The wake-up call
Jesus guarantees for slavery in Matthew 5:17-19, when he decrees he stands for the Law of Moses down to the tiniest detail. That law institutes and regulates slavery. (Exodus 21:1-4; Leviticus 25:44-46; Deuteronomy 21:10-14 etc.). Yogananda and his fellowship toady mightily to Jesus, and thereby support slavery too - "If you say A, B follows as night follows day." For Self-Realization wants to show "these principles of truth" are the basis of science too, slavery not excluded -
To show is by deeds, words and other means. In the case of Yogananda, he is known to have recoursed to Black Arts, such as necromancy (Williamson 2010:71; also see Dasgupta 2006). Moreover, he claimed during World War II that he had influenced Hitler's mind to expand the war eastwards, writes his follower Kriyananda (2011:131; cf 2004, no. 289). One result was many concentration camps and brutish slavery in several countries. "If you say "influenced Hitler to bad warfare", then 'co-made slaves and caused millions of dead bodies' follow as night follows day," when the results matter.
There is slavery in gross and subtler forms. The forms of slavery are results of humiliating others, taking away from their human rights, making unfree or subjugated, enthralled, in fetters. Some fetters may be invisible. Indoctrination forms fetters of mind.
Slavery can also be "a condition of having to work very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation" - perhaps in the role of a supervising monk or nun that passes on a subjugating form of authoritarianism to underlings, telling them to work harder. Slavery also has the meaning "excessive dependence on or devotion to something."
We will focus on hard, nonrewarding labour and excessive devotion or dependence throughout, and not go into the looser ways of using 'slavery' - or drudgery, or hard, enervating work - and what illnesses and death it brings in the long haul. "Hard work has never hurt anyone," said Yogananda. That is untrue, and there are statistics to show it too. The attitude reflected in the Yogananda quotation from Man's Eternal Quest (p 204) served his ends too: His monks and nuns were to work very hard and much for "God's work" - that is, the organisation he set up and one day regretted he had started. It is in a hand-written letter back to India (!). He came to regret his "God's work"?
Others have regretted that they got much involved in Yogananda's SRF church too. For example, one third of the Self-Realization Fellowship monastics left the premises between 2000 and 2005, writes the attorney Jon Parsons (2012:171). Many of the monastics who left SRF, wrote for years afterwards about their disappointments, troubles and much else. One of them set up a discussion board for it, ◦the SRF Walrus. It was active into 2011. Some who posted there, have continued writing on other Internet forums after the Walrus close-down. And a few years ago the whole Walrus got online again - with new moderators, another address and a different layout.
Former-monk writing could be much like haying for long: it makes experienced ones able to sort out things that crop up, give warnings about what to heed and look out for and much else.
It happens that haying as well as kitchen work is done in much heat. Suppose we find out about bad things that kitchen heat can do after we have stayed in the sun or kitchen too long for what is good for us. Then our first priority had better be to get out of there to save ourselves, even with scalds and burns or other damages that make life on the outside harder than it might have been if we had heeded pertinent cues and stayed away from there in the first place.
It is also good to understand that after limited cult experiences, a monk or nun may get wiser about bad things of a quite limited repertoire, However, life demands more of many than knowledge of bad things. It is better to stay attuned to the favourable sides to life.
Frog-making: A few Walrus examples
Some anonymous, former Self-Realization Fellowship insiders have described their previous experiences as cultish. Below, cult criteria from a site by Rick Ross come first, and are followed by remarks that pertain to SRF. Those remarks are in brackets:
"Reporter" found these cult marks in SRF: "Tell people they are part of an elite group (like the religion for the new age).
About "getting out of the cult kitchen": After we have made some bad choices about directions and roads in life, and see how gullible ones turn into frogs along it, what may be needed first is to stop, and then wield our way back as well as can be. In some cases the stop is followed by a U-turn. Ex monastics that tell how bad their fare together have been until they left SRF, and then wake up nights, weeping, suggest an awakening in some ways, on some days, but seldom show the U-turn is completed.
Furthermore, it does not speak of any full recovery from cultish mind-sets either. It may take much toil on a road back from a cult setting, its gilded guru ideas fit for upholding tomfoolery a cult is served by, and its Yogananda indoctrination. Many have succumbed to that, as freaking gullibility takes its toll. Combatting nervousness and anxiety might help, if well done, and carefully supervised if needs be. And yet, the supervised approach may have its limitations.
What blue mussels and Jesus could teach us
If you don't want to be poisoned by blue mussels, try not to eat the poisonous ones at the times of the year when blue mussels are poisonous. The same goes for many sorts of ideas. Some may poison the minds of many under certain conditions, and not at all times and phases in a life.
If you don't want to support slavery, better not get enthralled in the first place, and with no happy ending. There are good reasons to claim that Yogananda supported slavery religiously., since the Black Arts yogi and the church he founded, Self-Realization Fellowship, aim to "reveal the complete harmony and basic oneness of original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ and original Yoga as taught by Bhagavan Krishna; and to show that these principles of truth are the common scientific foundation of all true religions."
Jesus is worshipped as one of the six SRF gurus, regardless of what is written in the gospels against such a possibility. Jesus and Krishna do not teach the same things on the soul, the fate of rich guys, and so on.
Better get away from promiscuous or odious teachings that abuse trust and oose faults - [◦The aims and ideals of SRF are somewhat confused]
Better hold your tongue than advocate Christian self-maiming
Yogananda also wrote in support of dictatorship when he was in his forties.
Did the leopard change his spots (mentality, issues) since? Yogananda purported that Jesus of self-maiming commands, non-planning for the morrow, and far worse (Matthew 5) is one of the six gurus (teachers) in the church that Yogananda set up in 1935 in California.
