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Turkhuvud by Amalia Lindegren. Modified detail.
Yogananda experimented with fortune-telling, calling a spirit to enter his brother, and hypnotised him too. (Williamson 2010, 71)

Love Mysteries

Death's Messenger

The swami Yogananda (1893-1952) was someone interested in communicating with the dead, but that hardly made him Death's Messenger, or what? But there is more: he came to the United States telling others how to die. A Death's Messenger! He says in the book The Science of Religion (1953):

Yogananda We ought not to fear to practice conscious death, i.e., give rest to the internal organs. Death will then be under our control. [Yogananda 1953, 78]

There is a story about a businessman who got influenced by Yogananda, and later killed himself. You should note that Self-Realization Fellowship, the society that Yogananda founded, does not tell the whole story.

Yogananda A prominent businessman paid a call on the Master and as soon as he was introduced, he said, "I am disgustingly healthy and disgustingly wealthy."

And the Master said, "But you are not disgustingly happy, are you?" The man conceded the point and became a student. [SRF, The Master Said 1952, 69]

Some time later, in 1932, he killed himself, leaving a note, "My Work is Done. Why Wait?" [Dasgupta 2006, 54-55]

"Became a student" is the same as "learnt the methods of Yogananda and his added teachings, if any." It does not say "became a good and well qualified yogi" either, for that matter.

"There, but for fortune, go you or I," is a line in a song by Phil Ochs (1963). Also, one had better think, "Why cut short any chance of using this life to do still more good work by shooting oneself dead after becoming a student of Yogananda?"

Opinions about possible causes and effects of suicides can differ widely. I for one won't say the teachings or influence of Yogananda ushered the man to kill himself some time after meeting the swami. SRF put a different and rather narrow spin to the businessman's meeting with Yogananda, as you can see.

What should be done with Yogananda?

Opinions differ, but the Law of Moses says that someone who calls up a spirit of a dead person (caption) - Yogananda did - is defiling himself and detestable to God of the Bible (Deuteronomy 18:9-13; Leviticus 19:31).

Should those who contemplate entering the fellowship that Yogananda started, SRF, be told these things in advance or not? Decide for yourself after consulting the Bible and some experts if you can. What do significant passages of the Old Testament say his circumcised ones are to do with a spiritist? The answer that Jesus vouches for is in Luke 16:17 and Matthew 5:17-18: The Law of Moses is good, he teaches (Matthew 5:18-19). The tough Law that Jesus guarantees for, says: "A man or woman who is a medium or spiritist among you must be put to death. You are to stone them." (Leviticus 20:27)

They'll stone you and say that it's the end . . .
Everybody must get stoned.

- Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35 (Excerpts) by Bob Dylan, Nobel prizeman in literature 2016.

Leviticus 20:27 are tough biddings, especially in hot sand dunes with only sand around for miles on end or at the open sea, far, far from land, with no stones on board. Was Yogananda stoned to death? No, he died during a banquet at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Perhaps luckily for Yogananda he was a Hindu when he some time earlier made use of his brother in spiritist ways, being neither a Jew nor a Christian. But he maintained those interests later too, Lola Williamson sums up. (2010, 71 - see further down).

Fatal for Foetus Jesus - a Law

Jesus is SRF-claimed to be one of the SRF gurus. His vouching for commands about putting people like Yogananda to death did not amount to anything there.

Things depend on who are in control, and whether rules change with time. There are lessons to learn from the ancient couple Sara and Abraham. They were sister and half-brother, a quite common coupling practice where they came from, we are told . . . The Law of Moses that Jesus guarantees for, would have had such persons put to death too, and also Lot and his three daughters who slept with him after they had got him drunk, and then got a lot of offspring. Luckily for all those Bible notables, the Law of Moses came later. Rules change.

King David in the Bible was of the Lot line too, through Ruth. He had a man killed by putting him in the front line during warfare, for David wanted the man's wife for his harem, and had a son with her: Solomon. Was King David executed for anything of this at a time the Law should be valid? And his forerunner, Saul, who conjured up a dead Samuel to get advice from him (1 Samuel 28), was he stoned too? No. Besides, the mother of Jesus, Mary, was she stoned to death with Foetus Jesus in her belly, for getting pregnant without being married, stoned well as the Law required? Compare Matthew 5:18-19 and Deuteronomy 22:20,23,24.

Yogananda was not stoned to death either.

Often, big words and actions do not all match, and proselytes fail to see it all. Corny, you say? Adjust as you find fit, really and nobly fit, that is, and heed good warnings your way to accomplish things far better than - eh - Lot too. That could amount to a lot.

Salvation for Jews only, false messiahs and the spurious lore

One more point: Jesus said in Matthew 10:1-8; 15:24 that his teachings and ministry, salvation and Kingdom were for Jews only, and not Gentiles (Vermes 2010, 37,41; 2012). As for Yogananda's efforts in the USA, Marshall Govindan sums up:

After five years of effort in America, beginning in 1925 . . . Yogananda began to modify and adapt his teachings to the West . . . to overcome the . . . resistance of Christians who were suspicious of the foreign teachings of a Hindu swami. As a result, Yogananda began to enjoy remarkable popularity. . . . However, . . . most readers of his "Autobiography" . . . are left with many unrealistic expectations. - Marshall Govindan. [◦Link]

"For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. (Matthew 24:24, NIV)". Some translations have "false christs" and some "false messiahs." They are to mean the same. Do yogi christs lead astray because Yogananda called them christs? Yogananda was the son of a christlike father, according to himself. ["Here be christs"]

Big-sounding words about guru Jesus banding with yogi christs (messiahs) say little if the universe is illusory. Parts of what Yogananda taught cannot be real.

