Yogananda wanted a university on top of Mount Washington, where the SRF Mother Center lies today. ◦SRF Articles of Incorporation 1935, article e:18, shows he wanted it a lot. Otherwise he would have left out that goal, but he did not. Why has not the SRF management respected and called into being the mysteriously warped, guru-given goal so far?
On a hill, and despite outer conditions for many weeks
On a hill site in a neighbourhood that is regulated for other purposes, with neighbours who do not like getting large buildings and increased traffic close to their homes, there may be limits to what can be accomplished - or are there if "Where there is a will there is a way" is true? Yogananda:
There is always a way to be found if you think hard enough. [Yogananda, Jse 365]
We see so far that where there was an "SRF will" there was no SRF way, but a way for the protesting neighbours, conceding that Yogananda did not specify for whom there was a way either . . . But we think we know what he was at, don't we? You might halfway guess it was for the "willers", and not the counterwillers of neightbours, but did he?
The other point: He did not say "good way" or even "fit way", did he?
The third notion: Don't be taken in by sloven, wrong guidance, but grant that somehow "The proof of the pudding is in the eating (Proverb)." In this case: in what became the actual result. Good guidance amounts to something, while being misled to waste a lot of money and effort is a serious, underlying issue.
❋ How come the guru teaching "Where there is a will, there is a way" was not of much use concerning his university atop Mount Washington in Los Angeles? Probings: Was he sabotaged by his greatest enemies - and were they of his own kind of family, quite as Jesus divulged - to Jews only - of his day (Matthew 10:36; Geza Vermes 2012)? Question: Was it valid only for Jewish followers of Jesus, or for all?
"A thing worth doing is worth doing well"
Developing a university could be more than just starting and closing it?
Yogananda said other things too, but let us focus on his own will-way doings here. Some could tell you that rallying and starting a world university on a hilltop and fail to make it work and last for more than a few days, weeks or months is disappointing and less than desirable. So let us investigate the problem that talking big of a way and not finding one that lasts for more than a few weeks:
Thus, Yogananda and SRF had their spiritual world university in 1941, but it did not last. Rather, it had a certain large mushroom quality - unlike his Golden World City in Encinitas in San Diego county. The plans for it have been scrapped, even though Yogananda declared in his magazine (1946) that he would make a supreme effort to create it, by the way. [Big Yogananda words again, and no fulfilment so far]
These tidings may be too hard to look into squarely for Yogananda believers. (Yogananda Harmony Association, Paramhansa Yogananda: History, Life, Mission, chap 1; Meares 2013).
Gullibility is the factor to consider in oneself, if taken in by a false prophet like Yogananda or someone else of that sort. It is high time SRF goes for letting gullible beginner members come across the real Yogananda, instead of giving him a misleading, gilded veneer of a sort.
❋ Proper alternatives to talking big, and more or less in vain so, might be sought out.
Should SRF vie with Ananda?
Educating oneself and decent others should be good. Suppose you want to realise Yogananda's good idea. The SRF spin-off called Ananda has done it already. Should SRF vie with them?
Theoretically speaking, digging deep into the ground on the hillsite could work, and getting a high tower with a whole lot of storeys for the students? Or encicle the site with many student housings in several stories underground and upwards? With a fixed site size, if that is an issue, the world university may be built downwards, on and on away from the sunlight; upwards toward the sky; or both ways. The site has such givens to take into account.
Then what about the responsible neighbours? Consider what happened when SRF tried to get a shrine for Yogananda in their neighbourhood - on SRF's hilltop old hotel site in Los Angeles. In 1998, SRF wanted to expand for forty million US dollars and build many new buildings and a new shrine for Yogananda's body, but SRF neighbours battled their building plans. Some with their homes nearby, put up "Stop SFR Construction" signs in front lawns. They protested against decades of construction and tourism traffic that could irrepairably harm the easy way of life on their hill. Later that year the SRF scrapped all plans for expansion and thereby hoped to promote greater harmony within the local community - the harmony they had upset. Mind that neighbours have a bit to say, and existing area regulations too (Meares 2013).
