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Exposing the AoL Brainwashing Machinery – Part 5

November 15, 2012

In Part 4 we continued our discussion of Robert Cialdini’s Weapons of Influence by examining the various ways in which Commitment and Consistency are used to manipulate people in Art of Living. In this part we take a detailed look at the phenomenon of Cognitive Dissonance, something which in fact has already been raised several times across these blogs.

Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive Dissonance is something which in fact has already been raised several times across these blogs, but which we have never really gone into any detail over. It is something which is both subtle yet incredibly powerful, and works alongside Guru’s Grace to make it extremely difficult for devotees not only to to realize that they are being manipulated, but also to ever want to leave Art of Living should they want to for whatever reason.

Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological term describing a phenomenon which occurs when an individual who holds a particular belief or set of beliefs is presented with conflicting beliefs, which subsequently results in a feeling of pain and discomfort. In this state, people may experience anger, embarrassment, guilt, regret, shame, fear or any other of a host of undesirable feelings and emotions. They will subsequently feel compelled to act in some way to minimize or completely remove the conflict and with it the discomfort, for instance adjusting their beliefs and behavior, blaming, denying, ignoring, justifying and even lying to the point of deceiving themselves.

Origins of the Term

The term was coined by Leon Festinger who led a group of researchers that infiltrated a UFO cult in the 1950s as part of a sociological study. The members of the cult held a number of core beliefs including that the world was going to suffer a cataclysm in the form of a flood on a particular date and that they, the members of the cult, would be saved – by aliens.

When the date came and there was no flood, the subsequent behavior of the majority of the members of the cult was quite surprising. It began when the leaders claimed that for now the world had been spared because “The little group, sitting alone all night long, had spread so much light that God had saved the world from destruction.” Instead of admitting they had been wrong the entire time, which would have left most members fairly embarrassed at the decisions they had made (many had sold all their possessions and given up their jobs to be part of the cult) it actually caused them to go out and proselytize in an attempt to recruit new members.

By seeking social support for their beliefs, this actually had the effect of reinforcing the various commitments they had made, which was a far less painful option than any admission that they had in actual fact ever been wrong. (This particular phenomenon of seeking social support for validation will be covered in detail subsequently when we look at Social Proof.)

Certainly a small handful of members who had been on the surface did leave, however the majority remained and continued to proselytize. (A full account of this story is chronicled in the book When Prophecy Fails, for anyone interested.)

Cognitive Dissonance and Art of Living

One cannot help but draw a number of similarities between the UFO cult and Art of Living. Those following the AoL path will certainly have committed to many beliefs which form the Art of Living ideology, beliefs which in fact a great many will hold to be “truths”. Some will have given up their jobs or studies to move into one the ashrams, a few will have cut ties with family members, and some will have become teachers and full time teachers.

In many cases, followers will have made choices in life which are irreversible. And those who haven’t completely cut their ties with those they knew prior to their involvement with AoL will have kept family and friends informed of their progress. As such, if any information came to light which challenged their core beliefs, it would put them in a very difficult position as far as these relationships are concerned. They will at the very least feel embarrassed and almost certainly humiliated, not least of all because they would have to admit they had been deceived and manipulated the entire time.

Rather than admit they had been wrong about their choices thus far, they would do whatever they can to deny the new information in favor of preserving their original beliefs, thus saving face and removing the dissonance.

For those who have had positive experiences from Sudarshan Kriya, they would prefer to believe that it produces a spiritual experience brought on by “Guruji’s Grace” flowing through the teacher, rather than accept that the effects are actually due to hyperventilation and that the teacher is doing little more than guiding them through the preparatory pranayamas then pressing the play button on the tape recorder. They would prefer to deny that the tape works without a trained teacher, in spite of the fact that many readers on these blogs have already confirmed otherwise. This is something which has already been raised so many times on previous blogs but which has always been denied or ignored. Art of Living people don’t want to believe the truth about the tape, and if you know any teachers, try telling them this and see how they react.

For those who have taken TTC, they would much rather believe that the processes they went through have somehow prepared them to become “channels” through which “Guruji’s Grace” can flow and that they have in some way transcended their egos, rather than believe that they have actually been manipulated and abused, and that these processes are actually responsible for breaking down their will and sense of identity, ultimately turning them into obedient slaves. Especially if they have spent the best part of a small fortune not to mention the time they took out of their lives to take the course.

