Below is information about the claimed gurus of Self-Realization Fellowship, and something more around them too, including a rather bizarre Guru Jesus. But first an alert. SRF cultists may feel disconcerted if they should read on. The reasons are not few.
Lola Williamson's Findings
Lola Williamson has devoted some space to Self-Realization Fellowship in her book Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. (2010). Her book is descriptive along large lines, with a sound academic distance.
She provides an overview of three emerging new religious movements. The hybrid movement is being formed by combining a little Hinduism with some accepted Western concepts and values. As a result of the decades' long process a hybrid form of religion sits. One may consider it a cult, or a result of corruption of the original teachings, or better - many options are there. And such a change away from the first leaders and their teachings and ideals is nothing new. In the early church the same thing happened in that Christianity changed the idea of how its founder was, forged his teachings, settled on other ways to live than what was the one option for early followers, and further. It did not stop there either, but diversified into denominations and sects also. Do we find similar trends in today's SRF and its spin-off groups, including hollow forgeries? We may study salient points and facts first, and then mull over them.
Williamson offers glimpses into the outlooks, motivations and experiences of long-time practitioners of the growing hybrid cultish stand. The emerging form of religion combines Hindu religious practices, founder output they find serviceable or palatable, and in the end an emerging group adherence becomes a dominant factor, regardless of professed, former values and ideals of the founder. Such could be the scenario of the "play" at work in groupish settings by and large. The series of accommodations may also overtake the spiritual purposes and high goals of the practices - to conform in some new religion that is neither fish nor fowl and makes a show of it. I suggest you study SRF in good light, and include "SRF had altered Yogananda's works up to drastically." It may not end there.
As a group changes, the impact of its leader guidelines change - subtly or by silly forgeries also. It happened to "guru Jesus" who taught his teachings are for Jews only (Matthew 15:24 etc.) - but still his many self-molester and dangerous teachings were incorporated in the early church through later-added gospels. It happened against his gospel teachings that his teachings, salvation and kingdom were for Jews alone. (Geza Vermes 2010:37,41):
During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012)
The teachings of Jesus were forbidden for Gentiles - by Jesus in the gospel of Matthew (15:24; 10:5-8). Christianity (the deal for Gentiles) and Yogananda's fawning on gospel teachings represent something unauthorised by Jesus. How? The Missionary Command at the end of Matthew, and in Mark 16:15 are fake. They are forged, the good bible scholar Vermes says. He is not the only one. Joseph Wheless goes into detail in showing why one can say so, by using "intrinsic evidence" - by showing how the Missionary Command in Matthew contains terms that were not used at the time of the apostles. Wheless also shows how this late addition to the gospels does not match other core passages, in Acts. [Forged Missionary Command - Wheless]
Through forgeries to faith and many ceremony-tied "faithfulees"
Why be led by forgeries that beckon a fakefaith?
One is to look behind the facades of cliches, dumbening phrases, ostentations show of respect that could hide a deep, thoroughgoing disrespect for the gospel sayings attitributed to Jesus: "For Jews only." Surely there is much disrespect around, disrespect that looks like customary respect - it is shown by ceremonies, rituals and repeated stock phrases that are not even close to gospel sayings of Jesus. An example from SRF's kriya pledge: The "Do not swear" by Jesus is ignored for the sake of an oath in the name of Jesus . . . Disrespect may be masquerading, and so may cruelty in the name of help.
Forgeries of gospel parts and massive incorporation of pagan elements in the Church may suggest that as a Gentile Chistian you have been made a fool of. It is high time to take to heart what bible scholars may tell and some have told for decades or more, so that many, many get rid of Bible material used for duping children.
You might benefit from getting above cult ado, mingled cult-worship and being phrase-stuck to your personal loss of dignity - granted that religion fit for your inner development and continued well-being in this world may help. Out of respect for yourself - and maybe parts of Jesus messages too, one should throw the gospels away unless Jewish and freaking (Jews en masse tell Jesus is no Messiah). Then you should not be taken to task by some "Why call me 'Lord, Lord', and not respecting what I have said? Away from me." That could be a hard experience, if not The hard experience.
How milk is had
Cows do not eat thistles, and need time to lie down and chew its cud before milk is made. Good folks need good time to ruminate on matters to.
What has happened to some of the first teachings of Yogananda, the founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF? SRF has decided to shovel them away; that is what has happened. Kriyananda, one of SRF's former vice presidents, wrote a book, Rescuing Yogananda (2010), which was metamorphosed into Yogananda for the World. It is online.
