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Soul Food

Food is more than food for thought, as the Vedas. Soul "food" is what helps growth in spirit (and soul) and nourishes the mind from inside, the Upanishads say.

Wisdom Maha is Brahman. Om (Aum) is Brahman.
By Maha all the Vedas flourish.
Maha is food.
By food all the vital breaths (pranas) flourish.
On that you should reflect.

[Taittirya Upanishad 5: 3-4; 6:2. (In Katz and Egenes 11-12; Gambhirananda 1: 246-50)]

Thus, Sanskrit maha is a word with many meanings. They include strong, great, abundant, mighty, brilliance and more. Let us say, (1) "By abundant, strong brilliance (meaning Brahman-Om) the Vedas exist and flourish. (2) Great abundance of mighty Om (influx) is great food more directly for humans, for by vital food the pranas ("vital life functions") flourish as well.

Advancing in higher yoga, we may see that radiance, brilliance, and learn to tap it as food for spirit and mind and regeneration. Development should follow; it remains to be seen. If we don't see it, despair not; there are yogis to teach methods to us. And if they do not, we may be stuck for quite a while. If we are stuck on lower levels, there is the id-system (libido system) to sort out. That can bring help. Meditation can probably help far more and better, but that depends on how good, effective and safe the methods are. ◦Transcendental Meditation is found very helpful in general.

Freudian Theory - A Helper

Id theory Preserving oneself and one's good lot in life is very often a good, multiple aim, and had better not be overlooked and forgotten. Strict ascetism can fail, and if one forgets to develop one's inner sides, one goes amiss in another way.

Now for glimpses of basic Freudian thinking: According to Sigmund Freud, the id, the ego, and the superego interact:

  1. The id, libido (lusts, desires, is often involved in proclivities) The id can be so-called primitive. It has to do with eating, drinking, eliminating wastes, and gaining sexual pleasure - the gratification of such impulses.
  2. The Ego, or "I" leads to rational handling of much. The ego learns to consider demands of reality. It finds fit environmental conditions, and it becomes an "executive" of the sexual urges in time, if one lives long enough. The ego often mediates among the demands of the id, the realities of the world, and the demands of the superego.
  3. The superego, "above-I", "over-I" is had from parental figures, if any, or from a society at large. The Superego, is the internalised representation of morals of society as taught by strong others. The superego develops in response to parental rewards and punishments through incorporating rigid, or parental standards into itself somehow. [EB "id", "ego", "superego"]

The ego (in the sense of rational sense or judical awareness) should take the needed steps to preserve and bulwark the id and to straighten the superego as needs be. One could say that the Canadian Geoffrey D. Falk illustrates that fairly well in chapter 26, "... To a Nunnery" in a book he wrote after unpleasant experiences with Self-Realization Fellowship, where he tried to contribute well. The book is called Stripping the Gurus. [See the reference headed by 'Falk' below.]

For those interested in yoga and contemplation (meditation), this is a help:

  1. Look into scientific studies of the contemplative experience first. Physiological, psychological and social (behavioral) changes may be seen. Changes of brain-wave patterns are specially interesting. In the light of present-day research, kriya has effects, but the best method of meditation - and the most studied method - is TM, Transcendental Meditation, informs David Orme-Johnsen. [◦Link]

  2. In addition there are subjective reports. Many are positive, but seldom all of them. Postings on the SRF Walrus Board are much of this sort, and tend to furnish the least thought of kind of scholarly evidence, that is, anecdotal evidence. In other words, a handful of stories constitute no proof. There is a grave risk that such stories are one-sided, overly biased, and not representative, so this sort of evidence has to be handled with care.

  3. One express good side of study first, before committing in any serious way, is a chance to maximise the odds of welcome changes and reduce very unwelcome stuff. By this one can draw benefit.

  4. On the other hand, many participants on the now folded-in, SRF-related SRF Walrus Discussion Forum, speak of negative experiences. In a cultlike setting or a setting with many hallmarks of cults, wrong conformism might stiffle and outgrow otherwise positive, budding effects of deep meditation. The harmonising effects of decent meditation methods may be counteracted by poignant and conform strives and cults.

    Some get awfully disappointed by realising they had been fervent in a manipulative way, or that they had been given too high hopes in guru words who later show up to be rather bombastic.

  5. There are still beneficial teachings in the art of living, even cream teachings, and excellent methods. Be allied with research so as to estimate the general chances to succeed.