For those who believe that Art of Living is a humanitarian and spiritual organization spreading love and light to the world, they would prefer to believe everyone associated with AoL can only benefit from their experiences, rather than accept the many accounts of physical, psychological, spiritual and sexual abuse reported in these blogs. They would rather conclude that the victims of these abuses are being untruthful in some way, are being negative, than admit that the wrong-doings actually ever took place.

For those who believe that all money collected from courses goes to humanitarian projects, they will find it difficult to accept that money has actually been channeled into various commercial enterprises controlled by RS and his family (such as Sumeru Software, Sumeru Realty and Inwinex Pharmaceuticals) in spite of the fact that the money to start these enterprises had to have come from somewhere. They would prefer to avoid asking any questions about AoL’s lack of financial transparency, where the money came from to finance RS’ nephews’ education, and the fact that RS flies business class and stays in 5-star hotels.

For those who look up to senior teachers and who expect them to practice the values they preach, they would rather turn a blind eye to any instances where these teachers behave and act in ways which completely contradict the very values they preach, or at the very least try and justify them in some way. One of the best examples of this behavior can be seen in the comments left in response to Swami Sadyojatha’s email by devotees praising the things that both he and RS said in that letter, in spite of the fact that much of what they said was both hypocritical and completely unethical.

For those who were involved in the campaign to try to win the Nobel Peace Prize for RS, they would rather believe that the reason they didn’t win was that the world wasn’t ready to win it (which is exactly what they were told to believe when they lost), rather than that RS had been wrong in his prediction that he was going to win it that year.

For anyone who believes they have been healed by RS, perhaps from a chronic illness they have been diagnosed with but which doctors have told them is incurable, they would rather believe that RS healed them using special healing powers rather than their own faith in him being the cause of the healing.

For those who believe that RS is an enlightened master, they will find it extremely difficult to accept that this isn’t true, that in fact he is just an ordinary human being with flaws just like everyone else, who simply happens to have some knowledge of Vedic scriptures and is able to convey this knowledge effectively. Even when they see him behaving in a questionable manner, they will still find some way to justify it to themselves.

These are all real examples of cognitive dissonance and some of the ways in which followers deal with it. And of course the majority of Art of Living supporters who have expressed themselves in one way or another on these blogs have also done so as a result of cognitive dissonance, in many cases arising from the exact issues outlined above. Thus far we have seen much abuse, denial, justification, ignoring of revealing questions which have been asked, desperate attempts to discredit many of the contributors whilst avoiding the actual issues, and above all outright lying. Even the various counter-blogs which have arisen over the years trying to discredit these critical blogs, none of which lasted very long, arose as a result of cognitive dissonance.

The problem is that thus far, Art of Living supporters (whether on this blog or on their own counter-blog) have been completely unsuccessful in any of their attempts to sway the opinions of the readers of these blogs who are either critical of AoL or who are researching AoL before taking a course. This is primarily due to the fact that at a subconscious level this has never really been their intention. Rather, what they have been trying to do all along is to convince themselves and anyone else who still supports AoL that they are doing the right thing by being part of AoL. Notice how so many accounts posted by AoL supporters are trying to show that AoL is doing charity work around the world, that Sudarshan Kriya changes people’s lives for the better, that Ravishankar is an enlightened being, that AoL has been involved in the Anna Hazare movement and so on, and using these and similar arguments in an attempt to counter the criticisms raised in these blogs – without actually addressing any of the issues?

This one-sided portrayal of Art of Living by its supporters as an organization which only does good and using this as an argument that the many criticisms written in the blogs is untrue is another way in which they try to deal with cognitive dissonance. Whatever good Art of Living does, what they are really doing here is outright denying all the real issues that are going on in AoL, pretending to themselves that they don’t exist at all. And worst of all, those at the head of affairs in Art of Living have desperately tried to persuade all the remaining AoL supporters that anyone who has made all these criticisms against Art of Living is disgruntled, cowardly, deceitful and whole host of other negative labels. Just look at the articles which appeared on Bawa & Dinesh and Kashi’s blogs immediately after Art of Living lost the lawsuit (see this post for links) to see some pertinent examples of this exact behavior.