Now compare what the renowned Bible scholar Geza Vermes tells:

Fl. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-8; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-8). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012)

More:

Hm Jesus reserve his teachings and salvation for Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012), but only depraved Jews: those of sound moral and spirit are not called by him, and the healthy do not need him (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12.11). Jesus further puts his sheep on a path to perdition in that he teaches his sheep what is opposed to sound self-preservation. Thereby eyes, limbs, property, fit living-conditions and life itself soon enough are at risk (Matthew 5: 29-30; 39-42). Finally, marring losses come to those who call him 'Lord, Lord' without doing as he tells. (Luke 6:46)

For Gentile followers, all the disciples and the Holy Spirit dispensed with all but a few laws for Jews. And not a word by Jesus for ill Jews was included in the Apostolic Decree from 50 CE either (Acts 15:19-29; 21:25). The four requirements for all Gentile Christians include no to eating blood sausages (blood food) and wrangled chickens and other poultry (choked animals)

Jungian The healthy man does not torture others. - Carl Gustav Jung

"Spurious" means false. Texts that in time went into the New Testament are marred by added forgeries. The Missionary Command is one example, Joseph Wheless affirms it, and explains why, by intrinsic evidence. [More]

Forgeries are nothing new in Christianity - it forms part of a long tradition

Maybe Jesus was not a good example; he said a Law was completely valid, a law that would have his mother Mary stoned to death for Jesus Foetus in her belly. Sawing off the branch you sit on is taken to be unwise.

Corny, again, and far worse: By vouching for the Law of Jews, Jesus at the same time said yes to cruelties of slavery and did not mention monasticism at all, not with one word. His less than ideal self-maiming beckonings (see Matthew 5) could have escaped the monk Yogananda and monastic followers of his. However, Yogananda was an example of trying to profit from the established religion in the country he came to, ignoring the forgeries in the New Testament as he waffled on, forming his hybrid through slogans - and ignoring what Jesus said in the gospel of Matthew. Perhaps he took to "guru Jesus" and high-sounding terms like "Christs" to get welcomed also, and redefined terms like Father, Son, Holy Spirit to make them conform to Hindu lore. It is plain as day. [More]

Bart D. Ehrman has written books about forged writings in the early Church. You are referred to some of them. Titles are here with a few comments on some of them: [More]

Yogananda did not seem to see textual criticism of the Bible coming - neither did he take to heart essential gospel messages (cf. Vermes) that gives "guru Jesus" poor chances of survival . . . blatanty ignoring what "guru Jesus" had said while alive - that his teachings were for Jews alone, and that false messiahs would appear later, and false prophets were to be killed . . . That brings us to this: What could Yogananda be a victim of?

Well, note these sayings: "We are all crazy. (Yogananda 1982, 425)" - "I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind (Yogananda 2002, 270)." It is repeated by a former leader of the organisation that Yogananda set up (and one day regretted), Daya Mata: "All of us . . . are a little bit crazy, and we do not know it. (1976, "Qualities of a Devotee")

His message: "We are crazy", not "you are crazy", if it means anything - and this proverb might apply too: "Birds of a feather flock together."

Victim of his own teachings all along, and later victim of his "crew"?

Perhaps Yogananda became a victim of his own plots and schemes throughout the years, and a victim of the "soapy-Christian" organisation he once regretted he had started:

He became a victim of signature forgery made by so-called Besserwissers (literally: better-knowers) he had given much love to, so much love that it hurt him, we have been told by SRF monastics. After a short time he was the victim of forgery by followers in charge of the organisation. A victim is a victim.

There is a story that throws light on how little authority Yogananda might have had had become toward the end of his life, in relationship to the group of SRF leaders. His disciple Margaret Dietz recounts an incident:

He told me to feel free to give Kriya (an advanced meditation practice) or any other part of his teachings to whomever I thought I should. Truth is free.

I exploded, "Master, I can't do that. Your office would have a fit!"

He said, "You divine nincompoop, whom are your following, the office or me?"

"I might make a mistake," I added. (Dietz 1998, chap. "Mt. Washington")

The guru called a disciple names in an attempt to show who was the boss - he fought for his right to give kriya yoga independently (!).

The victim of signature forgery founded SRF when he was Swami Yogananda. His title was later changed into Paramhansa. Some years after he was gone, the third SRF leader, called Daya Mata, decided that it "had to be" Paramahansa. So an 'a' was added "in between there" after the yogi was gone.* Yogananda used Paramhansa. But his organisation did not respect that. See who won when he was gone. Was it gangism, groupism and a poor culture, or was it decent respect? The group in question even forged his signature to get their way. They changed his title as if he did not know how to spell it, through a little bit of corruption (in the sense of alteration of a key word, in this case 'Paramhansa', "supreme swan". A little letter is sometimes revealing.