What or who could Yogananda need to be rescued from, now that he is dead? A Catholic who has read 'Father Mateo''s heresy charges concerning teachings of Yogananda and SRF, might say: "Saved from purgatory or worse - but isn't it too late now, if he used Black Arts to influence Hitler to attack the Soviet Union?" (Kriyananda 2011:131). That view could well indicate what a faith may effect. Another, more moderate outlook is he could be saved from torments in one of many hells, or maybe future hells in his way?
Faith has many outlets. What is happening is hard to tell for a mortal.
As for Yogananda's disciple Kriyananda, he wanted to save Yogananda from embarrassments of having founded a fellowship that turned sectwards and suppressed good things Yogananda had wanted. He does not talk of how Yogananda fawned on Jesus and the gospels only five years after coming to America, but Marshall Govindan has tackled it thus:
After five years of effort in America, beginning in 1925 . . . Yogananda began to modify and adapt his teachings to the West . . . to overcome the . . . resistance of Christians who were suspicious of the foreign teachings of a Hindu swami. As a result, Yogananda began to enjoy remarkable popularity. . . . However, . . . most readers of his "Autobiography" . . . are left with many unrealistic expectations. - Marshall Govindan. [◦Link]
Fawning on Jesus of the gospels for being welcomed among naive Christians, and going on from there to take control over souls, is that the underlying cause of rot? Faking comes at a price - for it often breeds lower teachings and hypocricy with it. Jesus of the gospels condemns hypocrites too.
And what about being rescued from a silly following? The former SRF vice president, Kriyananda meant the fellowship that Yogananda had founded and one day ◦regretted he had founded, had chosen to run over tall messages and ideas of Yogananda. Well, in SRF they forged his signature (!) - and did much else suitable for certain cultish ones. SRF's editorial ways of dealing with Yogananda's hints and possibly intended meanings with them, are reflected in book after book. SRF also expanded on books he once dictated, and changed a lot in one book after another. Mature editing is different. There is much evidence around. [More], [Still more], [And so on]
The author of Rescuing Yogananda, the composer and writer Kriyananda (1926-2013), tells how SRF has strayed and abused old teachings in many ways and for long, and explains it has to do with SRF's "Ask yourself first, 'What is best for the organization?'" For in SRF the answer to that means power in the hands of a few (the leaders), and obedience for others who strive under them, being governed by strict rules, he finds. He relates to the life mission of SRF's founder Yogananda and original, main ideals for the movement instead. Ananda, the alternative movement he built to follow up on them, has kept growing.
Aristotle, truth and Self
A little dictum comes to mind: "At first God created man and made him lord over all things and animals on earth. And then man created the Institution and made it lord over himself." There is a problem there.
In the SRF arena, who is to be first? Is it God, the Self (Atman, also termed Truth in some contexts), or Yogananda, or the work he started to regret it one day? Think for yourself. If it is God, straightway and directly, it is the Self in each Yogananda follower, if those souls have not been wiped out -
Aristotle is credited with: "Plato is friend, but truth is more friend (to me than he is)."
We cannot all be Greek philosophers, but "to your own Self be true" is a good way of not becoming a nervous wreck and maybe ruined in time too.
One serious problem with such changes as Kriyananda speaks of, is that the public facade of the group and what is really going on in there, get very different, and by that disappointing, to say the least. The SRF management has upheld a "guilded guru", and holds his guidelines are without flaw after removing the worst of them from the limelight, and after some forging of that guru's signature (!). It seems symptomatic.
Not all hybrids are bad and unsuccessful in all ways
Be that as it may, Lola Williamson offers examples of the beliefs and practices of current SRF members. Their words and experiences shed light on their world view, lifestyle, and relationship with their movement, its superiors, and claimed gurus, whose views are more or less dethroned to suit the group's management. Williamson makes a case that Hindu-inspired meditation movements are distinct from Hinduism. That may be true, but then again there are different kinds of Hinduism, and there are different kinds of movements. Hybrid religious group in the United States may have an added risk of becoming cultish, perhaps, while staunch societies could escape it in America too, as in other places. It the long run, some things could depend on:
If truthfulness is disregarded by hypocricy, forgeries and things like that, hanky-pankies are not a good solution and may foster dukkha, discomfort, stress, pain and suffering and other nasty things, on many levels and in many fields and walks of life. There are many other parts of this "whole machine" (organisation) to study, on many levels. If troubles set in (see further down), troubleshooting may be helped a lot by such lists, bearing in mind that parts of a machine work together for good, for bad, or something in between. When a badness-inflicting soap opera machine gets troubles, it may be good for most people. One is to take such things into account too.
