Mony think mair o' wha says a thing than o' what the thing's that is said. (Scots proverb)
How friends are like
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) said our best friends criticise us the most and never condone our faults. He said other things too, and the fellowship he formed and regretted at a time, goes for this: "We do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines . . . we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless." [More]
A translation of the Tibetan Dhammapada brings forth this: Better to eat a piece of molten iron than to eat as a religous hypocrite. (9.2, abr. Sparham 1986). The teaching poem Dhammapada backs up a benefit of apt criticism thus: "Should you find a wise critic to point out your faults, follow him as you would a guide to hidden treasure (Dhammapada, verse 76)." The key world "wise" makes a difference.
Lots of Yogananda's teachings are not first-class. Or could a nagging, harping fiance or fiancee in the wrong be the best friend of all? In such a case there is a risk of not getting as far as married . . . What about a criticising wife who is steadily in the wrong, is she the best wife to be got? It probably depends on how well founded any criticism is, and how skilfully and considerately or callously it is expressed and taken - basically on how overall wise or ungrateful she is too. There is even more to take into account, as cases, conditions and approaches may be different - for example in the Army at war.
See how Buddhism and very basic Hinduism understand and define true and good friends. Criticism had better be apt and considerate enough to work well and for good.
You can get harmed and deranged from deflecting badly from balancing and natural id (libido)
The real - a function of guts
Yogananda teaches and preaches in several publications is that the world is unreal . . . But on one quotation he says something different: "You cannot say that matter is not real. It is real, in the relative sense . . . It is folly for [the ordinary man] to believe that matter has no reality [Yogananda 2002:165]." "For the ordinary" is in square brackets. They signal an insertion by another than Yogananda. In this case it is something sanctioned by the SRF editor(s) and SRF as the publisher. To quote Yogananda on it, or quote him better, peel away the insertion.
A feigning man may at last arrive at a state of mind where everything looks unreal to him: it should not end that way, you may say. But note how feigning soon goes on to be called hypocrisy, and what losing fare hypocrites could be in for. (Cf. Matthew 7:21-23).
One saying that the world is [quite] real and roughly a hundred sayings that tell it is not real - that yields a conclusion: Most of the time Yogananda tells the world is not real, which looks like "folly to believe". His underlying, often unexpressed outlook, though, is that the reality is immortal Spirit, and that should be his key teaching, his "one rescued lamb from a herd of hundred sheep (Cf. Luke 15:3-6)." See for yourself. [Yogananda dreams].
A Nyinga Buddhist and Vedanta teaching: The world is an expression of Spirit, all real! Some wake up to perceive such things also.
It is wise not to let anyone twist and derange your mind by sloven, cultish indoctrination. It starts with pulling your legs also.
Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship Church have as one of the their official aims to "To reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions." [◦SRF Aims and Ideals]
First, there is no such harmony. For example, Jesus said the soul can be destroyed [in Matthew 10:28], but Yogananda teaches it cannot [e.g. in Yogananda 1982:240]. Many more discrepancies: [Link]
Second, in the gospels it stands out that Jesus is for Jews alone - his teachings, salvation, and Kingdom. Be greatly aware of that old "Non-Jews no entry" (e.g. Matthew 15:24; Geza Vermez 2005, 2010). Jesus' message, which was directed towards Jews alone, was centred on the Law of Moses. He upheld it 100 percent - the brutal cruelty of slavery and all that. (Matthew 5:17-19; Vermes 2010). The scholar Geza Vermes also ascertains: Jesus addressed his message to 'the house of Israel' alone and expressly forbade his disciples to approach non-Jews. Further, his Kingdom of God he spoke of, was for Jews only. Gentiles would be excluded. (Matthew 15:24; Vermes 2010:37; 41)
Third, there was no "Christianity of Jesus Christ", for Christianity arose only after Jesus the Jew who said his message was for Jews alone, had been executed. (See Acts 15 and 21:25 in the matter). Besides, 'Christ' got its Christian meaning long after Jesus was dead, taking off from the Hebrew 'messiah', (literally: oil-anointed', that is: king.) (Samuel 1.8 ff; Ehrman 2014)
Terrible blunders let out
"By abuse one is abused. Animosity breeds animosity." (The Tibetan Dhammapada 14.3)
There are many abuses in the world. Here is one: Yogananda was a Hindu monk. Those in charge of the church he left, are Hindu monks and nuns, swamis. The deal there is unconditional subjection to Yogananda and his line of gurus. The SRF kriya yoga oath is taken in the name of Jesus who forbade any oath-making. Yogananda insisted it was an oath he meant to last beyond the grave for many, many . . . [More]
Be careful about what "other Christs" and others would have you believe in - for example against the Bible's Jesus, his preaching and teaching for Jews alone . . . Also be prepared for some "guilded guru, gelded guts" too. Among those who assess that the fellowship Yogananda set up, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), is a cult, are former monastics in it - in the society that Yogananda set up - to ◦regret it as a horrible act. What a terrible thing to write - terrible for his monastics who came to him to devote their lives and beings to working there!
Cramped subjection is a bad deal
And church members are quite outer-directed - "guelded", figuratively speaking. Cramping a life can be done by guideline invasions into the private life. For example, "no sex for bachelors, and sex about once a month for married couples" go into the member bargain. You cannot be fully "a man or woman" there, not at all if you are unmarried, and only about once a month otherwise. If you are a nun or monk, is there room for very merry unions twice or thrice a day? Consider that too, if you can. At any rate, there was no monasticism among the early followers of Jesus. Monastic Christianity came only a few centuries later, in Egypt. Yogananda's SRF is run by monastics who tell about "original Christianity of Jesus Christ".
Puzzling and deranging? Both?
