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Resignation letter sent by Art of Living Teacher questioning the cult of Sri Sri Ravishankar 420 chor

Posted by meghana_sharma | Posted in Others | Posted on 13-01-2010

Tags: , , , ,

31

Sri Sri Ravishankar Ashram

Hot off the tip line: a former Art of Living teacher explains why he found Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s incessant plotting for ever-increasing amounts of money and fame to be nothing more than a sick cult-propagation scam:

Dear Guruji, fellow teachers and volunteers,

My name is [redacted] and I am an Art of Living teacher in [redacted], USA. I have been involved with Art of Living since 2002 and became a teacher at the Canadian Ashram in the summer of 2005.

I am writing to you today to say that I can no longer sincerely continue as a representative of the Art of Living organization. The reason is simply that I am not inspired by the organization any more. I do not connect with, do not agree with and cannot support in the future:

1) the increasing corporization of the Art of Living organization

2) the intensifying promotional push on all fronts

3) the increasing course fees making it so difficult for many people who need help to participate in programs

4) the pressure on participants in AOL to raise and donate funds

5) the hype and myth creation used for indoctrination

6) the effective undermining of people’s self-trust and making them dependent in an infantile way on idealized images of the guru and his special abilities, and a perception of inferiority relative to him

7) the misrepresentation of the placebo effect as the result of the speciality and uniqueness of the practices or the grace of a person

8) the ongoing emphasis on specialness of the organization’s leader and his omniscience

9) the resultant cultish atmosphere within AOL and the possibilities for manipulation of all sorts

10) the focus on organization growth and perpetuation rather than the advancement of the people involved and deeper self-inquiry

11) the lack of transparency and accountability for the use of funds, projects implemented, etc.

12) the organization’s acting increasingly like a business in the guise of a non-profit

13) the frivolous use of exaggeration and misrepresentation of facts in promotional efforts (as to the scale of humanitarian efforts or the scientific evidence for the benefits of the practices, for example)

14) the conflict between encouraging people to donate a dollar a day to support poor children, etc. and staying in the presidential suites at expensive hotels (e.g. Ritz-Carlton), flying first class, etc.

The list can continue, but there is no point in that. The fact is that I no longer feel I can stand behind the Art of Living Foundation and its efforts. There is an inherent conflict between my perceptions of the organization and its real goals, and my position as its representative. Therefore, I resign from this position with relief.

I do not regret any of the past, but I feel I need to continue my path outside of the confines of Art of Living. I am grateful for my experiences with the organization in the last few years, but I cannot sincerely invite people I care about into it in the future.

If I am making any errors in my assessment, they are solely my responsibility and I am ready to face the consequences of such errors. I realize that this message may create some discomfort somewhere and may generate passionate reaction. I am also aware how the points I am making above can readily be explained away with references to my ego, ignorance, lack of commitment, wrong priorities, etc. All that is fine. Things be as they may, the fact is that this is how I feel currently and this is the action my heart propels me to do. That is the same heart that brought me into Art of Living in the first place. I have nothing else to trust.

Why am I doing this in such a public way then? Because that is what my conscience is telling me to do. Because there may me others who may feel this way but feel compelled to follow the party line at the expense of severe internal conflict. Perhaps this can help them feel not alone or afraid to speak out. Perhaps eventually this may help put AOL back on track – yes, in my perception of what the track should be, but I have nothing else to go by but my perception. As do all of us.

Color us wildly and self-righteously justified in bringing you the truth: the Art of Living org is nothing more than a cult scam, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the lowest form of fame-whoring fauxru known to the modern world at this time.

Is it really Art of Living or is it Art of Lying? or Leaving?

Sri Sri 420? Quite likely

Comments (31)

Tthis so called AOL teacher. Why is not he courageous enough to announce his name? Then how do we know it is an authentic story? A tale told by a coward in a heartless website pretending to be dilwala.

i totally agreewith aol teacher i also hav very bad exp of aol.one aol teacher told me you are trapped now you can not leave aol when i left they did black magick on me.

hmm…looking at all other scams, i hope art of living is excluded. i have been with aol for 13 years. Its not the matter of trust in shrisree….its about being connected with like-minded people. All that I can say now is ..ART OF LIVING is the best….

