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Death and Yogananda

"I am an expert of electricity. My father occupied the chair of applied electricity at the state prison. " - W. C. Fields
W. C. Fields
W. C. Fields

Yogananda talked for being "electrified" by kriya yoga, and dying at will through it, and thereby resting the organs. There is something that we may not understand there, for example, "But will I manage to come back, if that happens?" It looks like a pertinent question.

"We ought not to fear to practice conscious death . . . Death will then be under our control," writes Yogananda in The Science of Religion. (2008, 57-58). The first edition appeared in India in 1920, a second edition in Boston in 1924. Anyhow, in 1935 or 1936 there was an "incident" where his heart control failed, according to Sailendra Dasgupta, his fellow disciple and biographer: Dasgupta rendered:

When Yogananda was in his forties and had returned to India from America, a Bishnu Charan wanted Yogananda to stop his heart at a gathering of millionaire merchants to demonstrate an extraordinary and inhuman ability and thus clear the way for financial funding. After the attempt, Bishnu Charan disappointedly said that Yogananda had "ruined everything. He wasn't able to stop his heart from beating."

Nothing about this failure was made public at the time. However, one evening Yogananda's aged guru Yukteswar commented, "He has a disease . . ." [More about the disease Yukteswar told of]

(Dasgupta 2006, 83)

Be that as it may, the official cause of Yogananda's death in 1952 was heart failure. His heart stopped during a banquet in Los Angeles (WP, "Paramahansa Yogananda").

Alfred E. Neuman

The monster in Mary Shelley's debut novel Frankenstein from 1818, was vivified by electricity. But watch out: People are different, with widely differing reactions and needs. Some have a need to tell others for some years to stop their hearts, and others don't.

Also mind that death may be for one's good after a life well lived - hopefully. But Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) says, "In heaven there are no crackers or soup." You may have thought of that -

Don't get woes you don't deserve

Here lies W. C. Fields. I would rather be living in Philadelphia.

This was an epitaph Fields proposed for himself in a 1925 article in Vanity Fair. Philadelphia was his birthplace. Fields' tomb is at Forest Lawn in Glendale, California, where Yogananda's body lies too, in a sealed coffin.

You are served by less hype than the guru Yogananda went for in his days. Hope less, or "Hope weel an' hae weel" (Scots). To adjust our hoping we could benefit from facts that seem relevant, valid and fruitful, and prove to be so too - somehow, more or less: Ask for sound research findings, and reserve judgement and do not practise what you are not all ready for. Such helpful hints could give you an upper hand in a "believe as told" game - maybe or maybe not. It depends on how gullible you are and how untrue or insane the others are.

"Take a minute to think," says Lawrence Epstein. You may be dead if you (a) cannot even struggle to get out of bed; (b) have difficulty relocating your own, dear body. To find out why that is happening may take a long time. Death occurs when the brain stops charging the organism and the heart stops. If this goes on for some time, there is "less deep sleep," as Epstein aptly says in another connection Epstein and Mardon 2007, 18).

Better be informed: Very short sleepers "may have a somewhat shorter life expectancy (Horne 2006, 174, 175]." But great leaders and notables who have been able to survive on little sleep, like Alexander the Great, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Thomas Edison, "all were somewhat hypomanic [having mild manias] [Horne 2006, 175)."

Manias are nothing to advocate. True happiness has no mania and nothing faked in it, one may add [Horne 2006, 174). Besides, lack of sleep is directly linked to poor health, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Even a few nights of bad sleep can be detrimental. (Epstein and Mardon 2007, 5). After three or four weeks or so, sleep-deprived rats begin to die off. Some persons get psychotic through prolonged sleep deprivation. Short term consequences of sleep deprivation are increased accident risk, and long term consequences are increased disease risk (Horne 2006, 178-79; Epstein and Mardon 2007, 34-35).

A good thing: ample sleep allowed (Hobson 2005, 76, 72, 75).

A repeat: We are not alike; some die young, and others have to go on and age, not liking the alternative that wins in the end (Epstein and Mardon 2007, 30). Prepare for it in advance, and some things could change for the better. As we age, death has a tendency to come about sooner, and typically. Finally we go from the little sleep to the "big sleep".

Epstein: "Deep sleep seems to be a time for your body to renew and repair itself (2007, 15)." Let us agree on that.

