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Yogananda's Fellowship and Kriya Yoga Teachings

You don't have to cry like a baby to reach God. Discern to find a better way. "One needs only to look within oneself to find Truth [Primordial Essence of Eternity]," teaches Guru Rinpoche as summarised by Dr Evans-Wentz. [Guru Rinpoche summary]

Take it one step further; ask how to accomplish that in the very best way.

Poster
"A little bit crazy" could go together with "very damaging".

Overview

Yogananda kriya yoga teachings What was Yogananda-founded, and did it happen as they say in SRF? Naughty baby-cries for God at Yogananda's behest, do they work well? Hardly, unless it is a developing neurosis you hanker after.

Self-Realization Fellowship, SRF, presents itself as 'founded by Yogananda" (1893-1952) in Boston in 1920. However, SRF became a registered organisation - a church - only on 29 March 1935. Before that, it had been known by different names, including Sat-Sanga.

SRF holds it was founded by Yogananda in 1920. How? The first American follower Yogananda got was a Rosicrucian and dentist, Minott W. Lewis. He visited Yogananda in his hotel room in Boston on Christmas Eve 1920 and asked to see Light. There is no mention in several sources that he and Yogananda founded a society at that time or that year. Rather, 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 for wider pastures. So to say SRF was founded in 1920 could be som "backdating trick". [More].

It would be good if one or more reliable historians with access to good sources could dig into the early history of SRF and get the facts the sooner the better. For as a church gets older, a reliable account of its founding years becomes more valued. Hopefully there are still good sources to be excavated.

Until 1935 Yogananda's unregistered fellowship presented itself by several name, like Sat-Sanga. But on 29 March 1935 Yogananda got SRF ◦registered as a church in California for the sake og getting property and handling such assets, but "not for physical pleasure" one of its articles of incorporation declares (2e:13), but SRF could have removed that one later, a couple of years after Yogananda's death in 1952.

Neuroses are laden with conflicts, anxiety, and distressed feelings, and may promote negativity and a low sense of self-esteem, and give rise to difficulties in life, for example. There are many variants.

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.") . . .
I see organization is the source of much disharmony. . . .
I feel extremely tired of organization and devoid of enthusiasm. [The sources are available on request, so far. And the first part - a hand-written letter - is documented at Sanskrit Classics].

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?

Another lesson: Be careful about what you aim for; 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 the perspectives we have too: 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 fit for the original 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 others to believe they believe Yogananda's (left articles and) guidelines are without fault, you see. Consider "Faultless, yet removed? Can it be? Are we half-wits? About half? Which half, in case?"

Another church-emendment from 1971 shows some more SRF changes to those who care to look up these emendments.

Swami Satyeswarananda presents ◦a list of litigations (lawsuits) that SRF has been involved in over the years - "Matters could have been better; could have been worse." 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)?

Cults may be neurosis-forming

YoganandaI 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 I prefer. Let us have a look at it, bearing in mind 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.

Snapshot: Time to Go into Neuroses

Neuroses involve distress. A neurotic person experiences emotional distress and so-called unconscious conflicts. The definitive symptom is anxiety. There are many different neuroses, including anxiety disorder and many kinds of phobias. Dr C. George Boeree (2002) says the symptoms of neurosis can involve such as anxiety, irritability, confusion, and a low sense of self-worth. Repetition of thoughts, negativity and cynicism may be into it too, among many other things.

Neurosis can be defined as a "poor ability to adapt to one's environment, an inability to change one's life patterns, and the inability to develop a richer, more complex, more satisfying personality," says Dr. Boeree (2002).

Carl Jung found his approach effective for persons troubled by existential questions and inadequate or wrong answers to the questions of life. Most of Dr Jung's patients had lost their faith.

Neurotic tendencies are common and may manifest themselves.

In Neurosis and Human Growth (1950), Karen Horney lays out a theory of the origin and dynamics of neurosis. She considers neurosis a distorted way of looking at the world and at oneself. It is based on needs rather than by a genuine interest. One danger is that people in the environment are too wrapped up in their own neurotic needs and responses to be able to love a child well enough or recognise him or her as the individual the child is. The child's initial reality is then distorted by his or her parents' needs and distorting pretenses. Wrong responses help litte, and maybe the child becomes insecure. Mild anxiety disorders may follow.

