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From the Art of Believing Less

When in doubt, win the trick. - Edmund Doyle

"In the affairs of this world, men are saved not by faith but by the want of it (American proverb)."

There are many sides to the arts of believing and of doubting. Below are some of them. In the end you should be able to think: "It is all right to doubt Yogananda" and "Who is Yogananda?" - in the Zen way, that is.

So do not spill your doubts; make use of them instead.

"Pin not your faith on another's sleeve, for he who believes easily is easily deceived." (American proverbs)

"All fails when faith fails. It is easier to believe than to doubt, but never believe the impossible (Three American proverbs)."

As for beliefs that lie like pockets in your mind, if you do not act wisely on them, what good do they do you, all in all? That is the question. Such "belief pockets" leave marks too, ranging from good to bad.

"Believe, but make sure," is a proverb. The art of believing is to believe less, "day by day", studying them and link them to the world at large. Try to replace beliefs - they might be bluffs that serve others, such as topdogs - with sound knowledge as you go on, and then go on to sound knowhow. By such wise or clever approaches you may manage to live well. It is in part up to you, in part up to your associates, the good schooling you get, your conditions and possible opportunities.

Beliefs and something else, even better

There is folly faith and better faith. There are wrong beliefs and other beliefs. How to sort out these things and get the edge on beliefs? Here are precautions: Believe as little as possible. Check all good sources as soon as you can. Make sure you do not lose money or other valuable assets from beliefs others want to share with you, put into you and maybe profit thereby. You would do well to get the edge on beliefs. It matters to know how, as part of straight dealings somehow.

Belief is a tricky thing, also in Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, where they worship the guru Yogananda (1893-1952) and teach one another that his guidelines are faultless. Are they now? When he contradicts himself, what then? It is somehow like the Christian belief that Judas fell headlong in a field, burst open, and all his intestines spilled out (Acts 1:18) - while Matthew 27:5 says Judas went and hanged himself.

Good choices and other choices

What choices of beliefs do we have? Is it (1) either-or, or (2) both-and? Or (3) one version and not the other version - which, in case? Or (4) none of these? (5) Perhaps something else, some alternative postulate(s)?

Specified a bit:

(1) Did Judas either fall dead or hang himself to death? Tip: Search for the reliable version, if any, giving due thought to the possibility of forgeries and don't jump to conclusions (see Ehrman books on massive forgeries in early Christianity, for example)

(2) Or did Judas manage to crawl to a tree and hang himself with some of his intestines or a rope, perhaps? The intestines are many meters long and quite strong - Well, that might be one of the both-and scenarios. He could also have hung himself, but not to death, and then strolled into a field where he fell headlong, dizzy after the hanging, burst open, and all that. Matthew does not state unequivocally that he died by hanging himself; only that he hanged himself. There is a choice of beliefs here.

(3, 4, 5) One or none ("both are forgeries" and written long after the events), or something else - there are lots of choices to those who are open to apply faith "otherwise" too. Study the preferences behind a choice as you learn of it: "Why this and not the other one?" or "Why both?" If "It is written in the Bible seems all right, and keeping a faith is very important, some may try to look arrogant. They might even dismiss the questioning as "irrelevant". It may be one of the ways that might or feebleness "plays hard" for a status quo.

Belief and Doubt, Which Is Noblest?

The question, "Belief and doubt, which is best?" deserves a thoughtful answer. It depends on what kind of belief we have, and how we have it, whether it is kept neurotically or not, for example. It also depends on how we handle our doubts. Repressing them is not a very good thing to do, says psychoanalytics. How we handle doubts depend on what sort of doubts we have, and on our settings. If they manage to foster people of doubt, doubt may be OK. If our settings, or company, hardly allows it, Human Rights set it, or need to be mobilised well - mentally first, at least. It may not help to doubt all alone, whereas groups of good doubters may help or inspire a lot, depending on which directions doubts take different people.

Practical belief, practical doubting

There are at least two wise ways of dealing with often occurring doubts, apart from putting them aside for a while and longer.

(1) Fine beliefs usher in better living, as working-belieft Buddha's Gentle Middle Path can do.

(2) Fine working-doubts may also usher in better living, as Buddha says in the Kalama Sutta. The word "working" in "working-beliefs" and "working-doubts" are much as to the working hypotheses in research. It means they do not have to be stiff and rigorous, and may be tested out in the living, compared with what others have found, and then made use of, allowing for feedback and monitoring along the way.

