proposed settlement did not require any compromise on our part. We are not required to pay anything, or to compromise our rights of free speech.

Clearly, the risk that the manuals and Sudarshan Kriya notes might be deemed to be without any legal protection meant the risk of losing clients and income (no doubt, their main motivation behind the law suit) as they would then lose control over everything they claim work only under the grace of the guru, and by allowing people see the extent of magical thinking and irresponsibility behind their teachings.

I have no doubt Ravishankar will most likely present this as a, “I forgave them. Karma will take care.” Well, I am glad a good lawyer and a lucid justice system took care instead!

I consider this a victory not only in Court, but also, a tribute to freedom of speech, and, above all, vindication for victims of cult abuse!

They did not manage to censor us and have our blogs removed from the internet. I have to do what I  already had done two years ago: freeze the blog (contrary to their psychic interpretations, I was no longer active in the blog world, or interested in discussing AoL), and Skywalker has agreed to do what he was planning to do anyway: freeze his! (see what he has to say). Moreover, they did not manage to have us censored either for the rest of our lives nor anyone else out there. In fact, check out Obi-Wan’s blog, “Life Beyond the Art of Living” (you can post your comments on this note there). And they will kindly pay our attorney’s fees (and theirs!). All right, and we publish a joint declaration!

Only hard core true-believers will keep believing his/their nonsense arguments. No one otherwise will be able to deny the rulings of the US court: “dismissed with prejudice. (Wikipedia: “If the case ends with prejudice, the effect on the defendant (for the purpose of punishment) is the equivalent to a finding of not guilty and they cannot be retried.”).

Once, at a Guru Purnima, Ravi criticized Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his guru, for using fear to control his people. According to him, that was Maharishi’s way to prevent people from joining him in the Art of Living (similar, perhaps, to what he tried to do with the blogs, together with countless lies and vicious random attacks based on futile suspicions?).

“You can lead through love or fear. Love is more powerful”, he said, implying he was doing that. Well, maybe that is why he did not get what he wanted in court. He tried everything except love! Fear, falsely defaming anyone he could, threatening, harassing, and again, fear and more fear. Imagine that at the very very end, in a desperate attempt, they even tried to file a lawsuit against another former teacher too! And again, dismissed with prejudice! Skywalker, Klim, AND the ex teacher!

What they could not understand was this was a matter of principles and that no one in the world fears him/them. In the world, at first glance, AoL comes out as a religious cult and, Sri Sri Ravishankar, regardless of all the prizes and titles they try to collect to build his senseless sense of grandiosity, a charlatan. In fact, we were willing to sacrifice for freedom of speech, for exposing cult abuse and for making people question if Art of Living is one.

Though having a legal battle was cumbersome, I do not regret at all having started the blog. It all only further convinced me I had done the right thing. Someone had to take the first step. And thanks to Skywalker (and many other Does), the “tradition” continues! However, I am excited to finally be Art of Living free. I had started the blog for that reason. I am finally there! I wish the same to everyone who left and those who are still stuck in it. And to those who cannot decide or fear not “making” it without it/him, do not doubt a bit! There is life out here and a much better one too!!! READ! Read as much as you can! (there are other sites that present the other side of AoL/RS!). QUESTION! Question as much as you can! You are free to do so and it won’t hurt anyone’s prana! TRUST! Trust your intuition! Trust your gut feeling! Trust yourself! DARE! Dare to be happy! Dare to be free! RUN! “Run Forrest! Run!” 🙂

Healing is not easy. It takes time. I still am, for example, struggling to overcome health problems induced by the practice of SK and the psychological abuse. However, despite the threats, the difficulties and the pain I endured these years, I only have but immense gratitude for having had the courage to leave, stay away, and face my mistakes and weaknesses. Gratitude to my family, the many friends and professionals who accompanied me throughout the process.