The opposite of neurosis is a condition that Horney calls self-realisation, which is a state of being - the person responds to the world without the anxiety-driven compulsions listed in the literature. The person is free enough to develop or actualize his or her inborn potentialities. Horney compares this process to an acorn that grows and becomes a tree.

Finally, the term neurosis is used in psychology and philosophy. However, the American Psychological Association, APA, dispensed with it in its lists and descriptions of diagnostic symptoms. This is to say that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has removed the category "neurosis" because the editors wanted to describe behavior rather than non-overt and subtle psychological mechanisms. The editorial change has been controversial. (Source: Wikipedia, "Neurosis"; "Karen Horney")

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.

Tricky changes

Changes, changes, including kriya changes. The following issues are not always easy to find in SRF publications nowadays.
  1. The guru founder of SRF changed kriya yoga techniques. He simplified parts, and removed vital parts of the original kriya too. In his marketing of kriya, its said efficacy was boosted 144 times too. But how? That is a tricky question.

  2. The emphasis of Yogananda's teachings took another turn over the years as he adapted to Westerners. In the beginning he wanted to activate men and women to do kriya yoga through what he said was purely scientific as a kingly way to realize the Self (atmajnana, knowledge of Atman), and he talked much of the Self in such veins. Later, through adaptations to his public, his talks drifted "Godward" - from Self to God, from active and scientific self-efforts with one's kriya yoga to the additional need for grace of God and devotion as necessary ingredients. It is symptomatic of his drifting teachings that first he talked for divine selfishness, that is, expanded self-concern, and a few years later stood up for unselfishness. He voiced two different views of egohood: one was to develop it, and most often he talked for killing it, which is bad. He also said he put into Hitler's mind to expand the World War II eastwards, attacking the Soviet Union.
    Yogananda . . . During World War II he said it was he who placed the thought in Hitler's mind to invade Russia, thereby dividing his fronts and making it possible for his "invincible" army to be destroyed. (Kriyananda 2011:131; also see Kriyananda 2004, No. 189)

    Yogananda who taught the basic yoga moral of ahimsa, non-injury, also sent followers to the World War II.

    Talking against one's former, fronted dictums implies an undeveloped moral, perhaps maddening or confusing. Some central sayings from different periods are mixed in the SRF Lessons, a lesson course required for learning kriya yoga in SRF.

    Another recurrent problem with the guru's and fellowship's teachings is that of dubious scriptural bolster on behalf of kriya yoga. [Babaji's kriya aligned with ancient scriptures]

  3. He transgressed much that goes with kriya teachings elsewhere [◦Sanskrit Classics summary], and sold out an alarming "crying like a baby for Divine Mother, and She would appear". The semi-ritualised crying for Divine Mother, or Folly-dangerous Yoga, may be Gamy (a Transactional Analysis term). Good meditation at least aims at taking the mind inward, and attempts to drop extraneous concepts of Divine Mother - aiming at some higher states of consciousness. Good meditation steers in that direction during a fit sitting too.

  4. Dangerous teachings? SRF publishes much guru talk from between 1920 and 1952, and parts are fooling, and therefore dangerous or alarming. For example, the guru tells repeatedly the world we live in is illusory, ignoring that he too would be so, if that were the case, and his teachings, and so on. When such inconsistencies abound, one's mental health could suffer setbacks. Another problem is that of whitewashing or covering up, for example Yogananda's earlier stand for dictatorship and Mussolini (!) [More]

  5. A fronted SRF notion is that Yogananda's words and injunctions cannot be changed, yet the SRF publisher has edited some of his words so heavily that it surprises outsiders. So there is evidence that the SRF that says it cannot change his words does so anyway, and very clumsily at times too. A former vice-president of SRF offers glimpses into these goings somewhere else. [More].

  6. SRF teaches with inconsistency, in part because some of the things Yogananda went for, did not suit the later SRF management, and were dropped so as to look like guru flops. This apparently happened to the guru's cherished ideals of self-supporting communities. He writes for it in his autobiography, and there are recorded talks for such communities too. The current SRF management has not forefronted them so far. To the contrary. Idealists may suffer set-backs from Yogananda till this is made plain. - Another thing: Ananda Church - formed by the former SRF vice president Kriyananda - supports and takes care of Yogananda ideals in this respect.

  7. Learning the modified, simplified kriya of SRF can bind you head and foot in quite unwelcome and maybe surprising ways. Some aspects of them appear to fit some dictatorship that he explicitly wrote for in his magazine when he was forty - and wrote well of an unspecified brand of socialism too. By the way, the early church had ideals in common with Communists.