We can do without outré cultishness
Williamson offers a balanced round-up account of Self-Realization Fellowship. Former members who have concluded that SRF looks like a cult and acts like one, may not. Williamson's "main handle" is largely the idea of "hybrid religious movement". However, these terms overlap in reality, for if a cult grows big and old, it is termed religion - and diversifies. These are common phenomenons. There are lots of cults in America - 5,000 in the estimate of Margaret Singer (2003:xvii). The number is otherwise estimated to range between a thousand and five thousand. Cults take big bites through faith.
The state of United States, that hotbed of cults, with cultishness in millions of Americans, tells of much underlying nervousnes and insecurity in many, if it has not been inexperience coupled with too much goodwill. Should we go to the root of the problem or not? Some try to for the sake of happiness and thriving that may flounder in cult enclaves. One exponent of such an approach is Dr Philip Zimbardo.
Williamson offers examples of SRF troubles. In the 1990s, a new SRF Management Committee
realized that a labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. The committee suggested . . . that SRF hire outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees, the Monks Spiritual Life Committee and the Nuns Spiritual Life Committee, were formed to execute the suggestions made by the consultants. This was the beginning of a split among the monks and nuns who resided at the Mother Center. Some viewed the promise of change with exhilaration and hope; and some viewed it with fear. The end result was that a large number of monastics left SRF from about 2000 to 2001. Due to the entrenched resistance to change, the communication consultants were let go, the existing committee members replaced by others content with the status quo, and the psychologists relieved of their duties. It may be that so many people needed to talk to the counselors that the leadership became fearful of losing control. They reverted to the old style of dealing with problems. (Williamson 2010:76).
The old style they reverted to, had not solved their problems in the first place. That stands out. The exhilaration of many SRF monastics evaporated a lot. An US attorney, Jon Parsons, informs, "Between 2000 and 2005 more than fifty monks and nuns are reported to have left the organization." That was estimatedly one third of all the SRF monastics at that time. (Parsons 2012:170) [◦Also here]
Williamson also goes briefly into controversies surrounding SRF and the two other movements, with a bird's-eye view for most part. For a survey that is good. There are many significant details of the possible Games (hanky-pankies), bramble thickets and downsides to cultishness that lie outside the scope of her work, though.
Yogananda told he influenced Adolf Hitler to escalate World War II
Swami Kriyananda was a direct disciple of Yogananda and stayed much with him during Yogananda's last years. He writes:
When Hitler allowed himself to be seized by ambition for power . . . several masters began to work against him . . . They were at liberty . . . to put the thought in Hitler's mind to make the mistakes that led to his eventual destruction. They suggested to him from within, for example, to divide his forces and fight both in the east and in the west, and also in Africa. . . . Militarily, there was no need for Germany to divide its fronts. That self-division proved, for it, a fatal error. (Conversations with Yogananda, No. 289)
Tragic sides to a tale of invading Hitler's mind to make him invade the Soviet Union
The idea that Yogananda influenced Adolf Hitler's mind by use of Black Arts to escalate the Second World War and attack the Soviet Union sounds perhaps alien to flower power, but . . . [◦A source]
Consider what we are told: make some effort to ruminate.
"Beware, beware, keep your garden fair"
The line is from a folk song Let no man steal your thyme. If you let others make what might be turned into a lovely garden into their gutter to deposit foul things in, what comes out if it may be too disappointing. To ask for good evidence before believing much, that is the thing to keep at heart in this. A garden might need that kind of shelter.
If Yogananda is rendered fairly by Kriyananda (2011:131), he used a Black Art and thereby caused tens of millions dead humans, and much likely several millions of killed animals too - ducks, horses, cows, sparrows and so on. If so, the guru murkily caused untold harm, sufferings and deaths to many millions. A better person might have tried not to make peace by other means than causing sufferings, damages and deaths of millions. If an invasion of Hitler's mind by Black Yogananda Arts was to help, it stands out that causing grotesque mayhem and havoc is not a good way if there are better ways at hand.
