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:
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: "Hopefully caps will be permitted!"
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, hatless and shoeless, hardly ends the pain and sorrow of being misled. 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 . . .
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.
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 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.
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
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