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chuckle chela
Registered User
(1/12/04 12:28 pm)
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Re: What is a Cult?
SIIS and chela , thanks for your accounts. I must say I find the atmosphere at the temples from your descriptions to be somewhat strange and bizarre, although my overall reaction is one of great sadness. It all seems so impersonal, stilted, and formal. Surreal, almost.

I have a question for either of you or anyone else who participates (or particiapted) in a temple. Weren't you or others able to form any friendships with the people there? Couldn't you get together with one or a few others to shoot the breeze, go to a movie, go for a walk, share a hobby or an interest, get involved in some cause or something, go to dinner, go to a concert or a dance, go swimming or surfing or rollerblading or play tennis or whatever other sports you guys do there, go on a holiday together, do something stupid or ridiculous or wild and crazy and laugh about it, talk on the phone, talk about your ideas, hopes, dreams, and the things that drove you nuts, hug each other, and generally just do the million and one things friends do together?

I get the impression from what you guys have written that forming friendships wasn't something that occurred: as if you all existed just to "serve" each other, and not get close to one another. The atmosphere you guys describe is just awful, where people shut down their feelings, cut themselves off from themselves and others, and became sort of zombies (I'll refrain from using Yellowbeard's "zombie elves"). Death by seriousness.

Wasn't it you, chela, who mentioned Lord of the Flies once? There are some eerie similarities that I find very saddening and even a bit frightening. Did no one ever ask: "hey, what's going on here?"

As you've both mentioned, there are some good people there. In one of your earlier posts on cults, chela, there was mention of some of the relevant social psychological research. I think this is an important part of the mix. In situations like these, the social dynamics can end up influencing people's behavior in ways they aren't even aware of; unconsciously, people with good hearts and perhaps the best of intentions get sucked into behaviors they don't even realize are occurring.

As you mentioned, SIIS, many may come to SRF from less than ideal backgrounds, with great needs, and can easily give up their autonomy in the hopes of a great reward, such as being accepted, feeling loved, and so on.

Very sad.

gassho
Registered User
(1/12/04 1:39 pm)
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Re: What is a Cult?
Namaste chuckle,
Quote:
I have a question for either of you or anyone else who participates (or particiapted) in a temple. Weren't you or others able to form any friendships with the people there?

Personally, I rarely attend social events at the temples, but I do regularly attend meditations and special services. In 35 years of being in SRF, I have to say that I have many acquaintences and few close friends, but that is more out of choice on my part. Guess you could say I'm just a low-key person. I'm probably one of those people that give temples a reputation of being cold. ;-)

As far as the friendship thing at temples--I've noted over the years that there are various clicks--single women, single men, choir members, Sunday school members (families with children), foreign devotees (latin american, etc) and so on. Most people seem to find someone to gravitate to. But are the friendships deep? I couldn't say. Also, every temple does seem to have a personality. Maybe someone else can speak to that.

From what I've heard through others, centers and meditation groups outside the "hubs" are more congenial, perhaps because they are smaller and the devotees really appreciate each other because they are in relatively small numbers.

In loving regards,

gassho

ugizralrite
Registered User
(1/12/04 3:28 pm)
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Re: What is a Cult?
In my first year with SRF I moved to Phoenix because of the temple there. I found a place in North Phoenix beyond bus service, and I asked the minister in charge if he could help to arrange a ride to Sunday services with another member. "We don't do anything like that." Was his reply. Right then and there I should have smelled a rat, but I was young and had already committed to relocation to Phoenix, and so I shrugged it off, got a bicycle, and later moved closer in.

SayItIsntSo
Registered User
(1/12/04 4:50 pm)
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Re: What is a Cult?
Heck ya, I had friends at SRF. Yes, we did do all the normal things friends did. BUT when I left SRF, they didn't. Hence, there was this void in my life.

I couldn't leave SRF and stay friends with SRF people. When you're trying to unprogram yourself you can't be around people who talk SRF speak. "Master this, Master that..." It just doesn't work.

Or it didn't for me.

Edited by: SayItIsntSo at: 2/10/04 4:24 pm
etzchaim
Registered User
(1/13/04 6:05 am)
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Re: What is a Cult?
I have to say, Sayitisn'tso, that from your last post, it doesn't appear like your former friends at SRF were doing anything 'wrong' in the classic sense. It was their choice to stay (regardless of whether they were in a 'cult' or not) and to not change with you. This doesn't mean that you were not hurt by feeling alone at that point, but I don't think that you can really blame people for your not being able to relate to the "master this, and master that" (not-withstanding my opinion that this particular term and how it is used in SRF is a rather 'cultic' approach to the Guru/Disciple relationship).

Were you able to find other people after you left that you related to?

I can relate to the struggle you are going through.

