On a Wise Track
Dr William F. Sands writes in Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment:
A study of 140 students practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique found a significant increase in frequency of experience of pure consciousness throughout their undergraduate years. Frequency of experience correlated with results of a Constructive Thinking Inventory (CTI) including Global Constructive Thinking, Emotional Coping, and Behavioral Coping. CTI is a standardized test of . . . the ability to understand and deal with the everyday environment – to act appropriately, say the right thing, or apply life's lessons at the right time. Practical intelligence is often considered a better predictor of success in life than other intelligence measures, such as IQ.
Constructive living and coping should be worth going for.
The study referred to is Susan May Brown's doctoral dissertation, "Unity and Diversity in Maharishi Vedic Science, Higher States of Consciousness, and a Study of Undergraduate Student Development" (2008). The 446 pages long dissertation can be bought from ProQuest Dissertation and Theses database. Order No. 3318934.
"Beware, beware, keep your garden fair"
"Don't let them create problems where there are none," is a fit summary of much Yogananda lore. Another: "
"Beware, keep your garden fair. Let no man steal your thyme," may be added to it where it fits. It often fits. [◦Listen to a version].
Avoid being very biased and indoctrinated. How? Go for quality research findings and try to present the gist altogether well. It should be suggested that there is "sound, flourishing egohood" and dwarfed, blocked egohood.
Basic, constructive living and coping (above) should work better than claiming that the ego is false. Ego improvement is fit for all who are not degenerate. Take into account how psychoanalysists assert that suppressions and repressions are bad and have negative repercussions: they are to be expected, as the dormant egohood may get sour and negative.
What are the bad repercussions? How can they be ascertained? First you get inklings, suspicions that things are not likable in the guru-disciplined ones. Then consider the confusing array of opposing teachings about what may be one and the same thing. Good research goes on from there, allied with statistics. While research findings are missing, guard your tongue and don't speculate "in the air". It has been found that decent meditation strengthens the ego, or sense of self. "Facts first." Analyses and theory-building may be added later.
A very sad tale on Yogananda's ego lore
A full moon quite close brings more light than a myriad stars far away. A new moon not. The moon can wax and wane as well. What about the ego, "I"? Can it "grow" (develop), can it wane and disappear? Much as the new moon, the ego is there still if it cannot be seen after being smothered.
There are very different gyrations about ego around - different spins and attitudes regarding it, and negative name-dropping too. But there is little or no help in getting confused by oratory - Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) said he had killed himself, but still kept on talking and moving about (!). Beware and do not get all too fooled -:
Yogananda says opposing things, and it is not uncommon. Better find out which take serves you. One might think that the quotations for development of the ego count less than the rest, that "the ego" must be put to shame, curbed or killed - but stand up for yourself. Here we go:
If you develop your sense of "I" into godhood, no good reason to kill it may be found. But if you should strive to get rid of your sense of "I" (ego), it would be a shame.
Neil Douglas-Klotz points out that the term barnasha, human being, is cognate with "frail and forgetful". In order to lift up that "son of man" to "God's throne", Jews used certain methods to raise their conscious awareness. (Douglas-Klotz 2001:162-63; Lamsa 1968:xxiv). How to do something similar? Learn to meditate deeply and well; it could be good for you for many more reasons also, actually. Go into the meditation research and find the generally best, safest methods and keep it up - that should be wise - to be careful.
Be attuned to what Gordon Allport says about proprium (self) development too, in case you need theoretical backup. [Allport on proprium development]. "It is hard for an empty sack to stand upright (Proverb)." Assert your self within "the sack" (body) too, and try not to become a victim of any old plot of foolish or hard-hearted nonsense. Why? It is hard to become a rational human being by trying to get rid of your ego. So, try to sense your body, recognise your self-identity, learn to grade and evaluate your accomplishments, stick to a positive self-image and solve problems by training your mind to, sticking to decent plans, and know yourself as an entity that rides on top of thoughts, for example.
It may do good to compare Dr Allports basic levels of self-development with Dr Erikson's id-related stages of psychosocial development. Below it is shown what is commonly meant by 'ego' in psychoanalysis and its ramifications, and whether Yogananda's understanding of the term changed over time. First comes an overview of key terms. Second comes a whole haul of Yogananda quotes on 'ego'.
❋ A normal ego should not be destroyed, but developed a lot.
1. What is an ego?
Ego is Latin for "I". The Encyclopaedia Britannica tells that in psychoanalytic theory, ego is "that portion of the human personality which is experienced as the "self" or "I" and is in contact with the external world through perception. It coexists with the id (natural drives) and superego (with its ethical side) as one of three agencies of the dynamics of the human mind. The ego serves as the integrator of the outer and inner worlds as well as of the id and the superego, and the ego can be developed.
"Since the concept and structure of the ego were defined by Freud and explored by Carl Jung, other theorists have developed somewhat different conceptualizations of the ego," says Britannica. Also, the concept of "I" with ramifications has been used in India since Vedic times, writes Wikipedia. [EB, s.v. "Ego"; WP, s.v. "Ahamkara".].
A strong ego - a strong sense of I (identity) is capable of resisting much pressure while contemplating and choosing an appropriate course, and is characterised in the person who is not overwhelmed by his or her drives (but instead can direct them into useful channels), says the Britannica article on "ego". "On the other hand, a weak ego is marked by "a fragile sense of identity . . . and excessive vulnerability." Distorted perceptions are among the characteristics of "ego weaklings". They get drained into the protection of unrealistic sect concepts. Ego weakness can be associated with grandiosity and a superiority complex. [EB, s.v. "Ego"]
❋ 'Ego' means 'I', but still has been given many different meanings. Unrealistic or sectarian drivel about it can be astounding.
