I don't pray. That may seem a strange thing to say. - Yogananda, in Man's Eternal Quest, 1982:121. [A rhyme! But don't disregard he wrote a whole book of "answered prayers", Whispers from Eternity]
Among Christians in the US, Yogananda for a long while was steady and constant at chat-praying [for show?] beyond the boundaries of true sincerity. For one thing, he acknowledged Jesus as a guru, the Jesus-for-Jews-only (cf. Vermes 2012) who was recorded to say,
Don't be a praying-hypocrite who loves to pray standing and be seen by others. "Go to your room and shut the door behind you", and pray. (Matthew 6:5-6, rendered. A part of it runs almost exactly like "You're grounded! Go to you room!" if that matters here.)
Don't Yogananda's decisions to pray in public as he often did in front of many in lecture halls, seem odd in the light of Jesus-adhesion? Very little original hypocrite invocations are not much to boast of either.
There is still more - a Yogananda citation and a more detailed commentary that says "There is something wrong here, and not just one thing, for sure." However, "What is wrong with a falsely crowing rooster?" is not asked.
Consistent insincerity is false and unfit for crowing farm roosters
We could in part profit more from having a pig in our home than succumb to soap-cocky invocations of the sort that make family members doze off by the dozens and not wake up so much that they ask: "Why keep a crowing cock within hearing-range when I mean to sleep?"
Another thing is that if a farm cock crows with bad or false notes in his "song" for some time, there may be something wrong with him, or he may not be up to snuff. If so, there is something that needs to be handled - and something drastic should not be left out from the smorgasbord of possibilities, for it may be needed.
Try to stay within the boundaries of what you can safely say without transgressing. To lavish insincere hails and invocations "in east and west" (a literal translation from the Norwegian "i aust og vest", that is, widely and wildly) to what you really don't go for, suggests being hypocritical. At any rate it is not the best thing to do in the light that insincerity is tactless at bottom. And if others place much trust in hypocritical outbursts and say they are godly teachings, it might be so much for the worse.
May simple word-pictures help you to carry sincere, inner truths into your way of living till you flower by more fit consistency than the Americanised Hindu monk Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) demonstrates in many of his rather ceremonical and plump invocations aimed at a public.
What could be wrong with the plump Yogananda invocation?
The farm cock may be allowed his say, but what if he crows badly and often so? It could be a sign of something that needs to be fixed. Here goes:
1. Buddha does not advocate going to extremes, and that is a foundational teaching in Buddhism, which stems from what the Awakened One (Buddha) saw. Cutting off pieces of flesh from one's own body is going to extremes, and not fit for anyone unless for saving the rest of the body. Surgical removal of gangrenous tissue and antibiotics are the mainstays of treatment for gangrene, for example.
2. Try not to bellow for long gone others to come to you. Why? For one thing, they could be better off without that, and better off where they are. And they may not even want to come, no matter how you weep and cry on the advice of Yogananda. Do followers get nervous problems there? The cry-design apparently works towards it.
A cockrow could be a help to awake, and not a hidden source of hazards. Have nothing of self-molesting without gangrene toes and the like, to be on the safe side. The Norwegian film Nine Lives (Ni liv) about Jan Baalsrud, a member of the Norwegian resistance during World War II, tells about how. In 1943, Baalsrud in 1943 took part in an operation to destroy a German air control tower in Troms. The mission was compromised when he and his fellow commandos by accident made contact with a civilian who betrayed them to the Nazis.
The morning after their blunder their fishing boat - containing 8 tons of explosives intended to destroy the air control tower - was attacked by a German vessel. The Norwegians fled in a small boat, which was sunk by the Germans. Jan and others swam ashore in ice cold Arctic waters. Jan was the only soldier that was not captured. Soaking wet and missing one sea boot, he escaped up into a snow gully, where he shot and killed the leading German Gestapo officer.
Also: It may be tricky to deal by concepts with one who has attained the supreme state.
Cockrow Comments1. Insincere praise, shun it for your own good. You don't become a Lord here on earth by sacrificing your body. You should not victimise yourself. And insincere Yogananda praise, what about it? Yogananda's guru Yukteswar teaches that self-sacrifice is worse than foolish, as humans have greater value than sheep. Yogananda writes about that in his Autobiography.
""Guruji, should one offer himself [as] a sacrifice rather than kill a wild beast?"
To prattle-praise what you go against, is that swell? Yogananda does. Compare also, "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!" [Matthew 12:12]". So Yogananda could have resorted to other things to praise than a will to self-sacrifice and weeping. Consider: Very successful living and the middle way to great awakening are fit Buddhism: [Link]
2. The pipal or bo tree, a variety of banyan, in Buddh Gaya, Bihar, India. Buddha attained the Great Illumination under it.