In Buddhism, a belief is for living well enough. Theological beliefs are generally not treated by Buddha, as far as scholars know.

Thus, believe if you profit from it, and allow for feedback along the road. Also, doubt to your advantage too.

Doubt like a Zen expert

In the realm of science the scientific method itself is grounded in doubt through finding and inspecting and perhaps launching alternative hypotheses. In Rinsai Zen and the Chinese Chan it originates in, there is another way to use puzzling or doubting to one's own possible advantage.

  1. Doubt so as to broaden your view, much as researchers are taught, but launching alternative hypotheses and test out some, to one's ability. Accordingly, doubts put into system, yields research, which yields findings, which yield knowledge. Some of that knowledge may be used to enrich our lives.
  2. Doubt the value of doubt itself - in other words, use the behaviour of a doubter to enter higher states by sustained focus. In other words still, mimic what a serious doubter does, without doubting. To use possible doubt to rise higher is a main feature of Rinsai Zen, for example, where one is given koans, riddles to climb. The use of koans and Rinsai Zen were developed in China. Koan-Zen may be called a later-comer in Buddhism. Even so, here is a description by the renowned Zen master Hsu Yun (1840 (claimed)–1959), one of the most influential Buddhist teachers of the 19th and 20th centuries. In Garma Chang's excellent The Practice of Zen he is reported to say:
    Alas! Whatever I can say about 'nothingness' will miss the point. . . .

    Zen Masters urged people to work on the Hua Tou of "Who is the one who recites the name of Buddha?" This Hua Tou then became, and still remains, the most popular of all. . . .

    This Hua Tou practice is . . . to tsen the very nature of the sentence. Tsen means to look into penetratingly and to observe. . . . the very idea of "Who?" . . . It is to observe from whence the very thought of 'Who' comes, . . . subtly and very gently to penetrate into it. . . .

    I have talked a lot of nonsense today! Now all of you had better go and work hard on your Hua Tou . . .

    [W]ork these matters out. The important thing is to stick to your Hua Tou . . . gently, with a smooth mind and calm, steady breath, like that of a hen as she hatches her egg or a cat when she watches a mouse. . . .

    What is Ch'an? It is called, in Sanskrit, Dhyana - the practice of deep concentration or contemplation. There are many different kinds of it . . . But the Ch'an of the Ch'an School [of China] is the highest, the supreme Ch'an . . . [Y]ou should penetrate into the 'sensation of doubt'. . . . Zen is to teach you to take up [the thing] right at this very moment without using any words at all. (etc.)

    (Garma C. C. Chang. The Practice of Zen, p. 75-79 passim. Emphasis added)

A NOTE. Hua Tou, huatou, is a form of Buddhist meditation in the teachings of Chan Buddhism, Korean Seon and Rinzai Zen. The Hua Tou method was invented by the Chinese Zen master Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163), according to Morten Schlütter (2008). Dahui Zonggao was a member of the Linji school (A Chinese Zen school that was named Rinsai Zen in Japan). A Hua Tou can be a short phrase that is used as a subject of meditation to focus the mind. Hua Tou are based on koans, but are shorter phrases than koans. (WP, "Hua Tou"; "Linji"

See the value of puzzles.

Morten Schlütter explains:

Dahui's name is inextricably connected to what has come to be known as kanhua Chan, literally "Chan of observing the key phrase," although Dahui himself did not give it a name. This approach to Chan practice involves focusing intensely on the crucial phrase, or "punch line" (the huatou), of a gongan [koan]. Kanhua practice has therefore often been referred to as "gongan (or koan) introspection" by Western writers. As discussed in chapter 1, gongan are highly enigmatic and frequently startling or even shocking . . . [However,] Chan literature includes a wide range of different genres and styles of writing . . . Dahui taught that focusing single-mindedly on a huatou in meditation and in the performance of daily tasks would eventually lead to the breakthrough of enlightenment. (Schlütter 2008:107)

Zen is another term for meditation from it. The term derived from the Sanskrit word dhyana through the Chinese chan. The simple core of Zen is dear meditation. It is coupled with a kind of meditative living to develop too. And here is the meditator's solution to doubts: Either use them or bypass them well (let them lie unsettled, and meditated well). You can do both, and it could amount to much the same, if you set fit meditation processes in motion in your mind-and-body organism.