2. What is 'egoism'?
In philosophy it is an ethical theory that holds that the good is based on the pursuit of self-interest. In Yogananda's early years in America he talked for egotism by words like "sacred selfishness". After the Great Depression he did not speak for selfishness any longer. He started to preach unselfishness instead.
Many ethical theories contain egoist biases. You find teachings here and there that self-preservation is the good, tending of one's own conscience and moral growth is fit, and the furthering man's own welfare and profit. Elevated selfishness can border on unselfishness, or the two may fuse in the heights, so to speak.
❋ Egoism is largely good if your self-interests are all right and expanding that way too.
3. What is 'egotism'?
The word 'egotism' is sometimes misused for egotism, where one typically overstresses one's own worth. In other words, the egotist unjustifiedly thinks he or she is better than "everybody else", and thinks and talks too much about himself or herself too. [Cf. EB, s.v. "Egoism"; and Oxford Advanced Dictionary]
❋ Unjustified biases may breed unsavoury egotism.
4. What is 'ahankara'?
'Ahankara', "I-saying," or "I-making" in the orthodox Samkhya philosophy of Hinduism, is the "I" too. Many concepts have evolved and co-define 'ahankara' (sometimes 'ahamkara'). Among them are buddhi intelligence, or perception), citta (mind-content) and manas (mind itself). Ahankara is the "I"-sense turning outwards somehow. The Sanskrit term is exposed somewhat here: [More]
❋ Ahankara is what you are. Without it, you are crippled mentally.
5. What is selfishness?
Merriam-Webster defines selfish, among other things, as "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself: seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being with no or very little concern for others; arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others." There are degrees to it, and it is not all bad.
A Wikipedia article has: "Selfishness denotes an excessive or exclusive concern with oneself, and as such it exceeds mere self interest or self concern. Insofar as a decision maker knowingly burdens or harms others for personal gain, the decision is selfish. In contrast, self-interest is more general. Self-interest is merely including one's own needs and desires in the schema of priorities, and is inclusive of both cooperation and selfishness. The implications of selfishness have inspired divergent views in many fields of thought. [WP, s.v. "Selfishness"]
❋ Understandings of 'selfish' differ. Scheming selfishness may be so bad that it makes the guy a stranded one, and inspired selfishness may take you upward.
6. What is best selfishness?
"Decent selfishness" may be all right if it springs from your heart and is akin to genuine self-assertiveness or self-confidence, and helps in upholding truth and truthfulness, and aids in "flowing on" in the present and into some nice future conditions. It may in part signal, "Rely on yourself too in these waters". But some are not willing to let others manage their own lives from their own cores and outwards - and apply up to great conformity pressures too. It does not take much effort to trample down a tender sprout. Likewise with the upholding forms of self-service, seeing for oneself, acting for oneself, then for one's mate or family, or wider. The tender sprouts had better be nourished, and not subjected to conformism that stifles, hinders and condemns a tender holding-on to one's Self inappropriate, and seeks to stop it. See what Yogananda says about "sacred selfishness" here: [More]
It happens that some who rely firmly on what they sense in their hearts and act on it, are frustrated and obstructed by others, who would prefer to have them squirming in their webs somehow, one way or another. Such guys may call those who attune to their hearts, "egotists" and the like in order to make them conform to what they see fit. Conformity pressure takes many forms.
❋ If selfishness is understood as what is best for you, and egotist is what others call you for it just to keep you in check, a lot had better be understood in fields of social psychology and group dynamics, is the bet.
Some Pivotal Concepts and a Repeat
Here is a briefing of key terms in Yogananda's anti-ego teachings, from top and down:
❋ A bundle of inherently useful terms may do no one good if others ignore sensible use of the concepts or overlook them almost violently.
Dealing adequately with your ahankara before it is too late
Suppose your ego (Latin for "I"), that is, the "I-sense" in one of its aspects is your "I", your Self, and that fun helps it, and great music as well. But to go for getting rid of it looks like fool's suicide. How bad those can be who teach others to get rid of themselves at the bottom level!
By contrast, a careful and psychodynamic stand is that the personality is developed from following up on one's genuine interests and desires. So if you want to retain your "I" and manifest your deeper sides as the personality blossoming, feel free to.
The "I-sense" is called ahankara or ahamkara in Sanskrit. It is thought to be an integral part of man's inner sides, and it is good to keep it and let it evolve as the soul within. It seems utterly foolish to try to kill your "I" as long as you are "in it", and as far as the "I" is a soul, and cannot be killed, if Yogananda got that right; he said it.
❋ Stick to your I-ness by going deep in transcendental meditation, and go for getting it right before a fox comes to steal it from you.
Yogananda's soap war against himself
In Conversations with Yogananda by James Donald Walters, Yogananda is quoted to have said, "I killed Yogananda many years ago. [Kriyananda 2004:359]" If that be true, he should not be able to walk about and teach and preach havoc. Good old yoga does not, and see the developments that Transcendental Meditation brings about. There are many other benefits than getting a grip. ◦[Results of TM according to the David Lynch Foundation]
Now, Yogananda - was or is he really an own-soul-killer, such a vicious murderer? If so, he is probably not the best kind.
The soap-killed guru's basic idea of waging war against the ego is awkward. Why? If you have a room with nothing and no one in it, there are no teachings coming out of it, and no guru either. "Nothing comes from nothing (Latin: nihil fit ex nihilo), taught the Greek Parmenides many hundred years BCE.