People have continued reading this blog and sending comments. I take this opportunity to apologize to all those whose comments did not get posted. I checked out for real June 4, 2010. I took this chance to re read many posts and comments. My heartfelt thank you to so many beautiful, inspiring, sincere comments, readers and fellow colleagues! You helped me too in my healing process! If inspired, who knows, one day, I will write again, and I hope you will be there too.

There will always be scars but the wounds are healed. I will always ask myself how and why I joined a cult, and remind myself of my vulnerabilities and mistakes. This will prevent me from falling prey again of such situations and characters, and remember to remain humble. I have, since then, lost ingenuity, the narcissistic need of “saving” someone and/or the world, the low self-esteem of handing my power to someone else. Most importantly, I can sniff scams from far away!

One day, “art of living” will only be a whisper I won’t even hear. I have concluded, there is only one guru: oneself. Only one path: one’s life. Only one cause: one’s own.

… I can almost hear him say in his quirky voice, “and the elephant did not even know there was a fly on his leg!” Ah, Ravi Ravi, stop being a fly!!!!

Thank you ALL for your support. Infinite thanks to our lawyer, Joshua Koltun, the true “seva warrior”! I wish you all the best in a cult free life!

This was truly, at last, a real “victory to the big mind”! Consider it yours too!

“Good morning! And in case I don’t see ya’, 

good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”

(The Truman Show)

You can find further information regarding this litigation in www.koltunattorney.com 

You can view the Joint Declaration here

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16 Comments
  1. June 23, 2012 1:07 am

    Lovely to see you in cyberspace again KLIM. This is so nice. You have been in my thoughts lately. Truly good to read your sharing again. This is IO (previously Independent Observer). My email has not changed if you ever want to talk again.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 23, 2012 11:59 am

    @Klim

    Although you may not even see comments, since this is a repost from your old blog, what a great post this is! You learned the ‘good stuff’ from Ravi Shankar, and applied it to your own life, even though he doesn’t seem to. About the ‘ruling by fear’ that you mentioned, I can add to that ‘ruling by bribery when fear isn’t working’ to SSRS’s repetoire. When he couldn’t get teachers to conform to what he wanted by threatening them with punishment of whatever sort, he would then try being extremely ‘nice’ (transparent to me), and offer money, a nicer set of circumstances, even say ‘you could be well-known’, trying to tempt with name and fame, or ‘you will be so loved if you do xyz…’. Basically, he would throw at a stubborn or rebellious teacher, anything that would tempt him! He just assumed that because he craves name, fame, money, attention and love, that everyone else will sell their soul to trying to attain those things. I saw him pay off debts teachers had from shopping for expensive clothing, for example, to get them to fall ‘in line’. Some of those teachers, bought and paid for, are still his ‘devotees’. I’d rather call them ‘his employees’. Some of them are quite famous, or actually infamous in many circles, because of their own bad behavior. But some of us would not be purchased with promises like that. We left. I don’t know who KLIM is, but I suspect he/she was a teacher who refused to be bought off by Ravi Shankar. How furious he must be!! The lawsuit proves that.

    Thank you, KLIM, for all you did by posting. Thank you for fighting a brave and good fight with the help of your attorneys, to protect the freedom of speech and expression of those of us who could not be bought off, whose silence could not be purchased. Thank you for standing up to a large organization with, no doubt, expensive attorneys, to protect the right of people involved with Art of Living to see the truth of the organization and man they are serving. May you have a truly happy life, unannoyed, unpursued by the ‘ardent devotees’ (read ‘thugs’) in Art of Living, who, after this legal decision, one would think, will just go back to minding their own business of trying to convert the world to following their master. You’ve made their work a little more difficult. Thank you.

  3. Gross ist Gott permalink
    June 23, 2012 1:52 pm

    Hi there!

    I would like to propose a new issue to discuss in the blog.

    Since we are all people that have been through AoL, maybe in different depths, let us remember why we reached them (AoL) in the first place: we were looking forward to learn techniques that would help us feel better. We needed them and I believe most of us are still feeling in the need for a healthy habit that will help us slow down in this crazy life most of us live nowadays.