I know that when I left the Orthodoxy, I didn't hang out with the people who remained. Some of them are now very judgmental of me because I'm clearly not Orthodox any more. I wear pants publicly, no longer cover my hair even though I was once married and drive on the Sabbath, all of which are public declarations of my 'rebellion against God' as they see it. I went to a therapist about 2 months after I left who told me about the group of Renewal Jews that I currently pray with, but even when I started with this group, I still had to deal with my own guilt issues and the patterns that I had formed when I believed in Orthodox Rabbinic Judaism. Over the last year I've been able to make some friends, but not very deep friendships. I relate to some of the students here very well, so I'm actually getting close to people who are about 15 to 20 years younger than me. It's slow progress, but there is progress. I miss being around my old Temple, where I have a good number of friends, but many of my closest friends from there have moved outside of Chicago as well, so we only see each other a few times a year when we all gather there for events.

SayItIsntSo
Registered User
(1/13/04 10:52 am)
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Re: What is a Cult?
SRF is a way of life, not just a church you attend on Sundays.


Edited by: SayItIsntSo at: 2/11/04 4:42 pm
etzchaim
Registered User
(1/13/04 11:20 am)
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Re: What is a Cult?
"SRF is a way of life, not just a church you attend on Sundays."

That's why I was asking about whether you had found people outside of SRF. I know it's not just about friends, people need people. You had said that if your husband hadn't left with you, you would have been single. I guess that sounded to me like you were saying you'd be alone.

Edited by: etzchaim at: 1/13/04 11:37 am
SayItIsntSo
Registered User
(1/13/04 1:20 pm)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
ETZ:

It's hard sometimes to communicate effectively on these posts. That was a broad statement. I appologize for that.


etzchaim
Registered User
(1/13/04 1:53 pm)
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Re: What is a Cult?
'sallright.

I'm getting quite a bit out of your posts on toxic shame.

SayItIsntSo
Registered User
(1/13/04 2:32 pm)
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Re: What is a Cult?
pub78.ezboard.com/fsrfwalrusfrm23.showMessageRange?topicID=139.topic&start=21&stop=30

This is a cross posting note to check out the conversation over here. Especially some of the articles.

Regarding Toxic Shame, check out John Bradshaw's work on the subject.

Healing the Shame That Binds You

and

Homecoming, Reclaiming and Championing Your Inner Child


Both: Bantam Trade/John Bradshaw

In Healing The Shame, he talks about addictions in terms of other aspects besides "drugs and alcohol." We can be addicted to "sadness, fear, excitement, regligious righteousness and joy."

etzchaim
Registered User
(1/13/04 2:50 pm)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
He needs to add addiction to the Internet  >D

Thanks for the book recomendations.

Edited by: etzchaim at: 1/13/04 2:52 pm
redpurusha
Registered User
(1/14/04 8:40 am)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
I don't have any friends in srf or who are even yogananda's students, but some are vegeterians and/or practice some new age teachings.

I just had coffee with someone who wants to start a group discussing soul matters and relationships. Her website is www.elementalsoul.com/about.htm so if you live in the north new jersey area, she's having her first meeting soon in a town called Boonton. I think I'll go check it out.

Edited by: redpurusha at: 1/14/04 12:38 pm
apsarasRLD
Registered User
(2/7/04 3:46 pm)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
Dear SayItIsn'tSo.
that concept that SRF is a way of life should definitely be stretched/thrown out. It's too bad when all these piled up dogmas and guilttrips drive people away from the only reason Yogananda came here (To give you Kriya).
But you started so young you didn't get a chance to work out your desires at all, and it's bugging you.
A lot of us recognize that. (By the way my favorite apsara was great today..:b )
The first few years in following the kriya path it is indeed helpful to live a disciplined lifestyle, because otherwise it's hard to get anywhere with meditation. After that I don't think it makes you less spiritual if you sometimes make some healthy exceptions and just keep meditating along with it.

SayItIsntSo
Registered User
(2/11/04 4:34 pm)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
Why is everyone a physiologist these days?

I wasn't so young that I didn't get my desires out. Besides, that thinking is SRF babble. IMO. ;-)

ranger20
Registered User
(2/16/04 2:57 pm)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
A correction. In early January, I posted the following quote, and attributed it to Bro. Ramananda, in a 1978 Center Dept. Bulletin. That much is correct, but it is Yogananda who is the author. I found this by "accident" today, while moving some old SRF magazines from one shelf to another.
Quote:
"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, that you foolishly leave the one I have sent to help you learn the divine science of the soul? Now you shall have to wait long, and prove yourself, before I shall respond again.' 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."
- P. Yogananda, Spring 1974 SRF mag, p 6. From a talk at MC, 8/17/39
Part of me wants to argue for a context based reading. Who was there, what were their situations, had others been bailing, etc. But I cannot. This use of fear and guilt is something I long wanted to attribute to overzealous followers, but this is pretty clear textual evidence that it's beginnings lie with PY himself. :(

Update: Talk is included in The Divine Romance as "Take God With You Through Life."

