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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: October 06, 2011 05:26AM

Tormod wrote:

As for Tibetan teachers, they adhere to spiritual customs that Buddha nowhere goes for in the Pali Canon. He did not keep any secret teachings or techniques, he says in the sutra about his last days, the Maha-parinibbana Sutta. Parts of it are online at Access to Insight.

Buddha: "I have set forth the Dhamma without making any distinction of esoteric and exoteric doctrine; there is nothing, Ananda, with regard to the teachings that the Tathagata holds to the last with the closed fist of a teacher who keeps some things back. Whosoever may think that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him, it is such a one that would have to give last instructions respecting them. But, Ananda, the Tathagata has no such idea as that it is he who should lead the community of bhikkhus, or that the community depends upon him." [DN 16, part 2, v. 32]

I posted a speculative article here. The stuff in Tibetan/Himalayan/Mongolian/Kalmuck Buddhism looks like old shamanic material dressed up in later add ons that invoked Buddha but were not in line with Buddha's compassionate teaching that he had given all needed instruction and had held no esoteric material back.
How Classically Educated Westerners May Have Become Enchanted by Tibetan Rinpoches, Tulkus, Lamas and Idealized Shambala?

Much of Western education has, since the Renaissance, been influenced by Plato's ideas. Plato, in his Republic, speculated about the possiblity of creating a society ruled by 'Guardians' a trained elite. In shorthand, this was popularized as the notion of the philosopher king, a superior being entitled to rule over inferior, less evolved mortals.

It came to me as a startling discovery that, according to Dodds in his book, The Greeks and the Irrational, a strong Thracian/Central European shamanic component influenced Greek thought, and entered Greek religious thought via Pythogoras.

After the terrible defeat of Athens in the Pelopannesian War, and its collapse from a participatory democracy into a series of dictatorships and a lethal crackdown on objective searching questioning of traditional religious beliefs, Plato reacted to this by incoporating much material from Pythagorean religion into his work.

Dodd's book, The Greeks and the Irrational is now readable via Googlebooks. Dodds suggests and gives evidence that Plato's 'Guardians' are a fantasy of Pythogorean shamans trained to rule benevolently over society. Even reincarnation of the occult daimonic self, a shamanic idea, was incoporated by Pythagoras into his vision, and later parts of this influenced Plato's later works such as Timeaus and Phaedo--the very dialogues most cherished by Western gnostics

Read here and if Google books permits, the entire chapter

Plato incorporated material from Pythagorias into his Guardian/Philosopher King speculations and Pythagoras was influenced by Northern Balkan shamanism--the occult daimonic guiding self, transmigration of this hidden powerful self through a series of lives, ascension/travel through various levels--this is shamanic material--it isnt what Lord Buddha gave us at all. But it has a perennial grip when people are terrified and crave magic parents.


Now consider that Tibet was full of shamanic practices (Bon) prior to the arrival of Buddhist influence and that its old shamanic traditions and deities were incoporated into Buddhism.

What you have, dressed in red and brocade, are shamanic Guardian rulers, passing from one body to another.

Westeners who had been previously exposed to Plato, either via rigorous classical education, or more fleetingly, in popularized text book summaries, who then encountered all this Tibetan material would have felt a shiver of recognition.

A seeming fulfilment of the Platonic vision of a society ruled by 'philosopher kings' seemingly better than the scientifically jaded West.

What this actually shows us is the extent to which shamanic practices are encountered in old cultures and how resilient shamanic traditions have been when later belief systems are brought in, either by intellectual refugees such as Plato, or by missionaries such as Padmasambhava.

In the case of Tibet, Platonic hopes were not fulfilled. When Younghusband's expedition reached Lhasa at the beginning of the twentieth century, and forced the Tibetan government to allow entry, one officer was so horror striken at the wretched condition of prisoners liberated from the dungeons of this alleged Buddhist paradise, he wrote, that it was worth all the hardships of the journey to have been able to liberate these sufferers from their prisons





And Heinrich Harrer, in Seven Years in Tibet, a man who loved Tibet and its people and was entrusted with tutoring the Dalai Lama, wrote that he spent much of his time assisting the rich grandees of Lhasa. They sought Harrer's assistance asking him to write on their behalf to place orders for gems and precious materials to be sent to them from dealers in Europe.

