Pin not your faith on another's sleeve, for he who believes easily is easily deceived. (American proverb)
There are many sides to the arts of believing and of doubting in words by others. "Doubt or believe with skill and aplomb" may be good. "Talk does not cook rice," is a useful reminder too. It is a Chinese proverb. It may be rephrased: "Be practical" in some way or other, or "Go for practical results," whatever they may be.
"If your words are worthless, don't give advice," is another piece of advice from China. So there is a need to choose one's words with care. It is what comes out of the words that matter.
Even so, studying often takes some effort and attention. "Pearls don't lie on the seashore. If you want one, you must dive for it (Chinese proverb)."
All this said, it can be unwise to spill one's doubts; learn to make good use of them instead. As for beliefs that lie like pockets in your mind, if you do not act wisely on them, what good do they do you, many things considered? "Belief pockets" leave marks too, ranging from good to bad.
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 a strategy you may manage to live well if luck is on your side, or on the side of the one you are married to perhaps, or you should happen to plan well. Also,
◎ When ill luck falls asleep, let none wake her (Italian).
Beliefs and Public Dealings
There is folly faith and better faith. How to sort out these things and get the edge on beliefs? Believe as little as you can. Check the most reliable sources. Hang in there; make sure you do not lose money or other valuable assets from beliefs others want you to have, put into you and then ask for money and other assets. 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 where they worship the guru Yogananda (1893-1952) and teach one another that his guidelines are faultless. When he contradicts himself, as he often does, what then?
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)?
Don't jump to conclusions. Leave some room open in case there may more to take into account.
"Belief and doubt, which is best?" An answer 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, any psychoanalyst may tell us.
How we handle doubts depend on what sort of doubts we have, and on our settings. If they manage to foster people of skilled doubting somehow, 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. [See Kalama Sutta for more]
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-beliefs. Belief in the general Gentle Middle Path can help.
(2) Fine working-doubts (they are called alternative hypotheses in research) may also usher in better living, as Buddha says in the Kalama Sutta. "Working-beliefs" and "working-doubts" are much as the working hypotheses in research - not all set, stiff and rigorous. Some may also be tested out in the open and compared with what others have found. With some modifications some may then be made use of with skill and aplomb, 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 may be profitable if the results that loom up from it are good. The same goes for doubts. "It depends a lot on the results that are got." That is the main idea.
◎ Believe or doubt - be as classy as you can, but not unsoundly so.
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.
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;
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. (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")
Geoffrey Falk tells an entertaining and sad story of being misled in his ". . . to a Nunnery (Paramahansa Yogananda)", which is a rather long chapter in his book Stripping the Gurus (2009, 227-305).
Among other things he writes:
A certain air of "wise women of Gotham" may be sensed here. Also: [Over the top with Mr. Falk]
Flattery comes in many forms and packages. Clairvoyants tell things too. One of them burst out to me the first time we met, when I was a young man: "Bells are ringing in my ears! You belong to me! Yogananda has shown himself to me," and so on. She called for one of her followers, an author, "Come and see!" She thought well of me. In SRF they say, however, in part quoting 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.
Some talk a lot and some not. In a Self-Realization Magazine article, Yogananda's claims that those who get initiated in kriya yoga in SRF, belong to him unconditionally, many for life-times, no matter how badly he behaves and what could become of that desert marauder and mass-mutilating tyrant from previous lives - according to him.
"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."
It occurs to me that God should ask, "What is wrong with Yogananda?"
A Lahiri Mahasaya statement: "Always remember that you belong to no one." Always . . . is a stiff stand or an exaggeration: it's your choice.
In astrology, the so-called Point of Fortune placement shows how to get lucky in a way and not other ways 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 suggests something roundabout about what thank for if you don't inspect and try wisely and well and find out who your many enemies are.
Be that as it may for now.
The Wise Men in Matthew 1-2
Geoffrey Falk (2009) writes of many oddities surrounding Self-Realization Fellowship and Yogananda in a book. A mass of failed Yogananda prophesies are among them, and undocumented stories of past lives too: They include statements of who were "the three wise men" in the first two chapters of Matthew, for example. Guess who if "Your wild guess could be as good as what Yogananda says". Why so? One reason may be: The Nativity story could be a folktale.
Who to put faith in? A respected scholar? Study and find out. A past life as a folklore character, is that so much to talk of without evidence? However, just because a claim is unsubstantiated, does not mean it is untrue. It is related to, "Just because you're paranoic, it doesn't mean they're not after you."
There are three ways of trying to ascertain past lives.
It may boil down to "Doubt well." 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 in suspensio, at bay, unsettled, unresolved, and not jump to conclusions.
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. However, you are free to believe as you will about beliefs.
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.
Walk with 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
Conundrum: If we believe we should not get hung up in words, we do not believe those words, or do we? Take into account:
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. Many have not been to the liking of Swami Satyeswarananda.
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]
How to Solve a Lot of Delicate Problems
If believe you must, put faith in the obvious first. Airy beliefs first need some 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. However, if you join one of the groups of Yogananda believers, there could be social benefits and other benefits in store for the believer in this.
Further, some of the teachings may be spread and trickle down the throats of innoncents in schools for it too. Indoctrination bellows, and not all indoctration is good for health, of course.
Buddha 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. It should be good up to a point (or level). Here is what Buddha teaches in the Kalama Sutta: [More]
The cultural psychologist Jerome Bruner says in some of his books, including The Culture of Education (1996) that 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. Sound wit is often a part of the child's libido - or the Child in Transactional Analysis, TA.
Lots of fairy tales, fables, anecdotes, proverbs, repartees, and so on - 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 its 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.
Folk beliefs of many cultures are expressed in tales. Their sources may 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. Hence, try not to believe anything that favours cults of narrow and particular outlooks, and your mental health could be better for it.
You may bolster up that sunny resolve by, "There are thousands of cults around. The fact they they are many, speak of id channelled in different directions, but more important, they cannot all be right." That outlook could be wise foresight in its way too.
Kalama Sutta give glimpses into how skilled researchers handle ideas. Investigate ideas and see how they work - if they work - and adjust on an ongoing basis. That is a part of it.
On the downside of it, one's own investigations are costly, and may be ruinous. Besides, "One swallow does not make a summer": One needs many cases if one 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.
"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, there is room for improvements.
You may not be good company for all and sundry, but maybe for some. And it may be risky business to criticise others. It may be better first to mind your own business than to criticise others, but it depends.
A load of criticism or fault-finding may get embarrassing in the long run. Sound presentation skills could make a difference and save the day, the job, a good future or a guru friendship - Regardless, meditation helps in many ways and fits many people for that matter. ◦Transcendental Meditation is OK.
It is a good thing to read Abraham Maslow's description of "superior men" and superior women. Maslow's "supermen" and "superwoman" have certain common characteristics despite their differences, he found. Some of those who deviate from the "average" in positive ways get a bad reputation for all the wrong reasons. They could be persons to look up to, plus deviants, but the chances are that the conform may not be able to tell. (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 down to the soles of the feet, "all for an impression." Also, some that look weird, have hearts of gold. Such hearts are hearts that matter. 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, may not be of the best sort of folks.
Characteristics of self-actualizing people "for further clinical and experimental study", as Abraham H. Maslow (1987) writes, in his own words:
There are fallacies involved. Maslow:
"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.
As Maslow also 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: Are you full of doubts - decide on a research position if you can. However, it is unwise to believe that all is as Maslow decides anyway, for: [Jivamuktas, free souls]
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EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica on-line or as yearly DVD.
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