chapter  4
On Whose Authority?
Pages 42

As we have seen the main validating principle of AOL is personal experience. Participants maintain that their continued involvement with AOL is founded in one or both of two types of personal experience. e rst is that almost all participants suggest that they had very powerful and emotional experiences when doing sudarshan kriya for the rst time. Secondly, without exception, participants report that their lives have become transformed in some way through their involvement in AOL. is centrality of the personal experiential dimension is consistent with the therapeutic ethos which prioritises feeling over either belief or any form of institutional authority. However, this validation through experience seems at odds with the role and status given to Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. While Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is not a guru in the traditional sense, but more in the sense of what Maya Warrier (2005) terms a transnational spiritual leader, he still is regarded as the primary source of authority. Art of Living operates in a global context, and therefore Sri Sri Ravi Shankar has to be accessible to a diverse and pluralistic following. Furthermore, while Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is both the symbolic and actual leader, AOL is such a vast organisation it also requires the support of formal bureaucratic structures. is raises the question of authority.