Now, suppose Yogananda did not influence Hitler at all, but wanted to take credit and told something untrue. The snag: Wanting to take credit for magically having caused horrible things after the events can leave many sorts of suspicions that are hard to come by.
Real help: code breaking
By contrast, the code breaker and mathematician Bill Tutte (1917–2002) used his mind to break a German code called Tunny among the British. Thereby Tutte contributed to shortening the World War II by about two years, it is estimated. The war toll was about ten million lives each year. "Tutte's breakthroughs led eventually to bulk decrypting of Tunny-enciphered messages between German High Command (OKW) in Berlin and their army commands throughout occupied Europe." And the decrypting "played a crucial part in shortening the war." (WP, "W. T. Tutte") And thus, many millions of lives were spared.
The work of Tutte and those he was at work with at Bletchley Park north of London was deeply secret. One of these men, Thomas Flowers (1905–98), came up with the first computer, called Colossus - a long-time secret too (WP, "Colossus computer"). Yogananda did not seem aware of these brains, ways and means to outwit Hitler, and did not take credit -
Honour to whom honour is due.
The grim view
The story that Yogananda caused one of the most horrible worsenings of a war, may make fallen German soldiers and many others hate him a whole lot - if the story is true. If Yogananda just imagined he had influenced Adolf Hitler to attack Russia, "to end the war", one may pity him for some underlying malady, imagining and not telling the truth - or being out of his mind in some unfavourable way.
Now, before the war Yogananda had hailed Mussolini and dictatorship in his own magazine, and written well of Hitler in it too, around 1934. Cramped followers seek to defend the nastiness and perhaps avoid knowing about it. [More]
We are faced with tales among some Yogananda followers - original Yogananda claims are perhaps hard to find, if at all. But there is printed evidence of Yogananda's support of dictatorship and Mussolini. Besides he thought socialism would conquer, and thought well of both Hitler and the "benevolent dictator" Roosevelt. Seeing is believing: follow the link in the last paragraph.
Yogananda also founded the SRF church around that time. SRF stands for Self-Realization Fellowship, In 1935 it was registered as a church in California. It was founded to "arrest old age"; for spiritual healing; for eating nuts (!), fighting ignorance and not living for physical pleasure, says the deed. However, former SRF leaders all the same grow old, they too, and Yogananda himself died when he was fifty-nine. There is a danger in being engulfed by idealism that fools newcomers into some cult by bright facades. [◦SRF Articles of Incorporation 1935]
"Eat nuts," says Yogananda repeatedly. He later went on to say "We are all crazy (eg. 1982:425)". The slogan "You become what you eat," may not explain all of it, but cgnitive therapists might have some ideas that could be of use. Mind that eating nuts is potentially life-threatening if you are allergic to them. Millions are. For all that, "We do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines . . . his wisdom is flawless," is an odd SRF management idea. It is not all good, since some of the guru guidelines are not good enough. Some are in fact abandoned by SRF too. Still the facade remains: "We do not find fault . . . " and then they propagate selected Yogananda teachings. Do not be surprised by it! — Losing physical pleasure is fit for grumblers and fooled ones, as sound and fit pleasures are good for health and possibly longevity too. To see ignorance about nut allergies and the deep purposes of carnal pleasures in a document of this sort, suggests something low, but not deep and deep enough.
SRF members have until quite recently been largely unaware of the SRF Articles of Incorporation and of older aims and ideals as taught by Yogananda. [Former list of SRF ideals]
❋ Foresee damage and death so they won't get at you unprepared.
A hum of "strong leader's fellowship".
SRF members are of three sorts and the two last sorts may in time wake up to find they got serious problems from entering: (1) Those who receive SRF correspondence letters are called "SRF students". They are free to quit, says Yogananda. His bonding is not for them. (2) Those who swear a terrible oath of allegience, become members of the Church by it. (3) And some such oath-swearers also become monastic disciples of the guru that once wrote in his own magazine for dictatorship, Mussolini, and also told he had inspired Hitler to escalate World War II by breaking his non-aggression pact with Stalin and attack Russia.