* In the case of Yogananda's title, 'Paramahansa' is a result of epenthesis (a vowel is put in between 'param' and 'hansa') in the title as he wrote it himself: Paramhansa. A Sanskrit word for epenthesis is svarabhakti. Both spellings are in common use. 'Paramhansa' is seen in Paramhansa Ramakrishna. [More in WP, "epenthesis"]

Findings of a Palo Alto lawyer, Jon Parsons

Here is something more on that seemingly tiniest of issues so far, written by the Palo Alto lawyer Jon Parsons, in A Fight for Religious Freedom, chap. 7.

In the summer of 1958, after Sister Daya's trip to India, SRF suddenly changed the spelling of Yogananda's title from "Paramhansa" to "Paramahansa." Without announcement or explanation, an extraneous "a" mysteriously appeared in Yogananda's title beginning with the July-August 1958 issue of Self-Realization [the SRF magazine]. I have a copy of the 1958 seventh edition of Whispers From Eternity where the book cover is still printed "Paramhansa" but the title page and dust jacket have the "new and improved" spelling.

The change was unnecessary and raised uncomfortable questions. If Yogananda could not get his own name right, how could he be trusted on less verifiable matters such as achieving union with God? If it was a minor thing, why bother at all? . . . Maybe SRF figured . . . it was their job to clean up after him.

Yogananda had a distinctive flowing signature that was often displayed below his photo. This signature, of course, failed to include the new supernumerary "a." . . . [So SRF changed] his signature as well as his name. SRF [corrected] its guru's misnomer the old-fashioned way, using scissors and paste. If you look closely at the "Paramahansa" used by SRF since 1958, you can see how someone carefully cut out the first "a" from Yogananda, and inserted it after the letters "Param." Goodness. Why . . . such subterfuge? (Parsons 2012, 72)

The lawyer wonders. Param and Parama are both in use. If you leave out "Yogananda" from a Bing-search, for example, there are slightly more "paramhansa" than "paramahansa" (2015). Param versus Parama - that is not where the problem lies. But a part of the problem lies in implying a guru did not master how to spell his own title, and forge it when he was down and out, so to speak. That is shaming him. Following up in serving the group (the whole SRF society) by saying the guru's guidelines are always right, no matter how many of them they tuck away and fail to live out in the society, contains disguised quackery too. The guess: The SRF society goes on and selects "the acceptable" Yogananda it is served by, and finds older Yogananda output quite embarrassing: how he wrote his title and his hailing of dictatorship and Mussolini in 1934 are among the SRF-embarrassing elements. I think the latter examples are worse.

A Duck Test

Yogananda founded a fellowship and church that slowly got its ways above ideals he had had when founding it. The society has many signs of a cult too. That may not be so bad, but let us call a spade a spade after we have applied the duck test: "If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it might as well be a duck."

Yogananda did not want to start a sect; he wanted his fellowship to be universal, but what he gave rise to, seems like a cult to many, including Tara Mata (Laurie Pratt), a previous editor-in-chief there, and many former monastics.

To top

Findings of Lola Williamson and Others

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Lola Williamson. Photo used with permission.

Lola Williamson (2010) gives a likable overview of central features of SRF in a book - not very sugary, not very salty, but "just about right":

Disciples of Yogananda show tremendous dedication to their daily practices. This may be, in part, because they came to Kriya Yoga in stages, and were not given initiation until they had already shown willingness to maintain a daily meditation routine. To receive initiation into Kriya Yoga, one must receive Yogananda's correspondence course, referred to as the Lessons, for twelve months, and have begun a regular practice of the preliminary techniques taught in the Lessons. Another prerequisite entails making a pledge to God and the six gurus of the Self-Realization Fellowship lineage of "unconditional love, reverence, and loyalty forever'. (Williamson 2010, 57)

However, in its latest version of the gruesome pledge SRF has dropped "unconditional love", which is wise, although far from enough. "Unconditional . . . loyalty forever" is the basic problem. Will you go on being loyal to deceiving rascals (possible future incarnations of Yogananda), for example? Williamson, further.

Yogananda . . . said, "He who cannot learn through the wisdom and love of his God-ordained guru will not find God in this life. Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity." (Williamson 2010, 58)

Should the door be locked for all sorry followers who wake up enough to leave the strangulating-by-oath Yogananda?

Williamson seeks to describe the SRF methods.

According to SRF tradition, these techniques, other than the energization exercises, were known in ancient India but were forgotten. In actuality, the techniques have been used continually in many yoga and tantra traditions throughout India. . . . (Williamson 2010, 58)

Isn't that a good point? Basic kriya yoga is a variant of ujjayi, a common method of hatha-yoga (Satyananda 1981, 2001). Further,

The tone of SRF gatherings is decidedly more Christian than in other HIMMs [Hindu-inspired meditation movements in the USA], possibly because the cultural milieu into which Yogananda entered was Christian . . . for the most part they were embedded in Christian heritage. (Williamson 2010, 61)

Williamson, further,

Disagreements about how the organization should be run and how Yogananda's words should be interpreted have existed throughout SRF's history, occasionally erupting into organizational crises. (Williamson 2010, 75)

Something similar is stated in Sailendra Dasgupta's Yogananda-biography (2006). He informs that under the Daya leadership SRF and its Indian twin organisation, YSS (of 1917),

went through many changes. Many of the men and women who where older disciples of the order either removed themselves from the central organization or were forced out - not only in America, but in India as well. (Satyananda 2006, 106)

Satyananda then names several of them, including SRF's former vice president, Kriyananda. He was forced out. Williamson describes further:

SRF is hierarchical in its approach with the Board [of management] essentially controlling the decision-making process. Former disgruntled members of SRF credit this top-down mentality with creating an unhealthy organization. (Williamson 2010, 75)

An authoritarian structure is etched by that. Christian monasteries are known for such features too.

