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The Science of Religion. 2nd ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982

This is the first book that was published in Yogananda's name. He had not accommodated much to American culture when the book was written - it might have been by the ghost writer Dhirananda - so he talks for the art of dying by kriya yoga in it. [yogananda-explains.html].

In the light of kriya yoga research any "kriya death" is not full and complete and irrevocable, but rather suspended animation, which is "healthy," according to Yogananda. As long there is no brain damage, that might very well be.

Recently the former vice president of SRF, called Kriyananda, has made an extracted version of the book, with added comments, and this take is online as God Is for Everyone [data is on another page].

Scientific Healing Affirmations. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Scientific? Yogananda teaches you how to make regular, good use of the subconscious mind by visualisations and affirmations in order to stimilate healing, prevent diseases, and learn chanting on different levels. Loud, audible chanting should fade into whispers, and then to mental chanting, subconscious chanting, and superconscious chanting, he says. The same inward-turning process holds good for mantra chanting too. The guru claims that mental methods are superior to material ones [that would depend a lot on the disease, though]. [p. 31, 53]

Example: "O Heavenly Father, O Cosmic Mother, / O Master mine, O Friend Divine, / . . . I am Thy child, Thou are my Father; / We both do dwell, we both do dwell, / In temple same, / In this temple of cells, / Oh, in this temple of cells." [p. 44]

PS. We may well dispense with the 'O's and 'Oh's and archaic ways of speaking, but not hay and chewing cows throughout winter. Better get to handsome meanings.

Another tip or three: "Better untaught than ill taught". Now, Christopher Hansard has written books on Tibetan ways of doing some of these things and others. Three books:

Hansard, Christopher. 2001. The Tibetan Art of Living: Wise Body, Mind, Life. New York: Atria Books.

⸻. 2003. The Tibetan Art of Positive Thinking: Skilful Thought for Successful Living. New York: Atria Books.

⸻. 2006. The Tibetan Art of Serenity: How to Conquer Fear and Gain Contentment. London: Hodder Mobius.


I will show you how to develop and use skilful thought energy in order to create benefits and success in specific areas of your life . . .

I will also show you how to help and encourage others . . .

I will show you . . . how to develop your conscousness . . ." (Hansard 2003, 39)

From the history: The last decade or so shows Hansard helped many persons to criticise him and encourage other critics, and perhaps to develop more critical consciousness. As time went by, many antagonistic voices were silenced, while selling advertising remained.

"Buyer beware." Apply a little sound, critical thinking to avoid falling for marketing efforts of others and be considerate enough. Some fail in that. Yet we often derive benefits from looking above skirmishes or lies to get to silver or benefits. Books help some of us. Yet, more than reading, repeating words or phrases, and attending to courses may be needed.

Apply with care to get beneficial by and large.

The Second Coming of Christ: The Resurrection of the Christ Within You. 2 Vols. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2004.

The book is printed on paper.

Two versions of Yogananda lore. Sections of the four canonical gospels appear in "75 discourses over some 1500 pages". Another version that SRF did not edit up to get all that bulky, is about one quarter as thick, yet containing "the Original unchanged writings" of Yogananda. The slimmer work is published by Amrita in Dallas.

What the Americanised guru does throughout his Second Coming, is to read yoga meanings into words in the gospels, and doing it wholesale.

In SRF's much worked-on edition a section of extra information is also supplied, containing ca. 40 pages of more Yogananda outpourings, an appropriate glossary, and a well worked index. The SRF book takes off from chunks of Bible passages from King James Version, which was completed in 1611, and is still readable - even though there are more recent translations around.

The basis is the same for both versions: Yogananda commentaries first appeared as serialised instalments over the years in his magazine. They may have been much edited already then. Says Satyaswarananda: "His handwritten letters in English and Bengali (his mother language) . . . revealed he was weak in both these languages." [3]. It is likely that a vast part of Yogananda's SRF-published works have been much worked on by SRF.

Purity. The SRF publishers talk of preserving the "purity" of Yogananda's output and of unspecified guidelines he gave for preparing and publishing, and say that SRF "faithfully conveys his teachings as he himself intended they be given." The former SRF president, Daya Mata, tells how she and her sister wrote down on a typewriter what Yogananda dictated [xvii, iv, xvi]. What SRF does not inform about, is just how Yogananda's dictated output was handled.

The editor (etc.) Kriyananda tells about SRF changes made in Yogananda books after his death in 1952, and: "That he requested more than a handful of them [the changes] is a myth. SRF has effective control over his material, and can make changes in it with impunity, with the claim that he authorized them. I was there at the time myself, however, and was actively involved in editorial activities. I know that the greater part of those changes were not authorized by Master [Yogananda]." [1]

Kriyananda further divulges that Yogananda's "preferred way of expressing himself was to touch lightly on a point . . . It was to us, his disciples, usually, that he left the task of expanding on, or explaining, the truths he presented in condensed form in his writings." [2] This vital point was confirmed by SRF when the Himalayan Academy contacted them about the wide differences between different versions of Yogananda's Rubaiyat Commentary. The following quote is from Hinduism Today (1994, No. 10: "Wine of the Mystic"): "It was startling . . . to learn that in neither edition is one even offered the original writing of Paramahansa Yogananda. Self-Realization Fellowship explained that all of Paramahansa Yogananda's writings had been so edited". [More]

So there is genuine purity and pretended "purity":

Wholly sure or better? Yogananda reinterprets many New Testament passages. Where he so decides, he says that this and that saying really means something else than what is written there. His fellowship supports their guru claims that Jesus meant something else than what the gospels tell he said. How could they know?