The major responsibilities of an AOL member are:-

1. Spend (attend) on many courses a year ($$$)
2. Market (convince) the course to more people ($$$)
3. Donate and collect donation ($$$)
4. Spend their money and time on Service Projects ($$$)

The Major achievements of AOL (Guru Ji) are:-

1. Collecting all fees and donations ($$$)
2. Spending on Properties, Airfares and Hotels ($$$)
3. Transferring remaining monies to overseas bank accounts and relatives ($$$)
4. Claiming member’s funded service projects as the end use of funds

Anyone with a two digit IQ can come up with a purported “letter” such as this one and put it up on a blog. Where is the proof?

Ravi ravi may be a megalomaniac but if you want to nail him, you need something far more credible.

Read the experiences of former Teachers and volunteers:

http://artoflivingfree.blogspot.com/

I have done 3 AOL Basic courses and 1 Advanced course, and have attended numerous satsangs, kriya sessions, and an Ashtavarka study course. All that I have done has been beneficial, but I no longer take part.

Why? Mainly because of point 11 above: ” the lack of transparency and accountability for the use of funds.

Course fees have increased a lot over the last 5 years. Every time I ask one of the AOL teachers or committee members “Where exactly does our money go? May I please see audited, official accounts?” – - there is no answer other than a promise to bring this topic up to AOL headquarters.

I am also bothered by the pressure put on people to sign up and pay for courses. Some pressure is OK, and I do not mind gentle pressure or a reminder, but all too often there is a great PUSH to do a course that all up would cost in excess of $500 USD, even greater than $1500 USD.

Many years ago Transcendental Meditation (TM) stated clearly that they had audited accounts that would be provided to anyone. AOL NEEDS TO DO THE SAME…!!!!

Please check out the other side of the comin too…

MUST READ !!

http://artoflivingfreefree.blogspot.com/

I have been with AOL for 6 years and nobody ever forced me to give money or time or anything … perhaps because I am just a volunteer and not in the inner circle. I found doing kriya and meditation helped me with a disciplined line (but yes, same can be acheived through any other disciplined practice such as Yoga).

The financial aspect and the constant focus on bringing people to courses is what bothers me, and anytime I questioned that, I was told it is my ego/weakness/doubtful mind. That experience is shared by at least 20 other volunteers that I know in my community, within bay area in CA.

I haven’t officially quit AOL yet, but I am close to it, especially after seeing this post and the other link mentioned in one of the responses – artoflivingfree.blogspot.com

A quick solution for AOL is to provide all the appropriate financial documents on their website so the above commentators (and the public) can stay pleased.

After all, AOL is a business even though the founder and the teachers claim it is not a business and just a spiritual organization, mainly to put a smile on every human being.

Well, providing the financial statements publicly will sure put a smile on me so I know where my hard earned dollars went, which I donated on many occasions mainly due to pressure, which was my mistake, not the teacher’s.

It is exhausting to hear cliches (trauma relief, prison rehab blah blah blah) when asked about the money without any proof.

I’ve had first-hand experience when I saw the difference between AOL’s encouragement to bringing more faces to courses, and doing real down-to-earth seva (like annadaan).

I had a green workshop in my area and did not get a word of encouragement from the local teacher- yet, she seems to have included this as part of her ‘yearly progress’. I did not expect any monetary assistance (a bunch of us volunteers pitched in) but the response was quite low.

I am not trying to bad-mouth aol, but my interest has truly shifted from recruiting more people (perhaps there is nothing wrong in doing this, but it’s just not my goal). I now donate prasadam to a nearby temple, or give clothes to orphanages, donate to the ‘Akshayapatra’ scheme of ISKCON (provides mid-day meals to children) and am part of the volunteer group in my office.

I am happy and my mind is not in conflict.

I had a teacher which name was Marlen She taught me in Dallas in a church in Dallas and the international school of Dallas. She is a great teacher. She has the humor to teacher and she teaches very good. But she did not come back to teach to us. I do not what it happened she is a great teacher.
Student

Can you tell me her address or something so I can communicate with Marlen?
I am sorry but I do not remember her last name. She taught yoga one year ago during the moth of March in Dallas.