    As a cristian, I do believe God is the primary source of inner peace, but I also believe we are so distracted by daily stress that we are not ” per se” sensitive enough to reach communion with God (wich I believe is reached through meditation).

    So why don´t we take some of this space to share techniques, experiences, advice; to help each other find habits that will genuinely take us to the wellness feeling we al long for.

    Peace to all!

    • Anonymous permalink
      June 25, 2012 3:42 am

      Jesus said, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the LIFE. No one cometh to the Father except by me.”

      • stupidseeker permalink
        June 27, 2012 5:12 pm

        And you no doubt have more proof of jesus saving more people than does HHSSRS of having people’s souls ??

  4. VSS permalink
    June 23, 2012 4:57 pm

    @ KLIM

    You and Skywalker did really well. You deserve your freedom. I hope you have a lovely life and as many precious moments as you need — to be really, really happy.

    And, thank you for the link to the article which explains how revolutionary this case is — I think it’s truly fantastic that your identity wasn’t revealed. It’s a historic step forward in the realm of free speech.

  5. Wanderer..sid permalink
    June 23, 2012 5:56 pm

    good luck you all. you did a great job… will always be thankful. hoping for a better tomorrow…

  6. June 24, 2012 2:59 am

    Traduction française / French translation

    Mardi, 19 juin, 2012
    L’éléphant et la mouche – un dernier message
    Par KLIM

    Me voici, écrivant à nouveau sur le blogue, un peu rouillé, un peu trop loin de mes jours passés chez Art de Vivre. En quelque sorte forcé, par AoL/Ravi Shankar, de faire ce pour quoi ils voulaient me punir : écrire.

    Comme plusieurs d’entre vous le savez déjà, plusieurs mois après que j’aie dit adieu à ” Quitter Art de Vivre – Confessions d’un Gourouolique ” et ses activités, Skywalker et moi recevions un subpoena. AoL voulait connaître notre identité afin de nous poursuivre pour diffamation personnelle et commerciale, violation de droits d’auteur, publication de ” secrets commerciaux “.
    Grâce au brillant travail et au dévouement sans bornes de notre avocat, Joshua Koltun, nous avons gagné notre point contre la diffamation personnelle et commerciale, la violation de droits d’auteur, et créé un précédent dans la loi américaine en refusant le dévoilement de nos identités. En fait, la Cour a déclaré que la cause contre Skywalker pourrait même se rendre à procès sans obligation, pour Skywalker, de dévoiler son identité. Et la cause contre moi fut complètement rejetée.

    Si nous nous étions rendus au procès (ce à quoi nous étions prêts), AoL et Ravi Shankar couraient le risque de perdre et de rendre publics leurs manuels et leurs notes sur le Sudarshan Kriya. Ils ont donc accepté de régler l’affaire et nous avons aussi accepté parce que la proposition de règlement ne demandait aucun compromis de notre part. Nous n’avons absolument rien à payer, ni céder quoi que ce soit envers nos droits à la libre expression.

    Clairement, le risque que les manuels et les notes du Sudarshan Kriya puissent être considérés sans aucune protection légale signifiait le risque de perdre des clients et des revenus (sans contredit leur principale motivation derrière cette poursuite, étant donné qu’ils perdraient le contrôle sur tout ce qu’ils prétendent fonctionner que par la grâce du gourou, tout en permettant aux gens de voir l’étendue de la pensée magique et l’irresponsabilité derrière leurs enseignements.

    Je ne doute nullement que Ravi Shankar va présenter cela comme ” Je leur ai pardonné. Leur karma va s’occuper d’eux. ” Hé bien, je suis content qu’un bon avocat et qu’un système de justice éclairée se soient plutôt chargés de l’affaire !

    Je considère que c’est une victoire non seulement devant la Cour, mais aussi un hommage à la liberté d’expression et, par-dessus tout, toute une victoire pour les victimes d’abus sectaires !

