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What Are You Doing Here?

July 29, 2012

I want to take a quick but what I strongly feel is a necessary break from our normal posting content and focus on something more fundamental concerning the blog itself.

From time to time, I ask myself, what am I still doing here – no, not on this planet in general, but specifically on these blogs? My recovery process from Art of Living was relatively quick and I got over the pain I suffered from discovering the dark side of Art of Living shortly after the inception of Skywalker’s blog, having already read all of Klim’s blog by that stage.

In which case, why am I still here? What could I possibly hope to achieve? Shouldn’t I just move on and get on with my life, having left the Art of Living world firmly behind me? The truth is, I have moved on, and in fact did so a long time ago. But I have chosen to stay here, to continue what Klim and Skywalker started, for a number of reasons, which I wish to share with you here.

Firstly, I actually love doing this. That’s right, I really enjoy blogging about this subject. The truth is, I am fascinated by this whole experience that happened to me. And as such, I want to learn as much about it as a I possibly can. Before Art of Living, I thought that I was so smart that I could never be taken in by a cult, period. Even in the early stages of my involvement, when I could see feverishness all around me, I never thought in a million years I would ever get sucked into that feverishness, let alone that I could ever become a major proponent of the very same. Yet that is exactly what happened.

In all honesty, the best thing that happened to me in the last few years was joining Art of Living and then subsequently discovering these blogs. My life has become so much richer as a result. If either had happened by itself, I would not be the person I am today. In fact, if I had only joined Art of Living but hadn’t discovered these blogs, I shudder to think who I would be now – though I have a fairly good idea.

The point I am trying to make is not so much that these blogs helped me to save myself from Art of Living, which they did, but that they have actually gone way beyond that. Without trying to sound conceited in any way, I really feel we are having some amazing discussions here and these discussions have helped me tremendously to better understand how I became involved with AoL in the first place. But they have also helped me to better understand myself and life in general.

We have touched on so many fundamental issues concerning beliefs, cults, brainwashing, psychological manipulation, religion, all areas which I find incredibly fascinating. And there are few places if any where I can discuss all these things in the way we are doing here. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to this.

This is why I decided to start this blog after Skywalker’s blog was frozen. I love doing this and will continue to do so in the future. The fact that people are being helped by these things is for me a huge bonus.

Now that I have shared my reasons for being here, I want each and every person who visits this blog to ask yourself, what are you doing here? More specifically, you can ask yourself two questions. Firstly, what are you able to contribute to this blog, if anything? Secondly, what are you hoping to get out of this blog?

I think these are important questions that everyone should ask themselves, since it is so easy to get carried away in the discussions on these blogs and to forget why exactly you are here in the first place. I also want you to be completely honset with yourselves. Are you here to hurt Art of Living, to seek revenge for something that happened to you? To warn others about Art of Living, to help save them in some way? Are you trying to prove something? Do you want to share your story, to help heal yourself from some abuse you suffered? Are you trying to learn more about yourself, or about what happened to you in Art of Living? Or something else?

Whatever your reason, just become aware of it. And if you like, although please don’t feel you have to, you can share it here on this blog as it will be invaluable for many to understand why people visit this blog.

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33 Comments
  1. Sannikka permalink
    July 29, 2012 9:51 am

    I congratulate you for your excellent blog and most of all for your exit of aol!
    I wish you strength in finding an independent life and power to help people in need to find their way out of abuse.
    Unfortuntely the only victims are not only the aol members but also people aroud them.
    I have no direct connection with it but it touches my life nearly every day through my husbands children who have lost their mother to aol.

    Even if you kind of won the case I find it still against western sense of justice that you are not freely allowed to tell the world of abuse excecuted in the name of love and spirituality.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. bloggisatwa permalink
    July 30, 2012 3:13 am

    My reasons to be here almost echo most of Obi Wan’s.

    Where mine are a little different is in that the discovering, leaving and recovering for me were done almost entirely on my own. I discovered the blog later and having the blog re-affirmed and helped further strengthen my feelings about my own decision which also touched my family in a big way.

    Importantly, much of what I want to now share with the many thousands of other AOL fellow volunteers that I could not share was now available in a single place for them to explore and learn. There is more to come, however, I am unable to pen these personal expereinces here as they are a total give away of my identity….which is risky.

    I too love doing this. Its only when I managed to let go of AOL entirely, that I actually started to seriously appreciate myself and the nature of the being that is occupying my body. I became truly happy for who I was. The most important thing to me was….”Who was I without my uniform ?”. No tape, no manual, no teacher-ship.” With all the adulation that the system tends to build for you… do you know what you stand for if you do not have that “teacher tag”. I had already answered this for myself. And it wasn’t even that I needed to figure it out. The teaching, adulation, following while it was fun….it was not the reason I stayed with AOL. I stayed because AOL had a great collection of my friends that wanted to contribute, wanted to make a difference, that were not hesitant to give their 100%. However, this collection was actually an exception. The rest were feeding off the system. I came to realise that this “Rest of them” were unwilling to change and were actually sabotaging the change (even within AOL)…..This realisation happened when I confronted some so called senior Rishi’s and Swami’s who were the so called specialists (Propoganda)….on various issues.

    The single biggest gift that it gives me even today is my ability to sit with myself and ask myself hard questions….Applies to any situation

    What do I want from this ? For me to be right ? Or the relationship ? Am I making the relationship stronger ? Am I making the other person stronger ? Have I looked at all the views around this subject ?

