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Those Who Need Advice

- are not all likely to take it.

Why don't those living in the dark
Make an effort to find a torch?

- The Tibetan Dhammapada, (Sparham 1986)

At least one may try to be polite. – "I have always appreciated constructive criticism," says Yogananda (1997, 135), and:

Yogananda A saint used to have a friend who constantly criticized him to the great displeasure of his disciples. One day a disciple came exultingly crying: "Master, your enemy, the constant fault finder, is dead." The master began to weep and said: "Oh, I feel helpless. My best spiritual critic is dead. My heart is broken." [1]

To learn from one's harms and damages as an SRF member or Yogananda underling may not be so good as not to get damaged, deranged and the like either. It looks safer to stay out of a cultish setting out of foresight than enter it and get good hindsight. To wake up as a cult's monastic and quit with much hindsight may be all right, but not to wake up numbed and filled with fears and despair. All the same it is fit to allow for individual differences.

Now, Yogananda also says "He is your best friend who humbly suggests to you how you may be benefitted," and "Books are your best friends." [2] But that is not true for all sorts of books, or for the wrongly suggesting friends either. Then, which will be your best friend? Is it a book, a suggesting one or an upbraider, a denouncer? "Different strokes for different folks" may suit some conditions. However, Jesuans may well consider whether a design for stepping up criticism is proper, also to the degree of treating people as tax collectors (Matthew 18:15-17). Jesus was fond of tax collectors, and chose one to be his disciple.

Stepping up criticism, or, Jesuan family living

Accordingly, how to be tough with another may be to love, accept and invite and eat with that one. It appears there are such choices among Jesuans. Yogananda followers are led to believe they are Jesuans - it is a masquerade unless they conform to the strict requirements for Jesuans. (Matthew 5:44; Matthew 10:36; 11; 18:15-17).

Such goings were indeed expanded in the beginning Church: To be "tough with" others that Jews - to love, accept and invite and eat with them and so on, was what the Holy Spirit commanded Peter in a vision on a roof-top in Joppa (Jaffa), and the goings that followed "Peter. Kill and eat." And soon after there were invitations to visit Gentiles, share meals with them, accept them, and the Holy Spirit coming on Gentiles - A New Meal or a New Deal.

Admittedly, no commands or words of Jesus are included in the Apostolic Decree (Acts 10:9-16; 15:19-29; 21:25), made to serve as foundation to adhere to throughout life for any non-Jewish Christian - that is what the Bible makes clear. The Deal of the Holy Spirit and all the apostles was made with this in vies: "We should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God." [Acts 15:19–21. Emphasis added]

Getting away from Jesus-commanded poverty: Christianity
There is a wrong way, less wrong way, and a way fit for the Army, and a good way, perhaps. It probably depends on what you are.

A. Wrong. The option to denounce non-complying or horrible wrongdoers, wicked ones and others that tucked away some security-money without telling and sharing with the members was found in the early Church too: Two Jesuans, the Jewish couple Ananias and Sapphira, had sold their land but as a safeguard they withheld a portion of the proceeds from the other followers, were taken to task by Peter, only to drop dead, both of them. It was claimed they had been lying about the sum they had got. (Acts 4:32; 5; Wikipedia, "Ananias and Sapphira")

Christians are generally non-Jews who do wise to refrain from black pudding, blood sausages (blood food), wrangled chickens (and other choked animals), Biblical adultery, and one more thing. They are to have the Spirit of Truth, the Comforter also. No teachings of Jesus go into it the Deal, according to Acts 15:19-29; 21;25). (Gasp of relief).

Jesuans are a motley crew. Many imagine they are followers of Jesus when they call him "Lord, Lord," without doing all he commands his depraved Jews - the only people he called to follow him by such as self-maiming, poverty, non-planning and giving up things. Basically, they are ill people, according to Jesus, who said it is better to be healthy and not a sheep.

A gospel confirms that when he was alive, Jesus taught his teachings are for Jews only (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-8) - his teachings, salvation and kingdom were for Jews alone. (Geza Vermes 2010:37,41). However, some of the teachings are expressed in the Old Testament, and they are not forbidden material for any non-Jew . . . You may by-pass the strict sayings of Jesus in that, read Old Testament stuff and feel free in the matter -

Fl. During his days of preaching, Jesus of Nazareth addressed only Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 10:5; 15:24). His disciples were expressly instructed not to approach gentiles or Samaritans (Matthew 10:5). 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)

Spurious means false, fraudulent. The "Missionary Command" that is put in the mouth of Jesus in two gospels, is obviously false, says one foremost authority on Jesus. Besides, there was much forgery in the early Church, as Dr Bart D. Ehrman shows.