The Hua Tou way of meditation makes use of the doubting process in the body and mind to the end of getting to the states of deep meditation that good meditation methods use too, but without doubting - And this is to say that the main thing is to glide inwards, doubt or not, day by day.

If you come to doubt the teachings of others, turn inwards. If you do it right, you do not have to doubt either, just practice a benevolent form of meditation. ◦Transcendental Meditation is, according to research.

Rising above doubt through meditation is much of what the famous guru Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) teaches as well. Get proficient in good meditation methods, doubts or quibbles or not, and don't get stuck in words, he seems to tell a disciple (interpreted here). Can you doubt that? Meditation holds the key to a solution, then. This is what the yogi says;

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. Apply the techniques [that matter] and find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words. . . . please remember. - Paramahansa Yogananda, in Dietz 1998, "Master's Teachings"

Good meditation methods stand research, like a clean nook stands inspection. ◦Transcendental Meditation, TM, holds a lot of promise, as judged from hundreds of research papers and studies on it. It is in vogue now.

Living well matters

Good faith is to be mobilised to live well, advantageously, and not to be mobilised to make others believers, since there is a capital possibility of being misled by faith. There are so many of them, and they cannot all be correct. That means: chances that a faith is misleading, is there. Yogananda's follower Kriyananda writes:

I would say that Paramhansa [sic] Yogananda was a prophet for the New Age . . . but far more than that . . . He even said he'd introduced the concept of covers on toilet seats. . . we see that his enthusiasm for improving life at every level was boundless. (Kriyananda 2001, chap. 28)

However, Cornelus J. Dykstra claims a patent on 6 July, 1922, from Des Moines, Iowa: "[I] . . . have invented a certain new and useful Toilet-Seat Cover . . . The object of my invention is to provide a toilet seat cover, which will when the toilet is flushed be removed from the ordinary toilet seat." [This claim is documented]

Besides, a certain Englishman, a Crapper, has something to do with toilets too. One may say, "He did the job." (WP, "Thomas Crapper")

Stripping along

Geoffrey Falk tells an entertaining and sad story of being misled in his ". . . to a Nunnery (Paramahansa Yogananda)", which is a long chapter in his book Stripping the Gurus (2009:227-305).

A summary: The main Yogananda editor over many years thought she could translate English into Hindi (misled by folly). The SRF Board of Directors at the time stood by her. Protests from Hindi-speaking ones did not matter to them for a long time. But in the end and at long last did Yogananda's old editor and the SRF Board of Directors give way and drop the venture, which had cost them a lot by then. Details:

According to the Yogananda follower George Burke (An Eagle's Flight (etc.), 1994), Yogananda's long-time editor-in-chief Tara Mata of self-proclaimed cosmic consciousness bought some books on Hindi, read through them, and went on to "translate" the entire Autobiography of a Yogi into Hindu. However, it proved to be several hundred pages of gibberish. She refused to acknowledge that, and so did the SRF leaders.

But when the vice president of SRF, Swami Kriyananda, notified the officials of SRF that the manuscript that had been sent to India for printing, was utter nonsense, he was told to go ahead and get it printed (!) Only when the Indian publisher proved to the SRF directors that the manuscript that had been set up at the SRF board's insistence at great expense was nothing but a string of nonsense syllables, the leaders of SRF finally thought that translation had better not be printed. (In Falk 2009:269)

A certain air of "wise women of Gotham" may be sensed here. Some things are hard to believe, claims and events, and other things. Some who believe fervently in Yogananda's editor-in-chief, Tara Mata, might even come think that it was the Hindus's fault; that their Hindi was not good enough. It depends on who or what you put belief in - a very poor SRF translator or Hindi, for example.

On the whole, it seems to me that Falk chapter is on the positive side of things, although believers in SRF and lots of fools might find it offensive. "Been there, done that." Note as well: [Over the top with Mr. Falk]

Sad and bad dealings

Flattery comes in many forms and packages.

In astrology teachings and the twin teachings on karma and reincarnation, it is held that effects of past lives combine into the pattern of the birth chart, birth horoscope. As it is said, past lives are incorporated in it. However, it may get very problematic in finding someone to tell well about that.

Some clairvoyants tell things too. One of them, at the time quite well known in Scandinavia, at least in Denmark, or at least in some circles there, said to a participant at a meeting that he had been a snake in his previous life, for his eyes were so close together. "We were all snakes, and are snakes as we speak," you might retort, thinking of the kundalini serpent lodged in the body. That makes much sense to those who know kundalini teachings about a coiled energy snake and the art of making it rise a lot.

