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Yukteswar as a Disciplinarian
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Lavish Praise and Better

"As a Tathagata [Awakened One] speaks, so he acts; as he acts, so he speaks." [Buddha, in Catukka Nipata Pali 23]"

To praise yogi-christs, is it all good?

It depends on what we mean by yogi-christ. And "Too much of a good thing is a bad thing (Proverb). That is to say, lavish praise may be good and work well if deserved. Even then it could backfire. Some get very envious. So there are good ways to do it, and even good ways may backfire if the audience or some in the audience, or just one or two get angry or worse.

The swami Yogananda (1893–1952), called ten or eleven yogis and swamis Christs, and eleven of the apostles of Jesus was called Christs by him too too.* You may wonder where he got that from.

* Cf. Paramahansa Yogananda. "Yogavatar Shyama Lahiri Mahasaya's Ladder of Self-Realization, for Salvation for All". Inner Culture, March 1937.

Of course, being called a Christ does not necessarily make one a Christ. Also worth a thought: Jesus of the gospels forewarned against false teachers and false Messiahs (that is, Christs). He did not want the term used about himself either, bible scholars like Bart D. Ehrman tell. According to Ehrman's How Jesus Became God, Jesus neither thought of himself as God nor claimed to be God (Ehrman 2014). Scholars think it helps to get duly informed before speaking up.

Israel's kings were sometimes called "the anointed one". It was used for "king". An anoined high priest and prophet could also be termed "king", and did not have to be Jewish: Thee Hebrew Bible refers to King Cyrus the Great of Persia, as a messiah. (Wikipedia, "Messiah")
In the New Testament (NT), the term "king" (messiah) took on wider meanings after Jesus was buried. The NT wants you to believe that all Christs but Jesus are false Christs and that they don't wish you well, much like hungry wolves. (Cf. Matthew 28:18-20).

Yogananda's Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), registered as a church in California in March 1935, is still around, and is headed by monks and nuns of the Giri (mountain) branch of the swami order. The other nine branches are Arana, Ashrama, Bharati, Parvati, Puri, Sagara, Saraswati, Teertha and Vanam.

SRF publishes books and talks by Yogananda and The Holy Science by Yukteswar. Big and proselytising words capture many and lead some astray, but will not fatten the cabbage. One had better be on guard, since duped and hypnotised people may not have a real choice in all ways or all things that matter.

False christs are not fully cultured. And if HH Yogananda has appointed swamis Christs when they were long gone, do they serve as "hungry wolves" then?

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Improved Yukteswar Teachings

We will look into some pregnant Yukteswar teachings and question them.

We do well not to invite all sorts of odd teachings into our homes or hearts

I would not make much of Yukteswar words. Part of his Yogananda-rendered counsel borders on escapism. Example: "Disbelieve in the reality of sickness . . . an unrecognized visitor will flee," said Yukteswar. However, it is far better to be realistic than foolish. Yogananda says, "Modern medicine has its uses. Why deny the facts?" Hopefully, a good diagnosis can help your cure and stop what is set adrift. Yogananda got medical treatments, also as prescribed by Yukteswar.

When tall words - taken more or less out of context to seem inspiring - conflict with the actions of those who said them and taught them, it is their actions that show what they really think is fit. So don't adhere to very bad counsel.

Even a good diagnosis may be unwelcome in a flock of ill ones if their id systems are perverted.

There are happy marriages and all the others

What is more, the Bhagavad Gita tells us to be steadfast in yoga, abandoning attachment, and seeking refuge in wisdom [2:48-49]. It is wise to learn to cope, too [2:47], to have all right books, marriage partners, family, children and values, and be staunch and mature and live in a free country. Besides, the one "who is free from attachment, fear and anger, is called a sage of steady wisdom." [2:56]. And "by performing action without attachment, man reaches the Supreme." [3:19]

Marriage and hanging go by destiny, they say. And there is still hope for you if you don't feel regular devotion for gurus you are married to, sort of. Some devotionally attuned gurus talk little of the Gita's teachings on detachment, vairagya, although it is presented as a prerequisite of success in yoga disciplines. Bhakti movements, on the other hand, go for devotional attachment. Yet in the long history of yoga, the bhakti movements are newcomers, relatively speaking. What is more, they may result in cults. [Wikipedia, s.v. "Bhakti"]

Is being free from detachment superior detachment or less desirable?

Childhood and its challenges

See to that your young ones get proplerly dressed, instructed or educated, not tamed and suppressed and scared overly, so that they steadily gain from maturing and growing up. It is in the art of living.