Many who are mad as march hares claim notoriously that God or Jesus is on their side. However, when Jesus was alive, he reserved his teachings and kingdom for Jews only, and had his disciples do likewise. The Bible scholar Geza Vermes sums it up:
During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5-8; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5-8). On the few occasions that Jesus ventured beyond the boundaries of his homeland, he never proclaimed his gospel to pagans, nor did his disciples do so during his lifetime. The mission of the 11 apostles to "all the nations" (Matthew 28:19) is a "post-Resurrection" idea. It appears to be of Pauline inspiration and is nowhere else found in the Gospels (apart from the spurious longer ending of Mark [Mark 16:15], which is missing from all the older manuscripts). Jesus' own perspective was exclusively Jewish; he was concerned only with Jews. (Vermes 2012)
To clarify these matters still further:
Jesus reserve his teachings and salvation for Jews (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8; Vermes 2012), but only depraved Jews: those of sound moral and spirit are not called by him, and the healthy do not need him (Mark 2:17; Matthew 9:12-13; 12.11). Jesus further puts his sheep on a path to perdition in that he teaches his sheep what is opposed to sound self-preservation. Thereby eyes, limbs, property, fit living-conditions and life itself soon enough are at risk (Matthew 5: 29-30; 39-42). Finally, marring losses come to those who call him 'Lord, Lord' without doing as he tells. (Luke 6:46)
In the light of several sayings for self-molestations and other bad commands for Jesusians in Matthew 5, it cannot be all bad to wake up towards getting healthy - and accept that the Real Deal for non-Jews - the Apostolic Decree (in Acts 15) - contains no saying by Jesus. None at all. It spells: "Free from self-maiming commands! Free!" But still there are four requirements for non-Jewish Christians: "Abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things." (Acts 15:29; 21:25).
We could do well to avoid lying, stealing and killing others too. Hearts and consciences tend to know, at least the first times. It helps not to get blunted, and adhere to norms that help us and hopefully others too in suitable win-well-arrangements.
Here are Buddha's five fundamentals of fine behaviour:
Abstain from strangling sex
To be guided well from within, that is a good solution. However, writers of New Testament letters and later generations of theologians have struggled for centuries with with moral norms ought to apply, and some still do: they are not moralless.
A bet: Even a Christian had better adhere to good moral, all in all. The Golden Rule comes in handy many a time, but not always. It says, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Members of the different sexes want different things done to them - so that is a caveat.
The Seven Laws of Noah says no to committing murder and to stealing too. Is that to be dispensed with no regrets among Christians? (WP, "Seven Laws of Noah")
Rabbinic Judaism asserts that Moses presented the Jewish religious laws to the Jewish people and that those laws do not apply to Gentiles (including Christians), with the exception of the Seven Laws of Noah, which (it teaches) apply to all people."
This means that much confusion is about - yet you hardly do evil if you adhere to sound and vital moral norms. You should be helped through that, even though moral yardsticks apart from sexual ones are not mentioned in the two passages that lays down the basis for Christians. Mind that misconduct in a New Testament sense is more than sexual misconduct. Leading astray a lot is talked against, and leading a herd of cows and sheep into perdition is not helpful.
Suffice to say for now that a two-legged Christian temple (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:19) has four requirements to take to heart, and also a guiding Spirit of Truth on board.
Forgeries are not delicate
You might think the early church was a garden without weeds, but there was much cheating (forgery) in the early church. That is what formidable bible scholars like Bart D. Ehrman inform us. Dr Ehrman has written several books about those swindles.
What to do? Run away, as Sir Alfred Hitchcock once said, "Run, little boy," cried Hitchcock, leaning out of the car.
One may add if there is time for it: "Run from what? To what and whom? Fast and long, or?" Maybe you like to barter your freedom away or do it unawares - to become a sort of spirit-slave and work hard for the rest of your lives.
Monastics may be denied sex and marriage, and work hard for minimum pay year after year. They are cheap workers indeed. They work and some discover in time that they lost valuable time for finding a mate and marry when the body was still young and agile, and also get into serious troubles with other monks and nuns before they have had enough and flee - maybe scarred for life; maybe not.
Fleeing monastics may think they are through with empty phrases and faulty teachings they were once bombarded with, but . . . they may have wrong notions deep inside for a long time.
Many enthralled guys have entered Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, to discover they got into a fix there, in some ways like bewitched guys who find themselves in a plight, but fail to make a mutiny that lasts or overthrows gurus or leaders "above".
Be that as it may, SRF-marred, former SRF monastics have blamed their superiors in the SRF monastic order for many problems, but not the guru that started a church that turned cultwards. There are many questions, such as "Are monastics or ex-monastics slaves of indoctrination against marriage or worse?" If so, how far does that term apply?
Let us take a closer look at "the baboon" - the id-ridden person. The use of 'baboon' to refer to human id is metaphoric. It is not implied that humans are animals. The animals do not brew and drink beer, to point out a difference.
Cults, sects and swindles
It is good to suspect a little, so as not to be taken in by veneer and facades and tomfoolery and such stuff. The terms 'cult' and 'sect' are used interchangeably throughout these articles. In the USA, there were about 2,500 cults in 1981, is the estimate of Louis J. West. The estimate of Professor Margaret Singer is about 5,000 cults in the United States (Singer 2003:xvii). Estimates vary between ca. 1000 and 5000, it seems fair to hold.
Most of these groups of people are quite religious, some small, some large . Moreover, cults are not necessarily bad, but some may be risky to get involved with for many reasons, tells Dr Philip Zimbardo in the article "What messages are behind today's cults?". . How can some cults be hard and risky? They can mar the mind and make adaptions to society troublesome in time, among other things.
It would be good if there were wide agreement about the ways a cult may be defined, and about differences between gentler cults and very harmful cults. "A destructive cult is an authoritarian regime, which uses deception when recruiting as well as mind-control techniques to make a person dependent and obedient," says Steve Hassan (1990).