To me the claivoyant said when I visited her in Copenhagen another time, "Bells are ringing in my ears! You belong to me! Yogananda has shown himself to me," and so on. Then she called for one of her followers, who happened to be an author, "Come and see!" She thought well of me, then. So far, so good? In SRF they have a very different stand, in part quoting Yogananda.

Yogananda On several occasions Paramahansa Yogananda told his disciples: "After my passing, many 'mediums' will say they are in touch with me and are receiving my 'messages' for the world. All such statements will be false.

"My message for the world has already been expounded . . . Do not be misled by persons who, after my physical departure from the earth, will assert that they are receiving new teachings from me. To sincere seekers who in prayer request my help, I always give it . . . silently." (Yogananda 2001:990n)

Mind another statement: It is by Lahiri Mahasaya, the guru of Yukteswar. Lahiri:

"Always remember that you belong to no one, and no one belongs to you." [Lahiri Mahasaya, in Yogananda's Autobiography, Chap. 34.]

If so, no one really belongs to the gurus of SRF or SRF. Period.

From these data it seems fit to conclude: Some talk a lot and some talk not. In a Self-Realization Magazine article, Yogananda's claims that those who get initiated in kriya yoga in SRF, they belong to him unconditionally, even for life-times, no matter how badly he behaves and what becomes of him . . ."

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

Is this good to know, or something we could be without? The runaway boy and youth that was helped a lot to become Yogananda, might have had control issues. He also hailed Mussolini and dictatorship. If belonging to Yogananda bodes future bad luck, it might not be such a good bargain. His many-lives claims on disciples do not harmonise well with traditional guru-disciple relationships, where a disciple is free to leave as he or she likes. Even Yogananda enjoyed that Human Right. Yukteswar told him he was free to leave -

Also, a Lahiri statement goes plainly against Yogananda stiff claim on souls. "Always remember that you belong to no one." You can do without Yogananda if that is true.


Someone who belongs to no one in the web of the world, is indeed a loner. Someone who belongs to others who claim him or her as belonging to them, could need help to make the best out of much of this and other things also.

Can astrology teachings make sense in this? If so, is it the Point of Fortune that makes the solar and lunar force fields function so well together that the Cosmos cooperates for our luck and greater good? If so, we must look deeper and better into it than the casual newspaper reader of daily horoscopes and assess and interpret that point's placement in its most likely constellation, star sign and house - and the aspects to it, should be taken into account.

It quickly stands out even without astrology, that there are disharmonious relationships around too, and many of them. You need a very lucky relationship, or lucky relationships, or have luck from your relationships, in a nutshell.

Also, the Point of Fortune data show how to get lucky and maybe - just maybe - "win the tricks" against merciless and hard-hearted fiends. It may be good to stay away from enemies. (Cf. Micah 7:6; Matthew 10:35).

You won't find out if the Point of Fortune says something really to thank for if you don't inspect and try wisely and well and find out who your many enemies are - such ones that make you "depth-spin" counter-clockwise, basically and presumably.

Be that as it may for now, Yukteswar was an astrologer, and Yogananda went for astrology too.

The Wise Men in Matthew 1-2

Geoffrey Falk (2009) writes of many oddities surrounding Self-Realization Fellowship and Yogananda in a book. Failed Yogananda prophesies are among them, and undocumented stories of past lives are there too: They include statements of who were "the three wise men" in the first two chapters of Matthew, for example. Guess who, according to "Your wild guess could be as good as Yogananda's". Why so? One reason springs to the eye: The Nativity story could well be a folktale.

The well-established Bible scholar Geza Vermes informs that the Nativity tale in Matthew is a piece of folklore. A contemporary of Matthew, the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (37 c. 100 CE), reports, and later rabbinic literature confirms, a folk tale which was in circulation in New Testament times. The awesomely influential Nativity story in the first book of the New Testament is a speculative, rather than a historical text . . . an amalgam of flawed Greek-Christian scriptural references, and of 'birth tales' current in Judaism in the first century CE. The story with which we are all so familiar is not fact, but folklore, Vermes holds. (2010:87)

Who to put faith in? A respected scholar? Study and find out. May it be suggested: A past life as a folklore character, is that so much? At any rate, There is no need to believe in failed prophesies, and why put substantial faith in non-verified past lives? That some tell about past lives from natal horoscopes, may be a bit preposterous when we consider the meagre evidence at hand in so many cases. And here is one more point: Just because a claim is unsubstantiated, does not mean it is untrue.

