The intricacies of past lives of gurus should not interfere with steady practice of meditation and wisdom.
The Americanised guru Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) told several disciples that he had been the polyandric Arjuna of the Bhagavad Gita (and many wives and concubines also), and the mutilating, greedy and murderous William the Conqueror, the writer William Shakespeare, and others. Also, in the Yogananda biography by Sailendra Dasgupta, Yogananda tells that in one life he had been a vicious, murderous desert marauder, and shivered even when he told it. (Dasgupta 2006:112)
We are not all like that, or tellers of unproved tales like that. And fame is not necessarily good or a lot. Nor are oddities of the faith. Here is an example:
Suppose that karma is "out to get Yogananda" for his murders and mutilations and why not his use of necromancy, spiritist practices and claimed, low, Black Arts on Hitler, and misleading folks through a set of false prophesies too - and then he is reborn as a dog, a vicious, murderous dog called Brutus.
Also suppose some thousand persons did not behave as badly as Yogananda in former lives but got tied to him for lifetimes by SRF's kriya yoga oath. Since he had killed and maimed too many, he might be reborn as a dog named Brutus with such traits. Yogananda teaches such things himself about special cases.
The guru teaches that humans ordinarily are reborn as humans, but if they have transgressed too much, down they go, into the animal kingdom. Such cases are rare, teaches the guru. It seems easy to fall, and may take long to get upwards again, due to instinct-grounded conformity that governs much in the animal kingdom (too).
Yogananda's direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda, writes this about Yogananda:
During World War II he said it was he who placed the thought in Hitler's mind to invade Russia, thereby dividing his fronts and making it possible for his "invincible" army to be destroyed. (Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography (2011:131)
An inhuman and "needed" invasion that maimed and killed tens of millions - really? Why did he not simply influence Hitler to get mild and supportive instead, and thereby save tens of millions? Ask for decent evidence if you can get it.
Still, for the sake of argument, suppose Yogananda managed to cause tens of millions of wounded and dead humans, not to speak of cattle: If he did not tell the truth in the matter it is bad; if he did tell it, that is not good either. So, for the sake of argument suppose those who tell and retell these things have good sources for doing it. If so, the murders and other crimes of William the Counquerer and an unnamed desert marauder may not be the only causes for the Kali-fond guru of Black Arts going down, down, down into an animal body, if it happens.
Besides, the animal to be reborn if such a fall should happen, must not be a dog; it could be a monkey, a toad, a fish and so on. Which animal, and for how many lifetimes, would depend on so much in a case when someone has gone severely wrong. Mind too that in the case of telling untruths to many who believe in them, there might be scriptures that speak of hells for such ones as well.
Simply, why not be on your guard?
Now, suppose many of Yogananda's followers will be reborn as humans, each with a tie to a presumptive and vicious dog. Will they be tangled up? The scenario might seem a bit awkward. For Brutus the Dog may not help anyone to improve his or her standing. Are the chains to vicious Brutus glued to the hands who hold him in his chains? According to Yogananda, they would be until the Brutus-attached get free (further down).
If we are too quick to believe or disbelieve, it could be good for us to take into account things like, "Brutus-attached does not rule out Brutus-attacked." Possibilities -
Suppose, further, that Yogananda has to go to a hell because of his notorious and many crimes in former lives (according to him). Will it help being tied to him if he has to go to some hell and remain for a long, long time? It may be good to know for sure - but the idea of a fierce dog might help many anyhow. Swami Smaranananda told during a Convocation in 2010 how the now late
Swami Anandamoy of SRF had finished work and took a break for meditation and lunch. He went to a place to meditate with closed eyes. A little later someone came and settled next to him; he thought it was Yogananda. At once he went deep into meditation. Sometime later someone was scratching his foot. It was a dog. The thought that it was Yogananda had helped him.
Here is a tale from Ramakrishna that may help much in its way too:
A siddha stops the storm
Once, a great siddha was sitting on the sea-shore when there came a great storm. The siddha, being greatly distressed by it, exclaimed, "Let the storm cease!" and his words were fulfilled. Just then a ship was going at a distance with all sails set, and as the wind suddenly died away, it capsized, drowning all who were on board the ship.
Now the sin of causing the death of so many persons accrued to the siddha, and for this reason he lost all his occult powers and had to suffer in purgatory. (Ramakrishna 1974, No. 39)
Siddha means "one who is accomplished" spiritually, that is. Siddha may also refer to one who has attained a siddhi, a magical capability or several of them. (Wikipedia, "Siddha")
Yogananda in utter darkness or in hell already?