When it comes to tough nuts to crack, Yogananda-SRF uses the method of saying that Jesus spoke metaphorically, figuratively, such as of hellfire? [p. 466, 466n].

A weakness of Yogananda's interpretation is the lack of Textual Bible criticism. Information about the differences between John and the three other gospels is lacking. As mentioned, Bible scholars tell we cannot be wholly sure that Jesus is quoted correctly (verbatim) in any of the four canonical gospels and any other old writing. The gospel of Mark may be the nearest we get, concludes Geza Vermes in The Authentic Gospel (2005). Mark and Matthew, are closest in time to the life of Jesus, and may be the best sources at hand yet, or among them. However, it may not be that simple. It is not how little time a tale has been told and retold, but how well. And people differ. Christian canon differs too.

What happened to Jesus for Jews only in the hands of Yogananda? Dr Vermes also finds that Jesus the Jew barred his teachings from non-Jews. (Matthew 10:1-8; 15:24; Vermes 2010:37,41; 2012). He sums up:

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). . . . 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)

Teachings meant for Jews only, are they being taken well care of among Gentiles? Acts 15:19-29 shows that all the apostles and the Spirit agreed and did not include any of the sayings and commands of Jesus for Gentile followers. Since then, the Apostolic Decree from the Council in Jerusalem from about 50 CE is the foundation of Christianity. Written gospels were added later - maybe a dozen or so of divergent gospels at first. Four were singled out later and edited to agree better with one another, but not perfectly anyhow.

"The missionary command at the end of the gospel of Matthew is a later-added forgery." With such basic givens, why comment on sayings of Jesus for Jews only?

One had better appreciate that Jesus-commands quite like "Go and maim yourself, embrace poverty, and turn the other cheek" (see Matthew 5) and so on is not meant for Gentiles, but Jews. However, not any Jews, but only ill ones, tells Jesus. It is often forgotten. [See for yourself]

In this light it makes sense to maintain: "I have not found it worthwhile to read all this Yogananda material so far. Maybe later, but I doubt it a lot."

Where There Is Light: Insight and Inspiration for Meeting Life's Challenges. Paperback. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2000.

This book is of the same kind as The Master Said (alias Sayings of Yogananda), in that it consists of Yogananda sayings. They are thematically arranged under headings such as "Achieving Your Goals". Quote: "Nothing is impossible, unless you think it is. [p. 57]" In that case, can you create a shoe that is so big that you cannot see the end of it, even with binoculars, yet it fits your foot for walking very well? And can you/God create a stone that is so heavy that it is impossible for you/God to lift it? Do tell. The lesson is clear: Falling for juggler tricks and gross exaggerations over and over, for doing that could be to your loss.

The motivation to get a book on living fearlessly may be a hope for mastering fear through tips from a guru. Of so, a book like this could address fearful ones first and foremost.

Was Yogananda a fearless one throughout his life? He shivered with horror when he told of one of his past lives. And after he had started a school in Ranchi, India, one night he screamed out from his room. He said a cot had come through his closed door, and a horrific being sat on that cot. From that time on a student had to sleep on a cot in Yogananda's room. Yogananda said that if he slept alone, some of the times he woke up in fear. That is what Sailendra Dasgupta tells on the last page of his Yogananda biography. [Psy 112]

Is there a lesson of learning from an experienced man here? Someone who has tackled or overcome his greatest fears, could well be someone to learn a trick or three from! It appears to apply to Buddha too. He overcame fears of being alone in the jungle in a certain way, we read.

I thought: 'Why do I always expect fear and dread where I dwell? What if I subdue that fear and dread while keeping the same posture that I am in when it comes upon me?" [Buddha about dread]

Yogananda is at times almost into useful sayings too. "Go deep and seek the Infinite Source" [p. 68]. The "Go deep" part is good, and conforms to the way of Transcendental Meditation, TM. A regular routine of TM and activity should enhance the value of both and ensure you are on a good footing too.

In good and deep meditation terms or concepts like "infinite" must be overcome and discarded.

Another notion: When Yogananda tells of all the things "he" has accomplished, he was not the Doer ("God is the Sole Doer," and "The world is a dream," he teaches in several places). At any rate, he got much help from others throughout. They gave him money and land, and worked a lot as he directed them to. It is not all unlike when kings or religious heads went to war before: others bore some of the burdens and were maimed and killed and victimised. So it should be wise to use the faculty of discrimination and take care who and what you put faith in.

⚶ ⚶ ⚶

Everyone thinks his copper is gold. (Danish).

There's more to life than wishful and odious thinking far and wide.

Bear the truth even if it be bitter! - Rabbi Shlomo ben Yehudah, in Mivchar Hapeninim (1484)


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