Now we have three ways of ascertaining past lives, or try to do it, rather. (1) Be told by someone, without much evidence. (2) Study horoscopy and reach a conclusion, such as "Oh!" or "Is that so?" or "Really? Where is the good evidence? (3) Learn to introspect in yogi ways and resolve that for the lack of evidence it shows skills and knowledge to keep silent about such things in public, unless such claims can be substantiated somehow, at least so that they may seem plausible. Dr. Ian Stevenson's research into past lives may offer help and teach the skills needed for claiming things that are not likely to be mainstream. Otherwise, it is generally wise to keep unverified claims at bey, in suspensio, and not settle on a conclusion just because we happen to like generalised drivel-flattery, or imagining that famous folks in the past were good folks. Not necessarily so!

The fit thing to do further is to leave it to the one(s) who claim and spread a claim, to furnish proofs. For the lack of good evidence, put the claim on a shelf or in a drawer, and go on. The present life is at hand. That approach is fit among scientists.

Adhere to Normal Human Rights if You Can

We often do well not to get fixed and too set in beliefs as we think we have been told to obey mentally. Our customary everyday living may not depend on churchy beliefs "up in the clouds" either, granted is a Human Right to believe on one's own, by the way, and not necessarily as dictated. Article 18 says:

"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

There are laws in several countries that uphold Human Rights.

The article says we are free to believe, doubt and so on in private and public. In public the goings may get rough for some believers in violence and other things, though. A frank tip: We might be better off by being careful and much reserved when it comes to beliefs in public settings where frankness is not much welcome. It would also be a point that a hideous robber's working beliefs (robbery is fine, and cheat 'em well) are treated very different from those of careful, civilised people, and met not just with guffaws. Criminal laws apply too.

However, you are free to believe as you will about beliefs, at least. Mark that perhaps wise men won't tell their beliefs at all.

Anecdote The religious beliefs of the Earl of Shaftesbury remained a mystery. He once remarked that all wise men are of but one religion.

"Which is that?" he was promptly asked.

"Wise men never tell," he replied.

Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury (1621-83), a British statesman and lord chancellor at one time, also survived a charge of high treason. (Fadiman)

The earl believed in one religion, and Yogananda was sent to the West to preach it too. The fellowship of all religions he started, soon turned into one of many churches in the United States. Some who have left it, including a former vice president of the church, describe it as a cult. There is an estemate of about 5,000 cults in the United States (Singer 1989:xvii)

It indicates that "the more the merrier (a saying)", is not necessarily true, by the way.

Frolic with Yogananda

Yogananda Your outer experiences should be only fun. - Yogananda, 1982:241)

I don't take life seriously at all. - Yogananda, 1982:219)

If you find true joy in this life, you will have it now and in the afterlife too. - Yogananda , 1982:195)

That should be gladdening to hear - and thus, fun, fun, fun, as the Beach Boys sing.

Walk with Yogananda

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Paramahansa Yogananda, in Dietz 1998

If we believe we should not get hung up in words, we do not believe those words, or?

On a less hilarious note:

ICON We don't really know what is right or real ... we are often incorrect in our judgements. - Paramahansa Yogananda (1982:414).

"No more blind believing." [Yogananda, (1982:456]

It breaks my heart when I see blind dogmatism. - Yogananda, 1982:48)

Heart-broken, but still having fun, not taking life seriously?

We, [Yogananda's] disciples . . . do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines. Since we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless. - From a notarised letter from SRF Headquarters

COMMENT: They have a problem there, since Yogananda also stated:

ICON "I was never born, I never died –" - Yogananda affirmation in East West Vol. 17, No. 1, 1945.

Yet he was eager to get his autobiography published. We may come to wonder why, or why he also taught:

ICON There is no material universe; its warp and woof is . . . illusion. - Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, Ch. 30.

Aber is German for 'but': There would be no Yogananda (1893-1952) of contradictions if so. Compare:

Yogananda The next generation will not give us a thought. - Yogananda (1982:344).

It did, and still does, and in no small part due to disciples that he made to work awfully hard and long for little pay, as Tara Mata says on a previous page.