❋ One is to mind one's neighbours too along life's journey.
University salvation and super-realisation wanted a lot
The world university aim is still among SRF's articles of incorporation. A world university should be an accredited one to last long in the competition. Was an SRF university included in those costy site plans that were scrapped for the sake of harmony? Why not? When Self-Realization Fellowship was registered as a church in California in 1935, its article e:18 reads: "The development of a world spiritual University at 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, California, headquarters, where an universal technique of salvation, art of self-realization, art of super-living and super-technique of body, mind and soul perfection would be taught."
The facts are: Yogananda wanted it, got it, but soon it was gone. Did he ignore something that lots of universities benefit from, and also their students? If he wanted a university, why did it not last long for the benefit of students?
❋ He wanted a university a lot, but not enough to make it work. A tip is here: Make the curriculum, teaching staff, and the housing of good enough quality, and students may come, once the rumours are let out.
Living Wisdom versus a patent SRF University
Tip: If you want to study, prefer an accredited university, one that also is standing there and has affordable housing facilities for you. And learn to tackle the masquerade of words soon enough. One may study carefully for it.
Yogananda did start a university at the place he wanted, in 1941, and then it was closed down. Delicate lessons attuned to this: "A poultry farm with no chickens and a university who closes due to lack of interest have something in common." "A poultry farm is likely to stand on chicken legs." It is not enough to start a university, you must also set it running or it may be in trouble, despite great-sounding words.
"There is always a way to be found if you think hard enough." [Yogananda, Jse 365] - Oh well - this applies: Yes, Yogananda got a university atop Mt. Washington, but . . . somehow young persons should benefit from studying at an accredited university that survives next month.
As for planning a college, the spin-off and SRF-contender Ananda Sangha is into it. "Ananda College at Laurelwood is a California state-approved liberal arts college offering a student-centered curriculum." It seems they are working a lot to get a campus too. [◦Ananda College of Living Wisdom] They write on a page: "We are currently planning to begin offering programs in the fall of 2016 . . . Students may take individual courses . . . or enroll in the full program to earn an M.A. in Consciousness Studies."
Are such studies for weirdos? If so, an accredited university allows for a degree that could help against social castration by backbiting of that sort. Besides, there is a lesson to be digested from those who were labelled nerds in other decades. Some got companies and billions of dollars, influence and so on. Something similar might well happen again, for there are three groups of people, says Abraham Maslow: Those who deviate from the "average" in negative ways; the common flock, and the plus deviants. It is a good point. Some plus deviants get a bad reputation for all the wrong reasons. (Maslow, 1987, especially chaps. 10 and 11.)
Also, a person may seem weird due to hardships and bad behaviour of others. Some seek to look weird or strange in very conventional ways, by hairdo and so on downwards to the soles of the feet. Also, some that look weird, have hearts of gold, and those hearts are the hearts that matter a lot.
This was to say that some that are labeled weirdoes may be persons to look up to, plus deviants, but the chances are that the conform cannot tell!
SRF could at least have laid plans for its university atop Mt. Washington in LA. Should they also have gone for a big branch named Hidden University in Hidden Valley, with over a hundred acres of rural land at least? Or better? [◦SRF's Hidden Valley Ashram]
❋ Terms like "Hidden University in Hidden Valley" sound attractive to some, and Buoyancy University may seem attractive to many others.
Good students benefit their university and the other way round
By the way, you could help the university of your choice by becoming deft at proper study methods and combining the study with good and fit meditation well done. [◦Research on it]
There are many books on how to study for learning, for cramming, for passing exams, and so on. Some are mentioned on-site.
Yogananda's Yoga University: no lasting success so far. Why?
A College of Living Wisdom and a university "up in the air"
"Flatterers do not help us," said Yogananda (1975:100). He also said, "We should seek the society of superior men - those who tell us the truth and help us to improve ourselves. (1975:100).
That is about what doctors and similar at able universities can to.
