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Strangely Best, Eh?

Learn to consider, and then learn to consider well.

In Miami in 1928 the police stopped Yogananda from giving addresses there. [◦Documentation] Yogananda told he wanted Americans to improve, but he also said: "All realities seem unreal . . . the material universe is not real. — The body is unreal. - Yogananda 1982:182, 421]". [A metaphoric figure shows a lot]

Six years after the Miami police stopped him from lecturing in town, he delighted in Mussolini and wrote for dictatorship, socialism, and that "Hitler is to be admired". The guru also told of "the uplifting guidance of Hitler". He wrote it at a time when the Jewish community in Germany was severely persecuted. The guru could have reconsidered fast, but did he? [More, with evidence]

The guru also held: "Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults." Self-Realization Fellowship, headquartered in Los Angeles, has stated (in 1979) that they find Yogananda's wisdom to be without flaw. Oh well, they are far from being a Vatican Concil yet . . . Some should learn to reconsider before it gets too late.

Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), the founding guru of Self-Realization Fellowship, also wrote:

Paramahansa Yogananda teaching "There is only one guru uniquely the devotee's own. But if you turn away from the emissary of God, He silently asks: 'What is wrong with you, that you foolishly leave the one I have sent to help you learn the divine science of the soul? Now you shall have to wait long, and prove yourself, before I shall respond again.' 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."

- Paramahansa Yogananda, Spring 1974 SRF magazine, p 6. From a talk at Mother Centre, 8/17/39

This was said five years after Yogananda hailed dictatorship and Mussolini and wrote well of Hitler in his own magazine. You might as well ask in return: "Do you know what to back up this time, old authoritarian?"

Merely to psychoanalyse all who say they are crazy may not be good enough help

A dogmatic tone as evidenced by a marring Yogananda and self-appointed crazy followers of his, is a mark of a cult. Mind a fair question: "Was Yogananda really crazy, and followers too in is day and for decades afteward, even to this day?" Psychoanalysis or psychotherapy of Yogananda might have helped him get better if that was done when he was young, and other therapies too, methinks. But psychoanalysis was established as a discipline in Austria in the early 1890s, so he did not get much of the sort if he ever got it. A tenet in psychoanalysis is that conflicts between conscious and unconscious material can result in mental disturbances such as neurosis, neurotic traits, anxiety and depression. (WP, "Psychoanalysis")

A guru that is afraid of ghosts, is he anxious or neurotic or none of it. Yogananda's biographer shows he found it fit to let a student sleep in the same room as him, for he himself was afraid of ghosts.

The guru-swami he got, Yukteswar, was a disciplinarian, sarcastic and tactless. That is how Yogananda describes him, adding to a disciple that Yukteswar was not a real guru to him, but a proxy guru. A comment: "A proxy guru has merely a proxy disciple for it" makes sense in many ways. [Yogananda, a proxy disciple]

Yogananda said later he was crazy, and and a divine descension into human form (avatar), SRF says he is right, what little that may be worth.

Yogananda 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]

"All of us, as Paramahansaji used to say, are a little bit crazy, and we do not know it. [Daya Mata, SRF president for decades, 1976, "Qualities of a Devotee".]

"How sure is it that these two front figures of the Self-Realization Church knew they were crazy without knowing it?" Some seem to tell things they have no knowledge of. . . . Are they the right ones to tell?

Neophyte, beware of cruelty

Things are not always as they seem to be. Much of the above indicates what may be thrown your way in the ranks of SRF and upwards there. Former monastics have dared to tell a lot. And as SRF's Anandamoy said during SRF's 1971 convocation at the Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles: It is not good enough just to climb a ladder; it also has to be set up against the right wall and building - something like that. The organisation that the founder one day regretted he had started, and where dominant leader in his wake say after him that they are a bit crazy, might not do you good. Or not nearly enough good, perhaps severe harm also. Many former SRF monastics contributed online to a discussion forum to show murky things going on in SRF before one third of all the SRF monastics left the premises. Lola Williamson sums up central happenings in her book Transcendent in America (2010).