Dina

Dear letter writer, How much did the christian missionaries pay yo for this?

I have worked (or rather done Seva) the way AOLf puts in the Art of Living International HQ in India for some months. Although I went there on my own will, I realized after some months that the place was not for me… It was full of hypocrites who did not believe in doing anything substantially good for the society but just took the Guru’s name day and night. There is a lot of brainwashing and blind following that goes on there. They make you feel that you are incomplete and your life is full of conflicts without doing their courses. They make you do seva of all sorts… sweeping the ashram etc in their advanced courses in the guise of earning good karma etc. I also encountered an incident while doing the DSN course…. a course participant ended up coming late on the first day and shockingly the volunteer of the course asked her to shell out Rs.2000 as penalty or gave her the option of going back home. The participant was foolish enough to give the money too. As a part of the course, we were assigned to go out to some stretches of Bangalore and sell their Journalism course to people. We had to go back and report to the teacher how many people showed interest and how many potential students’ mobile numbers did we get! Well… it left me wondering if I had enrolled for a spiritual course or a marketing course?

Also, how come Sri Sri’s sister’s children have studied in the best schools abroad with our hard-earned money? Whatever happened to the vedic system of education and the vedic schools that are run in the Ashram?

There was some amount of good work too, like adoption of many tribal children and providing for their education, food and stay etc. but maybe that was just an excuse to show the world that the money was going somewhere and at the same time brainwashing the kids minds.

Also, I remember forcing the Content Manager of their website to display where the donations are being used, just as any credible NGO would do. She kept dodging that topic. They have not put up any such thing till date.

I have lived with the inmates. There were so many robberies that took place in the Ashram in my presence. Also, check this – The ones who work in Sumeru Software Solutions ( the software company operating from the Ashram) get better rooms to stay in as they pay for them. The other Ashramites (real devotees) have to share dingy rooms. I see no compassion ( that is preached by AOLf) here.

Most of the higher designation teachers and volunteers flaunt their Blackberrys and Macs.

Having said all this, the organisation sucks but I still have some respect for Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.

And I thank my stars and my fiance for getting me out of Art of Living! I definitely feel much more alive now :)

dear riddhi,

They were not educated from aboard. one son is working as a software engineer and other one is art of living teacher.

From
Dear Guruji, fellow teachers and volunteers,
Till
I do not regret any of the past, but I feel I need to continue my path outside of the confines of Art of Living. I am grateful for my experiences with the organization in the last few years, but I cannot sincerely invite people I care about into it in the future.

As we see it that your perception is that
“There is an inherent conflict between my perceptions of the organization and its real goals, and my position as its representative. Therefore, I resign from this position with relief.”

This is quit possible with any one

Now from
If I am making any errors in my assessment, they are solely my responsibility and I am ready to face the consequences of such errors.

till

Perhaps eventually this may help put AOL back on track – yes, in my perception of what the track should be, but I have nothing else to go by but my perception. As do all of us.

Color us wildly and self-righteously justified in bringing you the truth: the Art of Living org is nothing more than a cult scam, and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is the lowest form of fame-whoring fauxru known to the modern world at this time.

I see a lot of anger and hurt still there
I think
You need to do some meditation or Kriya to calm down or it will hurt you more.

Take Care
Jai gurudev

hello All,

Its ok to be angry with Guruji and AOL. But honestly ask yourself if you have applied the knowledge sutras taught in the course. This path is definitely not for the weak ones and its so unfortunate to see many of you strong guys fall on small excuses. Life is tough. I have personally seen it, experience it much more bitter than many of you, doubted Sri Sri for many many years and still do it. But I also know I love him the most as he is a genuine Guru. My dear friends lets not be part of those unfortunate ones who falls before reaching the goal.
Find your own way of sticking to the path of service, devotion, karma and yoga. All I will say.

You have defined a framework that things should be like this. You may be right in some places, wrong in others. But if your focus is really to learn something that can calm, soothen your mind then you have to focus on right things. Issues, problems are everywhere…that is to test your patience, sincerity. Like Arjun, focus on the fish eye.
wish you good luck my brothers and sisters.