The money for those pearls, corals and other jewels was exacted from their serfs who worked the land and suffered abominably.

Old Tibet was probably the closest that any society ever came to living out Plato's program of enlightened rule by guardians and the result was not pretty.

Its not pretty whether the guardians operate by shamanism dressed up in Buddhist trappings or operate from Maoist Communism

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: October 07, 2011 09:48PM

1. If "Master" was a tyrant in a former life, that tyrant was good, contrary to what historians tell . . . Yogananda told he had been a vicious, murderous desert marauder in a former life too - but that part of it goes much ignored in SRF circles to this day. It is on the last page or so of his biography by Sailendra Dasgupta, which is online at under the title "Paramhansa Swami Yogananda". If the Guru said he had been this and that in former lives of his, devotees think those former lives were good - up to a point - that is how cult minded ones deal with it. But in some the bowstring of "good anyhow" snaps, and soundness may return.

2. If he talked well of Hitler - something which SRF has found it good to keep in the shades for a long time - followers seek to comfort themselves in such an area too, finding nice things to think, inventing their own view on historical figures, maybe not as much wright as rong -

3. If he talks for SOCIALISM - which he does - and SRF does not make a big thing of it, members adhere to SRF and still consider themselves faithful and dear! If they are told of their guru's hailing of DICTATORSHIP, they seek not to see anything eerie in it.

1. Geoffrey Falk talks of the same subject:

Yogananda claimed to be the reincarnation of William the Conqueror [. . .] and of William Shakespeare.
. . . (These questions regarding previous incarnations are not openly touted by SRF, but they are well known behind the scenes, and never directly denied by SRF ministers.)

Yes, we all knew that he was both Williams, but I thought it a little odd at the time. And he couldn't write nearly as well as Shakespeare. I thought reincarnations were to get better not worse? Like the child prodigy.

And his disciples were all famous reincarnations. Wish I had the list.

What I learned when leaving SRF is that an avatar was never anything but an avatar in a past life. I would not say that the Williams were avatars. Tibet Buddhism is a good example of this belief.

2. I was dealing with a disciple of SRF on my blog, and he said that Yogananda didn't know that Hitler was going to do what he did and I said, I thought that Yogananda was enlightened, and being enlightened you are all knowing. While I am glad he changed his view (if he did), this proves he was not an avatar.

3.. Socialism: even during this last election SRF was telling its members to not vote for Obama.

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Tormod ()
Date: October 08, 2011 03:34AM

Grainne and others,

You find that SRF has kept Yogananda's not-perfectly-whitewashed decrees for dictatorship, socialism, and praise for early dictators like Mussolini to be not quite in step with current SRF policy and what it adheres to for the sake of glorifying someone or someones. I do agree.


Suppose another than Yogananda tells he was "a vicious, murderous desert marauder" in a past life, a life that made the teller shudder. Why believe it? And that is a key problem. We do not have good proof that Yogananda was anyone else in any former life, if any. Only his own words and some of his biographer, Dasgupta.

The evidence that Yogananda had been the gruesome tyrant and bully William the Conqueror in a past life - as Yogananda said he had been according to many followers - has been met with "Oh pooh" by Swami Satyeswaranda on one of his pages. His line of reasoning goes like this: "If you know about the layout of rooms in a place on your first visit, it is not proof that you have actually been there earlier, or in a past life."

Ian Stevenson has tried to do research that matters into cases where people tell of former lives. Some stories are impressive, like the one about the child who told what he had done in his past life - written "Gone with the Wind", how he had died, and some other details. Those in the footsteps of Stevensen have data about the child also.

This was to say I don't rule out past lives or future lives, and not this one either . . . but it pays to know about the problems of verifying the claims, and Stevenson has done good work here, imo. There are links to his work on the following page, and some more updated information on Yogananda claims of past lives on


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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: lwmar ()
Date: January 05, 2012 12:37AM


Any of you speak spanish? I am looking for an ex SRF Yogananda member who speaks spanish and is willing to help me as my ex girlfriend was involved with them and not still very convinced of the damage their produced on her after 4 years of reading their literature. I though you can talk with her or at least email her and see what happens.