A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed to execute the suggestions made by the consultants. This was the beginning of a split among the monks and nuns who resided at the Mother Center. Some viewed the promise of change with exhilaration and hope; and some viewed it with fear. The end result was that a large number of monastics left SRF from about 2000 to 2001. Due to the entrenched resistance to change, the communication consultants were let go, the existing committee members replaced by others content with the status quo, and the psychologists relieved of their duties. It may be that so many people needed to talk to the counselors that the leadership became fearful of losing control. They reverted to the old style of dealing with problems, which, as the SRF catchphrase goes, is to "take it to your altar:' (Williamson 2010, 76)

So they formed committees, and did not solve underlying problems. A proverb: "When the devil wanted nothing to happen, he formed a committee." There is a rhyme in it in the Scandiavian languages. A former SRF nun tells,

How people are with one another, especially how the leadership is, creates the particular culture - for better or for worse. Many spiritual groups deeply desire transformation, but unknowingly allow areas of unconscious behaviors to flourish - repression, judgment, rigidity. Anyone stepping outside the "mold" is seen as problematic, and shunned. Sadly, I've witnessed this many times and seen the toll it has taken on a person's faith and well-being. (Williamson 2010, 77)

Her points about group climate and leadership styles is confirmed by group psychology. The leader of a group usually has much to say for a group climate. (Sjølund 1974; cf. also Baron and Branscombe 2012, chap. 11 about groups)

In this case, the leader chose to be absent for about thirty years without letting most SRF monastic get aware of it! The story of it leaked out:

Part of SRF's troubles with its neighbors stems from the reclusive nature of its leaders and the often clumsy way the church deals with outsiders. . .

Its octogenarian spiritual leader, Daya Mata, whose real name is Faye Wright, is all but invisible to the outside world. Her sister, Virginia Wright, who uses the Sanskrit name Ananda Mata, has long been the organization's treasurer. Like the hundreds of monks and nuns who call the Mother Center home, the women are longtime devotees of the Yogananda's teachings, having taken vows of celibacy and poverty. . .

Church officials provide little information about her, except – as they did last year – to say that she was living as a monastic inside the Mount Washington compound and that she was too preoccupied with spiritual matters to be interviewed. However, as New Times reported, contrary to the acknowledged belief of even some monks living there – not to mention a wider body of church members – Daya Mata and her sister weren't living at the Mother Center at all. As Ananda Mata confirmed to a reporter who visited her, the sisters have shared an SRF-owned house in a neighborhood of million-dollar homes in the San Gabriel Valley foothill community of Sierra Madre since the late 1960s. For years, they've commuted to Mount Washington in a vintage pink Cadillac.

Aside from such gaffes, the church has also stumbled in the courts. (Ron Russell, 2000]

The aged Self-Realization Fellowship leader stayed away from almost all fellow disciples for about thirty years without telling them. "Compare what they write with what they do," is often valid counsel, but rushing to conclusions may fall flat.

Daya Mata's absence seems to be in some contrast to Yogananda's saying:

Yogananda Someone came to me crying and saying, 'Why did I ever leave?' I said, 'Wasn't this a paradise compared to the outside?' 'You bet it was,' he said, and cried so long I started crying with him." (Yogananda 1952, 27)

Now, in later versions of that tale (Yogananda 1980, 39), SRF editors form it differently, and with different direct Yogananda quotations. Forged sayings can become a nuisance. Consider all the other lines published by SRF that have been heavily edited at the price of what should be authentic. [Findings]

Also consider how Yogananda spent much of his last years in a desert retreat in Twenty-Nine Palms.

Towards the end of the 1940's, Swami Yogananda paid less and less attention to the work of the ashram and the organization; he remained much of the time in seclusion . . . A solitary and secret cottage was set up [and there he sat] for much of the last part of his life. Only one or two of those he trusted the very most knew of the whereabouts of this place.
Yogananda himself was saying while there, "Where am I?" (Dasgupta 2006, 102-3).

It was not only the founder who wanted to be away from the monks and nuns in the SRF hermitage. Daya Mata followed in his footsteps for thirty years, sort of.

You may ask, "Why leave a paradise for a desert cabin or Suburbia?" It could have deteriorated a lot, and/or there might have been other reasons that disappointed Yogananda greatly, such as:

Yogananda Every year, on the day before Christmas, the disciples would gather with Yogananda at the headquarters for meditation. The session would usually last all day and into the evening hours. During the Christmas meditation in 1948 the Divine Mother appeared to Yogananda, and the awed disciples heard him speaking to Her. Many times he exclaimed, with a deep sigh: "Oh, you are so beautiful!"