You hardly get SRF markers like these up front before you are enrolled or sworn in. They are imposed on members in time. Deranged marriage life - heed the signs. No frivolous sex but twice a month may be one indication, but hardly of sex fulfilment.
True, the church that Yogananda set up, has published its purposes, but it hardly ever hold up all of them to the public. You could guess why. Many are far from popular purposes. Conform sex denial, which is the rigorous SRF deal for the unmarried, has the more encompassing foundation of the founding article 13: "Human life is given to man . . . not for physical pleasure nor selfish gratifications". You may counter it by "No solid, physical pleasures makes Jack a sad guy". There is the danger that embracing life is shooed too.
Get duly informed beforehand if you can
Before we go into something, we ordinarily do well to get appropriate knowledge of it beforehand. If relevant knowledge is withheld by a cult or sect or something, then problems may escalate for many who enter, and likewise for fooled and swindled eager ones who also enter. One could do worse than being well informed about it in advance, before signing in and being caught - and from realising it is negative, and a cult's mean to lord it over those enrolled without being told in advance that all members are guided to live much like monks and nuns, even the married couples most of the time.
I pity the poor kriyabans
Great pity can be a great, motivating force.
The lordly secret, a good bait!
As a beginner in SRF you are likely to be influenced to believe they have a much secret, wonderful yoga system. However, many and elaborate kriya methods are public knowledge today, and are described in detail in another line of kriya yoga, called Satyananda Yoga. What is more, the most essential kriya deal is carefully explained on this page; it is the breathing method called ujjayi.
You are not told in SRF that the core or gist of the particular kriya yoga that SRF tries to influence you to learn from them by taking an oath of fealty that is meant to tie a guy to Yogananda and his line of gurus for the rest of his life, is the publicly known breathing method of ujjayi. But in another line of kriya yoga, Satyananda Yoga, it is told and explained in public works like books. [Link].
For the lack of fair and fit advance information, including what marks cults - you could end up becoming marred after being too naive or gullible to begin with. In the end you may not dare to bring up, "What is wrong with this guru? That deal? Such a fellowship?"
Sins of commision and omission.
Here you have been tipped about typical existential problems you have to deal with if you make your way into SRF and find your own, nature-given dignity rallied against in the SRF fight against physical pleasure. Read: your physical pleasures. In SRF it is not a a happy both-and, but a more sinister solution. You confess: "I want a long life in a quack-mire - that path" and enter SRF. No one has the right to hinder you if you don't heed the warnings from experienced travellers. But don't enroll out of misleading or withheld information from them before you are sworn in as a cult member - sworn in with no regret buttons for lifetimes, a low pledge with claws or back sides that we are hardly told of or get aware of beforehand - without knowing the society works as a cult in main ways.
The bad thing about a mixture of good teachings and bad teachings is that the bad ones may destroy much along the road. And there do not even have to be many of them for it to happen. Feigning is not a good solution and way of a guru-founded mess.
This said with a reference to how a dozen faulty bricks may threaten a whole bridge, or a weak link threaten a whole chain. If a knee gives out, the whole body may fall and suffer. Thus, the parts of a whole should be of sound and good and fit quality to work together happily. However the guru that set up a registered church, also advocated dictatorship, which makes life more difficult for many normal beings.
Guru followers think it good to flatter-hail the guru, even by going against truths. One should not do that. Flattery and outright foolish, dogmatic stands may abound in the guru cult, but he himself went publicly against flattery and cramped dogmatism too. "Most people choose flattery instead of intelligent criticism," he observed [East-West Magazine, July, 1932 Vol. 4-9, "Second Coming of Christ"]. "A belief, whether false or true, is provisional." Yogananda [2000:305-06]
It sounds upright and honest, but . . . instead of being taken in and ensnared by steps, "One should only follow teachings / That are great". That is a savoury point of Tibetan Tantra [Chang 2004:28, 35].
Is there more to say?
The renowned, Americanised guru Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh in 1983) became a well-known orator. His talks and sermons were recorded, and later published as books, among other things, by SRF, the fellowship he set up to be headed by a monastic order.
To find out of the guru's tightly held opinions, it is good to study his life fare, his actions, and his sayings. They may count in that order. From his autobiography and a Yogananda biography we may find things that the monastics-headed, hybrid fellowship he founded, hardly explains as members waggle their tails as "hybrid devotees".
For one thing, it stands out that the guru begged his way on and up until he was empowered by a guru. Second, what he taught at the beginning of his so-called mission in the United States, stands out in even stark contrast to what the fellowship upholds nowadays, and a cult it is. Third, the fellowship's medley of Yogananda sayings, called the SRF Lessons, may not give much practical help, after all. In short, you may end up terribly disappointed too.
In this site section we are to deal with the topics of inner progress and Yogananda sayings. He talks of it, and also speaks for much guru submission in the hope of great and glorious gains.
"There is hope in a hanging line (with its hook and bait)," is a proverb. The bait in this case would be glorious gains of freedom by giving up half of your freedom and not realising full well the craziness of submitting to authoritarian set-ups. The line is what you soon are bound by through an astounding SRF pledge, where you pledge unconditional loyalty to unmet gurus, especially Yogananda, and for as many lives as it takes on your part.
His followers in charge bend guru sayings to fit their needs for cultish progress with its turns, and some SRF members appear to get emotionally attached to guru sayings (as rendered). This is shown through glowing and filtered Yogananda boards.