Some grow out of attachments and form other ones, be it to the neighbour's wife and a car. See what a man spends the most quality time on or in. Is it the car or his wife? Stages of id-linked development are here: [Link]

Conclusion: Childhood attachments drop off as a result of development, others may persist. The danger at bottom of it could be that of being stagnant.

Id-rooted development of interests, character and a full life may stagnate. What then? Neuroses may grow so tall they seem divinely rooted. A danger is guessed at.

Among "higher states" some are

There is no reason to think that Yuktewar did not suffer after he had got cosmic consciousness. There are several stories about it in the Autobiography of a Yogi and other places. Do not disregard the witnessing of gurus that fall ill and grieve. Stay realistic. Life is often hard.

It is not insensible drivel that some higher states are happy states. Many learn to live in such happiness.

Actions regularly speak more than words. Study the speaking actions of persons well, to avoid being tricked and trapped by words.

Some words are dear; many others are not, and some hurt more like wounds.

Love, a blunder?

What is called love can be presented in many ways, many forms, and spoken of in many words. There is benevolent love, or loving-kindness, also called metta that is developed through meditation. Many books are written about it. (See the book list) [Also: Wikipedia, s.v. "Love", and "Narada Bhakti Sutra"]

Love tends to make us committed, also to animals. Bonding may result. Stress statistics further shows that love normally turns into a great punisher after initial, sugary phases. Few are mature enough to deal expertly or in an essentially detached fashion with that. [More]

There is no dire need for sensuous love in the art of meditation. All the same, some who feel so called, may learn tantra yoga, sex yoga, and thereby get ardent backup. Steady and deep-going meditation is what is aimed at. And if "love comes to get you", you could have to deal with it without losing control of your main assets. It is in the art of living.

Good love and loving-kindness are essentials in higher yoga.

Discipline

The frogs and a Yogananda-influenced woman

"Roam the world as a lion of self-control; don't let the frogs of weakness kick you around," said Yukteswar. He may or may not be understood like this: He wants us to be waylaying gang-members on four legs and meat-eaters and shun vegetables, sleep and rest most of the day, and roar terribly now and then - adhering to that "lion's self-control".

Yukteswar' disciple Yogananda once influenced a Miami woman to think she was a lion. A news article:

A lion woman

A superintendent of a hospital for nervous and mental diseases told a court of law in Miami that a woman entered his hospital on January 31 and refused to eat unless assured that her food "had come in contact with the swami" [Yogananda]. The superintendent testified that she "imagines she's a lion, and attempts to roar and conduct herself as a lion does." She said the swami told her he was a lion and held Miami in his grasp.

Yogananda said she came to his meetings on request of her husband who asked that she be cured of sleepwalking. [◦Newspaper article]

[More about Yogananda in Miami]

A mental weakness had better not be made stronger through incompetence until it is in the newspapers as something loony.

Yogananda subjected to disciple and some of its fruits

There is hard-to-attain beneficial discipline too

If a person fails to act in harmony with what he speaks, maybe we had better be overbearing, for one thing, and consider if there are ways we may help, if we make it our business. The old lesson of guarding one's tongue is wise.

Human self-control (sound discipline) may work better and help you if it ties in with fit instructions for living. Good company may help you too, And a way to walk also. Thus there is the Teachings, the Sangha, the Path - they are called three jewels for Buddhists. One should refrain from limiting oneself to one's loss. That counts too.

Peeling the pep-talk imagery aside, I think Yukteswar says, "have self-control; don't let weaknesses get the best of you." The question is whether it is fit self-control we talk of. First of all, accept what you are. If you want to develop or improve yourself, be yourself and a darling too. You may have to go deep for it. And note that a natural lion is a killer by instincts. It ambushes and slays innocent animals, operating in flocks. That is parts of its so-called self-control. But Yukteswar encourages vegetarianism, and does not want humans to become animals either. To the contrary. And that is what his book is founded on.

Yogananda writes:

Yogananda Discipline had not been unknown to me . . . But Sri Yukteswar's training cannot be described as other than drastic . . . hypercritical of his disciples, whether in matters of moment or in the subtle nuances of behaviour.

Whether Master and I were surrounded by his students or by strangers, or were alone together, he always spoke plainly and upbraided sharply. No trifling . . . inconsistency escaped his rebuke. This flattening treatment was hard to endure . . . As he laboured at this titanic transformation, I shook many times under the weight of his disciplinary hammer.

"If you don't like my words, you are at liberty to leave at any time," Master assured me. "I want nothing from you but your own improvement. Stay only if you feel benefited."