Suddenly he cried: "Don't go! You say the subconscious material desires of these people are driving You away? Oh, come back! Come back!" (Yogananda 1952, 74; Retold in Yogananda 1980, 74-75)

Yogananda may have been severely disappointed with the close disciples, but what about lay followers? His disappointments - deep and wide - may be expressed by these words to a disciple, Kriyananda:

"Apart from [James J.] Lynn . . . every man has disappointed me." With intensity then, he added, "And you MUSTN'T disappoint me!" (in Novak 2005, Chap. 6).

Be that as it may, paradise is said to be a "place" or plane of timeless harmony, and editorial fallacies in SRF are numerous. Wish them luck in fixing the too many errors. [Take a look] - [Take another look] - [And a third one]

Williamson again:

More strongly worded testimonies appear on the SRF Walrus, a website for devotees of Yogananda who are critical of the SRF organization. (Williamson 2010, 77)

The SRF Walrus folded in a year or two after Williamson wrote this. A backup-site catches the early Walrus fire until 2006. [SRF Backup Site]

A former monastic:

Why I left . . . Their inability to believe my assertions, to trust even the most common-sense explanations, to acknowledge SRF imperfections and wrong behavior; their unshakable, dogmatic belief in SRF's faultlessness, to explain everything away to karma, training, and their conclusion that it must have been all my fault .. . is really frustrating. (In Williamson 2010, 77-78)

"Far from court, far from care" may turned into "Far from neurotics, far from their cares" too:

Many, upon leaving the SRF monastic order, complain of having little aptitude to deal with the problems of living in the world. This, however, is not true of those who participate in SRF from a distance [in the first place]. (Williamson 2010, 79)

Loners and others

The last Williamson-statement above deserves reservations, better research and due consideration. Otherwise it may not be so helpful. For convenience, sort Yogananda adherents loosely into three groups: (1) Loners; (2) groupies and (3) monastics. Those of each group may have their own sorts of problems in addition to the problems SRF membership brings lots of followers in all three groups - such as enervatingly little sleep in some cases.

  • "Loners" are SRF adherents that have not been in a neighbourhood where SRF has a church or group going.
  • "Groupies" may loosely be understood as "followers at a distance but with an SRF group or church nearby" and "long distance followers without it".
  • "Monastics" try to serve by ignoring how their own deep Self might have had better plans for them, and that such goals of life might be "written in the stars" and interpreted along more or less general lines, that is, in their horoscopes. That is an Indian teaching, and much revered too. I mention that to encourage the SRF deflectors that seek to find a better way than wringing one's hands and grieve over losses. The point is in any case: Make the best out of it.

    Getting a decent horoscope gives assertions or proposals, or tips on how to handle life. Some such tips may be good, others not good, some still valid, and other outmoded, and so on. Despite current belief that horoscopes do not tell things of basic value, one may use a horoscope to train such as patterns-reckoning and probing abilities by considering the patterns and sort them too. If the data yield highly relevant or interesting interpretations, they could give the ex monastic an edge to overcome bitterness.

    Horoscopy is fun! And funny probing goes a long way. Fairness of dealings is a key too.

If the Loners and Groupies report less problems and troubles than monastic victims of intrigues - good for them! However, if they should report less adaptation troubles and nervous problems than insiders, the reasons might not necessarily be they have got the better deal; only that the feedback lines to SRF or local newspapers are not top. There may be less remonstrations, for "There's no one to talk to, no one to bla-a-ame" (David Samuel McWilliams (1945–2002), in "Four Seasons"). It could also be a blend of isolatedness and developed shyness through lack of essential support.

The Internet may have helped in removing some alarming adherent problems once it arrived. Many posts on the SRF Walrus Board were by individuals who had formerly lived apart from one another, and not only by ex monastics.

The crucial thing may be how involved with SRF one has been, how deeply devoted to its stuff, and then disillusoned and disappointed thereafter, "run over" somehow. Distance is, rather, a secondary point.

And yet there is a good chance that "long distance disciples" as compared to monastic disciples have not "renounced the world" so much as SRF-monastics, and have been helped not to "work for SRF and its gurus" as much as monastics who after years behind walls and for low wages wake up crying and then get very disgruntled. There are advantages in being a lay disciple, and a not too SRF-giving one. By keeping one's foremost assets, one's standing does not have to dwindle terribly. But time spent or lost in SRF may not find a good solution. Ex monastics may groan to SRF gurus and Mother, "Give me back my youthful looks, virility, good educational and job opportunities and the time that should be well spent," and then some may eventually realise that cringing is no small problem either. At least that is a firm Buddhist view.

Long distance lay disciples are subjected to several surprising teachings adminstered by SRF, such as Yogananda directives on crying for God Mom till She comes. All may not have succeeded. A cringing cry-sob practice may not work well for getting a Tao (welcoming arms, etc.), as a matter of fact. Yogananda adherents should have been taught how to maintain happiness instead. And that is a Yogananda teaching as well.

The monastics novices thought perhaps they were entering a paradise, but found something less fit for peace and harmony, one may realise.

Some definitely had difficulties in standing up against the SRF management later, using pen names to voice criticism and psychotherapy to get more (and more) well. It may still go on, for what I know.

Jane Dillon's interviews

Dr Jane E. Robinson Dillon wrote a doctoral dissertation (1998) with interviews of SRF monastics in it, in a qualitative study of the Self-Realization Fellowship. I don't think she gives hints of any unrest and SRF screw-up during those years (cf. Williamson 2010). Her work was rooted in ten years of field research. She had interviewed SRF nuns over years, and there may be no clear sayings by any of the interviewed monastics of the skirmish, like: "If I could run away from here, I would!" Sincerity is awfully good; it has helped many a hermit before," I think. The interviewer has to judge the reliability of the interviewed too, and not just render them. It comes down to that.

