Disdain for ties means much distain, for there are many ties in the West
Yogananda walked in shoes, but 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 barefooted (or wearing sandals) and feel God. It may remind of a threatening Russian proverb: "Get ready to meet your Creator!" and that Yogananda meant to teach Westerners how to die at will. It is in an early book he is credited with, titled The Science of Religion. To be frank, there is not much science in it. [Yogananda: "We ought not to fear to practice conscious death . . . " He died of a heart attack, by the way]
However, 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."
If not, do not risk your life, as "the tomb is not the end", as Kamala Silva (1969:30) has put it. Also consider that there are many photos of Yogananda wearing shoes (Image search: "dr Lewis Yogananda"). In a couple of them he wears a hat too, and some turban photos of him exist also. In two photos he has a cane as well. All this you may ascertain by an image search, such as "dr Lewis Yogananda" or just "Lewis Yogananda". A page has a picture of him wearing shoes, frock and hat, with a cane in his hand.
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 rather, "He supposedly sought to accommodate or blend in at times". But what did he decree for followers?
The not shoeless Yogananda wanted followers in his "ideal communities" to go about hatless and barefooted (or wearing sandals) in rain and shine, summer heat and winter snow. Did he come to distain his Western accommodations too much? He let his views on wearing ties known somewhere too. "Fie on a tie" sums up that. You hardly see a photo where he wears a tie.
A look you take may speak words
The experienced journalist knows better than taking politicians on their words alone. He gauges whether actions follow suit. As Emerson put it, "What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you say." "Actions speak louder than words" is a saying to compare with.
To follow another, decide whether his doings come to light to guide you too, for the example if they tend to outweigh the speeches. Take a look at Yogananda pictures. The ceremonial ones are hatless, but on more informal and personal ones he is wearing many clothes - Try not to let the desire for a capless and shoeless symbol figure in a pleasant climate get the best of you. As a Jewish proverb puts it: "Do not be wise in words - be wise in deeds." In this case, it means being sensible and not risk your health. Yogananda agrees on that (below). If someone should remonstrate, "One has to take into account what he wants to let others implement - if one's own elbowroom - including decent Human Rights - is lessened in a group, or if it seems risky from the root and upwards, one might as well drop it like SRF has done for those communities." Probably, since Yogananda also teaches:
Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
If, on the other hand, you should seek to obey that guru as if by whim and folly led, enamoured by big talk of Yogananda communities without being told in advance all he said about his groups of that sort, you might end up socially handicapped, maybe a subject to soapy indoctrination too. Such things happen.
Three main approaches
This summary catches three approaches available to Yogananda's ideal communities:
A pretty face may hide a lot unwelcome too
Maybe there is not a Yogananda community in your neighbourhood, and by that you might be spared of the uniformity in the group. Check how sane a founder's ideals for self-supporting communities seem. It is not enough that the leader is dressed up and wears a tie, hat and shoes to seem acceptable if he stands for bad ideas behind the good-looking facades. Good-looking facades is a recurrent problem in swindles. To look behind them takes time, and to get tricked may cost you dearly.
What to look for are very sensible, reasonable and encouraging guidelines that are open enough to give you a say too. It is not enough to talk big for a groups and an upheld selection of its ideals either, but to check all of them, and then see what the leader really is up to. It could be different than the ideals in your face, for what you know. It is also well to check if they work well enough. One bet is they fail in comparision to the old system of letting families have the control over their privacy and immediate surroundings as fast and good as they are up to. A home and a garden are good for many. But allow for exceptions. Insane, violent neighbours may be pestering a lot.
It amounts to this
Yogananda speaks of strengthening folks - It could be good for you to strenghten your will to resist Yogananda and think for yourself by reading what he has written about how his (?) self-supporting communities should be like (below). Also, 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.