In SRF there is a dire need to get and run an well-reputed university or let it be. In the latter case there is a need to explain why this Yogananda-given aim for his SRF Church has not been raised and the dust brushed off it so that common members could learn of it. Recently the SRF Church's Article of Incorporation has become public, so it is not in the dark any longer. A church does probably well to prioritise its own aims rather than hiding them. Fair deals is a jewel, you know.
"The purposes for which this corporation [the SRF Church] is formed are as follows: . . . The development of a world spiritual University at 3880 San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles, California, headquarters, where an universal technique of salvation, art of self-realization, art of super-living and super-technique of body, mind and soul perfection would be taught." (Article 2e:18). Notarised SRF Church purposes are here: [Notarised Article of Incorporation as a church (e:18)]
Mt. Tron University of Peace in Norway
Speaking of absent universities: Maybe you feel drawn to an unbuilt university in a cold place in Norway? "Where there is a will there is a way - or is there?".
Yogananda wanted a university on a little hilltop so much that he included it in the SRF Church deed of 1935 (2e:18). However, conditions did not follow suit, nor did his claimed indomitable will or the Divine Mother who allegedly had fulfilled his last wish when he got some fruit sent from Florida and both his Mother and he himself apparently had forgotten the university on Mt. Washington was not there, not then, and not yet. One may run into such stuff in SRF. I did.
SRF managers who have neglected to hire architects and others to have at least plans for the Yogananda university atop Mt. Washington to show for them, might study the Mt. Tron University of Peace in a village in Norway. They write of a project that is hopefully in the making with the appeal, "Make it a reality!"
SRF has no accredited Mt. Washington University yet, but did it have to be that way? if "Everything is really happening now", as Yogananda says in The Master Said (1952:47). His university, is it happening? How far and how well? Decide for yourself.
However, Yogananda's disciple Kriyananda, once kicked out of SRF, started a spin-off church which has managed to form Ananda College of Living Wisdom. It exists, due to a more practical approach than the SRF way of burning money. After all, a new university may not have been wholly the thing for monastic chicks who prefer to be apart from "that mire of the world", but many religious universities have been founded and some are still among us.
If you think the world needs help you could help yourself: you could first develop much, improve your ways, learn solid, helpful skills, get good schooling and meditate a lot. If one person is improved in the world that you tend to be a centre in, you could accomplish much by such improvement. I have pointed at a possibility. It is much more difficult to improve others, as they have a will of their own, and you hardly want to end up as a dictator - hung or shot as well.
You could help yourself and not let control and resources get out of hand, for all are not friends of others or of nature, but they might be fond of power - in the undeveloped hands.
Try to get well educated
You could help in "lifting the roof" - level - of a college or university toward academic prestige by first learning to study well, applying the methods, getting a solid education if you do not have one or two already, for example. It should be good for you and may serve you for many years to come, at best.
Improve yourself: Are you an optimist or a pessimist? If all SRF members improve themselves and study to get higher degrees, will there be a dire need for the SRF World University then? Don't think that educated members undermine that hope, dream and aim of Yogananda. Instead think that educated guys bulwark fit and fair university ideals and help.
Just as a chicken farm is headed for failure without good breeds of chicken, it may not go well with a university without students - preferably lots of good students with good grades and scores too. Students from many countries should be supplied with means for their own livelihood from such an accredited institution. There are some things the students can do to prepare for good teachings, well taught: They may learn how to study at home, for one thing.
There are basics and many ways fit for a student who is focused on learning well for life, and not just cramming for the upcoming exams. Hopefully, interest and developing skills may combine.
Digesting stuff: A comparison
Digesting ideas has its counterparts
Among the ways of making teachings "sit" or become part of your inner bank of ready associations, there is lojong. Apt lojong may work well in its way. Combined with superlearning it may work well in studying a lot of subjects too.
Learning is a yield that remains after teaching has assemedly sown fair thought-seeds in the minds of listening or reading students.
Among the good ways to digest them is ample time for breaks. Yes, breaks are integral parts of good study.