Based on self-reports from several layers in SRF, founder, another leader, ex monastics and lay members, some might prefer to say "at least neurotic, depending on the severity of the symptoms".

On occasion, mental disorders and cruel behaviour might be pressed onto lay members of a group through Leader guidelines of little worth or far worse, but which are held on to dogmatically as without flaw - while hiding the worst of Yogananda in the closet for the sake of the goal that may well be "the show must go on". [More on neuroticism]

There is am enlightening study on how good people turn bad, The Lucifer Effect. In it, Dr Philip Zimbardo "details how easy it is for ordinary people to begin to engage in evil deeds." (Zimbardo 2008:viii; cf. 413 ff) This is not to say in any way that SRF monastics treat lower-ranked monastics as badly as the US Army did in Abu Graibh and other prisons. However, there may be a warning in the glide and its organisation of topdogs and underlings. At times, institutionalised faults come by small steps, or by degrees.

'Sect' and 'cult' are used interchangeably on these pages.

A Cultish Country

Spin-offs appeared after the guru's demise. Two of them are Ananda Sangha and Sunburst (Solar Logos), founded by Swami Kriyananda (James Donald Walters) and Norman Paulsen, respectively.

  • One scenario may start with the founding of YSS (Yogoda Satsanga Society) in India in 1917. Its founder was a Hindu swami, Yukteswar. He was a guru of Yogananda.

  • Its American associate, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), was founded in 1920 by Yogananda when he lived in Boston. In 1925 a Los Angeles hotel was bought to serve as a headquarters. In 1935 the founder made the fellowship a registered church. The guru's monastic order from the early 1930s went into it. Monks and nuns of the SRF Order who take their final renunciant vows, thereby become members of the old Hindu Swami Order that their guru belonged to. Thus, SRF is headed by Hindu nuns and monks. The guru founder died in 1952. YSS and SRF form a dual organisation. There are members and groups in over 50 countries. They publish frilly books and so on.

  • Small spin off groups were formed when former helpers of Yogananda broke with him and started on their own in various ways, and early, direct disciples of Yogananda were allowed by the guru to start groups as well. Many spin-offs appeared after the guru's demise. Sunburst (formerly Solar Logos), founded by the late Norman Paulsen, is one derivate.

  • James Donald Walters (1926-2013), was a direct Yogananda disciple and also known as swami Kriyananda, and for a few years as Nayaswami Kriyananda. In 1962, two years after he had been elected vice-president in SRF, the SRF Board of Directors had asked him to resign. In 1968, he started his own community, Ananda Church of Self-Realization - Ananda Sangha.

    What is more, "Membership in Ananda involves the progressive commitment of one's autonomy and financial resources to the church." A vow is used to that end [1].

    Ananda and Crystal Clarity publish many books, vidoes, casettes, etc. too, in part in competition with SRF. There was a long-standing legal feud among the two over rights to publish Yogananda material, and even the right to the term "Self-Realization". The case began in 1990 after Ananda added the term "Self-realization" to its name. Self-Realization Fellowship responded by filing a massive lawsuit for trademark, publicity rights, and copyright infringement. After twelve long and costly years of law-suit, a San Franscisco court in December 2002 put an end to the feud, and decided for most part in Ananda's favour [2].

    Some of Kriyananda's works are online at Ananda, and there are books that can be bought.

  • Other teachers and organizations in the Babaji line spread kriya and books on kriya too.

Kriya teachings without any SRF gurus: The Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School teaches a kind of tested kriya yoga and publishes books. The School is the name of a group of teachers who run several independent schools in Scandinavia and Germany. The School is free of any commercial, political or religious interest. The Danish yogi Swami Janakananda founded the School in Copenhagen in 1970 as a non-profit organization. A significant element in the school is a thorough-going yoga teacher education.

The Scandinavian Yoga and Meditation School stems from Satyananda. His line teaches kriya yoga without guru-given bonds, and the core of kriya yoga is a form of pleasant breathing, ujjayi. It is free.