Edited by: ranger20 at: 2/17/04 8:16 pm
Used Yogi
Registered User
(4/18/04 11:01 am)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
I ran across an excellent web site on the topic of cults:

www.factnet.org/

Topics there include:


  • Child Abuse in Cults
  • Cult Groups List (SRF isn't there -- yet)
  • Cult Recovery Books
  • Spiritual Safeguards
  • Signs of a Destructive Cult (mentions many topics described by chela2020)
  • What is Mind Control?


Lots of useful information, in English and Spanish.

Go to the main page and you'll see court opinions about the need for a church's tax filings to be made public as a safeguard that they are not being given any special treatment.

There is also a tribute to Margaret Singer, the psychologist who was recognized as the leading authority on the psychology of cults. She passed away on November 23, 2003. According to the tribute, she was on the Advisory Board of factnet:

"I could not have gotten my life back if was not for Margaret's wisdom. FACTNet would not exist now nor, would the good FACTNet has done have ever happened --- had it not been for Margaret."

The tribute is at
Margaret Singer

I got into SRF after reading the first paperback edition of AY in 1973 (wow, it's been 30 years). It mentions one of the Aims and Ideals as

Quote:
"To advocate cultural and spiritual understanding between East and West, and the exchange of their finest distinctive features."


The thing that turned me off to Western churches was the idea that each was the best one, the only one. The "distinctive feature" that attracted me to hinduism was sanatan dharma, the belief that all paths lead to God. That was a message (and direct experience) of Sri Ramakrishna, who Yogananda said was "Christlike" in the AY.

Loyalty is a big issue in SRF. Disloyalty takes you away from God. Since they have gone through huge layoffs, while at the same time buying expensive real estate, they have shown themselves disloyal to members. They were also disloyal to Kriyananda, which turned into hatred and lawsuits that they lost. Daya Mata mentioned in a tape that sometimes God gives us a "slap" when we aren't doing the right thing. Well, it looks like SRF has been "slapped" by SRF Walrus, by losing millions in spiteful litigation against Ananda, and probably in a lot of other ways they would prefer to keep secret.

They didn't even have the loyalty to their guru that was so important to him when they forged his signature after his death, taking the first "a" from Yogananda and inserting it after "Param" in "Paramhansa," and the many changes to his works.

They state themselves that loyalty was important to Yogananda. They have not remained loyal to him in changing his writings and even the spelling of his name, as if they were one up on him. And they have not been loyal to faithful members they laid off (what a strange way to celebrate Sri Yukteswar's birthday).

Since they have displayed disloyalty to their guru and to members, what reason is there for anyone to want involvement with them?

Maybe because of Kriya. Maybe because SRF modified the AY to say "The actual technique should be learned from an autorized Kriyaban (Kriya Yogi) of Self-Realizaton Fellowship (Yogoda Satsanga Society of India)." That's in my 1972 paperback. Now that all the Yogacharyas are gone, did they change AY again to say "SRF minister"? I've read on this board that Ananda has Yogananda's "original" Kriya teachings, that SRF changed the Kriya lessons. Is that true?

Or maybe people stay because of a feeling of loyalty to the Guru. If they are loyal, they should pressure SRF into printing what Yogananda actually wrote, starting with his unmodified signature. Then see how long it takes for SRF to try to get rid of them, because SRF is disloyal to the guru and to members.

So why should anyone bother anymore with SRF unless they take real measures to turn themselves around?

Anyone have any experience with Satyeswarananda? He says in his books that Babaji sent him here, and he describes Kriya Yoga in a very different way than the SRF lessons.

redpurusha
Registered User
(4/19/04 8:55 am)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
Used Yogi, you make a lot of accurate observations about SRF. A lot of answers to your questions lie in the Gita, the Autobiography -in Yogananda's teachings. Most of it you probably know well, but its good sometimes to reiterate. Souls progress individually, and society progresses as a collective whole of all souls. Yogananda writes that the written lessons are right for this age, for this time, for the average devotee interested in learning of contacting God within, due to the fact that there are so few qualified gurus in physical form. Some people are too accupied with the senses to even go to church. Others go to church once in a while, but with their mind running rampant on anything but Spirit, etc. Everyone is at their own stage of development. Even if you probably look at your own life, you will see definite stages of spiritual growth, understanding, and realization, so it's the same with society as a whole. The SRF lessons are one stage of development.

