Kriya yoga, a way to die
In the first book that Yogananda (1893-1952) is credited with, the great aim is to teach others how to die, and the means is called kriya yoga. It is a breathing method. The core kriya method is public.
In the book Yogananda tells how good it is to die at will, what great benefits come with it, and so on. "We ought not to fear to practice conscious death . . . Death will then be under our control," writes Yogananda. And the official cause of his death was heart failure [p. 57-58]. (WP, "Paramahansa Yogananda").
How to live well comes first and is far more amiable than Sideshow Bob's chest tattoo, "DIE BART, DIE" (in "Cape Feare", the Simpsons episode where the Sideshow Bob character explains it is German for "THE BART, THE"). Thus, Yogananda came for "THE WESTERNERS, THE" and wanted to let many, many learn how to die. However, it could take many lives of practice to accomplish it, the saying goes.
Years later Yogananda seems to have got second thoughts about this motivational approach: Now he focused on kriya yoga as a means to godly joy while alive - probably a more enticing way of promoting kriya yoga and the guru-submission along with it.
The book which the following quotations and gist is from, took off from lectures that Yogananda gave at a conference in Boston in 1920. Some say he had a ghost writer to help him also. That figures. [Who the ghost-writer may have been]
The lectures were later copyrighted - in 1953 and still later by Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), the guru's California-registered church of 1935. It is included in a list of cults or sect in Belgian governmental documents - ◦but that may not be taken as proper cult evidence.
All books by Yogananda published before his passing in 1952 are in the public domain (His magazine articles and lessons published before 1943 are in the public domain too). And the cult he once started and then in a letter regretted he had started, saying he had done such a foolish thing by it, made many changes to the editions published after Yogananda's death. (Data at page bottom).
❋ A man has learned much, who has learned how to die. - Proverb
Reading critically is good.
The four summaries below in particular capture the essence of much that Yogananda taught, and could serve toward such an aim.
1 - Shabby views first, and religious-nebulous talk all too often later: what kind of help is that?
A DEATH-TRAP of shabby views takes genuine interest in yoga and fixes it in basically unhealthy ways, so that gullible and inexperienced guys get bound for a life-time, in addition to becoming shallow through defence mechanisms that grow in a sect. But it does not have to be that way, and below we present gist from a book called The Science of Religion, by Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), according to the publishers, SRF. Others, however, have stated that the book was written for Yogananda by a ghost writer (further down).
I hope the terse sayings help far and wide against notorious, gullible and blind belief in Yogananda. As it is, the extracts present the good points in the book. They are many. What is put in square brackets, [ ] and in smaller, inserted texts, is added by me. Extracts are marked with 'Cf.'
2 - Don't let your authenticity shy away, or you could be in for impoverishing your future
IN HIS preface of 1927, Douglas Ainslee is credited with "Reading this small book by Paramahansa Yogananda". However, Yogananda's title was 'swami' then; he was not given the paramhansa title before 1935-36, he says in his Autobiography. He signed 'paramhansa', not 'paramahansa' - which came into use around 1958. The fellowship he left, thus signal they don't think their guru knew how to write his own title. They even forged his 'paramhansa' signature, which was not called for, and which seems crank. There is much evidence in the matter. See for example this link: [Link].
Monastics - monks, nuns and so on, should not get away with foul play. Authenticity is recommended some steps above that. SRF, the publishers, have not shyed away from forging pictures either. For example, for many years the SRF "altar picture" of the guru of Yogananda was mirrored, trimmed far beyond necessity, but not tampered with as drastically as shovelling an uneven ground.
It shows inferior handling to succumb to forgeries where plain authenticity is at stake.
A formerly sacked SRF vice president has furnished a loose, online version of the book. But on this site is its gist, and more points are added, sometimes comments too. Most of the unrewarding wordiness of the book has been peeled off in the hope that you find good points that could enrich a life, and thus contain some way (Tao for you. - TK
The age of logic is here. You must look in the face of every experience with intelligent discrimination until you understand it . . . in this age of analysis, you must seek that understanding. - Paramahansa Yogananda, The Divine Romance, 1986, p. 75.
This book discusses Inward Being
THIS BOOK seeks to make religion a question of our whole inward being [Yogananda, p. 7] (1)
This books also aims to point out the universality and unity of religion. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 5]
There is no unity of religions so far. Instead of talking about religion, clean spirituality may be the focus that pays.
This book seeks to present the Godhead which has a direct bearing on the minutes of our lives. [Yogananda, p. 1]
To realize God is to realize the Self inside, is the teaching
GOD-CONSCIOUSNESS, or realization of God is above dogma. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 6] (4)
God-Consciousness is of spirituality, or better: the other way round.