3. "Don't torment yourself," is the message of Buddha. Gautama Buddha established a Middle Path that talks against going to extremes. He also says in the Apannaka Sutta, that the best sort of human "torments and tortures neither himself nor others." So we should not praise rash resolves against Buddha's own, awakened stands, as given in the ancient Sutta (discourse).
A balanced food intake helps meditation. Some learn it a little late. Tibets accomplished yogi patron Milarepa realised after long years of severe, extreme ascetism: "That was not necessary, after all!" (Evans-Wentz 1969:204-09, paraphrase)
Good gurus praise what helps and helps the best. Sound measure is to some a gate to better conditions. Proficiency in sound methods are too.
4. Blessing: "Honour the wise." Don't expect personal blessings from Buddha. His teachings (Dharma) are the blessings he offers, he says in many ways. Besides, in those extant teachings he enumerates 38 great blessings in the Mangala Sutta. Here is the first great blessing: "Not to associate with the foolish, but to associate with the wise; and to honour those who are worthy of honour." Further down on the list is this great blessing: "To have much learning, to be skilful in handicraft, well-trained in discipline, and to be of good speech."
"The more the merrier." Also, the whole Yogananda-idea of "come to me, O thou Great One" is to be abandoned for fit meditation. "Come to me as Buddha" is part of a series along that vein. Yogananda comes up with "Sacred Demands to the Infinite", and you find "Come to Me, O Christ, as the Divine Shepherd of Souls," "Krishna, Divine Cowherd," Swami Shankara, Moses, and Mohammed among those texts too. It reflects an underlying policy.
Bellowing is OK if you are an ox, and crying may be if you are out of balance. The "come-bellowing" is duality-soaked - fervent devotional You-directed meditation is of devotionalism, which breeds cults too. Hinduism shows it does. Hinduism is a composite of diverse doctrines, cults, and ways of life. The cult of bhakti (love, devotion) gave rise to Vishnuvism and other major sides to Hinduism. The cult of Shiva developed alongside the cult of Vishnu. The tendency for the laity to group themselves into religious societies, promoted the growth of devotional Vaishnavism and Shaivism. The large-scale development of devotion to the Mother Goddess, the favourite of Yogananda, did not take place until medieval times. Further, development of semi-ritual crying like a baby for the Mother, a favourite thought of Yogananda, is found in his fellowship too. Yogananda goes very far off from yogic and mental balance, you should perceive. There is no noble reason to steer aspiring followers into some crying gutter. - Vast parts of present-day Hinduism are of cults, as Christianity started out as in Judaism too. [EB, "Hinduism"]
Honour and praise in timely ways. Opposed to Yogananda's outpourings and supplications there is the final teachings of Buddha in the Mahanibbana Sutta. Just before his passing, Buddha praised a monk who did not come to see him and pay his respect to him as others expected he would do. Buddha summoned him, and the monk said: "I thought the best way to honour you was by becoming an Arhant [in deep meditation] before you departed."
Buddha said, "Excellent! He honours me best who practises my teaching best." (Narada 1988:287)
A Note on the Yogananda Scheme
How did Yogananda form his unoriginal poems in the USA? He took as his model some parts of King James version of the Bible, and words rolled from his lips and pen. Talks of his were also very little structured, as SRF editors tell. Man's Eternal Quest (1982). It shows up he
seldom made even the slightest preparation for his lectures; if he prepared anything at all, it might consist of a factual note or two, hastily jotted down. Very often, while riding in the car on the way to the temple, he would casually ask one of us: "What is my subject today?" He would put his mind on it, and then give the lecture extemporaneously. (1982:xi-xii)
As for his invocations "east and west" (wild and wide invocations), he used some underlying structures: [Several Yogananda invocations - "How he did it"]
Sensuous experience is had through some unconditioned Maya dream thought.
The Clear Light may be recognized, and vouchsafed by "gift-waves," that is, "transmitted influences. [Tibetan teaching]
The Sage should through the village go,
Wise men become serene.
As in a boat, a wise man reaches the Other Shore (Nirvana-land). [Buddhism in essence]
Enlightenment glows in the heart. [Buddhist teaching]
Buddhism and Hinduism teach alike: Good ones should try to live out what is handy or neatly unnatural in certain basic, regulated ways without doing themselves harm, for some such measures may help inner development. In Buddhism it is likened to turning the wheel of dharma. The clue for a lay follower is: Even if it is not totally in accord with natural living in everything, it allows for sound pleasures, having houses and homes, utensils and other goods, and fine food too, for example.
