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Discussion Wise Fellows

Those Who Need Advice Are Not All Likely to Take It

Hindsight is probably not as good as foresight. To learn from one's harms and damages may not be so good as not to get damaged, deranged and the like either. Why, 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 monastic and quit with much hindsight may be all right, but not to wake up numbed and filled with fears and despair. But it is fit to allow for individual differences.

Wise persons and walruses like to be separate from many false, lying, misleading, sham, dishonest and deceptive ones and seldom give them any thought.

"Rebuke me a million times - do scold med now!" says Yogananda [Pa 432]. And in another place, "Our best friends are those who criticise us the most . . . who never condone our faults".

Attitudes fit for authoritarianism and an unforgiving social climate, right there!

But 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 evolve that basic idea: "Advice is something the wise don't need and the fools won't take [Ap 9]." A variant: "Fools need advice most, but wise men only are the better for it [Ap 10]." Apropos, "He asks advice in vain who will not follow it [Ap 10]."

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

There are rather strikingly different judgements about Self-Realization Fellowship. Some say it is good; some have not made up their minds about it if they have heard of it; and others say it is bad or too bad. 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.

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.

Yogananda hindsight

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 that. 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"]]

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 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.

A Recent SRF Exodus

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 and there was fear on board. There were nearly thirty thousands postings. A backup of the board up to 2006 is online (2017).

Lola Williamson (2010) offers a survey of problems many ex monastics of SRF had before they left the organisation that Yogananda had started. [Further]. Good as her book is, there is more to tell.

"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. What could be wrong with that in the light of Yogananda's letter to someone "back home"? The wider implications of that letter can really spring to the eye, or what?

"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.

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. 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.

What may assist a person, is to spend time in fit quality meditation. Such meditation can be its best advocate, delightful and helpful. And very beneficial meditation can be propped up by quality research!

Discussing Ex Monastics with Their 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: "The board of anonymous posters - you can drop it." 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, the good contribution may have "well respected authors, solid publishers and preferably a fair acedemic degree" to support it somehow, for example by referring to them.

Landseal helps Walrus evidence on and up again

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, called Landseal [◦Link]. Landseal too noticed how traces of the once large forum disappeared, with very little of it availible, and remedied the matter very, very well. A phoenix has risen from the ashes.

Landseal and others found parts of all the information on the huge board to be a help against negative sides to SRF membership, and may still be happy to embrace and enjoy its positive parts - such as the vital elements of the hoary Hindu heritage. However, on the Walrus board there are also shadows of the guru Yogananda and problems he has given many who have got under the influence.

Landseal did not like the idea that the Walrus content should be lost, and in 2006 used an automatic website downloader to keep much of its information. It contains evidence of what had been going on in the life of SRF and the worlds of former SRF monastics and others that could have become a bit shy or fallen from hardships and setbacks. Some of them blame SRF, but hardly the guru they submitted to and by steps were subordinated by until they felt "too shy or old or misfit for settling and marrying" - perhaps. It needs to be investigated firsthand (qualitatively) and then statistically to get reliable figures in the crucial matter of entering and leaving a cult headed by monastics and become one of them first, before leaving.

No more Kriyananda-like ex-SRFers?

Nayaswami Kriyananda was an SRF deflector with his own favorite blend of teachings, and so on.

In 1962 the vice president of SRF, the recently deceased ◦Swami Kriyananda, was asked by the SRF Board of Directors to resign. He did not like that! Afterwards, if not before, he had reasons to suspect some things had gone too wrong with SRF, and went on to forge his own church, Ananda. He had his reasons.

Kriyananda is the author of about 150 published books and the composer of over 400 pieces of music which altogether have sold over three million copies. Some of the books have been published in 28 languages and some are sold in 90 countries. He has lectured in different countries throughout the world. In addition to English, he spoke Italian, Romanian, Greek, French, Spanish, German, Hindi, Bengali, and Indonesian. He established a new Swami order in 2009, the Nayaswami Order. . . [Such Swamis can be single or married, and be freely creative, it is stated.]

Kriyananda established Ananda Village as a World Brotherhood Colony in 1968 on 160,000 m2 of land near Nevada City, California . . . According to Kriyananda, [it is] a supportive environment of "simple living and high thinking" where 1,000 full-time residents live, work, and worship together. . . [such followers also revere Yogananda and his words]

There are over 125 Ananda Meditation groups in 19 countries . . .