What we conceive of the One, differs
WHATEVER conception we have of God, if it does not influence our daily conduct [for the better], if everyday life does not find [more than] an inspiration from it, that conception is of little or no use. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 2] (5)
Theoretical inspiration will perhaps flounder, but hardly directly felt gladness welling forth from deep inside.
What we conceive of God should be of hourly guidance to us. That is a compelling definition. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 3] (7)
Ideally, it is not our conceptions that should guide us, but God's voice from inside - a still, small voice -
God is one [Means]. [Yogananda, p. 6]
Where people talk very much of God, they are up to something. Everybody is up to something. But those who have got a "divine mouth-cramp" are perhaps worse off than many who drink beer. What is meant is that the experience of your deep inside is all right, and called God.
GUIDANCE: Be aware that some work their ways on and up by pointing to things that should be good for your life, in order to yogi-tie you deep in your everyday life.
Deep Bliss and Consciousness is of One Mind (Essence)
WHAT IS God? [Yogananda, p. 45] (1)
If you know, you know within somehow. Heartfelt belief is not cramped or dogmatic. It is more of an attunement. Now, bringing your insides out has its trials also. Better protect yourself in the yoga ways: A hermitage may be good.
Get a firm hold on this: God is Deep Bliss. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 48-49]
Bliss is a consciousness of deep, inner poise and peace. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 36]
Bliss-consciousness is also stressed in Buddhism [Cf. Yogananda, p. 52n.]
The world may be likened to a stage. [Yogananda, p. 55]
The world may be likened to anything, but not all such likenings help. Some serve to tame followers, like the stage simile.
He that has attained Bliss-consciousness will feel the world is a stage. [Yogananda, p. 58]
Maybe so, maybe not.
With Pure Bliss as a personal motive, the altruist is broad enough to seek it. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 13]
There is an "ego" or "self" which governs mind functions and perceives itself to be the same. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 25]
Either money comes to be earned to meet wants or for its own sake. That may not be how our misery begins. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 32, 33]
Miseries come for many reasons.
The sense of identification with the transitory body and [more or less] restless mind is [one] deep cause of . . . misery. There are others. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 27]
Listening certainly is a good thing. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 16]
We all aim at Bliss, or happiness, which we feel inwardly. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 10 opp] (2)
He means that if you lack money in the bank, a cottage by the sea and a few cars, you should seek them inside. Maybe you have to deserve the things you lack too. There are immediate aims, long-range aims and aims in between the immeditate and long-range aims - but at bottom - like the bass in the band - there is a desire for joy (bliss), and it is far more important that the need for love. That is a part of the teachings.
Does pleasure depend on outward objects? [Yogananda, p. 41]
The view of Abraham Maslow is that you have many levels of needs, and that lots of them need to be fulfilled for you to function well. Go ahead and then free your time to delve (meditate, contemplate) as you can afford to. That is Buddhist thinking too.
Intuition is a calm and direct grasp
DEVELOPED intuition grasps directly, and is the direct grasp of truth. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 47] (3)
Transcendent calm is reached in higher Bliss-consciousness. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 53n.] ◊
In this world, reflect God-Bliss if you are up to it
GOD IS an inner experience. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 46] (5)
False ideas lure people astray. Some are better at it than others. *
God-Bliss is found in intuitive consciousness, in intuitive, deep Mind. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 47] (6)
Realization of Bliss-consciousness - of our own nature - has its degrees. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 37]
Desire involves 'excitation'. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 27]
In this complex world our lives are nothing but plays. [Yogananda, p. 57]
He did not get rid of that 'play' idea. You should ask how useful it may be, dissolve it before it harms your whole life, and get going.
'I now have no pain' is what mainly constitutes for men the charm of pleasure. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 29]
That is a strange, nay, reductionistic view. Pleasure is the response to fulfilled needs and a life well lived too.
The man of Self-realization knows that God is the Doer. [Yogananda, p. 54-55]
This teaching becomes dangerous as the cult develops. It serves to discredit followers, make leaders all right no matter what they concoct, and there are still more practical dangers as well.
Seeking God becomes a real fact once you behave like an idiot. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 11]
You do not have to agree with us all the way to benefit, but if God is the seeker, you are that too (tat twam asi, you are That), and if you are the God that seeks God, you are quite an idiot. The sham is that of seeking. In good diving (contemplation) you do not seek this and that, but try to rise above concepts, including concepts of Yogananda - in soaring yoga states. Note: help may come from not seeking, but attending to the proven methods given. That is a key to avert dangers of awkward teachings that appear to trap people instead of helping them.
