It is hard to write about the decision to leave Art of Living because I still don’t really how it happened. I don’t know why I woke up one morning this week and wrote in my journal , “it is clear to me now that this break from Art of Living is not a break. I am not going back.” And yet I have come to this point, a strange foggy landscape with jagged edges emerging violently from a blurry mist. Clarity and confusion embrace and merge with the fury of parting lovers, consuming each other on the periphery of my cognition, leaving me entirely unable to discern where one began and another seemed to end. Clarity and confusion– indeed which has begun, and which has ended?
I have become helpless, a child. That was my unchosen choice 4 years ago. I cannot really remember who I was before Art of Living, because to be honest I don’t think I was a truly whole person yet. That’s why it was so attractive. A sheaf of ready answers, a set of glorious and shiny substitutions for experience, wisdom, self-reflection and rigorous self-study. At 21, just on the brink of an actual adulthood, I renegged. I tried to get a refund. The secret deal was this: I willingly trade discrimination for devotion, a rational world for magical thinking, a life of seeking answers to a life of self-inflicted infantilization and believing what I’m told, my rational capacity for an overwhelming array of addictive emotions– and a life of my own for a life of Belonging to You.
There are so many threads, like a fraying circular tapestry– all of them tangled and worn yet seemingly deeply woven into to the fading image at the center. And whose is that fragmenting face? Is that Ravi Shankar Himself grinning at me, or maybe my beloved Swamiji whom I will miss more than anyone or anything? Or are those the infinite eyes of of my own soul peering back at me behind the mask of the guru, a mask which Love itself has worn for four long years?
There’s so much to untangle, so much to sort through. But ends must begin somehow, so I’ll try to find at least one thread to unravel and start from there.