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Yogananda's Selfishness

"The goal of life is higher selfishness," says Paramahansa Yogananda. Well, there are other life goals too. Sanatan Dharma (Hinduism) lists up these four: Freedom, moksha, righteous dealings, dharma, wealth of various sorts, artha, and lust, desire, kama. Moksha is best had in Self-realisation, Self-knowledge, Atmabodha.

Yogananda on selfishness Selfishness has to be grasped to be be dealt with fairly. We may learn some things in this through Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952). He advocated "stepping up selfishness" in a fit way into "Be divinely selfish". But then he swerved from his original teachings and said "Be unselfish" and condemned selfishness (documentation below) - but not his earlier sayings in the matter. He could become less confusing if he had stuck to and emphasised his

Yogananda One should first [1] follow and establish himself in the good forms of selfishness, where one thinks of [2] his family . . . attainment, [3] one can then advance to a practice of the sacred selfishness, (or unselfishness, as ordinary understanding would term it), where one sees all the universe as himself. [Yogananda]

The three stages shown fit into a general Tao (Way - see further down). But perhaps this fit Yogananda saying is drowned in clutter, so I will poinpoint it a little so that you may see Yogananda lore is not all bad -

The art of handling the guru's fragments is to pick, choose and systematise his best shots at verious subjects. That is "making the best out of Yogananda's teachings".

You may also ask why. Here is a good reason for you: He said that if a follower would practice only a tenth of what he had taught, it could save him or her.

Granted that what he taught is not equally useful, which tenth?

Since research into his methods seems completely lacking, one must reject believing stupidly in big claims, big words, and all that. Keep claims at bey - that is a good way of dealing with them. Yogananda advocates quality discernment and good use of reason, too, in some places.

You may well find yourself confronted with this: On the one hand hype, and on the other hand crazy followers, and on the third hand (if there is any), those who made no such progress as Yogananda marketed kriya yoga with. Thus, find a way to sail between Scylla, Charybdis and one or more more monsters - not two, but more in this case.

Selfishness may be strong, but self-control may grow much as the meditation gets deeper. Self-control in yoga serves greater and better freedom, ideally.

Yogananda advocated dictatorship

Yogananda founded Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, which propagates the guru's teachings through books and a concoction of sayings, named the SRF Lessons. Truth be told; SRF has claimed they do not find faults with Yogananda's guidelines - but there are many, such as Yogananda's "The average man cannot think clearly . . . He needs the master mind of a Dictator in order to think right and do right." It speaks of a mentality we do not like. It is one that SRF discredits by not showing it openly, but there are signs that SRF is an authoritarian structure, a cult.

No, better admit that parts of the guru's sayings are bad, unsound and flawed, which is not a fit foundation.

Yogananda was someone who at one time said this, then something against it in another setting - and also, "We do not really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." [Ak 414] SRF had better adjust accordingly, for the benefit of those they are influencing and themselves. [Ak 414].

If you follow up the quotations (book references are at bottom of the pages), you may ascertain the quotes. See for yourself.

Yogananda sayings in many SRF's publications are fragments only, and selected by editors with an attitude.

Some hybrids make it, others fail, and dictatorship fail to serve the common people full well

The fellowship Yogananda started and one day ◦came to regret he had started, supports the idea that his guidelines are infallible. One problem here is how the guru speaks against himself on significant issues. To clarify things may serve upright and stout ones, especially when concepts previously used, are murky and inadequate. A tradition of teachings serves that sort of maturing views. Hybrid religions, on the other hand, like Yogananda's, at times do not know which foot to stand on, so to speak. Lola Williamson exposes SRF as the hybrid Hinduism it is, in a part of her book Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. (2010)

The issue in this article is selfishness. What is meant by the word should be told too, for there are many meanings and nuances to it. And there are at least two ways to deal with gross dissonance - One may try to silence the discordant singer, or several of the singers, or sing another song. The guru and SRF lessened the significance of vital parts of of his early output as time went by, and "changed the tune" in some places as seemed fit. But all the same SRF dares to tell Yogananda's wisdom is flawless and they do not find fault with his guidelines. This they do after forging his signature, and leaving out some parts of his total output. [The letter evidence]

Consider that Yogananda also publicly advocated dictatorship when he was forty-one. This is how the SRF church works: It takes care of Yogananda words that seem fit enough for a "gilded" guru - The guru image they hold up at large does not proclaim from the house tops with Yogananda: "Man needs a dictator". Today they seem fairly silent in the matter.