Many thanks


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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: January 06, 2012 04:11AM

I don't speak much Spanish, but I was once involved with SRF once. Do you read and speak English well enough to translate because there is a blog that has a lot of information on SRF on it that would help you. And somehow I know that it can be translated into Spanish, but I am not sure how.

I can also bring some blog posts over here for you to read if you want. The damage is not much from reading their literature, the damage that is done is in dealing with a dishonest organization and guru. The Kriya Yoga meditation teachings are dangerous though.

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: figlady ()
Date: January 23, 2012 04:13PM

grainne uaile,

"I also learned how much of a trap it is when a guru or an organization causes you to fear leaving. It seems like many religions do this to one degree or another, but it is done mostly by cults. If a religion does this, my suggestion is to run."

Thanks for posting this. It's been 2.5 years since I left a cult and I spent several years longer than I wanted to, out of fear. These words make so much clear sense to me now. I only hope there are ways for people still stuck in the situation to get this message through to them.

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: January 23, 2012 09:29PM

Hi Figlady, It is sad that so many religions do this and so good that you got out. I was also in the Vedanta Society and left, but at least they never ever said that you couldn't leave your guru. This is what one swami said when I told them what SRF had said, The moment you think of God he is there."

Here is a post that I wrote for the blog titled, You Must Never Leave your Guru:


"There is only one guru uniquely the devotee's own. But if you turn away from the emissary of God, He silently asks: 'What is wrong with you . . .?' . . . He who cannot learn through the wisdom and love of his God-ordained guru will not find God in this life. Several incarnations at least must pass before he will have another such opportunity." - Paramahansa Yogananda, SRF magazine, spring 1974, p 6. From a talk at Mother Centre, 8/17/39

This has kept many people from leaving Self Realization Fellowship, and if not, they left with much guilt. I know I did, and I know others that have. Comments like this are often used by gurus to keep their disciples. At least the Vedanta Society never used these ploys; they used others. My suggestion is that anyone that has these fears should read: The Guru Papers—Masks of Authoritarian Power.

Loyalty to Yogananda has the same consequences. Guilt. It also causes one to not question and to not have any negative thoughts about the guru, especially not reading anything that is negative. I remember reading Satyeswarananda’s book, Kriya: Finding the True Path, and being upset with things I learned about Yogananda, just to feel guilty and call Mother Center (headquarters of SRF) and being told, “Stick a knife though the book, and then throw it in the garbage.” I threw it in the garbage.

But Yogananda wasn’t even loyal to his own guru:

“In the case filed by Anne-Marie Bertolucci against the Ananda Church of Self Realization and Kriyananda in San Mateo County, California, Case No. 390 230, filed January 9, 1996, it is recorded in a deposition that Yogananda’s organization, Self Realization Fellowship Church, has a rule that to be a renunciate, one has to take “final” vows, such as:

1. poverty, 2. chastity, 3. loyalty, and 4. obedience.

His organization requires one to sign a “pledge” for absolute loyalty to Yogananda to join their organization. Let us see how Yogananda was loyal to his Guru, Sriyukteswar.

“Not sensing Sri Yutkteswar’s reluctance to have me leave him, I went on, “Once you beheld the blessed sight of Babaji at an Allahavad Kumbha. Perhaps this time I shall be fortunate enough to see him.”

“I [Sriyukteswar] do not think you will meet him [Mahamuni Babaji] there.” Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, page 461, Eleventh edition, paperback

Sriyukteswar tried his best to prevent Yogananda from going, but seeing Mahamuni Babaji at least once in his lifetime was so intense in Yogananda’s mind that Sriyukteswar’s attempts to stop him failed. In spite of Sriyukteswar’s unequivocal, explicit advice not to go to Kumbhamela, Yogananda attended just to learn from Brahmachari Kesavananda (disciple of Lahiri Mahasay) that Babaji had not attended Kumbhamela that year as Sriyukteswar had told him before. He could not afford to lose the unique opportunity of a lifetime to have Babaji’s darsan.” []

When I went to the Vedanta Society I was never asked to be loyal to any guru or organization, nor was I told that I would be lost for many lifetimes.