Official agencies have neglected clarification work in this field for long. Cults are not merely nuisances, but exploitative and dangerous to some. As professor Alan W. Scheflin has pointed out there are no legitimate treatments that are scientifically validated that appear in peer review journals, although they may be effective clinically, and "There is no reason why people who are true victims of mind control . . . should not receive treatment when they need it or want it." It is time to investigate cults and their impact, Scheflin further says, and "These subjects are incredibly unappetizing and very difficult to grapple with." 
People enter for different reasons apart from getting fooled or tricked. Many could benefit from knowing beforehand if the groups that seem appealing, have clear marks of cults, and then stay away.
There are three avenues to look into or combine to be able to get an informed idea of whether a fellowship seems to be a cult or not:
Of these three main ways to determine whether a group looks like a cult, talks like a cult and behaves like a cult (the so-called duck test), the last may be best, and the next best (or telling) may be the second. The third, based on what vulnerable ex members say or witness, depends among other things on how well grounded and reflected their views and actions might be. But there are caveats of all three approaches.
Example: Is Self-Realization Fellowship a Mild Cult?
"Don't only ask if it is a cult, but rather how bad it is, in case." Professional questioning enquiries along such lines could open up to many old and more recent issues. Much may be at stake. But there may all the same be three ways to get an inkling or smell of a cult. One is to approach tentatively at first:
Things psychiatrists try to do
Here is what psychiatrists resort to: They seek to identify typical sides to the person and count the factors. If they should think their patients have got at least three symptoms of a certain mental disorder, "we have a case". They may have difficulties with treating narcissists, though.
Mind it is seldom fit for a lay person to go public with descriptions of others like "narcissist", for "the President may not like it," for example. And it could help to refine the understanding of the listed items a bit. Alloting weight to each item might help, and to make doubly sure by checking further. Obviously, you need to know what you are doing, what the words are supposed to mean, and then not be afraid of ticking off the relevant items or entries. It adds up. [More]
What then? Handle with care and do your best. Also consider: behind the fronted assertions and activity may be much insecurity. [Narcissism for SRF-ers]
Handle with care, and evualate symtoms well
Some items on a list of criteria of this and that can be carrying a "strong charge" and others a "medium charge" and still others with a "weak charge". So if we sum up items ticked off by 'yes' and 'no', or a more elaborate list where the entries are given a sensed "charge" (that is, impact, importance, weight), we can get a better understanding in the end when we add up and also compare the cult scores (sums) with tables made with some care - minding that there is no guarantee as yet that such tables are better than tentative.
Here is more on how the WHO and APA standards are for judging personality disorders fairly well: There is a list of criteria to tick off, and then get a sum. If you find more than a little handful of symptoms, you have a "score". For example, narcissists are marked by "an excessive sense of how important they are", and "demand and expect to be admired and praised by others and have limited capacity to appreciate others' perspectives . . . beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts" is the essence of what marks the label "narcissist".
May an organisation be called a bundle of narcissists together?
I think we should allow for individual differences in an organisation, and not treat all alike there. With this in mind, consider how a documentary called The Corporation (2003) examines and criticises corporate business practices, using the diagnostic criteria in the DSM-IV and find some of them to work like "psychopaths". Adapting to such corporations may not be the finest solution for the well-intended and fair young.
Now, in the documentary (and book along with it), the profile the contemporary profitable business corporation and that of a psychopath are compared. One may see callous disregard for the feelings of other people, incapacity to maintain human relationships, reckless disregard for the safety of others, deceitfulness (continual lying to deceive for profit), incapacity to experience guilt, and failure to conform to social norms and respect the law. These are quite good features of the antisocial personality disorder. One may point at identifying features, even though one's findings may not be gospel truth. Therefore it is good to maintain a well guarded reserve if that can be. (Wikipedia, "The Corporation (film)")
May we tentatively and tactfully suggest that the Self-Realization Fellowship Church that the Americanised guru Yogananda (1893–1952) founded and one day regretted he had started, might be narcissistic in gross outline? If so, there are hallmarks of narcissists to use and gauge SRF by. Go to the hallmarks, gauge for yourself, study testimonies from others, be sensible and "run away" before you enter, for getting out of there after entering may be hard, as the SRF Walrus shows a lot of. It is a Human Right to form one's own opinions and keep one's basic good things in life.
There are cults and cults
Some have problems with classifying Self-Realization Fellowship. [◦Belgian list of movements, including cults and sects] A fellowship and church that "leaps in that tarn of cults", is somewhat like a leaping trout in a tarn. "How big! What kind of fish was it? Where did it swim?"
A cult catches members by pretty-looking slogans and tricks far and wide; a bad cult harms members up to severely too. The most harmed or stultified ones may not know it - if the understanding has to come from well inside, where fears reside and block favourable insights by one or more measures termed suppression, repression, idylisation, reaction-formation and so on. [Subconsious defences].
It seems to be awfully hard to rectify oneself in the wake of the cult experience if that experience has been hard. It can be hard just to survive too. There are indications among former SRF monastics that it is so.
◦ "I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization."- Yogananda, rendered.
However, Yogananda did not close down the organisation after writing home to India about it. Is that a double blunder or something? It depends on so much - such as:
Headed for Løgstør (Danish Folktale)
Once an old boat lay at harbour in Lemvig. The boat was laden with rye and bound for Løgstør. Everyone could see that the boat would sink during the crossing, and it was meant to sink too. At first none would sign on, but at last they found four sailors: a cat, a sheep, a duck and a rooster.
When the boat came into the open sea, water started leaking into it. The cat shook his paws and meowed and whined, "I cannot stand this! Meow!"
Neither was the sheep glad. He bleated, "It's over with me-e-e too! With me-e-e too!"
But the duck chattered merrily in the barley and water and wanted to comfort her two companions. She said, "Such talk! Such talk! Such talk!"
The rooster had flown up in the mast and now he cockadoodled with all his might: "I can say 'Løgstør' now! I can say 'Løgstør' now!"
