Here I am, writing in the blog again, a little rusty, a little too distant from my Art of Living days. Somehow forced by the AoL/Ravi Shankar to do what they wanted to have me punished for: writing.
As many of you know, several months after I said good-bye to "Leaving the Art of Living - Confessions of a Guruholic" and its activities, Skywalker and I received a subpoena. AoL wanted to have our identities disclosed to sue us for defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement, publishing “trade secrets”.
Thanks to the brilliant work and tireless dedication of our attorney, Joshua Koltun, we won against defamation, trade libel, copyright infringement and created a precedent in US law by refusing to require the disclosure of our identities. In fact, the Court ruled that the case against Skywalker could even proceed to trial without Skywalker having to disclose his identity. And the case against me was dismissed completely.
If we had gone to trial (which we were willing to), they faced the risk of losing and making their manuals and Sudarshan Kriya notes public. So they agreed to settle the case, and we agreed because the proposed settlement did not require any compromise on our part. We are not required to pay anything, or to compromise our rights of free speech.
Clearly, the risk that the manuals and Sudarshan Kriya notes might be deemed to be without any legal protection meant the risk of losing clients and income (no doubt, their main motivation behind the law suit) as they would then lose control over everything they claim work only under the grace of the guru, and by allowing people see the extent of magical thinking and irresponsibility behind their teachings.
I have no doubt Ravishankar will most likely present this as a, “I forgave them. Karma will take care.” Well, I am glad a good lawyer and a lucid justice system took care instead!
I consider this a victory not only in Court, but also, a tribute to freedom of speech, and, above all, vindication for victims of cult abuse!
They did not manage to censor us and have our blogs removed from the internet. I have to do what I already had done two years ago: freeze the blog (contrary to their psychic interpretations, I was no longer active in the blog world, or interested in discussing AoL), and Skywalker has agreed to do what he was planning to do anyway: freeze his! (see what he has to say). Moreover, they did not manage to have us censored either for the rest of our lives nor anyone else out there. In fact, check out Obi-Wan's blog, “Life Beyond the Art of Living” (you can post your comments on this note there). And they will kindly pay our attorney’s fees (and theirs!). All right, and we publish a joint declaration!
Only hard core true-believers will keep believing his/their nonsense arguments. No one otherwise will be able to deny the rulings of the US court: “dismissed with prejudice”. (Wikipedia: “If the case ends with prejudice, the effect on the defendant (for the purpose of punishment) is the equivalent to a finding of not guilty and they cannot be retried.”).
Once, at a Guru Purnima, Ravi criticized Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, his guru, for using fear to control his people. According to him, that was Maharishi’s way to prevent people from joining him in the Art of Living (similar, perhaps, to what he tried to do with the blogs, together with countless lies and vicious random attacks based on futile suspicions?).
“You can lead through love or fear. Love is more powerful”, he said, implying he was doing that. Well, maybe that is why he did not get what he wanted in court. He tried everything except love! Fear, falsely defaming anyone he could, threatening, harassing, and again, fear and more fear. Imagine that at the very very end, in a desperate attempt, they even tried to file a lawsuit against another former teacher too! And again, dismissed with prejudice! Skywalker, Klim, AND the ex teacher!
What they could not understand was this was a matter of principles and that no one in the world fears him/them. In the world, at first glance, AoL comes out as a religious cult and, Sri Sri Ravishankar, regardless of all the prizes and titles they try to collect to build his senseless sense of grandiosity, a charlatan. In fact, we were willing to sacrifice for freedom of speech, for exposing cult abuse and for making people question if Art of Living is one.
Though having a legal battle was cumbersome, I do not regret at all having started the blog. It all only further convinced me I had done the right thing. Someone had to take the first step. And thanks to Skywalker (and many other Does), the “tradition” continues! However, I am excited to finally be Art of Living free. I had started the blog for that reason. I am finally there! I wish the same to everyone who left and to those who are still stuck in it. And to those who cannot decide or fear not “making” it without it/him, do not doubt a bit! There is life out here and a much better one too!!! READ! Read as much as you can! (there are other sites that present the other side of AoL/RS!). QUESTION! Question as much as you can! You are free to do so and it won't hurt anyone's prana! TRUST! Trust your intuition! Trust your gut feeling! Trust yourself! DARE! Dare to be happy! Dare to be free! RUN! "Run Forrest! Run!" :)
Healing is not easy. It takes time. I still am, for example, struggling to overcome health problems induced by the practice of SK and the psychological abuse. However, despite the threats, the difficulties and the pain I endured these years, I only have but immense gratitude for having had the courage to leave, stay away, and face my mistakes and weaknesses. Gratitude to my family, the many friends and professionals who accompanied me throughout the process.
People have continued reading this blog and sending comments. I take this opportunity to apologize to all those whose comments did not get posted. I checked out for real June 4, 2010. I took this chance to re read many posts and comments. My heartfelt thank you to so many beautiful, inspiring, sincere comments, readers and fellow colleagues! You helped me too in my healing process! If inspired, who knows, one day, I will write again, and I hope you will be there too.
There will always be scars but the wounds are healed. I will always ask myself how and why I joined a cult, and remind myself of my vulnerabilities and mistakes. This will prevent me from falling prey again of such situations and characters, and remember to remain humble. I have, since then, lost ingenuity, the narcissistic need of “saving" someone and/or the world, the low self-esteem of handing my power to someone else. Most importantly, I can sniff scams from far away!
One day, “art of living” will only be a whisper I won’t even hear. I have concluded, there is only one guru: oneself. Only one path: one’s life. Only one cause: one’s own.
... I can almost hear him say in his quirky voice, “and the elephant did not even know there was a fly on his leg!” Ah, Ravi Ravi, stop being a fly!!!!
Thank you ALL for your support. Infinite thanks to our lawyer, Joshua Koltun, the true "seva warrior"! I wish you all the best in a cult free life!
This was truly, at last, a real "victory to the big mind"! Consider it yours too!
good afternoon, good evening, and good night!”