We should not become emotionally attached to a cultish fare with needs for great gurus to stand overawed by, for in so doing some become victimised by self-contradictory and unfulfilling guru sayings, and emotionally attached to the long gone guru. ◇
There may be some in the SRF management who have managed to bend parts of the guru's philosophy for a cultish fare by removing some elements, toning down others, and call some parts central, as those parts suit monastics, who are heading the "operations". We may do well to watch out for a life philosophy based on mishmash of cult-selected guru sayings and decrees. (3)
Becoming victims of stubborn, emotional attachments and selling religion while going downwards as victims of guru sayings, is that wise or silly? Arrogance does not quite cover it up. ◇
Basing one's future on a kind of hybrid life philosophy from Yogananda being boastful, hardly bodes well in the long run. Thus, watch out for going downwards by headstrong and silly leader submission. There is good in being considered the least of all in such circles, for that "least of all" may get safe.
If you find yourself to merely believe in Eternal Bliss through guru enthusiasm without entering great Bliss or letting it enter you through kundalini awakening, watch out that your enthusiasm does not promote something stable and obstructive to your present and future fare. For SRF teaches that Yogananda's guidelines are infallible, and leaving him will lead to great sufferings too. ◇ ⚴
❋ It is far better to learn about cult ways before you crawl into a cult than try to get out of it only haltingly after some time; maybe marred for life.
❋ Needs that apparently suit monastics and their fare on top of lay members, in part living on them, may be considered in the light of living as safely as may be. If you feel you do not quite fit into such a churchy scheme of delicate selections and other forms of underling control, you could be worthy of a future of your own.
Yogoda [Self-Realization Fellowship] is not . . . a new cult . . . it aims to teach the practical methods . . . so that Truth might flow in ceaselessly . . . without obstructions of dogma or unproved beliefs. Yogananda ["Occidental Christianity and Yogoda", in East West magazine, Volume 1-6 September 1926 - October 1926]
If the id (libido, guts), goes bad, life tends to take bad turns too in the wake of it. You have to understand how it works and tend to a decent id life and secure the goings in order to have a hope to make your life fruitful and good. Erik Homburger Erikson (there are books close to the bottom of the page) has written a series of books about how Freudian id develops in stages, also in a grown-up's life till the brink of old age, and even further. Don't shrink from his psychogenetic scheme, for it could help against bad turns and teachings that make your future barren.
Early statements by the founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, could help some who have not got too involved in it. The guru says there is something better than unproved beliefs and cultishness, and that his task is to promote it. The question arises, why did not his fellowship do better?
❋ Cults and groups may exploit id that is unsteady or deviating from the common patterns of outlets; better go for a deep and constructive course of living.
The Anti-Spiritual Elements Bind a Lot
The guru Paramahansa Yogananda (born Mukunda Lal Ghosh, 1893-1952), founded Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in Boston in 1920. He came to teach kriya yoga methods, and aimed at scientists and other important persons as well as others. He got a rather large following after he adjusted his language and message to prevailing Christianity - one may think he sold out yoga for it - and also decreed that his simplified kriya yoga was twelve times better than the kriya of his gurus. In addition he gave talks and sermons, and faithful disciples recorded them and published much in his yoga magazine, which started to run in the 1920s, and in books. There is much evidence of what has been going on, thus.
Cramped followers have wrongly decided to think that Yogananda's guidelines are infallible. They are not, and there is ample evidence of it. Hence, do not let any infalliblity doctrine denigrate others and bring you down.
The fellowship also sets a strict oath in the way of those who want to learn Yogananda's kriya yoga. The oath goes way beyond commitment, and binds a follower for life-times, it says. The binding is colossal. That is the anti-spiritual part of it.
A major problem with SRF, as I see it, is that first its guru founder excelled in rather insensible, ingratiating flattery of Christianity and rather stupid dogmatism to "accommodate for a following". The fellowship's hype of representing "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ" looks like skin deep shewbread and bogus, frankly. Those who believe it, may have missed the bus. Their rallying of Jesus and Krishna together seems thoroughly unfounded, and there is much, much else in SRF doctrine that seems largely unfounded. I say this for the sake of fairness.
The present followers seem to get immersed in submissiveness - a relative of ingratiating flattery, one may guess. A probem with such "devotees" is that what they label "faithfulness", serves waggling conformism and a brewing authoritarian rigmarole no one in his right mind wants to be a part of. As it turns out, the "faithfulness" in SRF looks very much like a facade to me - and a means to carry out deep schemes and life lies that could mar innocents that get involved in narcissistic-looking, unsavoury propaganda.
So let me state it once again: Yogananda's guidelines are not infallible, SRF binds people with an oath that is objectionable on moral and legal grounds, and much that the guru stood for in the beginning of his career, seems overshadowed by the growing, headstrong leader submission in the fellowship. It classified as a cult by some, and may breed neuroses. It was not meant to be that way from the start, presumably.
❋ It has been a problem that gurus who teach "easy means to Great Liberation," get bossy (authoritarian) while not quite delivering as said. Besides, not a few submitting followers become sectarian too. If you do not want to be in a bag, do not enter it through an opening in the first place.
Figure: From Darkness to Light
In figure 1, 'upwards' represents spiritual development. The red ellipse (A) represents remaining stationary, for example in a conform flock of a kind. 'Downwards' from there (Through B and so on) is suggested by shades of grey that go into black - or getting into the gutter somehow, or more or less so, perhaps for long.
To go from more or less darkness into light is the essence of the sketch. We need to take care to maximise the factors that give great and good development if we feel for it (towards white through shades of yellow, or through "D" into "E"), or try to have a cosy way of live (red, A). The figure is a little misleading in one respect: It is possible to thrive and gain Tao enough for self-cultivation and inner progress a long way. It is not any either-or in all cases, but a both-and. Yet, it may not be safe to invest all one's resources in the red A-field. This world is not a wholly safe place, and at least it is not lasting.
The outer borders of the tracts can be taken to represent norms to live by. Fit moral standards may help a good, firm living and time enough for caring for one's bodily, mental and spiritual needs, and those of one's family too, in case. Successfully done, some spiritual development may result. Many maxims tend good living, and seem to deserve quiet reflection.