That shows a difference between Yukteswar and Yogananda. The latter decreed that disciples were not free to leave him. Note it well. Yogananda, further:
For every humbling blow he dealt . . . with stunning aim, I am grateful beyond any facility of expression." (Autobiography of a Yoga, Ch. 12).

It may seem strange, but Dasgupta's Yogananda biography tells that one day Yogananda saw himself lecturing to Americans, and at once wanted to go to America. A short while before Yogananda's ship pulled out of the port, Yukteswar came walking along and went on board. Yogananda had not even tried to contact him! Thus, a regretful Yogananda fell at Yukteswar's feet on deck. (Psy 42-47, passim)

What is more, his relationship with Yukteswar did not seem mature long after his days of drastic, hypercritical, upbraiding, flattening, hammering and humbling discipline. Yogananda'is biographer writes that Yogananda feared Yukteswar terribly in daily life. His behaviour towards Yukteswar "always was like that of a child," - described as a "desperate schoolboy's" condition even after Yogananda has become famous in America. (Psy 30)

Humbling discipline may produce another "Yogananda" (proselytising agent). To be well-bred is different.

To be well-intending is not enough

Some guru ways look like weaknesses too

Yukteswar's disciplinarian intentions might seem well meant, or if not good, acceptable, or if not acceptable, a last resort to get a wayward Yogananda back on track, or not even that. Yogananda was subjected to a form of discipline that educators en masse tell is a low and perhaps too bad discipline. Maybe Yukteswar was fair, but the guru ways and means that Yogananda sums up, were low.

Yogananda said later that Yukteswar was wise and mighty, but it would have been nice if he had shown a bit more sweetness and feeling, for "He was a bit too tough in his ways." (Psy 30)

Not only that, his biographer writes Yogananda feared Yukteswar terribly in daily life. His behaviour towards Yukteswar "always was like that of a child," - described as a "desperate schoolboy's" conditon even after Yogananda has become famous in America. (Psy 30)

A few words on weaknesses and seeming weaknesses: A tiny sprout is tender and soft and may easily be trampled down or killed. If not, after some time the tender sprout has grown to cover the earth with flowers, or a forest, depending on the seed. Let good, tender sprouts have their way within you, develop those sides to yourself out of liking, and lo - in time the soft areas may be areas of strength or fit for benefits. Organic growth is not much fostered by damp-hammer discipline. It may only produce a seeming non-crookedness that may give way or get lost later on, depending on conditions.

Tender, delicate traits are fit for the future, whereas being stiffened and straightened from outside gives a menial fare.

Good sprouts are not benefitted by repeated hammer blows.

Murderous guys, murderous idols, or?

To go with the natural flow tends to bring much unsavoury with it

The tip: Swerve well enough from much that is common in the natural world, and if you do that sort of yogic penance for long, you might improve. Lions in the wild hardly do that; it seems they are stuck in being gang members, gang animals, and murderous. [More]

Much in modern society calls for curbing of naturalness in humans, and wholeheartedness may come to suffer through it in time. Freud has written a book about the unpleasantness of the culture. There are good sides and bad sides to it. Victorian moral reflects the stilted, stultifying and neurosis-making feigning and putting on airs that often is mistaken for culture, even high culture. Thus, so-called self-control is at times quite opposed to acting naturally. Whatever it is, go for getting the best of it, and get victorious enough to relax enough.

The natural ways may at times work like ways of animals or idiots. Hopefully, there are higher and better ways to be adhered to without too much strain.

Deeds and words

Yogananda was asked to do something difficult on behalf of Yukteswar

On some occasions Yukteswar himself was far from living up to keeping a stiff upper lip. During one such incident, he could not compose himself when a friend of his died. And when a pet disciple had given in to bad habits, Yukteswar asked Yogananda to get rid of him; getting rid of a former favourite disciple was much too hard for Yukteswar himself. He turned to the future swami Yogananda

"Master summoned me and brokenheartedly discussed the fact that the boy was now unsuited to the monastic hermitage life.

"Mukunda, I'll leave it to you to instruct Kumar to leave the ashram tomorrow; I cannot do it!" Tears stood in Sri Yukteswar's eyes. [More]

There is a need to study what a man does and at least put it on a par with what he tells. As for proper self-assertion, self-confidence and timeliness, there are self-help books with tips and tricks on such stuff. There are books that go for teaching you "to ask for what you want in life and get it with Assertiveness Training". [Cf Edo]

Also take into account there may be a dark side to asserting oneself in a culture dominated by big firms and their famed bosses. It could work well to learn some typified or even delicate techniques to assert yourself properly and deal maturely with manipulation. Also, see where the money goes and who benefits, if you aim at better living for many.