The saddest thing of all is that this is the easiest thing for all the AoL devotees to believe. If on the other hand they were to admit that many of the things written here are true, they will at the very least suffer a great amount of pain, discomfort and even humiliation. For some, especially full-time teachers who have nowhere else to go, their entire realities would collapse and they would be left devastated. Just as many of us felt when we finally came to terms with the fact that AoL wasn’t the organization we were led to believe it was and decided to leave.

For those of us who managed to pull ourselves away from AoL, most of us will also have experienced cognitive dissonance at one time or another during our time with AoL, as is clearly evidenced by a great many of the personal accounts written in these blogs. Many of us have already reported how we had doubts during our association with AoL and how we ended up “dropping” these doubts as we had been instructed to through various courses and knowledge points. But what we were really doing was suppressing these doubts, in the hope that they would go away. As Carl Jung said, what you resist persists (yes, it was Carl Jung and NOT Sri Sri Ravi Shankar as is commonly believed by the latter’s followers).

Eventually our doubts resurfaced and we came to realize we could no longer suppress them. And when we listened to our doubts, we realized that after all there really were things about AoL which we couldn’t accept, and we made the decision to leave. It was by no means an easy decision, and each of us would have gone through our own recovery process which in most cases will have involved some degree of pain and suffering.

To admit that we are wrong is the first step to recovery, but it is also the most difficult. The far easier and far less painful alternative would be to deceive ourselves, to turn a blind eye to all the wrong-doings in AoL or to completely deny their existence, as so many do. Yet the longer we deceive ourselves in this manner, the greater the pain and suffering we will have to endure when we eventually realize we should have listened to our doubts as they were trying to warn us all along.

So finally to those of you who are reading this who have become so deeply involved in AoL, who have put so much faith in RS and in the organization, who at one time strongly believed many of the things that have been challenged and outright debunked in this blog about AoL but are currently having certain doubts and finding yourself trapped in the organization with no real means of leaving, my heart really goes out to you. I really wish there were some easy way that you could pull yourself out, but there really isn’t.

All I can say which may be of some help is that whatever pain and suffering you go through if you do decide to leave, you do not have to do this alone. From reading so many accounts across these blogs, I have noticed that many who left Art of Living actually kept in contact with their non-AoL friends, or made some effort to reconnect with them in cases where they had cut their ties. And in all cases, their friends and family were so supportive that it considerably helped with their recovery process.

I also hope that these blogs go some way towards helping you to recover, not only in the capacity of helping you to better understand how you were manipulated and otherwise abused, but also allowing you to share your own experiences and talk to others who have been in a similar situation to you but who have managed to free themselves.

I know I can speak for everyone here who has left Art of Living when I say that freeing ourselves AoL, going through all the pain and suffering caused by the cognitive dissonance we experienced over time, was far better than staying and and accepting all the deceptions, manipulations and other wrong-doings of the organization. So if you find that you too are unable to accept these things, you need to make a decision as to whether or not you really want to stay with the organization. Ultimately, this is something you need to decide for yourself.

In Part 6, we’ll take a look at Social Proof.

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21 Comments
  1. November 15, 2012 2:48 pm

    Thank you so much for this series of articles. They are very helpful in spelling out in detail the mechanisms of control that are used by AOL.

    On a side note, I have read several book on cult mind control and one thing I notice is that they all make the cult out to be this very aware and intentionally controlling force. I don’t see it that way. I think cults manipulate their members unconsciously. I don’t think AOL is purposely plotting and scheming to create the structures that are manipulative. I think they believe what they are doing is good for everyone. They manipulate people just like individuals manipulate people. I notice that I manipulate people unconsciously most of the time. I am not even aware of my motives. I think cults are like that too. Ravi Shankar is no different. He is manipulating people, no doubt. I just think that most of the time he is not aware of what he is actually doing. I think he is caught up in the same ego games that we all play within ourselves and between each other. As I see it, he really does believe he is sincere in what he is doing. He has the best intentions. He is not some evil genius who intentionally built an empire of deception. He built is unconsciously, with a mixture of altruistic and selfish intentions.. . I think that is why AOL is so seductive to people – everyone involved is sincere. This doesn’t make AOL less controlling. In fact, it makes it even more controlling and manipulative. Nothing is more deceptive then good intentions.