The Swamis, Cults and Pleasures

Sometimes membership can be bought too dearly.

A sect is a group adhering to a distinctive doctrine or to a leader. A cult is a group adhering to religious beliefs and ritual; maybe of a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious. Members are often required to show great devotion to some person, idea, object, movement, or work. A cult is usually a minor group of people characterized by such devotion. 'Cult' and 'sect' are often so similar that one has trouble in discerning between the two. [Merriam-Webster Dictionary]

There are sects in many religions, and in some cases they may complement one another. For example, in the Zen school, which has had lasting influence on the cultural life of Japan, there are different methods recommended in the various sects, such as Soto, Rinsai, and Obaku. And in modern Japan, Zen sects and subsects claim some 9,600,000 adherents. [EB "Zen"]

In Hinduism too there are many sects. Hinduism itself consists mostly of sects, in fact. Vallabha's Vishnu-worshipping sect with its emphasis on erotic imagery, stresses absolute obedience to the guru. Many of the sect's senior monks got very rich . . . In the intensely emotional Caitanya sect, where Krishna is worshipped, legends of Krishna and his youthful beloved, Radha, are in the middle of cultish, devotional self-surrender.

Without followers there would be no cult or sect. Sect leaders and their followers form the sect web together, so not only leaders are involved in it and are to blame, believe it or not. "It takes two to tango": There are complementary roles to battle with, and that is a rich field of study.

Young students may suffer from insecurity - and besides, gullibility is wide-spread. Many secretly insecure and not so secretly insecure youngsters that are first duped or taken in somehow, later develop neuroses as paying members. Deep neuroses may support the deviant structures of some closed group. They may even feel guilty and truant for leaving an abusive sect and master behind. Time and again media have disclosed that a fair amount of cultish leaders go for money (wealth), power (influence), and sex (animal fulfilments), - it is in part due to narcissism. It has shown up in time in a lot of scandals. By such signs many charismatic fellows have been detected, maybe after many years.

This does not suggest that wealth and pleasures are not good. One should assimilate the basics of Buddhist living, where wealth is fit and used for noble purposes. Compare the four basic goals of life in Hinduism - of getting wealth and pleasures with due righteousness, and try not to get entangled and increase one's degrees of freedoms too - so as not to create failures and neurotics. In Sanskrit the four life aims are termed artha (wealth), kama (pleasures), dharma (righteousness); and moksha (freedom).

Tense cults tend to look like sects as they "evolve" or deteriorate. Philip Zimbardo tells of some lessons to learn from cults. He informs that according to recent research by Dr. B. Carducci in Indiana and his own research team in California, more than 50 percent of college-aged adults report being chronically shy (lacking social skills, having low self-esteem, being awkward in many social encounters). That is a problem.

Shy guys under sly guys get problems

A sect may be a place where many guys find outlet for their secret and not so secret drives from inside, in part by making a golden calf - a symbol of Mammon, or greed if you like. A "gilded guru" - a glorified one that had many faults and did not fix all of them, if any -, may point toward the secret and not so secret urges of his or her followers - in this case Self-Realization Fellowship. In short, there is a chance they hail themselves by a stand-in they find opportune or fit. A coin has its backside too.

A convent would mean a place to catch the sly wailers or underlings with their dimly perceived or estimated problems. It could be a tale of confining inwardly nasty guys by baits and oaths that may fit. The more they wail or pray for visions and better, the more dire the guys could be, according to "We pray to the divine in a pucker." The more darkness inside, the more striving for light - at least for a while.

If insecure youths get into the fangs or claws or within the walls that trap sly ones who whine for God or visions, they could get hurt by what is practiced there, and awfully so too. There is a chance.

Shy people could benefit from lax training to get the nerve to stand up for themselves, and do it well. Perhaps no one else do it for them. Fit self-assertiveness is a good aim. It can be helped on and up. There are books about it. (Butler 2007; Branch and Willson 2009)

Those who entered the convent trap and want to get out, should make efforts to take over the management of their own dear lives (cf. Rothstein and Burke 2010). Along with psychotherapy some could benefit for assertiveness training, self-esteem, and insights. It may not be a pleasant undertaking. Better do it in a group and under a well qualified therapists.