    AOL was like a tempestuous love affair. These do not last. They give you a short term high. That is a terrific thing to have. If you are not in balance about yourself the low can also be very horrific. There are small pockets when I have deeply missed my friends, the companionship, the caring, the community feeling, the teaching (I used to really love teaching), the joy of unconditional seva. I know how empty life can feel then. However, now a days, when I am remember this, I also almost instantaneously see the other side….which when I was deep inside I could not see……. I see the falsehoods, the exploitation, the loss of freedom, the unceasing manipulation, the utter wasting of unsuspecting devotee energy….and I am so glad and relieved that the AOL dream is finally over. I am free. That is such an immense relief….invaluable life learning. AOL has taught me to apply even more critical reasoning in a significantly larger measure to the new experiences I touch in my life.

    I know many 100,000s of folks are still trapped in the AOL construct. People I know and many many I don’t yet know.I would like to reach out to them. Maybe, what I can share would become a life line (freedom line is better). We all need our own specific trigger to wake us up. To some of us its the money, to others its the abuse, to others its an intellectual debate, to many its the expose of all the falsehoods….., to some its the transparency, to many others its all the questions that get evaded and unanswered…., to many its the explanation for the deliberately created conflicts, not walking the talk, the politics, the pushiness and aggression… Since I was once deeply involved in many of these aspects as a willing perpetrator….I understand what it means to be on the other side. Now I am a whistle-blower. So, in short, been there, done it, done it well, questioned it, walked out, been fine after that. I know that if you choose to …you can also free yourself.

    Having to get out of something that I deeply deeply identified with and loved being a part off for 10 years could have killed me. Instead it made me stronger….less afraid of things. Even recognizing that I had been apprehensive/afraid of certain situations was a big deal for me.

    I notice that many of my colleagues and fellow volunteers in spite of having all the very same questions that I had and till today having NO real answers …continue to serve the AOL juggernaut. Now, I look at them and can now see their fears. I can see their addictions. I can see how they are riding a tiger. They cant get off. They Cant stay on. They are frozen. Their life is not anymore authentic. They are NOT FREE. The smile is cultivated and plastic. I feel they will need help…..and many of these guys are folks I have loved and I still love. I wait…..how can I leave ?, when I know that my friends are in trouble. To reach out to them, I blog.

    Whether they take my virtual hand, and create their own ladders to climb out of their self created pits or not…that is their call…theirs alone. I will write, pray, and offer alternative views to the same AOL things as before…until such time I don’t love doing it anymore. At which time I will stop.

    Until then adios

    • Guru-Ouch permalink
      July 30, 2012 9:15 am

      great post… am here only coz., i have seen people around me go the AOL way and how they changed from normal to “whatever”… about 3-4 years of questioning their logic and justifying of what goes in AOL had me convinced that AOL is one of the most clever business models.. that led me to follow this blog and the previous two blogs… i visit these blogs atleast a couple of times everyday and also visit the AOL and their affiliated websites, only to make my conviction get stronger… and my idea is to share thoughts and opinions about what I think as wrong in AOL and if it stops a person or two from getting sucked into the AOL mire, I am happy!

  3. Guru-Ouch permalink
    July 30, 2012 8:57 am

    This contents below are a slice of how AOL top-brass deal with anyone questioning them – excerpts from Bawa n Dinesh blog
    “Venkatesh R says:
    July 13, 2012 at 10:32 pm
    @ admin

    hmm. after much speculation you have posted my comment
    expected arrogant response for you,
    anyway arrogance is synonymous with Bawa and YES +
    but of course you guys will not call it arrogance … but self confidence or whatever else

    anyway Bawa and Dinesh you are so cowardly … who did not have the confidence or guts to publish my comment on “jilted lovers”

    Probably you know the details of all the jilted lovers of His holiness

    Reply
    admin says:
    July 27, 2012 at 9:29 am
    My dear, i am not going to post anything with a link or anything that has bad language. Or anything thats so silly it doesn’t deserve to be made public. Your comment may have been in one of those 3 categories.
    And how do you know i speculated “much”?
    Got a hidden camera on me? You spend your life watching me approve comments made by you?
    Oh my…. soorrry, now you will call that arrogant, or will you say cowardly?
    Get a life!”

    And more here

    “anon says:
    July 20, 2012 at 8:03 pm
    Is this a for profit undertaking? Where does the money go?

    Reply
    admin says:
    July 27, 2012 at 9:15 am
    Yes, it is a for profit undertaking and where the money goes should not be your concern. The money is taken for a service provided. When you go for a movie, do you ask them what do you do with the money? Or when you go to a restaurant to eat food, do you quiz the waiter about where the money goes? Or when you pay tax to the government, do you ask your elected leaders where the money goes?
    I sincerely wonder why people like you don’t ask these questions where they should be.

    Reply
    kalpana says:
    July 23, 2012 at 10:03 pm
    “That’s the price, if you don’t like it, don’t come.”

    That is pretty rude. Is this the attitude you would like Art of Living to be representative of?

    Reply
    admin says:
    July 27, 2012 at 9:05 am
    Saying Rs 5250 is daylight robbery for our cooking workshop at the Cafe in the ashram utterly deserves that response. I don’t bother using logic and good sense with illogical idiots. Neither should you.”