Selectivity functions for a cult: Hiding skeletons in the closets may seem wise for a while, until the facts start leaking, and not drawing attention to disgracing statements and dealings but rather be focusing on things that seem to serve the group of monastics in charge - and a cult grows and may drift a lot thereby. So watch out for the mechanismes of sectarian growth. For if you want to develop spiritually, as a Self, that is, there is a need to tackle the poor decisions that make a religion more narrow and turning cultwards by small steps, for example.

Selfishness is good for a dictator. Yogananda openly hailed dictatorship and Mussolini.

Considerate Teachings or Plots?

Yogananda The law of service to others is secondary to, and born out of the law of self-interest and self-preservation and selfishness. Man never in his sane mind does anything without a reason. . . .

Higher selfishness, or the good of the Higher Self, is the motive of life instead of service to others without thought of self. [Yogananda]

Yogananda advocated selfishness. Collins Thesaurus offers synonyms for the term, and some opposites:

self-centred, self-interested, greedy, mercenary, self-seeking, ungenerous, egoistic or egoistical, egotistic or egotistical, looking out for number one (informal)

opposites: generous, considerate, selfless, benevolent, altruistic, self-sacrificing, philanthropic, unselfish, magnanimous, self-denying, ungrudging.

The art of yoga-meditation lies in the practice of the higher teachings and experience the Self inside the womb of the world.

Use Tao Teachings to See Clearer

yin yang symbol From seeing clearer, a better grasp should result. In Taoism, there are three main goings. Getting, sharing, giving. (1) Getting or gaining is of yang (white in the figure). (2) Sharing is of Tao (the Way of balancing, of "us": the mirrored S-shape through the circle). (3) Giving, giving out, which is yin (black). Their interactivity can be represented in many ways, with much more delicate detail, but these are the three basics.

YANG: Getting. Cultivating

There is usually a negative ring to selfishness and synonyms for it, and a positive ring to the opposites. However, if you do not gain or get anything, you have nothing to share and nothing to give later either. Hence, "Charity begins at home." It suggests "Grace yourself first, and learn to share and give too, on top of that," for example. The Catholic Church sticks to such a view, and proverbs of many countries too.

There is more to say around selfishness in one or more of it meanings. Many words in the first group above denote grabbing for or perhaps getting, while words in the second group signal giving or losing terrain, and often lead to want. Hence, when you let others influence you from getting enough of what you and your family or good friends need, you may get troubles enough to be beaten to death by hardships or lose a lot in life.

If, on the other hand, you focus on the deep purpose that a human life and go for the Higher Self, Atman, you gain and get something that may not leave you later. The general route in life is: You get - and may keep and cultivate and bring to fruition too - before you give. That way too you may increase your credits, so to speak. You get stronger and get a basis, and deserve the good things that follow, as long as you get your means in fair ways, just ways, dharmic ways. To label the tall climb of life selfish, tells one has misunderstood.

In these grotesque times, where just eight persons own half of the earth's money-giving resources, it would be good if streams of mature persons got hold of lands and resources to preserve, protect plants, animals and human life more and better than it is done today, where greed-based exploitation favours the few and depletes so many. So we may buy such things that helps life on earth and hope it amounts to something, and work for good living too. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who made ◦Transcendental Meditation (TM) well known in the West and East, went for decent quality living, and such things that may support it.

A TAO OR MORE: Taking part. Sharing

A bottom line here: The way to welcoming arms is first to get wealthy and thrive, be or become someone of means, and follow up well by taking part in something rather common, like folk dance. That may lead into getting married, among many more things. "First thrive, then wive," is a proverb.

