You don't have to cry like a baby to reach God. "One needs only to look within oneself to find Truth [Primordial Essence of Eternity]," teaches Guru Rinpoche, summarised by Dr Evans-Wentz. [Guru Rinpoche summary]
Take it one step further; try not to be part of tricking others.
Among vile beings who want material wealth,
Inordinate, naughty baby-cries for God at Yogananda's behest, do they work up a neurosis?
What was Yogananda-founded, and did it happen as they say in SRF?
Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, became a registered organisation - a church - on 29 March 1935. Before that, it had been known by different names, including Sat-Sanga.
On Christmas Eve in 1920, Yogananda was unexpectedly visited in his rented room in Boston by a Rosicrucian and dentist, Minott W. Lewis. He asked to see Light. A circle or Yogananda followers by-and-by took shape in the following few years and expanded further after Yogananda left the Boston area around 1923 or so for wider pastures. [More].
It would be good if one or more reliable historians with access to good sources could dig into the early history of SRF. For as a church society gets old, reliable accounts of its founding years could become treasured. It is at any rate all right.
On 29 March 1935 Yogananda got SRF ◦registered as a church in California for the sake of getting property and handling such assets, but "not for physical pleasure" one of its articles of incorporation declares (2e:13). SRF removed that one (2e:13) later, two years after Yogananda passed away in 1952. Thus, the SRF managers rather quickly changed the SRF charter, in late 1954. They must have found many Yogananda principles too bad, although they write they find no faults with his guidelines [Evidence].
⦾ Neuroses can promote negativity and give rise to difficulties of many sorts.
Causes of dire regrets are many.
Yogananda came to regret having started this organisation, he wrote in a handwritten letter:
I have done such a horrible act like eating feces by starting an organization (Alternatively translated as: I have performed an absolutely foolish act by starting an organization. / I have committed a great blunder by starting an organization.") . . .
Having dire regrets, being subjected to disharmony, extremely tired and devoid of enthusiasm - that could fit in with what he was after (article 2e:13), but then again, there could be wrong and awkward ways to accomplish things like that too. Be careful about what you aim for; you could get it. If that is not interesting in SRF circles, what is? Doing good?
Similarly, it can be wise to be careful about what you aim for in case you may not get it. There is a book by an excellent storyteller about a twelve-year legal battle launched by the Self-Realization Fellowship - a lawsuit to learn from. After twelve years of intense legal struggle, SRF ended up losing 95 percent of the issues in the case. SRF did not get what it aimed for there. Was it good or bad? It depends on which side we are on, if any. The draining lawsuit could perhaps be good for the other party, eventually. (Parsons, 2012, chap. 7)
Among SRF'ers, however, SRF's legal attacks caused disharmony, perhaps dire regrets, and drained enthusiasm in harmony with the founding article 2e:13. The court-case took place long after SRF in 1954 emended (read: wiped out and/or changed) Yogananda articles of incorporation (see article 2e:13). But why? They want half-wits or others to fall for something like this: Yogananda's (dropped ideals, founding-articles and) guidelines are without fault.
Another church-emendment from 1971 shows some more SRF changes to those who care to look them up.
Swami Satyeswarananda presents ◦a list of litigations (lawsuits) that SRF has been involved in over the years - "Matters could have been worse; SRF is still around." Yet attorney Jon Parsons sums up sorry experiences: "Lawsuits - avoid them like the plague." [Recommended video]
⦾ Horrible acts, dire regrets, lawsuit lies too - perhaps unconscious conflict-material getting out (of hand)?
I often say that we are all a little bit crazy and we don't know it, because people of the same craziness mix with their own kind. - Yogananda [Dr 270]
"A little bit crazy" means neurotic too. You should know the signs. Below are some hard thoughts. Let us have a look at them, considering Yogananda's "wail to God Mom and she will come", a practice that SRF incorporates. Watch out: they put largely neurosis-making elements in the path, and infringe on private lives: how hard we work, our sex-life, amount of sleep, and so on in a cultish fare. One may get neurotic before trying all of it until old age and its regrets. With enabling and decent yoga-meditation it should be very different.