All of us as individuals are so many reflected spiritual selves of the universal Blissful Spirit-God. [Yogananda, p. 25]
The company we keep makes us feel for different things. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 22]
God and man are one, and the separation is only apparent. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 25] (7)
See a few lines above. If God is one with you, you behave like an idiot if you seek him. Be yourself - but in some prosperity-gaining way or ways.
Having an attitude of reverence is costly. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 16]
Who always wishes God must be deeply lacking or infirm and far from the depth God. The more worth inside, the less quest - [Cf. Yogananda, p. 43]
Is there any common, highest necessity for all of us? [Yogananda, p. 9]
To live, to live to make good use of these teachings.
What we should do is to set at rest the excitation of desire that causes terrible distress. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 41-42]
We should not put the cart in front of the horses, though. By learning to contemplate all right, many issues are resolved even without speculation.
A person who wishes to commit suicide in order to fulfil a want, is not yet fulfilled in pleasure. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 40]
When Yogananda teaches that his yoga method, kriya, is for gaining conscious death, it does not teach suicide!
THE ALTERNATIVE OUTLOOK: The stage outlook does nothing for your happiness. That could be grasped inwardly now, along with "Spirituality is costly".
Teachings drawn from experiences of the very few is not always applicable to all
[THE] MEDITATIONAL method [is] purely scientific. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 69] (1)
Do not be tricked. He spoke for "scientific" when it paid, and added "with devotion" later, to avoid to be held responsible for what was - well, false teachings about the scientific effects of kriya yoga. Be alerted to that.
By knowing ourselves we can know God [Cf. Yogananda, p. 83]
In [a blissful state] we are really conscious of God, or Bliss. [Yogananda, p. 81]
It is a pity that men of great intellectual power . . . think that they will . . . be able to grasp intellectually the highest religious and moral truths. [Yogananda, p. 63]
The brain is the supreme electrical Power-House (highest centre). [Yogananda, p. 76]
St. Paul said: "I die daily" [I Cor 15:31]. By this he meant that . . . [Yogananda, p. 72] (2)
One of the problems with Yogananda is his diarrhoe-looking assertions that this and that (obscure) passage from this and that scripture, talks of kriya yoga or something similar in esoterical manner. It often looks tendentious and at times ridiculous. His cult is infected with foul scripture exegesis. You had better stop and think of where the proofs are. The guru furnishes few or none.
The scientific method teaches a process enabling us to draw to our central part - spine and brain - the life current distributed throughout the organs and other parts of our body. The process consists of magnetizing the spinal column and the brain, which contain the seven main centres, with the result that the distributed life electricity is drawn back to the original centres of discharge and is experienced in the form of light. [Yogananda, p. 79-80]
Kriya yoga is not held to work purely scientifically once you get enrolled in the cult. Then devotion is said to be needed too, faithfulness as serves big guys, and so on. This means "scientific" in part is a bait to trap you.
To return to basic, correct meditation practice shows one really understands what this is about
IF ANYONE practices regularly and for extended periods, . . . in time he will find himself in a highly supramental state of Bliss. [Yogananda, p. 72] (3)
The effort of the Spiritual self to return to itself . . . is the process of the world. [Yogananda, p. 65]
Self-conscious understanding . . . differentiates us from the lower animals. [Yogananda, p. 64] (4)
Understanding false teachings as false teachings designed for herding folks like lower animals, helps to steer us outside guru farms (sects and the like) and their cherished views.
Kriya practice imparts Great Bliss, says Yogananda. Make sure you do not madden by it
BODY CONSCIOUSNESS should be transcended by the turning back of the life-force inward. [Yogananda, p. 85] (5)
By . . . meditation . . . we can bring upon ourselves a state of conscious sleep. . . . By this the outer or sensory organs are controlled . . . [quite] as in sleep. [Yogananda, p. 70]
Treat 'sleep' as a metaphor, and the passage can work all right.
In India the intellectual method in its highest form is called Jnana Yoga . . . it is a very slow process. [Yogananda, p. 66]
The Yogananda-favoured method is to control and direct the course of the life-force by the control and regulation of [the breath,] a known and directly connected manifestation of the life-force itself. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 84]
[An] electrical flow from the brain is the life of the organism. [Yogananda, p. 77] (6)
Bliss is felt in an intense degree in the act of practicing this method. [Yogananda, p. 72]
It is true: Some experience it. Others not. The quality or meticulousness of your performance has very much to say.
In the beginning a most attractive sensation is felt in the course of magnetizing the spinal column. [Yogananda, p. 81]
Bio-magnetism is the fit concept here.
