Jack of many masters belong to one of them, he is told. Which one? That is the question. And don't be mistaken: "Jack is as good as his master" is an old English proverb, but having many masters, Jack is a master of none. At least not in the church society we look into. Its long-time editor-in-chief reportedly said, "We are a sect." To the degree it really is so, it could at least be tentatively sorted out by various cult indicators.
1. Yogananda on Women: His ideas include: Beautiful woman in your home, think lovely thoughts day and night, instead of just wishing to remarry.
2. Yogananda's Visions: Maybe the guru saw in visions what he wanted to see, and maybe not.
3. Sleep and Yogananda: You need sleep to survive, and enough sleep to function at your best, no matter what a guru like Yogananda decrees.
4. Yogananda on Death: Yogananda talked for being "electrified" by kriya yoga and dying at will, and adjusted his main teachings later -
5. Yogananda Explains Kriya-Yoga: In the first book that Yogananda is credited with, the overriding aim is to teach others how to die through kriya yoga.
6. Higgs Boson and Yogananda: Bark "my teachings belong to an illusory world," and see how many illusory followers you may enroll in a fellowship.
7. Yogananda on Ignorance: The guru does not seem to teach "happy ignorance" - "Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise." Or . . .? There are flaws in his teachings "everywhere."
8. Strange Dreams: Yogananda Quotations: Before 2017, about 96% of Yogananda's world claims are that the world is unreal, a dream, an illusion.
9. Yogananda Quotations: Don't take my word for anything . . . please remember, says Yogananda (Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings")
10. Bigotry Teachings: A proverb says the cow forgets she has been a calf. One may not believe that, but that Yogananda forgot he once was a disciple.
11. Yogananda on How Churches Should Be: At least they should not victimise people.
12. Yogananda on Happiness, Newspapers, and the Healthful Life: Because the guru meant that "Most people . . . do not follow the ways which lead to happiness," some do, some try, and some think they are misled.
13. Yogananda and Fast Thinking: Yogananda claimed he was a fast thinker, but left little or no evidence that he could think "as many as five hundred thousand thoughts in a day." Besides, quality thoughts matter much more than merely many thoughts.
14. Yogananda and Maya: Here are many quack teachings to debunk.
15. Increasing Yogananda Awareness: Intuitions could benefit from back-up based on fair measurements.
16. Yogananda Clinging: Yogananda was indeed a clinging sort of guy. Then comes the question: Is a clinger great when standing on his or her own?
17. Reincarnation Ideas and Sources: To hold private opinions is a human right. And faith supported by factual, fit evidence is not gross faith any more: it tends more towards many certainties.
18. Yogananda's Mortuary Report: SRF selected the impressive statements from a mortuary report. Contrary to the SRF selections, the complete report states that Yogananda body was embalmed, and it is not unusual for embalmed bodies to remain in seemingly good condition for as long as the body of Yogananda was observed - for three weeks. Further, a brown spot - a mark of deterioration - had appeared on the tip of his nose before the body was put in a cask with a sealed lid in a mausoleum crypt. His case is not extraordinary.
19. Down Memory Lane: A brief look in the rear-view mirror. SRF in America goes over three generations back by now (2019). The climate in the larger society has changed. Most Asian meditation teachers are probably treated with less hostility than Yogananda by the Miami police in early 1928, when he was ordered out of town.
Also, there are American gurus that have started to Americanise things. Little by little, like American twists of English language. There are books about US hybridisation or attempts at it. (See for example Williamson 2011)
20. Cult Defectors: There may no good statistics on how many SRF members kill themselves as compared to the general population. And not really reliable figures on how they fare after death too - SRF members as compared to wise Christians, and so on.
It is possible to be happy in a closed religious group, since all such groups are not alike. It is also true that some groups appear to correspond quite well with the personality structures of members, according to "Birds of a feather flock together."
Some leave groups anyway, although it is hard to many.
21. A Yogananda lecture: To fall for rhetoric through gullibility and inexperience may bind a guy hand and foot, for Yogananda does not want anyone who has been taught his meagre kriya yoga, to leave him in this life or several future lives, he tells. "The science of yoga will take hold in this country . . . The entire trend will be away from churches . . . (Yogananda 1982:394-95). The guru started his own church . . .