As for the features of life that tend to get us downward, we need to avoid them as well as we can, and protect innocents from going downwards too. Those who are not in contact with their best, inner sides, may not note their falling for a long time, and that is sad.
One should note that working to enter the upward path may seem a narrow and limiting pursuit at first - yoga meditation is for it. Entering it makes you a "stream-enterer" - which is a core Buddhist term for it.
This all-inclusive survey conforms to the Buddhist view on how to live, independently of many schools. Buddhism presents the gentle Middle Way for all-over thriving, success and development, and norms for living that should help a lot. Much depends on one's company; Buddhism goes against associating with fools. There you have it. [Link]
So what helps us to develop greatly, what factors are considered generally helpful and safe along the vertically oriented ellipse, and what are the elements that tend to bring people downwards and degrade them and many others associated with them? It helps to know these things, sort them well, and apply that knowledge to one's ability.
On these and other pages you will be introduced to many factors - some helpful to go for, and others to avoid to the best of your ability. I do not pretend to be a guru, but I do have much to thank for spiritually. I do not pretend to be fully developed either. I am not scared from sharing experiences and solutions.
❋ Tend to good and firm living as you are up to it. Basics of Buddhism are fine for development.
Back to SRF
I have found it better to cater a lot more to my own welfare than that of Self-Realization Fellowship. Parts of Yogananda's teachings are confusing or self-contradictory teachings. Methods he hails are very undocumented, scientifically speaking. The foremost of them is basic kriya yoga. One may learn the key kriya method for free here, and through books by Satyananda. For those who manage to see that not all that Yogananda says is for their long-term good, some principles may help. I show such principles too. And I also let the fellowship taste their guru's so-called infallibility by pointing out things their guru say about his followers - that they are crazy, and much else, such as:
"We don't really know what is right or real . . . we are often incorrect in our judgements." [Yogananda 1982:414] - You may expect the fellowship to try to explain away such gold. "I was never born, I never died –" [East West Vol. 17, No. 1, 1945]. "There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion." [Ay, Ch. 30]
The "infallible guru" says he was often incorrect, never born, an illusion. And yet he founded Self-Realization Fellowship. What a feat! He also said, "The next generation will not give us a thought [Yogananda 1982:344]," but his own disciples have worked hard against that saying by publishing his books and lecturing and so on. Oh dear. As a result, guru's sayings like "When a true guru performs an action, it is like writing on water. Then no marks remain." [cf. Say 14]," surely favour the idea that he was no true guru!
Yogananda also said, "Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults" and "Rebuke me a million times . . . scold med now!" - Yogananda [Pa 432]
Not all his devoted disciples are willing and eager to consider my pages a great friend's help, just so that you know it. The grateful seem to be a minority in the cult's circles, where not a few tend to revert to talking nonsense about them, and some clowns are fools of miserable thrash. Fools are not good disciples. Those who work for the guru so that his "infallible guidelines" do not come true, are they truly faithful? That is one question among others.
I think you get the picture. You should not let a cult stultify your clearheadedness to the degree you become a guru's serf by gilded faith - gilded, but unfounded. For it is not worth it. We should go for decent alternatives instead - bearing in mind that prevention is better than cure. Cure is not always possible. Also consider:
That is why I have written this. I hope you won't find it trifling, but that it can strengthen the good in this world, and help the sincere who adjust to much of it too. I have handed over a life philosophy that may be worthwhile to practice too.
The next illustration suggests the nether part of figure 1 - getting into a cult and going downwards, for example. There are many other ways to go down too.
❋ It is fit to take into consideration before entering any cult that a cure may not be easily had, if at all.
The central points of this chapter are "good friends" and "criticism" and how they relate most of the time too.
The nagging wife is complying with Yogananda's "best friends" teachings
Yogananda really asks to be criticised. "Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults," he tells somewhere, and illustrates it with a story where a man sobbed after losing his most ardent criticiser, telling he had lost his best friend. And in his Autobiography the guru even implores: "Rebuke me a million times . . . do scold med now!" - Yogananda [Pa 432]'
The question is how far we are willing to comply with his teaching. The sycophantic SRF has said they find no fault with Yogananda's guidelines, and that his wisdom is faultless. They are off the mark, though. That cramped, faulty, willy-nilly and dogmatic attitude is a hallmark of a sect.
So why not take a look at what a "best friend" is far and wide, and how to offer great criticism that is needed? Also hope that to really scold in all the ways the guru treasures, instead of hoping in cultish yakking, may seem better than religious crankness and collective cult madness - but how sure are you?
Let us explore these things. Is the constantly nagging wife the best friend there is around? I hardly think so. Yogananda can be taken to mean that a nagging wife should be the greatest friend. He furnishes an example about Lahiri Baba who on one occasion appeared to fail to see how his upbraiding, criticising wife was his best friend. Or maybe he promptly responded and treated her as her best friend - he disappeared and chastised her. It was a hit in her case. And what is more, he never went to bed with her afterwards. that is much of what friends are for, if only we could see the light . . .
Why not take to good books rather than cult hits?
You are your own best friend, at least potentially. And, as it is told in my Experimental Quetzalquatl Gita: "Not everybody knows a man's best friend is himself, that bright and jolly "jellyfish" inside." The term "jellyfish" refers to the monad, or inward centre.
Apart from that, folk wisdom has it that a girl's best friends are diamonds, a girl's best friend is her mother, and maybe she is her boy's best friend too.
American folk wisdom also tells us to cherish our friend, and that it matters to recognize who are true friends, since "False friends are worse than open enemies." You will have to be a friend if you want a friend, and lending money to a friend may turn him or her into a bad friend, it also says.
That "The best of friends must part," is another side to the sensible folk wisdom. However, it also teaches that "Your best friend is yourself." You should not want that friend to part.