Ridhi,

many people including myself have been able to get scholarships from top foreign universities. what is big deal in this? what is difficult for someone who is smart, intelligent? is this really an issue considering millions of indians studying abroad..

I have attended a number of AOL courses but have always been disillusioned by the devotees and teachers worshiping of Guruji, especially the teachers incessant neediness to be noticed by devotees as AOL teachers. I am not affiliated with any religion but do consider myself a spiritual person, in other words, someone who questions and applies spiritual knowledge, yet I do not see this among many of the people who give or attend these courses, and have met very few who have not attempted to spin a patriarchal, hierarchal, power trip on me.

My recent interactions with a long standing devotee whom I dared challenge on his derogatory comments about women and his obsession with material wealth, resulted in him name-calling me, using further egoistic derogatory language and telling me that his ‘master’ had told him to his face that he should enjoy life and all its riches. I was merely questioning, yet there was always the insinuation that because I am female, Caucasian, and not, according to him, on the ‘ladder’, my opinion was not worth anything. I know that this is no reflection on AOL but I start to wonder and question the value of the teachings when after years and years and years of practice one still has not managed to challenge their own limited beliefs.

I have an issue with referring to someone external to myself as my ‘master’ especially in a day and age where women are constantly sidelined, ridiculed, mocked, taunted, abused, raped, and especially overlooked as having a genuine connection with their own inner Divine essence. I am not a dog. I do not need, or require, a ‘master’.

I have become disillusioned with Guruji and his followers, and am no longer so sure of their motivations. The word ‘ego’ has been thrown around too flippantly for me whenever one expresses a genuine dissatisfaction with the way things are, and without any true understanding that life is about finding the balance between a stable, healthy ego and an inflated one.

How is anyone to know what is really going on? How is anyone to know why some people are drawn to the things they are drawn to, while others have no interest. I have close friends who are highly gifted, spiritual beings who have never even heard of AOL or have any interest. Does this mean that they are not ’special’ or one of the 1% who are so fortunate to have come across a spiritual path? I agree that one is fortunate to find themselves on a path of questioning in this day and age, but there is still a sense of separation between those who follow AOL and those who don’t – by the followers of AOL, not those who don’t.

When devotees start to use the very same tactics they accuse anyone of using who express different opinions to them I start to question what it means to live a ’spiritual’ life in the AOL sense. I wonder what “do not be a football of other peoples opinions” really means and how this knowledge is applied by these devotees?

Why vehemently attack someone on their path of questioning? Why deny their own intuitive knowing that this particular path is not for them? Why the defense?

I have always maintained that the worshiping factor, the bowing down to the ‘master’, was never what I personally understood spirituality to be about, and that any organisation, run by people and their egos, was bound to be an organisation built on shaky foundations. Focus on the message and not the messenger is what I told myself when all was said and done on any course. Having said that, I have benefited from, and continue to do, the daily practices and lead a semi-stress free lifestyle but I have decided not to partake in any more courses.

My question to others is whether or not all ’spiritual organisations’ hoping to secure members on its courses bind you to a terms and conditions contract that stipulates no-transfers and no-refunds regardless of your circumstances? I fear I must accept what I knew from the beginning – that if I sign this document to partake in an international course and life takes a sudden turn I must surrender to the knowing that I will lose a lot of money. It can be construed as a gamble one takes but I feel it is in essence a trap. Organisations are guaranteed their money whether you can attend or not. I knew all of this before I signed but when forced to sign 3 months in advance because of limited space, and then life happens, it feels a little like ‘just doing business’. Was wondering how this all worked and if anyone else smells extortion?

Thank you to the administrators of this website. There will always be two sides to a coin, and the fickleness of human nature will always fight for one or the other side. By confirming some specific doubts I had in my own mind, I am now rest assured that my path has, and always will be, my own to decide.

There is a place for disillusionment. There is a place for questioning. There is a place for differences of opinion. Spirituality is not an end goal, it is a way of life.

I meant to say finding the balance between a low self-esteem and an inflated ego which is a stable, healthy ego. There is a place for ego. New Age teachings believe otherwise and so there is always talk of ‘dissolving the ego’ but I disagree. Any extreme is an extreme. Balance is key.

What about S.S. R. Shanker’s ego? Doe he not have one?