From a few letters

AHEM I have been reading . . . on your web site, and find them to be most provocative and correct. I particularly enjoy how you employ cartoons . . . and other "baits" to get the reader to think............the ultimate Zen koan. [. . .] - TA

AHEM Your site is profound, and just what I needed. Not just interesting, but the key to freedom, which I had been looking for . . . The Kriya key . . . you have explained that beautifully. - VB

AHEM Your writings . . . certainly are well researched! - DT


Id, ego, superego, Yogananda, Literature  

Bach, Sheldon. The How-To Book for Students of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. London: Karnak Books, 2011. ⍽▢⍽ Bach writes in the first chapter, "Nowadays there is a smorgasbord of theories available and beginners often are inducted into one or the other almost by chance . . . major psychoanalytic theories have generally been constituted around the personal character structure, culture, and worldview of their originators . . . Choose a theory as you choose a friend," out of compatibility, for theories or "versions are being born and reborn all the time we can, if we remain flexible, be assured of having enough friends to last a lifetime (p. 1-2)." That is one view.

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica = Britannica Online.

Falk, Geoffrey D. Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment. 2008. Online. ⍽▢⍽ After some SRF experiences in California, the author "takes it out" on many gurus he had not met and is not impressed with. I won't say it is well done, as parts are stained by being over the edge gossipy: Falk used among other things a source of little merit, Ramesh Bjonnes finds in an article in Elephant Journal (27 April 2010), Bjonnes writes after reading the chapter on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda in it - and this is contracted:

So far, I am hardly impressed with the shoddy scholarship and tendency toward sensationalism.

According to [the author] Narasinghe, Vivekananda (1863-1902), one of India's most famous Swamis, visited a whorehouse in 1884. Apparently, he only spent time in the bar, and it took place a few days after his father died and two years before he became an ordained monk in the Ramakrishna order in 1886.

Narasinghe never bothers to check or comment on the chronology and state the obvious: Vivekananda, the famous monk, visited the bar in a brothel at the age of 21 with a group of friends. But not while he was a monk. No, two years before he became a monk.

Hardly news worthy of a chapter in a book about the wild sex lives of supposedly celibate monks, swamis and gurus. Indeed, it is hardly even a character flaw, at least not in the West, not to observe celibacy prior to life as a celibate monk. Moreover, Vivekananda did not even have sex at the brothel. He only had a few drinks.

So, why is Falk making such a big deal about an incident two years before the famous Swami became a monk other than for sensationalist purposes? Is that all the dirt he can dig up on Vivekananda?

He follows this incident up with an example of Vivekananda experiencing lust while a monk. Hardly a surprise . . . Becoming a monk does not mean you are free of human desires. . . .

What makes you a bad Swami or monk is your acting out those desires by having sexual activities with yourself, your students, or others. And Falk is unable to provide any such examples from Vivekananda's life in his book.

Vivekananda admitted he had a few drinks at the brothel, then he was thrown out by his friends because he was not interested in having sex with the girls. This incident is then used to advertise the dirty content of Falk's controversial book: VIVEKANNDA, THE GREAT INDIAN SAINT, VISITED BROTHELS. C'mon! This hardly qualifies as good investigative journalism.

It is also known that Vivekananda smoked throughout his life. . . .

Smoking a cigarette or two a day do[es] in no way qualify as material evidence to tarnish the spiritual character, teachings or inner realizations of a saint. . . .

The saints would be in trouble, however, if they used the same kind of spiritual argument to engage in the abuse of others. . . .

The essence of their teachings . . . Falk [may not] have such understanding or appreciation. . . . [He seems to] have another agenda: to dig up the dirt on famous yogis. And when there is no real dirt to be found, they make it up for you. . . .

That said, there is undoubtedly some merit to some of the cases presented in Stripping the Gurus. And I do agree with Falk that sexual or other forms of abuse are grievous matters in a teacher student relationship. Such abuse should be taken seriously, and alleged abusive teachers should be investigated and, if found guilty, should be asked to step down.

Finally, Falk did ask his readers to report possible flaws or mistakes in the book.

[Article link]

Gambhirananda, Swami, tr. Eight Upanishads. Vols 1 and 2. Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1957 and 1958. ⍽▢⍽ Heavy, and heavy with good information.

Katz, Vernon, and Thomas Egenes, trs. The Upanishads: A New Translation. New York: Tarcher/Penguin, 2015. ⍽▢⍽ Much recommended.

McWilliams, Nancy. Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy: A Practitioner's Guide. London: The Guilford Press, 2004. ⍽▢⍽ Good perspectives from a practitioner's angle. A chapter is on caring for one's own id, ego and superego.

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