One should not ignore the need for sane protection as he works to lessen deep-seated insecurity, which is a problem for many American students, thinks Professor Emeritus Philip Zimbardo of Stanford University [Link].

Deeds and words ideally match.

Getting a good place to stay is foremost in the minds of many

Yukteswar's disciple Yogananda refused to marry. Setting aside the expressed wishes of his father Bhagabati, one of many yoga Christs [so called by Yogananda], Yogananda did not pay attention to: "In marriage, being the right person is as important as finding the right person [Stephen Jay Gould]". However, if two persons are not compatible in the first place, striving only for an amount of self-assertiveness may not work out full well.

Proper assertiveness is quite an art. Some lower facets of the assertiveness art may be trained, but not by taming, and higher facets of fit assertiveness may not be directed from those outside and bystanders. Heuristically tinged monitoring of oneself could bring many advantages. Some are found in Choosing Success, a book with a benevolent outlook. [Suc]

Don't discard or dismiss yourself and your own brains for your conform education and training. Find the conditions for getting into higher activitives of learning; that could help a fare too, according to Benjamin Bloom and others [Link]. Being stout helps a lot too, for people tend to justify their self-conceptions and much else to what they have the guts to realise and stick to in their way of living. Being told things we cannot do anything about, seldom helps.

Sound concepts are advantageous if they tend to freedom, decency and other good things in life.

Sufferings

There may be no good reseach into future living with or without kriya and with or without Yogananda as the guru

"Everything in the future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now," said Yukteswar. He who decreed it, had longed for a son to train in yoga. But even after great successes in yoga, Yukteswar still did not have any son.

About his guru, called Lahiri Baba: "His stalwart body developed a small boil on the back." He did his kriya, but got a boil on his back anyway. It happens to so many . . . We should consider whether Yukteswar's seeming guarantee to some of his his disciples applied to his own guru.

Swiss-born Brother Anandamoy, a direct disciple of Yogananda in SRF, once told in 1971 that Yogananda suffered too as he was nearing death, and said it was for the sake of disciples. "And then he looked at me!" said Anandamoy. The idea that some untoward things (non-improvements of health, for example) for a guru is a good thing for those who are said to benefit from it, is it a "complication"?

In Yogananda's Man's Eternal Quest too we can read that Yogananda suffered when a wishing well of cast concrete "accidentally slipped and fell with all its terrific weight on my foot". The pain was terrible, he says, and his foot seemed completely mashed. He was carried to his room where "Day by day the pain in my leg became almost unbearable." [Ak 377-78]

"Everything will improve if you breathe well" - even after you die also? Well, hopefully or somehow, depending on what there is to "breathe" - prana, life fluids, and so on. However, it should be good to take very seriously the discord between sweet, catching hype and what really happened to gurus. If someone would like to explain it or explain pain away by "They would have been worse off without kriya yoga," a response may be: "Maybe. It is just speculation until it is proved." That is proper scepticism.

"Everything will improve if . . . " What about the bad soup you had two years ago? Is it so sure that it will improve in the future? Yukteswar's saying generalises haltingly, unless he also supports those great-looking words for those they were meant for, namely some of his direct disciples. And things that are all right already, may not need any improvement. Count that in too.

Frankly, people put trust or faith in sayings of Yukteswar on the authority of Yogananda, the guru, or due to massed faith. "Don't believe everything you hear" is a sensible saying. But do go for merits in this life for the future. That is a good teaching of Buddha. [Link].

Buddha's teachings about karma and fruits are right here. In the long run it should help to persist in creating lots of good karma through ups and downs of lives, he tells. It is not simplistic. [Link]

Kriya yoga is a publicly known pranayama method called ujjayi put into some system of additions to it.

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The Fate of Fished Fish and Shepherded Sheep

Divine Mother Could Not Stay: Being with Yogananda's Disciples at the SRF Headquarters at Christmastime Was too Hard

Away the Mother sailed

Have you ever considered that where people talk much of 'divine' and 'God ' - whatever is of highest renown - there could be a dire need for it lurking in the background somewhere? The farther away from the Light, the greater the need for Light? Or like empty barrels making much sound as they cry and wail for Divine Mother as told by Yogananda? In The Science of Religion [Scp] there is this Indian adage: "We pray to the Divine when we are in a pucker." To the degree that it is so - granting there are many other outlooks that are valid for investigations too - monasteries may be full of godfearing materialists.