We can . . . impart real meaning to life. [Yogananda, p. 82]
We seldom learn . . . to give rest to . . . internal organs. [Yogananda, p. 71n]
The devotional method . . . presents certain defects and difficulties. [Yogananda, p. 67-68] (7)
That is true. Some of the main problems are not even mentioned by Yogananda in the book, but they are explained on this web site.
The practice of this method does not prevent the activity of a social and useful life . . . of the best feelings . . . philanthropic work. [Yogananda, p. 86]
The facts are: The original kriya yoga that Yogananda brought to the West, is time-consuming and wearisome. Yogananda simplified the methods and altered main teachings too. So it could be an unsettled question how well his altered methods work - short-term, medium term and long-term effects may be studied. The issue is unresolved, and many conundrums in kriya circles stem from things Yogananda did and changed.
The Spiritual self . . . may not be freed in one day. [Yogananda, p. 74]
But "one sunny day" it may be "freed" as itself in one day anyway! And that is worth going for cleverly, is the teaching.
Unless we can transcend the body and realize ourselves as Spirit, we cannot enter into the kingdom or state of that Universal Spirit. [Yogananda, p. 61]
In contemplation, the aim is not to free ourselves and transcend this and that, basically. It is doing the methods strictly and well.
We are not made for rules, rules are made for usthey change as we change. [Yogananda, p. 62]
Not all rules change as we change. For example, Yogananda's fellowship teaches that you belong to him for life-times and cannot quit the pact if you get inititated. Note that. It is double-play.
We ought not to fear to practice conscious death, i.e., give rest to the internal organs. Death will then be under our control. [Yogananda, p. 78]
His talk of dying by yoga is annoying to some, and not needed. Few kriya yogis seem to be able to dispense with breathing.
Let inward buddhi interpret and ascertain true religion for your own good
UNTIL we associate with those who have seen, felt, and realized true religion in their lives we may not fully know what it is. [Yogananda, p. 100] (1)
One thing that stands out for the reader of old yoga texts, is the variety of outlooks. Many contradict one another too. It should pay be alerted to that, instead of developing a naive guru-knows-best attitude.
The Intellect, Buddhi, interprets sense data. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 89] (2)
At times it will pay to interpret interpreters too. Some are fools. Bland mind-analysis and polite enough candour can serve all. Interpretation results depend on the purity and calm
ASSOCIATE with intuitive interpreters to advance. *] (3)
Pure perception is interpreted too. *] (4)
The sphere of intuition comes from Reality, teaches Yogananda. At times he teaches, however, that the world is an illusion, and thus invalidates his other teachings - and his illusion-teachings as well - all!
KNOWING Reality equals knowing super-sensuous God. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 91] (6)
In meditation there is a gradual tendency to leave the sphere of [dense] thought behind and to [glide] into the sphere of intuition. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 95]
Our senses are, as it were, windows. [Yogananda, p. 88]
A certain University professor was about to depart on his sabbatical and addressed a few parting words to his students.
When Buddhi (Intellect) turns back on itself to judge how far it is capable of knowing Reality by sense-impressions, there is no loop-hole. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 90-91]
You may learn to use your mind and intellect to do mantra-yoga. In that way your intellect may be put to great help.
Intuition comes from within and [grasps] the Reality in its totality. [Yogananda, p. 96]
Hopefully. Many "intuitive insights" show up to be faulty, though. So be on your guard.
Pure perception is unable to know Reality, and inference depends on perception. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 92-93]
We exist by intuitive enablement - we know we exist by intuition. * and [Cf. Yogananda, p. 97-98] (7)
To know Reality, the intellect tends to fail. [Cf. Yogananda, p. 94]
Again, it depends on where and how you set it. mantra japa (mantra yoga may work very well.
It is by intuition that God can be realized in all His aspects. [Yogananda, p. 99]
Intuition may be cultivated; that is one of the teachings of yoga, as shown in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Or perhaps we should say that your being is getting cultivated, and that your cultivation aids powers along the way?
Through intuition humanity reaches Divinity. [Yogananda, p. 99] (8)
If you look into and interpret the yogi who taught yoga for an American public, and add two and two, you can soon reach a conclusion. "Yogananda is a fool; he just kick away the leg he stood on," would be one such. That would be implied or inferred, in case. A follow-up: "What is he up to by murky slogan ways?" We leave to you to decide on that. Study his fruits (long-range consequences) for it, for yoga data may need to be interpreted in the light of normal sense-life too. What is more, it happens that both "great inspirations" and what is purported to be intuitively true and sure, "from God", etc., fails in real life. That reflects a danger of premature "thought cookery". It may do good to study a bit.