    AoL et Ravi Shankar n’ont pas réussi à nous censurer ni à faire retirer nos blogues de l’Internet. Je dois faire ce que j’ai déjà fait il y a deux ans : figer le blogue (contrairement à leurs interprétations psychiques, je n’étais plus actif dans le monde de la blogosphère ni intéressé à discuter d’AoL), et Skywalker a convenu de faire ce qu’il voulait faire de toute façon : figer le sien ! (Voyez ce qu’il a à dire). Qui plus est, ils n’ont pas réussi à nous censurer pour le reste de notre vie ni personne d’autre. Visitez le blogue d’Obi-Wan, “ La vie après Art de Vivre ” (Vous pouvez y publier vos commentaires). De plus, AoL et Ravi Shankar vont gentiment payer nos frais d’avocats (Et les leurs !) D’accord, nous publions une déclaration conjointe !

    Seuls les croyants purs et durs vont continuer à croire leurs arguments dénués de sens. Personne d’autre ne pourra nier les conclusions de la Cour américaine : “ Rejeté avec préjudice ”. (Wikipedia: “ Lorsqu’une cause se termine avec préjudice, l’effet sur la partie défenderesse (en ce qui a trait à la punition) est l’équivalent d’une déclaration de non-culpabilité, sans possibilité de nouvelle citation à procès pour une cause similaire ”).

    Un jour, à la Purmina du Gourou, Ravi a critiqué Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, son gourou, pour avoir utilisé la peur pour mieux contrôler ses disciples. Selon lui, c’était la façon de Maharishi d’empêcher les gens de se joindre à lui, Ravi, dans Art de Vivre (Similaire, peut-être, à ce qu’il a lui-même essayé de faire avec ces blogues, incluant les innombrables mensonges et les attaques vicieuses effectuées au hasard, basées sur de futils soupçons ?).

    “ Vous pouvez diriger avec amour ou peur. L’amour est plus puissant “, a-t-il dit, laissant croire que c’était ce qu’il faisait. Hé bien, c’est peut-être pourquoi il n’a pas obtenu ce qu’il désirait, en Cour. Il a tout essayé sauf l’amour ! La peur, diffamant faussement tous ceux qu’il pouvait, menaçant, harcelant, et encore plus de peur. Imaginez que, jusqu’au dernier moment, dans une tentative désespérée, ils ont même essayé d’intenter une poursuite contre un autre ancien enseignant ! Et, encore, rejetée avec préjudice ! Skywalker, Klim, ET l’ex-enseignant !

    Ils n’ont pas compris que c’était une question de principe et que personne au monde ne le/les craint. Pour le monde, à première vue, AoL apparaît comme une secte religieuse et, Sri Sri Ravishankar, sans égard à tous les prix et titres qu’il essaie de collectionner, pour satisfaire son égo démesuré de la grandeur, est tout simplement un charlatan. En fait, nous étions d’accord à nous sacrifier au nom de la liberté d’expression, afin d’exposer les abus sectaires et amener les gens à se questionner à savoir si Art de Vivre ne serait pas une secte.

    Même si une bataille juridique est lourde et pénible, je ne regrette nullement d’avoir démarré le blogue. Cela ne m’a que conforté encore plus dans ma conviction que j’avais fait le bon choix. Quelqu’un devait faire les premiers pas. Et, grâce à Skywalker (Et plusieurs autres Untels) la “ tradition ” continue ! Cependant, je suis excité d’être enfin libéré d’Art de Vivre. J’avais créé le blogue pour ça. J’y suis enfin arrivé ! Je souhaite la même chose à tous ceux qui ont quitté et à ceux qui y sont encore coincés. Et, à ceux qui ne parviennent pas encore à se décider et qui croient ne pas pouvoir vivre sans Ravi ou son organisation, n’hésitez pas une seconde ! Il y a encore une vie après AoL et une bien meilleure aussi ! ! ! LISEZ ! Lisez tout ce que vous pouvez ! (Il existe d’autres sites qui présentent l’autre face d’AoL et de ses disciples !). QUESTIONNEZ-VOUS ! Questionnez autant que vous pouvez ! Vous êtes libres de le faire et cela ne nuira pas au prana de qui que ce soit ! FAITES-VOUS CONFIANCE ! Faites confiance à votre intuition ! OSEZ ! Osez être heureux ! Osez être libre ! COUREZ ! “Run Forrest! Run!” 🙂