    I am guessing that B and D have been reprimanded for publishing their “Guruji’s” Ph.D… err.. Advanced Degree… err.. 3rd class B.Sc. degree and they are spilling their ire for that on innocent commentors on their blog… So much for Sadhana

    • bloggisatwa permalink
      July 30, 2012 1:40 pm

      @ Guru-Ouch

      Please would you post the above links R Venkatesh comment link for me ? I don’t seem to be able to find it.

      Also remember WAYE not= AOL; In fact nothing= AOL, there is no AOL.
      They are separate entities….feeding off each other.

      Bawa even mentions that volunteers are having a great time doing Seva at the Vishalakshi Cafe. Just some free labour ?

    • Mangal permalink
      July 30, 2012 1:54 pm

      “Yes, it is a for profit undertaking and where the money goes should not be your concern. The money is taken for a service provided. ”

      On aolfree.wordpress.com, i once saw a comment by “peaceful warrior” which exposed the inconsistency in the whole argument Art of Living makes by calling itself an NGO, charging whatever it likes for a service without revealing accounts, and yet demanding people do Seva to the Guru (oops sorry … he is supposed to be AVATAR !!!)

      I dont recall peaceful warrior’s exact words. it would be useful if someone can find it and re-post it here.

      • Anonymous permalink
        July 30, 2012 9:11 pm

        OK so I was the was the person who originally asked that question on Bawa’s blog. Here is comment I posted as a follow up to his reply. I am posting it here in case he refuses to publish it on his blog:

        OK Another rude response. Seems like only the hero worshippers get a polite response.

        First of all, how did you assume that because I asked you this question, I don’t ask it other places?

        Second of all, when I go to a movie or resturant I know the establishment is profit making. Art of Living bills itself as a non-profit. So its a perfectly reasonable question to ask if the ashram facilities (which are maintained from charity funds) are used for profit making businesses that enrich individuals instead of helping the needy.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    July 30, 2012 2:24 pm

    A very good post Obi-wan…I personally find reading these personal experiences really useful in healing..It strikes the right cord and touches heart of people who are looking to heal from AOL experience. As you say, these blogs give an amazing perspective on how we were drawn into the organization and brainwashed to thinking a certain way.
    My purpose for visiting, commenting or writing in these blogs is to further understand AOL (in a balanced manner) and to contribute on this platform with the hope that it may help others as well, like KLIM and Skywalkers blog helped me.

  5. free at last permalink
    July 30, 2012 5:23 pm

    Latest $$R$ scam………………..

    SSRS is busy announcing in the satsang that he had a thought to donate 50 lakh rupees worth of medicines in Assam. He hints in the satsang that even if a person donates a small amount like Rs 500/- the amount will be collected. He is shortly visiting Assam you see…..

    Lets do some simple maths here….
    SSRS is scheduled to stay in the Bangalore ashram for next one month.
    Currently a TTC is going on which must have at least 500 to 1000 people.

    Three advance courses ( three states) with SSRS are scheduled this month during his stay in Bangalore. Averaging at least 2500 people per course( which is the usual number these days) , Minimum Rs 500/- per person which I am sure his dear advance course teachers will collect for sure…..by shedding some tears…. , sharing some guru stories……. and the money gets collected.
    One international advance course this month so its $$$$$$$ all the way

    Such individual donations are never given receipts and hence no accountability creating a tax holiday
    Another way to make hay ($$$$)

    ??? $$R$ ???

    • Anonymous permalink
      July 31, 2012 8:39 am

      he must have already gotten the medicine as a donation from the pharma companies or perhaps trying to dump some of the medicines from AOL conglomerate’s pharma companies such as Inwinex. What would not be known is that, what type of medicines are going to be “donated” to Assam. Whether they are OTC drugs or prescription medicines or if they are the ones still under development/testing at Inwinex or elsewhere. Transparency had never been a virtue at AOL. If at all there is one thing that AOL needs to preach and practice, it is transparency, much much ahead of rest of the things.

  6. Anonymous permalink
    July 30, 2012 7:23 pm

    I post here so people know what could happen to them, what has happened to me and many others, if they get involved in art of living. For a long time no blog existed. This is a great service you are providing. The extent of danger and ugliness in aol is not even fully on any of the blogs. Ravi shankar is actually worse than what is reported here. But he screams ‘defamation’ for even the little printed about him in Klim’s blogs! At least these blogs give intelligent people pause. Make them stop and think. Most will never know all the awful truths. Aol is actually a dangerous place at its center for anyone who doesnt continue along the party line. I pray that people wake up. Even ravi shankar. He should be sorry for what he has done but doesnt seem to care. He is ruthless. These blogs may save innocent young people. Thats my hope.

  7. Subramaniam Iyer permalink
    July 31, 2012 12:43 am

    Interesting mail in my mailbox today:

    (5)
    Rishimukh Quote

    See the world from the eyes of the
    Master at all times. The world looks so
    much more beautiful. It is not a nasty
    place, but a place filled with love, joy,
    cooperation, compassion and
    all virtues.
    Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

    Ref: The Rishimukh magazine July 2012 issue page 41

    This fellow is all-in-one; a parasite cum cheat and a hypocrite cum obstinate idiot, who happily survives sucking the money of the public by illegally selling spirituality, that too preaching utter nonsense about God, and at times claiming himself as God which he is not.

