The column to the left below shows how often words are encountered (their frequencies) throughout the whole book when footnotes are kept out of it. The column to the right shows words and word parts.
Word distribution tends to reveal patterns - and "break the code" too. There are some comments on the word count below the table.Frequency - Words
463 Master, Masters (3)419 guru* (including 8 'gurudev'*) 372 yoga* and yogi* 316 God'* 265 sri (holy) 241 divine 213 great* 199 saint*, saintly (15) 189 -ji (suffix) 167 mind, minds 157 swami* (Hindu 'monk') 123 sir 115 Kriya (handy gasping and further) 112 meditat* (can mean contemplate, contemplative, contemplation)
61 develop* (30), evolut* (24), evolv* (9)
43 sacred, sacredness (0)
42 holy, holiness (2)
34 universe, universes (3)
32 sage, sages (3)
31 ego* (most often negatively charged)
23 art, arts (5)
17 Christian, Christians (3)
11 fish, fishes (1)
6 Blessed, blessedness (1)
4 artist, artists (3)
2 cherry, cherries
1 little children
1 Kung Fu (earlier: Confucius)
1 polar bears
1 make love, have sex (with variants in present and past tense), "live together as man and wife only once a year, for the purpose of having children." (1)
0 holy cow
0 disc jockey
0 penis (incl. 'linga', 'lingam')
The asterix (*) marks a group of letters that may be found in various words. Thus, Tao* above is found as Tao itself, in Taoism, Taoist and Taoistic. There are no mentions of any of them in Yogananda's Autobiography.
❋ Terms most often found, can reflect deep attitudes of the author -
Heuristics has many outlets. Here are my rather tentative considerations:
Master versus Christ - the proportion is about 11:1 in the book.
To be spiritual is to be attuned to Spirit, and being authentic ("The one you were to begin with without reading a book") may begin it.
For studying the word-frequency table, some hints may come in handy: (a) On top of the table are words that could serve personal submissiveness (near to giving up oneself). (b) In some loosely understood median range we find words used 100-200 times. Such words reflect in part things Americans once hoped to get into. (c) Toward the bottom there could be words that intimate solutions against bossism (authoritarianism) and servility.
The words that are used more than, say, thirty times, show marked preferences in presenting things. Interestingly, the author speaks over twenty times more of "gurus" and "masters" than "Christ(s)". For what you listen to or read most often, may settle in the memory by the force of amassed repetitions of impressions. In other words, impressions build up.
In a book that talks for egohood development into godhood by shortcut method like kriya yoga, we might expect much and sound further presentation aligned to that sort of development, god-making. Far from it. [Link]
As for the table above and its discreet uses, we cannot be completely sure of what everything means or signifies from mere raw data. When it comes to interpreting them, we are on the outlook for meanings that might lie hidden - more or less hidden - in the gathered material. It could become easier to understand what Yogananda is up to if you consider in this way:
"Well, if the text spans almost 500 pages, footnotes included, then it signals that a blend of some of these terms can be met with on almost every page throughout: Master, guru, yogi/yoga, God, sri (holy), divine, great, saint, swami (Hindu monk), kriya, Lord - and so on. (See the table).
That is what you get on the level of words, in addition to such as the twenty most frequent words in English conversation: a/an, after, again, all, almost, also, always, and, because, before, big, but, can, come, either/or, find, first, for, friend, from . . . Frequent wordings apart from the common brief words in a language, may indicate the profile of the work, and perhaps also some predominant or foremost themes or topics in it, such as "cosmic consciousness".
❋ "Cosmic consciousness" is a tricky term, as the wise goal is beyond concepts of grandeur also.
Many words seldom help all, except for countermeasures, perhaps.
Seeking and arriving well are two different things.
Yogananda talks and essays are published by SRF
Yogananda gave many sermons and lectures before and aside from his autobiography, which was published with the help of Yogananda secretaries and the SRF main editor. Some Yogananda talks have been singled out for a trilogy published by Self-Realization Fellowship. As a rule, the sermons and talks are not complicated, and parts are impromptu, the publishers tells in the first book of the collected talks and essays, Man's Eternal Quest (1982).
