SRF is short for Self-Realization Fellowship, founded by the swami Yogananda. It was registered as a church in California in late March, 1935. In SRF, some who entered may have thought they could surf the guru teachings, in the long run to wake up and find they lived as goaded serfs of SRF dogmatism. How such a fare could break Yogananda's heart -
"We don't really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements." - Paramahansa Yogananda [Ak 414].
SRF committees and many disciples forced out
SRF is headed by its own board of management that has been in dire need of consultant conflict-solvers and psychologists. Lola Williamson:
SRF is hierarchical in its approach with the Board [of management] essentially controlling the decision-making process. Former disgruntled members of SRF credit this top-down mentality with creating an unhealthy organization. (Williamson 2010:75) A labyrinth of difficulties beset the organization. Some people could not even sit in the same room with others because there was so much bad feeling. . . . SRF hire[d] outside communication and organizational consultants to offer advice on how to handle the situation. They also suggested that SRF hire counselors and psychologists to deal with the festering psychological problems that some of the monastics seemed to be experiencing. Two new committees . . . were formed to execute the suggestions made by the consultants. . . . The end result was that a large number of monastics left SRF from about 2000 to 2001. Due to the entrenched resistance to change, the communication consultants were let go, the existing committee members replaced by others content with the status quo, and the psychologists relieved of their duties. It may be that so many people needed to talk to the counselors that the leadership became fearful of losing control. They reverted to the old style of dealing with problems . . ." (Williamson 2010:76)
It was a style that seemed so unfit or corky to fifty of SRF's own monastics that they left in the years 2000–2005 (Parsons 2012, 171). Many others had left before. Sailendra Dasgupta tells in his Yogananda biography of changes in SRF after Sri Daya Mata became its head:
Under her leadership [SRF and its sister organisation in India] gradually went through many changes. Many of the men and women who were older disciples of the order either removed themselves from the central organization or were forced out – not only in America but in India as well. (2006, 106).
Some changes may be wise in a conflict-making organisation, although its leaders do not think so in a status quo they have taken part in forming or have been formed by. Here is a letter from SRF to a private - a member who suggested that SRF stopped its stupid framing, and did so with many weighty reasons too.
Here is a Yogananda guideline that has in it a power to penetrate shallow surfaces and facades, if you will:
Each morning do bathe in the ocean of X-Ray which God has created for you. Without a daily bath in God's sea of X-Ray, you cannot be healthy. - Swami Yogananda, East-West, March–April, 1930 Vol. 4–4: HEALTH RECIPE – Bathing Daily in God's Ocean of X-ray.
Should they alter crazy words or not?
"Measure is treasure (Proverb)." Be firm. Don't overdo daily bathing, and be aware that X-rays are classified as a cause of cancer. (Wikipedia, "X-ray"). Ladies in charge of SRF, is there a word or phrase or three you need to reconsider, change or must delete? Try not to encourage any way of bathing in rays that may be taken as encouraging slow, painful suicides unlawfully. Be responsible and avoid getting behind bars.
What is deeply needed beneath the surface is a change of attitude away from "the gilded guru" bluffs. Consider:
Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
On the letter
They say they don't find fault with Yogananda's guidelines, but by their activities they show something different: they even forged his signature after his death, as if he did not know how to write it: they changed Paramhansa into Paramahansa. What else? You may not want to know it all.
So the SRF letter shows a belief, but facts are different from it. For example, where do beginners find Yogananda's hailing of Benito Mussolini and Yogananda's yes to dictatorship [Link]? Does his fellowship flaunt them or tuck them away in a basement closet out of shame?
The SRF letter from spring 1979 was to a top kriya initiate (kriya yogi) who left the fellowship after getting that goody-goody letter. As for the SRF management's "cannot change his words or the injunctions he gave in order to adjust them" - they have actually done it and very much so too. Documentation of many and tough changes abounds. A former SRF vice president sums up some: [◦Kriyananda sums it up] He warns against false play and dirty doings, but not a dictatorship-ardent guru. In these waters there are yes-guru-followers - some undermine Yogananda a lot by cult swerving, thinks Kriyananda, the former SRF vice president.