Kriyananda created Ananda yoga.

[WP, sv. "Kriyananda"]

Ananda presents itself as a global movement that is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. They produce videos, articles, online books, and online classes and more. [◦Ananda Sangha]

The history of Kriyananda is that he was productive and gained a reputation, litigations and massive scandals after he had fallen away in 1962 . . . SRF-wise, that is. After a faltering, halted start he rose. He describes sides to it in his autobiography, ◦The New Path.

As for the other SRF monastics who left the premises forty years later, all of them have not finished the long race of life yet, supposedly. Allowing for some years of suspended activity, they could rise into prominence, they too, after forty years, give and take, if they don't do it already. Who knows?

Forty years after the SRF vice-president was sacked, about one third of the SRF monastics left the SRF premises. "The life of a monk isn't easy!" said SRF-monk Bhavananda once. It is not always easy for a monk or nun to drop living as monks either. It depends on part on how deeply commited they once were, how long they were in the environment that was not of a laissez-faire type, for sure, and probably of individual factors, like stress-resistance - and knowledge, actual handling-knowledge fit for the art of living. The life changes and challenges for ex monastics may stand in a queue - and the life conditions and stages of former acquantainces and friends have changed much, and all those pretty girls and handsome guys married already. So ex monastics may feel out of step on the outside, and ex prisoners too.

The many exodus-monastics in SRF, did they join the Ananda Church to serve like monastics there? A few actually entered Ananda. As for others, did they form their own brands of monastics or institutions like him? Maybe. In the earlier phases of SRF such things happened too. Some folks broke with Yogananda and set up yoga-related things of their own.

The ex-monastics that left the SRF premises could have banded together to form Yogananda-inspired ideal communities where members went in sandals, or barefooted and hatless in the howling winter cold in Alaska or high up in the Rocky Mountains, for example.If they did not, if they did not die from Yogananda' demands and the winter cold combined, I have not heard of that either. [Yogananda's crude ideals for his communities]

I favour another explanation of why ex-SRF monastics do not rise and shine in the public eye.

  • It has not been told who most of them are.
  • They have been given or fed SRF-favouring ideas against Kriyananda's church, and not joined it, even though such a solution might suit most of them, somehow akin to "You never know till you trie."
  • Many ex-SRF monastics could have got glitches deep inside, glitches coming in the way for frivolous dealings to grow by in the outer world.
  • Etc.

Fresh out of the monastery some felt sad, but some also contributed to the SRF Walrus. 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.

"Big at first. Now gone. The phoenix has risen, though." Landseal says further: "It may be here one year... or longer. . . . My putting it back as a resource is meant to help those who look for means to come to terms with their srf past or present."

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. An SRF monk once told me, "It's not easy being a monk." I figure former SRF monastics can say something similar, for example, "It's not easy being a former monk of SRF." The SRF Walrus board shows sides to it. Some of the posts were much biased, and a slightly paranoic vein ran through it in former days, but that is not all there was to it. First, it offered looks into an otherwise close environment, a monastic enclave. Second, spurious information with lack of reliability at times sprang to the eye. Third, I had fun reading into it and participating somewhat too. We are not all alike.

To elaborate a little: In 2001-02 about one third of the SRF monastics left the SRF premises, disgruntled far and wide. They got severe problems in its wake, for in SRF, common monastics are hardly ever allowed allowed to find fault with the guru and his teachings. His particular church rides on his hybrid Hindu-Christian tenets, which in part consist of sham Christianity, and has gained cult dogmatism to support it, although it is not fair. When many monastics and other members left in the early 2000s, they took very much the guru verbiage 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 the cult they got a freer position in from leaving the monastery premises, is far from "original Christianity as taught by Jesus Christ", even though they hold up such a facace in public, in the SRF Aims and Ideals. For one thing, monasticism was no part of any "Jesus Christianity"; it appeared in the 200s CE. If SRF monastics were informed or honest, they would admit they have been had and go on to refrain from spreading such crap. [◦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. Former SRF members rather consistently pass by their parts in keeping the cult intact by submitting to it and its creed. After all, how long can you be fooled by pompous rigor, narcissist-great-looking words and "togas" when what is stated does not conform to many central life experiences? The Walrus message board was set up by a former monastic, and soon dozens started to communicate with one another there, but for most part anonymously, and very rarely offering critique of Yogananda, who set the sect in motion, and repented, but "too little, too late" it seems. [◦Major 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! Worse, those who rightly targeted the guru as a key source of future problems in the sect, were banned from the Walrus Board. I think everyone who fairly did so, including myself. And finally the board folded in, "banning itself" and the labour of its participants.