ICON 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. Maybe he was no true guru, on his own word (above), but he surely became a deviating and experimenting one in the kriya yoga tradition of Babaji. That is what Swami Satyeswarananda has told in so many words.
Teachings of Yogananda, the Modified Mess of Kriya . . . Violating the Vedic Tradition . . . Yogananda himself was involved in seven lawsuits . . . Yogananda added innovations . . . Yogananda, being kind, simplified the Kriya approach [for Western followers] (etc.). [◦A long page, in part about Yogananda's self-style ways, deviating in part from his own tradition]

How to Solve a Lot of Delicate Problems

If believe you must, put faith in the obvious first. Airy beliefts are difficult to sort out and deal with if allowed a firm rooting and growth in the delicate layers of libido.

For example, if you believe as Yogananda tells, that the universe is unreal, there is no need to believe in him or any other thing. Are you getting stuck in a cobweb of illusions here? No, for then you would have believed that there is no need to believe.

Buddha offers a far better, sensible approach to get attuned to. It is akin to the later proverb: "Believe, but make sure." He advocates many to handle teachings as working-hypotheses, and test them out by living up to them as fit as fair as can be, and listen to experienced others along that avenue too, in rough outline. Here is what Buddha teaches in the Kalama Sutta: [More]

It will perhaps not quite do to disbelieve any tale either. There is, for example, much fun in folktales, but not only that, they promote and consolidate a culture. That is what the cultural psychologist Jerome Bruner says in some of his books, including The Culture of Education (1996).

Apt and fit tales and fables could help us accommodate. In such ways folktales or fables help those who grow up, and also by setting free some corresponding libido (id) somehow. Old folktales hold a promise here. Apt choices and bland performances may help much wit on and up. Wit is often a part of the child's libido - or the Child in Transactional Analysis, TA.

Then, when people tell good anecdotes or proverbs, one may delight in the wit in them, for wit talks to a wit, and the inner Child (libido) and fun go together.

The art of handling folklore, with tales, jokes, fables and proverbs and more, may bring many benefits during performances, and in their wakes. There are short-range and long-range benefits. In Waldorf Education both are made skilled use of.

The folk beliefs of many cultures are expressed in tales. Their sources many be many, variegated, and in part conflicting. A parent needs to check what values or norms they carry across. Is it revenge, for example?

And then there are dogmatic beliefs of cults and denominations and churches all over the world. Such beliefs have given rise to cramped followers and many religious wars and mutilations. Not good! It is a human right to believe as we want, but in a church that right can be violated perversely and severely. It depends in part on what kind of church it is. Group-held beliefs seem tougher to deal with than individual beliefs. Cult beliefs are often confusing, and can make victims of the faith severe, rigid, haughty, easily annoyed, even neurotic and crazy. A solution: Try not to believe anything that favours cults, and your mental health could be better for it.

You may bolster up that sunny resolve by, "There are thousands of cults around. They teach different things. If not, they would be one body or something, which they are not. The fact they they are many, speak of id channelled in different directions, but more important, they cannot all be right." That is wise foresight applied to bossy (authoritarian) teachings and dogmatic insistence.

There is a word, "When in doubt, win the trick (Edmund Hoyle)." How? Refrain from getting stuck in low ideas, and avoid getting cramped later. It also turns out that some dogmatic ideas mislead and cause falls, as when cults get destructive, even suicidal. It happens, but seldom.

Gautama Buddha let people learn how to deal with different teachings. [Kalama Sutta] It is at bottom the way that researchers handle ideas. Investigate ideas and see how tey work - if they work - and adjust on an ongoing basis. That is a part of it. But own investigations are costly, and may be ruinous. Besides, "one swallow does not make a summer": You need many cases if you want statistical proof of anything. So better be careful and stick to tact.

Tact is tall and wise. There is proficiency to try for here too.

Watch out for the dogmatic tone and blunderbuss phrases "in the air". They may not give help, even though fine-sounding. And if the decrees awaken a childish faith in the sayer or decrees, without even a shred of proof to support it, you could end up in trouble, or in a ghastly sect.

Do Quite as Baron Munchausen, the Superior Racounteur

Yogananda We should seek the society of superior men - those who tell us the truth and help us to improve ourselves. - Yogananda, (1982:100)

On the other hand, "Though all his life a fool associates with a wise person, he does not realise tharma [propriety etc.] any more than a spoon the flavour of the soup," says the Dhammapada, verse 64. It is like building a house in some ways. There must be something to build on (a plot of land), and something to build with, for example bricks. Plans, designs and craftmanship are good too. If a lot of those things are lacking or too undeveloped, you may not be good company for good company. But wish them well.