Getting out of jail or a convent means trying to get your priorities right - or as right as can be. To put it in a perspective: It is valid for monastics too who are told they serve God by not primarily adhering to what benefits attuning to and being led Self-wards by one's inner Self. It is a matter of priorities:

The ideal of serving others (outward work) should not overrun the first priorities, which are

  • Time well spent in sound meditation (solid inner work) and
  • Good and helpful company. A true teacher's help includes answering fit questions as well.
  • Own study (fit for edification). Adi Shankara established Sringeri Sharada Peetham in 820 CE. This Advaita centre is regarded as a seat of learning, and supports education in its sourroundings considerably, and the Jagadgurus heading the centre are in an unbroken succession so far, and each one a scholar of repute and a philosopher of spiritual attainment. The math (mutt) provides scholarly and traditional input (WP, "Sringeri Sharada Peetham"; "Sringeri".) [◦More]
  • Service also. There are many forms and influences, and some rise above the physical level, or direct social interactions. "By helping yourself you help the world," is an idea, for you are part of the world, and the centre of your world too. Some often overlook that. The SRF leader that shied away from the SRF headquarters for three decades, said her spiritual duty might be better fulfilled that way. When the monastics found out she had found it fit to stay away from their headquarters for thirty years without it being known among them at large, one third of all SRF monastics "took a hint" and left the environment too, and were largely sad, consternated, nuts, and so on.

Some of the points are interchangeable. For example, helpful encounters may lead us to take up Transcendental Meditation. It is well researched also.

At the bottom of fit, ancient priorites is the view: If you first reach high enough and are healthy enough, you may better help or serve others. Put another way: By growing and blooming, a flower gladdens the world around it. If the flower had sacrificed its full growth or been mowed down by Yogananda demands for "serve me, my cause!", it might miss its own terms and delight and the phases of bringing flowers and producing its own seeds. That could be a lesson of Self-realisation.

By helping yourself to grow, you help the world too. Fully grown trees may be thanked heartily for growing and being what they are. They are for the good of many others. The stand is akin to "Charity beings at home, but it has not have to end there." Such are the well established patterns in the world outside the obedience-ridden environments in a monastic setting. The Catholic Church teaches likewise about charity spreading out in concentric circles, by the way. It is good to bear in mind the perceiving, feeling centre in your world must be yourself to the degree that you have a say, too, and go further from there.

Hindu Swami Ways of Living

The Swami Order of Shankara keeps alive a traditional framework for better swami accomplishments, and the teaching, literature, life and influence of the shankaracaryas, the leaders in Shankara's anciently reorganised swami order. William Cenkner writes about the Shankara tradition up to 1983. His treatise starts with the vedic and upanishadic roots, then treats Shankara itself, then shows the post Shankara development. The second part of the book deals much with the twentieth century vidyapithas, the learning sites and religous centres of the organisation. Cenkner's treatise does not cover all about the swami order in Indian history, or in our times, but it is a good start. (Cenkner 1983)

Among swamis, some roam about in the sadhu tradition, some gather in many kinds of communities, settled or more temporary ones, and some live in the large centres of learning, mathas. It is possible for swamis to change between these modes of living.

The SRF founding-swami wanted disciples to pool their resources much and long and hard into "work for God" - and by that he might have come to the erroneous idea it was to prioritise the organisation he once regretted he had started - ◦It is in a letter he wrote. There lies a skunk hidden right there. The skunk of losing the more rewarding perspective.

Hinduism says that going for lust (kama) and wealth (artha) are two of four main goals in life. The other two are righteousness (dharma, as defined there), and freedom (moksha).