Yogananda's autobiography on search, seek and travel
In the first edition of his autobiography, the footnotes included, seek* figures 68 times, and search* 26 times, travel* is used 64 times and journey* 14 times. His book is about a "seeking, searching traveller" not wholly unlike John Bunyan's traveller in the allegorical The Pilgrim's Progress in some respects. The protagonist gets onto the "straight and narrow" King's Highway - in Yogananda's case it is "he learns kriya yoga", gets greetings of peace, and meets with some sorrows too on his travels toward the other side. [Wikipedia, s.v. "The Pilgrim's Progress"]
Yogananda's book Journey to Self-realization on search, seek and travel
Many other "seek and search" examples can be found in books of assembled guru talks, for example by those who seek a lot - A word count in Yogananda's Journey to Self-realization (1997), footnotes included, but not end matters, reveals the use of journey* (words starting with journey) 14 times, travel* 23 times, seek* 167 times and search* 22 times. There is a lot of talk of seeking and a bit on travelling, then, spread throughout the 413 pages of text, introductory matter, and page notes, and this is not an autobiography; it is more about what he tells others is good. (Yogananda 1997, etc.]
❋ Impromptu speeches may be good for folks where the events took place. How good transfer value such speeches have later and in other places, under other conditions, is hard to generalise about.
Could there be anything wrong with exhortations like "seek God"? It depends on how the Yogananda exhortation is understood, and how it is done. Buddha says Nirvana is reached by much fit methods and means and not in other ways, for example. Teaching adequate means and ways matters.
If we seek God outside of ourselves, it may be a long, long way, for the universe expands fast. Seeking God like seeking another does not always work, and is quite antagonistic to deep meditation: in deepening meditation we glide past many concepts and also categories toward Self-Realization. Hence, being ourselves functions as a gate to being ourselves better - with probably nicer goings than seeking some dualistic concept, like "You, Mother".
In short, preconceived notions and fancies may be dropped in deepening meditation. In Advaita, the Self is told to be yourself deep inside. One may not find more than incomplete concepts about it, for the Self is beyond concepts, including "seek" and "Self" - yet can be experienced in one's heart and vision, says many Upanishads. Examples:
Bright but hidden, the Self dwells in the Heart. - Mundaka Upanishad
Devotional movements are later-comers in yoga
The bhakti ("devotional") movements in Hinduism are later-comers as compared to yoga - which includes physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines that originated in ancient India, from centuries or more before the common era (BCE). "The Bhakti movement refers to the theistic devotional trend that emerged in medieval Hinduism (Wikipedia, sv. "Bhakti movement"; "Yoga")"
This suggests that there were enlightened yogis before devotional movements grew up - such as Yajnavalkya and lots of others.
Hence, devotional surrender to outer forms may be heeded less than Yogananda's Autobiography words:
Referring to yoga's sure and methodical efficacy, Lord Krishna praises the technological yogi in the following words: "The yogi is greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom (Jnana Yoga), or of the path of action (Karma Yoga); be thou, O disciple Arjuna, a yogi!" (Autobiography of a Yogi, Ch. 26, its last passage; cf. Bhagavad Gita 6:46)
Skills matter much, also in being pious
A skilled yogi turns his awareness inwards. Against this solid accomplishment of good yogis, human passions taken outwards may lead to search-clowning, or devotional fervour taken outwards, among other things. Now, searching for the Self outside oneself seems like "a long and winding road". However, ancient yoga has enlightened many without such outward-turned bhakti, devotionalism, which may frustrate and make ill of mind, and may be dropped. [More of Yogananda's "Cry for Mom and She will come" schemes]
Devotionalism may mar, and it can lead up to cults. However, there is a right sort of devotion, piousness, and other-directed devotion (dualism-rooted devotion), which may lead to cult-forming. The process can be recognised by observing what takes place. Throughout history, many cults have a dualistic basis. Advaita has not. Adi Shankara made it clear what is the core of these matters. He says in the ancient work Crest-Jewel of Discrimination [or Wisdom] (Shankara 1946; cf. Prabhavananda and Isherwood 1978) that
Piousness suggests intentness of the soul on its own nature.* (p. 10-12)
Thus, a well-founded, strong and polite self-regard is not to be given up, since it can lead into that yogi piousness. On the other hand, external devotion mars too often. And devotion directed to someone else as a part of dualism, may be halting inwards at long last, or it misses the gem hidden deep in one's chest, so to speak, one's own deep Self and Advaita. It is better to put determination to work - not on searching outside oneself - but disclosing what is in the deeps of oneself, beyond the waking state.
