Thursday, January 31, 2013

Why Art of Living and Me?

Why has Art of Living, a volunteer based organization spread over more than 152 countries in the world. Founded in 1981 by one person, His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Is it a big deal to touch more than million lives, across the globe, within 3 decades? I am not sure.

I have been associated with the Art of Living since 2004. The very fact that I am here to say this about the organization, says it all. There are some issues with The Art of Living. Since my social network is filled 50:50 with AOL and yet-to-do AOL people, I can take a stand here.

I have noticed, when the party we are attending, has no more topics to discuss it deviates to, "Ah! Vini, You are an Art of Living teacher. Tell us why should we do the Course?" or it goes, "She is smart, she has made her husband do the course." or even more, "Why don't you take a course for us 5?" So yesterday while doing my spiritual practice, this whole blogpost came alive in front of me. Many of us reading it, will exactly know what I am talking about. So here are some answers, in my-style way.

1) Why don't you convince me to do the course?
Ans: The very fact that no one has come to you and asked you to do the course, simply means, "You are still not ready to do it."

2) Why don't you take the Course for us now?
Ans: I was into teaching school children, English and other subjects and I loved it. But I never had anyone asking me to teach the family the subject, when I was visiting them. Being a teacher does not make one eligible to teach. The atmosphere, students, timings and various other factors have to pave way for the learning to happen. Teaching does not hold any importance if the learning does not happen.

3) Oh you are into Art of Living and you have problems? You fell ill? Then what is the use of doing Art of Living?
Ans: This is just like saying, a General Physician can never-ever fall sick. How could he/she have fever. I mean they slogged for 5 years and has 5 years of experience, and now they are on leave. Isn't he a Doctor? Same holds true for an AOL Volunteer/Teacher. My mentor, Khurshed Batliwala a.k.a Bau puts it so well.
"I will not say that after the Art of Living courses and even becoming a teacher, problems went away and everything was always great. That I never got angry or never felt bad. Sometimes life did suck. Problems did come, but along with them came the quiet confidence that I could handle them."

4) How comes its so costly? Can't we first try it and then pay?
Ans: It is paid for a 5 day workshop, 4 hrs during the weekdays and 6-7 hrs during weekends. And one time one donates, and they are welcome to do the follow-ups anywhere and everywhere in 152 countries. They can also repeat this course for literally Free! This is not even allowed in restaurants or schools. And this is for one's own self. Can we price it?
It is a win-win situation. Just for instance The Red Cross Society. One donates and gets a tax-credit receipt for tax-exemption. The same holds true for the AOL Course, but first it empowers oneself with new tools and makes one happy or more happy and at the same time one is contributing to the society.

5) Where does the money go?
Ans: There are various social-service projects which we are currently under-taking, world-wide. Catering to all the sectors, need-based, be it the Rural Development, Education, Trauma Relief, Prison SMART programs, Women Empowerment, Peace Programs. We have volunteers and resources reaching people and places just in time, and not just providing food, shelter and clothing but empowering them to lead a life of their own, with the help of stress-relief programs, education, farming and services. We might not be there personally but our resources are. We have been doing our bit here.
For Instance:

  • Reached 40,212 villages
  • Trained 110,000 rural youth in YLTP
  • Conducted 165,000 free stress-relief workshops benefiting more than 5,688,000 people
  • Conducted 49,500 hygiene camps and 25,950 medical camps benefitting 2,582,500 people
  • Planted more than 10 million trees
  • 1895 homes, 5418 toilets, 1152 bore-wells and 904 bio-gas plants built
  • 55 model villages developed benefiting 115,000 people
  • Trained over 6000 people in organic farming
  • So far the lives of more than 3,50,000 prison inmates have been transformed through the ‘Prison Smart’ programs
  • 210 free schools that are revolutionizing education in rural and tribal India and almost 95% of the students are first generation and the school is proud to have a 100% success rate in local exams.

They are just some of the many information. Our website would do more justice to the above statistics. AOL believes in "One cannot do charity with an empty bowl' and the bulk of the donation goes for the same. According to the Indian RTI(Right to Information Act) you can just mail them and get the answer. I would want one to do that. What we say is what is going to reflect.

6) Why can't I teach my friends?Cousins etc???!?!?!!
Ans: First of all, it is a process, and has a procedure which many are not even aware of. We put it very simple. So here I teach my friend, and something goes wrong or does not work, as it was supposed to, what will happen??? "The Art of Living does not work. OMG! " Now where did AOL come from, God Knows!
Now I do have to take MBBS or Surgery example. The moment my friend comes home after she performed her first surgery, we have a get-together, just so that she can teach some basic MBBS classes and Surgery lessons, so that we need not pay the doctors the huge sum and we can help each other. Smart Us :):):)

7) Why do you worship Sri Sri? Or have His photo in your house?
Ans: I have my parents photo because I love them and I miss them a lot. So now we know. And He personally does not want us to go ga-ga with His photos all over. But I have one, because, I admire this person, who practices what He preaches and has empowered me to do something. He is my role-model. I want His photo.
In India we bow down to our elders especially our Mother, Father and Guru. They have added value to my life and bowing down comes so naturally to me, so I bow down. Of course I loose something called the arrogance and gain confidence and faith in myself. :)

What it means to be in AOL!

These are the questions more often I deal with, with this beautiful smile which the course has gifted me, and/or with the silence, the Advance Courses have gifted me with, and/or an answer DSN has empowered me with!

Now as Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, "Choice is yours, and blessing is mine."



varun said...

ah...this sums up the questions that we encounter daily. its like facing a round of bullet questions. why do you do it? why do they charge so much?
arre baba do the course! you will know everything! have some time and patience! you can spend 250 bucks on a purse that you will throw away in a couple of years, but not do a course which will benefit you throughout your life?!! ah well..i think we should post our questions to those who are not doing it and see what answers do they have!

Nimish Pathak said...

This is awesome, a perfect list that all AOL volunteers should carry! Not sure if this is part of TTC contents ... but I have seen many times people failing to answer rationally when general public have such questions or points.

Nimish Pathak said...

This is awesome, a perfect list that all AOL volunteers should carry! Not sure if this is part of TTC contents ... but I have seen many times people failing to answer rationally when general public have such questions or points.

Anonymous said...

This is awesome, a perfect list that all AOL volunteers should carry! Not sure if this is part of TTC contents ... but I have seen many times people failing to answer rationally when general public have such questions or points.


shri said...

Perfect :)