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Yogananda's Ideal Communities

When many big plans come to nothing, it is fit to look for reasons why.

Jesus advocated more or less socialist community living, but also said his teaching and his kingdom were for Jews only (Vermes 2012). Yogananda wanted particular communities too:

Yogananda quote Little-group models of ideal civilizations must be started in every community for happy and peaceful living, with much meditation and much chivalry shown. These groups should be well balanced, financially secure, and they should exist always in high thinking and plain living.

This is how it should be worked out. . . . buy and build twenty-five small cottages, by . . . own labour, on twenty acres of community-owned farm land . . . Hats should not be worn. All the people should wear sandals or go barefooted. [East West Vol 3, No 5: Yogananda's article "Overcoming Pain and Sorrow"].

Someone: "Hopefully caps will be permitted!"

Yogananda goes on:

Yogananda quote "In India I have seen men who after great mental preparation by fasting, concentration and deep prayer can walk on blazing red-hot fire without harm . . .

A matter-sensitive man . . . must not follow a method which may be powerful but which may kill him . . . He must feel that the snow and the burning sun are but materialized God-consciousness . . . [East West Vol 3, No 5: Yogananda's article "Overcoming Pain and Sorrow"].

Freezing to death, hatless and shoeless, hardly ends the pain and sorrow of being misled. Yogananda further:

Yogananda quote Parents should be satisfied with one child and exercise moderation and self-control in marital life. . . . Then, when the twenty-five children grow up, each one should be sent, with limited financial help, out into the world to earn ten thousand dollars each . . .

Crimes of faith
These are fine teachings for animals, I daresay.

Then, these children, grown into fully-developed men and women, should marry ideal mates . . .

These twenty-five couples should then build other communities such as their parents built . . . [Why not better?]

Each spiritual colony should take the vow of plain living and high . . . renunciation of luxury, and the joint ownership of lands, transportation, education, food, and money, and they should eat and dress in the community way, but spiritually each soul in the community must be unencumbered so that he may develop and advance as deeply as he can.

If people would follow the above rules, then . . . from everywhere pestilence, famine, and disease would flee . . .


[Yogananda, in East West, Vol. 4, April 6, 1932]

Good projects are basically designed to move on open-endedly, and in many respects like villages.

Yogananda's "lengthened arm", the Self-Realization Fellowship, tells his guidelines are infallible. Yet they wear shoes and have dropped going for his ideal communities.


Yogananda's Golden World City in Encinitas

In an issue of Yogananda's magazine, at that time named Inner Culture (March, 1937 Vol. 9—5), there are two articles. One of them is called "Yogoda World-City Planned". It contains aims.

"Yogoda" is a name that Yogananda used for his non-registered society in the United States until March 1935, when the fellowship was registered as Self-Realization Fellowship Church. The name was introduced in 1934, and official in 1935. In India the Yogoda Satsanga Society, YSS, is around to this day.

Yogananda got plans for a Golden World City in Encinitas in San Diego county, California. In a 1946 New Year's message in his magazine of Jan.-March 1946 he urges readers to "spread the message." He also announces how he would use the proceeds of the Autobiography of a Yogi (then intended to be called Yogi Christs of India): it was to build the "Golden World City" (World Brotherhood Colony) in Encinitas.

At the end of the 1938 version of Cosmic Chants, where he publicized his other books, Yogananda announced its future publishing: "YOGI-CHRISTS OF INDIA. The product of twenty years of metaphysical research. Stranger than fiction . . . Contains an extraordinary description of the Astral World . . . Will be published in Feb. 1944." [◦Source (PDF)]

He had plans and aims and declared that he would make a supreme effort to create a Golden World City in Encinitas. However, what he did was not good enough to bring forth such a city in his day. Besides, his fellowship scrapped the Golden City plans after Yogananda's death - that too.

The two magazine articles from 1937 are quoted verbatim now.


Yogoda World-City Planned

Swami Yogananda, through the inspiration of God and the Masters, is planning to create a model Yogoda World-City in Bengal, India, where he wants to combine really necessary industries and scientific training of Yoga. Here people of all races schooled in Yoga will be admitted. This city will be guided by the highest spiritual principles and the laws of universal brotherhood.