There is a sad court case where Yogananda failed to tell the truth. He brought false and untrue money charges to court in America. [Link]. Is he then already in hell? It may be hard to tell. At any rate, "Headlong, in utter darkness shall the sinful man tumble into hell, who being interrogated in a judicial inquiry answers one question falsely." (Manu Samhita, 8:94)
Quick to believe - there are perhaps scratches and catches involved. To get to them, first ask for classy evidence - good, solid proof of past life claims. The fact that a person tells others that he had been this and that person in former lives, is no good proof per se (in itself). Such claims need fit backup, or else they carry no weight to lots of people. For example, Dr Ian Stevenson sought to document scenes and persons that children told of from their claimed, past lives. In the cases where there was a good correspondence between what children told and what has happened to the persons they said they had been, it is fine, but not quite patent yet. One has to scan or search for possible other explanations, for example whether the children could have read or heard the things.
Stevenson typically considered alternative explanations:
Stevenson never claimed that his cases "proved" reincarnation, certainly not in the popular sense of that term. Good evidence of it is hard to come by and hard to evaluate. However, Stevenson's work has supplied evidence for reincarnation, finds John Algeo (2006)
When it comes to a guru who tells he had been this and that known person in past lives, a researcher gets another difficulty to grapple with. One is that of extra-sensory perception had by yoga. In the Patanjali Yoga Sutras, it is stated that many sorts of powers may be developed in yoga-meditation. Not that all of them seem needed, but you never know . . .
In short, yogic attunement powers may explain or explain away guru claims of past lives too. In the case of Yogananda who said he had been William the Conqueror, there is a scene where he enters a building started by William but expanded and completed after the body of William had exploded in his coffin, creating a horrible smell that sent mourners running for the exits (!). Yogananda described rooms that William had not built or been in - described the rooms to his secretary at the time - before he entered those rooms, that is. Some have taken that scenario as evidence that Yogananda had been William the Conquer, who started the building. But if the building had been changed since William, that disproves the simple view that "He had been William and he remembered his buildings" - no matter how others had changed them later on, after William died and his belly burst so badly - That scene is described in chronicles.
1. You might think that such an enlightened guy would be a good guy in future lives, but study the evidence. He also told friends back in India that he had once been a vicious, murderous desert marauder, and the thought of it made Yogananda shudder, Sailendra Dasgupta informs. He was Yogananda's secretary in India and wrote his biography in time [Psy 111-12].
2. Also consider how the guru never taught kriya in the lives he had lived after he was enlightened by Krishna. Two cats have been taken out of the bag now.
Arjuna of the religious teaching-poem called the Bhagavad Gita, gets enlightened by Krishna in Chapter 11. For the sake of argument, say there was a polyandric (wife-sharing) Arjuna with several of co-wives and many concubines, and that he was enlightened by Krishna as told in the Gita.
If Arjuna was ever taught kriya yoga or similar by Krishna, as Yogananda claims he was, would the soul that had become enlightened by Krishna be at least a good guy and good teacher from then onwards? There is not much evidence of it. The soul that was "Arjuna" lived degraded lives in ensuing lives, and at last became Yogananda – according to him, that is. Further, it appears that in life after life he did neither learn nor teach kriya yoga - not until after his conditions had become desperate, as he shows in his autobiography, and he had become a formidable clinger for help too. [More]
Don't think everything a good guy does, brings trouble and ruin on him or her
Consider this: Yogananda said informally and attestedly that he had been a vicious, murderous desert marauder and William Shakespeare among others. There is no evidence that William Shakespeare ever taught kriya yoga:
There is only one guru uniquely the devotee's own. But if you turn away from the emissary of God, He silently asks: 'What is wrong with you, that you foolishly leave the one I have sent to help you learn the divine science of the soul? Now you shall have to wait long, and prove yourself, before I shall respond again.' He who cannot learn through the wisdom and love of his God-ordained guru will not find God in this life. Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity."
Damn if you leave him, and damn if you don't - are those the choices if Yogananda is reborn as the vicious dog Brutus for his misdeeds in former lives, for example?