    • November 16, 2012 8:25 am

      DW – It’s a very interesting point and one I’ve wondered about a lot in the past.

      I think at the very core whatever RS is doing at a conscious level he is doing because he believes it is the “right” thing to do. This goes without saying, otherwise he wouldn’t do it. The question then becomes, is he consciously aware that he is manipulating people when he does it, or do these manipulations seem like natural, normal, even acceptable behavior to him? In other words, is what we are referring to here as “manipulation”, which has very negative connotations, purely our subjective experience of something which he may see as being very positive?

      I say this because if we look at the Chinese during the Korean War and what they were doing to American servicemen they held captive, the Chinese deeply believed that what they were doing – spreading the Communist ideology – was a good thing for the world. They didn’t for one minute think that any of the processes they were subjecting their prisoners to were causing them any harm.

      So from this point of view, I think RS is actually fully conscious of everything he is doing, but I think he is doing it for what he believes to be the right reasons. As does anyone in AoL when they are trying to get people to sign up to a course, come to a satsang, spread the AoL Ideology and so on. They strongly believe, as they are led to, that what they are doing is the right thing. But can we say whether it is “right” or “wrong” in any definitive way? Well, the truth is there is no objective way to tell, and any judgement we or anyone else makes is based purely on our own beliefs and definitions of right and wrong.

      In that respect, the best thing to do is to make as much of the information available as possible as to what is going on in AoL (for example the content of this and many other posts on these blogs) and let followers decide for themselves whether they see these things as manipulations – i.e. as having negative connotations – or not.

      • November 16, 2012 1:07 pm

        Obi-wan,

        Yes, I agree with you that the best thing to do is to make information available. I am very grateful to you for doing that. I also, agree that any judgments we make about Ravi’s motivation is based on our own sense of right and wrong and that there is no objective way to tell.

        Even so, I make my original point because the tendency to make Ravi into this purely evil mastermind (that I see in some of the comments and also in myself) seems off the mark. I think Ravi is really trying to help people and to share his experience of joy. For instance, when he came out with DSN, I don’t think he was thinking that this is a great way to brainwash people into doing his bidding and making him rich. I think he was really trying to help people over come their inhibitions and hang ups. He isn’t purposely creating structures of mind control. He isn’t purposely creating cognitive dissonance or mystical manipulation to brainwash people. None the less, he does create them and is ultimately responsible for them. His ego’s strengths and weaknesses are the seeds of the corporate ego of AOL’s strengths and weaknesses. This isn’t something he is plotting and scheming in an evil genius sort of way. It is just an outgrowth of an ego (or collectively, it is an outgrowth of lots of egos).

        I think these structures of mind control develop in an organization when there isn’t any effective critical feedback loop to check the ego of the leader. With a guru type figure, who is consciously or unconsciously seen as all knowing, this feedback loop is impossible to have. Without this feedback, the leader’s ego gets amplified and eventually turns into the ego of the organization. In other words, the ego of the organization forms to serve the ego of the leader. When this happens, the leader is incapable of reforming or transforming the organization in any meaningful way. The ego of the organization takes on a life of its own and consciously serves the ideals of the leader and subconsciously serves the ego needs of the leader. And this continues to happen, even after the leader dies, because the leader at this point becomes inconsequential. Just as an individual’s ego uses all kinds of defenses and coping mechanism to survive, the corporate ego uses mind control techniques to survive. The corporate ego’s survivor becomes the real agenda of the organization and the ideals of the organization get subverted to serve this purpose.

        Obi-wan, I hope I am not too rambling. I am figuring this out for myself as I write. I appreciate this forum to give me the sounding board I need sometimes. Thank you.