Public knowledge and disharmony in a guru's organisation.
Today nuns and monks head the church enterprise that its founder found to be a source of disharmony. "Between 2000 and 2005 more than fifty monks and nuns are reported to have left the organization," writes ◦attorney Jon Parsons.
The SRF headquarters is in Los Angeles, and there are centres and meditation groups in some other states, and in many countries world-wide. They teach a simplified, variant system of kriya yoga. The essential part of kriya yoga is ujjayi, which is easy and pleasant to perform, and has been public knowledge for centuries. It is one of the pranayama methods in hatha-yoga. There are no restrictions on teaching the delicate ujjayi. One should be aware there are variants of it, and that kriya is not one of the gross variants. Swami Niranjanananda describes many in Prana and Pranayama (2009), and Satyananda Yoga publishes books about kriya yoga / ujjayi too. (Satyananda 1981; 2001). There are other sources too (e.g. Hewitt 1990). A medieval variant is in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika from the 1400s. So core kriya yoga is public.
⦾ There is no need to enter a cult to learn the art of breathing.
Changes, changes, including kriya changes.
The following issues are not always easy to find in SRF publications nowadays.
We easily fall for lack of fair and good evidence. "Prevention is better than cure": The same goes for solid and folly-preventive information.
⦾ Yogananda's so-called Christianity is perhaps no solution to anything.
Do regular farm animals, even heart-broken animals, have what it takes to get free inside and happy as well? Do beer-drinkers and Yogananda-followers?
If you turn away from the emissary of God, He [decides] "Now you shall have to wait long ... Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity. [Source: SRF Magazine, spring 1974:6.]
Yogananda says that fears and sufferings are inherent in the cycles of life and death and rebirth and redeath and so on. A Bhagavad Gita verse runs like this in his translation:
In this path (of yoga action) there is no loss of the unfinished effort for realization, nor is there creation of contrary effects. Even a tiny bit of this real religion protects one from great fear (the colossal sufferings inherent in the repeated cycles of birth and death). [Bhagavad Gita 2:40, Yogananda's translation, Yi 69-70]
That is how the Sanskrit Swalpam apyasya dharmasya traayate mahato bhayaat is translated by Yogananda and understood in his society. It may be sound to check his translation and compare it with other good translations.
Sivananda's translation is "Even a little of this knowledge (even a little practice of this Yoga) protects one from great fear," which is different. The translation that is used in the Hare Krishna movement is "In this endeavour there is no loss or diminution, and a little advancement on this path can protect one from the most dangerous type of fear." Lars Martin Fosse has "Even a little of this law saves one from great distress. [See Tdg 20]
Translations differ, understandings differ. The special parts we look into, are "dire fears and colossal sufferings", or "great fear", or "the most dangerous type of fear", or "great distress".
Also worth noting is that where Yogananda and Fosse have "save from it" the other two have "protect from it", which could be different.
To round it up:
Great fear of leaving Yogananda and SRF circles as some SRF monastics have done, is it in step with Yogananda's "Stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds" - as Yogananda is quoted to have said, in SRF's Golden Anniversary Booklet, unpaginated)? After all, he also said with a tad inconsistency that the world is illusory (and thus his teachings too).
Disciples were free to leave Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar; he was in step with the guru-disciple tradition. However, Yogananda is less considerate in such a vital matter. He binds followers through an oath with built-in flaws.
SRF monastics in charge go on to tell that they do not find fault with Yogananda's guidelines; those who are left by now say his wisdom is flawless. A Canadian, Geoff Falk, writes after a stay at an SRF ashram in California_
Each one of the SRF line of leaders/gurus - their "popes" - from Daya Mata [1914-2010] back to Krishna, are regarded by obedient SRF devotees as being infallible, and simply "working in mysterious ways" when it comes to any seemingly questionable actions on their parts. I, too, once foolishly viewed them thusly. [Falk, Stripping the Gurus, chapter 26].