YIN: Giving

Marriage often leads to having a family and others to support in widening circles, like charity. It is, further, good if good and sane people hold the reigns and control the wealth also. But if you give all too soon, you end up as a needy guy all too soon. "Be just before you are generous (Turkish proverb)." To be fair about giving is an art - facets of the art of giving may be learnt. Jimmy Cliff:

I can see clearly now . . .
It's gonna be a bright (bright)
bright (bright) sunshiny day.
Here is that rainbow I've been praying for.
Look straight ahead, there's nothing but blue skies.
I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
Yeah, hey, it's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright)
sunshiny day.
◦"I can see clearly now" - fragments.

The Main Scheme

Yogananda said too little about how to balance the getting, sharing and giving, the fight for the good stuff in life, parttaking, and the gradual handing it over to near ones, and good and deserving others within one's means.

This is to say that the guru sayings for and against selfishness expressed two complementary sides of the life circle, or yang and yin sides to the living. What the guru might have explained better, was how to unite the two - "selfishness" and "unselfishness" - by a fit Way (Tao) in each case, a way of balancing yang and yin fairly and well. He seemed just to sell out his first selfishness teachings for the later unselfishness teachings that seemed more widely accepted and landed on more accepted phrases. Then he talked against selfishness and for unselfishness - a bad solution for adherents to the SRF idea that "his guidelines are always right" followers.

If they do not explain that for and against selfishness may both be OK in turns, they are left with stubs that on the surface speak against one another, because the guru missed a unifying symbol (emblem) of how to make opposites be complementary and cooperate with some friendly Tao in between, that is. The forgery-fond fellowship is in need of a rewarding yang-yin-tao outlook. They have forged the guru's signature. Consider it a bad sign.

Yogananda should have voiced the general drift or route of "get-share-give" with nuances. The Tao outlook tells of an unifying solution that wider perspectives of a carefully built, old tradition brings. For the lack of the fuller, consistent view of this matter, the Yogananda followers get no adequate explanations of why "Yoganandic selfishness" is good (but seldom talked of nowadays), and unselfishness is in, so "it is good for us". Such clarifications could help many. For the lack of structures that bring consistency to opposing fragments - like yang and yin in Taoist philosophy - some get mishmash in their heads, and that is hard. [Taoist teachings]

Some who forge in little things, will they stop with that or "edit away" for the sake of tastes and acceptance? [More,] - [more] - [and more]

There are highways and byways. What is below is from the originator of the SRF mishmash Lessons, Yogananda. He published an article in the November-December issue of the magazine East West in 1929, and I give you an unabridged main part of it; followed by poem-like excerpts. Here and there emphasis has been added, and a few errors of spelling corrected.


Capsules - Words of Yogananda

Visions of India's Life-Giving Philosophy

Yogananda Yogananda:

"Once I had a great controversy with a European who repeatedly and blindly affirmed that the goal of life was service, while I maintained that it was higher selfishness. I asked him again and again for his reasons in believing in "service", but instead of satisfying my discrimination, he kept on reiterating, "Service is the goal of life. It is blasphemous to doubt that."

Finding him so dogmatic, I asked him, "Is service the goal of life because the Scriptures have declared it?"

"Yes," he vehemently replied.

"Do you believe everything literally in Scripture?" I questioned him. "Do you think Jonah was swallowed by a whale and came out alive after a few days? How do you account for it?"

"No. I do not understand how he could do that" ...

In order to really know the truth contained in Scriptural stories, and in order to understand what is erroneous, or right, literal or metaphorical, in Scriptural writings, one must use his own reason, discrimination and power of intuitional verification developed thru meditation. [Yogananda]

The idea, "One must use his own reason" is not in the foreground among sheep and herd-like followers. [Here are tips and books about it]

Scriptures Not Always Infallible

YOGANANDA ICON Many people think that what is printed in black and white is right. Above all, most people believe that anything wearing the robe of Scriptural authority is absolutely beyond question. But putting on an outward garb cannot make one infallible. Writers of Scriptures can also make mistakes. In order to know the truth of a doctrine, we must live it and find out if it works or not - give it the acid test of experience. Let us get out into the world and compare our religious beliefs with the religious experiences of true teachers. Let us be iconoclastic of our own errors that need to be destroyed within us. We must not harbor an undigested mass of theology and thus suffer from chronic theological indigestion.[Yogananda]