    • Anonymous permalink
      November 16, 2012 3:35 pm

      good one DW…Even I personally do not believe that RS would plot to manipulate consciously…but sub-consciously that is exactly what he is doing…RS is stuck in this world he has created…in his limited world he is the god, he is the guru, it is through him that grace flows (all because his devotees are manipulated to believe so)….but if he were to live without all the fanfare created around him – he is no different than any of us…

      I think what Obi-Wan is presenting is a wonderful psychological study of the AOL organism whose brain is RS…

      How I decided to leave the org. is just by asking myself one simple question….in the core of all spiritual practices is one simple understanding that our creations clearly show what is deep within us…meaning by just studying what we have created we can understand what motivates us from the core of our being…..I started looking at what RS had created and it was not a happy picture…it was no different from the real world…it had no less stress than the real world…it had no selflessness (though people in AOL tend to think they are selfless)…it had all the politics, manipulation, ego wars that you would see in the real world….then it came down to a simple choice…whether I want to contain myself in the AOL bubble or I break the bubble and face the real world….Finally I made my choice and I was surprised by the outcome….the freedom I felt inside was enormous…!!

      • bloggisatwa permalink
        November 17, 2012 6:29 pm

        Its not a black and white situation. Its which shade of grey you choose. RS is a very intelligent bloke. He, by now would have figured out what can be made better (in himself, in AOL and in his Sr teachers). But he does not push it. Why ? Too much water under the bridge ?…So what ? You can still start small. He has to go nowhere to seek better criticism. Just read this blog that is all.

        To me, the answer is clear. He chooses not to. Keep this option and look at his words and actions, current and past.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 15, 2012 4:44 pm

    very well written Obi-wan..This clearly resonates with me and I am sure many others that have left AOL…!

  3. Vishnu permalink
    November 17, 2012 7:26 am

    @Obi-Wan
    “For those who believe that RS is an enlightened master, they will find it extremely difficult to accept that this isn’t true, that in fact he is just an ordinary human being with flaws just like everyone else…”

    It is said that only a Jnani (enlightened being) can understand another Jnani.
    So it is not possible for any average person to judge whether one is an enlightened master or not.
    I am not supporting AOL or RS by saying like this.
    My question to you is what made you realize that RS is not an enlightened master?
    Did you go through any specific personal experience with RS to realize that he is not an enlightened master?
    If you can share those experiences with readers here, it would give clear picture to readers why your belief that RS was an enlightened master was wrong when you were part of AOL.

    Also do you think RS has some powerful Siddhis?
    Because it is just not possible to attract so many devotees if RS is not an enlightened master or RS has got no Siddhis.
    Either RS is an enlightened master or he has some Siddhis.
    Definitely I am not one of those brainwashed AOL devotee.
    I am just trying to understand RS with an open mind.

    • November 19, 2012 12:44 pm

      Vishnu,

      What makes you think I’m not an enlightened being? Or bloggisatwa? Or Barack Obama, or Mick Jagger, or anyone else in the world we could mention at random?

      If we were to believe that only a Jnani can recognize another Jnani, then there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to believe that anyone in the world – including RS – is enlightened. Unless of course you yourself achieve enlightenment. So why bother not only believing that RS is enlightened, but questioning those who don’t believe he is enlightened when in actual fact you yourself don’t have any criteria to help you determine that he is enlightened? This is a great example of one of the most dangerous weapons which AoL uses on its devotees, the cultivation of blind faith.

      What I can say for sure is that RS has gone to great lengths to give himself the appearance of someone who is enlightened. All talk of his having siddhis is one such example. But in all this time, not one person has ever come forward with any actual evidence of his having siddhis, including those who have been close to him for many years who have already told us on these blogs they too have never seen any evidence of in all the time they knew him. I’ll go into a lot more detail about it when we talk about the influencing power of Authority later on in this series.

      As for “Because it is just not possible to attract so many devotees if RS is not an enlightened master or RS has got no Siddhis. This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. So many people have attracted millions of followers without having siddhis. Hitler is a great example, because as far as I know, he wasn’t enlightened either.

      But I’ll tell you what, it ultimately boils down to I don’t believe he’s enlightened because, well, I just don’t. If there really is such a thing as an enlightened master, RS certainly doesn’t behave in ways that would befit an enlightened master. But if you or anyone else wants to believe that he is, don’t let me or anyone who doesn’t believe it get in your way and tell you otherwise.

