Find out where the land lies through well made inquiries. Then consider more and better.
To decide whether a religious society is a cult or acceptable in the large society, apply the duck test if you please: "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might as well be a duck." Note that Paramahansa Yogananda (1983–1952) was in favour of dictatorship in his own magazine in 1934. Alas, foresight was missing, and so was a democratic tone.
Should we too quietly dispense with Yogananda aims for Self-Realization Fellowship - aims that do not please or suit us - and maintain that "we do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines. Since we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless."? They have done so in SRF, Self-Realization Fellowship. It was registered as a church in California in March 1935. The registration charter contains a series of articles. One of them is to teach that "human life is given to man . . . not for physical pleasure." So run away from there, boy, run.
However, the SRF management revised the SRF charter in the 1950s, starting just a few years after Yogananda's passing, and forged his signature too, from Paramhansa to Paramahansa. They silently made so little of ". . . not for physical pleasure" that it may be barely noticeable since, and they have surely taken pains to make Yogananda another Christ. But there are more Christs in the SRF universe: The SRF magazine has published at least ten Christs and Christlike ones on Yogananda's word - his father Bhagabati among them. [Source].
However, one genuine Christ, the Norwegian-American Christ Gundersen (1908–45) who lived in Brooklyn while Yogananda lived in the USA, does not appear in Yogananda's list of Christs . . . No one can deny he was a real Christ, a real Gundersen. (Zempel 1991, 185)
After Yogananda's banquet death in March 1952, SRF leaders "doctrinated" their guru Yogananda upwards, so to speak, soaring high above the Mussolini-praiser, dictatorship-hailing, and master of deception in a court of law where the "judge, James MacLachlin, concluded in the light of . . . evidence that all charges by Swami Yogananda against Dhirananda were false and untrue." One may add: "- not all-knowing either," if it matters.
So, from not including a real Christ - Christ Gundersen - in his list of people he knew back in India, mostly, Yogananda instead ventured into less safe waters. His guidelines are not without faults, for example. His "Hard work has never hurt anyone" is faulty. Hard work has harmed millions.
Beware of faulty guidelines and unfulfilled lives too - or people not up to being themselves, who demand you sacrifice former freedom to learn their secret methods. Others teach kriya differently and less authoritarianism-ridden. We could learn to consider and judge for ourselves. There is that hope.
Dr. Philip Zimbardo, a specialist on cults, thinks that the large
society might be easier if it were more caring, and in some ways more cultlike. Yet there are more possible benefits in being cult-free than cult-ridden, I would say. It is also a matter of personality and cult profile - how well they match, and how many benefits the cult holds. But when a cult says one thing but does not live up to it, the table may be set for some heart-tearing conflicts. And then it is not fit to say, "So far, so good."
Having "the highest" is one issue below. Another one is 'modifications', and a third 'misleading innocents'.
Yogananda stated in the 1929 teachings of Kriya that twelve Kriyas were the same as a year of natural spiritual evolution. Then later in his Autobiography he said that one Kriya was the equivalent of one year of natural evolution - twelve times better than what he first said.
Swami Satyaswarananda is one of those who point out that Yogananda altered the Kriya system substantially. The swami has published very much, and some of it is online. His footing is not the same as that of SRF in all ways. [◦More] Yogananda's biographer Sailendra Dasgupta (2006) tells, he too, that Yogananda changed the tradition's techniques, and in so doing left out formerly essential parts with their bindings and injunctions.
Other organisations than SRF and other swamis than those of Yogananda's line have come to teach kriya yoga and publish books, they too.
Buddha teaches that it is the fit method that brings benefits, not necessarily what one expects or believes. [Bhumija Sutta]
Key issues: validity, reliability, good evidence, and relevance.
Best Methods Are Surrounded by the Others
The sixth step of Patanjali's yoga is dharana, handy focusing through upliftment of mind.
The seventh step is dhyana, deep meditation, Zen, when the mind is deep-going or undisturbed.
The eighth and final step is samadhi, unification. This is the result of reaching.
There is mantrayana, the mantra way, where you mentally repeat a chosen sound that works well for you (cf. Alper 1989). André Padoux writes:
For mantras, the idea that the highest level of speech is pure consciousness is surely one of the reasons for the superiority, in mantric practice, of silence over actual speech, of the unsaid over the said. . . . [W]hen one looks at how a mantra is put into practice by an adept, one may well ask oneself whether the real nature of mantra is not consciousness rather than speech, the answer perhaps being that mantra is speech, but that speech, for India, is ultimately consciousness. (in Alper 1989, 298)
"It's all the same to me," said the boy, he was about to get a spanking (Saying):
Now, in a state beyond Oneness, there are no differences found. And if it is not good enough for you, the word Advaita (in Advaita Vedanta) means non-duality. Oneness is, ekam sat, is an esteemed Vedic teaching. Behind oneness and twoness (duality) is "Behind Concepts", also called Transcendence.
Guru Dev, Shankaracharya Brahmananda, tells how to choose established mantras to meditate on. The TM [Transcendental Meditation] movement has incorporated his thoughts in the TM practices. Basic TM is, simply put, best in tests. There is research on TM. [◦Link]
Today there are more than 650 scientific studies of the various benefits of Transcendental Meditation, independently conducted at 200 universities and institutions in 33 countries. The best methods can take the mind inwards rather effortlessly. It boils down to making good use of decent, very effective yoga-meditation methods.
Alper, Harvey P., ed. Mantra. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1989.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.
Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.
Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.
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