⦾ It may do much good to stay away from flocks that profit from cheating beginners.
Freedom from Yogananda's Babaji - a great boon in a life?
Wise misgivings about the value of Babaji promises as being a supreme guru for followers in Yogananda's cult are not lightly come by in those circles, although Yogananda writes in his autobiography how Babaji first made a wondrous promise, and soon shifted it for a trifle (Yogananda 1998:277-78). He shifted his word for a trifle, and in another context he claimed it was the Lord that made him say what he did when he said something (!).
Yogananda also dogmatises that the guru of his guru's guru (called Babaji) is in constant communion with Jesus who said he had nowhere to lay his head, and that the Apostles' Creed says "he ascended into heaven, / he is seated at the right hand of the Father, / and he will come to judge the living and the dead." While among Jews, Jesus said his teachings, salvation and kingdom were for Jews only (Geza Vermes 2010:37-41). A summary:
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. (Geza Vermes 2012)
To clarify these matters still further:
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)
Further, all the apostles and the Holy Spirit agreed to just four requirements for non-Jewish followers, plus the Spirit of God. It is getting the Spirit of the Lord that is what Biblical, Christian salvation is about (Acts 15:28-29). It appears that Yogananda and SRF have forgotten or ignored that, or what? They promote kriya yoga and bind people through a kriya oath.
They also claim that aim to teach and preach Jesuanism while being headed by swamis - Hindus. See SRF's aims and ideals. Do they qualify? Hardly. Jesus said his teachings and salvation are for Jews only, and demanded "giving up", more or less - [Be happy without his commands]
It is quite another "melody" than that the kingdom and salvation and gospel teachings of Jesus are for depraved Jews only that Yogananda and SRF hums. Do yourself a favour: ask for good evidence of it:
The Mahavatar [Great Avatar] is in constant communion with Christ [who said his teachings were for Jews only (cf. Matthew 15:24) . . . and have planned the spiritual technique of salvation for this age [contrary to the Bible's idea of getting saved by Holy Ghost] . . .
After giving due thought to that salvation in the New Testament is being put right with God by the Spirit entering a person (Acts), you may think such as, "This guru lore looks about as wrong as can be." At any rate, parts of the teachings could be good, but which parts? [Sane Yogananda teachings]
Being allied with soundness-helping wisdom from many quarters is another boon. Developing fair and fit skills for good living is a third boon. All these things can be evolved.
Yogananda's biographer writes about Yogananda that some weeks and months after his guru Yukteswar had died, Yogananda saw Yukteswar in his hotel room. Yogananda looked him in the face and asked, "Why are you so disappointed? Are you offended so much?" (Psy 93)
Dasgupta comments, "A professional in the psychological sciences may say that the vision was a reflection of [Yogananda's] own pained state of mind."
It may be that the scene where a devil appears in his hotel room, leaps on his chest until his heart stops, and next is shooed by the resurrected Yukteswar, is from those merry days in Bombay. That event is not included in the autobiography, but was published in the Self-Realization magazine in 1971. Yogananda's temporary heart stop]
Now, Dasgupta tells further that Yogananda
was a man who lived in a world of imagination and spiritual feelings. He saw some things directly and some things with the eye of his feelings [!] Toward the end, he often did not perceive a difference between the two. (Psy 99)
Toward the end . . . that was the years he authored his autobiography, assisted by SRF sisters and mothers. [Behind the scenes or facades]
There is one more embarrassing testimony: In a court case about copyrights, SRF's later, long-time leader, Daya Mata
herself signed a declaration, under oath, that Autobiography of a Yogi had not been written by Yogananda himself, but by a committee! [and, further, that] he had written Autobiography of a Yogi as a "work for hire."
Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar, endorses sceptical investiations. Both he and Yogananda talk against blind belief in some places. Most of those who call themselves Christians without any miracles to show for them, do not actually live up to what marks the true Jesuans, apart from being circumcised.