One can sympathise with endeavours to appear all right, but there is at times a need to discern between fool's gold and real gold . . .
Sects mar to rule
One should detect cultish streaks. One good, general clue is "The Boss Is Always Right (and we)". How it allegedly breaks Yogananda's heart -
Authoritarian, old goals made clear
The Americanised guru Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) set up the Self-Realization Fellowship in Boston in 1920 - by backdating only, it seems -, and in 1925 got a headquarters in Los Angeles. Some of his many-faceted teachings are quoted below. For one thing, Yogananda says dogmatism makes his heart break, "And is not God suffering also? [Dr 257]" Regardless of that, the fellowship he started, canonises him as someone with flawless wisdom and guidelines they do not find faults with. Such goofy clowning is one mark of a cult, among others.
The fact is that Yogananda says many marring things, for example he speaks for Mussolini and dictatorship in his own magazine East West.
The call for humility serves top-dogs in what is really a top-down structure, which is a common hallmark of a cult or sect, and also a monastic structure (definitions vary). Dogmatic faith in Yogananda's guidelines is not regarded as something offensive by this servile crew, or as an outcome of servile stupidity (doubt-avoidance) and authoritarian goals. And that is part of the problem.
Against the "idyl stand" in the letter, face the facts: About one third of the SRF monastics left the premises between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons 2012:170). - To that: During the high tide of good feelings and shared joy in a bay (cult) one may have a nice time and enjoy a bit of shallow diving. But during ebb tide one notices that the bay (cult) does not rest on rock. There is just a nasty sand bottom. And a detrimental current for those who venture a bit out from the beach. Be warned of undercurrents.
I was never born, I never died–" - Yogananda in East West Vol. 17, No. 1, 1945.
All the same he was eager to get his autobiography published. It happened next year (1946).
There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. - Yogananda, in Autobiography of a Yogi, Ch. 30.
Accordingly, you find no Yogananda (1893-1952), no Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), no yoga, no SRF kriya pledge, no SRF books, no way of living, etc. in the universe. A non-existent guru overrules himself, yourself and his teachings and overrulings completely - But till followers see it, many suffer from great confusion and worse.
The next generation will not give us a thought. - Yogananda (1893-1952) [Ak 344].
- Ah, but it did! Whose fault might that be?
When a true guru performs an action, it is like writing on water. Then no marks remain. - Yogananda [cf. Say 14].
Many Yogananda marks remain. Alarmingly so? Hm!
Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults. - Yogananda
From this, the "best friends" of the guru could have another yardstick to behave on top of: Don't desire to criticise him, but do it because help is wanted and asked for.
And how close some of this seems to "Nag, nag, nag!" and "Yak yak yak"! Good friends seem hard to find where the harder they criticise, the better they get -
We do not find fault with Yogananda's guidelines. Since we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless. - Self-Realization Fellowship, as notarised.
Compare, if you will, "Those who flatter thy faults are thy worst enemies," by Yogananda [Dr 254]
It is good to laugh . . . employ that power. - Yogananda [see Ak 353]
Some joke books offer relief, if not help.
A cult of quack teaching and servile dogmatism has failed
The quasi-dogma that Yogananda's altered guildelines are infallible are not canonised in the cult yet. Geoffrey Falk, tells of humiliating SRF experiences in a chapter of his book Stripping the Gurus.
How to get free from "blind dogmatism"? How to deal with it?
