Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reviewing the Positive and Negative Press About Sri Sri

Great posts everyone – thanks for sharing your inspiring stories. To be fair, it’s not very surprising to see posts coming from a group of long-time Art of Living members sharing the common theme of Sri Sri’s positive values and character. On the other side of the coin, as MF points out in his post, not everything you find about Sri Sri on the web has a positive tone. This is unfortunate, but also not surprising.

Everyone has a different perspective on the things they observe around them. The well known Rorschach inkblot test, where psychologists analyze and interpret a person’s response to random images, hints that we all have a different point of view, a different reaction to what we see and hear. You can present the same set of facts to several people and be surprised (or not surprised) to hear the variety of conclusions!

I remember clearly as a young college graduate being extremely excited to land a job working for the Hewlett Packard Company (HP). I grew up hearing stories about this amazing company. My mother worked there before I was born. The parents of many friends worked there. At the time I was hired, HP had a reputation for being the best place to work in the United States, if not the world. Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard were legends in the tech industry. Well, I can tell you, I was sold! I was going to work in heaven and I was going to be paid for it! My admiration for the company and its founders remains today, but after getting to know some of my co-workers over a few months, I realized not everyone shared that opinion! People, depending of course on their own perspective and hot buttons, took issue with many different aspects of management, benefits, product decisions, etc. I learned that this is a normal, everyday part of running a large organization. Some of the criticism was valid and was acknowledged and acted on. Some was based on ego and emotion and was treated appropriately. Some was just plain wrong.

One of the things we learn in the Art of Living course is that the mind tends to hang onto the negative and that we tend to doubt in the positive. I’ve seen this over and over in my personal life, my career and the organizations I’ve been involved with. When someone can arrange the facts of a situation into a negative picture, for some reason it has more ‘Pop’ then when the same facts are arranged in a positive picture. Pollyanna, the dear character that always found the silver lining, usually ends up taking a back seat to the pessimists and conspiracy theorists. Go figure, but it seems to be a fact of life.

Unfortunately, for those in positions of responsibility, or that live in the public eye, or both, there are more facts floating around to arrange into pictures. Add to that our tendency to start treating the pictures we create as new facts. And don’t forget to include that we all have some real flaws to throw into the mix as well. The result is that it’s really difficult to find anyone (people or organizations) without critics. None of this means, of course, that any given point of view is right or wrong, true or false. That you should decide for yourself, with direct experience rather than anecdote or inference.

We’re an organization made up of human beings, with real flaws and real challenges. Sri Sri, to his credit, acknowledges this and adjusts the organization and our approaches when needed. And he expects us to do the same at our level of contribution. He solicits feedback and is always looking for ways to improve the delivery of our courses and events. Despite our best intentions, there are times when things don’t go as well as planned. It’s unfortunate, but we do our best to learn and move on.

I’ll come back to one of the main points of the previous posts: Sri Sri’s is a life lived for others. There are just too many facts that point in that direction; too many people whose lives have been uplifted. If your life has not yet been touched by this amazing human being, or the work the Art of living is doing, don’t let a few voices steer you away.


  1. If a man is frustrated and cannot see the beauty of a rose then it does not mean that the rose is not beautiful. People bring their own frustrations and tendencies to AOL. I have seen in my own case how i judge everyone around His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. Now it is true that they could be bringing their +ve and -ve qualities but it could also be in my perception. To say that he is crazy after power fame money is ridiculous. THE MAN works 18 hrs a day every day. Do you know how many people he meets. Just being around that tires out many people in a couple of days. How come he keeps on doing it. How can one not see compassion and infinite love in that. I know how one cannot see that. It is when you are involved in just your self. How "I" did not "get" something? Its that attitude that causes even more frustration. Even for a moment if we accept an iota of any negative things.. so what??.. Look at the effect his work his having on people. What are HIS teachings and HIS followers doings.
    1. They are not Killing
    2. They are not spreading hatred
    3. They are not increasing stress.
    4. They are not spreading disharmony
    5. They are happy
    6. They smile.
    7. They shed tears of gratitude.
    8. They start caring for others.
    9. They are totally dedicated to spreading peace joy and smiles all around the world.
    10. They do not even take credit for most ofwhat they do. Its just the joy of giving that they do it for. You can say you are a man of peace you have done so much one day and say give the "Nobel Peace Prize" next day you can call him a fraud and want to jail him. How does it matter. Its your opinion you can change it.

    If the people who attack His Holiness Sri Sri Ravi Shankar have so much frustration. Why dont THEY find something worthwhile to focus it on and do something about so much curruption, violence, and stress in this world. Otherwise what they are doing is like dogs barking, does not do anything much other than disturb the peace of people for some time

  2. You know - there is an objective world out there. Negativity is not necessarily the person's point of view. It is not just a matter of arranging facts in a way to portray a positive or negative image - that is spin doctoring.

    It would be good if the criticism was addressed directly, rather than blaming people for their negative attitude; either that or just ignore it.

  3. No blame intended, just pointing out a human tendency to pick out facts that resonate with one's point of view or to overlook others. Yes, spin doctoring is just cherry picking facts that paint a picture you're interested in seeing and presenting. It is good to address criticism directly. I do my best to take what is valid in whatever criticism has come and to refute what is invalid. The main points are to:
    1. Be focused on finding the truth.
    2. Be aware of whatever spin we are placing on things.
    3. Be aware of whatever spin others are placing on things.
    4. Make our best choices and move forward.

  4. While we are proud of the service AoL and Guruji have done to mankind, we must also remember that we do not interview people and allow them into AoL.
    The organization is meant for everyone. So we must be able to address issues such as negative publicity, skillfully rather than blaming those who share their opinions. They are just providing another perspective to the activities of the organization.
    Maybe we should have a centralized feedback mechanism, with each feedback (especially negative) addressed adequately with facts.
    Else we may see more people going all out and 'anonymously' criticizing the organization.

  5. Good points Sirisha. I think everyone has a need and a right to share their opinion, positive or negative. Again, no blame intended. Just because an opinion is negative doesn't make it wrong or inappropriate. We need to listen, learn and grow as an organization.