    Thus this hypocrite Sanyasi is leading an aristocratic life, having already established an empire for himself, which even millionaires don’t have, and in spite of several times exposing the mistakes in his preachings with proof, being an obstinate idiot still can not realise them.

    In addition to the above, with this statement he can be proved as an “Outright Liar” also, because how can a person who sees “virtues & virtues only” in everybody and whose “unconditional love towards humanity is beyond expression” [see IA/8 of Letter No 35] file a court case against somebody that he is publishing defamatory material against him on a website?

    Now – Even though so many evil, criminal and pathetic incidents are happening everyday everywhere, he can not see any grief and misery, anywhere in this world, since he sees in everybody involved in any-way, in any sort of situation, a prospective customer for his Art of Living courses and thus a filler of his coffers.

    So when you see through the eyes of a parasite naturally the world looks always green.

  8. Guru-Ouch permalink
    July 31, 2012 9:42 am

    it would not be a bad idea to read through this blog and add comments about it here – http://www.artoflivingsecrets.com/2012/07/is-sri-sri-ravi-shankar-fake.html

    • Dayalu permalink
      July 31, 2012 1:33 pm

      But they allow only cheer leading comments there, not critical or analytical ones.

  9. Mirror permalink
    July 31, 2012 10:22 am

    Art of Living MUST ANSWER !

    “When you go for a movie, do you ask them what do you do with the money? Or when you go to a restaurant to eat food, do you quiz the waiter about where the money goes? Or when you pay tax to the government, do you ask your elected leaders where the money goes?
    I sincerely wonder why people like you don’t ask these questions where they should be. ”

    The point is, Movies, Restaurants which provide a “service” in exchange of a “fees” are FOR-PROFIT organizations and are hence taxable..

    However, Art of Living and the courses, which too provide a “service” in exchange of a “fees” is quoted as a NON-PROFIT organization and is NOT taxable.

    But in his own words, Bawa is saying he is offering a FOR-PROFIT service under the umbrella of a NON PROFIT organization !!? It’s very clear from his comments above in reply to Anon.

    So,

    1) If the money gathered for so claimed social welfare projects, is subject to misappropriations or misuse, it is a concern that needs to be properly addressed not abruptly ruled out.

    2) Many already know how the political leaders are. But most of the people are of the good hope that noble & responsible people including teachers from the Art of Living are definitely more refined and dignified. And hence they would care to present the correct “verified” facts to the rightly curious citizens who avail “the service ” provided to them by an NGO (and not a commercial organization, who may or may not care to answer)

    The above content is also sent as reply comment to Bawa’s blog. I really don’t know if he will publish it. He might either be arrogant or cowardly or both. I don’t care. He certainly seems to miss the point.

    It’s high time these questions are answered. Even a normal residential cooperative society has the drive and duty to publish a statement of accounts for the benefit of all the residents who set aside a maintenance fee every month. So that they know that they are not being misled. This rule applies to AOL.

    Everyone has a “Right to Know” !

    • Meditator permalink
      July 31, 2012 5:53 pm

      Mirror

      No need to react to Bawa’s comments. He Mirror’s his egocentric Master. Like Master, like pupil. It’s all $$R$.

      Jai $$dev.

  10. Anonymous permalink
    July 31, 2012 11:59 am

    @GuruOuch — looked through that blog (‘secrets’) and it looks as if someone was given the seva of creating something, somewhere, that should get as many hits as Klim and Skywalker and Obi-wan, that is Rah Rah Art of Living. I’m so completely fed up with hearing comparisons of Ravi Shankar to Christ, Krishna, Siva, etc., ad nauseum. I guess he thought his people needed some ‘safe-haven’ to go while having all their doubts after reading these popular blogs which clearly expose their beloved ‘master’. Well, they have it. Good for them, and good luck to them. I hate to see them when they finally wake up and realize what they are contributing to, what they have wasted their lives on for a temporary ‘high’ they get in satsang or when sitting with RS. The real Art of Living Secrets are printed to some small degree on Klim’s and Skywalkers sites. The deeper secrets, if printed, would surely and swiftly bring yet another nasty lawsuit. Those true secrets can only be alluded to safely, without fear of reprisals from the thugs who are AOL and RS.

  11. AnonYmous permalink
    August 2, 2012 11:53 am

    I had lost my health and my identity due to sadhana and all the brainwashing that happens in aol. When I read about the side effects of sk and the Npp posts, I understood that I had been duped.
    It still took me 6 months to understand the fraud that I was a victim of and to start posting on the Blog. The following are some of the reasons why I have been coming here.

    1) These blogs were the only place where I could hear people asking critical questions about AOL.
    Aol members dont want to hear anything negative about aol or RS.

    2) These blogs were eye openers as many Sr. ex aol teachers shared information about RS and AOl that people on the fringes would otherwise not know. eg the various businesses run by RS’ family. Npp posts showing how feverish our Guru is for fame, RS Bitching about other teachers behind their back, bawa and dinesh’s friendship? , ayurveda products being illegally taken to other countries…..and the list goes on…

    3) They activated my critical thinking ability.
    Simple and obvious questions like Sri Sri’s titles and Lineage, his qualification etc should have been enough to see through the farce, if they had ever come up during my stay in AOL. Though people from bangalore and villages next to Aol ashram called RS a fake Guru, a self proclaimed enlightened soul, I had not thought about these questions until
    I read them on these blogs! I had never questioned my masters enlightenment, his words or actions. Once I started questioning, I dint stop. It felt like I woke up from a deep sleep / trance like Rip van winkle. Thanks to these blogs in helping me with my recovery process and enabling a relatively smoother transition into the real world.