Yogananda talked on for many years
If we look closer into themes of Yogananda, many "ugly skulls" may be seen. Not only did he forsake the original teachings surrounding kriya, he changed the original kriya yoga too. He took to talk and sermonising talk for many years, and often contradicted himself on vital issues like ego and ego handling, and more. He told that unmarried followers were to abstain from sex wholly, as if they were farm animals of a non-breeding sort also. That too can be seen, along with how he changed his kriya hype to make its prospects many, many times better-looking without good evidence. [More]
❋ Mere talks will not save you from words unless you fall asleep from listening or something.
All in all, there is a knack to it. So which Mother figure appeals the most to you?
Yogananda: "There are two kinds of seekers: those who are like the baby monkey and those who are like the kitten (Yogananda 1997, 258)." Better be yourself well, and a finder, by fit meditation work.
Here is a sign of meditation success: "The paramahansa is like a five year old child," said Ramakrishna (1974:2007). Preserve your Inner Child (A TM term), that side to your nature. As it matures, you should get skilled too.
The teachings of Hinduism are very many. Here is one: There is one mother (motherhood) in or behind human mothers. In tantra it is taught that the One Mother (Shakti) has many outlets (goddesses, if you like). You should like your mothers - through a correspondence with your inborn nature. If you are a pitiless, cruel type, maybe Kali is your favourite goddess. Yogananda preferred Kali. Is that telling? Yes. Is cruel Kali OK to you?
The original kriya yoga teachings of Lahiri Mahasaya often imply, "Don't degrade yourself to be a dwarfed seeker."
The highest attainment is Selfhood. - Lahiri Mahasaya (Satyeswarananda 1992a, 15)
He surely says, "Seeker, don't seek." There is a knack to it (below).
Yogananda deviated from "dont seek" terribly when he told others to "cry for Divine Mother like crazy, and then she would come, he said. Let us hope she is not out to spank cruelly, for what will you do if that should happen? Resist?
Great-looking but unfounded sayings signal great disillusionments in store
Frankly, a devotional Yogananda promoted ways of guru submission more than crazy-looking seeking. Still, he often spoke of "seeking God", and exhortations of that sort may work against the higher, finer points of yoga meditation if it is not made clear that the search is going inwards by stages, and that God is the Self. What do you think?
It may as well be better to say, Do not seek unwisely, for your own good. And that is how inner progress comes about, according to Lahiri Mahasaya, one of the gurus in the Yogananda line, we are told. Lahiri's counsel is to try to lessen desires by calm breathing [cf. Gt v. 62-64].
❋ Mere talks will not save you from words unless you fall asleep from listening or something.
Something else that may be said here: Yogananda writes that Lahiri Mahasaya did not write books. "Lahiri Mahasaya himself wrote no books," he writes in the "Autobiography". Here is a better researched mention of it. Quotation:
After retirement in 1885, Lahiri Mahasay engaged himself in writing interpretations of the scriptures. First, he started with the Bhagavad Gita. . . . Lahiri Mahasay published his Gita interpretations in 1888 through Panchanan Bhattacharya . . . Bhattacharya would distribute them only to initiated Kriya disciples. [Then] Priyanath [Yukteswar] began to tell his disciples publicly, "Gurudev [Lahiri Mahasaya] has not written any books . . ." . . . knowing full well that his Guru, Lahiri Mahasay, had given charge to publish and distribute his books to Panchanan Bhattacharya.
The swami served as a professor of law and has published many works by Lahiri Mahasaya, also in English translation.
One of Yogananda's problems in his days was that other kriya yogas in India did not entrust him with very much stuff by Lahiri Mahasaya when he tried to gather such information when he visited India in 1935-36. But the Sanskrit Classics in San Diego has published much translated material. May it be added that "Yogananda's teaching is deviations, experimental, unproven, and a modified mess," Satyeswarananda also informs (Ibid.)
Much material is made public by Satyeswarananda to document that Lahiri Mahasaya did in fact write books, contrary to what Yogananda and his guru Yukteswar said about that. [◦Lahiri Mahasaya Books]
❋ Yogananda did not succeed markedly in fact-checking about Lahiri Mahasaya, the writer.
It may be good to know that the favourite Divine Mother of Yogananda, Kali, is garlanded with human skulls. Yogananda "was devoted to Mother Kali as his Divine Supreme Goddess," writes the Yogananda biographer Dasgupta (2006:26)." She may have a tender side too, as expressed through one of her four hands, even if her dress consists of human limbs. Not everybody takes a liking to Kali according to one's inborn mentality. "A word to the wise, like spice"?