In this World-City special big diaries, fruit orchards and agricultural developments, along with carpentry and weaving, will be carried on. Both married and unmarried harmonious, intelligent, laborious, cooperating people will be received. Each citizen in this Yogoda World-City will be expected to live as a perfect citizen of the coming United States of the world, with God and Truth as the guiding President-King.

The cooperation of able-bodied young men and women, Rajas and Maharajahs, and of unselfish, philanthropic people of the world is invited. They may give their suggestions or physical or financial or whatever kind of help they can offer, to make this Yogoda World-City a success. All letters and applications to cooperate with this proposed World-City must be addressed to P. C. Ghose, Vice-President, Yogoda Sat-Sanga Society, (Self-Realization Fellowship) Ranchi, (B. N. Ry.), India.

The idea in creating the proposed Yogoda World-City is to offer to the war-torn, industrially-selfish, politically hide-bound nations of the earth a glimpse of a perfect divine city, which can be an inspiring model pattern after which all nations of the earth would like to build their cities.

Swami Yogananda, with the help of a few exalted souls, is going to make a supreme effort to do something practical in establishing such a city. It has hitherto remained only an imaginary idea with most people. He is not looking for absolute success or failure in the creation of a perfect World-City. He would be satisfied in making a supreme effort to create one such, as near-perfect as possible, avoiding the mistakes of all one-sided nations and taking in the best methods of all of them.

Swami Yogananda believes that the greatest enemy of man is ignorance and selfishness—not wars nor variety of religions nor customs nor races nor colors nor creeds. If ignorance and selfishness were driven from the hearts of men and they were taught to cooperate for mutual good, regarding themselves as brothers born of the one Father God, then that would pave the way for a World Nation.

The Yogoda World-City—its Aims

  1. To follow the religion of actually knowing and therefore loving God.
  2. To speak one universal language besides one's own native language.
  3. To follow the best universal laws of hygiene and diet. Creation of health and meditation centers all over India and the world, to allay the physical and spiritual suffering accruing from wrong diet, wrong living through individual, social and political selfishness.
  4. To use industry for mutual benefit and not selfish ends.
  5. To consider God as the Ultimate Harmonizer of all our difficulties, paradoxes and unintelligible problems of life. To recognize those of all races and colors as children of the one God. To teach the good and evil of patriotism. To introduce the study of international brotherhood in the schools of the world to save children from world-hatred which leads to world-wars.
  6. To give self-supporting, soul-uplifting, ever-new joy-producing education.
  7. To make everybody an athlete—a Sandow [Eugen Sandow: a German body-builder, 1867–1925] in body, mind and soul.
  8. To teach one religion of Self-Realization. Federation of all temples, churches and creeds of the world.
  9. To advance moral consciousness and spiritual utilitarianism.
  10. To establish a temple of all religions in the four quarters of the globe. Three already established in Los Angeles, and Encinitas in California, and at Ranchi in India.
  11. To teach universal brotherhood—celebration of good-will congress for all nations—teaching to love all nations and to correct them by love and example and not by hatred or wars or evil politics.
  12. To adopt universal standard customs governing body, mind and soul, taken from all nations, which would perfect body, mind and soul, and make each man an ideal world-citizen.

If this model City is fairly successful then similar ones can be established in the principal cities of the world.

[End of article. (The highlighting is added here) - Inner Culture (March, 1937 Vol. 95)]

NOTE. Lots of ideals without being practical about them is not good enough. "How's" are missing.

Maharishi's Vastu architecture contains many principles that may amount to ease our days - to compare with. [◦No dream: Vastu architecture for neighbourhoods is being realised]. There is more about vastu sites in books, for example Maharishi Vastu. Architecture and Planning (etc.) (2013).

The idea of placing the countryside in the city somehow and more or less in a fit way, is not a rotten egg. It spells: More greens, recreation grounds, trees, bushes, space and less woe. Thicker walls and better windows can help against stressing city noice too. For the lack of things like all these, the quality of life dwindles for all too many.

When people flock from the countryside to urban areas, make urban areas better to live in by bringing into them vital parts of what makes the countryside attractive and recreative for folks and many animals also.

Much depends on underlying urban planning.


Don't Be Rash in the Howling Winter Cold

Yogananda wanted followers to go North and South, East and West (from where?) and settle in self-supporting communities - colonies, as he called them. In his "ideal communities" he wanted his followers to go about hatless and barefoot (or wearing sandals) and feel God. It may remind of a threatening Russian proverb: "Get ready to meet your Creator!"