If four SRF gurus say that the universe is illusory, they all are unreal, and what can unreal ones deliver?
⦾ Sensible ones do not have to be foolish either. In some way it seems up to oneself.
SRF (Self-Realization Fellowship) is adapted to a Hindu heritage and guru-faith. The fellowship teaches kriya yoga pranayama. The cult's demands in that matter are so stiff that they work as a fish trap. The bait: boasted of efficacy of kriya. A fish trap: Dire fear of leaving Yogananda once you enter to learn kriya. Yogananda's warnings against ever leaving him after initiation may be among the severest that are found. He talks of many lives of sufferings for that.
Yogananda taught a handed-over set of methods called kriya yoga. Less known to adherents today, he changed and simplified the methods too, by leaving out what the gurus of his own tradition says are essential elements, including Thokar Kriya and whatever they are called, all of them.
Yogananda's kriya is still designed to make certain "life energies", prana forms, turn inwards as tersely mentioned in the ancient yoga text Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. Successful training hopefully brings the attention more inwards, and then one may become a deeply "successful one", a siddha [an adept]. Such persons may be few and far between, though. A beginner has good hopes that he knows which kriya teachers are accomplished, and how well accomplished, and who are most preferrable.
There is the added problem of severely disappointed kriya practitioners who disclaim kriya yoga (ujjayi) in itself because they have not perceived any breakthrough or special progress from it. Here is a way: If you consider kriya as an art or sport, skilled practice is normally needed, and to some, lots of practice. You do not have to be religious to practice kriya and get raped, it is enough to be yourself
⦾ Great or sustained attention brings good things and bad things to many a human.
Was "Divine Peekaboo" Good for California?
The "Yogi-Christian" Self-Realization Fellowship was founded in Boston in 1920 by Swami Yogananda (1893-1952), and today has its international headquarters on Mt. Washington, a hill in Los Angeles. There are meditation groups and centres in over 50 countries. TIME Magazine of August 30, 1963 informs there were about 125,000 members at the time, and one-third of them in California. In the late 1970s I was informed in writing from the SRF headquarters that there were hundreds of thousands "all over the world". SRF has claimed to have a million members, yet a former vice president of SRF, Kriyananda, suspects the membership is nearer 10,000 than a million. He writes:
SRF has consistently - indeed, outrageously - bloated its membership figures ...
Kriyananda also says, "In my opinion, SRF is dying on the vine [Ry, chap 6]."
If you want to check this data, there is good reason to hurry and get the book, for lately Kriyananda had a dream, and decided to stop printing of the book altogether:
I had a dream last night in which a saint ... said to me in reference to this book, "It is not your place to judge ... forget the book now."
A fortnight later he added: "But a nagging thought wouldn't leave me: "Why even publish this edition?" Finally I decided it was my conscience talking to me! So I wrote our publishing house and asked them to stop the print run. It has meant some loss of money." 
Anyway, estimates of how many members there are in the cult SRF, vary between "below 10,000" and one million or more.
SRF charges only modestly for all their "lessons", including the Kriya Yoga lessons. The California-based society has been headed by nuns over the last 30 years, and appears to be well off. But one third of its monastics left the fellowship's premises between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons 2012, 170). You may wonder what their reasons were.
It pays to seek reliable witness information beforehand to avoid committing to cultish teachings. Such information may be hard to find and assess. Some former insiders may tell things fairly, others are not fair in what they set forth, for various reasons. What is more, cult makers often play on insecurity in young and inexperienced ones.
In a cult or sect you may find awkward "family" deals that could endanger higher or better forms of living and meditation. It is silly to endanger your future living by getting enamoured by garbage and verbiage.
Genuine and advanced humility may aid sympathetic responsiveness, not unlike sincerity and a strain of good-natured humour. Some modesty is good as well.
⦾ Although Yogananda was sent to the West to help aspiring ones to get closer and meditate well, the fellowship he started, has now become a church that is described as a sect by some of its past and former monastics, like its editor-in-chief.