Beware of those who say they found it best to cause the death of millions - ay ay ay - and want you to abstain from sound earthly delights and pleasures and worships a blood-thirsty, violent, long-tongued goddess wearing a garland of human heads. Kali was Yogananda's favourite goddess, his biographer, Dasgupta tells, and now some of her iconographic features are "poured into the pot" (included) for you. (Dasgupta 2006; EB, sv. "Kali")
❋ Garland of sworn-in disciple-members -
SRF looks like a sect, at least to former monastic members of it
SRF's former editor-in-chief, Tara Mata (Laurie Pratt, 1900-71) tells it is a sect. Others have problems classifying it. [◦Belgian list of movements, including cults and sects]
There are fair indications that SRF is a sect. If so, it is not the only cult in America: According to Louis J. West there were estimatedly about 2,500 cults in the United States in 1981, most of them religious, some small, some large. . Cults are not recessarily bad, but some may be risky to get involved with, and for many reasons, tells Dr Philip Zimbardo (2008). .
❋ Tara Mata should know -
Gurus of SRF by claims
In its line of gurus are these four: (1) Unknown, called Babaji ("Honoured Father"); (2) Shyama Lahiri, better known as Lahiri Mahasaya; (3) Yukteswar; and (4) the once dictator-fond Yogananda (1893-1952). The last two in the line were swamis.
Later-added guru: Jesus: In the history of Yogananda's fellowship, now known as Self-Realization Fellowship, Jesus was not fronted the first five years or so. Later on, and much likely to get more widely accepted among US Christians of his time, Yogananda also said that Jesus of the gospels was into his fellowship. If so, Jesus had changed his mind a lot after many centuries, now thinking:
From what has been guru-told in SRF, massive changes of heart and mind in Jesus topples the very foundation of Christianity that the four gospels back up. The faith of Christians, on the other hand, is that Jesus died like a sacrificial lamb to atone for sins of a lot of folks. By "dying as a seed in the ground" new corn plants sprouted, and a Ghost fell on the apostles on Whitsun several weeks after Jesus had died. The Ghost falling on a person was and is being saved - in the Christian sense. Four requirements were added for non-Jewish followers by the Apostolic Decree (WP, q.v.). No to blood food (black pudding is) and no to chickens that are killed by wrangling their necks are two of these vitally important parts of genuine Christianity. But words by Jesus aimed at Jews, did not go into the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15; 21:25). Many different gospels were written and added only after the founding, and after centuries four of the many gospels were selected as fit for the developing church, edited with forgeries added, and the four gospels. And so, no saying and command of Jesus went into the foundation of Christiany, the Apostolic Decree, and its "good ol' religion" that was presumably good enough for God, all the apostles and more.
The core of kriya yoga is a publicly known method called ujjayi. No need to get bound for life-times to learn it. It takes just a few minutes. [Just helpful breathing, and no restrictions]
Yogananda's indelicate graft also built on twisted and turned sayings in the Bible to conform to views that were not really in them, and claimed that SRF stands for "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ." However:
Luckily for SRF members who are devoted to the ideals and aims set up for the fellowship, "to show and reveal a teaching" is different from "to live it". And since there was no Christianity of Jesus they re shown right here, right now: --. The four gospels that contain sayings put in the mouth of Jesus, are in part forged, very, very likely. Besides, in those gospels Jesus says his teachings are for Jews only. If you are not a Jew, as most of us are, his words are not for you. The first church was founded without any gospels of Jesus. (Acts 15; Wikipedia, "The Council of Jerusalem")
A repeat: There was no such thing as original Christianity of Jesus, as revealed and shown by this: --. That is an easy job! If you should want to wade into gospel sayings - added much later, in part forged, you could benefit from learning what eminent Bible scholars have dug up - I am fond of Geza Vermes' hard work. Jesus and his teachings are built on sand of later-gathered and edited stuff, and not on the rock of verbatim, written words by him. And since they were for Jews only, we should respect that and benefit from lots of other sayings. One good reason to wade into the loosely founded gospel sayings would be to help others out of that mire. Consider it done.
Later-added 2: Sri Krishna. Sri Krishna "made it" as an iconic figure to the SRF altars and their worship only in the 1970. However, Yogananda said that Babaji was Krishna - and now SRF includes Sri Krishna too among its gurus. Being insistent on a thing, is that all it takes among gullible guys who have not learnt to suspect ulterior motives and such stuff?
How many gurus are invoked in SRF rituals and ceremonies? Six today. At first four with Jesus in their midst also, and later came Krishna, in the 70s. You have to guess for yourself how well-founded the claimed line of gurus is, considering for example how it shames several teachings of Jesus of the New Testament - against other Christs, against swearing, on salvation, and so on, on and on.
❋ Words, words and guru worship is a great part of what a member gets in SRF.