Yogananda on Death and Dying: Quotations

Different people experience death differently. - Yogananda

"You are here for only a little while," says Yogananda

There are good yoga ways and other ways. There are different ways to avail oneself of guidelines. One is to learn to make the best out of life, in the good yoga ways. Another field to explore could be going to Andalusia in Spain and get a cave house there, for example. It does not have to be a castle in Spain if all the needed steps are carried out.

What about moving to a fine cave house in Granada in Spain? And what about the big sleep, death? Could one of the two or both be needed for health and well-being in the larger picture?

To make yourself ready to enter into a better world, some say patience in sitting still is the thing, while much of their lives and potentials slip away and drop off. Others like to eat, drink, and relax, thinking this world is real and public honour is good deep inside, in Essence. Siestas and festivity in Spain and Portugal may combine such parts of good living.

Paramahansa Yogananda spoke about the other side on occasion, and spoke more or less impromptu about what he thought was fair and fit, such as entering isolated caves and meditating there most of the day for years on end.

Not only yogis settle in caves. There are benefits to acknowledge, and there are many well furnished, whitewashed cave houses in the mountainous Altiplano de Granada in Spain and other places, and houses with whitewashed caves integrated in them. Living in quirky, affordable cave-homes, cases cuevas, cut out from rocky hillsides and with rock-cut windows and chimneys peeking out of cliffs means getting into a bit dissimilar world to some. There are entire districts of caves, and in some places the only form of housing. The user-friendly nature of underground life in a hot, dry climate has made it a tradition that has not died out. The number of modern cave-dwellers in the Granada province of Spain runs into the thousands. Some fall for the charms of Spain's cave houses and move there.

"You are here for only a little while, then depart for a dissimilar and fascinating world." (Yogananda 1980, 7) Yogananda does not mean any markedly different cave interior by that, and not simply Paradise either.

How is that other side to many? The atmosphere that envelops a materialistic person at the time of death is something like very foggy and dark, cold and gloomy, said Yogananda. Some caves are like that too; they are not cosy, like pleasant, whitewashed and well supplied caves. "He slips from this world into what seems to be a heavy mist [Heavenly mist?]. Nothing is clear to him; and for a time he feels lost and afraid [maybe like getting lost in a dark, dismal cave]. Then, in accordance with his karma, he either goes on to a bright astral world to learn spiritual lessons, or sinks into a stupor until the right karmic moment arrives for him to be reborn on earth." (Yogananda 1980, 86-7)

A dissimilar place to stay may be for good, for bad or something in between. It depends in no small part on the individual too.

Yogananda - Death Quotations

In 1928, Yogananda authored the following in an article called "The Mystery of Life and Death" [1]. You get verbatim Yogananda quotations.

Death, Its Utility, Drawbacks and Possible Rewards

[The guru did not tell all of what is worth telling. Compare Buddha on karma. - TK]

The Caged Bird of the Mind

When an aged man dies he changes. - Yogananda

Do we cry when our dear ones die? It is because we sorrow. - Yogananda

If there were no death, fifteen hundred million people [estimate of the earth's population ca. 3 generations ago] would monopolize the Infinite [and] everything would grow old and stale. - Yogananda

Note: Yogananda's bogus reasoning is based on a double "if", and a deduction that much violates the nature of the Infinite as infinite. And there is a quasi-problem in it - to be demasked by for example, "If there were no generations to get old and stale but live on still, it would mean a lot, and there is plenty of room in the so-called Infinite and in the known universe too."

Yes, Yogananda is not always reliable. It is better to know it than become led as footfolk fools under "Our church guru is always right, always right, right or wrong as we say." One is advised by the SRF gurus to use one's reason, discrimination and choose wisely between seeming goodies and real goodies, like an ant who perceives a marked difference between sand and real sugar.

