Far-seeing people may succeed if they are not victimised for their catches. Ignoble guys may rather easily misjudge people of wise discernment or not even understand who they are. Take a good look!
Yogananda hailed Mussolini and dictatorship
There once was a quite Americanised guru that Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, has faultily and dogmatically claimed to give infallible guidelines. Still, the fellowship does hardly ever flaunt or even mention that he advocated dictatorship and praised Mussolini in the 1930s, and wrote that socialism would eventually win (!) Seeing is believing. [◦Download, see pages 3 and 25].
The Norse teaching poem Havamal says in verse 81: "Praise day at even, a wife when dead, a weapon when tried, a maid when married, ice when it is crossed, and ale when it is drunk." In other words, it could pay to be sparing with praise of something until it has shown its "true colours" or is finished.
A one man society and a one man band - are they different?
Yogananda started an US organisation in 1920, SRF holds. During Christmas that year he got one follower in America, a Boston dentist. From the description of it in a book about the dentist, it looked like an informal dentist visit on Christmas Eve. It was so little formal that the dentist's wife waited for hours at night with a rolling pin to greet her husband with - for he had promised to decorate the Christmas tree and had not told her where he went that Christmas night. I doubt there are any written, contemporary testimonies about forming any official fellowship that year, but let us keep a possibility open. [Rosser, 2001].
Yogananda established a church to get wealth and lands
Years later Yogananda's organization had expanded, and he got it registered as a church in California in 1935 as a means to "acquire lands". His declared, primary purpose was getting wealth, it says. Interestingly, giving seems rather opposite to it, but not necessarily so. [◦More].
It would depend on what the church gives also, and not only on what it goes for in exchange for the things "sold" by it. The OK church gives help to flourish and get less and less menial, and a good church frees its members. Full freedom, moksha, is the worthy goal in Hinduism, the religion that Yogananda hailed from. The more or less Hindu church that Yogananda set up in March 1935, is headed by a brand of Hindu order monks, or swamis. They are called brothers and sisters and mothers, but they are "fatherlessly" headed by nuns. It does not have to be too bad, as in a family. "Wife or husband, the wisest governs best," is an idea in a Norwegian proverb.
There is good faith and bad faith
Faith is a lever for getting wealth, influence and devoted guys the world over. Rituals and ceremonies are taken to to conserve the faith that is "sold" or propagated. Getting wealth and influence to help good people even more, could be a brilliant idea, and is not a novelty. People have handed over lands, lots of lands to the Catholic Church for ages, with the idea that they thereby could barter their soul and escape hell, or get it less uncomfortable in Purgator or whatever they think. The point: A church barters heaven for wealth, lands, and more. It is business at bottom, and so much so that Protestantism had enough of it.
Many who are brought up Catholics, think the same way of it, and will not question it. The faith is decided on from topdogs, and we find traces of the same mechanisms in Yogananda's church. His guidelines are regarded as without flaw there - it is a big bluff, to be sure. The Vatican may not like that sort of parallellism, but it is there.
Blind trust in a fellowship-church, its leaders and holy guidelines - may not be such a wild idea, if what is trusted in should happen to be true to facts, seen or hidden things and how things work. But if not, faith may give troubles. The funny thing is that even though there are widely different faiths in the world, most members think it is theirs which is the fit one. Statistics tell of chances, or odds. On a surface level, the odds that a Christian denomination's faith is right, have a link to how many they are in it, as compared to the many billion people on earth. The average odds is - on the surface - less that fifty (3:7) that all Christians have a proper bottom-faith, fwhatever that could be - in the light of flourishing forgeries in the early church and gave rise to the gospels and other texts that Christians believe in as gospel truth, more or less.
What is "signed by or promised by God" may be something freakish anyway
The Lord said to Abra(ha)m, "To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi [or river] of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates - the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.".
There are those who resort to bible sayings to hinge their faith on. Abraham woke up from a dark sleep where God had given him lands, lots of lands, from the Nile to the Euphrate, but neither he nor his descendants by Sarah have got them so far. It has been 3000 year, more or less . . . The folklore figure called "the wandering Jew" might have had better goings if God has been good at promising and keeping his word, for sure. Now, study the facts - the folklore figure is in part a work of medieval legend, and in part linked to the fate of many Jews in the world since Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus in 70 CE, the Jews were scattered, and the fate of many of them since. [◦More]
Let that be a lesson. It might be a good idea if a faith that calls for blind trust comes with an official money-back guarantee signed by God in charge of the heaven-for-money bargains around. But how is it? And just how can we avoid being taken in and exploited by our id-related, good faith? We may put the money - thithe and similar - in our own pockets, save it and buy some land with ourselves in charge. The name of the venture is "Get valuable propertly for cheap yourself, and avoid letting others ride you."