A comparison is had from food digestion. Consider how food for thought is sniffed at in a book store, then compared with this and that, and after it is bought somehow, it enters the body in bites that are blended with the saliva of own, previous experiences and available learning. The food for thought is further digested by rumination, reflection, and good parts are singled out and absorbed - and partly stored too, depending on what sort of ingredients are in it. Once the salivated and further prepared ideas penetrate "the walls of the intestines" - they are your own ideas, because they have been turned around, broken down, and then assembled to serve you. What is the outcome of good ideas apart from it? Waste matter to be dispensed with nicely.
So there is an art of learning that is like the art of eating, digesting and getting food for growing. And very good ideas to meditate on are like food to digest. Single out your best finds of ideas, core teachings, chew, swallow, and so on, and you may help yourself.
Buzan's best study methods (recommended).
Anthony "Tony" Peter Buzan (1942–) is a popular psychology author known for mind-mapping (that can have some effect), and ways of studying to better be able to remember lessons. His carefully meted out and sensible approach to learning incorporates other well-known study methods, and seems fair enough. He typically elaborates decently how and why his skeletal methods are good for learners; at the very least they are designed for it. His approach is genuine and allied with the way the normal brain works, but with a little bit of undocumented hype into it too. Do not let it bother you; instead go for the big gains that yield a better study approach and resulting better learning yields.
In Tony Buzan's Study Skills (2011) he lists up five brain functions: Receive, store, analyse, control (manage) and output. He elaborates on them in his typical way and forms an approach to learning more easily based on this brain-linked information.
Among the hindrances to fit and sound study are fear, mental blocks and outdated ways of study.
Note-taking can be important for fair study, for reviewing one's own notes combats forgetting.
In one chapter, Buzan shows how skilled study looks like in outline:
Understand what you read by calm, effective note taking and comprehension. Then seek to remember it well, unless glowing interests brings on a flow of love for learning. At least, use reviews of your notes to remember what you want to know until you manage to recall the information on demand, having the access at your fingertips.
There are also ways to take in more information more quickly from the written page, concentrate better and understand much more. One should learn the basics of scanning and skimming good information to get to the crux of the matter and create an environment that is helping, and detrimental. (Buzan, 64-65)
Focus on getting all the key words and key phrases. One good reason for cutting the verbiage is this: Over 90 per cent of written notes taken by students tend to be superfluous. Try to get the words that sum up a big picture. This means that time is wasted recording words that have no bearing on memory, and wasted on re-reading unnecessary words; in searching for Key Words that have not been highlighted; when the connections between Key Words are slowed down by extraneous connecting words. The further apart the key words are, the weaker the mental associations between them could be. [Buzan 142]
The first ten minutes of a lecture in a series should be used to recap the salient points from previous lectures, and the last five minutes or so to recap the present lecture. This is rooted in how memory (and hence long-term learning) works. Much of a study ought to be given to memorisation, and carefully spaced repetitions of main point (and notes) are the best means at hand. And then there is modern lojong and superlearning for relaxed, much more passive learning of key concents and much else.
You can tell your lecturer such things are reap the consequences - be they good or bad, depending on the soil you sow the seeds of top learning conditions into.
Also note that where this survey makes do with showing main structuring, the "what" part of good study, Buzan gives many encouraging "how and why" facets of it too, along with details.
Knowledge about mind maps
is growing; the effects of such note-taking is seldom as great as Buzan says. He often seens to make too much of mind-maps in the face of this: (1) their effects have not been rigidly documented; (2) there are different types of memories, and maps tend to help some of those forms, and not all the others just as much. (3) Still, researchers have suggested that mind-mapping can improve learning/study efficiency up to 15% over conventional note-taking. It could make a difference where "Every little helps", as in a study. [WP, "Mind map"]
The part of study that helps recall and learning best, is called memorisation. Jog your memory by spaced repetitions, over-learning in some areas of study, and the material is retained better and longer, for American studies suggest that as much as 80% of the text study time is best used on memorisation. Great study approaches take into account such estimates. [Schunk 2012; Cf Aktinson 1987: appendix, Robinson 1962, 1971 etc.]
