A racoon clinging to a tree shows that clinging is good for many creatures. If a climbing animal do not cling in fit ways, it may fall down. "Even monkeys fall from trees." (Japanese proverb, in Galef 1987, 20)
Yogananda, a veritable clinger
Yogananda said there is a Divine Mother, and taught followers to cry like crazy for Her, day and night and so on.
In Sayings of Paramahansa Yogananda there is a story of how She once appeared to Yogananda at Christmas time in 1948 and showed that she did not feel comfortable with being near Yogananda's close disciples. She vanished there and then. It did not help to cry for her or seek to cling. If such a thing should happen to you, are you able to cope with getting disheartened after many years on begging and crying and seeking, instead of developing yourself in proper meditation? [Compare].
Not all "Yogananda things" necessarily involve menial self-torture or less than awkward goings - but why not tend to one's own fair business and be selective when it comes to famous ones to put your dear faith in? Why? Some who are famous are not true, but deceiving and making fools of others, for one thing. And there is a market for it. How many of the world's million are healthy? Only 5%. [Yogananda, in "World Appeal for Recruiting a Spiritual Army", East West] -- [More Yogananda stuff]
Now, estimates on how many are healthy, might vary between populations and segments in a country too. Allow for that.
There are both grotesque and fit ways to cling for life, to stop clinging and still live, and to stop clinging and pass away. There are these options aside from "Stop clinging when you can" and "Just go with the natural flow called development, and do not let it become a problem." Maturity could set in in lots of ways.
Also, one may come to cling less when getting old, getting arthritis, getting feeble. On the other hand, neurotics may not give up clinging all the same.
Granted that good clinging has its place in the early life of a human, Gautama Buddha, on the other hand, teaches against clinging. Yoga teachings similarly speak of vairagya, non-attachment, as a way of life. Dare to ask: "Was Yogananda a happy clinger?" Suppose there is a span - a sort of gliding scale - between desperate clinging and the non-clinging of accomplished yogis. It would be wise to consider that.
Now, the Tibetan Dhammapada has:
The ones who have stability and wisdom
The sage, fitly firm and sociable, does not undervalue what is said because of the person who says so. [Confucius, in Soc 67-68, passim]
abhyasa vairagyabhyam tat nirodhah - Yoga Sutras 1:12
"These thought patterns (vrittis) are quieted (stilled, nirodhah, mastered, regulated, coordinated, controlled) through practice (abhyasa) and non-attachment (vairagya)."
Vairagya is a Sanskrit term that roughly translates as dispassion, detachment, or renunciation. Let us focus on the detachment side to it, for sound detachment goes against neurosis-building clinging in many ways. Subtle detachment stems from a state of mind rather than external lifestyles and can be practiced in one's family, work, and one's life as an anchorite or renunciate, for example. Vairagya is recommended by a lot of yogis, including Sage Patanjali along with little sidetracked meditation (Yoga Sutras 1:12-16).
The Yoga Sutras advocate balanced, steady deep meditation, dhyana, and sound detachment in step with it, even in its wake, as the case may be. Good reflection helps too.
Before we forge ahead, are there methodically detached persons to be found? Some that walk about stark naked may be. In the Avadhut Gita 4.21 there is a core idea about renunciation which applies to detachment or non-attachment too: "Renounce, renounce the world, and also renounce renunciation, and even give up the absence of renunciation." Quite similarly, "All who are detached from both attachment and non-attachment alike, are solidly non-attached." How are they? They are themselves. Dalai Lama once said that he was the same wherever he happened to be. That helped him also. There is, ideally, no great need to go about naked for it. Just to behave wisely and be well groomed may be the help needed and may do a lot of times. Sound politeness hardly harms either. (See also Wikipedia, "Avadhuta")
The basic thing to note seems to be that sane and good meditation and study help development, which brings a measure of maturation and further benefits in time [◦David Lynch Foundation]. A precondition is, quite naturally, being yourself, not feigning a lot in life. Then some development or maturation might come "by itself". Further, development sets in through stages with sensitive periods between the stages, says Erik Homburger Erikson.
The next few capsules are related to Yogananda's article "Fixing Habits in the Brain at Will", first published in his East West magazine of November-December, 1925.
A fair amount of guys naturally like sex, but Yogananda's patched course of blunderbuss lessons based on talks of his, teaches differently, including "no sex for the unmarried". [Yogananda quotations on sex]
SRF teaches Yogananda, selectively though, and as it suits SRF. There is more on that here: [Deviating course].
The following sayings are Yogananda lectures in East West, January-February, 1926, Vol. 1–2, "Bits of Wisdom".
When serving others [one] had better think, "I will help my own first. I cannot otherwise be all right and happy." [Yogananda]
Loyalty to a spiritual custom without frankness spells hypocrisy in the end. [Yogananda]
If you are in fault, free yourself from error quickly. [Yogananda]
When a disease is persistent and long-continued, and medical aid and other ordinary methods fail to cure it, doctors call the disease incurable. Medicine otherwise has its uses ... why deny facts? [Yogananda]
Can you nourish yourself by only listening to a talk on food? Apply your knowledge. [Yogananda]
Loyalty to the spirit of a custom even without clinging to the form, is [a good form of] wisdom. [Yogananda]
Who is a Yogi?
One may find no good remedy in a little frog pond.
How did Yogananda become a yogi? He sought out gurus and tried to get boons from them - he was clinging. That is in part what stands out in his autobiography [Ay]. Later he said how he wanted disciples to wail for Mom God. Good yoga and meditation is not exactly like that for most part.