A little later the boat sank.
["Til Løgstør", a Danish folktale]
If Yogananda found that the ship of SRF was not solid and fit for the open sea and things looked grim for him, they did not seem too bad for the duck, anda. The duck could swim and float very nicely, or fly far away from the sinking ship. So even if a captain realises that his voyage or boat is not good for him, the ship and voyage could be all right for some of the sailors. Some of them could have been led to think the sink-the-ship voyage was for their good if they did not see what the skipper saw when he saw the waters ahead and considered (Cf. Whispers of Eternity, No. 212). [A similar tale: "Bukken styrde skuta".]
To find out things first-hand tends to require good, fair and fit documentation of sources and it helps greatly to know of the guru's circumstances at the time too. With such information at hand one may form tentative hypotheses. And some of them may well go along lines as in some of the points above.
Pondering on a bit
Is there any substance or anything at all in SRF, considering its founder-given doctrine: "The world is illusory" along with that great blunder, SRF? If he told the truth, it was in the world, which he said is illusory. With it, his words and himself would be illusory too, and in that case you waste time and efforts on following him and by steps submitting to the guru's authority or that of SRF. There is a wrong spin in the guru's teaching. It might be better to see just what Vedanta teaches about the world or our perceptions of it. [Vedanta]
There are many fallacies, plots and differences of opinions too. Watchful, rational, and evenhanded inquiry is good along with sound skills in dealing with key information. And the decency to go for good teachings is also good.
One day the founder of SRF regretted having founded it, and described it as one of his biggest mistakes. But did he rectify that mistake, which he compared to eating faeces? Or did he change his mind about SRF without telling anyone? Consider that the foolishness of Yogananda could have been to the benefit of many thousand Americans and members worldwide, according to "one man's folly, another's benefit" or something similar, if it was no win-win arrangement for Yogananda. All things considered, there is much we do not know here, such as why he regretted starting it, and how long his regrets lasted. Did they last the rest of his life, for example? Can we be sure of that? There is a Russian proverb that says, "Judge well yourself before you criticise."
Swami Satyeswarananda shows how Yogananda might compare his "absolutely foolish act" of starting an organization to eating feces, It must be good to know who is The Great Whistleblower. Now, if the guru found he had been so very foolish in starting his fellowship, why did he not close it down (if he was consistent or had become infallible after that event)? Keeping it - or closing it down - might both have been good for others.
Yogananda could rather easily have tucked in his fellowship to avoid getting more members, and let those he had got, be helped to keep to the very best methods he taught and not go for recruiting others. Newcomers should be dissuaded, on Yogananda's word. But he did not accomplish it. As a result, through the organisation he started, you get confusing quotations way too often. It is the price of his demagogy, bluntly.
On the Gold Scales site is initial help to sort out things if you feel drawn by "those bewitching eyes" and looming words of Yogananda who told the world is illusory, without telling he and his teachings are of that sort too if the wide world is - and you forget to ask for evidence, or your courage fails in the matter. Here
Many who initially thought the guru's flowering expressions were fair, and the dealings of the fellowship he started likewise, have tried to get over the experience. Others have voiced less drastic ideas about SRF than its founding guru (above). Some have spent time, interest and probably money addressing such alarming matters as "Yogananda advocated dictatorship", but to falter in discussions and fold in later on, it seems fair to assess.
SRF has been giving a lot of people difficulties, much unlike a foretaste of heaven. Some things crystallise over time:
What is professed is blatantly wrong in some cases. Going to the root of severe problems that later followers have got, one can arrive at poignant summaries or conclusions that are not directly appreciated in SRF, but satisfying to others. As I see it, many of those who have left SRF - including one third of its monastics lately - struggle to get to grips with many sides to the things that went wrong, or not to their liking.
The Walrus discussion board was online for about ten years, but is fallen by the wayside today (December 2010 to December 2011). The board has folded in and hidden a lot of its traces: there were about 30,000 postings once. I keep a whole lot of its strings on file. And an online [◦Walrus stub is left]. However, late in 2012 a ◦backup site of the folded-in SRF Walrus board came up. The new site contains posts from the SRF Walrus board till into 2006, and covers a span with intense activity and output on the board. You are free to consult it for the time being (2017).
The SRF Walrus Board was set up by a former monk or nun of the American SRF Order. You may soon come to ask, "Why not salient information and fair critique of the cult guru on discussion boards related to Yogananda and his fellowship, SRF?" And why did not the guru's "crew" welcome truths about the folly teachings of the guru and give them a fitting place?" "And why did the SRF Walrus fold in very recently, after its modifier optimistically wrote it would be up and around for a long time, with the aim of influencing SRF to change its ways and improve?" Questions, questions.
Someone of cultish minds almost naughtily censured cult-unfavourable material. It reflected badly on former, uneasy monastics involved there, not completely unlike some who find themselves between a rock and a hard place. One the board - and other Yogananda-devoted boards too - you could find glib glorifications of the guru Yogananda (1893-1952), who came to the United States in 1920 as a non-married Hindu monk and talked against having all right sex and for dictatorship.
Various shortsighted guru utterances went largely unexposed on that board, but with one particularly significant exception: the member who called himself or herself 'Divine Gypsy' on the board saw that the adult Yogananda advocated dictatorship, spoke well of Mussolini, but against individuality, so there was a string on those issues by alarmed guru followers. They were not frantic, though. Bottom line: Unwelcome facts about the sect's guru only rarely and meagrely come to the fore among his worshippers.
❋ Alarmed followers may not allow guru critique to surface, and if it does, may go on to delete such things.
Cult monastics and some of their problems
Leaving and then criticising as far up as they dare to
Yogananda followers who were cult monastics in SRF and left the SRF premises in great disappointment once - about one third did so around 2001-2002 - were strangely inconsistently, like a flock between the devil and the deep, blue sea. They seldom seemed mentally free to face unfavourable truths about Yogananda. However, after leaving the monastic part of his organisation, they were criticising the management and perhaps talking down on ardent beginners, using derogatory remarks and names and up to unhealthy drivel, I may add.