To clarify such things more:

Hm 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)

For Gentile followers, however, all the disciples and the Holy Spirit dispensed with all but a few laws for Jews. And not a word by Jesus for depraved Jews was included in the Apostolic Decree from 50 CE either (Acts 15:19-29; 21:25). "If a word is worth one shekel, silence is worth two. (Talmud)." The four requirements for all Gentile Christians include no to eating blood sausages (blood food) and wrangled chickens and other poultry (choked animals)

The answer

During the confirmation of the Christian faith, the minister poses questions to lined-up youths that are candidates for confirmation. Guri is one of them.

Minister: "May Guri tell me how many Commandments there are?"

Guri: "Ten."

Minister: "When one breaks one, what then?"

Guri: "Then there are nine left."

(Andreas S. Bloch in "Korsaren", 1910)

The minister thought perhaps, "That is a sin." Now, the Law for Jews is not included in the four requirements that God and all the disciples devised together somewhere around 49 CE, give or take one year. The council in Jerusalem decided that Gentile converts to Christianity did not have to keep most of the Law of Moses, including circumcision of males. Sabbath rest on Saturdays likewise became obsolete. How the said freedom of Christians is harmonised with the Law, it slavery talk and a sense of moral, is a tough topic. Disagreements abound. (Wikipedia, "Counsil of Jerusalem")

Now, let us apply Guri's line of thought to the four basic commandments for all Christians - according to the Bible and not according to watering-out agents of groups of people. If you break one of four requirements, what then? Then there are three left. Can you sit well on a three-legged stool? It depends on how it is shaped. And so on, down to a one-legged stool, and a stool with no legs at all. Can you sit well on any? Maybe. It depends in part on what the "seat of grace" is like, and maybe on the ground too. We will illustrate some of it:

Log chairs: One more quite related thing: Have you broken all the four legs of that stool of four requirements with a seat of grace? A stool-seat without legs may work well! But do not assume; seek to make sure. And then you could even find there may be a log chair with support for the back for you. The back-support means moral. Log chairs come in many shapes, sizes and variants. [There are stools and chairs with and without legs]

BILDE
Log chair - a seat-block with support for the back.

Forgeries formed Christianity as far as we know

The teachings of Jesus were not aimed at non-Jews and healthy Jews, according to Jesus. (15:24; 10:5-8). "Under no consideration lead men astray. (Talmud, in Cohen, p. 21)." Yogananda's fawning on gospel teachings and Jesus represent something unauthorised. How? The Missionary Command at the end of Matthew, and in Mark 16:15 is a fraud, it is spurious, the Jesus scholar Vermes finds. 'Spurious' means false or fake, bogus, not genuine, fraudulent, fabricated, pretence. There was much too much forgery in the early Church, dr. Bart D. Ehrman documents in books of his. [More]

Joseph Wheless shows by "intrinsic elements" why one can say "forged Missionary Commands". He documents how the Missionary Command in Matthew contains terms that were not used at the time of the apostles and alien in Christianity at that time. Wheless also shows how the late addition to the gospel does not match other core passages, in Acts. [Forged Missionary Command - Wheless]

Friends need to be upright for it

Being a tax collector could be better than being a Jesuan relative, if "a man's enemies will be the members of his own household," (Matthew 10:36). So loving your mate and minors up to a point might be of straight, Jesuan living if it is not decadent. There could be a better way still: Whether members of a family get friendly or enemical and so on, depends on how rude and impolite, feigning, false, ill-willed or harmful each one gets. Also, one false note in a chorus shames the whole chorus. One should take that into account too, along with how well each fulfils his or her allotted roles well or does the essential or reasonable chores all right. Consideration, being realistic, and tact may each have significant impacts, as can compatibility and uprightness.

Jesus says that family members or household members of his Jesuan family would be enemies. How to treat growing enemies has been explained: Step up the warranted criticism of them until love and food reigns. Or some may be kicked out, wisely or insanely, as the case may be (the description is not a prescription for any rash and ill-considered "Get out of my house!").

How to deal with growing up in a Jesuan family? Enemies should be kept at a distance, as by much privacy. To spend much time by yourself, awakening or following your inherent interests, is another. Lessen the contacts. You may find all three at work as year follows year. It is possible to derive benefits little by little by increasing what builds your own character and life and making use of the openings for decent advances that come to be. See what works, then act soundly.

Verbal criticism starts things going too

After this crash-course in savoury Jesuan living, guesswork might not be fully needed: Good criticism or even enmity lurks in the shadows of a family or extended family sharing meals together and loving one another as Jesuans, for example. A family could be called heavyweight criticism, either just or unjust.