"Guru Jesus" is purportedly an SRF guru
Rather than just "Claim many gurus and make way," hold on to facts first. Which are they?
1. Cruel Law, cruel upholders of it. Words of Jesus were intended for Jews only, he said in Matthew 15:24, and warned against other Christs. How unpleasant to find it out! He also supported bloodshed of innocent animals and "Keep the Canaanite slave forever [Leviticus 25:46]" - both are in the Law of Moses that he guaranteed for without reservations (Matthew 5:17-18). It complicates matters a whole lot that Hebrews most likely were Canaanites themselves; archaeological findings imply so. In that case, followers of Jesus have to keep other Jews slaves forever too, alas! For the teachings and salvation of Jesus were for Jews only, and he would not have other followers than Jews. Gentile followers were strictly out of the question for him. (Vermes 2005; 2010:37; 41) [Much more]
"Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. Truly, till heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law till everything is accomplished. [Matthew 5:17-18]
Yes, Jesus is cruel and was only for Jews. For one thing, he assented to the Law of Slavery and Vicarious Sacrifices (the Law of Moses), and thus cruelty to masses of animals. That is not all of it; he laid burdens on his followers too:
2. Calls that became too faint for the rich . . . in time. His gospel teachings demand poverty and possibly self-molestations and non-assertiveness of his victims - I mean followers. Who in his or her right mind wants self-defeating Jesuism (for Jews only) - with commands that are gruff and violent - in part self-molesting, self-defeating. " [One] had to surrrender . . . all one's possessions. (Geza Vermes 2010:23)".
After you have allowed bullies to rob you of all you held dear, and sawed off limbs or whatever to do as he commands, it hardly matters to you what good he might have said, does it?
The fifth chapter of Matthew goes into the "original commands to his followers". But as pointed out, Jesus' teachings and his Kingdom were for Jews only. The apostles of Jesus were ordered not to seek to persuade non-Jews. Jesus' message, which was directed towards Jews alone, was centred on the Law of Moses. He 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; 10:1-8; Vermes 2012; 2010:37;41)
Besides, his alleged sayings is a questionable mass, so it may be futile to get to the actual words of his. The sayings of Jesus in the gospels do not represent any verbatim sayings of Jesus. I almost said "luckily". So there is no need to be elated about Yogananda's commentaries on questionable and in part forged gospel sayings - according to the gospels and Acts 15 a Gentile Christian can do without them. (cf. Vermes 2005)
Jesus sayings are not mentioned in the Deal for Gentiles, the Apostolic Decree. The gospels, which contain them, are later-comers on the scene, and edited. (Matthew 15:24; cf. Vermes 2005; WP, "Council of Jerusalem").
3. The followers of Jesus fled from him some way or other. There were about 120 left when he entered Jerusalem and was executed, but even his few left apostles (down from 70 to 12) fled like fays when soldiers came to fetch him. Jesus had said so cruel things that most of his apostles and followers left him - is it another feat of "original Jesuism"? - Only 12 disciples out of formerly 70 remained with him, and they were not what you call valiant, although he had given them power! All the twelve fled him when goings got tougher. Still, what is called the Holy Spirit fell on them afterwards, when they were gathered.
[Key sources of "Guru Jesus": Geza Vermes, 2005; 2010; cf. WP, "Jesuism"] - [Geza Vermes findings]
❋ Hazardious claims do not change the truth that original Christianity of Jesus Christ is a joke, since there was no Christianity of Jesus, a Jew with only Jewish followers.
Led by "Original Christianity of Jesus" monastics - how can it be at all?
A fellowship that says it stands for "orginal Christianity as taught by Jesus" and is led by monastics - what about that? Since there was no Christianity of Jesus, it hardly matters that the fellowship is led by monastics either, as long as they don't mislead others. For monasticism arose centuries after Jesus, in Egypt, and were not part of any fit following of Jesus while he lived - it is not Jesuistic, then, according to the New Testament. SRF is led by monastics and aims to show and reveal "original Christianity as taught by Jesus". Well, there was none. Mission accomplished! Besides, Jesus said his teachings were for Jews only (Matthew 15:24); his recorded sayings in the gospels are not verbatim, and some are not authentic, but fraudulent [Joseph Wheless shows one of the biggest gospel forgeries: the missionary command]. The table is set for as charade that shows and reveals a non-existing Jesus-Christianity and fills in phrases "for the idiots" who believe it all, wholesale. It should be good for you to know it.