Let yoga-meditation help good work, and the other way round

The ideal is to incorporate all four goals in a way of life, even though some forgo lust and wealth for better to devote their time to advances inwardly, to spiritual development in yoga-meditation and so on. That is a way to go! Minding the company and framework is not very discomforting, disharmonious or stultifying. Note in passing that one third of the Self-Realization Fellowship's monastics backed off and got out of there in a period between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons 2012:170). There are good ways of going for moksha (freedom), and so many other ways -

Now, Zimbardo holds that the large society may need to be made nicer and fit for thriving. To combat sects on the Internet, try to submit evidence and do not fail to be very articulate and polished - even polite - to save yourself some trouble. But be forewarned that not all opponents play fairly. So guard yourself too, preferably beforehand.

Appreciating oneself seems to be a main priority to anybody who says God is in himself or herself, or that realising one's inward Self is what is worth striving for. It is wise to discern between healthy self-love and unhealthy self-love. In that lies a clue. Narcissistic "self-love" is more of a parody - it is mock self-love, not proper love of Self, that is. [Narcissism]

A sect consists of perhaps self-loving, narcissistic followers who want to get things from the leaders. If the followers do not get all they strive for, they can be awfully disappointed and take to acting against being followers, against former leaders, and may not know what to do too.

Leaders that once were followers may not change either. By the way, similar things happen in the sciences when new basic ways of perceiving and thinking appear and challenge the status quo - things often stiffen with time. Not only limbs do that. (Zukav 1979:211).

TO TOP

Spin-off from a Big Walrus Study

In the following a technique of creating mental distancing or space to the SRF guru and his church is employed. Folly may surface more easily by such means, but there is no guarantee it will. Distancing is frequently used in cartoons, even fables. Distance-making techniques of various sorts can help humans deal with difficult topics and hence get it better, better, especially if forewarned. An example of distancing is when fable animals portray humans and speak like humans too.

Forewarnings are coming. The content is in part in the form of abstracts, and many pen names are changed further, mostly for the fun of it - and you may probably realise who Hip Guru and his mysterious QUAG in the mire of the world are. But here is an explanation: On these pages QUAG is for SRF, If "Loco Guru" is used, Loco is short for Locomotive - Lahiri Baba said about the child that became Yogananda that he would become am engine, a locomotive, and not a railway man like his father (Autobiography, 1946, Chap. 2). Let us have fun and include the mysterious "Sir Alf" for Yogananda far and wide too. There are reasons for it. [Sir Alf and QUAG highlighted]

NOTE "Sir Alf" and the church of "QUAG" are metaphoric means of creating some distance, for distancing is a means to let truths or points sink in with less anxiety.

LoNow kriya is more than loosely associated with the church of QUAG

All my life I thought the Loco Guru was my guru and I was involved in QUAG - the Loco Guru's Church of Alf-Realization - on many levels. Since leaving 5 years ago, removing everything associated with QUAG from my home, and not returning to the temples, I no longer feel anything for or from Sir Alf. So, can it be said that I left him or he left me? [D. E. Cadent (6/9/04 7:55 pm)].

QUAG gives kriya only to the rules that limited human conditions, and it will kill the spirit of QUAG.

QUAG are trying to build their own church, the only way church – Isn't it so? - Somehow there is a big kink here – Two different intiations makes perfect sense. It may be why Hip Guru gave [some of his followers] the OK to give Kriya - QUAG even goes so far as to say the Blessings can't be in the "Other" Kriya, because they are outside the org! [troyfel (6/8/04 10:04 pm)].

Hip Guru had more than one teacher. And visited many teachers - It was good enough for Hip Guru. [juiceyum (5/15/02 1:14 pm)].

I took kriya, with a "vow," - While it shouldn't bother me, it still kind of does. [Rhapsody (5/15/02 2:35 pm)]. (2)

Hip Guru have resonated through my life.

Hip Guru offers guidance and love to all - that makes the troubles at QUAG sadder somehow.

I felt there was something unnaturally rigid about QUAG that kept me at a distance. It has been interesting to have that confirmed [Ice Chimes (6/6/04 10:10 am)].

LoEarlier, Kriya was not made conditional on any kind of cult membership

I AM BLESSED to have Sir Alf's friendship.