There is so much ice melting
There is so much we can do with wealth nowadays. Good people may get control enough to preserve the good things on the planet before they are gone, victims of greedy ones with desires that may eventually ruin our planet. So far, good people have not got good control over all the rainforests, cannot preserve all beautiful lagunes, hinder the polar ice from melting too much, see to it that agriculture is biologically healthy, free from harmful antibiotics in the meat, pesticided in the food, and so on. On and on. Thus, there is a great need to get control over good land to save it. In our troubled times, when more and more wealth is channeled into the hands of the too rich and greedy and callous, it helps to get wealth without following the exploitation stream, and go against it? Can you do it? All your life? That has turned into a rather old challenge already.
There is a nice alternative to blind faith and blind rejection around: It is tentative faith. Yogananda told that faith was to be held only as something provisional, to be tested. "A belief, whether false or true, is provisional. . . . What is needed is investigative belief with . . . persistence in true beliefs, or . . . beliefs that constantly manifest convincing results."[2000:305-06] Buddha teaches similarly, 2500 years ago. [Kalama Sutta] Prestige follows money far and wide. As for Yogananda, he got some lands and wealth, but his church wants more - it is as stated in the registration papers. [◦More].
The issue of creature comforts
The Self-Realization Church that the guru Yogananda set up in California in 1935, is also established to fight creature comforts, its registry papers stated. Ouch. For someone who tries to enjoy life heartily all the way, that guru-dictated aim appears way too wrong, and in the 1950s his church seems to have dropped it completely (and telling they find no fault with his guidelines - as they hid some of them). Now then, someone could have forgotten to ask Yogananda to specify things and go into details. As it is, the fellowship has quietly removed some of the Yogananda ideals. The registration papers of his fellowship surfaced only quite recently. See for yourself. [◦SRF Articles of Incorporation 1935]
To fight creature comforts means no to thriving unless gurus come up with a fresh reinterpretation . . ."Human life is given . . . not for physical pleasure nor selfish gratifications" (Article 2e:13). Real living is not as bad - and yet - [◦Download]
An infallible mistake, or?
Now, the guru went on to furnish his comforts-negating church with its own little monastic order, but he got largely disinterested as time went by, and in particular the last few years he lived. According to a handwritten letter by him, he considered that founding the organisation was no small mistake. Quote:
I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization (Alternatively translated into: I have performed an absolutely foolish act by starting an organization. / I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization.") . . .
Maybe it was not so bad in SRF afterwards, and maybe not
Organisations and members should match to go in with little friction and fulfilling one or several good aims. However, the organisation that suits persons who crave disharmony for some reason, may not be a source of regret to them, and some things lie beneath the surface, in the personality structure.
An excellent boss may change a group's climate, may change the organisation for the better. Outside funds and gifts may also help an organisation get better, if the resources are managed well enough for it.
Hunger and mutiny among monkeys, in a crew and among members makes a difference. Besides, organisations may change as they get older, just as their climate can change over time.
Seemingly thrive and then leave
SRF is still is around. On the surface its monasteries are presented as idyls. What may be under the surface could be quite another matter. The monastic parts of it seemed idyllic to Jane Robinson Dillon when she used Californian SRF members as "deliverers of data" for her qualitative doctoral dissertation, "The Social Significance of a Western Belief in Reincarnation: A Qualitative Study of the Self-Realization Fellowship" (Ph.D.-Thesis at the University of California, San Diego, 1998 - 1808 pages). The interview-based dissertation was rooted in ten years of field research. However, it did not catch any signs of any impending discontent among monastics. But three years or so after her dissertation was made public, one third of all the SRF monastics broke loose and left the SRF premises. This happened between 2000 and 2005, tells Jon Parsons (2012:171).
But what do you expect will happen once you start an organisation that counteracts thriving? The leader gets away, the third leader too, all unknowingly among the other monastics in SRF until the Los Angeles Times broke the news that this leader had stayed away from the headquarters to live in a villa with a view for twenty years - unknown to almost all monks and nuns. And then one third of all the monastics left SRF and did not come to visit from time to time to give inspirirational talks there either, for they felt they should be off for good, for one or more reasons. A major point: If SRF had been so good as to let any prospective members know the real ideals of Yogananda's church - all of them! - things might be different and there might be fewer prospective members and monastics there.
There are many sides to thriving. Creature comforts help, but are not the only means. A good conscience, a well lived life, good, appropriate associates - these generally help to.
There could be different opinions as to how worthwhile SRF was and is, even in the mind of its founder, Yogananda.
The lobster pot
First consider a sort of background picture and why it is put in your way. [Lobster pot]
So between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons 2012:171) about one third of the Self-Realization Fellowship's monastics left the SRF premises, idyls or seemingly idyls. Many such monastics appeared to be disgruntled, as judged from many posts on three discussion boards where they discussed much in their hard times. [Walrus-backup]
A little parallell to a lobster pot: "Those who are outside might be better off than going in and seek to get out again in vain - but there are exceptions to that. If you would have been pounded to poultice outside the monastery walls, a stay behind the walls might not be too bad in such a perspective.
What is what in some dreams?