Dillon found that SRF has emerged as a somewhat conservative, traditional American church, though. Those who were enamoured by pretty words like "paradise climate", cooperative communities, "yogic style" "leaders know what they are doing", and such things, have woken up from illusions - at a huge cost. Better be aware of the discrepancies before you are fooled.

Three years or so after her dissertation was made public, about one third of the SRF monastics left SRF premises - left SRF - in dismay and anguish. Those sides to SRF were not her main issues. Such intense internal troubles worse than gas in the stomach - along with court cases that did not work out very well.

Yogananda the hypnotiser

Might love for Yogananda have been caused by a glaring stare?

Can you hypnotise a woman to love you madly for long? The effects of the suggestions may be extended (posthypnotically) into the subject's subsequent waking activity. (WP, "Hypnosis")

The fifty SRF monastics or so that left and the hundred or so that stayed, had they been drawn by guru hypnotism to serve him for very, very little for long? One may never get a clear answer to the question, but Yogananda was keen on hypnotising others also. (Williamson 2010, 57) [The swami in Miami]

Lola Williamson writes:

As a youth, Mukunda [Yogananda] learned how to hypnotize others and was also able to induce spirit-possession. He often used his brother to accomplish his experiments with fortune-telling, calling a spirit to enter his brother, who would then answer Mukunda's questions about what another person was thinking or about future events or how to heal a person. At times, the experiment backfired when the spirit refused to leave. Mukunda apparently took pride in his occult talents and, when asked to prove himself, used his younger brother in an unpleasant way. To demonstrate his hypnotism abilities for officials at a nearby school, Mukunda asked his brother to eat dirt, telling him it was sweet and delectable. "I began to devour the clod with the greatest pleasure and said,'It is delicious!"' his brother reported. Then Mukunda told him it was dirty and distasteful and his brother immediately vomited everything he had just eaten. . .

When gurus come to the United States, they stress the rational and scientific elements of yoga, but . . .

Yogananda's search for . . . yogic powers continued throughout his life. When he returned to India for a short period from 1935 to 1936, he traveled around [and his biographer] Satyananda summed up Yogananda's attitude toward the miraculous: "Direct encounters with ascended beings, the radiant and divine appearances of supernatural power-endowed realized beings, the arrival of the spirit of a dead person in the midst of mesmerized people and speaking with that spirit, and ordinary sightings of ghosts and such were things that he believed in, and pursued with concentrated means . . . his belief in these remained firm and unshakable throughout his whole life." (Williamson 2010, 71, extracts)

There is more uncanny Yogananda in Dasgupta's biography (2006). He scared a cook by "freezing" his arm, he got afraid of a ghost on a cot and had to have someone sleeping in the same room to prevent it from entering through the door when it was closed, and such interesting things.

Dukkha is an encompassing key term for suffering and the like it in Buddhism. (Willamson 2010, 71, 57)

Lola Williamson describes how the hypnosis-eager, devotional-minded Yogananda liked to sing of love and God.

Now ask yourself: "What actually happened to Mildred Lewis in Boston?"

The young Swami . . . told Mrs. Lewis that he would like to talk to her privately and she went along with him. He took her into an adjacent room where they could be alone.

Mrs. Lewis later said that she didn't remember anything of what the Swami said or did in that room, but she was with him for almost an hour. When she came out, she was in tears. She doesn't know what happened. (Rosser 1991: "Mildred Lewis Becomes a Disciple"). [Mildred in tears]

Groupism and its adherents get groupist trouble; others have other troubles

SRF ex monastics have let others in on how they got troubles at night, sobbing, crying, but perhaps not for God in the Yogananda-ordained way.

Good love is different from spirit-possession and faked, half-enslaving, incapacitating "love" for a hypnotist. At any rate, groupism that is not all right is about and "gilding a love-guru as they find opportune" and preach selections of his hodgepodge teachings to conform to a medium-class American church somehow. Kriyananda found that many parts of went against Yogananda's intentions and threatened to choke the guru's better ideals and teachings he had known. Ananda has published much material about it. Compare: [Freeing Yogananda's Legacy from Sectarianism]

It sounds good. If they has put "best" into it and replaced a word with another, it would have been "Freeing Yogananda's Best Legacy from Corruption", but they did not.

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Exclusive Jesus

Jesuans

There is no definitive meaning of Jesuanism, Jesusism or Jesuism, and no clear ideology even though the gospels are the authority of them. Various groups use the terms Jesuanism. Adherents can be termed Jesuans, Jesusists or Jesuists. Suit yourself. [WP, "Jesuism"]

"Original Christianity - very original

On the social surface of it, SRF and Yogananda want to "reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions. ([◦SRF Aims and Ideals, No. 3])

The fawning smells tactics

The SRF aim (No. 3) stems from Yogananda's fawning on the teachings of Jesus who says they are for Jews only. The SRF leaders are swamis - all of them.