There are some vital points of great value in Yogananda's first teachings. But to believe his every word is infallibe and his wisdom faultless - which his fellowship teaches - may be the way to cramped sectarian foolishness and its drivels and maladaptations.
A method is a method. It can be done well, not so well, and not at all. Much depends on the practitioner - the meticulousness, exactness, steadiness, and drive, for example. And strictly speaking, kriya yoga is a set of various methods. The core practice is gentle breathing, a pranayama technique. Hence, there are better words to use when describing kriya yoga than "the scientific method"  that is "purely scientific"  although it is not, according to Yogananda on other connections.
It pays to be on one's guard against "fine-sounding words" like "the true scientific theory on which it is based" , and do not think that Yogananda "guarantees the great joy of pure Bliss-consciousness"  to those who do kriya well, with attention and steadfastness  even though he does it in this book. In other circles he threw away that guarantee for "do it with devotion". Even then, there is no guarantee.
It boils down to this: It is not good enough to be enamoured by words and big titles alone. Ask for evidence too. Big words on bad legs do not serve the good guys when the circus comes to town. However, you may benefit from the sensible kriya training if your mind is fit and sound.
The friend of all is the friend of none [Proverb]
In a section of the online God is for Everyone, the long-time SRF editor Tara Mata is rendered thus: "The Science of Religion has never sold well. Master never actually wrote it."
"Who did write it, then?"
"Swami Dhirananda. The outmoded, heavy and pedantic style is his."
"Dhirananda was the ghostwriter. The SRF president, Daya Mata, holds a different view. She says Dhirananda was an editor of it.
[Abstracts - 1]
Swami Dhirananda was born Basu Kumar Bagchi (1895-1977). He received yogi training under the same guru as Yogananda, and helped in establishing Yogananda's school in Ranchi in 1917. When Yogananda went to the United States in 1920, Dhirananda soon followed to help establish the kriya yoga work. He was fluent in English; Yogananda was not, as Swami Satyeswarananda points out.
Dhirananda broke with Yogananda in 1929. He was upset by Yogananda's personal life in New York, and after leaving, Dhirananda started a suit in 1929 for payment of his part as author of Yogoda material and some of the works usually attributed to Yogananda. He did not have funds to pursue the suit to a conclusion then, but he sued and won in 1935, and never spoke to Yogananda again.
Another early Yogananda helper, Sri Nerode (Nirad Ranjan Choudhuri), left SRF in 1940. He too never saw or spoke to Yogananda again after leaving him. 
Yogananda's closest associates in the fellowship ended up very disappointed with him. If you want to die by kriya yoga, disappointments could be your lot too, and if you believe his kriya leads an SRF monastic to Self-Realization, there are divergent views on that too, for some disciples want to believe SRF leaders after Yogananda will all be Self-realized in the yogi way, while some say Yogananda withheld Self-Realization from associates because he wanted them to work a lot. Swami Satyeswarananda finds that Yogananda "cut a deal with his inner circle of devotees that none of his followers would attain self-realization in this life". The swami offers two examples by way of documentation. 
After listing all the court cases that SRF has been into, the San Diego swami comments: "It seems Yogananda showed the path of litigation instead of liberation." 
Be careful with what and who to believe it, for lamed or broken hearts have followed the pompous teachings.
Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. Los Angeles: SRF, 1975.
Ap: Mieder, Wolfgang (main ed.), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder: A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Ay: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 1st ed. New York: Philosophical Library, 1946. Online. [oaks.nvg.org/pv6bk12.html]
Bp: Bechtel, John Hendricks. Proverbs: Maxims and Shrewd Phrases Drawn from All Lands and Times: Carefully Selected and Indexed for Convenient Reference. Philadelphia: The Penn Publishing Company, 1922. —— The caption proverb on top of the page is on page 47.
EB: Encyclopaedia Britannica. Encyclopaedia Britannica 2015 Ultimate Reference Suite DVD. London: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2015.
Ha: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 12th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1981.
Pa: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 11th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1971.
Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958. —— Edited and also changed sayings from Yogananda's The Master Said (Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1952)
Srg: Yogananda, Pa. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1982.
 Swami Kriyananda. God is for Everyone
 Kinnes, Tormod, ed. Kriya Yoga: Research Findings. [Link]
 Friends of Swami Yogananda. Swami Dhirananda.. N.d.
 Sanskrit Classics. "Yogananda". Here is "Sri Nerode, vs. Swami Yogananda" - Case No. 445, 883, in the Superior Court of California, in and for the County of Los Angeles, filed October 23, 1939 and the documentation about Self-Realization.
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