If you think your non-cackling but egg-laying goose is of so little worth because it does not cackle that you let a fox steal it, that is a shame. What is needed is to let your all right goose climb into the sky - lift the ego – the sense of I-ness, or "I am" within – that is, get stronger mentally and individually, let your sense og ahamkara and deep 'I', grow, and develop higher awarness by meditation.
Thus, if your egohood is not a foul bird soar into the sky in such ways as geese prefer naturally - fast, that is. Basically, meditation helps us fly fast or high above battlefields and crank plots. Yogananda says something like that too – he says many things, but often his favourite themes pop up, and they can involve largely unfit, blunderbuss teachings. However, there is a Helpful Yogananda too, if you care digging up that part of his teachings and dispensing with all the other parts - say - 90 percent, give and take. Or 95 % - That is bad enough in the light of "Because of one faulty, large pole, a whole roof may come crashing down." There are domino effects too. Hopefully you do not have to experience the results of wrong, bad, misleading Yogananda teachings for yourself, for it may take a long time to see through all of them - years of menial and wrong teachings bordering on chatter too. All the same, a link to the sane parts of Yogananda's teachings is given.
We should not battle our egohood or "I-ness", but cultivate it tactfully. Adjust your selfishness, and adhere to growth in proprium development as you are able to. Build neat skills and several factors of cognitive development with tact, and one day transcend (go beyond) even great ideas too.
❋ Have sound suspicions that the guru who says he has killed his ego without even a sign of having done so, is pretending. To walk, talk and take to mature living depends on the ego instance.
"In such ponds, such fish swim about." This is a proverb-like intimation. The catch is dependend on what ned is used, and where it is placed. Here are intimations of possible backsides of hammering youths into shape. Intimations are for sketching a picture without all the details.
A youth gets rectified in fear
One thing is blossoming all right, another thing is being hammered into a shape that suits the tastes of others. If your choice is between fair growth from deep within or getting erect by vigilant guru teachings, felt like hammer blows?
Suppose a youth learns the art of yoga by some strong-willed guru disciplinarian. The youth might have been weak or perhaps unsound before the training, and not merely emaciated during it, and not merely immature, undeveloped. What could be the outcome? Will the guru manage to hammer the youth into shape, so to speak, like God in a fairy tale?
It is good to cater to development of a healthy, rational ego instance of the personality, a sound sense of "I", and cater to growth of id-linked competence too.
Fair and fit schooling and training of proficiency are among the ways to do it. But the ego that is not helped to develop in sound ways, and gets "hammered" and "sharp-tongue disciplined" till it shies, may find substitite outlets. One of them may be self-aggrandisement or boasting greatly by proxy and whim, and likely because of some erroneous goings of competence development. It needs to be fair and square.
Those who find much eulogising of "great ones" and the like, may in time wonder or study whether immature ego handling is into it. An authoritarian upbringing and training can make the healthy id development through basic phases suffer, and the competence development in each phase "go rotten". Erik H. Erikson has studied the subject and come up with many phases added to Freud's five. [More]
For one who is still capable of developing sound proficiency and keep a normal egohood, there is no need for slaugthering any of the two"
For a time, during upbringing times when obedience serves the survival, thwarted egotism finds it perhaps fit to hide its so-called ugly and perhaps unfinished head to avoid verbal denouncements and other sanctions, and in some years the growing youth may appear to be good – that is, doing as told, and praising authoritarian ways for the rest of his or her life.
Suppose he seems good because too drastic and severe training first made him hide an ego that contained much good or inherent good, and later get it twisted and bungled. The sick ego may rise to the surface years later as a yet little-recognised disease marked by "squirming," and not really astute firmness in things that matter, such as guarding one's tongue and not praise dictatorship too soon. I write this because I have become suspicious of a relation somewhere.
❋ Is it a camouflaged tragedy we are going into, or are we not rightfully suspicious? After all, there are different opinions among experts too, in field after field, walk after walk.
Yogananda "hammered out" as his astrologer-guru saw fit
Yogananda said about Yukteswar, his guru: "He was a bit too tough in his ways." Yogananda's biographer and fellow disciple Dasgupta fills in how Yogananda "feared [Yukteswar] terribly when it came to practical matters of daily life. His behavior towards [Yukteswar] always was like that of a child." [Psy 30]
Like a child, a terribly fearful child, cannot be good in all ways. There is something lacking in the picture, such as good and all right assertiveness, even good coping.
Yogananda was disciplined harshly by his guru - at least he felt so - and then his guru knocked him on the chest one day he had difficulties with meditating. As a result, Yogananda lost his breath for quite a while, and so on. By that stroke he was made a guru and some time later got his own following among North Americans. Could it have been predicted by a smart guy that something untoward was bound to change in time? It did. [More]
Yogananda, subjected to demanding discipline for years, after long years of training went to America and tried to make kriya yoga known there at his guru's behest. And slowly quite another form of kriya yoga developed, a kriya yoga that departed from its givens. An Americanised hybrid kriya! Yogananda and SRF changed how it is done, what parts go into it, and how it is to be transmitted according to the traditional way. Yogananda stood for mass initations, and said, "Look, I want to throw the net far and wide, so that at least a couple of big fishes can be caught." (Psy 79)
I wonder if catching fishes actually is loving them. "If you love somebody, you set them free." Does Yogananda fish people to let them go? No. He made an oath for them to swear to stop that.
Swami Satyeswarananda informs about the changes Yogananda made. He is less positive to them than Yogananda's biographer. That is for sure. 
❋ A grown man seeming like a terribly fearful child and with a history of being afraid of ghosts too, is he bound? Has human id of normal development become tied up?