Service a Form of Selfishness

YOGANANDA ICON The law of service to others is secondary to, and born out of the law of self-interest and self-preservation and selfishness. Man never in his sane mind does anything without a reason.* All religious doctrines and instructions are based either on blind superstition or on real religious experience. The real reason behind the Scriptural injunctions to "Serve thy fellow-men", and "Love thy neighbor as thyself" is that the law of service to others is to be obeyed by all devotees who would, thru others, expand the limits of their own self.

* There are reasons one is conscious aware of, and deeper ones too. Compare: "Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing." [Werner von Braun (1921-77), rocket scientist]

[Yogananda, continued:] No action is performed without reference to a direct or indirect thought of selfishness. Giving service is indispensable to receiving service. To serve others by financial, mental, or moral help is to find self-satisfaction. Besides, if any one knew beyond doubt that by service to others, his own soul would be lost, would he serve? If Jesus knew that by sacrificing his life on the altar of ignorance, He would displease God or lose His favor, would He have acted as he did? No, He knew that though he had to lose the body, He was gaining His Father's favor and His own Soul. Such immortal sons of God and all the martyrs and saints, make a good investment - they spend the little mortal body to gain immortal life.

There is nothing worth-while gained without paying a price. Thus even the most self-sacrificing act of service to others can be shown to be done not without any thought of self. It is logical, therefore, to say that the higher selfishness, or the good of the Higher Self, is the motive of life instead of service to others without thought of self. [Yogananda]

Train your reasoning prowess to make less blunders. Yogananda or SRF's lessons contain severe blunders. Here is an example of a corrected Yogananda teaching: ["All body cells stem from the first cell"]

Must be Given Because Received

YOGANANDA ICON In giving service to others, a man knows also that otherwise he cannot rightly receive service from them. If the farmers give up agricultural work, and the business men give up their business of transportation and distribution, then how could even the renunciate maintain himself? Nowadays, with increased population and wealth, even forests are divided off and owned by big landowners, who placard the trees with signs warning the trespasser that he will be prosecuted for coming into another man's property. So the renunciate cannot logically say, "I will not work or earn my living - I will live on the wild fruits of the forest". Hence, services given and received have reference to the goal of a lower or higher selfishness.

Three Kinds - Evil, Good and Sacred Selfishness

YOGANANDA ICON We must, however, clearly distinguish between the three kinds of evil, good and sacred selfishness. The evil kind is that which actuates a man to seek his own comfort by destroying the comforts of others. To be rich at the cost of others' loss is sin, and against the interests of the higher individual self of the person who does it. To delight in hurting others' feelings by carping criticism is evil selfishness. This malignant pleasure is not conducive to any lasting good. True and good selfishness is the kind which makes a man seek his own comfort, prosperity and happiness by also making others more prosperous and happy. Evil selfishness hides its many-destructive teeth of suffering beneath the apparently innocent looks of comfort-assurances. Evil selfishness shuts one in a small circle and shuts all humanity out beyond it. Good selfishness takes everybody, including one's own self, into the circle of brotherhood. Good selfishness brings many harvests - return services from others, self-expansion, divine sympathy, lasting happiness and self-realization.
      Good selfishness should be followed by the business man, who, by sincere, honest, wholesome, constructive actions and labors, enables himself to look after his own and his family's needs. Such a business man is far superior to the business man who thinks and acts only for himself, thinking neither of the ones he serves or of those dependent on him for support. He is then acting against his own best selfish interests, for he will suffer in time. Many misers die, leaving their wealth to relatives who often squander it on wrong self-indulgences. Such selfishness helps neither the giver nor the receiver, in the end.