Friendly, verbal criticism at the other end of the scale may be called lightweight criticism in comparison, yet it could knock a man down too.

How often is the saying true for critique as for counsel, that it is "seldom welcome, and those who need it the most, like it the least." [Lord Chesterfield]. Many proverbs reflect that basic idea. These are American: "Advice is something the wise don't need and the fools won't take (Mieder et al 1996, 9)." A variant: "Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it (Ibid. 10)." Apropos, "He asks advice in vain who will not follow it (Ibid. 10)."

Regrets and disappointments instead of wit to begin with

If you have something of value to be implemented for the benefit of people in largely submissive groups and authoritarian clicques, consider that "frozen" cliques may neither like nor want you, that pertinent critique or criticism the wise may need a bit of and fools would rather not take.

But it could pay to learn from the mistakes of others once they have chewed on their harmful, detrimental experiences, separated the gold from the dross, so to speak. Buddha's warmhearted counsel is to take into account the lessons of experienced guys and stay away from fools where you find them. Fool's gold has just surface appeal, and, regrettably, to the inexperienced eye it could be hard to note which is which. It might show up in time. That probably means time lost also. [A main handle for starting to sort many teachings]

Dealing with samples

Are the claims of Jesus valid for all Christian families? It remains to be investigated. After all no words by Jesus entered the Apostolic Decree (Acts 15:17-29). There are only four requirements and getting the Holy Spirit. That is what it takes being a Christian. Jesuans, on the other hand, say they follow Jesus, ignoring they hardly qualify if they are non-Jews. (Matthew 15:24; 10:5-9; Vermes 2012). They claim Jesus, but he disclaims them by and large. Self-Realization Fellowship SRF, holds a an aim and ideal to preach Jesuanism. It has been described as a hybrid religion or cult. (A sect, when growing large, has a hope of being called a religion. That was how Christianity itself grew.) However, SRF is led by Hindu swamis. That is a pro, but taking the spirit of Jesus on board by such as worship of "guru Jesus", could well mean familiy enmity lurking in the shadows or bursting into the open, he says (quotes above). There are rather strikingly different judgements about Self-Realization Fellowship - a "family" where monks and nuns and novices share facilities, eat together, should love one another, and sleep together without having sex together. Some say SRF is a good thing; some have not made up their minds about it if they have heard of it; and others say it is bad or too bad. A researcher should prepare for that, and all may not be sincere when responding. It stands out. One should seek to catch the nuances of responses that may be detected all right. There are shades of grey between white and black too.

So who are real enemies of the SRF-founder, the guru Yogananda?. Interestingly, he finds "the greatest enemy" is the bills, yourself, moods, anything that weakens your mind, bolshevism (communism), Satan of ignorance, and the body - all at once, or taking turns, so to speak? Accordingly, his greatest enemy could well be himself, a Satan of ignorance with heavy bills that weakened his moody mind. Those are his words. [Yogananda quotations with sources]

And since he claimed so much to be in league with Jesus of the family teachings, could many hidden ememies be Yogananda's large SRF family? If so, could it be one, several or all of these?:

  1. Himself - lacking insight or foresight worthy of a guru about his possibly greatest enemy (above), and other, possibly "greatest enemy" he attracted.
  2. His extended family of SRF members, monastics and lay members in many countries? Compare Yogananda to his disciple, Swami Kriyananda: "Apart from [James J.] Lynn . . . every man has disappointed me." With intensity then, he added, "And you MUSTN'T disappoint me!" (Novak 2005, Chap. 6)." So much disappointment!
  3. His ex "family members", including the ex monastics? They are a jumbled lot. Some leave SRF, some leave SRF and Yogananda altogether and get gruff. Many have given vent to their grievances on the SRF Walrus board (2001-2011). A Walrus backup from the first five years exists today.
  4. All who prefer fair teachings and such play to garbled teachings and ballyhoo?

It is at times foolish to believe all you hear, praise and condemnations alike. For your own good, start to sort the judgements or evaluations and find underlying patterns and themes. That is, basically, the way of qualitative research. And a study does not have to stop there.

You have to get an inkling as to how unreliable and biased the various testimonies may be. There are differences among persons in how reliable they are, how good they are to observe and how qualified they are to judge or evaluate. One who has learnt to take that into account, has that advantage when the time comes to conclude wisely and well. It is much work; there is no denying of that.

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Yogananda Moans

Paramahansa Yogananda, former founder-guru of Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is the source of contemporary problems in SRF in that he founded it - and later regretted having done it, but doing almost nothing we know of to remedy the ill. In ◦a memorable letter he gave vent to bummer hindsight, and showed how he had lacked divine foresight when starting it.

