Otto Neugebauer, the historian of ancient mathematics, told a story about the boy Einstein that he characterises as a "legend," but a legend that seems fairly authentic:
Albert was a late talker, and it worried his parents. At last, at the supper table one night, he broke his silence to say, "The soup is too hot."
Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, may not have thought about the value of not talking or writing anything by their guru Yogananda, even though he is quoted to say:
Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
We find out for ourselves by applying ourselves, by thinking things over and by good meditation. Such things may help. But still, one and the same saying can be understood differently by different folks. For example, SRF has published lectures and dictated works by the swami Yogananda (1893–1952) - book after book. "Don't take my word for anything" might wisely ride above that. Instead of dropping just some Yogananda words we may one day go beyond (transcend) them all. That is much.
Yogananda on smiling -
Your smile must spread . . . over the whole universe. (Yogananda, 1982:326).
As it is said, "There's a right way to do it, a wrong way to do it, and the way they do it in the Army."
You may feel the universe is not all that big, or that there is a long way to go for a smile to spread over the universe. You could get awfully disappointed if your mouth-pulling smile-training merely stretches the skin of the mouth area only until you get ugly and disfigured, but with no smile that spreads over the whole universe from your face. After much of such training you may find too late it was plain wrong to end up as an extremely grinning Cheshire Cat - such a fellow.
Being forewarned counts a lot.
As for the long series of articles that follow in several collections and as single pages, if everything about Yogananda and his fellowship SRF had been in order (see quotations above), I might have written other books and articles than against getting hung up in SRF-edited Yogananda words and Yogananda-words edited by others as well. There are many reasons other than a "Don't take my word for anything." [Aligned]
"Not polyandric at all!"
Some who read that Yogananda said he had been the archer Arjuna in the old Mahabharata scripture of which the Bhagavad Gita is a part, may imagine that Yogananda was for polyandry, since Arjuna was a wife-sharer. He shared a wife with his four brothers. But after learning about Yogananda's no-sex guidelines, some could end up disappointed and burst out "But this is not polyandric at all!" [Yogananda on sex: A rude awakening].
The Mahabharata's Arjuna was a polyandric, a wife-sharer, and had wives on his own too: Krishna's sister Subhadra, Ulupi and Chitrangada are mentioned among Arjuna's wives in that epos. Other sources say Arjuna had eight wives in all.
In a Tamil retelling of the Mahabharata, Arjuna married eight women. One of them was Alli (Ali). She was a warrior woman who refused to marry him, but the infatuated Arjuna did not take no for a no. He sought Krishna's help and was turned into a snake, slipped into Alli's bed at night and frightened her to become his wife.
But the soul that became Yogananda refused to get married even when his own father entreated him. Yogananda wanted to be a monk instead. Those who try to find some reliable, red thread of consistency from one claimed past life to another claimed past life, may not find it. Better be warned. Also: Yogananda's teachings are not polyandric. In a talk he says unmarried people should have no sex, and married couples just a little.
It may not help if you marry in a haste, for married people that adhere to Yogananda guidelines are taught lots of "moderation". A wife of such a follower said she hated Yogananda because he had ruined her marriage. [Yogananda's no to sex for the unmarried]
The forewarned may avoid serious disappointments
There may be other disappointments in store also, such as Yogananda's praise of Mussolini and dictatorship in the mid-1930s. The World War II made him stop that even before a fleeing Mussolini was captured and executed by a firing squad on 28 April 1945 and his body was taken to Milan and hung upside down at a service station to confirm the dictator was dead. Yogananda's strong praise of Mussolini and dictatorship indicate an authoritaran bent. Better beware. It is not told so much of in SRF, and may be far worse than you think at first, for he also had an interest in Adolf Hitler, an Austrian that Yogananda wrote favourably of in his forties. Hitler came to kill himself in a bunker.
Many seem to associate the guru Yogananda with "Make love, not war", for his SRF has polished a public image of him as "love incarnate". Yet the SRF guru said he had influenced Hitler to expand the World War II eastwards, if two sources have got it right: (Kriyananda 2011:131 and 2004, no 289). Better get forewarned than soul-tied through gullible heed.
Belief in a deceitful person . . . or a false doctrine seems to be a sheer wastage of man's good energy. - Yogananda (1997:304)
Belief could get you in trouble in Canada too. False doctrine is of less worth than seeing things well for oneself, according to Yogananda. Good schooling and good training often helps. Consider this an old friend's helping advice.
Reading may not be so bad
Why look into things that are not all too pesky? One interesting aspect of it could benefit your brain functioning and health. To your health!
[A]ccording to new research, reading books might be vital to your health.
Further, reading may help against cognitive decline:
A study at the Chinese University of Hong Kong in China shows that engaging, mental pursuits including reading and playing games may substantially reduce the risk of developing cognitive decline as a senior citizen. The investigation involved 15,582 men and women in Hong Kong. All were 65 or older.
The participants who said they involved themselves in intellectual activities every day had a substantially lower risk of being diagnosed with dementia.
The study was not designed to prove cause and effect. Yet the outcomes of it suggest that an active brain may remain more healthy and highly functioning. Benefits may be had by reading, playing games, a healthy lifestyle and more.
(Source: Beth Levine. "Read More So You Can Worry Less About Dementia". Baseline of Health Foundation. 9 June 2018)
Yogananda founded Self-Realization Fellowship in late March 1935, and one day came to regret he had started it. He wrote: "I have performed an absolutely foolish act by starting an organization." (Cf. Satyeswarananda 2008, 821). It means he could have been smarter.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. 1998. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, "Master's Teachings"
Kriyananda, Swami. 2004. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, No. 189.
⸻ 2011. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.
Satyeswarananda, Swami. 2008. Mahamuni Babaji and His Legacy. San Diego, CA: Sanskrit Classics.
Yogananda, Paramahansa.1997. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
⸻ 1982. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Harvesting the hay
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