Let us further hope that "Good books are friends who are every ready to talk to us" and maintain that "Truth, harsh though it be, is a faithful friend."
The folk wisdom also teaches that "There can be no friendship without freedom." The guru puts big ties on his disciples, by making "oath captives" of them. We should note that. I have criticized that in public at long last, trying to be fair. 
As for the tone of my critique of Yogananda's teachings, it is true that "Drastic times call for drastic measures." When what is told of as universal teachings serve to build a revolting cult, it is good to nip both the false facades and décor and its inherent cultishness in the bud, by pointing out errors and minding fairness first. Otherwise, "For neighbours to keep a friendly tone is equal to finding a precious stone."
As for criticism or critique, it is also neat to bear in mind "Don't criticize a man's gait until you are in his shoes."
Impartial telling is great, and can be helpful to some, at least to bulwark the cult of Yogananda
What more does the SRF founder Yogananda say? "Books are your best friends. You can quietly hear . . . Emerson, . . . Confucius, . . . Buddha, . . . talk to you, . . . and give you . . . advice. . . . consort with these wisdom friends by . . . real study. - Yogananda, "Four Recipes", East-West, 3-5 July - August 1928. ✪
He also teaches, "No compromise with wrong acts. . . . Say unto thy brother, ". . . Mend thy ways. . . . True words may be hurtful . . ., so coat them with the sugar . . . that they may be more easily swallowed . . ."
It is vitally important that we tackle this side to the matter too: Do not criticize more than you can stand, and try to be fair.
As the guru teaches: "To offer criticism - even constructive criticism - is risky; . . . Those who lovingly judge thee are thy best friends. Those who flatter thy faults are thy worst enemies. To receive impartial criticism is to tune in with the law of progress. . . . [Yogananda 2002:251-52]
The "best friends" of the guru could behave on top of: Don't desire to criticize him, but do it because such help seems needed far and wide. Further, he asks for it and teaches it, as illustrated already.
How close it seems to "Nag, nag!" and "Yak yak"! Good friends seem hard to find where the harder they criticise, the better they get -
Anyway, as Gampopa teaches, "Reason, a best friend, is not to be avoided." [cf. Tiy 71].
Guru friends are supposed to work at being good friends of his, and "our best friends are those who criticize us the most," decrees the guru. I suggest you follow reason and live up to something like "Our best friends criticize us as best they can so that we do not make a mess and terrible mistakes
But your very best friends hardly need any outer pep words or outer motivations to be your best friends. They just are friends to be reckoned with.
Although some "best friends" master the difficult art of criticism, ignoring Yogananda's fallacious: "Our best friends are those that criticise us the most", but stay attuned to a helpful tone and, "Best friends do not trick us."
As Yogananda himself teaches: "They are your best friends who have true understanding, and who, when you seek their counsel, dare to tell you the truth. [Yogananda 2002:249] Yogananda also teaches that "We can be our own best friends or we can be our own worst enemies." Yogananda, East-West,
He does not say by that, "Our best friends are those who live to cite us the most and propagate our faulty teachings." Nor does he fool us into the cult he founded by those words. Maybe he forgot to tell that "A fooling cult should be undermined."
Speaking of Buddha. "A wife is considered the "best friend" (parama sakha) of the husband," says he. It is good to know how the ideal marriage partner is to be. The question is how far "Our best friends are those who criticize us the most . . . who never condone our faults" applies. Criticism has to be friendly and apt to work as intended, and still it can be risky.
How often is the saying true for critique as for counsel, that it is "seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least," as Lord Chesterfield put it. Many proverbs evolve that basic idea: "Advice is something the wise don't need and the fools won't take." A variant: "Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it." Apropos, "He asks advice in vain who will not follow it."
You may read on or consider that "Great and good criticism is something that the wise seldom need and fools will have nothing of." And there we are today, it seems.
You may ask, "What can we learn from the above?" For example this:
The nagging wife does herself a good turn by reading good books instead of yelling and nagging. From her study she can evolve impartial fairness, and may get proficient in telling more of truly helpful things. If she thinks she needs to yell, she can get training as a singer too.
There are many other outlets and smart ways to learn from the series of points above. I hope you learn how to extract them yourself too. Here is one alternative:
There Is More to It
One day a Hindu thought he would watch how an idol god ate the fruits he regularly offered. He opened his eyes a little, and while he was praying he saw a big mouse come and eat the fruit. The he said, "Look, the idol cannot eat the fruit, but the mouse can, so it is a more powerful god." No sooner had he thought this than he caught the mouse by the tail and tied it on the altar. His wife said, "You have gone crazy." "No, I have not gone crazy. I am just following the instructions of [a] saint," the man said. [Derived from a tale by Yogananda, in "Yellow Journalism", East-West, 4-1. January-February, 1929]
Yogananda's story was to illustrate how to get onward and upward instead of outsmarted. Consider the value of the sparkling life in the "thing" before you attach yourself too much to it. A living bird is essentially greater and a bigger "miracle" than a big stone church, accordingly.
The "Get Tao" icon suggests there is a summary at bottom.
You may have hoped for a summary of the following chapters at this place. Instead you get further meta-considerations, that is, considerations above the following texts. To furnish a perspective is what I have sought.
The following chapters cover sides to the teachings and doings of Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). The swami monk came to the United States in 1920 and kept on spreading yoga teachings for some thirty years. He also instituted Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, which is recognised as a cult today. SRF is headed by nuns and monks in the order that Yogananda saw fit to form. The international headquarters is in Los Angeles, and there are groups and centres in over fifty countries world-wide. SRF publishes books by Yogananda and others of the cult.
A problem with cults is subordination. Another may be feigning and pretending. Still, those who are not deep, may find security in such settings anyhow.