    • Nithin permalink
      November 23, 2012 3:08 pm

      My personal experience with $$RS.
      1. As said by AOL Sr teachers he knows everything of us
      2. He Knows what is going on around
      3. He is giving us situation to grow
      My personal experience as EX AOL teacher and Ex volunteer for 12 years in AOL, my breath use to sound guru all the time!.
      When i asked the organization about the money collected as donation they got upset, I mentioned that there are a lot of poor people who need the knowledge RS was not keen and ignored. When i had very personal problems he insulted me , when i asked his help with open minded he was speechless….because this fellow could not collect any information of me early and i was asking direct question 1-2-1 with him. I realized he is a normal man with some skills to contribute to the humanity, unfortunate he is now caught in the name and fame. He will not tell anything directly to you, he use his army to speak, by doing that he still keeps his space to manage if things goes worst… the most crooked one.
      After i left this fellow, i received threatening emails and Bad karma message from the senior foolish swami’s and directors, unfortunately i was firm and clear on what i was saying so that they were not able to reach close to my proximity.
      However i thank this cult organization for the good and bad lessons, which helped me to server better to the humanity and made me proud of the inner skills i have. I am the God and I am the Guru… remember if you can’t believe in you..everyone will loot you (especially these spiritual jokers)

  4. November 18, 2012 4:23 pm

    I have to disagree that RS thinks he has good intentions. The fact that he is a sociopath/psychopath changes everything. He is not the same as the rest of normal human beings. Know this: 1 in every 20 people are sociopaths/psychopaths and those leaders of cults are almost always one of them. We can make excuses for them all we want- the discussion above is STILL an example of cognitive dissonance, refusing to accept the truth of what RS really is, because you don’t want to believe that someone could actually have evil intentions. I STRONGLY urge everyone here to do research on traits of sociopaths/psychopaths and you will find that RS fits it to a T. Psychopathic manipulation is far worse than anyone can imagine, and most people never come out of it- traces are still left after leaving (as I can see in these comments). Face the truth people. No more lies to yourself- live for YOURSELF, don’t lose yourself to a psychopathic interpredatorial mastermind like RS.

    • November 21, 2012 9:08 pm

      Hi Richincolor,

      RS could be a psychopath, but I am not a psychologist who is able to diagnose him. I have read the traits of a psychopath and there is some similarity. Does it fit him to a “T”.? That isn’t my experience. My above response isn’t trying to make excuses for him. I am trying to understand my experience of him. I have found him to be very patient and giving in many ways. He also seemed to be very personally interested in my welfare many times. I don’t see a psychopath doing that. But, like I said I am no psychologist, so I am not going to debate his diagnosis. I will say that I made a mistake in deifying him. I don’t want to make a similar mistake by demonizing him. He is not a god or a demon to me. He is a human being with strengths and weaknesses. If anything, I guess I would say, I want to normalize him.

  5. November 19, 2012 12:18 pm

    DW, Anonymous and richincolor,

    My own perspective is that more likely than not RS started out with so-called “good” intentions, in other words he wanted to help people become happy. But the current organization is a far cry from this, it’s become completely out of control, and the fact is he is at the very center of it all. He has risen to power, has become engulfed by and addicted to this power, and more than anything he has let it consume him to such a point that he no longer has control over it – it controls him.

    So in that sense, yes I would agree that what is happening is a manifestation of his ego and/or the group ego. But the thing is, I absolutely do believe that there are those at the head of affairs in Art of Living who have very thorough knowledge of manipulation and how to use it effectively to make it appear completely ingenuous in its application. There is no doubt in my mind that for example both Rishi Nitya Pragya and Bawa both fall into this category. And I am absolutely convinced that RS himself is more than aware of these things.

    Remember the Advanced Course video where RS himself actually encourages course participants to do whatever they can to bring people to courses, claiming its ok to manipulate them, deceive them because its good for them? And I have heard senior teachers use exactly the same line of persuasion. This clearly indicates that RS is in fact perfectly aware that manipulation, deception, lying are generally considered undesirable, but even so he is encouraging his followers to engage in these sorts of activities.