❋ Jesus had no monastic order to back him up. There was no monasticism among followers of Jesus till the day he died, and no follower-clergy either - for the most part only quite simple people. Clergy and monasticism came later.
Yogananda and SRF ignore the Apostolic Decree has no direct reference to Jesuism
To make life easier for Gentile followers, non-Jewish followers, that is, all the apostles and the Spirit formed the Apostolic Decree in Acts 15, and they said nothing about following Jesus, his commands and so on, but getting to God - by having a Spirit enter. "You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things." These are all four requirements of Gentile followers (read: non-Jewish Christians) in the Apostolic Decree from c. 50 CE, in Acts 15:19-29. It is the basis of early Christianity. Eating blood food, like black pudding, Brat, Wurtz, is put side by side with sexual immorality there, but beer is not. (WP, see "Council of Jerusalem")
Moreover, gospels were written many years after the Apostolic Decree, with additions to such gospels from centuries later too. Alle such competing gospels were serving fractions of the early church by disregarding the words of Jesus that his teachings were not for Gentile followers (Matthew 15:24), and further substantiated by the decree in Acts 15:19-29, where there is no mention of Jesus, teachings of Jesus or following Jesus. The good thing was to become living sacrifices, said Paul. "I urge you, brothers, . . . to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy . . ." wrote Paul. (Rom 12:1; cf. Rom 3:25). Yes, there is a sinister undertone there. There is also a glimpse of that in Acts 10:10-47, where the apostle Peter first get a vision and hear "Kill and eat". He wondered what the two times repeated vision and words meant, until he was told enough to gather that the unclean food was Gentiles (read: non-Jews), and "kill and eat" meant letting the Ghost fall on them. Later, lots of early Christians became martyrs. Millions, we are told. More]
Also worth repeating is that it is unclear which sayings attributed to Jesus in the gospels are genuine quotations, for documentation of any verbatim quotations of Jesus is not yet around. We are left with variants and old forgeries among them too. That cannot be good. And that is what Biblical scholars know, after finding no evidence of verbatim quotations of Jesus. (See also Bart D. Ehrman, Forged, 2011)
There are also sayings attributed to Jesus from recently discovered gospels that did not make it to the Bible. Which sayings are reliable among them? Maybe no one can tell with good evidence in hand. So what options are left to the poor Jesuist apart from guessing and getting stubborn about it? If there is no firm foundation of reliable, verbatim Jesus quotations around, why follow lots of unreliable mishmash? That is a question.
❋ All the black pudding that you ate during Christmas and which made you fall as much as an adulterer or adulteress perhaps, did it save you from getting sacrificed? That is the open question. By all means, consider it carefully!
Yogananda pretences and Jesus gone ravingly insane?
Add it up, and get something like: "There was no original Christianity of Jesus. Salvation in the Bible and Yoganandic salvation are two things and not one thing. Yogananda and his fellowship, SRF, treat Americans like unschooled simpletons and bind their members by an oath without regarding that Jesus says no to swearing and that his words are for Jews only."
If Jesus supports Yogananda's ministry and SRF, he has become forgetful of his own sayings about who his words were for, his warnings of ravenous wolves, and the salvation in the way of the New Testament, or become demented - I point to some possibilities. There are others, for Yogananda and SRF are given to pretence. All the universe is make-believe, says Yogananda, and he should know, his fellowship asserts, saying his guidelines are flawless - However, if the cosmos is illusory as the guru says, so is the part of him that is in the world, his teachings and so on: Just pretence. Also mind that those in charge of the fellowship are Hindu swamis with 'Brother' and 'Sister' as part of their careful decorum. Wise at it was supposed to be to begin with, the SRF hybridisation costs a lot. Why is it not recognised as an embarrassment to many? Is it by romanticism gone astray?
Whom do you trust? It may come down to that.
❋ Words in the Bible are hardly as Yogananda would have them, for he twisted them so much.
A few more topics
Speaking of embarrassments, there are a few more things. Some pinpointing from a swami in San Diego brings great suspicions as to how faithful Yogananda was to his three paramgurus of Indian soil.
(1) Swami Satyeswarananda holds that Yogananda violated lots of rules about how to hand over the yoga system called kriya yoga. Yogananda disregarded "the rules of that game", the swami informs. The open question is: How happy are Yogananda's folks about that? How much support does he really have by his claimed gurus after disregarding a lot of the essentials?