The guru is seen to meddle with gospel teachings too, and he went for slavery on the word of Jesus
Yogananda did not go for slavery openly, but he did insist on being in one hundred percent harmony with the "original teachings of Jesus Christ." Shewbread aside, Jesus guaranteed that the Law of slavery was to be valid throughout adn to the letter [Matthew Matthew 5:17-19]. The Canaanite should be kept slave forever, that Law commands [Lev 25:46], and so on. Face the facts: Jesus did not abolish slavery, and Paul did not either. He taught that slaves were to be "good slaves." "Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything. [Titus 2:9]."
Mark it well: It you want to set people free, you should not bind them as serfs or slaves and similar.
It is a problem that Yogananda talks against himself on significant issues, disregards traditional Christian sacraments while claiming to be in one hundred percent harmony with a fake original Christianity of Jesus by clowning. Further, he redefines the Holy Spirit, the Father, and Christ so it suits one of the Hindu concepts of a Trinity. He also adds reincarnation and soul immortality to Christianity by meddling with the Bible like a quack, in part distinctly against many passages by Jesus, and so on. The Jesus he claims, acts differently than the Jesus of the Bible on very significant issues too, such as having many masters. Yes, the guru's main teachings take us into the Great Hoax! Is that the universe? The guru says so - too. Most of his ardent followers cannot handle such information - yet.
For and against blunderbuss teachings
Yogananda, the founder guru of SRF, talks with two mouths on many issues. He talks for and against selfishness, for and against human evolution of the human mind, for and against individuality, and so on. And what do his apparent loyal church leaders do? They are resigned.
How far may a herd of human sheep be atoning for something?
Speaking of cults: Very duped ones may turn sheeplike, perhaps mentally cramped and members of some cult with odd programmes. After years of submission to sect gurus, followers rarely dare to search for facts and value themselves. Instead they act clique-like with foolish and nasty arrogance to foster whatever over-grown "majestic ideas" they follow, without seeking to remove their blinkers first.
Ardent fools get their defences up too
If ugly "holiness clowns" get very ardent, they are hardly better off, as they take to drivel and attempts to oust those who think differently. Group psychology describes such conduct in more details. Sectarians are really not to be trusted: if they perceive that some of their main mental anchers are threatened - by unwelcome information, for example - they resort to defences of various sorts. Such infirm unfairness is to be expected in general, but since people differ, we do wrong in treating all alike, of course.
The problems and repercussions of a so-called flawless dogmatism
In that sledgehammer scenario we may wake up to see dumb opinionation seeping through a lot of stands by victims of false teachings far and wide. Deeply degraded clique fillies are what Fuhrer talk rides on, and a tragedy may contain some humourous parts too. Victims of Yogananda devote their energies to claiming his guidelines are infallible and his wisdom flawless, instead of discarding him. Such conduct is clownish, among other things. To get beneath Yogananda is to be victimised in a cult way, even though Yogananda said, "It breaks my heart when I see blind dogmatism." (1982:48)
Go against confusing the gullible
One of the prime hallmarks of a cult is Big Boss hailing, exemplified in SRF claiming Yogananda to be divine and not just semi-divine, and so on; growing confusion among naïve members, who tend to be so gullible; and claims of guru infallibility against sound documentation to the contrary.
❋ To leave a guru who is found to be meddling with Christian core teachings is not as easy as one might imagine, among other things due to written Yogananda statements that there may well be colossal sufferings in store for many lives for those who drop him. [Broad discussion with Yogananda quotes in the matter]
A few examples
The foremost example of messing with minds:
There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. [Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, ch. 30.]
If so, there would be no Yogananda either, for one thing. A humorous example or three:
"The next generation will not give us a thought." - Yogananda (1982:344).
However, SRF is there to spread his teachings and counteracts his sayings by such and other means. How odd and biblical in its way. Why "biblical"? Have a look:
Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, [and] overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven." [Exod 17:9-14]
The Lord's ordinance secured that the memory of Amalek was preserved and not blotted out - the opposite of what the Lord wanted. His approach was plain stupid. Besides, much content about conquests and genocides of Joshua, are unsupported by bible archaeology, and in part contradicted. [More]
"We don't really know what is right or real . . . we are often incorrect in our judgements." - Yogananda. (1982:414).
Compare: "We do not find fault with Yogananda's guidelines. Since we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless." - Self-Realization Fellowship, in a notarised letter.
"No more blind believing." (Yogananda, 1982:456)
What is entertaining to outsiders is more like tragedy to victims of guru-hailing. To be a victim of false doctrine is bad, and to be a victim of a cult with confusing guidelines is bad too. By all means, Yogananda is a source of many problems that run deep in his society, the Self-Realization Fellowship Church. And if corrections need to be made, as in the sorry case of SRF, one is to direct one's fair and fit points to those in charge, and not omit remedying the true source of present errors. If such basic steps are ignored, reform is hardly had.
❋ Not to give Yogananda a thought any more may be right and really good on his own word above, but see whether his no-fault-finding followers live as he tells.
A walrus world may seem bitterly cold and merciless to others, but see if walruses aren't thriving there anyway.
This brings us to back to the former SRF Walrus discussion board. Many well-meaning monastics and SRF devotees had become disgruntled. Had they discovered that monasticism was no part of the deal of Jesus the Jew for Jews only, after the monastics in SRF for years had fondled the idea that they should show "the original Christianity of Jesus Christ"? It is in the public aims and ideals of SRF. Yet the historical fact is that "Monasticism was unknown in Christianity until the end of the third century." 