It is not well documented what Jesus really said, for he is not quoted verbatim in the gospels. That is what able bible scholars find (e.g. Vermes 2005). Yet, the gospel of Matthew tells that its Jesus addressed Jews only and that his teachings and Kingdom were exclusively for Jews - although with one notable exception in Samaria. Otherwise, the apostles of Jesus were strictly told not to seek to persuade non-Jews. And Jesus' message, which was directed towards Jews alone, was centred on the Law of Moses. He upheld it 100 percent - the brutal cruelty of slavery and all that. (Matthew 5:17-19; Vermes 2010).

The scholar Geza Vermes ascertains: Jesus addressed his message to 'the house of Israel' alone and expressly forbade his disciples to approach non-Jews. Further, his Kingdom of God he spoke of, was for Jews only. Gentiles would be excluded. (Matthew 15:24; Vermes 2010, 37; 41)

Sinister Biddings

The teachings of Jesus are sinister. For one thing, he stood for the Law of Moses to the smallest detail (Matthew 5:17-19) That Law violates Canaanites by commanding "Keep the Canaanite slave forever" (Leviticus 25:46). It says yes to slavery, and Jesus says through Mattew 5:17-19: "I go for it!" Archeological findings indicate the Hebrews themselves were Canaanites. Then what? Pity those under a demagogical sway at least.

His original commands for Jews were in part self-molesting and self-insulting. ("Matthew 5:39-42)" And one "had to surrrender . . . all one's possessions. (Geza Vermes 2010, 23)". Pity those too, a lot. They lose - in the name of Jesus - the good opportunities life had to offer, to bullies and bandits. [Compare]

Also, the end of the world that the gospel of Mark (chap. 13) preaches, says that the world would end within the lives of some of those alive at the time of Jesus and they would even see Jesus come down in clouds of glory, attributing these words to Jesus. But that end of the world did not come then.

On the basis of sayings in Mark and Matthew, and looking into the Gospels of Thomas and Peter too, the bible scholar Bart D. Ehrman proposes in Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (2001) that Jesus can be best understood as . . . "a man convinced that the world would end dramatically within the lifetime of his apostles and that a new kingdom would be created on earth". Jesus says no one but the Father knows just when - and yet: "This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. (Mark 13:30-31)

Ehrman sorts historical evidence from the New Testament and the more recently discovered Gospels of Thomas and Peter and shows that Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher, that is, his main message was that the end of history was near, that God would shortly intervene to overthrow evil and establish his rule on earth, and that Jesus and his disciples all believed these end time events would happen in their lifetimes. Many academics agree that Jesus was one of many Jewish apocalyptic prophets, so what Dr Ehrman's shows is not original. Also interesting to some, at least: A prophet that foretells something that does not happen, is termed a false prophet and is to be put to death for his false prophesying, says the Law:

A prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say . . . must be put to death. You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20-22)

Jesus vouches totally for that in Matthew 5:17-18. It can be more tragic than you might expect to begin with. Also, in Matthew 7:15-23, is the touchstone for determining false prophets and such disciples. Know them by their fruits, Jesus says. The deciding factor is held to be whether a prophet's prediction does not happen or come true. (Deuteronomy 18:22)

The soul

"If you ask a yogi for a commentary, expect a yogi's terms too."

Jesus relates to a rather different mental universe than Yogananda, for Yogananda teaches the soul cannot be destroyed (1982, 297; 1980, 25), while Jesus says a soul can be destroyed in hell (Matthew 10:28, Luke 12:4-6; Matthew 5:29).

The teachings of Jesus were too harsh for most of his disciples - twelve out of 72 left him one day.

Yogananda, continued:

Yogananda Souls . . . in the afterdeath state, they can find redemption . . .

The "end of the world" is more usefully understood as applied to that time when the world ends in the consciousness of each individual . . .

[T]he pure righteousness of the devotee will come out . . . and shine forth as the sun of cosmic wisdom, ablaze with pure transcendental consciousness in the kingdom of God the Father, felt in the union of the body, mind, and soul with Christ Intelligence in creation and Cosmic Consciousness beyond creation. (Yogananda 2004, Vol 1, p. 709-12)

In the quotation, the guru implies, by the way, "cosmic consciousness" is beyond the cosmos (too). But he does not tell "The teachings of Jesus are for Jews only, on his word, and his Kingdom too, also on his word." However, that is what Jesus says in two places according to the gospel of Matthew (15:24; 10:5-8).

Is Yogananda really commenting Jesus, or does he use him to promote his own teachings? Is Yogananda once again putting teachings into the mouth of Jesus that were alien to Jesus the Jew and his Jewish listeners? [More concepts].

The savoury Christian - not misled

But for clever Christians the edited and sometimes forged gospels that in time came to be of service to the church, may be dispensed with - they are only for Jewish followers and were not part of the early community as far as we know. All the apostles and the Holy Ghost showed they are not essential for the good Christian (Acts 15; confirmed in 21:25).

This Apostolic Decree is the basic Christianity. Not one word of Jesus is mentioned there. Q.e.d. The gospels were not written at that time either, most likely. They were added later, and four of them selected to serve the church still later on. They are later-edited selections, and sayings ascribed to Jesus in them are in part forged. There is no verbatim quotation of Jesus in the gospels.