To avoid the pitfalls of evil selfishness, one should first follow and establish himself in the good forms of selfishness, where one thinks of his family and those whom he serves, as part of himself. From that attainment, one can then advance to a practice of the sacred selfishness, (or unselfishness, as ordinary understanding would term it), where one sees all the universe as himself.

He launches "evil selfishness" and associates it with "a small circle". A mind-bogging and independence-shrinking cult could fit that too.

Being Sacredly Selfish

YOGANANDA ICON Feeling the sorrows of others in order to make them free from further suffering, seeking happiness in the joy of others, and constantly trying to remove the wants of bigger and bigger groups of people is being sacredly selfish. The man of sacred selfishness counts all his earthly losses as deliberately brought about by himself for others' good, and for his own great and ultimate gain. He lives to love his brethren, for he knows they are all children of the one God. His entire selfishness is sacred, for whenever he thinks of himself, he thinks, not of the small body and mind of ordinary understanding, but of the needs of all bodies and minds (within the range of his acquaintanceor influence). His "self" then becomes the Self of all. He becomes the mind and feeling of all creatures. So when he does anything for himself, he can only do that which is good for all. He who considers himself as the one whose body and limbs consists of all humanity and all creatures - certainly finds the Universal, All-Pervading Spirit as Himself.

Act Without Expectation

YOGANANDA ICON He does not act with expectation but, with his best judgment and intuition, goes on helping himself as the many, with health, food, work, success and spiritual emancipation.

Working with good selfishness and sacred selfishness brings one in touch with God, resting on the altar of all-expanding goodness. One who realizes this, works conscientiously only to please the ever-directing God-peace within.

Essence of the Above

You find the capsules in the unabridged Yogananda article above. Errors of spelling have been corrected there. One may find good thoughts here, although a wisely formed, overarching structural design is missing.
To really . . . understand what is erroneous, or right, literal or metaphorical ... one must use his own reason, discrimination and power of [beneficial] intuitional verification. [Yogananda]

To know the truth of a doctrine, we must live it and find out if it works. [Yogananda]

Gain immortal life. [Yogananda]

Distinguish between . . . evil, good and sacred selfishness. The evil kind is that which actuates a man to seek his own comfort by destroying the comforts of others [but] is not conducive to any lasting good.

Good selfishness brings many harvests . . . and self-realization.

Good selfishness should be followed by the business man, who . . . enables himself to look after his own and his family's needs ...

One should first follow and establish himself in the good forms of selfishness, where one thinks of his family . . . attainment, one can then advance to a practice of the sacred selfishness, (or unselfishness, as ordinary understanding would term it), where one sees all the universe as himself. [Yogananda]

See, here Yogananda finds it out, saying what I have spelt out above through Tao doctrine.

[One is to be] sacredly selfish ... for his own great and ultimate gain [On such a fellow:] His entire selfishness is sacred, for whenever he thinks of himself, he thinks, not of the small body and mind of ordinary understanding, but of the needs of all bodies and minds (within the range of his acquaintance or influence). His "self" then becomes the Self of all ...

He does not act with expectation but, with his best judgment and intuition, goes on helping himself as the many ...

Working with good selfishness and sacred selfishness brings one in touch with God, resting on the altar of all-expanding goodness. [Yogananda]

[Work] to please the ever-directing God-peace within. [Yogananda]

NOTE. Divine selfishness does not imply you put others first and disregard your own concerns and interests. To the contrary, it suggests "concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself; seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others; arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others [from Merriam-Webster's Dictionary]". The guru's argument is to include others in the selfishness in an expanding scheme, and that is good, he says. Unselfishness, on the other hand, is "not selfish, generous" in the dictionary, and thus different. Do selfishness and unselfishness meet in Bliss and the guru?

Selfishness Cavalcade of Yogananda Teachings

In Great Depression Times His Teachings Changed

YOGANANDA ICON "Without idealism, material practicality is the harbinger of selfishness, sin, competition and wars. Without practicality combined with idealism, there is confusion and suffering and lack of natural progress." - Swami Yogananda ["Oriental Christ", East West, March-April, 1930].

NOTE. Here the guru's attitude to fit selfishness from the year before, seems to be forgotten, or dropped. Mhm.