It is not by writing "Honey, honey, honey" after the bad happenings that all becomes sweet
At the same time, Yogananda also talked with two mouths about several main issues, like handling the ego. At this point a marked clarification is needed: One thing is a theoretical probing for causes of alarming things, another is good evidence. As it is, psychoanalysis is based on conjecture, and I for my part must tell that the phenomena surrounding a possibly repressed ego and its later outlets – such as suggested above – have to be handled as theoretical suspicions of a sort (speculative). So I am not in a position to state whether or how far the nuanced, possible explanations for what may be called "nasty ego development" really say anything about the awkward changes of kriya yoga of Yogananda.
Swami Satyeswarananda exposes "The I-ness of Yogananda" . He tells from the time Yogananda's aged guru Yukteswar wanted to leave a lot of property, lands, and cash savings behind as he saw it fit. Some might find it strange that Yukteswar had much property to give or grant away at that time at all, being a monk, but he was a monk with property.
Nevertheless, Yukteswar wanted to establish "Yogoda Satsanga Society of India and America," with himself as its founder and Yogananda as its president. And Yogananda came from America to India and stayed there from late 1935 till 1936. Yukteswar also wished an ashram he owned in Puri to be used for research and practice of astronomy and astrology, and that his finances were to be used to fund that endeavour.
On the day the Yogoda deed was to be witnessed and signed, Yukteswar was driven to the attorney's office by Yogananda's younger brother. Several others were also present. The agreement started that Yukteswar's organisation and all of the branches of Yogoda Satsanga, including all of the property and funds of both organizations, would be merged as one under a new name. At the time of signing, Yogananda said: "I was really the one who did everything . . ." – seemingly meaning that he was the founder, and not Yukteswar.
Yukteswar was shocked; he looked at Yoganandaji's face for a second, took his walking stick and marched out of the attorney's office directly to [the] car, and went back. Everyone was absolutely dumbstruck by this sudden and completely unexpected and unimaginable event.
Yukteswar was so wounded by Yoganandaj's conduct at that time that on that very day he gave up all hope of a future for his institution. When he rode away in the car, he was so angry that he said: "That is not self-will; that is unlawful conduct." [Ibid.]
The eye-witness accounts from that period show that strong-handed Yukteswar got more than disappointed with the disciple he had trained and found worthy to "get the pow - or power" somehow.
The author of a Yogananda biography, Sailendra Dasgupta, also described other incidents where Yukteswar got disappointed. [Psy]
❋ If seeing is believing, Dasgupta believed the things he wrote of Yogananda.
Making a virtue of selfishness
In America, Yogananda talked a lot for a kind of selfishness, and also for "attacking and killing the ego".
The recounts above suggest that Yogananda had what looks like a devastatating "I" at work in an attorney's office, after all. His guru had not managed to kill it. Nor had Yogananda.
Let me suggest something else here: "Suppressed or repressed does not mean either killed or healed." Repressed, "demonaic," hidden sides may come to the fore unexpectedly later, by what is actually set in motion, and "halfway seen" by theory-founded findings.
C. Destroy or evolve or both?
Presumably we cannot destroy our "I" and evolve it. Or do you injure and eventually kill your "I" by developing it? Can you have your cake and eat it too?
GOOD: Yogananda told the ego ("I-ness") can be lit up (awakened) and evolved. The world famous guru Paramahansa Yogananda told that the ego can be developed. This view is aired in his The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: Ego is when the soul forgets its true divine Self. But when the "'I'-ness" expresses solely through wisdom, it becomes* individualized reflection of Spirit, he decides there. [Yi 41, 42, abr]. Also see the Aims and Ideals of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF,established by the yogi: "To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort of man's limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness." [More].
* Try and find out whether the ego becomes reflected and individualised Spirit or whether it is spirit all along, and as it is awakening too. That could be good for you.
OMINOUS: Most of the time Yogananda told the ego must be destroyed. However, Yogananda also taught the ego consciousness - eternal and changeless, as he called it - had to be destroyed, which was very hard to do – and perhaps not feasible so long as the soul is the "I". Besides, Yogananda definitely teaches the soul is immortal. Trying to kill one's "I-sense" must be very foolish and potentially harmful to sound maturation and development for many other reasons. Maiming is not good either. Still the guru taught "battle and kill the ego" in so many ways. It is a mistaken policy with many setbacks, I should say. It is not divine wisdom.
All need a sound ego instance to cope. It is well to consider that if you go for maiming and destroying the ego, the "I"-sense, as Yogananda kept telling followers to, you can weaken and derange something valuable, something potentially exceedingly valuable from on high in you. So why follow a set of confused, deranging cult teachings? Do some persons want to become disabled and decrepit instead of evolving well and soundly?
Canonised self-contradictions can work damage in the mind
Yogananda talks for curbing or killing the ego, and for regulated breathing as dictated for years.
The church of Yogananda, Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, is headed by monastic. The structure of the SRF monastic order is authoritarian, and seems intent on talking well of submission and of giving up autonomy as two "divine" virtues. They are not. And to take to "devoted trickery" is at fault [Examples].
We are dealing with inconsistent teachings. The efforts of SRF monks and nuns to give the guru credit in ways that look "defective-grandiose" by telling they find his guidelines are without flaw - it is a first-class cult sign. [WP, s.v. "advance organizers"]
A little wake up call: Yogananda as an Authoritarian
I think God can be said to be a spiritual dictator . . .