"In the past year, 40 monks and nuns left SRF. Why? I called [the fellowship] to find out if this was true, and they said it was, but their reason was: "We live in hard times." So if [the fellowship] is on the up and up, why did that many monks and nuns leave, some who had been there for 20 to 30 years? This is approximately one-third of all the monks and nuns. And why, when I have asked some about their reasons for leaving, are they afraid to talk about it?" - [From an SRF Discussion Board, of May 2004]
Getting immersed knee-deep in something less than excellent and top pleasant may not suit all who entered SRF filled with great dreams of Great Gains, including what is called Cosmic Consciousness for the lack of a better term:
Find the Divine Mother hidden beyond the skies ... Implore Her with continuous demand, with the resolve not to cease until Her reply comes ...
Yogananda advocates a similar approach toward God the Father too:
Whenever you find yourself with a few moments of leisure, make a sincere prayer, "Father, come to me, reveal Thy Omniscient Presence." ... When you wish to express your love for some one, you do not need to quote from a book ... So pray to God mostly in your own words of love and yearning, not in the borrowed language of others all the time. Never cease, keep up your prayers to God until He answers you. [Swami Yogananda, East West, Volume 1-5 July 1926 - August 1926.]
Yogananda says what you should fill every moment of leisure with. An unceasing prayer that is mostly in your own words. Can you do it as he says? If mother's milk is denied sucklings, they can cry and become as desperate as Yogananda followers yearning for Mother's breasts and all that - because he tells them to do so. I call that approach Yogananda's Folly Yoga, as it may not be healthy at all.
Yogananda nags a lot. If you fill your ears with nagging guru guidelines and each moment with desperate inward cries, there is something wrong. And if not at the start, then there will be as time goes on. You need to recognise your part in being taken in by foolish practises. Although, if you fill every moment with prayers to the Father and hence find no time for such poor child Mother worship and the like, the solution is not all right. Decide what to do in your spare time yourself. Don't listen to a fool-maker. Even though the guru recognises both an Anthropomorphic Father and Mother God, make it your business to abstain from what is not vital. It is soaring (gliding) inwards in dhyana (contemplation) that is vital, not desperate cries. As you ignore these gentle suggestions, great disappointments may be in store; great and unneeded disappointments. Such "yogic" training is not good for you, or is it?
Why ignore something else Yogananda tells?: Already as a child the coming Yogananda seemed quite fixated on enervating others. In his Whispers from Eternity he shares an experience when he was alone on a beach and sought God in vain for a while, clingingly, as suited his temperament and tact. Once Yogananda was about to weep in despair, he heard:
The sun of My protection shines equally on thy ruby-days and on thy coal-black hours ... Thou [must] have faith and smile, for the greatest of all sins against Spirit is not to be happy ... By being happy, thou dost please Me." [Wfe, No. 189]
This comes close to a line in a song: "Don't worry, be happy", but to be on the safe side, let us just state that "Happy children should not cry and whine." Nor should they be made to do so for years on end.
⦾ We may ignore the cry-and-whine words of Yogananda, and we may fail in life if taken in by such goadings.
Lahiri Mahasaya's teachings are.
The highest attainment is Selfhood [cf. Ut 15, 16].
A few words from an ancient text fills it out:
The Self "dwells deep within the heart [also called the city of Brahman], lord of time, past and future." [Cf. Katha Upanishad 2.4.12]
⦾ Cosmic Gains sound good, but accomplished meditation transcends it.
Humble Pie and Clinging
You yourself may naturally prefer happy, confident children to clinging and humble pie experts that cry far and wide for your attention, over and over and over, never giving you a moment's rest. Yogananda avoids that basic part of proper upbringing and makes a show of clinging emotionalism that may harm and break down some "sheep" of his when they get fixated on a completely unnecessary track of urgent bleatings and unceasing yearning for a mother sheep up beyond the skies. It is hardly practical.
There is a lot more to tell about some of the unnecessary ways of the "mad monk" (Yogananda). Try to decide yourself what to fill your spare time with and avoid transgressing. Have a say yourself. "It is your life", at least live as if it is.
