Thursday, February 12, 2009

Why Should I Do This Course ?

If you have taken an Art Of Living Course or are a volunteer, then no doubt you've asked yourself this question from time to time. A course is announced, a senior teacher is visiting town, the volunteer team is formed and the phone calls begin .

A conversation from many years ago :

Caller : Hi Jai Guru Dev

Me : Jai Guru Dev

Caller : Hey did you know that ABC is coming to town to teach the XYZ course ?

Me : Yes

Caller : So you have to take it

Me : Why ?

Caller : Pause. Because it is the most wonderful course that has ever been offered by Art Of Living.

Me : Did you not say this the last time Course MNO was being offered ?

Caller : No No. You don't understand -this is the BEST course ever. You must take it. All strong volunteers must take this course.

Me (under pressure trying to figure out a way to end the call) : Yeah thanks for informing me, I'll check my schedule and call you back.

Caller : Yeah sure. Please sign up today ok ! JGD!

Me : Ok Thanks Byeeeeee JGD. (Thinking : Talk to you like NEVER again)

Whew !

Often times I have thought - Why so many courses, and Why do we have to take them all and Why is there so much pressure to take them ? Initially these thoughts irritated me to no end. But I have finally made my peace with them. There was a time when I could but refused to take courses. There was a time when I could and did. Now is a time when I yearn for an opportunity and am willing but cant. Interesting phases of life -huh ?

I thought I'd write a little FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to myself. These are questions my little mind brought up from time to time and the answers gleaned from interactions with helpful teachers and volunteers, introspection and experience. Whether you agree or disagree - hopefully you'll find them interesting.

Q> Why do you call it a course ? Isn't this knowledge available freely or in books or on the internet ?
A> Some things can't be read up in a book. Like learning to play the guitar or playing football. You need a teacher. The modern commercial mind understands 2 things - time and money. Isn't it ? When someone asks you to do something - what are your 2 questions ? How long does it take ? How much will it cost ? RIGHT ? So there you go - thats a course.

Q> Why are there so many courses in AOL ? Part I, Part II, Sahaj, DSN, Blessing, TTC1.....?
A> In the ancient days a student would go to the ashram of a master and serve and learn at his/her feet for about 8 years gaining all the knowledge and skills needed to navigate the choppy waters of life before returning to his/her worldly duties. Today this is not possible for most of us in our commercial modern world. Also our modern day education has no provision to teach valuable life skills that truly equip us to navigate the pressures of life. Hence Guruji (Sri Sri Ravishankar) has created these little courses (packets of Grace I call them), that can be taken one at a time with a limited time/money commitment. Once you take one and practice it, you will see the profound effect it has on some dimension of your life. If you want to grow, take the next one, if not - well !

Q> Why does the course cost so much ? You say it is priceless - why charge so much ?
A> The course is priceless - not worthless. Do you see the difference ?

Q> Last time the same volunteer said that the previous course was the most wonderful. Now he says this course is the most wonderful. What should I believe ?
A> There are 3 degrees of praising in the English Language : Good, Better, Best. All AOL courses are the BEST in their own way. What can the poor volunteer do ? The English language falls short of ways to describe one's experience and infinity.

Q> I am doing great on all fronts - health, friends, job, studies, fun. Why are you asking me to do this course ?
A> Do you buy home insurance after it has burnt down ? Health insurance after you've been admitted to hospital ? Start saving money after becoming bankrupt ? Life can be like the Titanic - icebergs in the form of karma lurk around unexpected blind corners. When the ship of life does hit one, what would you like to be holding in your hands - a life jacket or a violin :) ?

Q> No but seriously WHY should I take this course ? And for WHOM ?
A> You have to figure that out. Sometimes I took a course because a friend was going. Sometimes because my favorite teacher asked me to. Sometime just to see who this International Traveling teacher that everyone was raving about was . Sometimes for Guruji. Sometimes I was choice-less. No matter what the reason, I NEVER regretted my decision. All the skills I gained are applicable at every moment in my life these days.

If you asked me today - I would say that I want to take all that my dear Guru has to offer to me in this lifetime of mine. Not to please a teacher / volunteer - but for myself. After all who benefits after a course - it is me !

This post had to be written. Like it or not :) There - the years old itch has been scratched !

Jai Guru Dev.


  1. Beautiful beautiful beautiful. Addressed all the questions that one could come up with, excuses to not do it, and what answers there! Experience speaks. :)

    And a big thank you for that lovely note in my space, really glad. :)

  2. Wonderful >LOL > Simply cool man :-)

    Yeah Loved the english language being limited thingie!

    AHO :-P

  3. @tara, bhawana : Jai Gurudev ! Aur Kya Kehna ?

  4. is funny you came up with this post...i told you about the YES+ course i enrolled for..and on day 1, as i was driving to the location, i get a call from my manager about some issue in office and i had to get back to did make me sad a little bit..afterall you don't get a chance to sneak into a YES+ course even though you are over 24..

    3 days it has been..and i got good reasons why it was not the best time to be in a course..i am happy again..

    but as you mentioned, happiness has to be without reason..i know it..but i often say - to know something is one thing, to understand and realize it is small mind, will take some time to understand...

    but you Sir, as always come up with something wonderful everytime you write a post! i had similar discussions, myself..and i have been on both the ends of the call!! :-)

  5. hmm..Anusha : yeah it was great you drove to the course but then guruji had other plans. that way you are free.

    on this path its all about converting saying to doing and experiencing. I am sure it will be part of you soon.

    The "calls" are certainly part of the spiritual growth aren't they ? :)