It was awfully hard to dig up the material that is presented. Having anonymous sources have stopped me from publishing some really interesting material, but what can be given, helps too.
There is a dictionary of yoga words (see left column) to go along with the text.
It is a crazy world. I see it so clearly. - Yogananda [Yogananda 2002:169]
Appearances count. Do not let them make you silly
To endure life it is good to be solid and strong and not strain oneself. If overexerted, recuperate and relax. Also, not being promiscuous is great help too. Go for excellent partners and good people to be with.
Don't even try to relate to cultists and sect members, as they come up with ideas and spins aimed at breaking you down to become like them - bossy and not fair when it comes to their superior leaders - and immersing themselves in shewbread teachings and silly rationalisations that are aimed at covering up their mistakes, some of which are of the authoritarian type. We do well not to take well to subordination in cultish circumstances.
There is more than one's food, appearances, and physical health to be careful about, in other words.
"What has this to do with shewbread teachings of the guru Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952)?" you may ask. A whole lot. And that is what we will go into in this on-line work. The Essential Yogananda is a collection of articles about the guru's misguiding teachings.
Trouble comes because people have so many crazy thoughts, and wrong thoughts. - Yogananda [Yogananda 2002:267]
Crazy guys flock together. Cults are in part for that
I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind. - Yogananda [Yogananda 2002:270]
Those we connect with, may take from our tall assets by faith. Faith is a trust that is shared and sometime works like wine in making you groggy. And those who make us waste our inherent assets, are they good friends? Do not think so. Good friends help one another and share good things, and see to that faults do not grow taller and taller. Good friends share mature ethical standards and help one another too. [LINK]
For the sake of your future well-being, seek to discern between connections with people and sects you can trust in for good, and all the others. It is not always simple to do. Still, it could be good for you to examine what deep hunger takes you to salvationists like Yogananda in the first place. Next seek to understand to what degree his cherished concepts like "Mother God" really appease your deep, unmet needs as a human, for example. The chance is that your previously unmet needs for "Father, Mother, Friend, Beloved" will not be satisfied by guru mottos - not in the long run, at any rate. In other words, if you suffer from relationships hunger, try to find as deeply rewarding real relationships as possible for you, rather than sigh for them according to guru words of crying for Divine Mother till She comes. To live up to such standards may be difficult, but the alternative - to enroll in a "Cry for Mother" sect is not good either. There are unwelcome sides to it.
If you are hungry for guru words, hope they are not too biased and wrong, all of them. But frankly, some Yogananda teachings are marring. The monk talks against egohood, having much sex, and much sleep, and may aid your sickening thus.
Instead, persist in what brings truly good fortune, after having examined yourself a bit, and then seek to fulful the hungers that matter. That could lessen the deep craving for cultish security padding, and free you to see: "I try to satisfy my desires by getting cringing due to guru bluffs instead of actually satisfying my normal desires."
If you see this, you may need to bulwark against yoga demagogues too, yoga- narcisisstic propaganda takes many forms. You too be a careful planner, to seem like a caring and loving person, instead of projecting it away, for example. Be cautious about spending money or any other resources on a cult and its top guys, and you have not wasted your dear resources thereby. As for beliefs, do not be taken in by unproved tenets all the time. Learn to check as fast as can be, what is fact and what is not soundly documented. You may soon discover that Yogananda may only rarely go into facts. Instead his sermonising makes many ideas enter and dominate your mind. Not all of Yogananda's ideas are good for man and woman, and some must be wrong.
Hence, be very careful about what you believe after just being told - you should not be asked to trust blindly in guru words. [Link]
It is all right to get rich and be surrounded by elegant things. It is fine to be emotionally tolerant too. But then there is the question of misleading, wrong teachings that obviously lead Christians astray in so many ways - into guru worship. Now I do not object to guru worship, it is launching it in the name of Jesus and "original Christianity" that seems revolting to a thinking person. Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship does that.
It is clumsy to feign tolerance with anything, and it is normal to be emotionally warm too. Due to weaknesses, we may become unfeeling. Hence, guard what is intensely important: family, honesty, privacy, and fit values. At times it is fit to strike back. Do not be misled by seemingly categorical standards of non-violence, which Yogananda teach only to drop them in emergencies. A sound moral basis matters, and assertiveness is in part for striking back to shield your own well-being, and the well-being of others that are important to you.
Gross non-violence as taught by Jesus - is tantamount to assisting brutal bullies and scoundrels on and up, to gain dominance. You have to get a better idea than succumbing to that, for your own well-being is important.
You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person will not be found: You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. [Buddha, attr.]
Still, more or less restrained assertiveness may be good. It may be called normal if you strive for self-discipline. But if it is dictated by gurus, the so-called self-discipline may serve gurus and not yourself. For example, no to having sex more than once a month - or living in celibacy - who profits? Maybe the boss on top, his system of subordination as well. Dare to ponder: "Who gets the benefit? Where does the money and influence go?" If the balance is not in your favour, others could have better reasons for hurras than you.
If you find yourself complaining and whining with your lot in life, you may have been depleted, and the authoritarian figures in your life may be causes of it. To preserve and bulwark their power, they tell tales to enforce their prestige - but seldom by facts, by documented things. By this you may know a lot of them.
A rich imagination may yield visions and "visions". Many of Yogananda's visions look impressive to some, but a vision is no particularly good proof and documentation that the phenomena described, are true facts. Therefore it is wise not to take everything SRF writes so seriously, for Yogananda himself says fun is good. Having sane fun can also be good for your development, also your spiritual development.
Work can be good for development too.
A major mistake in my own life was not to heed what I sensed about Yogananda at the very start, at the first time I encountered his self-biography. To cut it short, to start friendships with people you are attracted to may work well, and to try to make friends with others may not work too well.