    4) These blogs are very informative.
    I could learn a lot about mind manipulation. Why doctors especially psychiatrists and psychologists were ridiculed by the guru. How people are asked not to go spiritual shopping.. etc. Honestly, I thank all the early bloggers as their posts helped me understand spirituality much better than the many years that I spent in aol. Nonetheless, Aol knowledge points are good. However, no one in aol applies it.
    I would have never guessed that RS copies from osho, Vipassana and Maharishi because I only stuck to AOL with one pointed focus on RS.
    There is also a lot of Information on other knowledgable people like ramana maharishi, good yoga schools – eg BKS iyengar etc, available here. Its a shame that being from the very same city / country and being on the spiritual path, I never bothered to even read their books as I thought that enlightened avatar = RS and everybody else is still getting cooked.
    I am also thankful for Information about SK and its side effects, though by the time I read it, severe damage had already been done.

    5) I started posting here as the best seva I could do was to share my experiences, so the others dont have to suffer like me.

    6) I also treat these Blogs as a Guru (as mentioned earlier by someone) because it helped me get rid of my crutches (depending on gurus grace), it helped me regain my life, self-respect and self-esteem. It helped me get back my identity.

    I am no longer angry with aol or RS. I simply wonder how I, once a very shrewd person could get sucked into a cult. I continue on this blog as I want to solve this puzzle. How can so many people stop thinking and believe in RS? Is it a cult into occult? Is Sk some kind of hypnosis or is it some technique for vashikaran (Bewitch people)?
    I hope to get the answers to my questions.

    Thank You Obi-Wan for taking the baton forward.

  12. Freedom Found permalink
    August 3, 2012 1:53 pm

    My purpose of being here is very clear. I would like to expose the truth about AOL and SSRS to the whole world.

    I would never want another soul to go through, what i went through. I have been long enough with SSRS to say this. The Hypocrisy, bureaucracy, false sense of surrender makes me sick.
    The beautiful, false smiles of RS’s teachers ,when truly there are not happy from within, with most all of them having a financial crisis, family issues, health issues, insecure about fellow teachers and RS treating them like worms when they speak about their personal problems ,against his family or him is intolerable.

    SSRS being more interested in the rich and affluent class of people for his own personal benefit , while the devotees who come to him consider him GOD and are truly devoted to him. SSRS give his famous “if am not seeing you then you are closer to me ” excuse to all his devotees whom he ignores. Such LIES !!!

    Many more things at the AOL with SSRS are a major put off. It is definitely not the “spiritual organization” (stress buster) it claims to be and definitely one is not relieved of stress, and the stress level only increases when one is closely associated with SSRS.

    RS is such a cool deceiver that one cannot easily see through his ways and games.
    He claims that other swamis and babas are caught in “Mohmaya” and hence their methods and teachings will go “tap” (kaput) and, he is the only perfect one, then slyly says , there is no need to see nadis or go to other babas or believe in bad karma, all one has to do is his advanced course and mediation from time to time ,so that his business is flourishing. How CLEVER !!!

    If ever I even get a chance to get back to RS for what he has done, I would be very happy and this blog provides me this platform to do the same to some extent. Hence I am here.

    Am truely happy to be away from SSRS :):):)

  13. August 3, 2012 4:15 pm

    Bill Maher could have not said it better:

    “No, it is not a surprise that a person would want to be a prophet. What’s ridiculous is that other people let him. It’s just too easy to start a religion. All you have to do is: A.) think up some really powerful stupid shit. Some stuff that is so idiotic and weird that a person who believes it will be proving that ultimate virtue of faith; B.) throw in some entitlements like life after death, washing away sins and free dental or whatever; and, C.) wait. Just wait. Just say your bullshit and stick to it. Believe me, if you do that, if you just say it, they will come.

    (…) Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It’s nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith, and enable and elevate it are intellectual slaveholders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction. Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don’t have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it’s wonderful when someone says, “I’m willing, Lord! I’ll do whatever you want me to do!” Except that since there are no gods actually talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas. And anyone who tells you they know, they just know what happens when you die, I promise you, you don’t. How can I be so sure? Because I don’t know, and you do not possess mental powers that I do not. The only appropriate attitude for man to have about the big questions is not the arrogant certitude that is the hallmark of religion, but doubt. Doubt is humble, and that’s what man needs to be, considering that human history is just a litany of getting shit dead wrong. This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and realize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price. (…) That’s it. Grow up or die.”

  14. Gayathri S permalink
    August 4, 2012 8:20 pm

    First, I would like to introduce myself as an Art of Living teacher from Bangalore and a long time devotee of Guruji, who has been with him for more that 15 years.

    After having read through some of the articles written in this blog, I am forced to share my experience with Guruji as a lot of things written here is untrue and have not come to my experience of being with him. Guruji is not a con man that you all seem to make him out to be.

    I have been a part of a lot of Seva projects,Events and have also personally worked at the ashram for about 10 years. In my so many years of my being with him, I have always found him to be the most generous, loving and caring person that I have ever met. He has always been very selfless in his actions and has always placed people and his devotes ahead of him. He has been a man of simple living and high thinking, and I can vouch for this as I have had many personal experiences with him, to prove this.