22. Handling Leaders Well: There are different management forms, just as there are different leader styles. Further, many forms and overlapping forms are possible. The better we know, the better yoga-meditation we may settle on.
23. Cults and Happiness Control: Heed some personal questions that may give further help as to your role in the group you get drawn to. Self-contradictions in the teachings and over-bossy dictates may signal you should stay away. It may take years for hidden and mean factors to surface, and by then you may be tied by a severe oath.
24. Cults and Shyness: Shyness includes not standing up for yourself, or not doing it well. Shy, young adults who do not thrive in a community, may more easily be enticed to enter such groups as sects and cults. Too bad, for hard sects are not marked by thriving. One should bear in mind that one can work for getting it better. Dr. Philip G. Zimbardo tells about how it may be done [Shd]..
25. Jesus in India: Opinions of Two Yogis and Evidence: Old bluffs and claims are many, and some may combine. Did Jesus get a son when i Japan, for example?
26. Deprogramming Points: A former SRF member who had tried to deprogram herself, writes, "I discovered that I was seething with resentment over the years of self-abasement, and humiliated by the fact that I had aided my captors." There are many risks involved in deprogramming. It would have been much better to keep substantial reserve and distance to indoctrinating agents and make efforts to see things for oneself.
27. Resolving Stress Somehow: Stress is a cause of many diseases and a major killer in industrialised countries, and may be handled by Transcendental Meditation. [◦Sound documentation] It could be another boon to learn how to deal with stress proficiently when not meditating.
28. Monastics and Royalty May Suffer Too: From much stress, prolonged medium stress, and accumulating mild stress, some diseases are due. There are means to combat stress and its nasty effects.
29. SRF's Editorial Strives: SRF has edited and re-edited Yogananda to please their managers or make him understandable or both. Swami Kriyananda divulges how far Yogananda secretaries have gone.
30. Neville, Shakespeare and Yogananda Plots: Yogananda's claims of having been Shakespeare in a past life, and also some information about Sir Henry Neville and Shakespeare.
Past lives you dream of, were they real because you dreamt or told about them? Evidence better than claims is needed. Can guru claims and historical evidence combine? Many of us may succeed in this: "If you cannot prove much, better keep your mouth shut rather than belittle yourself."
31. Brutus, Yogananda, and Dr Ian Stevenson's Work: Yogananda's claims on member souls ("spirit serfs") extend beyond the grave and into many future lives. Leaving that guru is not welcome by him, to say the least. His teachings and practice could conflict with the Human Rights laws in many countries, and they do not quite match up with general teachings of the Bhagavad Gita and Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) gurus either. 33. Human Rights: Cult members may plumb Human Rights and survive. Others may have freedom to defend Human Rights.
33. Fooled and Stuck: After being fooled and fallen, there are many sorts of therapy based on "First consultations and talks, diagnoses, then something - even sedative pills, membership in various groups." If you do not prefer that others squeeze money and means out of you, a "payware for therapists" and the like, you might consider much else, and end up distraught. There is that possibility, at least. It often takes years of training to be good at something.
Postlude. The afterword dips into similarities between Loki, an alluring swindler and giant in Norse mythology - and a figure in a Siva Purana story about a wilfully deceptive guru of old, one who formed a destructive sort of cult by false teachings and veneration gone astray.
Interested in sectarians or sects? There may be something to learn from literature and maybe be spared from hard knocks thereby.
Brown, J. Operation övertalning. Reklam. Propaganda. Hjärntvätt. Stockholm: Prisma, 1965.
Butler, Gillian. Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness: A Self-Help Guide Using Cognitive Behavioral Techniques. Paperback ed. London: Constable and Robinson, 2007. ⍽▢⍽ Helpful. After social anxiety is defined, the author lays out several proven cognitive strategies. Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind Control. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1990.
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.
Williamson, Lola. 1982. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press. ⍽▢⍽ Informative.
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 him 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 say it is dated now, others think it helps a lot. Other books may have more recent findings incorporated. Regardless of that, this is one of the best rated works in its field.
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