Buddha teaches to go gently with yourself and give yourself love and affection, because you deserve it as much as anybody else in your universe. "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]" Do not let gurus tip your balance, then. He also teaches "Avoid killing". Absolutisic ideals of killing and not killing and medleys and confusion in such as Yogananda's teachings are avoided due to a noble, basic understanding.
Buddha lays out a careful, graded path, with some rules for lay followers and stricter rules for monks and nuns. Be as lax as you can; but you can draw benefit from rules for monks even as a layman. That is possible. What to do? Incorporate the suitable regulations in your life. Benefits stem from living in fit ways more than from ceremonial formalism with robes and decorum, Buddha and Tibet's patron saint Milarepa (c. 1052 – c. 1135) shows. Milarepa says,
May pleasures of the world illusory not tempt me . . . may the Blossom of Superconsciousness bloom forth in me - Milarepa, in Evans-Wentz 1969:193).
From that you see that if you think you should live more like a monk, you do not have to don any robes and get overly concerned with ceremonial rigmarole. You can just try to live up to Milarepa's "The worthiest one is engaged in turning a blessed human life to the best account Milarepa, cf. Evans-Wentz 1969:225)."
Recognize who are your friends in time. Buddha offers helping guidance here. [Link]
Remove that arrow
First get out of trouble, if you have identified it, and then seek to remedy it, perhaps by taking expert councel. An allegory by Buddha:
A man approached Buddha and wanted to have all his philosophical questions answered before he would practice. In response, Buddha said, "It is as if a man had been wounded by a poisoned arrow and when attended to by a physician were to say, 'I will not allow you to remove this arrow until I have learned the caste, the age, the occupation, the birthplace, and the motivation of the person who wounded me.' That man would die before having learned all this." (Abr.)
It is fine to profit from trouble too, but not everybody can tackle that. Such an idea is related to "some problems are challenges", and "some challenges may be solved, even with some profit". Sound stress management gives a much similar scope too.
Some find that troubles at times help moral growth - but I would not count on it.
Take heed of your company. Buddha warns against being with fools, not unlike the proverb "Stay away from fools that you may not be among their number". Refrain from using the criteria to harm people.
Are cult people well? If you take to the holistic health concept and its parameters, it is fair to doubt that. Holistic medicine looks at the whole person - his body, mind, emotions, and environment. It stresses traditional commonsense essentials of exercise, adequate sleep, good air, moderation in personal habits, and so forth.
A cult and sectarians have certain hallmarks, and soaring freedom of spirit and mind is hardly one of them. There may be a play on emotions too, and the environment may get limited, even cramped in the sad cases. In the case of Yogananda's "groupies", he probably impressed them by great-looking words like Infinity, Supreme, and so on - and did much of devotion. He let monks and nuns run his society, allegedy to keep the teachings pure - which teachings? It shows up that the devoted forgers have no particular clean fare in such matters. [Link]
Now, the idea is that emotionalism and devotionalism may limit one's fare, and a limited fare may give cramped living, even nervousness, and less liberal outlooks, and subservience to top-dogs. Such a drift down into silliness may come soon, or in time.
You may also have noticed that unlike the big boss Yogananda I do not try to convince you of things to fit you into allegedly Great God-schemes. I try to present the case, furnish some evidence, and let that suffice for most part. Compare Buddha's Kalama Sutta: [Link]
This said, there may be people who benefit from SRF too: It matters how base you are when you enter and how your inner make-up suits make-believe and guru waggling - but the main trends of sectarian devotionalism may be spoken against anyhow.
Buddha teaches you not to give to undeserving ones. Who are they? Hearts know, or should know. However, for the sake of the few Buddha also says that healing matters and sane teachings may be dispensed to all. That is the good reason why I teach core kriya freely at the presents. About 13,000 persons have visited the page during the last three years, and the visits have been increasing over time. [Link]
"Alive!" is a terse and good biography for someone who makes efforts to enter the Way or walk It. Much in this life too depends on how well he lives.
Then what about Yogananda who "with one hand" affirmed in 1945, "I was never born, I never died" and "with the other hand" finished the first edition of his Autobiography of a Yogi in 1946 and died in 1952? Has blatant Ceremonialist Inconsistency got into it somehow?
It is also easy to get confused by a guru who first taught ahimsa, non-violence, and later sent disciples to fight in World War II. The do's and don'ts of the guru are not always fit, and not always bad either. See that you don't make the worst of it.
A repeat: Give honour where honour is due.
Narada. The Buddha and His Teachings. 4th ed. Kuala Lumpur: Buddhist Missionary Society, 1988.
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica = Britannica Online.
Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibet's Great Yogi Milarepa.> 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1969.
Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. 8th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1959.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. Ed. Kriyananda. 1st ed. Paperback. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 2008. Online.
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