So God, who allegedly went for sacrificing the man Jesus to save criminal culprits (Jews) by it [cf. Mark 14:36], and failed miserably anyhow, he is a dictator, according to Yogananda, who praised dictatorship when he was forty. "The average man cannot think clearly . . . He needs the master mind of a Dictator in order to think right and do right," he wrote in his East-West magazine, and also stuff like "A master brain like that of Mussolini does more good than millions of social organizations of group intelligence." (◦East-West, Vol 6, February 1934, p. 3, 25).
He did not quite follow up and broaden his stand that in "In Mexico, a bad President fortunately is not allowed to be bad long, for his career is ended by a bullet of some well-intentioned bad man . . . there are many Spiritual people in Mexico." 
We see that Yogananda was a "versatile" guru. He neither refrained from praising dictatorship nor from suggesting that the killing of bad Mexican presidents might be fortunate. He is not, however, close to saying, "kill yourself (through kriya yoga, previously described by him as the art of dying)", for he wanted his believers to wake up from the grip of "kriya yoga death" too. He further wanted Americans to believe his teachings were in harmony with the self-contradictory ones of Jesus – Alas, telling there is a fake harmony, does not necessarily make it so.
Yogananda on egohood is the central topic of this page, however.
'Game' in this context is a TA concept. On the surface, it means about the same as hanky-panky, and there need not be anything funny about it. A TA Game is not funny to partake in or observe. Eric Berne developed Transactional Analysis, TA and postulated many non-funny Games (hanky-pankies) that "people play". [Berne 2010]
To tell others to cry for Divine Mother like mad till she comes without being furious, looks like a grand Game to me. To instigate authoritarian, unwelcome practices and put them in the way of guys who want to develop their minds by kriya yoga, may be Gamy at the core too. And the once dictatorship-friendly guru teaches you to battle against the ego - it looks like getting locked in a creeping context against higher, better interests and doings, to me. Flatfoot servily is praised as humility, a a virtue, in a setting of such a kind. Methinks there are many "good devotee games" around.
So what can servility-serving "fight the ego" mean from someone who had talked for years ain favour of "sacred selfishness"?
All that suspicion aside, the healthy ego in the psychoanalytic sense, is something fit and fine to work for, as it ties in with rationality, and may rise too. The Austrian educator Rudolf Steiner taught likewise: "The ego can rise," is part of his Anthroposophical teaching, and Waldorf Education is in part devised for that process through formative years in Kindergarden and school. [More]
To say to others that they are to battle against their egos apparently suits rulers or superiors aiming at having subordinates to dominate or even ride on, so to speak. Such garrulous fellows on top may be found to furnish victims with up to alarmingly failure-forming teachings. We should not try to fail in living by a foolish war inside, a war instigated by drivel, but be diplomatic, true and tactful enough instead – that sort of inward mediation is quite a task of the ego who harmonises id and superego, according to psychoanalytic theory. As a result of a good ego, you get effective too.
The garrulous superiors and their loyal crews
The garrulous superiors who are stiffening others deep inside, are found to go for predominant teachings that rather often come with stiff calls for self-denial and battle-calls for "humility" of such a perverted kind. And thereby thriving and mirth fly out of the windows. That is to be feared, and might also be foretold to happen in the long run – foretold by a knowable, well-meaning guru intent on liberating foolish believers.
Unsound strife to "curb and kill the ego" is – well – unsound. Over time it may serve to alienate you. Is that what good guys strive for? To the contrary, and Yogandanda could have insisted differently, for example, "Restrain stupid selfishness before it becomes dangerous to others or yourself or both. "That's when you're learning the Game.""
If you violate – curb, suppress and repress – sides to yourself without decency and tact, much goes bad that otherwise could have worked just fine. If you follow the teachings of gurus that say you must curb and kill the ego, you risk a lot and should instead fight a lot not to end up sly, subversive-obedient, and rather difficult to deal with. "Sincerity will save you," says Yogananda somewhere. Let it be the right kind of sincerity, though, modulated to suit you throughout. And that is one of the teachings of Buddha too, about how candid speech ought to be. How much sincerity may save you from embarrassment at any moment, often depends on tact, and on those involved. I think so. In the long run, if things go well, your sincerity with yourself helps you to open up to and embrace truths on a good many levels and areas. Let us hope that.
Grounding of gurus: their own ideas with or without backup from Alfred Adler and other psychoanalysts
Yogananda grounds his often fragmented statements on ego in the Bhagavad Gita, by treating it in a much customary, Hindu way: A caveat: Harmful and destructive guru attitudes that are backed up by stories that are claimed to be figurative, and then interpreted to support such attitudes, are hardly evidence to count on. Rather, it tells of what many gurus find it fit to use as support of their own outlooks, and some get canonised by and by an eager, devoted, loyal and maybe clowning crew.
Good yoga, on the other hand, likes you to get support from the natural and thereby conquer. "Draw strength from the Unobstructed; let the Stream flow naturally," says Phadampa Sangay. You get an easy overview of related yoga teachings on the page called Tibetan Tantra.
If you take a look at such hovering teachings, you may as well note that key parts of psychoanalysis are related to them. There too there is a deep, thorough-going focus on relaxing for seeing things; of gently working on cramped stiffness because it hinders the ability to being able to function well in the long run. To be able to work and enjoy, as Alfred Adler put it, is among the helpful marks of good health. Psychoanalysis branched out rather early in its development, and different followers of Freud developed a variety of views. And there are similarities between views and thoughts of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism and psychoanalysis - and theoretical physics too - for those who want to compare and draw inspiration or support for one or both. I just mention it here.
Your soap war against your I-sense, how far may it serve another's jingoism?
Rational handling and coping derives from the ego, summarises Encyclopedia Britannica [sv. "ego"]. Stick to your egohood – and what is the alternative to a rational, coping, quite clear-seeing ego-instance in you? You may be taken in and swindled more easily.