    Guruji always ensures that he has a personal connect with every single devotee and many times, goes out of his way to ensure this.
    During the Silver Jubliee Functions of the Art of Living, held at Bangalore, I took active part in organizing the event and have noticed Guruji’s personal initiative and participation to ensure that every person was personally cared for.
    I remember many instances where Guruji personally held peoples hand, spoke to them have personally invited them to be part of the Silver Jubilee Function, which was truly inspirational for me to render my seva, which was a small part of the whole event.

    In his endeavor to serve the world and people, to this day I remember the day when Guruji flew all the way from Abroad to address the people of the Tsunami affected areas like Nagapattinam(Costal Tamil Nadu), where a few of us had been working there towards trauma Relief work.

    These are just a few basic things that I have mentioned about Guruji as the list of things that Gurudev has done is endless.

    In a time and age like today, where many people are living only for personal benefit, it is our good fortune to find a Guru like HH Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ji, who has done immense service to the whole world and transformed all our lives. I can proudly say that Guruji is responsible for what I am today. If I am spiritual or have some Qualities of inner strength, Love for seva , devotion, commitment , focus, and many other positive traits, it is only because of Guruji and his teachings and techniques.

    Today, as I can’t see my master being tainted like this after all the Good that he has brought into this world, my request to the bloggers is to stop writing baseless things about GURUDEV. !!

    Whatever may be your experience with AOL or Guruji, it is not right to tarnish the name of a Satguru as it is only going to affect you all in the long Run. If you have personal issues, please get them addressed.

    Jai Gurudev

    • bloggisatwa permalink
      August 5, 2012 1:05 pm


      @ Gayathri

      First, I would like to introduce myself as an Art of Living teacher from Bangalore and a long time devotee of Guruji, who has been with him for more that 15 years.

      Thank you for posting and sharing your perspective and view point.

      After having read through some of the articles written in this blog, I am forced to share my experience with Guruji as a lot of things written here is untrue and have not come to my experience of being with him. Guruji is not a con man that you all seem to make him out to be.


      According to you, a lot of things are untrue. Hmmm…..so you are saying that some of it is true. That’s interesting. Do qualify your statement Gayathri. In order to correct any misconceptions …please do validate what you are saying, That would be most helpful for any reader that comes to this blog. Surely, you could do that for the sake of the truth and for someone you care about ? At this time, please also highlight what facts are true and which are not. For this I am afraid you may have to actually do a little bit of work. You will have to read through all the posts and comments including all the videos and links in their entirety. Many of us are ex-teachers. Many of us have had similar experiences as you have. On this Blog and the ones before this we are sharing perspectives that are usually not talked about in the AOL circles.

      I have been a part of a lot of Seva projects………… I have had many personal experiences with him, to prove this.

      So have many of us who write here.

      Guruji always ensures that he has a personal connect with every single devotee and many times, goes out of his way to ensure this.

      Well, unless you are also personally in touch with every devotee, you couldn’t know this for sure…can you Gayathri ?. You cannot know sitting where you are sitting what we have all gone through. Now, can you ? If you could, then trust me, you do not need a Satguru. You just need some devotees.

      During the Silver Jubliee Functions of the Art of Living, held at Bangalore,………….. Nagapattinam(Costal Tamil Nadu), where a few of us had been working there towards trauma Relief work.

      I too have had all these experiences that you talk about. It reflects and shows the goodness of your heart. It shows that guruji is a good communicator and can reach out to people. guruji’s words and actions can be inspiring. I too had for more than a decade been inspired by many of the purported good things he was supposed to be doing. And that bought out the best in me. I am grateful for that. I would have never seen those aspects of myself in the same way if AOL had not been there. Yet, that does not mean that the rest of the observations on this BLOG are not factual. So, your input is indeed needed here Gayathri. Clear precise facts and counter facts.

      These are just a few basic things that I have mentioned about Guruji as the list of things that Gurudev ……………teachings and techniques.

      Happy for you Gayathri

      Today, as I can’t see my master being tainted like this after all the Good that he has brought into this world, my request to the bloggers is to stop writing baseless things about GURUDEV. !!

      Pray, what are those baseless things Gayathri. Do elucidate.

      Whatever may be your experience with AOL or Guruji, it is not right to tarnish the name of a Satguru as it is only going to affect you all in the long Run. If you have personal issues, please get them addressed.


      Tarnish Gayathri ?. Tarnish the divine ? Damage the reputation of an all powerful Satguru ? A simple, mortal blogger who chooses to remain anonymous…because he / she is scared of exposing themselves in the open. What makes you think a poor / weak blogger has the power / strength to even come close to the almighty Gurudev. Are you not by saying this implying that your gurudev is a victim of sorts ? Really, Gayathri…..Seriously, you actually believe that a mere blog can tarnish your Satguru ?

      • Wanderer..sid permalink
        August 5, 2012 4:19 pm

        Awesome reply.

    • Mangal permalink
      August 5, 2012 6:35 pm

      @Gayathri

      People who contribute to this blog are mad because they were duped. They were made to shell out huge course fees, they had to work for free, they were asked to gather letters for His Nobel Prize Project, they were told to believe that they are protected under the blanket of Grace, all in exchange for some vacuous Enlightenment which never came, even while his nephew and brother-in-law are making money running a lucrative business on the side.