Now the Hindu book Bhagavad Gita is presented as a key element in SRF's services, ritualistic outlooks and deeper orientations in life.
The Fellowship consists of lay members that are either uninitiated or initiated in kriya training. The initiates have to be members of the SRF Church. Among Church members some take what is essentially Hindu-monastic vows and become brothers and sisters, that is, monks and nuns. Some old nuns become mothers, matas. The monks and nuns play the role of clergy and administer the movement. There is a whole deal of social conformism strides within such an enterprise. Some derive a measure of well-being from conformity in a religious way of shared thoughts and attitudes, and others hardly so.
One thing that seems to be at stake in SRF is fairness as to apostolic Christianity with its sacrament rituals, practices, and outlooks from the early church, in part as instituted by Jesus, in part as ordained by the apostle Paul, in part as of many pagan religions of the Roman empire. Among Yogananda followers some Bible sayings are interpreted or twisted to suit a Hindu over-all outlook by and large. Is it as it should be?
Reflecting on and established in this useful knowledge, the sage one may find shelter and live in this world for long, free to resort to the peace of contemplation, proceeding toward inward freedom. [Cf. Yoga Vasistha, Yv 247]
⦾ SRF monks and nuns practice whine-and-cry!
The wider SRF scenario contains staggering elements
Life is in some ways rather as the cult investigator Philip Zimbardo lets us in on somewhere. There are many lessons to learn from cults. Some sides to them look appealing, but question if all are genuine, if words, doings, and what is established, match, and whether members get marred. As long as the large society has better things available, try that.
Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) is classified as a cult by some US sources that seem Fundamentalist. Tense cults may be termed sects, at least unofficially. Mark the irony of an SRF letter that says Yogananda is infallible, when records show that Yogananda changed views. Regrettably, there are also unwise statements in the SRF Lessons, for example against good, long sleep. Many need to sleep long. Yogananda's guidelines of cutting down on sleep till you make do with seven, six, or five hours a night, do not suit all [More].
His no to sex for unmarried ones, and only restricted sex for married couples, what do such guidelines do to guys who are bent on following his guidelines - "infallible guidelines from all-knowing guru" and so on? People differ. I recall one wife who told me and some others, "Yogananda destroyed my marriage." Her husband was a devoted SRF member.'
Personal integrity may gradually be at stake under cultish conditions, or where "cultish fever" is mixed with guru devotion. Sects develop from much devotionalism far and wide, and tend to bring on limited, narrowed views in many fields and walks of life.
China's ancient fable writer Chuang-tzu (Zhuangzi) once noted that you cannot talk of the ocean with a well frog. The frog is too limited. Those who conform to cramped, indoctrinated conditions and support a cult, may reap severely and ignobly limited outlooks and much fear.
Zo, (the Spirit-lord) of the Northern Sea, said,
We may suspect that more than one cult boss rides high on big boasts. So let an invitation to show off by more than big words, stand. [More]
In this world, claims of avatarhood signal that lots of respect is asked for. It may or may not go along with intrigues and bulwarked intrigues that can make followers nervous, tense, and disappointed in time.
Some seem to have overconfidence in their mission and are able to get disciples through fraud, and thereby create sectarians with many strongly felt problems.
⦾ Overconfidence in a guru's claimed mission may backfire on many followers. One third of SRF's monastics left the SRF premises between 2000 and 2005 (Parsons 2012, 170)
Simple ujjayi pranayama is the core of kriya yoga in Satyananda Yoga, which also hails from Babaji through Sivananda and Satyananda. In Satyananda Yoga, kriya is free, taught in books to buy freely, and there is no Yogananda you have to accept unconditionally as your guru for an unknown number of years or lives, on SRF's dictate. It suggests submission on your part in major ways all life through, or selling yourself short, and the Self in you.
Now, it stands to reason to go for rewarding alternatives to submitting foolishly - alternatives that do not take dignity and Human Rights away from you.
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Harvesting the hay
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