Non-kriya claimed Yogananda lives
There are significant elements that need to match. Factors to take into account in such a scenario:
Yogananda spoke to disciples of many past lives. He told he had been William Shakespeare, William the Conqueror, a laywer, a Spanish fighter - and a vicious desert mauraider, according to his biography [Psy 112]. He also said he had been the Hindu bowman Arjuna who had to share his wife with his four brothers, but who is not known to have been the guru of anyone either. There is all the more reason to take to freely given kriya (ujjayi) in this life already and stick to practice in freedom, just to be on the safer, happier side of things. In one place Yogananda talks suggestively of some of them:
Never have I died, though many times I dreamed the death of my body in this dream world. In this one incarnation I can sleep and dream that I am born in England as a powerful king. Then I die and dream I am born a devout man. And then I die again and am born as a successful lawyer. Again I die and am reborn as Yogananda. But they are all dreams. That is what I am saying. I used to find such pleasure in discovering my past incarnations. But that has lost its enchantment. They are just so many dreams. [Dr 169]
The guru says he only dreamt he was a devout man and successful lawyer, and so on. He speaks of past lives in such a way. [More]
Let us face some further things here: In seven Yogananda-claimed past lives, he initiated others in none of them. Accordingly, a kriya-teaching incarnation of that reincarnating entity is not easy to come by, no matter how ready you have been for millenniums. And SRF teaches as a mouthpiece of Yogananda that you shall have to get back to you guru - and that is their belief, as documented here - and that birth and death involve colossal sufferings, generally speaking, and the lives in between can hardly be all pleasant too. That is much of what SRF teaches. [More].
Yes, what if the disciple was ready when Yogananda was Tyrant William who fought and bullied, a desert maurauder who killed but did not initiate, and so on?
There are some conclusions to be drawn about the guru's teachings. One is that something is wrong with Yogananda's teachings. And when there is something wrong with the guru and his teachings, a disciple in good Hinduism is allowed to look for a suitable guru. And, as it is said:
Happiness is the outcome of good. [Buddha]
As for the cult guru -
These are wider prospects and could help against being taken in.
Now the Yogananda dictum against freedom and Human Rights hardly matches something vital, which is "Feel free to aim solely for successes without backlashes!" Buddha talks for behaving well and improving oneself in a several-lives perspective in his karma teachings. The Bhagavad Gita also speaks of the dominant trend in the life-after-life scenario pertaining to yogis:
Having attained to the worlds of the righteous and, having dwelt there for [many] years, he who fell from Yoga is reborn in the house of the pure and wealthy [a good and prosperous home]. [6:41]
Debunking false lore needs more than study if it's personal. If Yogananda had been an enlightened, polyandric Arjuna in a former life and a true Well-Wisher as claimed - or one who lived what he otherwise professed in public, "teach me to think rightly, and to behave rightly [Wf 181]" he would have behaved less naughtily as to this vital concern. The proverb, "The cow forgets she was a calf," applies to the guru; he once "hid and sulked, not seeking Thee till Someone whispered, "Hello, playmate!" [Wf 254, extracted].
Krishna's solution to any possible Yogananda-caused dilemma is simple: Meditate throughout to improve your lot, no matter what.
You can find out which meditation methods work best according to substantial research - it is ◦Transcendental Meditation, TM - and learn and train yourself in good yoga and meditation techniques and cope well in freedom, and the fruits of your efforts will be yours and follow you into the future, says the Gita above. Even if you have learnt Yogananda's kriya, you are free to learn the no longer secret core practice of kriya yoga - ujjayi - here on this site. A little practice may clear your head and "save you from guru-caused fears". But that is not all. Freely given and good methods could help you on through many lives, says the Gita. And if you want to practice a much more elaborate kriya yoga system, there is Satyananda's system, handed out without imposing on your daily habits, sex life, and most other vital maters. There are counsels, but one is not asked to submit wholesale to anyone, as far as I can see. At any rate things like these are what the author of the books says [Cy; Kta].
Yogananda's "idea-curse" on your future should ideally lose out when you get future births in prosperous, good homes, allied with Krishna. For Yogananda tells dogmatically that he stands for Krishna's teachings too - to the degree and in the ways he understands them. The good point is this: Make the efforts so as not to come to grief. Further, rout deep causes of dukkha, sufferings, to the degree you can. Buddhism is in part for routing stress and sufferings, dukkha.
Gain in positive thinking: those who are lucky enough, learn to practice kriya freely and go for benefits, also on their own terms, which had better be good ones, or all right, or not too bad . . . The "Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity" must be one of the unworthy Yogananda dictums, for he says - with one of his mouths - that he came to reveal Krishna's yoga, and he stands for that. SRF does too, in their Aims and Ideals. Yogananda could have stuck to it and not imposed worse conditions on moral men and women.
Honest with Yourself
Great honesty includes honesty with oneself. Big bluffs may breed feigning, which soon may "freeze" into hypcricy. Hypocrites were once condemned by Jesus. Ah, how things have changed!
Here is a self-help test; it may still be working. [◦Self-help test]
Are you considering seeking therapy, but are unsure whether it is the right choice for you? Therapy may help. Almost anyone with a dysfunction can benefit from professional help from a therapist. Fill out the questionnaire as truthfully and sincerely as you can. Results depend on it.
Instead of working long and hard to insult and damage unmet others because it gives you a kind of relief, get a diagnosis. For "honesty should favour yourself." In psychoanalytic thinking, much comes down to that.
