Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. Don't get hung up on words . . . please remember. - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998
And this is to say . . . "Run for your life!" Why? To be saved. Erich Fromm discerns between "saved from" and "saved to". It is a good starter. Also, "saved" has many meanings. "Avoiding harm," "Escaping from something dangerous or unpleasant, "Protected", "Kept" are some.
And then there is the issue of salvation. Salvation as moksha, liberation, in Hinduism, is told to be attainable. Christian theologians understand salvation as a result of a given faith. A Catholic professor, "Father Mateo", declares that Yogananda teaches heresy.
We cannot please everybody (Norwegian proverb). The main question: May we be saved from Yogananda teachings or by them? Opinions differ, and also about which teachings . . . "Are there shades of grey between black and white?" might be well to ask too, in good time.
It helps to avoid lots of glorified beliefs
On the surface of things, books by Yogananda are spiritual. Another matter is how fulfilling they are as such. There are, for example, dogmatic undertones underneath some of the material. That may not surprise us once we know how Yogananda talked for dictatorship, until later events - a World War - silenced that sort of talk.
Yes, better be aware of grave guru blunders too, and not just sweet-looking, largely SRF edited talk. Assess both the sweet and the sour at first, for the sake of a fair presentation - what do you think of that? The blend could rescue a reader from getting duped and devoted and later cramped by lots of selected, cult-fit, dogmatic debris. So before investing time and money on books, read non-proselytic book review of them, so as to circle in great ones and avoid "lots of belief-plots".
As it is, Yogananda and his fellowship are somehow advocates of science too, but without having made very much along that line so far. However, that goal stands out from "Aims and Ideals" and the SRF Church articles of registration (1935). Proficient, fair enough, critical thinking and research forms science disciplines and scholarly avenues too. There is no reason to go for lots of blind belief like an underling and underdog. Learn instead to stick to rationality (advocated by Yogananda), so as to keep hard-won, non-dogmatic strains (advocated by Yogananda). Good has come out of very good research over the years.
A fellowship who allegedly seeks to unite religion and science (as pointed out in SRF's Aims and Ideals), could also found splendid SRF research facilities in honour of Yogananda who wanted meditation research. There are articles in his old magazines that tell just how he thought of meditation research. The guru also wanted an SRF university. His goals for it are in Self-Realization Fellowship's founding ◦articles of incorporation of 29 March 1935 (article 2e:18). He even tried to start the Spiritual World University atop Mount Washington (San Rafael Avenue, Los Angeles) in 1941, but it closed after a short time. However, that does not mean the guru's ideals and aims and his original SRF Church deed article for it are invalid, or that his aims of self-supporting communities are. That SRF later - in the 1950s, after Yogananda died in 1952 - very quietly did away with some of the SRF Church's ideals and articles, and also some of Yogananda's basic goals for the fellowship, should not be the grave of guru aims: Yogananda wanted meditation research and a university. The SRF spin-off Ananda is getting a college in addition to Ananda communities worldwide.
By comparison, later-coming Maharishi Mahesh Yogi got an accredited US university and much research into effects of Transcendental Meditation, TM. Many things are possible outside SRF.
World University and research
- are not just glory words; they oblige too. Attitudes, ways of dealing with ideas, and further - had better be sound. There is much to learn from science other than presenting kriya yoga as "scientific" too. One has to do the walk and not just do airy "devotee talk" in order to gain in spirituality: it is not very much a religious matter of chatter.
Also, great learning forums are fit for those who want to or need to be true to Yogananda's ideals, as a matter of pledged loyalty. Yogananda talks against blind belief also.
Yogananda intimations debated
There are Yogananda ideals and what SRF has been up to. They did not change only the guru's signature! Also, before you go into the well-selling books that are ascribed to Yogananda, there are some basic ideas of sane editing (free from forgeries) and textual criticism to take to heart. Find out how stenographers tried to find out what he meant, wrote it down and filled in some time later. The former SRF vice president Kriyananda tells how Yogananda would "touch lightly on a point, . . . [and] left the task of expanding on, or explaining, [to his disciples.]." An intimation that is elaborated on by others some decades later (or too late) and published to form sentences that differ among editors, how ideal is such stuff?" It may be debated. [The way it was done - I hope they keep the sources (stenographs) unadultered].
It would be good if a fellowship that stands for science, goes ahead and edits books by top standards. In an ideal world . . . SRF editors and their published books could have profited from that. There are changes that can bring disrepute already. Be that as it may, here are Yogananda-related books and pointed remarks on some of them.
On the next pages are book reviews of works by or on Paramahansa Yogananda, founder of Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF. The main body consists of works published by SRF. Other and related literature by Ananda Church and others is listed below that again.