In the first he demands of the kriya yogi Yukteswar, "Promise to reveal God to me!" and an hour-long verbal tussle ensued, for Yogananda was determined to press his advantage, he writes. "You are of exacting disposition," said Yukteswar and gave in after an hour. [Ha 102-03]
In the second example Yogananda furnishes, he fell moaning to the floor in front of another meditating man, called Master Mahasaya. The latter got sympathetically distressed by it, but Yogananda clutched his feet and begged: "Ask Divine Mother if I find any favor in Her sight!"
"Shamelessly gripping his feet, deaf to his gentle remonstrances, I besought him again and again" till the other capitulated. [Ha 75]
And then he tells of one scene where there came a knock on the door of his home in India. A young man who looked like Yukteswar's guru came in, and Yogananda got choked with awe, prostrate before him. The young-looking man said a few impressive things to Yogananda, and then started toward the door, adding, "Do not try to follow me." What the guru Yogananda did? "Please, don't go away," he cried repeatedly, overcome by emotion. "Take me with you!" He was once again disregarding what he was told, and tried to pursue the other guy. [Ha 343-44]
In the end, Self-Realization was softly slapped into Yogananda by Yukteswar, who struck him on his chest. What happened then? "My body became immovably rooted ... Soul and mind instantly ... streamed out ... Through the back of my head I saw men ... The floor, the trees and sunshine, occasionally became violently agitated."
The guru of Yukteswar was "knocked into it" too, the Autobiography says, but knocked on the forehead. Yet followers of Yogananda are supposed to work their way towards it. Now you see that a taller consciousness was "knocked into" Yogananda and he was sent to Americans. So who became a world-renowned yogi? A clinger. [Ha 307-08].
Naughty versus Happy
Regrettably, Yogananda also talked profusely for the same approach in relating to God: to cry like a naughty baby for the Divine Mother till she comes. Such conduct is yogic misconduct, according to Patanjali, who presents attachment as one of the hindrances [Yoga Sutras 2:3; 2:9-10; 3:51]. If we meditate, we should grow out of them by stages. Add: "Hopefully."
And what characterises the unhappy? "They are more strongly taken up with other things which have more power to make them miserable," St Augustine says. (Pusey 1907, 225)
Happy children are different; they do not cry and cling a lot and make a seeming virtue of it either. Yogananda was also told a similar thing one day on an Indian beach, he tells in Whispers from Eternity, No. 189. "The greatest of all sins against Spirit is not to be happy . . . By being happy, thou dost please Me." (1959).
He adds to mortal sins of the Catholic Church! - And then he ignored the saying afterwards. But we do not have to. We can be happy and not half-ritually agonising and agonised over and over each night, adhering to the marring doctrine.
Happy baby praise
Was Yogananda a happy clinger in defining moments of his life? "Clinger in cosmic happiness" is a contradiction of terms, really. Besides, clinging is far from advocated by Buddha.
Was Yogananda a great sinner in these defining moments and in teachings followers to cry like "clinging fools" for God Mom, against instructions he himself got? You decide, and take into account that craving can soon causes attachments and their rear-end sufferings, and see also how Yogananda begged of the resurrected Yukteswar in 1936: "Rebuke me a million times - do scold me now!" To what degree was guilt behind such an outburst, we may wonder - guilt for misleading Christians into annoying Mother-begging "day and night", for example? The sane ones who behave well, should not feel such urges.
"It is the naughty baby who cries the loudest that gets his mother's attention first. So be like the naughty baby and cry for God. Be satisfied with nothing less," says he. The sane ones should not feel such urges either. I think that teaching others to cry and cling is victimising shit. Unfulfilled crying "day and night" could turn some persons into neurotics, one may suspect. [Ha 416; Dr 362]
Clinging experts and begging under-dogs may suit a totalitarian and authoritarian structure - and the other way round - but not feel at ease in a democratic structure and one of self-help. Yogananda soon praised dictatorship, forming a church that has many characteristics of a cult. He and SRF bind kriya yoga members hand and foot by an oath of loyalty. There must be better things to do than that.
There are many sides to what is good, and Confucius points to many of them. "The man of knowledge is happy. He avoids overstepping the limit." "Who confers benefit far and wide is a man of divine virtue." [Soc 59-60, passim.]
Orderly TM (Transcendental Meditation) is far better than Yogananda's "crying and clinging", and actually helps mental sanity, according to solid research. For example:
In a Vietnam veterans center, 18 men suffering from severe and apparently intractable post-traumatic stress syndrome were randomly assigned to either the Transcendental Meditation technique or psychotherapy (multiple modalities). After 3 months of treatment, the counseling had no significant impact, but Transcendental Meditation reduced emotional numbness, alcohol abuse, insomnia, depression, anxiety, and severity of delayed stress syndrome. Veterans practicing Transcendental Meditation also showed significant improvement, compared to controls, in employment status. (Journal of Counseling and Development 64: 212-214, 1985.)
A book about good effects of meditating the TM way is written by Norman Rosenthal [Tr]. Research studies have found Transcendental Meditation to be a real help in the treatment and prevention of substance abuse too - cigarette smoking, alcohol abuse, and use of illicit drugs. Some have justified hopes, then: [◦Link]
Galef, David, comp., tr. Even Monkeys Fall from Trees and other Japanese Proverbs. Rutland, VT: Tuttle, 1987.
Pusey, Edward B., tr. The Confessions of Saint Augustine. London: J. M. Dent, 1907.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. 8th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1959.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online. [Online verson]
Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1981.
My: Sands, William F. Maharishi's Yoga: The Royal Path to Enlightenment. Fairfield IA: Maharishi University of Management Press, 2013.
Soc: Giles, Lionel, ed. The Sayings of Confucius: A Translation of the Confucian Analects. Twickenham: Tiger Books, 1998.
Tr: Rosenthal, Norman E. Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. London: Hay House, 2011.
Harvesting the hay
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