A Thematic Survey

In the lecture "How to Burn out the Roots of Depression by Divine Methods", East West April, 1932, Sri Yogananda goes much into selfishness again. The lecture was published in depression times. Three years after the "selfishness is good" article he now talks down on selfishness and drops discerning between three forms of selfishness and how higher selfishness can lead to good things of life, and to realizing the Self (God) and so on. Moralising pettiness may be on the increase -

Now you may wonder why many of Yogananda's teachings seem so inconsistent and mutually exclusive, but he did get a following -

Below is what I have gathered:

YOGANANDA ICON The Occidental middle class, who need to dress like the rich and are yet poor - for them I feel.

Without conscience and without heart the Rolls-Royces and Packards, containing their laughing, bejewelled, selfishness-petrified human beings, pass by these outwardly diffident, but inwardly poverty-singed unfortunates ...

Misunderstanding of the universal laws of peaceful, prosperous living is responsible for depressions, famines, plagues, industrial, social, and national man-made cataclysms and wars. International misunderstandings breed in their wombs their Satanic offsprings of selfishness, which is the real cause of all economic upheavals.

Individual, social, national, international, and industrial forms of selfishness are the children of universal selfishness. Selfishness is the wrong mode of living, inaugurated by human beings in the hope of self-interest and happiness. In the final analysis, selfishness has been found sooner or later to destroy the real self-interest and happiness of man ...

Luxury, the desire to possess money by any method, the fear of the poor house, loss of material prestige in the eyes of the family or society, and selfishness, are the harbingers of crime, poverty, and lack of sympathy. If everybody would live and dress simply, then misery-breeding, luxurious living would be out of fashion, and people would strive to spend more time in spiritual development.

How can we ever prevent man from chasing to the portals of the tomb the almighty dollar in the hope of becoming rich or happy?

The remedy is to destroy selfishness; make plain living and high-thinking the standard of world civilization; penalize luxury; discourage the ownership of tax-heavy, unwieldy estates, big houses, servants, maids, costly cars and clothing. Boycott completely those who own piles of money and who coldly pass by their brother even when they see that he is scorched with poverty and dying of hunger. Make costly clothing an object of ridicule and then the equality and brotherhood of man will be established ...

One concern may become rich by slashing the prosperity of many other concerns with the sword of selfishness, but that very weapon may be wrested from him and used against him by another more powerful war-lord of industry ...

God's laws, which protect alike both His weak and His strong children ... are prompted to work silently to disrupt these man-made selfish laws of industry ... The ideal of business, to make money at all costs, must be changed. The ideal of business should be to give the best service, to supply the real needs of man, and not to encourage his habits of luxury, which destroy his body, mind, and soul ...

The sharing of profits between capital and labor, would make both the capitalists and the workers equally rich and happy. Security of food at all times; medical help when disabled; free transportation; and education would make people feel that they are all members of the same family, of one nation ... The Satan of luxury, poverty, selfishness, and international misunderstandings, would then be banished. Equality, peace and brotherhood in the world are impossible as long as selfishness and luxury remain. Individual and social selfishness must be abandoned for the common good of nations, and national selfishness must be abandoned before members of nations can live happily without wars ... Let us remember that it was extreme imperial selfishness, contrasts between luxury and poverty, brother treating brother as slave, tyranny of one brother over another, brother murdering brother, one brother living rich by making other brothers poor, all these it was which loosened the invisible dynamite of discontent that blew up the gun-guarded Empire of the Czars ... However, no matter how prosperous Russia may seem today, I, personally, do not approve of the way she forced her new democracy . . The present democracy [Stalin's reign] was gained by the un-Christian, un-spiritual laws of wholesale murder and slaughter ...

Industrial life is destroying real human life, that introspective, meditative, restful, peaceful, calm life, and is plunging people in the mad war of selfishness and insatiable greed ...

After showing that selfishness should be forsaken by individuals, and nations, and all souls in the earth, I must now show how a practical Utopia can be created in this tax-ridden, complicated system of modern government ...