Also, suppose those superior people too should do as Yogananda teaches, and seek superior people, and not company with lots of good people inferior to them in some ways? Yogananda did not think of that, but Baron Munchausen did: When he was riding on his horse and got stuck in a mire and slowly dragged down in it, he liften himself and his horse by his own hair. And skilled meditation is like that - somehow, in some figurative ways. You may learn to meditate and so help yourself a lot, rather than being a quite (relatively) bad or inconsiderate company to superiors.

If you like superior people, you wish them well, and won't cling and let them suffer like the yogi that Yogananda's guru Yukteswar once troubled. The yogi was meditating on his bed with Yukteswar under hiding under it. However, the yogi noticed that something was not as he was used to - he did not rise into the air (levitate). As soon as Yukteswar was found out, the yogi called him a rascal. Later, Yogananda called him Divine Wisdom Incarnate, and sought benefits by being close him - and troubled him too.

Even if you try to be discreet and crawl under another's bed to avoid being noticed, you may still be far from good being company.

It is not any either-or, not either self-effort or troubling others, all in all.

Now a lion

Now, let us look at how a woman responded to Yogananda's company in Miami, 1928. Was Yogananda good company?

A hospitalised woman in Miami imagined she was a lion, and tried to roar and act as a lion does. For the swami Yogananda had told he was a lion and held Miami in his grasp. That was in 1928, the year the police stopped him from giving addresses there. [◦Documentation - Story 4]

Yogananda told he wanted Americans to improve and get more self-assertiveness, but . . .

Was he good company? Alas, the police got him out of town. He might have been good company still, at least to some women, if not their angered husbands.

There are other teachings of his that could backfire too. What about these?

Paramahansa Yogananda All realities seem unreal . . . the material universe is not real. — The body is unreal. - Yogananda, Ak 182, 421]

Fair evidence that it is so, is not found so easily. Besides, in an unreal universe, Yogananda's unreal body could not bring forth real teachings. Unreal teachings are nothing to build on, and there you are.

To Criticise or Not

"Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults," is one of Yogananda's sayings.

It may be risky business to criticise others. The cut-me-down jasmine type may not survive long, and may be rare for that reason. It could be largely better to mind your own business than to criticise others. If those you criticise are bad or vehement people, it could backfire on you. And if those you criticise are good people with behaviour you have misunderstood, you might be just rude. Avoid that; read Abraham Maslow's description of "superior men" and superior women. Maslow's "supermen" and "superwoman" have their characteristics, he found. Those who deviate from the "average" in positive ways get a bad reputation for all the wrong reasons. some that are labeled weirdoes may be persons to look up to, plus deviants, but the chances are that the conform cannot tell. This means the conformist should try not to criticise lots of others he (she) does not understand. (Maslow, 1987, especially chap. 11.)

A person may seem weird due to hardships and the bad behaviour of others - scapegoating, branding and the like. Others try to look weird or strange in very conventional ways, by hairdo and so on downwards to the soles of the feet. Also, some that look weird, have hearts of gold, and those hearts are the hearts that matter a lot.

Find fault with a guru and be his friend - does it work that way?

Even if we are onto something, it may need some "right" sort of perfection.

A little may do. "Less is more," said Mies van der Rohe, the architect. Under some circumstances "less" may be more valuable, of more worth. Under other conditions, not. You may feel it is not perfect counsel, and that being chaotic at work is not sensible - and in unlucky cases it does not help to perfect sloppiness either. It could happen. .

Now, a lot of fault-finding may get embarrassing in the long run. This said, the nagging fault-finder would make a good critic with wise use of his or her underlying aptitude. Presentation skills could make a difference and save the day, the job, a good future or a guru friendship - if you have nothing better to do. Meditation should be good and work well all the same, for at least some methods are for razor-sharp minds, ancient texts tell. Regardless, meditation helps in many ways and fits many people for that matter. ◦I recommend TM for its fruits (well measured effects and others).

Everyone ought to put some faith in the value of their own good conduct, and there is a place for proper self-defence, by all means. Stupid non-violence that helps bad guys to go on and win the day, is passively helping them on and up.

"Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults," is one of Yogananda's sayings. SRF has said they find no fault with his guidelines, and that his wisdom is faultless. A dogmatic attitude like that is a sect mark. You do well to consider the evidence without too much prejudice to fail by.

What Does Maslow Think?

It is not the title, age, rank and measured IQ of a person that determines how good he is at thinking, but many fall under such sways. See Fred Kerlinger and Howard Lee, Foundations of Behavioral Research (2000:6-9). Sadly, people that are admired and looked up to, like presidents, may not be of the best sort anyway. In some cases it shows up soon, in some cases later.

Characteristics of self-actualizing people "for further clinical and experimental study", as Abraham H. Maslow (1987) writes, in his own words:

  1. perception of reality
  2. acceptance
  3. spontaneity
  4. problem centering
  5. solitude
  6. autonomy
  7. fresh appreciation
  8. peak experiences
  9. human kinship
  10. humility and respect
  11. interpersonal relationships
  12. ethics
  13. means and ends
  14. humor
  15. creativity
  16. resistance to enculturation
  17. imperfections
  18. values
  19. resolution of dichotomies.

There are fallacies involved.

"Our healthy subjects are generally unthreatened and unfrightened by the unknown, being therein quite different from average people. They accept it, are comfortable with it, and, often are even more attracted by it than by the known. They not only tolerate the ambiguous and unstructured; they like it.

These people . . . do not organize, dichotomize, or categorise prematurely. They do not try for truths out of needs for certainty, safety, definiteness, and order, such as we see in brain-injured patients or in compulsive-obsessive neurotics. When the situation calls for it, they can be comfortably disorderly, sloppy, anarchic, chaotic, vague, doubtful, uncertain, indefinite, approximate, inexact, or inaccurate (all, at certain moments in science, art, or life in general, quite desirable).!

Yes, at this point many a disorderly, sloppy, uncertain and inaccurate youth may wake up and find she could be among the best and not degraded. We have the memorable saying by Werner von Braun also: "Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing. (In an interview in the New York Times, 16 December 1957).

And, as Maslow writes: "Doubt, tentativeness, uncertainty, with the consequent necessity for abeyance of decision, which is for most a torture, can be for some a pleasantly stimulating challenge, a high spot in life rather than a low."

From this, promising sloppy young one, get an education and get a good job for being sloppy. The goes for all who tend to be comfortably disorderly, anarchic, chaotic, vague, doubtful, uncertain, indefinite, approximate, inexact, or inaccurate. Are you full of doubts - try to get a research position, for good research is rooted in skilled doubting put into system. And so on. A vague or approximate type may find politics good, and not a torture. The idea in such a case is to be comfortably indefinite and so on.

Don't believe all is as Maslow decides anyway, for: [Jivamuktas, free souls]


Beliefs, faiths, believing, Literature  

Bruner, Jerome: The Culture of Education. Cambridge. Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996.

Chang, Garma Chang Chen-chi. The Practice of Zen. Perennial ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1970.

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.

Fadiman, Clifton, general ed. The Little, Brown Book of Anecdotes. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1985.

Falk, Geoffrey D. Stripping the Gurus: Sex, Violence, Abuse and Enlightenment. Toronto: Million Monkeys Press, 2009.

Kerlinger, Fred N., and Howard B. Lee. Foundations of Behavioral Research. 4th ed. London: Thomson Learning, 2000.

Schlütter, Morten. How Zen became Zen. The Dispute over Enlightenment and the Formation of Chan Buddhism in Song-Dynasty China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008.

Singer, Margaret Thaler. Cults in Our Midst. Rev ed. San Franscisco: Jossey-Bass, 2003.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Walters, James Donald (Kriyananda. A Place Called Ananda. Hansa Trust, 2001.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. God Talks With Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita. Royal Science of God-Realization. (Vol. 2) 2nd ed. Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2001.

Zimbardo, Philip G. Shyness: What It Is. What to Do about It. Reading; MA: Addison-Wesley, 1977. -- Research in Collaboration with Paul A. Pilkonis, Ph.D. Therapy in Collaboration with Margaret E. Marnell, R.N., M.A.

Maslow, Abraham H. Motivation and Personality. 3rd ed. Revised by Robert Frager, James Fadiman, Cynthia McReynolds and Ruth Cox. New York: Harper and Row, 1987.

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1975.

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946. Online. [A version on-line]

EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line or as yearly DVD.

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.

Scp: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1953.

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