The survey above makes it possible to understand why the early Yogananda says divine selfishness is what to go for. He also speaks of lifting egotism, or gross "I-ness" upward by subtle-making of the awareness through meditation. When the guru later alters his teachings and speaks for unselfishness – he does that too . . .
Yogananda also teaches how to "swim" inwards toward Spirit and its "I-ness".
Such sides to the delicate "I-ness"-handling are found in the guru's teachings meant for Americans for some thirty years after 1920.
Blessings of steering away from degrading concepts
Figure 1 seeks to capture the main ideas here. Going inwards or upwards is the upper part of the "time glass" (D-E), contrasted with the tract of going downwards (A-B). Between them is an ellipsis (C) of common living.
What the guru speaks for, generally, is not to move downwards by silly selfishness, derangements, bad company and the like, but to prefer such selfishness and egoism that may preserve one's good standing, keep the savoury parts of life, and then develop fitly. One should not overexert oneself, for prolonged strain can be bad for health, but find a suitable "effort level" – it could well be 64-82 percent of the moment's maximum. Optimal output, not necessarily maximum output, may work best in the long run – maybe 75 percent during steady performance is OK – How much the optimal output may be, depends on many factors. They include rest; shape; skills of handling things and persons; overall conditions - how refreshing they are; and fairly much may be individually tinged. Seek good company for "sacredly selfish" ends, and to shun detrimental company for the same reason.
In the ellipsis of daily accommodations (C in figure 1), habits can be fine helpers, and the guru talks for good habits too. However, when he says you should spend every minute "seeking God", it may be understood as over-exertion, which taxes and drains and may work for harm in the long run. Suitable, good interest and enthusiasm are marked by sustainability enough, without taxing overmuch and does not mean neuroses developing either. The careful, balanced approach matters. Buddha teaches the Gentle Middle Way, and I may advocate the gist of it, at least as I have come to understand it. [The Middle Way of Avoiding Extremes]
More significant still, is that if you take up very fit meditation methods and methods and tools for making life better, you do not have to spend all that time, and get more leisure time for walks in the garden, enjoying the plant life, sailing, white clouds, waves at the sea, the sounds of birds, and much else. Such things matter too, and so does frivolity.
The crux of the matter is: Do not go into degrading concepts, but learn to rise in meditation to your ability, by choosing fine methods and taking time for them - The TM approach functions through a couple of daily sittings of 20 minutes duration each. The results may astound some.
Ramana Maharsi speaks for taking the ego back to its source by focusing intently inwardly. He also instructs: The Self is the Heart [Hridayam] – Enter deep into the Heart – it is impossible to see it. And the past is dependent on the present [!] Annotations are here: [Link]
Feel free to ask with me: "Making hay when the sun shines to improve your past - how often does it happen? And how, in case?"
Yogananda speaks for development of the incarnating ego [1981:100], and "mastery of ego" [Ha 383]. The development idea is part of the official aims and ideals of the fellowship he founded: "To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort of man's limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness." [More]
A not insignificant part of what matters to current devotees of Yogananda, however, is the suspicious "destroy the ego" side to his teachings. Many Yogananda utterances on the subject are gathered on this page. First, an appetizer; his guru Yukteswar said to him: "You will go to foreign lands, where blunt assaults on the ego are not appreciated." [Ha 120]
As for ego assaults, in Yogananda's autobiography - the most read of his books - there are 37 mentions of such as ego, ego-principle, egotist, egotism, egotistical. Of the 37 mentions:
This count serves to estimate such as the impact and predominant teachings. Further, it must be impossible that egohood attacks can back up the first of the aims and ideals of the society he founded: "To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort of man's limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness." (There is more on it below). As a psychoanalyst and many others see it, skilled self-effort requires an ego ("I-identity") and ego strength to steer and adjust main efforts rationally enough. And besides, "assault the ego" teachings can be dangerous even if they mean "go against selfishness". For what would be left to cope by if the ego were maimed and fails? Awkward results may be foretold then.
However, much depends on aplomb, courtesy, and skills, and not swerving from what is right, most likely right, probably right or at times perhaps right. There is a gliding scale into it somewhere, for those who do not listen to their hearts and trust it - which advanced egoism also is for.
Consider that Yogananda talks with two tongues about selfishness too, and in the long run we may observe confused members of embarrassment. [More]
A healthy, judicious ego (ahamkara) is an integral part of yourself. Selfishness can be sound and well founded too. There is no good reason to attack or "kill" the ego – your inner "I-ness" for spiritual development either, not unless you are so depraved and corrupted that the best thing is to kill you off – and the next group of culprits get sentenced to a life confined between walls – for example monastery walls. I suspect that not every monastic has a similar look on how such things are, but study the life patterns and goings above the words to escape confusion brought on by "pretty-painting" or cloaking pet words like "Guru's work".
In short, study (1) the set-up and its goings, (2) the lives, and study (3) the catchy phrases and words. And give them weight in the suggestive proportion of 9 : 2 : 0,04, for example. Such a simple presentations may help against being taken in as to what the other really stands for and is up to. Accordingly, the fixed set-up is to be given a hundred times more charge or weight than mere orator words. For example, where discontented cloister inmates are heavily fenced in and do not have much of a say as to how they regulate their own lives, and yet speak of great (inner) freedom, maybe there is a bad fare, a snake in the grass there. Family living may to be better and in part fun too. "Suspect" here is quite like "Stay alert to the alternative hypotheses". In this case it is: "Monastics and moanastics are a heavily imprisoned lot, and may be brainwashed for it too." In fact, in SRF, members are taught to cry like babies for God. Does it sound like fun? Seeing is believing.