- and something mysterious to begin with
The essays and other information in this archive (our 4th archive) contains material that started as postmodern discourse. By now most of the discourse is post-postmodern, or naturalistic. Terms abound, and some seem strange at first encounter. Perhaps the book Naturalistic Enquiry may serve as an introduction; perhaps an introduction is not needed at all. [Cf. Nai]
For Yogananda also said the world is unreal [cf. Ak 488]. Give it a second's thought, and compromise, a litte, adding: "His world, maybe." and consider how some conform to crazy teachings and others to things that are plainly irksome.
Farm animals and cult members are wanting more natural scenery and more rustic freedom. All may get too little of a say, once caught and handled to serve others, also against some basic human rights (check the UN charter).
Against overgrown claims of infallibility of Yogananda, consider that he and SRF ceremonically teaches his own guru, swami Yukteswar, was an "incarnation of divine wisdom", and that Yukteswar also said about Lahiri Mahasaya (also called Baba), "reverently vibrant": "Greater he was, as man and yogi, than any other teacher whose life came within the range of my investigations." [Ay ch 12]
Step by step the big ones "get greater" we are taught, but not really infallible in everything. Satyananda:
Even such a great being and avatar can succumb to error; they are also not beyond reprimand. It is so". [Ycm, ch 3].
What is more, an episode in Yogananda's autobiography of a Yoga, shows that the guru behind Yogananda, called Babaji, once broke his word for a trifle. That means his word was of trifle worth too, on Yogananda's word, that is. [Story with comments]
The SRF guru says blind dogmatism breaks his heart, advocates rational inquiry and constructive doubt by some of his utterances, but hardly follows up all the way. [More]
There are figurative terms (metaphors and more) and allegories in this section. A figurative expression says something and refers to something else at the same time. A carefully masked term often:
Apart from that, beware of old cattle or other farm animals completely assisting owners that profit from them, or even make a living on their backs, so to speak. Similarly, in a broken-in cult crew few give a damn, not unlike docile farm animals. [More here]
Treating humans like fish is hardly quite enough. Be alerted in this vein and refrain.
There is wisdom in bringing messages when prizes are in sight, or when they help us to fulfil some of our own missions in life.
The carrier pigeon is full of purpose and direction, but does it criticise the owner to be looked on as friendly?
Only those who are fallen need rebukes, largely for the reason of avoiding or eliminating mishaps.
Good friends, if criticising severely, seem to show a lack of compassion, much like deer hunters.
Each of us may be pressed to ascertain and judge this and that, in renovating our homes too.
Is the constantly nagging wife the best friend there is around?
To really scold in all the ways a guru treasures may seem better than religious crankness, but how sure are you?
Don't let your best friend's help deteriorate into a cock-fight, though.
No one should diminish his or her essential worth while trying to please for boons.
Judicious study can help many beginners.
That old and cultured liberals stand up for well-proved issues in favour of long life, should favour young ones.
Nice outfit can be good for contacts. Let it be the right contacts.
Observe how the starkly embarrassed ones smile.
Adhere to "No great triumphs without rewards".
To get out of the humble-brambles (SRF) can be unpleasant, very unpleasant, and not everyone who succumbed to Yogananda and SRF in the first place, makes "a dash for freedom." Far from it. Some are scared. There are guru-given reasons for it.
Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006.
Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.
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.
Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1986.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946.
Crj: Shankara. The Crest-Jewel of Wisdom and other writings of Shankaracharya. Tr. Charles Johnston. Covina: Theosophical University Press, 1946.
Dr: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Divine Romance. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1993.
Jse: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.
Nai: Guba, Egon and Lincoln, Yvonne: Naturalistic Inquiry. Newbury Park: Sage Publications,1985.
On: Mata, Daya. "Only Love". Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1976.
Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1971
Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.
Si: Shastri, J. ed. Siva Purana, Vols 1-4. Delhi: Banarsidass, 1969.
Ycm: Satyananda, Swami. Yogiraj Shyama Charan Lahiri Mahasay. A Biography. Portland, Mn: Yoganiketan, 2004.
Harvesting the hay
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