Did Yogananda, the guru-leader of SRF have the topmost responsibility for how SRF developed, or how it did not? A leader usually carries that responsibility, or has most influence over the group, it is held in Gruppepsykologi (Group Psychology) (1974) by Arne Sjølund, for example. It is still valid knowledge. It is not good enough just to admit a mistake; you ought to try to remedy it well also. Maybe Yogananda did in still unknown ways, and maybe not. But there is little or no evidence that he tried. It could seem that Yogananda was not up getting SRF straight, and instead of closing down the organisation he regretted he had started, he withdrew much. Also, during the last few years of his life that former dictatorship-hailer (Yogananda) said to his follower Kriyananda that his disciples had disappointed him.

One day in May 1950, while they were walking together at Twenty-Nine Palms, the Master said to his disciple [Kriyananda] with deep earnestness, "Apart from [James J.] Lynn . . . every man has disappointed me." With intensity then, he added, "And you MUSTN'T disappoint me!" (Novak 2005, Chap. 6)

But it could be all right to disappoint Dictatorshipananda a lot.

A founder needs to consider many sorts of consequences - long-range consequences included. What would become of the organisation after he was gone? What sort of group climate was likely to develop after he let monastics "run the business"? - the organisaton SRF? How well would those who devoted their lives to his cause react to his written statement that he had done a blunder in starting it?

One may wonder. Many lives are involved in an organisation like SRF, at least hundreds, maybe many more. So, it is good to remedy your blunders if you can, as well as conditions allow, and as quickly as you can, or the fates of disappointed dependents could come to haunt you when they fail to stand on their own legs.

Did Yogananda do a honorable thing and seek the counsels of wise men to remedy the matter? We do not know that. However, he took to withdrawing, being remote and spending time in a desert - and the organisation he had hankered for when he lived in India, remains.

Yogananda's letter translates to:

"I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization."
"I have performed an absolutely foolish act by starting an organization."
"I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization."

A great blunder it was, he says. The three translations stem from a rarely used slang word, gukhuri, which allows for the three versions above, Swami Satyeswarananda writes: "The sentence (though erroneous) can be translated into English in three ways".

The SRF founder's handwritten letter is here: [◦Yogananda confesses]

Yogananda realised that starting SRF was a foolish blunder.

Organisations suit psychopaths too

To say that starting an organisation is a blunder is not to say that all sorts of organisations are blunders. As Yogananda might have done before verdict, one is to take into account what sort of organisation one is referring to, how well it functions, in what direction too, and how compatible it is with ones depths, feelings and strengths further.

In fact, SRF could serve as a good enough framework for others if not for its founder. There is a point not to be overlooked there too.

Things could also depend on how mad you are, and how silly you were when you started your organisation in the first place, and the funding of it, for example.

There may be a good reason to check whether the large organisation really suits us if it operates like a psychopath at large. There is a 2003 Canadian documentary film written by professor Joel Bakan to take into account. [WP, "The Corporation (film)"]

Dr John Clarke, Psychologist and Criminal profiler, tells that later figures suggest one in ten managers are psychopaths . . . Psychopaths are thriving in today's workplace, and every large company has them. [ABC Net, "Corporate Psychopaths"]
www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1360571.htm

The natural sceptic may at once suppose that dr Clarke is exaggerating, at least overgeneralising - suspecting that not every large company has them. There are "all sorts of company climates", for one thing. Then there is the question of how generally valid some findings are across different cultures too.

And a religious organisation that prints and sells books, disciplines disciples to great obedience to superiors and to work for little pay and with no personal freedom in vital matters, is it all bad for such reasons? If so, how bad is the Catholic Church with its servants?

Actually, the fact that someone says he does not like the organisation he started, does not necessarily mean it would be as bad for everyone. Neurotics or psychopaths may like it there, or vice versa. There is much to consider, and other shades than shades of grey.

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Moanastics Leave SRF

We may all have clearer and brighter moments. The trouble is that if we don't act on our higher insights, noble wishes and inspirations, they were at least in vain. At worst, the unfulfulled motives may start creating disturbances outside of one's conscious awareness. I don't insist there is a connection here, but Yogananda seldom slept though his last years at any rate. [◦Words by Rollo May]

"That was long ago. Today Self-Realization Fellowship is headed and run by monastics; the organisation is taken well care of," you may flop. I would like to point to two things here, more or less as appetisers:

  • The recently deceased SRF president Daya Mata lived for about thirty years in a retreat villa with a view, while the monastics thought she lived among them, in their headquarters. Then a Los Angeles Times article on these goings appeared, with some ado in its wake.