    La guérison n’est pas facile. Ça prend du temps. Par exemple, je lutte encore à régler les problèmes de santé causés par la pratique du SK et de l’abus psychologique. Cependant, malgré les menaces, les difficultés et les peines endurées durant toutes ces années, je n’ai qu’une immense gratitude pour avoir eu le courage de quitter, rester loin, et faire face à mes erreurs et faiblesses. Merci à ma famille, aux nombreux amis et professionnels, qui m’ont accompagné dans mon cheminement.

    Les gens ont continué à lire ce blogue et à envoyer leurs commentaires. Je profite de l’occasion pour m’excuser auprès de tous ceux dont les commentaires n’ont pas été publiés. J’ai quitté pour vrai le 4 juin 2010. Je profite de l’occasion pour relire plusieurs commentaires. Mes remerciements les plus profonds pour autant de beaux, inspirants et sincères commentaires, lecteurs et collègues ! Vous m’avez aussi aidé à guérir ! Si je suis encore inspiré, un jour, qui sait, je publierai à nouveau, et j’espère que vous serez au rendez-vous.

    Il restera toujours des cicatrices mais les blessures sont guéries. Je me demanderai toujours comment et pourquoi je me suis impliqué dans une secte, et me rappellerai de mes faiblesses et erreurs. Cela m’évitera d’être la proie à nouveau de situations et personnages similaires, et me rappellera de rester humble. Depuis lors, j’ai perdu l’ingéniosité, le besoin narcissique de “ sauver “ quelqu’un et/ou le monde, la basse estime de soi conduisant à céder mon pouvoir à quelqu’un d’autre. Le plus important, je peux maintenant sentir une fraude à des milles à la ronde !

    Un jour, “ Art de Vivre “ ne sera plus qu’un murmure que je n’entendrai même plus. J’en ai conclu qu’il n’existe qu’un gourou : soi-même. Un seul sentier : sa propre vie. Une seule cause : la sienne propre.

    … Je l’entends toujours dire, de sa voix excentrique “ Et l’éléphant ne savait même pas qu’il y avait une mouche sur sa patte ! “ Ravi, Ravi, arrête d’être une mouche ! ! ! !

    Merci à vous TOUS pour votre appui. Des remerciements sans bornes à notre avocat, Joshua Koltun, le vrai “ guerrier du seva “. Je vous souhaite ce qu’il y a de mieux dans une vie sans secte !

    Ce fut vraiment, enfin, une vraie “ victoire pour le grand esprit “ ! Considérez-la comme la vôtre aussi !
    “ Bon matin ! Et, au cas où je ne vous revois pas, bon après-midi, bonne soirée et bonne nuit !
    (The Truman Show)

  7. Dayalu permalink
    June 25, 2012 10:00 pm

    Great post KLIM!!

    Attention everyone! A big thing happened in the last few days: Just type ‘Art of Living’ in google and see the results. The above post on KLIM’s blog appears on the very first page. Till last month, only when you typed some negative word like cult, scandal or scam, would KLIM’s or Skywalker’s blog have appeared in the first page….. Great job guys!!

    Not far are the days when all these three blogs will appear on the first page google results for ‘Art of Living’. Keep up the good work. Some one skilled at SEO (Search Engine Optimization) could give guidance to people commenting and posting to use the right phrases so as to get there quickly.

  8. June 26, 2012 9:09 pm

    Je viens tout juste de créer un blogue francophone : ” Après Art de Vivre “.