At any rate, one third of all the SRF monastics left the SRF premises between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons 2012:170), and some got nervous troubles and found it hard to quit crying at night. These disgruntled ones and some others started to pour out their concerns and hearts and hurts on a discussion board. It affords many glimpses into goings that ordinarily remain hidden from outsiders.
Further, someone who posted on the Walrus board said that at least parts of the Walrus Board looked like a swamp. That is an alternative to the Hornet's Nest of troubles - an organisation, according to Yogananda. He created one and one day regretted it so badly.
Some who start discussion boards may get disappointed or disillusioned as the conversations drift or wind along according to those who get involved and how they involve themselves. And some seem to lose interest in keeping the board tidy and as a result disillusionments may grow.
❋ To suddenly realize there has never been any original Christianity of Jesus, what could it do to a Hindu guru's follower?
Success would be fine . . .
To nurture success is to assist character.
Also, a boring life-style - if solid and well founded - may nurse many future leaders, as boredom encourages initiative and things like that.
Fair ones have to tackle decent critique to appear normal. Most Yogananda's followers would say he still rides - as he wrote in his poems he would.
❋ To nurture sound progress, one may try to welcome sound or imperfect criticism too, just as Yogananda favoured.
❋ We ought at the very least to adhere to what is quite good for our holistic health.
Greatness of not being a monk or nun
In the set up scheme of dominant life stages in Hinduism, the phase of being a renouncer goes before death, roughly said. That is not quite the bottom line of it, for young and healthy ones may find it more fit for them to live as renouncers than to go through other phases of life, and some turn gurus too. The real-life scenario of how a Christian monk should be is: Almost dead (to the world), at least when it comes to having sex far and wide. In the Church in medieval times it was definitely not always so.
Hindus traditionally divide life into four main stages. And to add to it: In the old Vedic times there were only three such stages, and eating meat was not prohibited. In later Vedic times these things changed, so "Vedic times" were not really static. But letting such issues rest for now, here is more:
In ancient times . . . the individual practiced self-discipline [and a wide-ranging education with martial arts too] up to the age of twenty-four; then, with character formed, he entered family life.
Some parts of the above look idyllised, leaving out that the life of a homeless ascetic is hard, and there was and is a risk of being eaten by wild animals while wandering across many jungles. Anyway, the outline is there, and it stands out that the last life stage originally was firmly aligned with leaving the world or better: gaining Godhood, Brahman. Go for the best option available; Hindu renunciation is in part for just that.
And just to make a few things clearer, if that can be: If your world is not working and you sense storms and ruin in the future, maybe some shelter will help. Still, much depends on what kind of monk you may be. And if you have an unduly optimistic flair, you may disregard the signs of coming storms in your life and live to regret that you did not enter a swami order and got more good books.
And if your optimistic, even affirmative attitude to life is warranted, it should work well to make the best out of every season of life, without renouncing anything of value voluntarily. In such a case there are overall life designs to be helped by [More]. Also, there may be a whole lot of solid skills to master in all likelihood, so long as success in the world may not come wholly undeserved.
If, on the other hand, you entered a stiff convent and find that your negative forebodings as to your life and world were too tough, you may live to regret your monastic life too. It can be awfully hard, nay, impossible, to build up a new network of buddies and associates if you drop out of a monastic order in the USA after, say, ten or fifteen years. For example, the pretty girls have married, and some twice and more, and you may still feel creative!
To be serious, there are some who disregard the social taming and strive to gain Enlightenment even from their early childhood, and others from their teens or so. In Hinduism, such outstanding individuals are allowed to forgo the other life stages to try to gain Enlightenment and solidify it too. In other cultures, others ask, "What is life is about?" and related probings.
Swamis are a group of quite dissimilar persons. Some swamis are outstanding!
❋ When you are truly blessed, is it fit to change for the better? If so, what must you steadily work on and cultivate so that future, ominous clouds will not gather above your head?
We do well to go firmly against moanastic self-condemnation
The sex monastic is a monastic that has not dropped having sex and auto-sex. The ex monastic is a former monastic. One may become an ex monastic by dying or quitting. Then we have the moanastic that moans. He can be a monastic and a sex monastic. Finally, the sex moanastic can be just about anyone who has come to age.
These things made soapy, some monastics tend to think down on sex moanastics and sex monastics. There is no biologically necessary reason for that.
Faking favours hypocricy. Also, the Christian who eats blood food, is about as good as the Congressman who commits adultery for that matter, according to the central chapter 15 of Acts. The Christian who has an ample supply of black pudding, Brat, Wurst, and similar blood food in his stores, and still talks down on adulterers, oi oi! [Acts 15, 21:25]
Foolish consistency is still foolish
If you look for great consistency and self-condemnation among common eaters of blood food, give it up. They seem to take the Transcendentalist philosopher Emerson's words against foolish consistency to heart instead: "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines". If you stick to foolish consistency, you persecute adulterers and smile benignly at all who eat black pudding, for example. So many unread Christians do that! They may appear to read the Bible, but have not got the wit to not take its four basics for the Gentile Christian (themselves) to heart. It is the Apostolic Decree that is talked of here.
Anyway, the life stage of being a common monastic seems so close to being dead. And the sexual abstinence tied in with being a monastic, is fairly clumsy. The question is what has been set up for all to follow or adjust to. No to having sex is no God-given thing, generally.
A human is a sexual being, begotten by sex, entering the world through sexual organs, and when the id (libido, zest) leaves him, there is a problem. And those who look down on women may have forgotten their mothers and fathers too, and so on.
Four life stages delineated
Hindu scriptures spell out four stages of life (ashrams), and duties of each stage.
It should work well to adhere to some pliant, basic scheme like that. Erik H. Erikson has devised a scheme of eight phases. It should be rewarding to look into. Now, in addition to the four stages, Hindu scriptures divide persons into four layers, or castes according to how bright they are. First comes the casteless - hundreds of millions. As you know, they can be very bright, but hindered and scoffed and mercilessly suppressed without any decent reason.