Yet Yogananda also cautioned, "A matter-sensitive man . . . must not follow a method which may be powerful but which may kill him . . . He must feel that the snow and the burning sun are but materialized God-consciousness."

Even sherpas up in the Himalayas wear caps. Eskimos are known for hoods. These may be ways out, depending on how you interpret Yogananda. Why not do it to your own benefit and have a fine cap, for one thing?

the shame of it The good-natured comment is nothing like Sylvester Jr's melodramatic "O, the shame of it!" with or without a paper bag over one's head, but "I would not like to be in the shoes of shoeless followers."

Yogananda wanted followers in his "ideal communities" to go about hatless and barefoot (or wearing sandals) in rain and shine, summer heat and winter snow. He let his views on wearing ties be known somewhere too. "Fie on a tie" sums it up.

Homes may work, and maybe in some communities too

An experienced fellow gauges whether actions follow suit with words. "Actions speak louder than words" is a saying in such a vein. As a Jewish proverb puts it: "Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds." To look over Yogananda photos could help that:

In many quite ceremonial Yogananda photos he is not wearing a hat, but on more informal and personal ones he is. "Do as I say, not as I do," may come to mind. And "We call his guidance infallible, but scrap the parts we won't submit to," is an SRF way of dealing with non-classy guidance.

To be enamoured by big talk and facades without due regard for our own human rights to believe as we will, for example, might make us socially handicapped through soapy indoctrination also. If we take into account how some Human Rights get undermined in many cults and to some degrees in a group too, or the results of joining is abuse, we could do worse than dropping such communities.

Yogananda followers in Ananda Sanhga hail many Yogananda's ideas of more or less self-supporting communities and seek to spread such communities too. Communities fit for sanity and proficiency for those involved, may be OK. What to look for are reasonable and encouraging guidelines that are open enough. There are other groups that have found out that alternative communities might do good, like Findhorn in Scotland. Even Erich Fromm, the psychoanalyst, invited readers of one of his books to form a group to his liking. Fromm was keen on getting a sane society, and wrote books about things he envisaged about it too, including The Sane Society and The Revolution of Hope.

Idealists are often put at risk - we may try to avoid that as well as we can. Much unsavoury is taught in the name of religion and makes gullible ones victims of professed faith. Candid self-efforts may not be bad.

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) taught kriya yoga, and also that kriya works like mathematics. That is untrue, for he also said results depended on one's devotion. He also taught it is a sacrifice- which gives us this clue: a devotion-dependent falsely mathematically-working sacrifice. Be warned.

Yogananda Communities: Beware

Yogananda told much along general lines. He did not get as specific about details and much else that a project manager needs to know. If you forget to ask how to accomplish a goal, you may be taken in by big words. You could dare to ask, "What is meant by each general and suggestive term I find?"

Aims that look good, are often taken to mean different things by different persons. Also, good-sounding aims are to be implemented carefully by proper means at hand. Monitoring and feedback tends to help, and evaluations along the stages too.

For the lack of sound skills and little money, if any, many fail. Today there is literature on project management. We can draw on some among such books to our benefit if we mean to build a house, arrange a garden, and further. Stragetic management can be good for something. Such knowledge could be taught to students and further. That is much of what ◦MUM aims for.


Yogananda, Barefoot, hatless and Bald in the Howling Winter, Yogananda Decreed, Literature  

The authors Margaret Dietz and Kamala Silva are two devoted, direct Yogananda disciples:

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998, "Master's Teachings".

Harrin, Elizabeth. Project Management in the Real World: Shortcuts to Success. Swindon, UK: The British Computer Society (BCS), 2007.

The Institute of Vedic City Planning of Maharishi University of Management. Maharishi Vastu. Architecture and Planning: Vastu City Planning: Sustainable Cities in Harmony with Natural Law. 4th ed. Roerdalen, NL: Maharishi University of Management, Institute of Vedic City Planning, 2013.

Newton, Richard. Project Management Step by Step: How to Plan and Manage a Highly Successful Project. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education, 2006.

Silva, Kamala. Priceless Precepts. San Francisco, CA: Self-Published, 1969.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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