The Actual Phenomena of Death

The actual phenomena of death is something to be carefully noted . . . I shall try to describe it just as I have experienced it . . . - Yogananda

When death comes it is variously experienced by different people according to their earthly mode of living . . . Different people experience death differently . . . The man who neglects the duties of life or causes confusion often experiences something like nightmares . . . - Yogananda

The moral man often has delightful dreams at death. The wise man experiences through death a . . . safer haven. - Yogananda

During death the ordinary man finds every part of the body going to sleep. When your leg goes to sleep you see it, but cannot feel it belongs to you. Similarly, the dead man sometimes remembers his body distinctly, but cannot create motion in it. In death the power of touch goes first, then vision, then taste, then smell and last of all, hearing. - Yogananda

Dying People Can Hear

It is highly unwise to discuss the condition of a dying man within reach of his hearing. His body or speech may be paralyzed but not his hearing. - Yogananda

Only those who have practiced the control of heartbeat and learned to live without oxygen . . . can consciously experience death at will as a rest from constant muscular activity and specially life's involuntary activity of the heart, lungs, diaphragm, circulation, et cetera. In heaven there are no crackers or soup, no breakfast, lunch or dinner, no water or oxygen or sunshine. - Yogananda

Death is . . . a transition to a higher state to the wise. To him it is a promotion in school to higher grades of life. - Yogananda

The Lightless Light Is Not Perceived by Our Blind Physical Eyes

Death gives new robes to the soul actors to play new dramas on the stage of life. Death above all else is a transition . . . a change of residence. - Yogananda

[The wise man] The soul-bird of paradise finds its freedom from the limitations of the cage of life. The soul appareled in searchlights of multi-hues soars . . . - Yogananda

In the mellow light of the other world, the wise perceive the inner sides of stars, stones, living beings, corpses, dust, iron, gold, earth, planets, dazzling with Infinite brilliancy. Every object which we perceive has two sides – the gross ugly outer side present before the physical eyes, and the inner, most beautiful side revealed to the eye of wisdom. The crude brick revealed by the physical eyes appears to be like a garden of electrons, when viewed through the spiritual eye. Human beings . . . appear as beautiful many-hued living beings made of visible mellow materialized love. The rose of the human garden looks like a paper rose before the inner rosy lustre of its whirling atoms. Nothing fades there so quickly. Everything talks there silently. The roses talk to the souls with the language of spirit. The garden of roses lives by the breath of the souls, and the souls breathe the aroma of roses. The gentlest earthly flower – the lily, violet, drunk with gross sunlight – is not allowed to tread the sanctity of that fair garden of the gods. The mortal, enslaved by oxygen and sunlight, gorged with material food, faints at the delicate airless atmosphere of that divine supernal region. Darkness and gross lights equally lose their relative dualities in the darkless dark, lightless but all revealing soul-light of that sphere. - Yogananda

The Life Beyond this Life

Souls in that region . . . carry no frail, heavy frames to collide and break with other crude solids. There is not war there between the solids, oceans, lightning, disease and man's frail frame . . . Forces live in peace and conscious helpfulness. The souls, the rays on which they tread, the orange rays which they drink and eat – all are living . . . breathing . . . the joy of the spirit . . . [the] ocean of light . . . - Yogananda

Let us not . . . call death annihilation, but see it as a door . . . Why pity the dead? . . . They can see their super-region and us also with their spiritual eye. - Yogananda

TO TOP

Dying

One had better work to make life fair and successful for the afterlife too, and not only for this one life. That is often repeated by Guru Dev, Shankaracharya Brahmananda Saraswati. Gurus may tell you how to improve your fare here and prepare for the further journey(s) by well calculated means like Buddha's Middle Way.

An expanded view takes into account not just one life and death, but a possible chain of many lives and deaths. Yogananda says, ""Life is like a great chain in the ocean of God. When a portion of the chain is pulled out of the waters you see only that small part. The beginning and the end are hidden. In this incarnation you are viewing only one link in the chain of life. The past and the future, though invisible, remain in the deeps of God." (Yogananda 1980, 55)

Some children appear to tell of their past life on earth. A NRK program on May 5 2011, Schrödingers katt, brought a 2010 footage of an American boy, a four-year old boy that talked to his parents about his past life where he died in an accident in 1939 after having written the manuscript for "Gone with the Wind". The boy said he had been born on 26 June, that is mother's name was Coe and his daughter's name was Jennifer, that he had lived in Hollywood where he wrote films and other things, and was 48 when he died from getting a car onto his arms. His mother checked the data, and when it all matched, she was surprised and took the boy to Dr. Jim Tucker at an institute at Virginia University. The institute was founded by Dr. Ian Stevenson (1918-2007), and has a large Memorial Library of thousands of cases of claimed, past lives.