Abstain from teachings of Jesus and get it much better

It comes down to this: Jesus came for Jews, taught Jews only, and died to help them. But the vast majority of Jews did not want his teachings, and did not think he was the Messiah they were hoping for. He was rejected. He died in vain one day. If he later changed his plans, there is absolutely no good evidence of it. The Missionary Command is a later-added forgery [The forgery].

Only after his mission failed and he was dead, the apostles were told to go to Gentiles too. A new turn! The Apostolic Decree (Acts 15:28-29) was borne out of this dramatic change of plans after Jesus had died, and seemingly in vain.

It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell. [Acts 15:28-29]

The apostles preached Jesus the Jew as they went abroad, but not any "Christ" in the later-adde, heavenly expanded and glorified Christianity-added sense of it. Accordingly, there is no real need to be burdened with any sayings and commands of Jesus. Just abstain from blood food, and strangled chicken, and you fulfill half of the First and Foremost Deal for non-Jewish followers. You also need the Spirit onboard to fulfil the requirment of being saved (put right with the God of Jews) in a Christian way. The right Spirit, capable of so much.

According to the first five books of the New Testament the right Spirit is a teacher of truth, reminded, faithful witness - one that makes people talk in tongues and perform greater works than Jesus (John 14:12) who healed others, but ended up on a cross after a failed mission for Jews alone. According to gospels he had talked for the power of prayers - saying they could be granted - but events proved him woefully wrong again: his own prayers on the cross were not granted.

The martyrs - a horde of them thought the end of time was near and not just the end of themselves - were victims of the later-added gospel teachings of Jesus. He had taught the end of the world was near, really near. In gospels he was credited with saying what Jewish followers could do in the right Spirit, or by granted prayers. The millions of martyrs who were killed for Roman entertainment, did not use their granted powers to survive. We can say that much.

It is also a point that there are no verbatim quotations of Jesus in the Bible - he did not write any. His alleged sayings is a questionable mass, so it may be futile to get to the actual words of his. Some are added many generations after he died, and some forged, such as the Missionary Command.

You may wonder why the guru Yogananda did not say that Jesus is not essential for the Christian (!) according to Jesus' sayings that his teachings were for Jews alone (with one exception), and the many warnings against false Christs among his Jewish followers.

There is much falsity in the world.

  Contents  


Love mysteries, Paramahansa Yogananda, a messenger of death, Self-Realization Fellowship, Literature  

Baron, Robert A., and Nyla R. Branscombe. 2012. Social Psychology. 13th ed. London: Pearson, chap 11.

Dasgupta, Sailendra. 2006. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse.

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. 1998. Thank You, Master! Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity. (36 pages) Online.

Dillon, Jane Robinson. 1998. "The Social Significance of a Western Belief in Reincarnation: A Qualitative Study of the Self-Realization Fellowship." Ph.D. Dissertation. Department of Sociology. University of California, San Diego. (Available from UMI Dissertation Services, Ann Arbor, MI)

Ehrman, Bart D. Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium. Paperback ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Kriyananda, Swami. 2010. Rescuing Yogananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity. Online.

Mata, Daya. 1976. "Only Love". Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

Novak, Devi. 2005. Faith Is My Armor: The Life of Swami Kriyananda. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity.

Parsons, Jon R. 2012. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity.

Rosser, Brenda Lewis, comp. Treasures against Time - Paramahansa Yogananda with Doctor and Mrs. Lewis. Borrego Springs, CA: Borrego Publications, 1991. (Rev ed 2001).

Russell, Ron. 2000. "A Mountain of Discontent." New Times Los Angeles, 1 June.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. 2001. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust.

⸻. 1981. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust.

Sjølund, Arne. 1974. Gruppepsykologi. Oslo: Fabritius.

Smith, Eliot R., and Diane M. Mackie. 2000. Social Psychology. 2nd ed. Hove: Psychology Press, chap. 5 etc.

Vermes, Geza. 2005. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin.

⸻. 2012. "From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity." Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec.

⸻. 2010. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press.

Williamson, Lola. 2010. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press. ⍽▢⍽ The book's exposition is a wake-up call, as it bring cultural perspectives of guru-following as a "'non-institutional institution" (85) and HIMMs [Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements] with their raging controversies. The book is suited to scholars and adherents of meditation movements in an American religion and subculture. It offers intimate glimpse into motivations and experiences of long-time practitioners, and combines insider and outsider perspectives. The result is a sympathetic account of the three movements she focuses on, while not shying away from their controversies.
    This book has been called a "must-read" for those interested in Indian spirituality and American pluralism, for it exposed how a developing hybrid form of religion has gained momentum in the United States over the past century. Williamson traces the history of various Hindu-inspired movements in America, as they may head for some new religion.
    Three movements - Self-Realization Fellowship, Transcendental Meditation, and Siddha Yoga - serve as representatives of Hindu-inspired meditation movements. She shows the beliefs and practices of followers of these movements by concrete examples from their words and experiences or world view, lifestyle, and relationships with their gurus. Drawing on scholarly research, numerous interviews, and decades of personal experience, Williamson generalises that Hindu-inspired meditation movements in American soil tend to change to accommodate there - all in all, "Beware," may be timely.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. 2002. The Divine Romance. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

⸻. 1982. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

⸻. 1952. The Master Said. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship.

⸻. 1980. Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (1952).

⸻. 1953. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

⸻. 2004: The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. Vol 1. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

Harvesting the hay

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

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