Unresolved conflicts were quite easy to observe - some wrote of deep problems and traumas, and of resorting to psychoteraphy. One of the hot spots was 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", for example admitting that "It takes two to tango". In the first years there were not many self-searching posts from people who tried to find out "What was it in me that made me vulnerable to this sect and its teachings in the first place?" In this respect some shared a problem with divorced couples - after a break-up there is vulnerability and a desire to talk and blame much on the other part, but maybe little self-searching so as to escape committing similar mistakes in times ahead. After some time with less pressures, some gather their wits about them, reassess some, and concede a little too.

As for SRF Walrus board, some did not feel called to write markedly fondly of others.

Less Friendly Goings

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" . . . [Ak 456].

When a loyal, devoted bunch of people wants to believe someone blindly and risk being taken in through it, insecurity can be one of its causes of such a cultlike fallacy. Anyway, insecurity or shyness make many young persons enter cults, according to Dr Philip Zimbardo.

Note Yogananda guidelines for day-to-day living is at fault in some way or other

And then the source of "a thousand or three" slipshod directives and guidelines go on to complain in a letter about having starting an organisation - his fellowship (above). That is not the way to do it - either.

Now, there are some good main guidelines too, not only festering ones, but the dross and mess can override the gold for sure. What is set in motion in your life, that matters a lot. If you wake up, having slept much less than you really need, work hard, refrain from sex, cry long and hard - probably completely in vain - for Divine Mother to show Herself to you, and think you cleanse your body by orange juice alone one day a week and three days a month in addition - chances are you are being screwed by Yogananda and his Fellowship managers since. If you find you might do better than be fooled so greatly, is there a way out for you? That is the question. Many leave SRF, but not Yogananda: if great fear could be at the bottom of it, that is hard to tell.

The SRF Walrus stated it was

Walrus Forum intended to help those who have been involved closely with Self Realization Fellowship . . . For most it is shocking when they get a close look at the reality of what the organization is like and it brings their loyalty to SRF and Yogananda into question . . . Should we stay involved or just develop a personal relationship with Yogananda [he died in 1952] that does not involve SRF? . . . Come help us. [Wal]

The Walrus was met with disregard, anyway:

It's not really worth wallowing in the mud going in that room. - Ellyn,

Still, the above is what the Walrus moderator wrote herself/himself, and attached a little red devil icon to. Allround reliability was not always seen among reiterated fractions of an unquestioned New Age faith and mysticism of former lives and other subjects that may be awfully hard to verify.

Actually, 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 not ask for help, other than money and donations and inheritance . . . And may I add, "Not all who ask for help, really want it if it is given." Sometimes the cure requires a bitter pill, such as awakening from stupid, very cultish, fetish idealisation of Yogananda. And still bear in mind "Advice, when most needed, is least heeded. [Ap 9]".

Ardent Yogananda devotees on another discussion board sum up:

"I would stay away from that site . . . They do not listen to reason and the only reason it exists is to detract the teachings, be dismissive of disciples who stayed and negatively impact SRF and Masters [Yogananda's] teachings . . . Flies like to gather around filth." The moderator of that second board agreed with the content, but added, "To disparage a board that disparages others makes one board just like the other."

Another points out: "A board made up by disgruntled ex-members cannot possibly say nice things about SRF, and is hardly what I would call an unbiased source of information." [◦Source]

Speaking of court cases, SRF lost the right to much Yogananda material in a 12-year long legal feud with its spin-off, the Church of Ananda. SRF filed a massive lawsuit for trademark, publicity rights, and copyright infringement. The judge and jury did not favour SRF in all respects, but some of them. [◦Details]

"Birds in their little nest agree; and 'tis a shameful sight, when children of one family fall out, and chide, and fight." [Isaac Watts]

The truth is that birds in their nest do not always agree, and some nestlings are kicked out too. Still it is a pity when it happens, and happens among seemingly evolved guru followers too.