Why do some embrace a faith that is full of inadequacies? Because theyhardly see through the demagoguery the first few years, or deem they gain from it, and more too. But are deep-going subconscious and perhaps unconscious calculations smart enough to work against the clever "soul-snatchers"? That is another, delicate matter. The fact is that some are taken in. I was, for one.
Helpful as the suggested proportion may be in some cases, this way of considering too is just a tentative rule of the thumb. And I don't say there are no benefits from being sentenced to jail or alternative imprisonment. One such benefit may be that of being educated. Another is a sharpened understanding for how useful it is to be able to relax. And yet another is that since others are "taken out" this way, there is more room in the world for other guys too. Let us fervently hope and pray that good guys are not taken in, considering how needed such guys are.
To remind ourselves of the lay of the land: Yogananda teaches ego-development too, and his own guru, Yukteswar, also. Yukteswar writes in the book The Holy Science (1972) that the deep ego (ahamkara) stands out as one of the many aspects of the Self. Yukteswar asked his disciple Yogananda to found his Western teachings on the book when Yogananda went to America. [More]. However, Yogananda did not restrict his orator output to that – far from it.
❖ Do not limit your chances to succeed in life: We cannot kill an egohood and evolve it too . . . that is the essence of this free study. Inconsistencies or a cleaven tongue in vital matters can be tough to deal with in time.
Sound inner egohood (ahamkara) and intelligence go together, Yukteswar tells in line with common Samkhya theory of knowledge: Egoity (ahamkara) and intelligence "belong together" and are from Self. [Cf. Ha 408].
Your ego instance, alias your sense of "I am", is to be precious to you. Favour it, then, for it helps rational handling of wishes, desires, and very much else.
The (Kriya) technique, which as you see is simple, embodies the art of quickening man's spiritual evolution. Hindu scriptures teach that THE INCARNATING EGO requires a million years to obtain liberation from [such as grave illusions and not too good contacts, I figure]. . . . Just as plant growth can be accelerated far beyond its normal rate . . . so man's psychological development also can be speeded by scientific means." – Yogananda [Ha 100].
The guru says here that the ego needs time to be freed. This being so, trying to assault it or destroy it could be an alarming mistake. Yet Yogananda most often voices that latter approach: [Link]
The early Yogananda also talks for rational or enlightened self-interest. [Link]
Your Character at Stake
A good ego is one of the many things of the Self, and it serves to make you able or capable.
Start by discerning between what is central to development, and what is probably very silly selfishness. Sensible selfishness on the other hand can work well – that is the early Yogananda's teaching. Healthy egotism is fit for children, and sensible egotism should be fit for most adults.
Sides to good egohood
Using your ego you can plan, you can practise rational thinking and gainful all-over handling. You can also improve your lot and exert a positive influence; apply handly lessons and get rid of obstacles; shape vital areas of your own world, manifest your own home, and have the wisdom to step aside for someone more significant that yourself, as needs be.
Taking due care in front of challenges and threats is fit for the ego (sense of I-ness") too. And so is functioning more easily; reaching toward responsible teachers who help; being with people of like minds; and disarming troublesome elements also.
Having treasures and holding on to your dear, hard-won assets can help. A mature (maturing) egohood is needed for handling lots of things, including treasures. What is more, many bad roots should be eradicated. Further, in yoga, focused attention brings growing fulfilment. We may also bring good opportunities to exert a burgeoning influence.
Interestingly, in all of these cases egohood may be needed. Try to consider before succumbing to teachings that seek to make you a half-slave or serf under gurus to serve with devoted attitudes that may get cramped as time goes by, due to unfulfilments.
Self-Realization Fellowship which Yogananda founded, is "To teach that the purpose of life is the evolution, through self-effort of man's limited mortal consciousness into God Consciousness." [Link]
See what else they teach if you care, as their guru and they seem to have straddled two largely different horses - The one is "For ego development"; the other "Against ego".
"Scientists of old found that the human ego outlasts all the changes of experience and thought during the state of wakefulness . . . of dream . . . and of deep sleep—during the life-time. The experience changed, the environment, sensations, thoughts and bodily states changed, but the sense of identity, of "I", did not change, from birth to death. Hence the Hindu experimenters argued that through concentration on the ego, through a constant, conscious, aloof, unidentified introspection . . . or watching of the various changing states of life—of wakefulness, dreaming or deep sleep—that one could perceive the changeless and eternal nature of the ego. [Swami Yogananda. "Reincarnation – How Can It Be Scientifically Proved?" [Yogananda, East West, Volume 1 – 3 March 1926 – April 1926]
The (Kriya) technique … embodies the art of quickening man's spiritual evolution. Hindu scriptures teach that the incarnating ego requires a million years to obtain liberation . . . Just as plant growth can be accelerated far beyond its normal rate . . . so man's psychological development also can be speeded by scientific means." [Ha 100].
"Hindu scriptures teach that the incarnating ego requires a million years to obtain liberation from maya. This natural period is greatly shortened through Kriya Yoga . . . . man's psychological development also can be speeded by scientific means. Be faithful in your practice" - [Ha 100]
"A kriya yogi can . . . accomplish by intelligent self-effort the same result which nature brings to pass in a million years." [More]
COMMENT. Consider if this is a one-sided telling in the light of the background information here: [More]
"Ego, is the principal Power which fights the forces of the Soul . . . which deluded the Soul . . . it is very hard to kill the Ego consciousness . . .
