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Yogananda and Much Thinking
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Prefer proficient thinking, advance carefully, and you may be able to alter many circumstances. The Chinese Dharmapada:

Though one might recite a thousand words,
If their meanings be improper,
It's better to recite one with essential [meaning],
Hearing which, thoughts will come to cease.

Though one might recite many sutras,
What's the use if one does not understand?
[It's better] to understand one dharma verse,
Practising which one may attain Enlightenment.

- The Chinese Dharmapada 16. 1, 3, slightly modified (Dhammajoti 1995)

Adding to it: "Study both claims and clams before you eat them." There are good reasons for it. Handling help can be had, and the careless may fare badly.

Yogananda about Much Thinking

We deal with mushrooms in unfamiliar places by being very certain that what we pick up and carry home in a basket, is the right sort, of good quality, and not any of the poisonous ones that may look like the eatable ones. Some mushrooms are so poisonous that they kill the inexperienced, for there is no cure.

To learn which mushrooms are edible and good we may take part in a practical course on picking mushroom or learn from very experienced pickers. Seriously interested ones may go further and get grades in biology and specialise on mushrooms, for example.

Don't take my word for anything. - Yogananda. (Overriding proposition)

From mushrooms to ideas we go: Yogananda once said, "A deep thinker puts forth about fifty thousand [thoughts a day]. I have found that by concentrating it is possible to produce as many as five hundred thousand thoughts in a day." (1982, 330)

Is there any evidence of what he told? Hardly. If you find none, discard the claims and put them away. That is how scientists deal with claims without proof. Another good thing to know is that the burden of proof lies on the one who claims this and that.

If we do not stick to the basic standards of science, we risk getting degraded through native credulity, which may get faith-fixated in time. There is a danger there.

Yogananda told in effect that he could think approximately 5,8 thoughts per second for 24 hours on end, or faster still if he found he needed a nap during those hours. He also had to count his thoughts somehow to know how many he had thought. Thus, there is more to his undocumented claim than what meets the eye - and "undocumented" is a serious word. It signals: "Put it away in a drawer" somehow. Then be free, believing nothing if others have provided no good proof of anything - yet leaving some room for the unexpected, unreckoned with. That could be wise in a way too.

Also, in many cases we have to make out how credible a claiming person is. There was a court trial in California where the judge James MacLachlin found Yogananda's money charges against a former fellow worker false and untrue, and judged against Yogananda. [Yogananda failed there]

We often need to decide who we may trust. The rest of this article shows very basic ways a researcher handles great-looking claims in more elaborate ways.

What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

SRF found fault with Paramhansa

- and forged his signature also.

"It's at times what a person does and says, and also the wheels he sets rolling." Yogananda set up an organisation, Self-Realization Fellowship in late March 1935, and one day regretted it - in writing - as one stupid mistake. Also, between 2000 and 2005 about fifty disgruntled SRF monastics [monks, nuns, novices] regretted being affiliated with SRF and reportedly left the SRF premises (Parsons 2012, 170; Williamson 2010).

The guru Paramahansa Yogananda came to the West in 1920 and rallied against sane adaptations to life - his freaking opinion-guidelines on sex, work, sex, sleep, clothing and diet are flaunted dogmatically as guidelines the SRF management finds no faults with. However, the guidelines are not flawless.

Good people find it hard to believe that others are scheming through lots of rituals and ceremonies and much else. Compare George Gurdjieff's stand. [A Gurdjieff summary]

Ask for Evidence Routinely if You Can

If someone claims a lot, or something, ask for evidence routinely and avoid the most indoctrinated fellows on the block. To avoid becoming a victim of believing unsoundly, try not to be taken in. Better believe is good proof. Otherwise, believe nothing or next to nothing if you can live with it if no judicious and relevant proofs are given. It is not fit to automatically discard unproved propositions or claims either. Some might be true, after all. But for the sake of safeguarding your faith or for many other reasons you can put them in the sack labelled "Unverifed claims", or "Unsubstantiated claims so far" or at best "The evidence is inconclusive" - for much untoward may set in through belief that is not verified, not substantiated, not well documented.

When people believe different (mutually exclusive) things about one and the same thing, beliefs that cannot all be true and well reconciled, then most of the beliefs are culprits - that is, misleading, leading astray, or hindering better view and ways and so on.

Also ask if a claim or tenet is interesting, relevant and valid, and don't be timid in this. If you memorise these three, you may save yourself lots of problems and live well. Or may something of interest or valid or relevant be derived from some of the claims (propositions)?

If a claim seems interesting, do not forget to ask for good evidence. In the sciences, evidence is at times by counting, at times by stating something rather obvious, and almost always by drawing in other notable research works on the subject so as to take part in the common, scientific enterprise. If no proof is given, try to shelf the claim at once, for it may be time-consuming and irritating and costly to try to prove the claims of others. It is better to let others deliver proofs. While they try, years may pass, years that we can use to our benefit.

Further, find out who the firm claims serve by checking who benefit, where the money tends to go, or much prestige, for example. Also note how fair and fit research may be interfered with by extreme interests, and financing. Therefore it can be hard to gain the needed neutrality and matter-of-fact proficiency that delivers. We do as best we can, and go as far as we can, guessing as little as we can, and stating the facts if we find any.

Good research or good inspections often seek to address these basic issues. Buddha advocates in part this approach: Sayings against dumb believing.