Stevenson studied birthmarks on children are compared them with what the children said they had died from in their claimed, past lives. There have been mixed reactions to Stevenson's work. Critics have questioned his research methods and conclusions, and his work has been described by some as pseudoscience. Others have, however, stated that his work was conducted with appropriate scientific rigor. (WP, "Ian Stevenson")

In an extended view of life - of lives and death - we may find it best to see what things - seemingly small or otherwise - we can work on today, and if we can cultivate a better terrain as well. Also, it is good to heed what we can nurture here on the ground level, what good and fair advice to offer, what good patterns to set in motions, and well adapted to the characters.

Your own path, is it really wrong to tread? Further, there are not necessarily any wrong steps involved to prepare for success and commit yourself to it, to go towards reasonable warmth and light activity. The confidence of the blooming summer leads into being fruitful, step by step.

By regulated steps you may improve your afterlife and further stations on your sojourns along the chain of being in the garb of bodies and without such garbs. That is the key teaching. More details about karma and reincarnation: [Buddha on reincarnation] [More]

And now for Yogananda:

"One day the switch of your heart will suddenly be pulled, and you will have to leave everything behind – And this is what the SRF stands for" - Yogananda phrases, (1982, 443-444)

In the first book that Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) is claimed to be the author of, the final aim is to teach us how to die. His official motto was not "Die! Die", however, he said his basic mission was to teach others how to die at will. "We ought not to fear to practice conscous death . . . Death will then be under our control . . . we shall be able to leave [the body] of our own accord." (Yogananda 2008, 57-58) [More]

Comment

"SRF is not always easy." - James Jesse Lynn (1892-1955) (SRF 1959, 64)

Maybe he knew how it was for all SRF members at the time, but did he know each of the several hundred thousand members really well? He took over as the second president of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) in 1952, and died in Borrego Springs in California of pneumonia a few years later. Mr Lynn had used to do yoga in a loincloth on the dewy, dewy lawn for long periods, a Kansas City reporter tells. If such exercises and sittings go into the night, there could be a danger of catching colds or worse. But not on the North Pole, where there are no lawns (SRF 1959, 9, 56).

The Feeler question

"Soul . . . Do you feel it? Can you be . . .?" - James Jesse Lynn (SRF 1959, 52).

"Master [Yogananda] . . . acknowledged only God as the Doer." - James Jesse Lynn (SRF 1959, 70).

If God is the only one (Sole Doer) who can feel your soul, can you?

There is falsity in the world. Trickeries of scheming and charlatan gurus were not uncommon where Yogananda came from. He set up a church, Self-Realization Fellowship Church, and instituted a claim that he and it stand for the original Christianity of Jesus Christ (there was none; Christianity appeared later, after he had been executed). An aim and ideal of SRF is to "reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna". See how valid that claim is too: [More]

Regardless of that, the Hindu monk Yogananda teaches the soul is immortal, while Jesus says it can be destroyed, as part of the hell teachings of Jesus: "It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. (Mt 5:29) – Be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Mt 10:28)."

Someone has been bungling somewhere.

One thing is varnish, another is true content.

Death quotations

Contents


Yogananda, death, dying, dead, Literature  

Epstein, Lawrence, and Steven Mardon. The Harvard Medical School Guide to a Good Night's Sleep. Columbus, OH: McGraw-Hill Contemporary, 2007.

Hobson, J. Allan. Dreaming: A Very Short Introduction. Paperback. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.

Horne, Jim. Sleepfaring: A Journey through the Science of Sleep. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship): Rajasi Janakananda (James J. Lynn): A Great Western Yogi.. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1959.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

⸻. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.

⸻. The Science of Religion. Reprint ed of the 1982 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2008. ⍽▢⍽ The first edition of this book was published in India in 1920. The second edition, published in Boston in 1924, was revised and enlarged. A third and fourth edition appeared in 1925. A fifth edition - published by "Swami Yogananda, Mt. Washington, Los Angeles", or Yogoda and Sat Sanga Headquarters, Los Angeles - was dated 1926, while copyrighted 1924. A preface by Douglas G. G. Ainslee appeared in the 1928 edition and later printings. In 1982, SRF published another 2nd edition, with different pagination. It was reprinted in 2008.

Notes
  1. Swami Yogananda. "The Mystery of Life and Death". Los Angeles: SRF: East-West (Magazine), 3-6 September - October 1928.

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