    Vous pouvez y aller à : https://apresartdevivre.wordpress.com/.

    ============================================================

    I just created a French blog : ” Après Art de Vivre ” (Beyond the Art of Living).

    You can reach it at : https://apresartdevivre.wordpress.com/.

  9. Anonymous permalink
    June 27, 2012 8:20 pm

    Now that’s what I’d call seva — serving the French people so they will have some idea of who their neighbor is at last! Good work, MG

  10. alejandro rueco permalink
    July 6, 2012 7:05 pm

    Blessings everyone! I`d like to know: ¿howmany of you ex AOLers have had trouble keeping a stable job after after leaving the organization?, Agoraphobia hasn´t been the only comsequence of my TTC1; even working from home became a very hard task, even today (and it´s been like 5 years now). I never conected the dots, actually, but while visiting the office last week I looked at my desk and realized that the last time I was actively worked there was… when I was coordingating Phase II courses! I feel like some sort of mandate got inside of my head: “You either produce results for us, or for nobody”… Am I nuts? Have you had problems as well? Is it possible that the coersive techniques we underwent could have also affected our capacity to be productive? I´m still in treatment to get over my AOL TTC1 experience but haven´t overcome much yet. Recently, many people has recomended me to do some EMDR sessions with a therapyst: they say it´s rather effective, dramating and cult-free treatment (I don´t trust any discipline after AOL). I´ll let you know how it goes, and in the meantime I´d like to learn if you´ve heard of somebody having post AOL working difficulties. Blessings again! MDhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eye_movement_desensitization_and_reprocessing

    • VSS permalink
      July 7, 2012 3:03 pm

      @ alejandro rueco [July 6, 2012 7:05 pm]

      I’m so sorry to hear about your difficulties. Please don’t question yourself. It’s not you. Though I haven’t been through precisely what you’ve been through — but I was subjected to a very severe dose of brainwashing by someone who was severely brainwashed before I was (for several months). It was a nightmare. Right after it, I suffered a lot. I went into isolation. I nearly stopped speaking to absolutely anyone. I couldn’t think straight. I couldn’t focus. I couldn’t stop crying if I started crying. I would question everything about me including my sanity. It took me a while to recover and start working again. I am able to now. I work for a start-up. It’s also extremely stressful work but I am able to cope. I’ve been working nearly 12 hours a day for some months now and have no problems with productivity or with my co-workers or with my supervisor. Reading and writing poetry helped me a lot.

      I wish you resilience, and I’m sure that if you’re a little more patient with yourself, you’ll be able to recover — just as I was. Something that helped me a lot was this tenet — do what you can until you can do more. Another tenet that helped me was — if the burden you’re carrying is too heavy, put it down — meaning that don’t succumb to any internal pressure — let it go — read a book or watch tv — or write something — or go for a walk. And, yet another tenet that empowered me was — do what your heart says not what someone else’s heart is telling you to do because that would be betraying your heart. Sometimes, we also have to sit it out — meaning — we have to be patient and just wait for better days. Change is the only constant — so bad days end — and good days begin. Hence I suggest you take it easy and take your time. Know that you’ve been through a severely damaging experience but you will mend and heal because you want to. You’re the boss of your destiny now. After some time, the lows won’t be so low and you’ll bounce back quicker. Recovery is gradual but it happens. Try not to judge the pace of your recovery. Be very, very, very kind to yourself. Good luck!

  11. Srivathsa permalink
    July 8, 2012 5:34 am

    Well done chaps. You have done yeoman service to humanity by taking this fight to its logical end. You should savour this victory till you go to your graves. Taking on a well funded cult and its megalomaniac leader is no small job.

    Another thing – quickly glanced through the summary and looks like AOL seems to have suffered “commercial” damage as per their own admission and that their “business has been hurt” by Skywalker leaking trade secrets. Are they then not a commercial organization and one that should not get any tax benefits under the US law?

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  1. Summary of Criticisms Against Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Art of Living | Further Beyond the Art of Living
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