There also comes a time time to consider and reconsider - tossing and turning the claim a bit may fit in some cases. Fortunately, being matter-of-fact may be much developed.

Mind also: "Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts." - Bruce Cameron, 1963.

Thoughts on thoughts

Thoughts that matter are thoughts to mind. What is thought? Malcolm Rae holds that thought is patterned awareness:

Ide "What is thought?

It is a proportion, or a complex of proportions. Thinking is the activity of manipulating proportions and complexes of proportions, and a thought is a "crystallised pattern" of proportions at any moment in that process." (Malcolm Rae, in Tansley 1977, 68)

Great meditation takes a person to the well-spring of thought, says Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. How? Think a sound often, and it may "lift you up" - if the sound is well chosen, that is. Is there evidence that it does? Some. At least in the sense of helping meditators to stay of sound mind. [Dr Jaan Suurküla's research]

Now what is meant by 'thought'? In common language, the word 'think' covers numerous and diverse psychological activities. Why not discern between fit, good, savourly, proficient thinking and other forms of thinking while we are at it? To be able to think one clear thought must be better than fifty thousand foolish ones. Hence, we should take the quality of the thinking into account too, and focus on the helpful, rewarding ideas to the preference of the rest of them, so that we can do well in the long run. Isn't that a nice idea? And what is more, one does not fail if one learns to ride on some thoughts (sounds) back home and go on positively from there. That is deft use of thinking. Maharishi is far from the only one to advocate good use of one's thinking ability for spiritual ends. Mantras (syllables) are used for it.

With Transcendental Meditation, or TM, you may get help to develop too. See the research into the averaged effects of TM. Average statistics suggests "it tends to help. Odds are for it and not against it." Learn to gauge the odds and adjust expectations in such a light too. [Effects of TM: Research findings]

Besides, learn how to go for good thoughts rather than many thoughts. [More]

Thoughts of good quality could well be helpful, not mere thought-bulk. One quality thought may take the mantra meditator to the other side. Learn a proper mantra to meditate on aptly; it could be good for you and you could "get far, far, although you are here (Brooks, 1992)

Simplify well

In the words of the Kaushitaki Upanishad: 'It is not thought which we should want to know: we should know the thinker.' (Mascaró 1965, 18)

The goodness of mantra meditation like simple Transcendental Meditation also rests on replacing vagaries and other thoughts with one selected thought, and make good use of it so as to transcend (go beyond) thinking altogether.

Beginners in TM are instructed to sit comfortably and think-repeat one thought for about 20 minutes twice daily. Many benefits of the practice are well documented. Some find them delightful. [◦Evidence page]

"Simplify well!" may at times mean "Keep it simple and straightforward" and suit the acronym KISS. And then there is Occam's Razor - a problem-solving principle. It states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions had rather be preferred.

Assume litte, go for evidence that matters, and your goings may get all right; if not good enough, maybe not as bad as they could have been otherwise.

Quality ideas had better favour quality living.

Thought of good quality often takes time, even lots of time - and good study too.

"Measure is treasure"

Ancient Greeks advocated sound measure, metron. It is in harmony with balance.

As we have been into above, Yogananda talked of "much" (quantity) to the preference of "good" (quality) at other times too. Here is another example from his mouth: " "If I had a thousand mouths, I would speak through them all to convince you." (Yogananda 1982, 111)

Look at his pictures; he did not have a thousand mouths, and did not get them. By that he could have escaped much tooth-ache and dentist treatment.

'Convince' may have a bad taste to it among well-educated men and women, including proficient scientists. "Present the relevant facts, arguments, probe well, and conclude as tentatively as may be fit," seems to be a better approach than trying to persuade or convince. 'Convince' on the other hand means such as (1) "to make somebody and/or yourself believe that something is true", and/or (2) "to persuade somebody to do something".

Compare Einstein: The sculptor Jacob Epstein tells this story:

Einstein When I was doing Professor Albert Einstein's bust he had many a jibe at the Nazi professors, one hundred of whom had condemned his theory of relativity in a book.

"Were I wrong," he said, "one professor would have been enough." (Fuller 1970)

One good proof that he was wrong might suffice. What helps may not be to impress-and-persuade others to make them mere believers, but to present ideas fit for rational handling and careful consideration that can work well for certain forms of mental development too.

Impress-persuade is fit for making believers who get cramped through it.

Go for practical and very handy solutions

Present given facts or measures as fits. Be tentative if the data do not allow for any clear-cut conclusion by now. If things go well, some practical solutions could be reached eventually. Study Einstein:

Einstein Einstein once declared that his second greatest idea after the theory of relativity was to add an egg while cooking soup in order to produce a soft-boiled egg without having an extra pot to wash. [More Einstein anecdotes]


Paramahansa Yogananda and much thinking, mantra-thinking, Literature  

Brooks, Douglas Renfrew. 1992. Auspicious Wisdom: The Texts and Traditions of Srividya Sakta Tantrism in South India. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

Dhammajoti, K. L., Bhikkhu. 1995. The Chinese Version of the Dharmapada. Kelaniya, Sri Lanka: University of Kelaniya, the Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies.

Fuller, Edmund. 1970. 2500 Anecdotes for All Occasions. New York: Wings.

Mascaró, Juan, tr. 1965. The Upanishads: Translations from the Sanskrit. London: Penguin.

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.

Tansley, David. 1977. Dimensions of Radionics. Bradford: Health Science.

Williamson, Lola. 2010. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. 1982. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship.

Harvesting the hay

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

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