  • About one third of all the SRF monastics left the SRF premises after the Los Angeles Times told the hilarious story about Daya Mata's preferred environment: away from most other SRF monastics. Telling deeds.
  • Some of the former SRF monastics spent time on the SRF Walrus Discussion Board, telling one another what was wrong with Self-Realization Fellowship as they had known it, but rather few dared to stand up using other than pen names. There was fear on board and nearly thirty thousands postings. A backup of the board up to 2006 is online (2017).

Lola Williamson (2010) offers a survey of problems many former SRF monastics - or moanastics, if you like - had before they left the organisation that Yogananda had started. [Further]. It is a good book that goes into broad lines of interesting adaptations to the US "market". There is more to tell too.

"We do not know the problems in all the gruesome details; we do not even know all the sorts of problems that some SRF nuns suffered." If a leader prefers to live apart from an institution which is his or her back-up setting, take note. If followers follow suit on other levels, note that too. There are many ways to witness; not just one. What people do speaks volumes, so loudly that it may be awfully hard to hear what they say. Yet - we are dealing with a very closed environment - there are probably things we do not know fully, well and in detail, and other things might have been masked, wrongly presented, and so on. Many sources of error are possible.

The US attorney Jon Parsons informs, "Between 2000 and 2005 more than fifty monks and nuns are reported to have left the organization [SRF]." [◦Source] This suggests that one third of SRF's own breed and brand of monastics left the SRF premises between 2000 and 2005. Hm.

"Put faith in your own abilities and not in the stars." (Japanese Proverb) If you have a knack for inspecting things well, if you have a good research education, if you have personal experiences that leave you harmed and fearing what your future lives may get, you may nonetheless grapple with and state things that seem important to you, for example to help others avoid a sect that does not play fair. Things have to start somewhere by someones, and in some cases things are "taken from there" by others too.

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Monasticism and the Guru's Penchant for Dictatorship

Now, let us go on and add two plus two: Self-Realization Fellowship claims in their public aims and ideal to stand for "Original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ". But there was no monasticism in early Christianity: One more hoax is marked off. [◦More]

To the degree that an institution is the lengthened shadow of a man, as Emerson says and Yogananda's SRF have repeated in their magazine, the institution's problems can in part be shadowy and at times blurred ones. As I see it, Yogananda set wheels rolling, in part by inconsistent teachings and practices, dubious propaganda, and also his hailing of dictatorship - it could be a skeleton in the SRF closet, put there to hinder a guru shadow it could be vital to get aware of before falling over it. Other delicate problems and suggestions for how to deal with them, if once caught in the guru net, are exposed elsewhere. [Link A] [◦Ramakrishna's fishes]

By and by Paramahansa Yogananda's teachings turned into exhorting "God-lore" rather than "Selfhood serving". You may say he luffed to serve the sort of audience he attracted by the demagogy. His kriya teachings were simplified and changed, and the kriya hype vastly expanded. He set up his own church in 1935, with its own monastic order too. Monastic settings are not known for changing a lot, apart from not being a "Jesus thing" either.

PRATTLE TOO. Some of Yogananda's early messages are "yoga-psychological", or at least in part focusing on Self and universality. But after fifteen years he had his own registered church and monastic order, and the focus of his output became "God!" and exhortations to meditate. SRF has gone on to serve the guru without discerning between the changed profile of their guru from the eary and later years in their mixture-based SRF Lessons, a blend of guru sayings and poems, and, in my experience, far too much blunderbuss sayings, much too little of practical value.

After all, a good part are based on his orator output - lectures, sermons, and talks. Further, SRF has made it clear that he did not care to prepare for them above jotting down a few notes, and digressed a lot as well. It was in response to thoughts among the audience, it is pointed out. (Yogananda 1982, xi, xii). Also, "He spoke extemporaneously, using no written text, regardless of his topic." (Ibid, "About this Book")

Some immediate good might result from improptu or seemingly whimsical way of lecturing. However, the excellent talker does good "in the beginning, in the middle, in the long run and to the end", quite as Buddha says. To do good in the long haul, instructions in living had better be relevant outside the immediate context, and wise too. That makes their value more lasting . . . A good structure tends to help if the messages are vital for many and in many settings. Otherwise, there is a risk that they stop being rewarding as time goes by, reflecting thoughts and conditions from the past, being too fragmented to gladden for long or say much of value later as well.

Yogananda himself tells it is so:

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"

Yes, what may assist a person and amount to something, may be to spend time in fit quality meditation. Such meditation may be its best advocate too, delightful and helpful. And very beneficial meditation can be propped up by quality research on it, as has been done on Transcendental Meditation, TM.