I don’t believe that anyone should ever demand loyalty. Loyalty is something that has to grow, and it grows when you love and trust someone, but it can just as easily be broken if you find out that they are not what you thought they were.

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: March 16, 2012 10:14PM

Here is a review on a book I just read:

Review of Paramhansa Swami Yogananda Life-Portrait and Reminiscences by Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta

This book starts out much like the book, Mejeda, beginning with the young years of Yogananda’s life. Then it takes us to India where the author spends time with him and exposes some of his faults.

Some of the most disturbing things in the book, at least to me, are in relation to his playing tricks on others, and for this reason I think of him as a trickster, not a reverend guru. There are worse things than this that are mentioned in the book, and so much more that I learned on my own, but I am sticking to the book.

One trick he used was a hand trick that I had heard about when I was in the Vedanta Society and am not sure if it was in the book, “Mejda.” It disturbed me then I learned of it in Vedanta, but it is more disturbing than how they presented it to me. This book speaks of how Yogananda would stick someone’s hand on the wall and tell them that they could not move it. He called it the Power of the Mind; It is called hypnosis. One time when he was in India he gave a talk and asked a young child who lived in his ashram to come forward. The boy was asked to place his hand on the wall and was told that he could not free himself. This is not the first time he has played this trick; he used it as punishment on his cook. This time the boy couldnt even move his body until Yogananda came over and said, “Now the hand is free!” What was the result of this action by Yogananda? The author said that the boy became very afraid of Yogananda, and so would run away and sit in the field whenever he came to the ashram. Does this seem unloving? It does to me, but there is more:

At one time he asked the audience to clasp their own palms tightly together and then told them that they could not pull their hands apart. When he finally told them that they were free, one man became paralyzed from the nervousness. And no matter how much Yogananda tried to free his hands, they would not open and the more they tried, the more his upper appendages became stiff and twisted. It took someone else to help him. So Yogananda has the power to do harm, but not to undo it as revealed here and in this next incident:

Yogananda overheard a brahmachari make an unflattering comment about the physical form of Sr. Lahiri Mahasaya in the photo of him. He became angry and said “Your face will become twisted!” and “immediately the boy’s face, head and neck turned to a crippled and twisted position, “ so he had to leave the ashram. When he later asked for Yogananda’s forgiveness, Yogananda could not help him. He remained crippled.

How did Sriyukteshvarji feel about these tricks Yogqnanda played? He said, “What is this that Yogananda showed? There is nothing spiritual at all in this. These are nothing but tricks!”

Or how about his conversation with Eastman of Eastman-Kodac and how he committed suicide shortly thereafter? How about his claim at being able to stop his heart, a claim that William Broad disproves in book The Science of Yoga. Then there is his business dealings, then his disobeying his own parents and master, and next Daya Mata’s taking over as president and how she made serious changes to the organization, causing many to leave or to be kicked out. Then there is the statement of how the advanced Kriya techinques won’t work unless you are practicing a certain technique that Yogananda did not teach his disciples. And last but not least, how Yogananda really got his title of Parmahansa.

Reading these things makes me wonder if the author is only making a pretense at respecting Yogananda.

And this book holds a clincher at the very end as I learned that Lahiri Mahasaya actually taught Yoni Tantra and the book is for sale and is titled: “Yoni Tantra: Commentary on Selected Verses in Light of Kriya Yoga. Now this is something that Mother Center really doesn’t want you to know.

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: Tormod ()
Date: March 16, 2012 10:48PM

Hi, grainne ualie,

Well done. And the full story about the paralysing Mukunda is in Paramhansa Swami Yogananda: Life-portrait and Reminiscences by Sri Sailendra Bejoy Dasgupta, page 21 and 22. It is online.

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Re: Self-Realization Fellowship
Posted by: grainne uaile ()
Date: March 19, 2012 07:57PM

could you give me the link to this Tormod? thanks.

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