What about S.S.R. Shanker’s ego? Does he not have one?

Whenever I encounter a preacher (Hindu, Muslim, Christian, whatever) with a mass following, I say: Leggo my eggo!

I have been with art of living for the past 15 years and yes i have seen the transformation happen in the organization. Like many happenings around your day to day life to some degree i do see what the above mentioned writers have gone through. It does not mean that what u experienced is justifiable. there will always be some people who let teachings get to head and forget the very essence of they are. But that is not what the Guru prescribed. If it is brought to the notice of the ORG at the highest level it is remedied. Guru has never asked anyone to worship him. if u love him u will do it depends on your experiece again. If there are more than 2 people in an org there will be politics. Spirituality has never been a bed of roses. Or else how will u ever apply the learnings. It is for u to grow and be wise. Only the ignorant ones will get stuck in the past. I have borne the brunt of my success in the org. but i have always had one focus and it has worked well with me. No one is ever forced to do anything outside their will. i would say rather than see what is bad around just see the good it has given and grow up from there. yes there are issuses that need to sorted but it does not diminish the good work that has been done.See how different u can make a change being in it than fighting against it. Funds have always been audited and it has gone to good use. i have seen in many cases. Yes i do agree to the transparency part. U still can ask for it in the HQ if u feel the need to. When u have direct access the the master why do used middlemen to get there. Use your access pass and find the real AOL. I just like to be a witness. nither i condone or commend on the orgs activities. I believe in the truth and it does exist there. Look for it.

After reading most of the comments about AOL & Guruji SSRS, I feel that something going wrong in the organization. The best thing to justify to clear the scenerio to put the annual reports of AOL projects incluing funds collected on the website.
I saw personally the older dedicated devotee of AOL leaving the org constantly and in huge number. The trustees and Apex bodies were used like a rubber stamp.
Most of the money will be spend in useless events like Antarnaad in (2008), Brahmnaad, and now in CDD (Clean Delhi Drive). Nothing had been done for the welfare of the society or for people.

Wow! That’s some work! Can you come up with same kind of letter of Bill Gates transferring all his wealth to me? Or u can hack into Apple HQ’s are publish some secrets too…I am sure they would be ‘Genuine too…It’s funny that you cannot see the work volunteers/teachers put everyday while u sit and concot these stories out of spite..:)…HAHA..It’s not working. :)
- From (Name redacted) :)

Why is it that money has to spoil everything beautiful.

Sri Sri is an amazing man with a heart of gold. Its unfortunate that as an organisation gets bigger its more difficult to keep it clean and good!

There are always going to be people spoiling the experience for others.

I have attended a few courses in Cape Town, South Africa and we do not have the money issues you have all experienced. Our courses are well-priced, the only donations I have ever given was for a gift for our visiting teacher to say thanks for the course. Our teachers are really chilled and accepting. Maybe the corrpution just hasn’t hit us yet?

Anyway – who cares where the money goes and what goes on inside…if you gain from a process and come out a better person for it – great for you!

Love and Light to all

i DONT KNOW THAT WHETther you all guys are saying right or not but still I love My GURUJI as he had always helped in any time so i believe him much…..

guys i dont know what these people are saying but i know one thing that i love my guruji most.

One thing I’ve seen about Indians in this generation is the pure cynicism in anything that is good and virtuous.

If it’s too good to be true it usually is their motto.

As someone said, what do you care about the money if you benefitted?

If you feel the benefit is greater than the price you paid – you got the better deal. Not AOL.

I’ve got bad news for the Anti-AOL crowd. Your negativity is not working. Actually for those that used to be at AOL – i’m sorry – But this is the time to be apart of this great organization.

Workshops that reduce: Stress, Anger, Feverishness and Laziness and transform them to: Inner Contententment, Calmness and Highly Energetic.

Learning breathing techniques, yoga and meditation.

An opportunity to give back to your community via the Local AOL Chapter.

Being immersed in knowledge sessions of: Bhagavad Gita and Patanjali Yoga Sutras..

It is a WIN-WIN-WIN for everyone involved.

Look at the diversity of AOL…People from all over the World have benefited.

We’ll keep the negativity w/ the cynics. The rest of us are enjoying life