The Old Flop
It has shown up that Yogananda wanted a university on top of the hill called Mt. Washington in southern Los Angeles, on the spot where the SRF headquarter lies today. He stated his goal in the SRF Church Article of Incorporation in California. He wanted a university there; he passed away in 1952; and there is no accredited university of any sort there still. One hindrance: there are only about fourteen acres of land on the site. Neighbours may not want it in their residental area. And looking back to 1941: students did not come to attend it. Maybe it had not been set up in a fit place, with good enough material, excellent teachers like Albert Einstein and Abraham Maslow - and maybe poor planning got the best of Yogananda's goal back then.
Today, does SRF's talkative correspondence course of prayers, inspirations, and little structured talks fulfil the criteria of university material, or has SRF failed in this also, since SRF has got monastics there instead of university teachers?
You decide, after learning what good, regular, academic ways of adapting teachings to students are, and how a sound and functioning university is to be structured to last long.
SRF has a church deed aiming at a world university on Mt. Washington. SRF was in part founded to teach technique(s) of salvation, self-realization, super-living and perfection at this university, so should they not take it seriously? And what has been blocking it? It could be the many changes in the SRF Church articles that were made official on 5 December 1954, the second year after Yogananda's death in 1952. When the Cat was away they tried to keep to the straight and narrow, so much from 1935 was dumped in that Certificate of Amendment of the Articles of Incorporation of Self-Realization Fellowship Church. Many guru guidelines from 1935 for his church were silently taken away in the revision of 1954. Not all of those founding articles of Yogananda appear in SRF's Aims and Ideals.
A second change was made in the 1970s. Thus, SRF managers had a will to remove a part of the guru legacy, and found a way or two. Also, they might have heard another teaching before Margaret B. Dietz published it in her Thank You, Master in 1998.
Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
Let us talk of universities at this point - let there be no confusion:
An accredited university is an institution of higher (or tertiary) education and research which typically grants academic degrees in various subjects and provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education, and hopefully with some measure of "academic freedom". The US Secretary of Education is required by law to publish a list of nationally recognized accrediting agencies for higher education.
In 1963, a report on universities in the United Kingdom concluded that such institutions should have four main "objectives essential to any properly balanced system: instruction in skills; the promotion of the general powers of the mind so as to produce not mere specialists but rather cultivated men and women; to maintain research in balance with teaching, since teaching should not be separated from the advancement of learning and the search for truth; and to transmit a common culture and common standards of citizenship."
Nearly all universities have a board of trustees and are generally divided into a number of academic departments, schools or faculties. Private universities are privately funded and generally have broader independence from state policies, but they may have less independence from those who fund their finances.
The basic meaning of 'university' is:
an institution of higher education having authority to award bachelors' and higher degrees, usually having research facilities; the buildings, members, staff, or campus of a university,
according to Collins Dictionary. In the United States there is no nationally standardised definition for the term 'university' - it may take on many meanings - although the term has traditionally been used to designate research institutions and was once reserved for doctorate-granting research institutions.
[WP, "University"; "Educational accreditation"]
Unconventional universities or colleges
Alternative universities and colleges in the United States offer an education, and in some cases a lifestyle, that is intentionally not mainstream compared to other institutions. Through the use of experimental and unconventional curricula and offering choice to students as to what and how they will study, such institutions distinguish themselves from traditional faculties.
SRF's spin-off, Ananda, has its alternative Ananda College of Living Wisdom. Ananda has gone for it and got one. They have responded to Yogananda's ideas of self-supporting communities and the University. An accredited SRF University atop Mt. Washington could be long due unless and until a miracle of a sort happens and the SRF management starts respecting Yogananda's ideals and aims better than castrating them, for example
[WP, "List of alternative universities"]
The value of universities in general
Universities have been strongholds of academic freedom - mind freedom - against dominating fears and conformism or superstitions, religious and other ones. In some circles the Roman Catholic Church is a patron of sciences, although that view is contested. The Church has both supported and clashed with science, and with accusations of heresy, or been in a long-lasting conflict with science. The Church has also been feared for its Holy Inquisition's combats against "heresy" and for control, and for burning wonderful people like Jan Hus alive as part of their suppressions. [WP, "Catholic Church and science"; "Inquisition"]
Universities have lifted up common people by removing oppressing superstitions. There is room for more uplifting.