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Moanastics Speak of Burdens

It may be quite unrealistic to hope that an online discussion board that is made up of disgruntled ex-members of SRF, is full of praise of SRF.

"Make no mistakes (Presidential saying)." If a board of mostly anonymous participants had been a reflective or unbiased source of information, and they wanted their messages brought on and up, then their names should hardly have been tucked away for the sake of anonymity. This is so because anonymous posts are rarely thought of as great sources of information in the halls of science and scholarship. The soft "rules of citing game" include "Well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably a good acedemic degree".

These indirect yardsticks say nothing about content, however. The quality of some posts may be sachlich, well founded, well researched and well sourced - it can be fit, even though lacking in credibility due to anonymity.

Another matter is that the way discussion posts are handled, may lift up the posts so that they get turned into a more or less interesting source of gleanings. Standard research methods may accomplish that.

The "non-ex" crew reacts or counterattacks

It should be no surprise that many non-ex SRF members have come to grief by some anonymous posters on boards relating to Yogananda and his followers. The members tend to go for this: "SRF good, me member good." If ex SRF-ers say "SRF not good, I quit," the members typically react: "They say SRF is not good, and if so, I may not be good - must reject these folks and their inconvenient thoughts." - Something like that. There are of course nuances in it; there are differences among cattle in a large herd too.

The gist: People tend to react emotionally and immaturely to critique, and to sound, well founded critique also. Many serve as "sluggard paws" too.

After almost half a generation in this alley, one lesson I have learnt is this: "A board of anonymous posters - you may as well drop it unless you are a qualified researcher. For the anonymous poster might suggest, merely by being anonymous, that "I won't be recognised by all and sundry. Taking full responsibility altogether is another matter." However, there are more reasons than one here, and not all of the motivations for using pen names are plotty. The use of pen names are acceptable too in some cases. Some use fake names as an outlet of frivolity, others won't let "Them" know where you live and who you are, for several OK reasons.

However, a good Internet contribution may have "well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably a fair acedemic degree" to support it as a reference worth noting.

The hoary and marrying

The once large forum. The SRF Walrus gave up its ghost and is defunct now. But many posts were put online again by a former SRF member [◦Link].

Parts of all the information on the huge board might help some against negative sides to SRF membership, reminding others there are also positive, vital elements from the hoary Hindu heritage.

Some ex monastics blame SRF, but idealise the guru they submitted to and by steps were subordinated by until they felt "too shy or old or misfit for settling and marrying" - at least before leaving the cult.

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No More Kriyananda-like Former SRF Monastics?

Nayaswami Kriyananda was an SRF deflector with his own favorite blend of teachings, etc.

In 1962 the vice president of SRF, the recently deceased ◦Swami Kriyananda, was asked by the SRF Board of Directors to resign. Afterwards he found some things had gone too wrong with SRF, and went on to found his own church, Ananda. "According to Kriyananda, [it is] a supportive environment of 'simple living and high thinking'." (WP, "Kriyananda")

Kriyananda describes sides to his life history IN several books, and others have written books in support of him too (see book list at the bottom of the page). As for the other SRF monastics who left before him, some are quite well-known. Among those who left about forty years after SRF's vice-president Kriyananda was sacked by the SRF managers, some or all could rise and shine too if they don't do it already. At any rate, about one third of the SRF monastics left the SRF premises then. How easily it was done, depends on part on how deeply committed each had been to begin with, how long they were in the environment, the SRF environment, and probably of individual fitness for living also, among all the other variables. Life changes and challenges for ex monastics may or may not queue up. However, general life conditions and stages of former acquantainces and friends have perhaps changed, and those pretty girls and handsome guys may be married already. So ex monastics may feel out of step, and ex prisoners too.

The many exodus-monastics in SRF, did they join the Ananda Church to serve like monastics there? Some actually did, it is reported. As for others, did they form their own brands of monastics or institutions like him? The splendour of it remains to be seen.

The ex-monastics that left the SRF premises should abandon walking about in sandals, or barefooted and hatless in the howling winter cold in Alaska or high up in the Rocky Mountains. If not, and they have not died in vain from sticking to Yogananda's guidelines and the winter cold combined, many could be found in how-to-live communities. [Yogananda's crude ideals for his communities]

Fresh out of the monastery some felt sad, but not so sad they did not bother to contribute to the SRF Walrus. A lot. Some contributed large amounts of sentiments and faith decrees and facts about SRF and kriya gurus on the Walrus board. It is that sort of mixture.

Monks and nuns with particular drives or needs standing up. There are many largely unrecognised dangers of becoming monks and nuns in a rather cultish setting. The SRF Walrus board shows sides to it. Some of the posts are biased, and a paranoic vein runs through some of the posts in those former days, but that is not all there is to it. First, it offers looks into an otherwise close environment, a monastic enclave. Second, spurious information with lack of reliability at times springs to the eye.