Now, anyway, for the benefit of the blessed few who may take pieces of advice, more or less:

Posting after posting on the early Walrus tried to solve some hard problems of SRF nuns and monks for them, but at a distance, and never talking to the SRF leaders in person, and many with fear in their hearts, for reasons that outsiders do not know the full reasons for. Moreover, the Walrus posting ones did not seem to take into into account the wisdom of proverbs like:

  • He who gives advice for nothing could be a bigger fool than he who takes it [cf. Ap 10].
  • Take your own advice, you'll be too busy to bore others with it [Ap 10].
  • Advising is easier than helping [Ap 11].

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 [Ap 92]."

Buddhism You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection. [Buddha, attr.]

Yogananda teaches the world is pretence. If the world is illusory, as he says, he too would be illusory, his teachings, his fear-allied kriya oath - and hence he would not count. So why serve the guru in illusion? Isn't it pretence? Maybe, although "Illusion is itself illusory", as Ramana Maharsi says -

From a Walrus 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:

"To answer your questions...

1) Most here are long term devotees of Yogananda's.
2) We are not keeping a website of scandals about our Master. The scandals are about the organization he started which is seriously off track. Because of our love of Master we are attempting to prevent SRF from harming more of his loving devotees. Most who come in contact with the core of SRF leave Master. We think that is a crime.

Since you are so far away, I am sure this all looks terrible. I am sincerely sorry for any offense. I can assure you that most of what I read here is true. The stupid scandal about Master fathering a child is an unfortunate addition most of us think is wrong. That scandal, however, is hardly the brunt of what this website is about. (Still, people are free to discuss on the website what ever they want to)

I suggest you not read the website. You are protected from his organization, being so far away, and therefore also can't be part of any solution. Your prayers for his organization can and will help."

Do any of you care to answer this person also? If so include a message in this thread.

At least (s)he got this helping hand from me. Here it is:

"A reply can have many strains. I came to think of these:

  1. "Why did you keep websites of scandals about the master."

    It finds favour with the godhead, that is the simplest answer I see fit. It is far, far better in the long run to try for that than just be assuming things are right and next brand a bit on top of that again. I refer to "a blind-eyed way of writing or behaving" here.

  2. "We could not believe. It is shocking. We worry that the scandal should not spoil the reputation of the Great Master."

    To this: Very human reactions are told of. But they are hardly good enough. It is human to "guard one's face" to save the reputation, but what may be sacrificed thereby is candour, real sincerity from inside and out. And if nasty truths can be told, perhaps they should, so as to "nourish" badly treated and infirm people. It has to be considered.

Further, Nagarjuna says according to one source, "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 - Tiy 62.

That note goes along with the Walrus words, "We are attempting to prevent SRF from harming more of his loving devotees. Most who come in contact with the core of SRF leave Master."

One should know what is going on, at least when what is going in is highly important. And maybe "Companionship with the wise and truthful must be preferred to companionship with those who are sovereignty-stuck" and "thus loaded" as well. [Edited at: 18 June 2002].

This Information

The former SRF monastic and follower of Yogananda who started the Walrus discussion board, has also made it clear that critique of Yogananda would not be welcome on the board, but would be deleted. The Walrus Forum moderator has deleted many pertinent messages for that reason, but not consistently. For example, a string about Yogananda praising dictatorship and Fascism was found there. I have made use of it.

Since the board actually is a cult aftermath, one should perhaps not expect that the cultural level of the large society is attained: Putting lids or limits on the freedom of speech and such things, the ex cult member Walrus has hindered valuable information about Yogananda.

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 a big difference. So 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. In spring 2011 almost everything on the board was gone, and later the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine's copies were deleted too. However, the first five years the Walrus was up, are retrieved: [◦SRF Walrus backup site]

Simple Tips

The looming "Walrus" discussion board in part became unwieldy or burdensome because of many long strings with changes of topics. A simple rule of thumb appears: When there is a change of subject, new thread may be made.

There are degrees of many things - for example, the way farmers handle pigs may resemble how Nazis handled humans in concentration camps, except the pigs get well fed . . . the main point: Some features are shared to some degree, and there is no denying of that, and there should be no denying that Yogananda supported dictatorship in his own magazine either. He was not a Jew in Germany-occupied countries. [The evidence]

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.


SRF Walrus, Literature  

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

Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Theosophical, 1946.

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

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

Goa: Nikhilananda, swami, tr. The Gospel of Ramakrishna. Abridged ed. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1974.

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

Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1971.

Rap: Gupta, Mahendranath. The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna. New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1942.

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

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

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

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

Was: SRF Walrus Message Board.

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