Listening to spiritual teachings can lead into meditation.
Differentiation is a process by which an individual becomes conscious of buried thoughts and feelings. (1)
People should be working for solid restitutions to combat alarming denials of a sect and cult.
One important discovery will be "What is it about me that allowed myself to give away my power and put myself in a vulnerable position in relationship to these people for so long?" - when the full scene is reconstructed. (5)
We can undermine betrayals or betrayers. We need to shine a bright light into our closeted emotions. But one is on some wrong path if where this is all heading is more sophisticated realms of denial.
Followers in narrow-minded groups cannot be engaged in a discussion of the issues that matter most without angered (defensive) or parrot-like responses. ✪
When solid differentiation is attained, integration sets in, hopefully. (7)
The General Assembly,
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration . . . [Article 2]
Everyone has the right to life . . . [Article 3]
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude . . . [Article 4]
No one shall be subjected to . . . cruel, . . . degrading treatment or punishment. [Article 5]
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family . . . or correspondence . . . Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks. [Article 12]
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family . . . The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State. [Article 16]
Everyone has the right to own property . . . No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property. [Article 17]
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance. [Article 18]
No one may be compelled to belong to an association. [Article 20]
Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work. Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration . . . Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests. [Article 23]
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure . . . [Article 24]
Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control. [Article 25]
Everyone has the right to education . . . Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality . . . Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children. [Article 26]
Sampled from the ◦UN Declaration of Human Rights, with emphasises added. Are these freedoms yours too? The gist is "Preserve your old rights and freedoms. Do not trade any of them away to join a sect's or guru's "farm" or circles."
In recent years many countries have legalised the Human Rights by Human Rights Laws. [◦More]
Three instances of the personality are often drawn to the fore. Terms to the left below are from psychoanalysis, while the terms to the right are much corresponding terms in Eric Berne's Transactional Analysis, TA:
There are slight differences between them, though.
Now you also have a witnessing instance, the ability to watch yourself and others too. Berne includes it in the Child, but that appears to be misplaced.
Violation of the superego's standards, or even the impulse to do so, may produce anxiety. If parental standards are overly rigid, the individual may be guilt-ridden and inhibit all aggressive or sexual impulses. But then, on the other hand, a self-indulgent person can be considered to have a weak superego.
At times the three components of personality are in opposition, at times the superego battles with both the id and the ego because behaviour often falls short of the moral code it adheres to at bottom. In the normal person, the three instances can work together to produce integrated behaviour.
In SRF, a church, a monastery, or community, there may be rigorous demands on the person due to what is allowed and not allowed, endorsed and not endorsed, etc. If there are stiff conformising demands, the superego becomes a battleground, and feigning takes place too easily.
It Is Possible to Get Help
The grumbler could be on the path of becoming neurotic. The man who "never experienced anything from [his SRF kriya] other than the discomfort of carrying the practice out", may get biased, generalise too faulitly, and get rationalising or wilful on top of that.
For example, to lift one's tongue in a certain way towards the soft palate is called kechari mudra in yoga. It used to be a fixed part of higher kriya techniques. Kechari is used by yogis for stilling the mind. Some yogis use it, others do not.
First check out the therapist's credentials and orientation. Much also depends on how congenial our environment is, and our sense of belonging, and our firm expectations, for such factors work together, and therapy is not a one-way street. And the urge to show off by mean means ought to be put aside.
The therapist helps you as a means to a living. People generally do take advantage of one another, and so long as it is carefully resiprocal (well balanced), it may be all right.
It is a lot to sustain a clean mind and body-system as we get along through life. Buddha says that one should avoid alcohol (intoxicants include non-prescribed drugs). Says the Encyclopaedia Britannica: "Buddhism, Islam, and numerous Christian denominations and sects [have had success] in confirming their followers as total abstainers." [Ebu "alcohol consumption"]
Algeo, John. "Reincarnation's White Crow: Ian Stevenson and Evidence of Past Lives." Quest 94.2 (March-April 2006):47-51.
Kriyananda, Swami. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. . Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2004.
⸻. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.
Ramakrishna: Tales and Parables of Sri Ramakrishna. 5th ed. Madras: Ramakrishna Math, 1974.
Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Cy: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.
Dr: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2008 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2008.
Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.
Pesd: Clark, Sandra, ed. The Penguin Shakespeare Dictionary. Rev. updated ed. London: Penguin Books, 1999.
Ppa: Niranjanananda, Swami. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2009.
Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.
Tdg: Fosse, Lars Martin. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY: YogaVidya.com, 2007.
Tyy: Hewitt, James. Yoga.. 4th ed. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1992.
Wf: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. 8th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1959.
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