To elaborate a little: From 2000 to 2005, about one third of the SRF monastics left the SRF premises (Parsons 2012:171), disgruntled far and wide. They got severe problems in its wake, for in SRF, common monastics are hardly ever allowed to find fault with the guru and his Hindu-Christian tenets, which in part consist of sham Christianity, and has gained cult dogmatism to support it. When many monastics and other members left in the early 2000s, they took guru-ideas with them as part of their baggage, along with their dissatisfaction, loss of hopes, and fears that might be guilt-related. They never seemed to understand that in "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ" (an SRF Aim and Ideal), monasticism had no part at all; it appeared in the 200s CE. The monastics had been conned if they thought they were Jesuans without being Jews, simply put (Matthew 15:24; 10:5:5-8; Vermes 2012). [◦More]

Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened. [Sir Winston Churchill]

It takes two to tango, and there is no sect without members to uphold it as such. The Walrus message board was set up by a former monastic. Rather soon, dozens started to communicate with one another there, and rarely offering critique of Yogananda, who set the sect in motion, and repented, it seems. [◦Much documentation]

Moreover, they hardly ever turned the searchlight of introspection or confession on themselves, stating their parts and contributions in the cult, telling how naive, foolish or outsmarted they had been. Finally the board folded in.

Unresolved conflicts were quite easy to observe - some wrote of deep problems and traumas, and of resorting to psychoteraphy. Areas of conflicts included unresolved conflicts around loyalty and devotion and leader submission on the one hand, and the fact that some participants on the board had left SRF, the guru's cult - and some had left Yogananda altogether.

The SRF Walrus participants of "Yogananda devotees" seldom seemed to relate their own troubles to their own reciprocal parts in their "SRF dance" and seek to find out "What was it in me that made me vulnerable to this sect and its teachings in the first place?" After some time some might concede a little along this line as well.

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Less Friendly Goings - A Possibility

As for the SRF Walrus Message Board, a large number of its 28 500 posts (2010) reveal great belief in the guru who told "No more blind believing" . . . (Yogananda 1982, 456).

Deep insecurity can be one of its causes of cultish fallacies and developing neuroses. Anyway, insecurity or shyness make many young persons enter cults, according to Dr Philip Zimbardo.

It is worth noting how Yogananda guidelines for day-to-day living are at fault in some way or other

The main source of SRF, its founder guru, goes on to complain in a letter about having his fellowship (above). Just to complain about it is not good enough either.

There are several fit, general guidelines to be found in Yogananda's teachings too, not only festering ones. But, beware of what is set in motion in your life - that matters. If you wake up, having slept much less than you really need, work hard, refrain from sex, cry long and hard - for Divine Mother to show Herself to you - perhaps in vain or worse - , and think you cleanse your body by orange juice alone one day a week and three days a month in addition, then you might do better. Then, is there a decent way out for you? Many leave SRF, but not Yogananda. Fear could be at the bottom of it in many cases.

The SRF Walrus was met with disregard by many of the SRF members:

It's not really worth wallowing in the mud going in that room. - Ellyn, on yoganandaji.org/board (4324&page=3)

Some who posted on the SRF Walrus stood up and claimed they had gone insane by the SRF methods and teachings. Here is a tricky problem: "Sane people give evidence that the judge may accept, hopefully" - If things are taken to courts, the SRF teachings and methods may become public as court evidence, and since they have tried to keep their kriya yoga secret for a long time, and tighten the reins a lot too - at any rate, they have not dragged anyone to court for getting insane from kriya yoga.

SRF typically does as for money and donations and inheritance . . . The SRF cure means Awakening. There is a Great Awakening, and minor ones, including waking up from stupid, very cultish, fetish idealisation of Yogananda. Still bear in mind "Advice, when most needed, is least heeded. (Mieder et al, 1996, 9)".

Ardent Yogananda devotees on another discussion board sum up:

"I would stay away from that site . . . [◦Source]

SRF lost the right to much Yogananda material in a 12-year long legal feud with its spin-off, the Church of Ananda (see Parsons 2012). SRF filed a massive lawsuit for trademark, publicity rights, and copyright infringement. The judge and jury favoured SRF in some respects. [◦Details] To comment on such doings: "Birds in their little nest agree; and 'tis a shameful sight, when children of one family fall out, and chide, and fight." [Isaac Watts]. However, a closer look reveals that birds in their nest do not always agree. Some nestlings are kicked out too. It happens among cult followers too.