Granted that the strict caste system is like a shroud that makes those beneath it tight and stiff, at least of mind, we may gradually become more cultivated-conform citizens, althought Abraham Maslow spells out higher goals to aim for than that. Personal and individual development can take time for some - a whole life, for example; the important thing is to keep on going and not lose sight of that there may be more suitable and even higher values, and keep some mental space available for new good things. And inner and outer development has to be combined for each to work well. One needs to be firm. A quickly ascending soul may be hated for it. That's in the teachings.
❋ Foolish goings - do not be devoted to them. Gautama Buddha maintains that even association with fools had better be dropped.
Eric Dwight Ben-Meir (alias Sankara Saranam) was an SRF monastic who left and got married, and also got at least one child. Eric has this to say about other monastics who left SRF:
SOMEONE: You stated that those on the Walrus Board are biased. [. . .]
A formal education is not really necessary for communicating one's on-going experiences, deep feelings and further. But it helps too, at least it helps some. What matters is to choose to communicate fairly and well enough, tend to sincere dealings, and keep enough tact to make the exchanges run smoothly as newcomers ask, "Why this trouble? Why such a troublesome board? What are the causes?" Beautiful feet and hair is not a necessity either, but deft communication that may help some to grow, others to examine things first-hand, and so on.
It could help to know why the many monastics left like that [one third of them left SRF in 2001-2].
They left for all the reasons that were written up in that series of articles that appeared in the New Times LA.
You cannot tell it very much clearer than that, I guess.
❋ The mansions, the villas, the million-dollar attorneys, the newspaper rumours - for some monastics it might have been the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to escape SRF.
Jesus says he did not desire sacrifice, but that he came to call sinners [Matthew 9:12-13]. What is more, he holds his teachings and kingdom are for Jews only (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-9).
Such are the premises of the work of Jesus he says: To be drawn to him is to be Jewish, and sick. To be sick is not the best there is. So is being herded if you were created for something better. [Matthew 9:12-13]
If you want to be Jewish and ill, a sinner, understand that to aim higher is better. Kind non-sacrificing sins might complicate these issues, but let us not go there -
Allegedly some monastics stick to "original Christianity of Jesus", but there was no Christianity of Jesus, and no monasticism of Jesus either. Christianity started around 50 CE, and Christian monasticism a couple of centuries later, in Egypt. "Monastics of original Christianity of Jesus" - beware of one of two or three fabrications there. Better add this question too: "Do they adhere to self-sacrifice for some glorified cause on a loose foundation?" It could be for your own good, so you do not end up as a goof.
SRF Christianity looks like a brand of shewbreadianity , more likely than not. Further seek to probe: Are there many shades or grades of being Christian, or fanatic, or mislead, or all of it? The basic idea: To be Christian is to be a member of what once started as a tense sect of Judaism, one that got millions of killed members called martyrs.
Why did not any one among them use the many promised miracle powers or prayer magic that Jesus of the gospels had promised his true followers? There could be several reasons: (1) What was promised were a combination of fake and forged promises; (2) What was promised in the gospels were valid only for Jewish followers, since Jesus said his teachings were only for them; and (3) Roman soldiercraft overpowered all of it.
One lesson stands out from this: It is wise not to believe everything that is written down through forgeries and much else, just because it is old today.
There might be something better than being a Christian slave and self-sacrificing, herded monastic: being healthy and having a fine moral - says Jesus: "How much more valuable is a man than a sheep!" [Matthew 12:12]".
Jesus says that he did not desire sacrifice, believe it or not. It is in the Bible. But Christianity is founded on the idea that the shepherd that gives up his life to save his flock of sheep from wolves and others, is a good shepherd. It could be the other way round, you know. Chew on it: Jesus does not desire sacrifice, but the church soon told of his vicarious sacrifice - the idea that it was good to let someone innocent pay for your mistakes and bad conduct. Psychopaths may do such things too. Do go for higher moral than that.
You may need to mobilise much to get to it. Granting that, Buddha shows there is a better kind of guy than the ruthless, pain-inflicting or sacrificing one. [Buddha shows who to look up to].
Some forms of conformity and its shared, tense faith may be detrimental to higher health.
Now "the message received is not necessarily the message sent." So double-check to see you have got the meaning intended, as in "foolish consistency" by Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines". Is it "foolish consistency" or "foolish consistency" or both he is at? The bet is that the philosopher had the second meaning in mind. Just remain aware of possible double meanings here and there in other passages elsewhere too, so as not to be taken in.
Following a decent Eastern path is vastly more worthwhile than adhering to brutal, vicious, vicarious sacrifice, which burdens innocents. And learn to recognize who are your friends, in time. Buddha offers helping guidance here. [Link]
Many cultic groups seek to "contract" members by demagoguous skills and a play on such as isolation, nervousness, no way out, all too common insecurity, and largely unfulfilled natural yearnings too, and all too often turn out to be a nuisance, even a danger to members.
An initially painful truth can be less painful and serve you far better than returning to a pleasant lie as a willy-nilly. Small wonder that many ex-members of the SRF cult have been depressed and grieving over lost time, many years of their lives, and other resources.
❋ Guidance that harms innocents is not good enough.
Anxiety and depression rank as the top reasons that people are sick and go to the doctor. Anxiety disorders are the most common of the psychiatric illnesses in the United States . . . Eighteen percent of the U.S. population have been diagnosed with anxiety disorder. [Bongiorno 2015: Introduction]
In psychodynamic treatment of depression, "central dynamic factors contributing to depression are identified and explored as they apply to each patient." - areas of loss, difficulties, guilty reactions, the twin couple of idealising and devaluing self and others, and ways of protecting oneself against loss and rejection. (Busch, Rudden, and Shapiro 2007:39-40)
Treatment of grave depressions are for experts only. Mild depressions may be dealt with by oneself and others if opportune. Hence, when depressed, one may seek to acknowledge it by involving such as an "individual's feeling of self-worth and value" also. (Yang et al, 2010:20).