You may further ask, "What makes people tick in SRF?" With some, it may have come so far as trusting in foolish talks and fiction over and above pure facts, claiming themselves to be "spiritual" and maybe far superior to others. Watch out for unfounded immodesty, then. It may wear a mask of devotedness. There is more to watch out for in life than the tendency to get wrapped up in financial and property matters, in other words.
Be careful and consider what is propounded
I have also seen some unbelievably crazy modernistic paintings . . . We reveal something of our mentality by what we are drawn to, by our tastes. - Yogananda [Yogananda 2002:145]
I was an active member of SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship) for eight years, in the 1970s. Based on my own experiences with the cult, I think I should counsel folks to be more restrained and cautious than I was at the time. I was reluctant to go on-line with these tidings, but anyway, here are some of the things I have dug up after an extremely painful experience with the cult of Yogananda.
I would like to thank all who have contributed to these pages by appreciation and other support: many SRF members, monastics, and kriya yogis have given me feedback, asked for information, supplied information, and rendered support otherwise too. Thanks to them. I will not give any names, as some are definitely afraid of the SRF Mother Center (Headquarters) in Los Angeles. After considering various responses to this and that, I have made considerable text changes over the span of twelve years.
You will find, if you see what else is published on SRF outside some discussion boards for disgruntled SRF monastics and others, that the information on this site is "special and unique". I try to be fair, and would say, "Consider your deep needs. They are as special and unique as any mystical ideas" you get propounded. If you do not, you may head for very painful experiences of the kind, "The more blind faith you put in Yogananda, the ruder the awakening." At least consider that possibility. In a few years one third of the SRF monastics left the SRF premises, for example.
I should perhaps add that I am not against spiritual and cultural ways of thinking - to the contrary. But in unchartered waters it seems good to be very careful. Not everyone is honest and decent. And some use insights into how humans think, to make them conform "half -slaves" or cult freaks. There is reason to tell that careful tact may be needed.
Before you enter a binding sect in the role of underling, consider your own terms. It is easier to prevent sect mishap and falls than to be repaired afterwards. So try to find out if you really need Yogananda and his teachings. See what good they may do you, and whether you can get to quite identical good things in life without sacrificing freedom to the tyranny of a sect whose founder hailed dictatorship when he was forty.
So these essays are not aimed at crazy followers of the guru who said they were all crazy - his words again. The essays are aimed at persons who still have other choices. Is it kriya yoga your soul hungers for? How may it if you do not know what kriya is? Anyway, there is a line of kriya yoga that teaches it freely. You do not have to get bound by Yogananda to learn it. I have presented a distilled extract of the publicly available kriya yoga on-site. Feel free to try it out.
To go against parental, intimidating figures of a sect is not easy. It is far better not to enter in the first place. Have such an intrinsic toughness intact, and your fare could become deep and far-reaching, thanks to your positive energies.
If once succumbed to a cult and its various authority figures, you may need to be very careful and guarded, and not do anything rash. I felt it necessary to confront the SRF management directly for some years before I left, but it was nasty.
What I have distilled and presented on these pages, may reveal my human values, and that I appreciate arts too. It also shows how I disagree with the current SRF leaders. What is more, I give evidence from the guru's own output as found in books published by SRF and the guru's magazine. I have taken care to source my quotations and renditions too.
Free to waste your money and other resources, first consider. It is a pity to see how disgruntled, former SRF monastics caution against giving SRF money to waste, for example. Be concerned first and foremost with what is good for you. Try to reach up to it beforehand - before succumbing to authoritarianism, that is.
In the matter of likes and dislikes we are all crazy. - Yogananda [1982:425]
At this point add: "Speak for yourself," to keep out of it.
Heed Buddha's very helping words
SRF members and Yogananda freaks may find the main content of these essays too emotionally demanding. At least one man tried to get the whole site shut down for such reasons. Here is a better way if you find the content emotionally demanding: Do not aim at limiting your freedom in the first place - stay out of sects. Work to improve your attitudes, respect freedom of speech and other Human Rights, and try to enjoy "high drama" too, as Yogananda called for.
If uneasy, relax and put the site aside, at least till you are calm and able to think independent thoughts. Hope to enjoy the freedom too. If you want to give away money and funds, try to do it freely. Not always to make authoritarian figures like you.
Be yourself, bear yourself. People of similar minds are found to share beliefs. But maybe beliefs are not what you really, really need. Investigate it to be unfettered. Also affirm that women have brought you great benefits, and so on.
I have to accept that parts of the content on the site can hurt people who have faith and are not much up to Buddha's cautions against it. When you feel quite uneasy about anything here, stop reading along. That is what I ask of you. I also ask you not to place much trust in me, but heed of Buddha's warnings for your own good. Trust may lead to blind faith and folly and less frivolous fun in life - that is why. Just decide you will ask for evidence, and if you get it, keep it in mind and consider the meanings for some time too. And where you get no neat evidence, accept that what you get is suggestive. Suggestions may be of value too, but that is beside the point here.
Fit material is likable unless you are not
I have tried to be clear and to the point at last, after digressing for five or eight years by a postmodern style. Some parts of this site section may still look like rambling anyway, even though investigations are behind very much of the content.
Against a dominant cult figure - Yogananda - I have found it best to be very careful in forming my thoughts. In some cases suggestions may do, "A founder and leader who resists sexuality, is he truly fun to be with? Is he really likable?" A cult may not say the guru's injunctions against normal sex smacks of tyranny. And the cult may not follow up things the leader says either, even though they call his guidelines without flaw. Some of them just do not fit in today, so they get silently dropped instead, along with his outbursts for dictatorship. It was not done for fun.
And here I would like to add: You do not have be an iconoclast to say "No thanks" to false teachings, guru bossing, and leaders who so prefer to be alone that they leave the SRF premises for years on end for it. You do not have to be an iconoclast to fend for your normal sexuality and relations from it. You can be likable, rather, and more fun to be with.