If you say, "I don't feel comfortable with a women like that by my side or in my bed - or under it," it could well be a wise reserve: In good yoga, people find and cherish a side to the Divinity they are attracted to and care about a whole lot and most of all. This quote is from Dasgupta's Yogananda biography: "Apparently, in yet another life he [Yogananda] had been a vicious and murderous desert marauder." (2006:112)
Many have not been made aware of such "garlanded ugly skulls" of Yogananda and his teachings. Further, once fished and part of his cult, SRF, they dare not look around to get mature perspectives. That is how it often is, for terms like "guru loyalty" may get in the way.
Instead of repeating analogies of monkeys and cats to promote a defective view, Yogananda should have focused on teachings he was sent to the West to spread. His immediate guru, Yukteswar, presented him with a book of theistic Samkhya philosophy teachings to base his teachings on, and he had got kriya yoga methods also. What happened with Yogananda "at large" in the United States, away from India, is that he changed kriya and took to devotional language, and seemingly Christianising it a whole lot. It surely has created problems in addition to the half-ritualised, rather scary "cry for Mother Divine and she will come", and so on. He might have become less bossy than hailing fascism and dictatorship too.
❋ The company you are drawn to may tell something about yourself.
If you hunger for fair words from India or if you long for development of deeper parts of your mind or for freedom or more liberation in that way - Yogananda's book goes into such themes, but not adequately. A "submitting attitude" by an expert of submit-and-clinge shines through, and many fattening slogans abound. That seems fair to say.
The problem with that sort of presentation is that the gullible may be wholly or partly led to believe it is spiritual and all right to become great clingers too - devotees is the word. However, some go on to find they have been clinging (attached) to hopeless ideas, to indoctrination, to fantasies, to fanaticism, to improper opinions, unnecessary rites and ritual and undue ritualism - religious far down on the ladder, instead of spiritual on higher rungs of the ladder - into blessed yogi realms. Conclusion so far:
Much talk of God, Masters and sacred fellows does not help a man full well, nor does authoritarian submissiveness training against adequate independence or the non-attachment, disinterest or no-craving (vairagya) that the Bhagavad Gita advocates (6.35; 13.8; 18.52) for all seekers of higher and highest freedom (moksha). Submissiveness tends to hurt personal interests after time; maybe your character - and further development depends largely on your flourishing own interests, according to psychodynamic understanding also (cf. Allport 1966).
Now, a rather simple word distribution study can help in suggesting some alarming themes that often escape the attention of many readers initially. There is more on it below.
❋ The total impact of a book consists of value-charged words too, not just quantitative repetitions.
Words can be ranked and grouped and classified in more than one way, for example:
So from the table on top of the page is it feasible to sniff at some of the author's communicated stances, attitudes, servility problems, sexual strength (bluntness, we presume); position-taking; attitude-formation to gurus and fence-building efforts. What we come up with may not be accurate, but still useful for certain tasks.
Much "qualitative research" in these days rest on peculiar strategies and the ability to form one's own opinions. It helps to become good at ascertaining. There are methods to go into for it.
❋ To get good at ascertaining things is feasible for many, as many skills that go together for it, can be learnt and practised. To go to good and adequate sources is part of what may help.
"Brag is a good dog ..." (Proverb) - Offhand mentions may be hard to tackle and deal with later.
Acclaimed books reflect preferences of acclaimers.
Most often terms used in a work reflect ideas and norms that are commonly thought highly of among those it adresses, in this case the public in North America in the 1940s and 50s. The book was written in southern California. One aim of the autobiography was perhaps to inspire acceptance for Indian gurus and yogis by terms like "saints" and "christs" and "holy" and so on. Yogananda goes a long way it the use of such terms.
Similarly, in the book variously named The Master Said (1952, 1957), Sayings of Yogananda (1958) and now Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda (1980?), a "Great-Master-reverence" glows throughout. I do not say it is unfit, I just express what is easily found from perusal of the book. [Cf. Ms; Say; Spo]
❋ A well accepted book reflects on its buyers too.
Meditation must be practiced every day. Start now! - Yogananda. (Yogananda 1997, 407)
Precious independence is fine. It helps us assert such as, "Am meditating already, cannot start now what was started earlier." Or "The eternal now is OK." Hence, we may not be too literal-minded in reading Yogananda. An instigation may be OK, but the good drive should be from inside. That is much as Maharishi Mahesh Yogi stands for.