  8. Yogananda and SRF slur over a traditional, Christian heritage with baptism, sacraments, tongue-talking, rituals, one Shepherd, and ancient rules for the services that were laid down early in letters of Paul. God the Father, Christ, and the Holy Spirit are defined differently, by using some Hindu concepts for it. Besides, his teachings have alarmed at least one Catholic.

  9. Very disappointed monks and nuns have left SRF. The state of affairs deep in SRF led about one third of the monks and nuns there to leave between 2000 and 2005. Those who left the premises told saddening, grief-struck stories of how things were among close disciples.

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.

Many Wander in Delusion

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?

YOGANANDA DEPICTED If you turn away from the emissary of God, He [decides] "Now you shall have to wait long ... Several incarnations [of dire fears and colossal sufferings] at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity. [Source: SRF Magazine, spring 1974:6.]

Why is "dire fears and colossal sufferings" added to the quotation? Because in SRF the teaching is also as in Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi,'s chapter 34, where Master Babaji is reported to say:

Repeat to each of your disciples this majestic promise from the Bhagavad Gita [2:40]: ... "Even a little bit of the practice of this religion will save you from dire fears and colossal sufferings."

Yogananda says these fears and sufferings are inherent in the cycles of life and death and rebirth and redeath and so on. The whole Gita verse runs like this in his translation:

YOGANANDA DEPICTED 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 great anxiety or guilt after leaving his fellowship or him, may be staggering elements in SRF circles, but not for those who stayed away from him in the first place . . . Outcomes of leaving Yogananda depend on what you leave him for. Otherwise, some have needed help from quitting SRF - former SRF monastics, even. They did not "Stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds" - as Yogananda is quoted to have said, in SRF's Golden Anniversary Booklet, unpaginated). He also said the world is illusory.

It should be good to know that those who had it with Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar, were free to leave him and his flattening hammer treatment (Autobiography of a Yogi, Chap. 12) - and that is not all, for Yukteswar is in line with the guru-disciple tradition, while the love-guru Yogananda is less considerate than Yukteswar in such a vital matter.

One may come to wonder if Yogananda, a subject of invasive discipline, took to reproducing parts of it after he became elderly himself. On the issue of leaving a guru, he is harder than Yukteswar. And SRF goes on to tell that they do not find fault with Yogananda's guidelines, and they think his wisdom is flawless.

"We do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines . . . we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless." (Private communication). It is their words, but how are they to be understood? The sentences surrounding the quotation strenghten the idea that what is meant is to stress the flawless part (above). Granted that, for now I give them the benefit of doubt, and stress wisdom:

we believe that . . . his wisdom is flawless.

Others too may say the chances are very slim that the stress was intended to be on wisdom, and not on flawless. They may be right, for example in the extended light of something Geoff Falk's writes in Stripping the Gurus, after a stay at an SRF ashram in California. Falk tells came a long way down from his belief in infallible leaders in SRF, and "infallible Yogananda".

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, chapter 26].

But now, let us for the sake of argument not think the worst of people and take a letter in this vein in the worst way if another way of understanding it dawns on us. Then we give SRF a far-fetched benefit of doubt, and then we grasp that maybe what is meant is more or less between the lines, that they found (only) his wisdom infallible, not everything he dictated or decided.

And how much of Yogananda's output is wisdom? It is his wisdom they praise go in silk clothes for - wisdom as opposed to much else he said dogmatically or bombastically, if so. One may suppose flawless Yogananda wisdom was not found in a large part of his aims and ideals of his fellowship. Why? Many of them were removed as time went by, and also by his fellowship after his death.

In sum, such idealising conduct, "titlephrenia" and much else in SRF looks in part like notorious folly, in part neurotic. It might even be, as it adds up! See how sloppily they get around Yogananda's crazy praise of Benito Mussolini and of dictatorship too. Beware a lot in such murky waters, and better not enter in the first place.

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 broke it for a trifle (Yogananda 1998:277-78). He broke 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 (!). (Aut

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. If in communion with that Jesus (there are many Jesuses and many gospels around), he may as well be allied to all the gospel commands and teachings for Jews only too. Jesus said his teachings, salvation and kingdom were for Jews only (Geza Vermes 2010:37-41). A summary:

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). 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)

Quite another "melody" than that the kingdom and salvation and gospel teachings of Jesus are for Jews only, is one than 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] . . .