As the result of a "big dream" I had this year, (after mentally severing my QUAG membership), I am deeply convinced that Sir Alf's friendship is given regardless - Can he be my Hip Guru if I believe so little of what he (apparently) taught? - he was not too concerned about that either - gave kriya to a sceptical scientist-type, saying " - Try kriya and find out for yourself."

Kriya was not made conditional on any kind of church membership until 1960.

I think - that QUAG started down it's slippery slope in changing - They probably had good intentions (the kind the road to hell is paved with) - Combine that with threats. [Damor (6/7/04)]. (4)

Hip Guru said that Hahihi stands in for all kriya yoga disciples and give's them initiation whether they know it our not [taokqumm (6/9/04 7:07 am)].

QUAG make you feel that loyalty to QUAG is the same thing as Hip Guru-loyality - and leads to some of the weirdness - QUAG are a cult and use Hip Guru as the draw. [Hsss (1/17/02 7:12 am)].

I believe the kriya initiation to be the entry into a teacher/disciple relationship with Hip Guru - an advanced disciple can also stand in as proxy for the Alf. [Lotto (6/7/04 11:41 pm)].

LoThe guru-given prospect of a lifetimes sentence if you quit, really exists.

THERE are all kinds of rumours (I guess they're rumours) [however, they come from the lips of Alf] about how if you give up doing kriya you won't have the chance again for this "higher" technique for another x amount of lifetimes.
      It has felt awkward to seek other teachings or paths to help myself, because of the feeling that I get that I am doing something wrong. [ladygodiva (5/14/02 1:21 pm)]. (5)

"Who wants to know if So-and-so is Really her Alf?" [prantee (1/1/04 1:51 am)].

Summary: On the Wrong Track

A BEWARE ICON
Beware.
  1. Kriya may be learnt outside SRF. What is not got then, is occult slavery or half-slavery or quarter-slavery or tip-toe-adjustments as underlings. These could well be points worth considering in the light of SRF's cloven-tongued kriya oath, in part in the name of Jesus who reportedly said, "Do not swear" -, and the experiences of many people.
  2. Earlier, kriya was not made conditional on any kind of cult membership. Besides, core kriya is ujjayi, a free, easy pranayama method that has been publicly known for centuries. So there is no secret to the kriya basic method.
  3. The sorrry prospect of a sentence if you leave Yogananda, really exists (see top of the page). It goes against good yoga, though, and may be part of a plot.

I'M SORRY TO SAY: To be more than loosely associated with Yogananda's kriya yoga may be the threat in disguise.

Added thought

Often it is might and riches that bring about things, and often it is women.

Unfounded and airy speculation does not yield accuracy.

Contents


Offhand SRF Walrus Study, Self-Realization Fellowship, Literature  

Branch, Rhena, and Rob Willson. Boosting Self-Esteem for Dummies. Chichester: John Wiley, 2009.

Butler, Gillian. Overcoming Social Anxiety and Shyness Self-Help Course: A 3-part Programme Based on Cognitive Behavioural Techniques. Part Two: Overcoming Social Anxiety. London: Robinson, 2007.

Cenkner, William. A Tradition of Teachers: Sankara and the Jagadgurus Today. Delhi: Banarsidass, 1983.

EB. Encyclopaedia Britannica, i.e. Britannica Online.

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

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.

Rothstein, Mitchell G., and Ronald J. Burke, eds. Self-Management and Leadership Development. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2010.

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

WP. Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946. Online.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1998.

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

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

Zimbardo, Philip. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Paperback ed. New York: Random House, 2008.

Zukav, Gary. The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An Overview of the New Physics. London: Rider, 1979.

Notes
  1. Helen Goa. "Sex and the Singular Swami". The San Franscisco Weekly. 10 Marcdh 1999.
    www.rickross.com/reference/ananda/ananda1.html
  2. Ananda Sangha. "The Fight For Religious Freedom: Ananda Wins 95% of the 12-Year Lawsuit Instigated by Self-Realization Fellowship" Nevada City, CA: Ananda Church of Self-Realization, 2011.
    www.ananda.org/news/self-realization-fellowship.html


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