The theology of SRF is purported to be a mixture of Hinduism and Jesusism, where Jesus is incorporated among the six gurus, even though the Jesus of the Bible really spoke against such an idea. Elliot Miller of the Christian Research Institute has further noticed that Hinduism is on top in this particular hybrid mishmash, and Christian theology is reinterpreted in light of parts of Hinduism. [◦More Miller].
There is very much that is called Hinduism. It can be "anything", I was once told by someone who knew just a smattering. It is vast and ancient, specked with many treasures.
Yogananda and his fellowship after him claim there is one hundred percent harmony between "original Christianity as taught by Jesus" and the original Yoga taught by the blessed Krishna. What we have to base their teachings on, is scriptures and very little else. Such evidence goes against Yogananda and SRF's Aims and Ideals. For example, Jesus says in one gospel that the soul can be destroyed, whereas Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita and Yogananda say the soul is immortal.
That grave disagreement sounds bad, one may think, but Yogananda also says the world is unreal, a dream, illusory, and according to that any similary and dissimilarity are dirty tricks - as long as they are in the world - illusory, that is. However, you cannot say that Yogananda was right in this either, since such consent would be in the world and be illusory too, just another dream. And there you are left with holding the bag.
Yogananda held soap-opera-looking or different views of God the Father, Christ, the Holy Ghost in the Bible too. His universe was unreal, he often said. You may well wonder if his sayings in the universe were unreal too. [Link]
Getting bound by an oath - is that Christian or good?
As with the moon, there is a hidden dark side of the SRF kriya yoga oath. The guru binds those who want to learn his kriya-yoga (q.v), by an oath. Jesus says no to making oaths, no to swearing, by the way. There are other backsides to that oath as well. [Link]
For a person who desperately wants to learn kriya yoga, there are alternatives to being bound to Yogananda or the other way or both. Kriya yoga is rooted in a well not breathing method which is a part of public knowledge. [Link] The core of it is the pleasant breathing method called ujjayi pranayana (i.e. victorious breath) otherwise. Yogananda's humongous presentation of it (in his dreams) goes much too unverified. His ways of seemingly propping it up by scriptural quotes are hardly fit, and overpretentous. For there is a grave lack of evidence and probabilities on his side. One had better be warned. [Link]
Bluntly said, as a member of SRF you risk to get confused and disarmed, even misled, for example away from traditional Christianity and into a sham Jesusism, or into nerve-racking, stupendous crying, lots of stupendous "crying for Mom and She will come." [Baby practice for grown-ups]
There are also other suspect and possibly dangerous teachings that do not ease living, but which officially at least are said to be gospel truths by some in his fellowship. I would say there is a risk of regressing after entering and being lorded over by sentimental nuns that are not so updated about sleep, sex and other vital parts of life that they override Yogananda goo. Seeing is believing, once again. [Sex] [Sleep]
Gilding the guru's reputation is something SRF har worked at for long; it could serve some murky or not so murky purposes, one may realise . . . It has been found that leaders of many sorts of movements in the United States and elsewhere have played on the good will and gullibility of people. Behind their public facades they have gone for money, power and faking. Such underlying motives or indecencies could show up in time, perhaps after thirty years and longer. The story of an evangelist who was first sentenced to jail for forty-five years for fraud, is still alarming to some. [WP, "Jim Bakker"]
Now, we are not all alike and can do better than treating all alike too. There is a need for knowing a case very well before judging SRF's former president, Daya Mata. She did not escape to the countryside, but found shelter in a villa, away from the SRF headquarters. At the headquarters, the monastics thought she shared their environment with them. For thirty years they were kept in the dark about the villa that Daya Mata lived in, a villa with a mountain view, and one more villa belonging to SRF next door. LA Times broke the news, and then other SRF monastics found it fit to stay away from the SRF headquarters and other SRF places too.
Q: Are you saying that going for gold (wealth) all along is the best to do?
A: What to do is to go for Self-realization, that is the best thing to do, provided you get fit and good methods for it. After that, "gold" are among the consolidations. Compare the Bhagavad Gita, 16:16-17:
Four kinds of virtuous men worship me, Arjuna! They are the distressed, the seeker of knowledge, the seeker of wealth, and the wise, lord of the Bharatas! (16)
If so, do distressed seekers of wealth benefit for their focusing as well as the ones who focus on the Self? I figure it depends on how well they focus in each group, how much and well-directed - such things. A comparative test could perhaps bring interesting data to light. Until that time, I suppose steadfast pious ones - intent on the Self - should keep on and get Self-realised, and afterwards get aligned with the Old Gold (Self) and consolidate their states - that is a lot!
Q: What were the original questions further above?
A: They were deleted and in part replaced. :)
Miller, Elliot. Swami Yogananda and the Self-Realization Fellowship: A Successful Hindu Countermission to the West. Article ID: DS213. Charlotte, NC: CRI.
Parsons, Jon R. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012.
Rosser, Brenda Lewis, comp. Treasures against Time – Paramahansa Yogananda with Doctor and Mrs. Lewis. Borrego Springs, CA: Borrego Publications, 1991. (Rev ed 2001).
Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. (also at Google Books, partial view).
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.
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