That there is no historical reference to Babaji need not surprise us. (Chap 33, excerpts)

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. Where is the good evidence of anything substantial in it? Has someone bent and contorted his bow till it breaks?" One may wonder. Freedom to think for oneself is a boon, but can often be demanding if you have not got to the facts. Facts first. If none are found, either keep digging, or leave it to others, or go home. The most sensible thing may be to "go home", although that depends on what is meant by it. Is it "Go home" in the sense of "Meditate deeply"? At any rate, that could be good.

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.

"Many sadhus ... wander in delusion," says Babaji in Yogananda's autobiography, and Yogananda himself was no exception, as revealed when toward the end of his life implored in samadhi (yogic absorption) something like "No more delusion! I won't have it!"

Yogananda utterances are spoken well of in SRF, however: "We do not find fault with Paramahansa Yogananda's guidelines. Since we believe that he had attained complete union with God and therefore his wisdom is flawless". Such attitudes and such a voiced belief along with outré and bombastic claims by (a possibly delusional) Yogananda may limit one's urge to investigate. Yogananda's biographer writes about Yogananda. Some weeks and months after his guru Yukteswar had died, Yogananda had a heavy heart, and as he was going to sleep in his hotel room in Bombay, he saw Yukteswar in his room. Yogananda looked him in the face and asked, "Why are you so disappointed? Are you offended so much?"

During Yogananda's first public speech in America over half a year later, he described this as the resurrection of Yukteswar. (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."

But things got enlarged in time, in the USA; in 1946 Yogananda was helped by disciples to write his autobiography and get it published. The first four US editions were published by the Philosophical Library, New York. SRF bought the publishing rights in 1954, from the fifth US edition inclusive. Their thirteenth edition is from 1998. A Gutenberg online first edition was released in 2005. The first edition has also reprinted by many publishers - they may be used to compare the early text with SRF's later-changed work. (Cf. WP, "Autobiography of a Yogi")

In this book of a yogi and his many secretaries there is a whole chapter called "The Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar", where Yogananda writes he communicated with him for most part in "vibratory ways" and not by words. Yogananda "translated" vibes himself, without checking with Yukteswar if he had got his wisdom right.

It may also 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; it was published in the Self-Realization magazine in 1971 only. See an extract for yourself. Joy and the devil]

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.

Following Jesus too wrongly?

Do you dare to wonder how gurus that are ritually invoked as all-knowing, almighty Christs can be wrong?

At any rate, some Yogananda adherents have woken up to a life in distress outside the cultlike SRF monastery of hidden distress and surface pertinence. Hope you will not fall short, and insert a slice of healthy scepticism before much fooling has got the best of you.

Yogananda's guru, Yukteswar, endorses sceptical investiations. Both he and Yogananda talk against blind belief in some places. Accordingly there should be room for doubting Thomases, just as Buddha is into in Kalama Sutta. Opposed to fair scepticism and investigations is the tragedy of living an insignificant or mess-making teaching, like the promised "walking on deep water far from land" - it is a gospel teaching fit for various forms of folly too.

It is fit for folly because most of those who call themselves Christians without any miracles to show for them, do not actually live up to what marks the true followers. The world would become less crowded if all who said they are following Jesus, would walk out to sea and command some suitable mountains to form a new Atlantis where the climate is good and the consequences would not be fatal. That could be good.

Hypocrites are found in many places. Some are not even aware how much they are so. There are other crosses to carry as well. Here is one:

To anecdotes The German composer and musical theorist Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) was once conducting a rehearsal of one of his more dissonant orchestral compositions. At one point, he rapped his baton and said,

"No, no, gentlemen; even though it sounds wrong, it's still not right!"

Comment

If you say that the universe is illusory, as Yogananda and three more SRF gurus do [e.g., Yukteswar 1972;39], it follows that Yogananda and they all are unreal, and their writings and guidelines and the pledge are asked to sign. What will it be? All these gurus went for and set up, is found in and of the universe, unreal to them. If you can believe that, it follows there are no blessed or blessing gurus in Self-Realization Fellowship.

Given this, maybe oinks of hogs and sour talk of rotten potatoes is just as valuable as what sounds wrong "in a right way" -

To anecdotes De Wolf Hopper was calling down a speaking tube to the janitor of his apartment in New York. Hopper, unable to get the information he desired, just blurted out:

"Say, is there a blithering idiot at the end of this tube?"