"This Ego, which is conscious of being identified with a body, is carried in the heart of the Soul through many incarnations." [Yogananda, "The Bhagavad Gita". Comments on v 1:11, in East West, July, 1933 Vol. 5 -9.]
The blind sense-infatuated mind under the delusive influence of the ego . . . King Ego and his kinsmen of wicked, ignoble tendencies cunningly usurp the throne . . . The human body and mind are veritable battlegrounds for the war between wisdom and the conscious delusive force manifesting as avidya, ignorance. Every spiritual aspirant, aiming to establish within himself the rule of King Soul, must defeat the rebels, King Ego and his powerful allies. [Yi 7, 22, 24]
"A prince forsook his palace and lived so long in a slum that he forgot his original state. The prince may be compared to the Soul, and his false thought of himself as being poor, as the Ego. The Soul in itself, being the image of God, is blessed, but when it identifies itself with the body as the Ego, it considers itself limited by its conditions and environment, and is thus un-free and miserable." [Yogananda, East West, 1925, Vol 1-1, "This and That".
We have . . . metaphysical soldiers, which stand in readiness to aid the yogi's battle for Self-realization:
1. Yuyudhana – Divine Devotion (Shraddha)
From the Sanskrit root yudh, "to fight," Yuyudhana means literally "he who has been fighting for his own benefit." The metaphorical derivation: Yudharh caitanya-prakasayitum esauah abhilasamdna iti – "One who has an ardent desire to fight to express spiritual consciousness." It represents the attracting principle of love whose "duty" it is to draw creation back to God. Felt by the devotee as shraddha, or devotion for God, it is an inherent pull of the heart in longing to know Him. It stirs the devotee to spiritual action and supports his sadhana (spiritual practices)."
COMMENT. "Battle, desire to fight, "duty", devotion", may be needed in some cases, but are no standard necessities. To take up a good technique of meditation, delight in it wholeheartedly, and to get strenghtened by the practice is what tends to matter the most. Much research on Transcendental Meditation, TM, gives evidence of it. TM practitioners may just drop unhealthy habits and other detrimental sides to life to get it better – [◦Documentation]
"Destroy all desire; get rid of the ego – all this sounds very negative to me, Master," a student remarked. "Abandoning so much, what shall I have left?"
"Everything, really, . . . " the Master replied. "No longer . . . content with a crust of bread (. . .)
"One should be guided by reason". [Yogananda 1982:187]
By constantly following the inner voice of conscience . . . you will become a truly moral person, a highly spiritual being, a man of peace. [Wl 54]
The last edition from 1980 is called "Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda" [Spa; Say; Tms]. The pagination is different there. The content is the same as in the two previous editions that the pagination is from. Quotations follow:
After pointing out a disciple's error, the Master said:
"You should not feel sensitive . . . It is because you are winning in the battle against ego-guided habits that I continue to show you the way of self-discipline." [Say 48] "Man has falsely identified himself with the pseudo-soul or ego . . . all pain is unreal" [Say 55]
"The Lord has shown me that this life is but a dream." [Yogananda 1982:72]
"What a dream this life is!" [Yogananda 1982:136]
"Man is sunk in a dream of ignorance, imagining that he is suffering". [Yogananda 1982:196]
"God supplies quickly any need of His devotees, because they have eliminated the thwarting cross-currents of ego," the Master said.
"A mortgage payment was due. The Divine Mother appeared before him and said in English [such as]: "I am your security". [Say 33]
"Even though we . . . unintentionally hurt someone, we have nevertheless given offence. It is egotism that misdirects us. Saints do not act unwisely . . . they have forsaken the ego". [Say 64]
[HRMM How true is it? In the light of scriptures?
Someone asked Yogananda if it was wrong to be ambitious and work for self.
"No, you should be ambitious to . . . If your . . . ambition is dead, you have lost life", said Yogananda. . . .
"Obeying the ego leads to bondage". [Say 58]
"You came on earth to accomplish a divine mission . . . how tremendously important that is! Do not allow the narrow ego to obstruct your attainment of . . ." [Say 82, 102] ???
"Distinctions of "important" and "unimportant" are surely unknown to the Lord, lest, for want of a pin, the cosmos collapse!" [Ha 82]
"Everything in creation has individuality—The whole universe is made of spirit . . . a stone, a tree and a man are equally composed of the Sole Substance, God. To bring into being a diversified creation, the Lord had to bestow one everything the appearance of individuality." [Say 5, 8]
Inconsistent teachings amount to mar.
Douglas-Klotz, Neil. The Hidden Gospel: Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books, 2001:162-64.
Lamsa, George, tr. The New Testament. Philadelphia: Holman Bible Publishers, 1968.
Sands, William F. Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment. Fairfield, IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2013.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: SRF, 1982.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.
Kriyananda, Swami (aka James D. Walters) Conversations with Yogananda. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 2004.
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Online and/or as yearly DVD suite.
Berne, Eric: Games People Play. Reissue ed. London: Penguin, 2010.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1981.
Yukteswar, Swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1972.
Osborne, Arthur ed: Ramana Maharshi and the Path of Self-Knowledge. New ed. Rider. London, 1970.
Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. Also at Google Books, partial view.
Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.
Spa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1980.
Tms: Self-Realization Fellowship. The Master Said: Sayings and Counsel to Disciples by Paramhansa Yogananda. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1957.
Wl: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Where There Is Light: Insight and Inspiration for Meeting Life's Challenges. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.
Wo: Chatterjee, Satischandra and Datta, Dhirendramohan: An Introduction to Indian Philosophy. 7th ed. University of Calcutta. Calcutta, 1968.
WP: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Yi: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: An Introduction to India's Universal Science of God-realization. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.
Harvesting the hay
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