At some point, you won't need any written lessons to guide you because your intuition will be more refined and you will gradually lean on it more. If you noticed, many advanced devotees of Yogananda, once working exclusively for the organization, have left the work to go in other directions. Obviously, these people have outgrown the boundaries and structure of the church, like one of the ex-senior nuns said, "I cannot grow here any more" or something like this. Granted, some have left for other reasons (getting booted, fired, etc). There is a place for all the religions, all the churches, and all the various ways of worwhipping God. If SRF's version of kriya is not working for you, then there are other outlets you can get kriya and meditation techniques from. They modified it to make it easier for the average devotee starting out, but maybe that's not you, then use the srf lessons as a stepping stone to more advanced, or at least more personalized meditation practice.

Personally, I come to the Walrus to discuss Yogananda and meditation, not SRF, even though the boards's main purpose is around SRF. Although I am disappointed with some of the ways SRF handles itself, I see it for what it's worth. For me, the SRF organization is only a part of Yogananda, not the other way around.

The name change issue surprised me when I found out. The Master didn't know how to spell his own name? so Daya Mata/editorial dept. has to correct it for him? Yogananda-dif.org goes into the possible reasons behind this -much of it political. But we should take into account that we live in a world of relativety, so how names and words are expressed is also relative, for example, is it John Paul, Juan Pablo, or Jan Pawel? They are all correctly spelled in their own respective languages -english, spanish, and polish. Jesus is pronounced as many different ways as there are languages, yet in the original works of the bible his name is said to be Yahua or something like this. It is relative. However, in Yogananda's case, he chose to write it a particular way and I would think (hope) the devotees (especially those closest to him) would respect that decision.

Edited by: redpurusha at: 4/19/04 9:32 am
didgeridootoo
(4/19/04 11:10 am)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
Used Yogi,

Do you have the title of Margaret Singer's book on the psychology of a cult?


"Since they have displayed disloyalty to their guru and to members, what reason is there for anyone to want involvement with them?"

Most members don't believe that they are disloyal to their guru and believe them when they say that PY told them to make these changes. Most people don't question. Some do stay out of loyalty to PY even though they have heard things and are upset by it. There is that feeling of, "Where would we go?" especially since SRF has put down Ananda so bad that one would not think of going there, and most don't know about the other groups.






Used Yogi
Registered User
(4/19/04 9:41 pm)
Reply
Re: What is a Cult?
Redpurusha, thanks for the thoughtful reply. Yes, my sadhana has seen me go through many stages: 1) young, naive, and gullible seeker , 2) head over heels for SRF , 3) slowly seeing and hearing about things, like Kriyananda getting thrown out over what sounded like someone's personal mission against him , 4) getting sick of it all and leaving.

I heard the same reason that the nun gave from a male ex-monastic who I'll keep anonymous: he couldn't grow spiritually in the SRF ashram anymore, and saw some things that really bothered him, so he left.

Speaking of monastics leaving, what did happen with Bri Russell? Did he sue SRF, like someone on here mentioned? If so then what SRF told everyone when he left isn't what actually happened -- more lies. Someone who knows can email me if they don't want to post it here. I'll keep it private. Does anyone know how to get in touch with Bri Francis? (You can email me on that one too if you do.)

Didgeridootoo, I haven't read any of Margaret Singer's books, but one is on the Factnet site, at

www.factnet.org/Recommended_Books.htm?FACTNet

The title is Cults in our Mindset. I just clicked the link there to Amazon, and they have them used starting at $4.74. There's another one there too. Maybe I should get both (plus a few more cult recovery books from that page, and I'll get free shipping from Amazon! woohoo!)

I also wondered where I would go when I left SRF, and can't say that I've gone anywhere. I was pretty confused, but was turned off by organizations. I figured any organization was going to have its share of politics and petty little people and it wasn't worth getting caught up in it all over again somewhere else. The dilemma I faced was the respect I had for Yogacharya Oliver Black and for Yogananda when I stopped going, so I understand why it might be hard for those who see bad things to leave.

But even though I haven't read those books (except for Codependent No More, which I highly recommend for recovery), I can leave you with some final anti-cult thoughts for the BOD, if they keep refusing to listen to anyone's legitimate complaints, wasting millions ("other people's money"), buying a $600,000 house on Mt. Washington at the same time they are laying off loyal members (on Sri Yukteswar's birthday even - sheesh), disbanding SLCs, etc., etc.:

Quote:
"Who's gonna tell you when it's too late

Who's gonna tell you things aren't so great

You can't go on thinkin nothing's wrong, oh no

Who's gonna drive you home tonight."

The Cars, Drive


Yours Usedly...

soulcircle
(4/19/04 11:54 pm)
Reply
thanks
Hi Guests and All,

Used Yogi, redpurusha, didgeridootoo, you are appreciated more than you all know!

Used Yogi, I hope people will answer your inquiries, I will keep my ears open about Francis and Russell.

Dave

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