      He has no special powers even though his close circle teachers routinely spread baloney about His miracles. He couldn’t stop the rain in the Berlin stadium. He couldn’t tell where the bullet came from and mistook it for an assassination attempt. His teachers have to go to hospital to get conventional medical care because he can’t wave his hand and cure them. He lied about getting an advanced degree in physics at the age of seventeen.

      Tell us why we should not be frustrated and angry ??

      • bloggisatwa permalink
        August 6, 2012 3:33 am

        @ Mangal

        I think one should talk about ones own perspective Mangal. The statement “People who post in this Blog are mad”….may not be applicable or relevant to all others who contribute here.

        If I got duped the only person accountable was me…..because

        1. I simply did not know better.
        2. When the doubts started to come to me (they came very early by the way)…instead of following the doubts, doing more due diligence and finding answers, I was just plain lazy and chose to believe the popular versions of the stories floating around and not investigating them personally.
        3. No one forced me to do seva or raise money or stay with AOL for the length I stayed. I stayed because of my own wish.
        4. Would I have stayed with them and continued to be duped if I had as FULL perspective of the people / movement / and the brain washing as I see it today ? No definitely not.
        5. Did the duping have any potential adverse effects on my lifestyle….(I say potential, because its always a matter of perspective…and my own perspective changes with time and new knowledge). Actually, looking back and in retrospect, the answer here is NO. That is because, I woke up, I am free, I am no longer in a prison.
        6. Would I have liked some help when I was getting seriously clouded with all my doubts about AOL ?. Yes, definitely, it would have been nice to have seen and read the various perspectives of people like how the blogs have done. It would have made it easier to make the right calls. After all, like I have mentioned before, the thing with AOL is like a love affair….when it breaks…there can be great pain.

        Do not get me wrong Mangal. Being mad is a legit reaction to being duped. But if that becomes the driving force, we may never see the change that we are all undergoing. AOL as an organisation is actually not just SriSri or the legal entities his family holds. In s actuality its the !0000s of good hearted devotees who make AOL what it is. And AOL will change as the devotees learn more and more about the usually NOT disclosed information about the movement, the true colour of its founders, and the happenings in the back office which are today not transparent. (they can only claim that it is transparent).

        How long before a devotee recovers and heals will be accelerated by their own full and complete acceptance of their entire situation “JUST AS IT IS”…not camouflaged by Guru Grace stories. These blogs hopefully will provide these JILTED LOVERS as B&D call it…a larger and more complete view of this phenomenon called AOL…which sucks people in and spits them out without a care for their well being. Sheer ..tissue paper mentality. Use and throw.

        If like Gayathri believes, HE is really so compassionate… then how come when may 100s of teachers have left AOL unhappy, AND he has not bothered to bring them back to the PATH (his path)…with love…like a mother does her child. Instead he chose to sue the Blog ? And then used his Swami’s, Rishi’s, and inner circle Pro AOL followers to spread even more questionable facts ???.

        My take : The reason this BLOG is useful to people is because the owners and moderators of this blog are actually quite dispassionate about the outcome. There is no hate or feeling mad. Just a larger recognition….much more awareness about things then in their “inside AOL” days. And this is precisely what is being shared with the rest of the world through this Blog. If you find a manhole on the pavement, where lots of people (especially young people, small kids) are falling into, do you spend time being angry with the municipality or do we just save the folks that have fallen in…and about to fall in ? While it necessitates that you inform the municipality…. what can you do if they do not want to do anything about it ?. Really, what can you do ? Take the horse to water…but to make it drink ? All we can do, is post a warning sign for all to read. Put up some extra lights that folks can see the manhole even at night.

        BUT, If its the municipality’s business strategy to trap people in the hole, and while they are in the hole, extract free labour/money…..then then only thing we can do is

        “Expose Them”.

        What people do after they read the contents of this Blog….well that is only their call. We have no real voice there.

    • Anonymous permalink
      August 6, 2012 1:01 pm

      @Gayatri,

      It’s nice that you have never seen Guruji’s nasty side. He shows it generally when someone disagrees with him and insists for proof of where the money goes, what he is doing in various other ways, or that he ‘come clean’, so to speak, about his behaviors. I was very close with him. He also held my hand. He also said so many nice and comforting things to me. Until I disagreed with him and found out some things about him that were truly unsavory and confronted him with them. I, for one, have never posted any untruth on this blog. In fact, I have reserved from print some of the most heinous and disgusting things I witnessed and experienced at the Bangalore ashram, sometimes for fear of (more) retaliation from Ravi Shankar and his thugs, sometimes out of pity for his personal situation. (Yes, I pity him.) It sounds to me that you are a truly believeing and faithful person who just hasn’t seen the things that are truthfully stated on this blog. I’ve seen so many posts from so many people who experienced similar things to what I did. You have on blinders, if you think everyone on these blogs is simply lying. What would be the motive? I have none. I found Klim’s blog, and Skywalker’s blog, and then this one, and was amazed at the similarity of experiences to mine! And relieved. I didn’t want to think I and some I knew had been singled out for the abuse we took from Ravi Shankar, his awful family and Art of Living. When I completely detached myself from him and the organization, I just stopped following everything about him/them. Seeing these blgos made me realize that the terrible experiences I had there with him and Art of Living were not just some abberation, but something which happens frequently, to many people. You are just wrong about this. Don’t lose your faith in God, but certainly, you must question your blind faith in this man and his business called Art of Living.