Forsake luxury, selfishness, and greed for money, and lead lives of security free from worries.


The last two paragraphs appear at the end of Yogananda's solution, his practical Utopia. By this he meant that 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 [Etc.].

NOTE: You should ask: "Would they be free to train in higher selfishness there?" or "Is anybody there?"

No, it appears that SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship) felt free to abandon the idea of such communities. They still have written they find no faults with Yogananda's guidelines; it is only that they don't follow them -

More Lore

YOGANANDA ICON If there were no individual and industrial greed, selfishness, sex temptation, nor false ambitions, this earth would be free from physical and moral crimes and war. - Yogananda, ["The Second Coming of Christ", East West December 1932]

Blind attachment of family property, and so on, leads to selfishness, quarrelsomeness, delusion of permanent possession, inharmony, worries, and the like. So-called blind patriotism produces commercial greed. - Yogananda ["The Second Coming of Christ," East West May, 1933]

Let us all train the soldiers of our hearts - love, faith, kindness, and understanding, and declare a world war against selfishness, church bigotry, industrial and individual greed, unkindness, territorial aggression, race and class prejudice, armaments, international distrust, poverty, sickness, spiritual ignorance, and blind, excluding patriotism. Let us have the world policed by the guardian angel of true brotherhood, and let us have spiritual education of our hearts. - Yogananda, "Healing the Sick World", East West, June, 1933]

In order to bring all humanity into the mansion of union and universal happiness, science, politics, social and individual ethics, international industries, and the science of international laws of living, all universally useful moral and religious sciences, should offer ideal standards of the international laws of hygiene, peace, prosperity, education, moral codes, and applied psychological and spiritual laws, which would make each of the . . . human inhabitants of this earth an all-round, perfect world citizen. - Yogananda, "Realizing World Unity Through the Art of Living", East West, October, 1933. (Yogananda's Speech Before the World Congress of Religions)].

Yogoda World-City Planned

YOGANANDA ICON "The idea in creating the proposed Yogoda World-City is to offer to the war-torn, industrially-selfish, politically hide-bound nations of the earth a glimpse of a perfect divine city, which can be an inspiring model pattern after which all nations of the earth would like to build their cities.

Swami Yogananda, with the help of a few exalted souls, is going to make a supreme effort to do something practical in establishing such a city [and to teach universal brotherhood]" - All by Sri Yogananda's secretary, Richard Wright [in the magazine Inner Culture, March, 1937].

Selfishness Can Be Called Good Again

YOGANANDA ICON Let your supreme goal be to make others happy in order to gain happiness for yourself ... Always think that you are doing things for your own pleasure, that you find your pleasure in making others happy ...

Avoid evil selfishness, which is the root of all troubles, whether individual or national ... There will be more suffering before mankind realizes that national selfishness is just as evil as personal selfishness.

We really do not own anything ...

The true Self is the manifestation of Spirit within. Anything that you do for the Self could be called "selfishness." Good selfishness consists of those actions by which the pure image of the Self within can be realized. Evil selfishness is that which you do for the ego, thus going against the true interest of the Self. - Paramhansa Yogananda Inner Culture, December 1939 - ◦A source]

If patriotic selfishness goes against international well-being, the former must be sacrificed. - Paramhansa Yogananda, Inner Culture, November 1939]

Familiarity breeds contempt between those who are mutually useless, selfish, material-minded, and unproductive of inspiration or self-development. The greater the mutual service, the deeper the friendship [◦Source]

Start now building colonies [by that he meant self-supporting communities], and stop industrially selfish society from gambling with your destiny. Get away from the perpetual slavery of holding jobs to the last day of your life. Buy farms and settle down with harmonious friends. Work three hours a day and live in the luxury of literary wealth, and have time to constructively exchange Divine experiences and meditate.

  1. Cut down luxuries.
  2. Think yourself a child of God.
  3. Think of all nationalities as your brothers.
  4. Seek prosperity for yourself and for others.
  5. Develop the creative thought of success every day after deep meditation.