    In terms of is RS an evil mastermind, well, if you actually spend some time studying the nature of this thing called “evil”, you would end up at one of two sources for what we call evil. The first is that evil ultimately stems from egotistic behavior, selfishness, self-centeredness, the need to dominate others – all of which seem to fit RS perfectly. The second, which is what richincolor has alluded to, equates evil with psychopathy. I can’t really say a great deal about psychopathy, but for those interested, Whistleblower wrote a detailed article on this on Skyalker’s blog entitled Psycho which you may wish to read.

    However, I think most of us would agree that RS is at the very least being driven by his ego in his actions. Well if that is the case, then how on earth can he even begin to help people to transcend their egos, achieve enlightenment and so on if he can’t even help himself? This would seriously indicate to me that his main focus is not to help others, but purely to gain for himself and for his family. Those who genuinely want to help others and who do help others become much better people as a result, and tend to be a lot less egotistic. In fact it is in the very act of helping others that they become less egotistic. So from that point of view I would have to conclude that no, RS’ intentions are not for the benefit of the greater good, only for himself.

    • November 24, 2012 5:56 am

      Egoistic and manipulative probably . a businessman definitely. but psychopath definitely no .. psychopath is a very strong word and a very dark word usually associated with clood blooded murders, rapes, assassinations etc etc. I am sure he does not fall in that category.

      I think this link describes him very well and he is nothing more and nothing less than as described in the link. This was there on the older blog.

      http://palmistryforyou.com/2010/01/hand-reading-of-sri-sri-ravi-shankar.html

      • Mangal permalink
        November 24, 2012 4:52 pm

        Doubtful if its accurate bcoz the palm reader knew who’s palm it was so adjusted the reading accordingly. Give them a palm without telling the identity and see what they say

      • November 25, 2012 8:15 am

        Agree that the identity might help the palm reader. And let us say the good things he said are not accurate. Let come to the flaws which he has pointed out.

        Flaws in the personality
        But yes, this gentleman has a flaw. I am not referring to his love of making money or love of comforts, which is another thing that people may dislike. It is his too strong a will, a will and determination that can be taken too far, making him obstinate and unreasonable. He also tends to speak his mind in no uncertain terms, at times rubbing people the wrong way. However, when he is being unreasonable, the state of mind is temporary. His head line as well as well as the thumb tells us that he is not pig-headed, and logic can prevail after a while.

        Another flaw in his personality is that he is not entirely open. Considering that he has other good characteristics, openness would have been a great asset. It would have made people trust him more.

        I am sure you would agree that the flaws are not usually known to the non aol folks. And the aol folk never advertise the flaws or probably just overlook them. And I am sure you agree that the writer is not an aol devotee or anything he just writes about celebrities in general. She has not written anything else about AoL or Sri Sri.

        What I mean to say is that he may not be Krishna or Jesus as those close to him might want to project him as but he is not a demon either. He does intend to do good. It is so clear he thinks he is doing something really special. He does have thorns alright but his intention seems good. and clear.

        Demonizing can also be a trap similar to deifying him. So better to not be stuck in any of these traps.

      • November 25, 2012 10:55 am

        I don’t think it’s healthy to either demonize or deify him, but if you approach this as dispassionately as possible and try to analyze him as best you can given everything you have, there are an astonishing number of traits which RS shares with psychopaths.

        I would strongly recommend reading Anonymous’ link http://dannyhaszard.com/captivehearts.htm for a more detailed general analysis of psychopaths. Now putting aside the generally negative connotations associated with the word – for example, I don’t think a single person here is trying to insinuate that he is a psychopathic killer, if he truly does have many of these traits which it seems he does, then he himself has a serious problem.

        As far as I can tell, people don’t decide to become psychopaths. So that really begs the question, was he born this way, or was it something which he became after years of being in the position he has now found himself in?

        I really find this particular discussion quite interesting, and would like to know what people thoughts are on this, especially those who were quite close to him for any given time.

        One thing I find fascinating is simply that there even exist so many radically different perspectives on RS, with those at the extremes either demonizing him or worshipping the ground that he walks in. Isn’t that in itself telling?

  6. November 19, 2012 12:28 pm

    Come to think of it, the fact that he encourages his followers to manipulate and deceive others actually gives huge credence to richincolor and Whistelblower’s statement that RS is indeed a psychopath.

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