Here are some basics from the variegated field of Complementary and Alternative Medicine - more precisely: holistic medicine. The main ideal is not just to suppress and alleviate a symptom, as some pain-killers may do, but to deal with its underlying cause or conglomerate of causes, if that can be done. A wrong way of life may be a deep cause, for stress is a major cause of many very common diseases. That is well known. "lifestyle and environmental factors . . . are key players in mood," as Bongiorno puts it (Ibid, Chap. 3). "Anxiety and depression can be a symptom of . . . imbalances in our physiology," is another angle. (Ibid). One may remedy or address issues as they are found, adhering within the limits of safe dosages of remedying vitamins, oils and minerals, Ayurvedic handling, homeopathy (In one study of cancer patients, "73 percent (38 of 52) regarded homeopathic treatment as having been "helpful" or better, for example.) (Chap. 4).
Words of caution: "When studying homeopathy using conventional parameters, results are mixed, with some suggestion of efficacy. It is highly possible, however, that studying homeopathy from a more systems-based paradigm (food, sleep, work, stress reduction, nutrients, etc.), and more specific prescribing for the individual, may show better results in the future." (Chap. 4)
Chapter 5 of Bongiorno's book considers the value of such as meditation, yoga, acupuncture. A proper attitude throughout is "safety first". It makes sense.
1. A vocation helps against mild despair many a time. A vacation could help the mate too.
2. Be bold enough to have it your way. And, secondly, be bold enough to recognise that you have been discouraged, and perhaps you don't want to confront issues as you should in your old days or best moments. Confidence to believe what suits yourself and not cult leaders is basic, and time to see it through. Critically reexamine many ideas that you may have held for a long time.
3. A long series of small steps, even baby steps, may be needed, Set about doing something sensible about what bothers you. But as you do, try to look behind the surfaces too, to avoid the stumbles. Look sweet enough; that often helps, especially women.
4. Apply principles and skills of problem solving to identify and evaluate optional strategies toward one or more of your true goal in life. This phase may be assisted by common-sense oriented therapy. [Link]
The Adlerian approach of social learning (Yang et al, 2010) assumes that problems may be solved or modified by recognition of them or their areas, or both, and then regulated a bit or more. In step with this, solutions nearly always require a series of strategic small steps toward one or more long-range goals. And especially initial progress should regularly be monitored and solution strategies altered for the sake of more success.
With regard to vocation one can re-examine the possible directions to take and review the career options open. One may deliberate very carefully.
Get to know enough. One may take adult education courses, join clubs, join museums and attend museum social events, and other such activities.
Make extra effort to contact extended family members and old friends, even though most of them will be busy with their careers and families. Making friends (male and female) will most likely come from getting involved in social activities that are likely to be frequented by single people.
Don't try mind-emptying techniques of meditation if you are too introverted. Ample rest could do you well. If you don't expect all too much, you may simply enjoy nature, happenings, meetings, and things as is convenient till you find somebody with whom you "click."
A monastic life is suitable for those it suits, but hardly all its recruits. It comes to the fore after time. Also consider there are different sorts of monastic living and some settings are mean.
5. Choose a suitable, realistic course of action, and don't look down on tavern people: Don't feel snub. Some there try to be comrades too.
Some need to have good feelings about themselves through opinions as facts, but rise above it.
Good intentions include getting old as someone of sterling worth too. To age with grace is no unattainable ideal today either. Nonetheless stay flexible and accept help as you need it.
Among antidepressant herbs there are St. John's Wort and oats to try too. Even basil tea may be tried, and thyme tea too. The first suggestion, St. John's Wort has now acknowledged, well documented effects against mild depressions. David Hoffman goes into some of these and some more - including ginseng, lavender and rosemary - in his excellent The Complete Illustrated Herbal (1999:207-8). Tea can be made from one or more of these combined, and had three times a day, for example.
As for homeopathic remedies, one might suggest Ocimum basilicum D30, (it is basil) and Benzodiazepine D100 among the remedies to be tried. Against periodic depressions Ione might suggest Kalium muriaticum D6, or Mercurius nitros D12.
How to take them: [Link]
Broadly on homeopathy: [Link]
There are many other remedies to consider, however, and medical investigation and proper medicine is not to be abandoned for the sake of complementary stuff. A good book on the use of CAD for milder depression
❋ Depressions speak a lot, so can you decipher them and remedy their possible or likely causes? [E.g.]
Berne, Eric. Games People Play. Reissue ed. London: Penguin, 2010. (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967).
Brown, J. A. C. Techniques of Persuation: From Propaganda to Brainwashing. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin Books, 1963.
Bongiorni, Peter B. Holistic Solutions for Anxiety and Depression in Therapy: Combining Natural Remedies with Conventional Care. London: Norton, 2015.
Busch, Fredric N., Marie Rudden, and Theodore Shapiro. Psychodynamic Treatment of Depression. London: American Psychiatric Publishing, 2007.
Falk, Geoffrey D. Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment. Toronto: Million Monkeys Press, 2009.
Hassan, Steven. Combatting Cult Mind-Control. Rochester, VT: Park Street Press, 1990.
Hoffmann, David. The Complete Illustrated Herbal: A Safe and Practial Guide to Making and Using Herbal Remedies. Bath: Mustard/Parragon, 1999.
Kriyananda, Swami. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2004.
Kriyananda, Swami. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.
Parsons, Jon R. A Fight for Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity Publishers, 2012.
Singer, Margaret Thaler. Cults in Our Midst. Rev ed. San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.
Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.
Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.
Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010.
Yang, Julia, Alan P. Milliren, Mark T. Blagen. The Psychology of Courage: An Adlerian Handbook for Healthy Social Living. Hove, East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge, 2010.
Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.
Zimbardo, Philip. The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil. Reprint ed. New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2007.
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