(2) For whatever reason, Yogananda came to regard the organisation he had founded, as a great blunder and got disinterested. Regardless of that, he kept it rolling. It has since dropped many of the founder's grand-looking goals for the organisation, like starting self-supporting communities all over the country.
❋ By disregarding a lot of the guru Yogananda's teachings you could end up with a fulfilling life. Definitely. He says so too, says that just one tenth of his teachings may do. But which tenth? By dropping about nine tenths of them you might end up with the savoury guidelines to follow. [Lucky finds]
Summing up things so far
Jesus was cruel - but his teachings were for Jews only.
From Judaism rose a tense sect that is known as the religion of Christianity today. Small groups of believers or adherents are called cults and disregarded, while big groups of believers or adherents are called major religions and respected through "the power of the many", if nothing else.
SRF employs Christianity, but not in "standard" Western ways, if such ways ever existed, for there have been many fractions and denominations of Christianity since the early church, and much warfare among some of them.
SRF has sought to be acceptable in America by saying "we are Christians and yogis also". However, has SRF gone to any lengths to inform prospective beginners of how Yogananda was in reality? He was hailing dictatorship and Mussolini and wrote well of Hitler too, in 1934, for example. He once stood for dictatorship, and his fellowship foolishly say they find no faults with his guidelines (after tucking away some of the nasty ones). It looks like double-play, no doubt. For those who get aware of such skeletons in the closet in SRF only after entering and being bound to Yogananda by a horrible oath, there is more in store too, including SRF's hard-hearted bossing of lay members by SRF-selected Yogananda phrases - the phrases that suit current SRF leaders too -, and they inculcate a faith that may eventually narrow and reduce the stature of some of the members, all unknown to them. Besides, monastics do not leave the setting they pinned their lives on, for no reasons.
Many members have got aware of some of this only after entering, and troubles have followed. Some troubles have been "crowned" by suicides in dire distress, I have been told. Other consequences of how SRF is managed, may be illustrated thus: Between 2000 and 2005 about fifty of the SRF monastics left its premises. They were about one third of all the SRF monastics at the time.
❋ Some yogis in India are swamis (monks) and some are not.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen Dietz. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998, "Master's Teachings".
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Online or yearly DVD suite. London, Encyclopedia Britannica, 2015.
Ehrman, Bart D. Forged: Writing in the Name of God: Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are. New York: HarperCollins, 2011.
Kriyananda, Swami. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. . Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2004.
Kriyananda, Swami. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.
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Lewis, James R. Cults: A Reference Handbook. 2nd ed. Oxford: ABC-CLIO, 2005. ⍽▢⍽ The book contains an in-depth look at brainwashing and the issue of alternative religions and violence. Movements that have made the headlines are also examined.
Martin, Walter, and Hank Hanegraaff (ed). The Kingdom of the Cults. Rev. ed. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1997.
Mathison, Richard R. Faiths, Cults and Sects in America: From Atheism to Zen. New York. Bobbs-Merrill, 1960. ⍽▢⍽ Self-Realization Fellowship is described on pages 188-95 in it.
Parsons, Jon R. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012.
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⸻. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.
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⸻. The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. 1st ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.
⸻. The Wine of the Mystic. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1996.
Yogananda, Paramhansa. The Second Coming of Christ. 3 Vols. Dallas, TX: Amrita Foundation, 1979 (Vol 1), 1984 (Vol 2) and 1986 (Vol 3).
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Zellner, William W., and Marc Petrowsky, eds. Sects, Cults, and Spiritual Communities: A Sociological Analysis. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998. ⍽▢⍽ American society contains a variety of religious denominations, sects, cults, and self-help groups. The nine groups subjected to sociological study here are Heaven's Gate, Jesus People USA, the Love Family, The Farm, Amish Women, Scientology, El Nino Fidencio, Santeria, and Freedom Park. The number of US sects, cults, and spiritual communities has doubled during the last fifty years or so, and study of them has grown as well.
Zimbardo, Philip G. Shyness: What It Is. What to Do about It. London: Addison-Wesley, 1977. ⍽▢⍽ The American Psychological Foundation has honoured Dr Zimbardo for his teaching and writing. Through his book he wants to help shy people remove barriers to greater freedom and fuller participation in life, and to a personal sense of worth and mastery" (p. 120). Some think the book helps a lot still. Other books may have more recent findings incorporated. Regardless of that, this is an OK work still.
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