"Not at this end, sir." [From Of]

Sensible ones do not have to be foolish either. In some way it seems up to oneself.

Pranayama Focus

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.

TO TOP

Yogananda's Huge Cries

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 ...

In the late 1990s, the largest number of items mailed out [from SRF] ... was fewer than 40,000. Those mailings had included such announcements as Christmas greetings, which would certainly have gone out to a considerable number of non-members.

My own suspicion is that their active membership number (those still living on this earth) stands somewhere below 10,000 - far below the one million ("or more") they have claimed. [Ry, chap. 14.]

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."

I was deeply grateful to him. ... From now on I drop the subject altogether.

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." [1]

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 2012:171). 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.

Some Inquiry

"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:

YOGANANDA Find the Divine Mother hidden beyond the skies ... Implore Her with continuous demand, with the resolve not to cease until Her reply comes ...

Say to Her, "Divine Mother, I am your child, your naughty child ...

If you appeal to God as the Divine Mother, She quickly gives in ...

When you worship God as the Mother ... you must say, "You are my Divine Mother. You have to forgive me ..."

You must prove to Her that you want Her alone. You must cry urgently and unceasingly ...

[Yogananda, Man's Eternal Quest [Ak 370, 374-75, 450]]

Yogananda advocates a similar approach toward God the Father too:

YOGANANDA 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.

Stop It

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]

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,

"A frog in a well cannot be talked with about the sea — he is confined to the limits of his hole. An insect of the summer cannot be talked with about ice; — it knows nothing beyond its own season. A scholar of limited views cannot be talked with about the Tao; — he is bound ... Now you have come forth ... and beheld the great sea. The Chuang-tzu, 17.1.

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.

Summary

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, my may find good alternatives to submitting foolishly, alternatives that do not take dignity and Human Rights from you.

Contents


Yogananda's school of kriya yoga, Self-Realization Fellowship, Literature  

Boeree, C. George. A Bio-Social Theory of Neurosis. Article. Shippenburg University, 2002. Online.

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

Horney, Karen. Neurosis and Human Growth: The Struggle toward Self-Realization. New York: Norton, 1950.

Kriyananda, Swami. Conversations with Yogananda: Recorded, with Reflections, by His Disciple Swami Kriyananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2004, No. 189.

⸻. Paramhansa Yogananda: A Biography with Personal Reflections and Reminiscences. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2011.

Morrison, James. DSM-5 Made Easy: The Clinician's Guide to Diagnosis. New York: The Guilford Press, 2014.

Vermes, Geza. The Authentic Gospel of Jesus. London: Penguin, 2005.

Vermes, Geza. The Real Jesus: Then and Now. Minneapolis, MI: Fortress Press, 2010.

Vermes, Geza. From Jewish to Gentile: How the Jesus Movement Became Christianity. Biblical Archaeology Review (BAR) 38:06, Nov/Dec 2012.

Yogananda, Paramahansa. Autobiography of a Yogi. 13th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1998.

Yukteswar, Swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), Los Angeles, 1972.

Afr: Parsons, Jon R. A Fight For Religious Freedom: A Lawyer's Personal Account of Copyrights, Karma and Dharmic Litigation. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2012.

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.

Cy: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

Kta: Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Lik: Evans-Wentz, Walter Yeeling, ed. The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation or the Method of Realizing Nirvana through Knowing the Mind. London: Oxford University Press, 1968.

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

Ppa: Niranjanananda, Swami. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2009.

Ry: Kriyananda, Swami. Rescuing Yogananda. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 2010. Online.

Say: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Sayings of Yogananda. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1958.

Tdg: Fosse, Lars Martin. The Bhagavad Gita: The Original Sanskrit and an English Translation. Woodstock, NY: YogaVidya.com, 2007.

Ybk: Hewitt, James. The Complete Yoga Book: The Yoga of Breathing, Meditation and Posture. London: Rider, 1991.

Yi: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Yoga of the Bhagavad Gita: An Introduction to India's Universal Science of God-realization. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 2007.

Wfe: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Whispers from Eternity. Ed. Kriyananda. 1st ed. Paperback. Nevada City: Crystal Clarity, 2008. Online.

Notes
  1. Ananda Sangha. Letters from Swami Kriyananda. Postlude to "Rescuing Yogananda". December 31, 2010, and Update. January 14, 2011. Online.

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