Impossible? There is still more to learn from Yogananda in the matter: During his all-day Christmas meditation at the SRF Headquarters, surrounded by his close, monastic disciples, "The Divine Mother appeared to him and the awed disciples heard him speaking to her. Many times he exclaimed, "Oh, You are so beautiful!" But suddenly he cried: "Don't go! You say the subconscious material desires of these people are driving You away? Oh, come back! Come back!" [Say 74]

The Divine Mother felt out of Her waters in SRF and could be driven away by Yogananda's close disciples who were not even aiming at it. They just had materialistic desires, we are told. Isn't that interesting? The monastics there belonged to the church that Yogananda set up in 1935 to get and hold property, to buy and sell real property, to borrow and lend money, and so on down the first page. [◦That deed]

Seemingly godfearing fellows that even drive God away, still borrow holy-looking ways as in a masquerade or show.

Pieces of advice

The art of shepherding folks is seldom talked of openly, but it is Christian, in a nutshell

Where they speak of God on their side, suspect something fishy anyway.

Buddha says the disciple is not to believe him foolishly, but work his own way up, adjusting to his teachings. [Link]

"It takes one to know one." To recognise and really appreaciate noble teachings, you have to be noble yourself. The same applies to art. Artists may recognise and appreciate art a lot without being told. It is a matter of wavelengths.

It may take fishers to understand that it is not good for the fish to be fished. Jesus wanted to fish sick sinners, he said [Mark 2:17].

Many make a living out of shearing and slaughtering sheep at some proper time. Accordingly, don't be an "ill sheep" guarded and controlled by good shepherds (bosses), and you may benefit and thrive - or fall victim to others.

Much concern with roles, decor and stiff, formal rules of etiquette, without fun and frivolity, may not bode well.

The character of cultists needs to be strengthened fitly, but the large society is built on corporate greed and sustaining markets these days.

Look at what really takes place as you go about minding your own essential business. You yourself deserve a good share of the fruits of your good labour also.

Do not automatically believe in traditions and authority figures. Compare: [Link].

If a statement or lesson works for good nearly always, acting sensibly on it could be fit in the long run.

Searching carefully for the settings or circumstances where a grand-looking theory or statement could work strongly to your advantage, is in the art of living. Verifications of this and that can be had at different levels of significance. Statistics serve to give alternatives to "maybe" and "hopefully". "Most likely" is better than "likely", and "very probably" is better than "probably", for example. Thus, it helps to grade possibilities: helps us as to trends in the long run, and even to gauge odds.

Be quite guarded in the public space.

There is much you can do to improve your lot if you get access to fine instructions and perhaps neat equipment and tools too.

All who believe in ridiculously swollen promises with next to nothing substantial in and behind them, could need to reflect better and get rid of stupid attachments.

A person's life space - his subjective evaluation of goals and the environment - at least co-determines his behaviour [cf Sop 10].

"There is nothing so practical as a good theory," as Kurt Lewin said [Sop 11]."

Let charity starts at home, and assume little.

If you find yourself deep in a sect, be guarded and seek to get out of there as well as you can.

If things are lenient or fit for it, build good assets to improve your lot in life. Learn to gauge odds before venturing anything important.

Contents


Swami Sri Yukteswar writings and comments, Literature  

Aronson, Harvey B. Love and Sympathy in Theravada Buddhism. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1980.

Ehrman, Bart D. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee. New York: HarperOne, 2014.

Gyatsim Geshe Kelsang. A Meditation Handbook. 2nd ed. London: Tharpa Publications, 1993.

Horner, I. B. tr. The Collection of the Middle Length Sayings (Majjhima Nikaya). Vol. 3, The Final Fifty Discourses (Uparipannasa). Oxford: The Pali Text Society, 1999

Shaw, Sarah. Buddhist Meditation: An Anthology of Texts from the Pali Canon. London: Routledge/Taylor and Francis, 2006.

Tenzin, Thubten. Buddhism: Ancient Medicine for Healing Modern Minds. Australia: ecocompassionchurch, 2010.

Ak: Yogananda, Paramahansa. Man's Eternal Quest. New ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1986.

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.

Edo: Fensterheim, Herbert, and Jean Baer. Don't Say "Yes" When You Want To Say "No". London: Futura, 1976.

Hos: Sri Yukteswar, swami. The Holy Science. 7th ed. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), 1972.

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

Psy: Dasgupta, Sailendra. Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences. Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2006. (also: Google Books, partial view).

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

Scp: Yogananda, Paramahansa. The Science of Religion. Los Angeles: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1953.

Sop: Smith, Eliot R., and Diane M. Mackie. Social Psychology. 2nd ed. Hove: Psychology Press, 2000.

Suc: Jongeward, Dorothy, and Philip Seyer. Choosing Success: Transactional Analysis on the Job. New York: Wiley, 1978.

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