Many who posted on the Walrus in its first five years or so, did it with fear in their hearts, and got so busy with it that the Walrus board swelled into making some of us much bored with it. "Posting is easier than helping (cf. Mieder et al, 1996, 11). - but here is the way out: Helping yourself is helping the world to the degree you are part of the world - as the centre of your own world perception. - The Catholic Church holds a similar view on charity. And a proverb along much the same line is: "Charity begins at home but does not have to end there (Mieder et al, 1996, 92)."

A complication: Yogananda teaches the world is pretence. If the world is illusory, as he says, he too would be illusory, his teachings, his kriya oath - and hence he would not count - and yet "Illusion is itself illusory," Ramana Maharsi said.

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From a Thread

The Walrus board moderator once got a letter, saying,

Why did you keep websites of scandals about the master. We could not believe. It is shocking. We worry that the scandal should not spoil the reputation of the Great Master.

The Walrus moderator's response on the SRF Walrus Forum:

Walrus Forum I replied to this person: . . . "I suggest you not read the website."

Well, a good reply can at times have many strains. If nasty truths can be told, perhaps they should. "An astronomer . . . doth not divine that in his own household his own womenfolk, being at variance, are misbehaving" [suggested: he should know it] - From Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, edited by W.Y. Evans-Wenz (1967, 62).

One should have an inkling of what is going on, and prefer companionship with the wise and truthful also.

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Decent Postings Deleted

The former SRF monastic and follower of Yogananda who started the Walrus discussion board, did not welcome critique of his guru Yogananda and deleted many pertinent messages, but not all of them. For example, a string about Yogananda praising dictatorship and Fascism was found there.

It hardly matters to know the exact details of the anonymous postings as time goes by, but for qualitative research purposes such ground data make much difference. I took the trouble to save and keep about ten thousand older Walrus postings in case these data too could be helpful or needed. I have also noted that some of these postings have been deleted since then, and the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine's copies were deleted too, which looked unnecessary. However, the first five years the Walrus was up, have been retrieved: [◦SRF Walrus backup site]

Simple Tips

The Yogananda who said bravo to dictatorship is flatteringly presented by SRF and most SRF Walrus postings. Others have been deleted.

Fascism, authoritarian cults, and their spin-offs have some characteristics in common. There are many sort and degrees of fascism, and no universally accepted definition. But characteristics may be spoken of anyway. That's what some books say, including the Encyclopaedia Britannica (s.v. "fascism").

Moreover, some traits can be measured. There are scales for it.

Fascism in Italy had it thus: "The Duce is always right (Il Duce ha sempre ragione)". The American Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) has nearly followed suit: has declared they find no fault with [often self-contradictive] Yogananda's guidelines. Neither is true. Better remain sane and judge the evidence.

  Contents  


SRF Yogananda Walrus, Literature  

Cohen, Henry. Talmudic Sayings. Cincinatti and Chicago: Bloch. 1984.

Dietz, Margaret Bowen Dietz. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998. -- It is online.

Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines. 2nd ed. London: Oxford University Press, 1967.

Kriyananda, Swami. The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda. 3nd ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2010.

Kriyananda, Swami. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.

Kriyananda, Swami. A Place Called Ananda: The Trial by Fire That Forged One of the Most Successful Cooperative Communities in the World Today. Rev 2nd ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2001.

Kriyananda, Swami. Yogananda for the World: Freeing His Legacy from Sectarianism. 3rd rev. ed. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012.

Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Novak, Devi. Faith is My Armor: The Life of Swami Kriyananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2005.

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. -- A good book; very informative.

Praver, Asha. Swami Kriyananda As We Have Known Him. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2006.

Sjølund, Arne. Gruppepsykologi. Oslo: Fabritius, 1974.

Sparham, Gareth, tr. The Tibetan Dhammapada: Sayings of the Buddha. Rev ed. London: Wisdom Publications, 1986.

SRF Walrus Discussion Forum. - [◦A 2006 Backup].

SRF Walrus Message Board. (2001-2011 - with the first five years or so revived for now)

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

Williamson, Lola. Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion. London: New York University Press, 2010.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1998.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Journey to Self-realization: Discovering the Gift of the Soul. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1998.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.

Notes

  1. . Swami Yogananda, in "The Bhagavad Gita - The Song of the Spirit Practical Application of the Teaching in First Stanza > Flattery and Criticism", in East-West, July, 1932 Vol. 4—9)
  2. Yogananda, Swami. "Overcoming Nervousness". in East-West, 2-5 July 1927 - August 1927. Yogananda, Swami. "Overcoming Pain and Sorrow" > "Four Recipes" in East-West, 3-5 July - August 1928.


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