Yogananda on the Ten Commandments

How the Ten Commandments were put into it: Here is a small part of "The Ten Commandments: Eternal Rules of Happiness", given in Encinitas, California, March 6, 1938, and published in Man's Eternal Quest [Ak].

"There will be more harmony and health in every home as the individual members of the family live more rightly," Yogananda proclaims, along with: "The Ten Commandment might have been more aptly named the Ten Eternal Rules of Happiness." - TK.


As soon as man begins to worship possessions, name, fame - anything less than God - he finds unhappiness – God-realization should be the goal of living.
Symbol worship is all right for a few, but it has more bad than good results – [And] to worship the cross [of Jesus] is to worship a graven image.
NOTE. Later in life Yogananda loved to wear a cross that had a lotus flower in the middle. He is depicted wearing it in old SRF Magazines.
When you say the name of God, you must be inwardly aware of what you are saying. Were it possible to look into others' minds when they are praying, you would see that a great many are thinking about almost anything but the Lord. They are taking the name of God in vain.
Out of a week of seven days, how few people devote even one to God. – You must be calm to be successful.
Therefore honor Him in your parents.
The meaning is that one should not kill for killing's sake [and not in an emotional outburst either] – But if your country is attacked and goes to war, you should fight to protect those whom God has given to you. You have a righteous obligation to defend your family and your country [If headed by an insane idiot, reconsider the latter part of that teaching. - TK]
The ideal of sexual union should be the creation of children – Those who live solely on the physical plane, never thinking of love or the high purpose for which the sex sense was intended, are, in the spirit of this commandment, committing adultery. To be enslaved by sex is to lose health, self-control, and peace of mind -
"Thou shalt not steal." ... Spiritual unselfishness is the way; then one automatically attracts abundance. – Unless material selfishness is abandoned, there can be no happiness in the world. [Emphasis added]
One should not speak unpleasant facts unnecessarily. To tell a truth that would betray another person, and to no worthy purpose, is also wrong. One should not speak untruth to avoid speaking truth, but rather remain silent.
Learn to differentiate between "necessary necessities" and "unnecessary necessities." Interesting parallells to be looked up:

Yogananda on Killing a Son

Yogananda recounts:

"Once when I was in Seattle, Washington, I went to a farmhouse to buy some cherries. Here I met an old man with rosy cheeks. He looked happy, but cried, "We are all sinners!"

"I have a remedy for your misery," I said.

The old man smiled. "If you can do anything for me - anything," he said, "I shall be grateful."

I asked him in a low voice, "Have you a stove with a large oven?" With my hands I described the dimensions I wanted.

He had.

"Good," I said. "Heat it red-hot. Now, have you two friends whom you can trust never to betray your secrets to anyone, no matter what you do?"

He had.

"Good!" I interrupted him. "You'll need their help. Now, have you several yards of strong rope?"

"Yes, I have," the old farmer replied with mounting suspicion.

I then asked him casually. "Dear friend. Your son is quite a heavy sleeper, isn't he?"

"Yes," came the sorrowful reply.

"Excellent!" I cried. "Now then, tonight I want you to call your two friends over. Heat your oven as hot as possible. Keep your friends quiet until your son is sound asleep. Then slip quickly into his room, bind him securely, carry him downstairs and shove him into the oven!"

The old man shouted, "Is that your remedy?"

"Isn't that what your son deserves?" I asked. "A human father ... punishing his own son by roasting him alive ..."

HO [Excerpted from a story in Yogananda's East West magazine, Vol. 1, No. 4. Abridged, and hence less neat that the original.]

The above forms a good part of Yogananda's teachings about selfishness. The previous page brings to light some related, incoherent Yogananda teachings on the ego. - TK


Paramahansa Yogananda on selfishness, sacred and graded selfishness teachings of Self-Realization Fellowship teachings, Literature  

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

Ak: Yogananda, Pa.: Man's Eternal Quest. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1975.

Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang (main editor), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Bpe: Allport, Gordon. Becoming: Basic Considerations for a Psychology of Personality. Reprint ed. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955, 1966.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica = Britannica Online.

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Harvesting the hay

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

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