Yogananda speaks of strengthening folks, no matter how delicate their constitutions might be. There is no good reason for putting your health at risk. Even sherpas up in the Himalayas wear caps. Eskimos are known for hoods. Their traditional outfit does not include hats, so maybe there is an alternative to going bare-headed in the icy cold. A way out! Depending on how you interpret Yogananda - try to do it to your own benefit always - you might also have a fine cap or three if the social climate of the surroundings permits it.
Scared devotees fronted "salvation" and not "sacrifice"
Much unsavoury is taught in the name of religion. We need to guard deeply against false teachings and blind, stubborn faith, for these things can easily give rise to indoctrinated victims of a faith. To give oneself away comes much closer to giving in than we like to think of. The rational side of a guru's teachings had better be preserved, and good self-efforts should not be despised.
In contrast to the sayings of Jesus that his teachings and the kingdom are for Jews only, the Spirit that fell on the fraidy disciples that fled when the goings got tough in Getsemaneh, said otherwise: Gentiles could be hauled in too, the vision of Peter in Joppa (Jaffa) indicated. It was called salvation fit for Gentile followers, that is, Christians.
Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) taught self-help methods of another form of salvation - most notably kriya yoga and hong-so. Yogananda taught that kriya works like mathematics and yet not like mathematics without devotion. He also taught it is a sacrifice - a mathematically-working sacrifice in devotion! Much confusion has ensued over such teachings. Be warned.
Beware with care of what you may be losing beneath the facade through adapting to a the uniformity that underlies some communities. Human Rights could be hard pressed, for example.
Now, Jesus advocated more or less socialist community living and said his teaching, and his kingdom were for Jews only - and Yogananda writes:
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.
Someone: "Barefoot and somewhat bald in the howling winter cold? But hopefully caps will be permitted by the boss even though hats are not!"
Yogananda goes on:
"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 ...
Freezing to death overcomes pain and sorrow, bu is hardly an option worth talking of. After all, very, very few in the world of matter seem able to wholly ignore the world of matter. Yogananda further:
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 . . .
No to going bald and barefooted in the snow or burning sun. Ten thousand dollars in our days may secure less than ideal mates. Is it so sure there is a Jill for every Jack and the other way round? If you successfully go for not being encumbered by Yogananda's hosts of shoulds, you may live more fulfilling lives than dwarfed ones.
Good projects are basically designed to move on open-endedly, and in many respects like villages. Such projects may even last for a long, long time.
Now do you think Yogananda's "lengthened arm", the Self-Realization Fellowship, tells his guidelines are infallible, but refuse to stick to them? That is just what they do.
"Yogoda" is a name that Yogananda used for his non-registered society in the United States until 1935, when the fellowship was registered as a church. The name was introduced in 1934, and official in 1935. In India the Yogoda Satsanga Society, YSS, is around still.
Yogananda got plans for a Golden World City in Encinitas in San Diego county, California. In a 1946 New Year's message (see his magazine of Jan.-March 1946) he urges readersto "spread the message" and even announces how he would use the proceeds of his book: to build the "Golden World City" (World Brotherhood Colony) in Encinitas. [◦Source]
He had plans and aims and declared that he would make a supreme effort to create a city like that. His plans and aims were not all fluffy, but his efforts did not suffice. The fellowship scrapped the Encinitas plans after Yogananda's death as well. You could let that be a lesson to you.
The two magazine articles from 1937 are quoted verbatim now.
NOTE. [◦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).
If you forget to ask "How?" along a project road, you could get into troubles. So be wary. You could also 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 too tight budgets, if any, some fail in their projects and may even ruin the hope in their eyes. Many books have been published since Yogananda and Self-Realization failed to realise the guru's tall aims. Better be careful from the start: Today there is literature on project management, and some of them we could benefit from. We can draw on such books to our benefit if we mean to build a house, arrange a garden, and further. Stragetic management is good for something. Such knowledge could be taught to students "all over the world", to their benefit and the benefit of families and further.
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.
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