Watch out to see to that the center of your attention is of self-confidence. having fun is fine for self-confidence too, and a strong critical sense helps too, in other waters. Sectarians may need to have more fun.
I would not have presented this material if I had not been convinced by very many responses that these tidings are important to some.
Guru followers have their cherished beliefs. If faking leads to beliefs that make many followers flounder, the situation does not call for being too friendly and shallow words of divine love - whatever. Guru followers may not appreciate the style and flair of this work, or high ethical standards and neat organisational skills. If such things bother you, I cannot help it. At least try to detect dormant good in what seems new to you, if you are of that kind. ◇
Be restrained to avoid bargaining yourself away stupidly
I should say I have aimed at being consistent after digging in and producing this material over the years.
Do not get the idea that I seek to dominate the development of SRF in any significant way simply by being friendly in the way the SRF founder calls for . . .
Fundamentally, what I have come up with is an alternative to the guru faith, and have shared bountiful, good stuff from different kinds of lore with a free hand. Be therefore cheerful and good natured, although influenced by detrimental social developments and gross lack of honour in some circles.
To those who realise too late that have been screwed: Release your emotions and favour positive action and positive thinking. Do not let uneasiness and doubt and lack of control, and bluffs of others get the best of you.
Feel free to grow in maturity and understanding, even in new settings. Eighty-eight years ago Yogananda set foot in America and started to propagate his message - a message that took control away from gentle Americans. This a new century, and parts of what was taught a few generations ago, is no longer considered correct, valid, and reliable. This goes for parts of Yogananda's teachings too. A vast part of it seems to lack integrity. Just because something impresses people, it is not necessarily good. ✪
Instead of believing in guys because they are bombastic and have duped a following, let such people prove to you that they have integrity instead. Ask for evidence, is the repeat message. And if you don't get solid evidence, let matters lie, do not jump to conclusions. If Yogananda says Dumbo can fly by flapping his ears in good faith, or that God can give you a third set of teeth, study the evidence that it is so and study the odds that it will happen. What are the odds that you or anyone else gets a third set of teeth? Do not be engulfed by faith.
As you read on here, you should know I have taken pains to be clear, precise, practical and definite. Maybe I am too critical at times. You decide.
To grasp ideas, handle the world you live in - take good care of the present, and avoid binding.
If you find these Yogananda tidings disconcerting and unsettling and want to be tied down to guru-charms and purported divine friendship, try and be optimistic and cheerful all the same. Naïve optimism helps, researchers say. [Smith et al, 2004:522-23]
Many seem to think that impressive appearances count and are worth submitting to wholesale. Be restrained in such matters, for some gurus are fakers and may do harm to many believers. Not all that pose as experts of God are of sterling worth: That is a tempered warning in step with teachings of India in such matters.
Topics that are just touched on above, are covered at length in some of the following essays, where sources are given too.
Agar, Nicholas. The Sceptical Optimist: Why Technology Isn't the Answer to Everything. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. ⍽▢⍽ Agar disputes the claim that technological progress will automatically produce great improvements. A more realistic assessment of technological advances can bring better management of it and its hazards in the future. That said, hurrah for the washing-machine and dishwasher. Measured optimism may work.
Chang, Garma C. C., ed and tr. Teachings and Practice of Tibetan Tantra. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2004.
Ehrman, Bart D. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne, 2014.
Erikson, Erik H. Childhood and Society. Reissue paperback ed. New York: Norton and Co., 1993. ⍽▢⍽ Erikson's epigenetic scheme is here.
⸻. Dimensions of a New Identity. Paperback ed. New York: Norton and Co., 1979.
⸻. Identity: Youth and Crisis. Reissue paperback ed. New York: Norton and Co., 1994.
⸻. The Life Cycle Completed (Extended Version). New York: Norton and Co., 1999.
⸻. Young Man Luther: A Study in Psychoanalysis and History (Austen Riggs Monograph). Reissue paperback ed. New York: Norton and Co., 1993.
Ewen, Robert. B. An Introduction to Theories of Personality. New York: Psychology Press, 2014. ⍽▢⍽ Chapter 8 is devoted to Erik Erikson's theories. The book gives a good overview of great theorists and their various contributions.
Freud, Sigmund. Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego. London: The Hogarth Press and the Institute of Psychoanalysis, 1949 (1922).
⸻. On Sexuality: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Other Works. New ed. Paperback. New York: Basic Books, 2000.
Hoare, Carol Hren. Erikson on Development in Adulthood: New Insights from the Unpublished Papers. New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. ⍽▢⍽ Professor Hoare exhibits Erikson's substantial contributions. Here is a synthesis of Erikson's views on adult development during the life span. During the last decades of his life, adult development was Erikson's main interest.
Horney, Karen. Our Inner Conflicts: A Constructive Theory of Neurosis. New York: Norton and Co., 1945.
Imman, Nick. The Optimist's Handbook: Facts, Figures and ARguments to Silence Cynics, Doom-mongers and Defeatists. Petersfield, Hampshire: Harriman House, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ Should we even try to look on the bright side? Nick Inman pulls together a list of 100 things we may feel glad about and tells there may be room for some hope and something to smile about, including the days getting longer, and baby animals that you have no responsibility for, and more.
Smith, Carolyn D., ed, et al. Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 14th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth, 2003.
Sparham, Gareth, tr. The Tibetan Dhammapada: Sayings of the Buddha. Rev ed. London: Wisdom Publications, 1986.
Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.
⸻. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.
Wikipedia, s.v. "Erik Erikson", and "Erikson's stages of psychosocial development".
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.
⸻. The Divine Romance. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2002.
⸻. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.
Harvesting the hay
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