Some doctrines to think about
Getting away from soap doctrines and humbug
Fit and fair study that yields degrees, is better than lots of drivel - loose talk, ritualistic routines, ceremonial chatter, you name it and see how far each term applies . . .
You should not flinch from the real student idea, but stick to your part and ask for the best of methods for study in SRF. In fact, there is much you can do on your own, if you must read Yogananda at all. However, SRF Church members may not have much of a choice, so once you register for three years of SRF Lessons and another package of SRF Service Readings, study methods may come in handy.'
Now for a warning: Where they say one thing and do something else, one had better expect plots, or Games, as a TA professional might call them. One should expect the worst and yet remain open to the best. Such pessi-optimism may be helpful, so that you later do not weep your heart out when faced with how things really are behind the devout facades around.
Ask before duping sets in: "Where is the evidence here?" and "What is at stake here for me and others?" Lots of people believe too easily to their own future harm. Some get the worst of their cult memberships as well. Lessen cramped faith, study is better. [Buddha's counsel in the Kalama Sutta]
Also note how stupid non-violence makes it much easier for really bad guys to go on and win the day.
"Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults," is one of Yogananda's sayings. However, 'the most' is not always the best when for example a little will do.
Plainly said again
Reasonable actions speak louder than plots and can work well too. Study the best and learn from the best to better your lot. Align well to that. [More]
Persons of little worth focus very much for shallow prestige, and often it is might and riches that bring about changes and control the world we live in. They do not have a wider view that spans generations to come and incarnations ahead. ◊
Well clarified views can accomplish a lot. Universities can typically serve such ends. (3)
Classy discernment can be helped on and up, "above little lanes of narrowness and bigotry" [Whispers from Eternity, No. 70]. Yogananda's above teaching that "the material universe is not real. — The body is unreal" leaves much to be explained far better. [Yogananda 1975:182, 421]. Stick to common sense against a tapestry of confusing ideas.
Learning and study are two different things. Learning goes into retaining knowledge, and cramming is rarely good for it. ◊
The Justice Commission of the Belgian House of Representatives set up a parliamentary inquiry commission to work out a policy against cults. On April 28, 1997, the parliamentary commission issued a rather long report with a list of 189 movements, but without saying all of them were necessarily cults. [◦Paramahansa Yogananda and Self-Realization Fellowship are both listed there].
Atkinson, Richard, et al. Introduction to Psychology. 9th ed. San Diego: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich, 1987.
Buzan, Tony. Buzan's Study Skills: Mind Maps, Memory Techniques, Speed Reading and More!. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2011. -- Page references in the text are to the previous edition, called The Buzan Study Skills Handbook: The Shortcut to Success in Your Studies with Mind Mapping, Speed Reading and Winning Memory Techniques (Mind Set). from the same publisher, in 2007.
Buzan, Tony. Use Your Head. Harlow: BBC Active / Pearson, 2010.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998, "Master's Teachings"
Maslow, Abraham. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. New York, HarperCollins, 1987.
Meares, Hadley. "From Hip Hotel to Holy Home: The Self-Realization Fellowship on Mount Washington." Lost Landmarks., KCET, August 9, 2013. Online.
Robinson, Francis P. Effective Reading. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
Schunk, Dale H. Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective. 6th ed. Boston: Pearson Education, 2012.
Vermes, Geza. "From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity". Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.
Yogananda Harmony Association. Paramhansa Yogananda: History, Life, Mission., Online.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1975.
Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Master Said Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1952.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. Ed. Kriyananda. 1st ed. Paperback. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 2008. At ananda.org.
Harvesting the hay
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