But for the lack of fit indepencence, what if you started to meditate last year and suddenly realise Yogananda's "Now" was somewhere before 5 March 1952, when he died of a heart attack, according to the doctor? Is it too late to catch up with a Now that was Then? Can you manage to obey his seemingly long gone "now!" in a good way? Relax, for Yogananda says the the Now is ever.
Man places so much importance on time, but . . . all is a part of the eternal Now. - Yogananda, The Master Said, 1st ed, p. 84.
That should not be an excuse for anything, such as not making about the best out of one's life by good regulations, firmness, and developing skills or methods. A problem with series of of appeals, exhortations, and importunities is that they are not conductive to personal development at length. It is quite a "top-dog" thing, too. As means to individual development, exhortations have defects. The early Yogananda tried to persuade persons into it, by giving plausible reasons.
Yogananda also taught,
Let us concentrate on That from which our being emerges: Know thy soul. - Yogananda, in Jse 200.
That is also a bit from his higher teachings, so often drowned in "seek-God" ideations and the like. According to Jung, a developing human becomes more unlike others, more unique, as a result of the process call individuation. Lots of general exhortatations may go against the unfolding of individuality. A spiritual person may not conform to religious cult-like behaviour. The spiritual individual may have to dispense with and also go against blind-folded common beliefs.
A truly liberating education had better offers good food for what is essential to nourish, also in the humanistic fields. Liberating self-help education and guru-dictated ways of training oneself and of conforming to a church, for example, may not always go very well together.
This is not an attack on religiousness in itself, for it is often rooted in basic friendliness, and can be very useful for tiny sprouts that need some fencing, or for twigs that need lenient enough support.
A puzzle is how the author of the Autobiography advocates development through self-effort and self-surrender. Self-effort with skill in accordance with wise teachings is helpful, whereas self-surrender mars the inexperienced that know no yoga methods for it (!) In such a case, better go for being realistic and sensible, for if realism is hurt in an individual, fairness could be the next victim along with truthfulness.
Yogananda: "I quarrel with God." Try Not To
What happened to "Pick someone of your own size"?
Therefore, try to keep your free will if you can handle it. There is no good reason to give away hard-won, attained autonomy and such assets. Try to have good, clean fun instead, to avoid that things turn ugly. As Yogananda is into, "It is indeed a funny world. But the results of our wrong actions do not seem very funny to us! That is why I quarrel with God (Yogananda 1993, 111)." "Evil destroys all the fun. (Yogananda 1993, 327)" "The whole universe is contained in only a fragment of His being! The Lord seems to be having a lot of fun playing with these marbles in the sky (Yogananda 1997, 55)." "Your outer experiences should be only fun (Yogananda 1992, 241)."
Accordingly, being really spiritual is not far from being happy and having lots of fun in savoury ways. Appropriate and gentle humour is good for health too, according to recent research.
❋ Have fun! is a repeated part of Yogananda's message.
No one knows where the shoe pinches, but he who wears it. (Danish proverb)
Yogananda's SRF and other Yogananda disciples do not have a monopoly on kriya yoga. In fact, kriya yoga is described in textbooks of Satyananda, and basic kriya yoga is handed out freely on this site. Some variants are described in Niranjanananda's book Prana and Pranayama (2009).
Yoga and meditation have become mainstream in the West since the time of Yogananda Cool, calm practice brings benefits above yakking.
◦Transcendental Meditation is the method that helps the most among the more researched researched methods. Study the research findings to see for yourself.
Allport, Gordon. Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955. Repr, 1966.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.
Niranjanananda, Swami. 2009. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust.
Prabhavananda, Swami, and Christopher Isherwood, trs. 1978. Shankara's Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. 3rd ed. Hollywood: Vedanta Press.
Ramakrishna, Paramhansa. Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974.
Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. 1992a. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. I: The Gitas: The Vedic Bibles. Guru Gita. Omkar Gita. Abadhuta Gita. Kabir Gita. 2nd rev. ed. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics.
⸻, tr. 1992b. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. III: The Upanisads: The Vedic Bibles. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics.
Shankara. 1946. The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom and other writings of Shankaracharya. Tr. Charles Johnston. Covina: Theosophical University Press.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1946. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library.
⸻. 1952. The Master Said: A Collection of Paramhansa Yogananda's Sayings and Wise Counsel to Various Disciples. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship Publishing House.
⸻. 1957. The Master Said: Sayings and Counsel to Disciples by Paramhansa Yogananda. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1958. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1980. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1982. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1993. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻. 1997. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Harvesting the hay
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