  15. Wanderer..sid permalink
    August 5, 2012 4:31 pm

    He does this all, holding hand, talking politely, asking about your life, looking into eyes.. and this is how people fall in the trap. people think this is something special, magical happening with them, they don’t realize this happens with all and they spend rest of their life blindly following him, not questioning at all- calling it acceptance. calling them to banglore, involving them in some kind of service and not letting them open their mind- and then calling it ”growth”.
    it’s all very well planned, beyond my imagination sometimes, he does it all so smoothly that people don’t even get time to use their brain., mainly young people.
    but yes, because i am out of this AOL Trap, i feel a deep sense of freedom and bless in me. May be or may not be – it was destined to happen – or all this was a part of process, i really don’t know but it was extremely pain full. it was hard to accept, some one whom you loved and trusted with everything, is just using you for his mean. i don’t know whether to thank him or use bad words.
    Yes, it all taught taught me to live fully and to express my self. it all taught me that life has to be lived, not understood. it taught me have patience and look within the outside. May be, after few months and years i might have different point of view.
    i wish i could go to my AOL friends and tell them all this, but they won’t accept this, and we all know why.. may be their time hasn’t come.

  16. free at permalink
    August 5, 2012 6:51 pm

    News from AOL mole is true. Top members In AOL are quite flustered by this blog :):):)

    Lets look forward to their damage control strategies 🙂 🙂

  17. Guru-Ouch permalink
    August 6, 2012 6:48 am

    This blog made a very interesting and funny read – http://aolbasiccourse.wordpress.com/

  18. Anon-man permalink
    August 14, 2012 8:15 am

    Obi-wan,
    I am really glad you posted this. My experience with AOL has been similar to yours. I used to think that I was too way too smart to get involved in stuff like “miracles” and “grace”. But now when I look back, I don’t even know how I got myself involved so deeply. Madness!

    Also I would like to thank Skywalker and Klim because they played a huge role in my recovery. I know that I didn’t discover these blogs by “accident”. One of my friends showed me an article on how sudarshan kriya can sometimes have negative effects. After reading this particular article, I felt kind of cheated. Why was I never told about all this. Nobody ever mentioned any side-effects. I will even say that I have every right to know about any side-effects that might occur through sudarshan kriya.

    That was when I started searching on the internet for any more negative effects of sudershan kriya and found these blogs. I should also mention that by this time I was already dreading the mechanisms of AOL (the rituals, endless courses piled one after the other, desperation to bring more people to the course) but could never show it.

    These blogs showed me the real AOL in all its true colors. I believe these blogs because I know exactly what they are trying to say and can relate to them perfectly.
    I would like to share a personal observation here. Initially when I was deep into AOL, I insisted my close friends to do the course. They refused to do so. I could never understand why they wouldn’t do such a “beautiful” course. I sort of became distant from them on this issue and decided to never discuss AOL with them again.

    Now after reading the harmful effects of sudershan kriya, I had to talk to somebody. I couldn’t talk to my close friends now because that would be too embarrassing and I would be contradicting myself. And obviously I couldn’t voice my opinion to the members at AOL for fear of what they might say.

    I guess this is how people are caught in this endless dilemma. And this is where the blogs really help. Now I am slowly voicing my opinions and taking a stand on what I feel is right. Thank you very much once again to all of you.

    Keep going strong.

  19. someone permalink
    September 21, 2012 9:23 pm

    I am here because a friend of mine gave me link to this and many other blogs when I was discussing with him where do the humungous course fees go. And then i caught up reading posts. I am trying to understand, why some of my friends along with a large group of students in a city of Europe suddenly became so enthusiastic and involved in AOL. Most of them are smart people doing higher degrees in reputed Uni. It all started when a instructor couple moved in. I was friendly with them too and did AOL basic course once. I thoroughly enjoyed the moments I spent there, just like any spiritual retreats. But the cynic I am, I had quite a few questions which never got answered. Also i did not like the way they lapped up BGita, teachings of ramakrishna, swami Vivekananda, philosophers as what Guruji says or SS says. So I distanced myself after the first and only course i did. And i saw within such a small time how so many people, people i know, and people i have met got so much involved into something. MOst of us are young students away from home and maybe they get a sense of belonging? But so am I?
    Now after reading the blog I thank God that I had my doubts. Also it helped that I was in a middle of a big moving out of city and i moved out within 3 days of doing the course.
    Is there any way i can open the eyes of my friends.
    I think, most of them are doing it as a part of herd, not really sitting and thinking. If the instructors leave now say,probably this will die down. AOL was there in the region for quite some time but this was not so overflowing as it was since last one yr.
    But right now they all are in a mental frenzy, i think. They are having their honeymoon period and there is no way to dissuade them without them recognising it and fighting it tooth and nail. they will not look into reason and probably will give counter arguments.
    Also as a matter of principle, I do not like to question people about their choice of faith and their choice of God and about their devotion. so no matter what my personal opinions are, i doubt I can openly criticize them or use harsh languages about the association they chose.

    Anyways for now I would rather understand what goes on. This blog seems to be a good place. And when the instructor friends ask me about my wellbeing or if I am doing kriya or If i would want to visit guruji and do a course, i don’t have to say NO and feel bad for turning down nice people.

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