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Registered User
(2/17/04 3:02 pm)
Another perspective
The recent monster thread, “The Real Question,” though it lurched about like a wounded war elephant in Return of the King, actually began by pointing toward a valid and important question. As I understand it, the question was: Is the state of SRF today the result of bad leadership, the “betrayal of a Master” as the Yogananda-dif board calls it? Or is there something inherent in “the teachings,” or even the founder, something systemic, that made some of these outcomes likely.

When I found this board almost a year ago, I suspect that like most people, I wanted to believe that “the troubles” were the doing of a finite group of “bad people,” who were ultimately replaceable. Since then I have come to believe that a large part of the situation derives from a perspective on “the spiritual journey” that Paramahansa Yogananda embraced, and which forms the foundation of the teachings. A lot of the Walrus work on personality types brushes right up on this issue, but I came across an early walrus thread that seems to name an even more pertinent metaphor. On 10/20/01, beginning the Core Issues -> Surrender versus Self-Acceptance thread, Raja Begum wrote:
We know Guruji was a Kshatriya. And, if you read my posting on two clashing models, you will see that there is a direct relationship to the SRF monastic order and Kshatriyan thinking. In general, monastics work with the surrender paradigm. Their life is about a sloughing off of the natural self in preference to the spiritual self. Therefore they often conceptualize their role on the spiritual path as one who should ideally be contemptuous of human nature or - at minimum -- ungenerously tolerant of it. Such "renunciants", as they are called, are always doing battle with their unsavory side as if they were taming an animal or waging a war against a crafty opponent. Now, in no way am I trying to deligitimize this method. But, I've observed that it often tends to promote dualistic thinking -- the grandfather of all sorts of stresses, neurosis, and antagonistic projections. This is the way of the Kshatriyan warrior: "Here is me and there is the enemy. Enemies everywhere, including within." By countering an enemy, one can prove one's loyalty and devotion. This thinking has its own aesthetic, but that doesn't make it the only way or the best way. My brain doesn't work that way. Unfortunately, its de rigeuer in SRF, making the studying of the lessons or attending services an extremely tedious experience. And I'm not the only one who feels this way
Raja’s strong hint, sometime ago, led me to begin thinking of this entire mode of being as what Hillman would call, an “archetypal perspective,” and what others would call, “subpersonality.” A coherent vision of the world, and how to be in the world, with it’s own internally consistent cognitive, emotional, and active dimensions. I like that Raja identified it by it’s Indian caste name, which in SRF, points toward the Gita, and the “inner Kurukshetra” battlefield, as a root metaphor for spiritual life. We are told to introspect at the end of the day, to ask “my good qualities and my bad qualities, what did they do this day?”

The thing about an archetypal perspective is that it isn’t the only one, and it’s not the only valid one. Ever. I have heard that Thomas Merton was asked to compare Christianity and Zen, and replied that it was like trying to compare mathematics and tennis. The other thing about an archetypal perspective is, that one can slip into it and out of it. We can know a variety of these perspectives, but only a smaller number of them are likely to be our dominant modes. All of us probably can operate from the Kshatriaya perspective, or we would have bailed from the first set of lessons. I can do mathematics upon demand, but it’s not my preferred mode of using my mind.

At the moment, having been reading a certain amount of Zen lately, I can’t ask the approved Kurukshetra question. I have in the past, and I’m sure I will again, but now my slant on the daily battlefield introspection is: “which me wants to evaluate the good me and the bad me, and which other me put him in charge?”

Looking at SRF from this perspective has the advantage of staying at one remove from questions of “good or bad.” From this point of view, SRF is not more “right or wrong” than Unitarians or Southern Baptists. What is certainly “wrong” is if I wind up in the wrong place on Sunday morning.

All of this is a gross simplification to get across a starting point. The Walrus would not exist if it were simple or easy, but this is a conceptualization that has made it easier for me to conceive of these issues recently.

Registered User
(2/17/04 9:03 pm)
Re: Another perspective
Eventually, yes, we have to come back to the world and make peace with it, incorporate it into the whole scheme of things. I think that making a virtue out of world rejection is a shock method of permissioning us to reject the huge inertia of knowledge and opportunity that we have in the west and increasingly globally. One of my favorite personal mantras has been, "Of the world I know much, but of God I know very little."

I came to SRF in pain. I gained hope. I struggled to understand. The further I went, the better things got, but that eventually included bailing out of strict adherence to SRF dogma. Is it a fundamental flaw in Yogananda's approach, or was it just the correct "dope slap" that I needed to reverse my world view for awhile and to take God seriously?

Maybe the teachings should evolve to say , "Listen, your going to have to go into rehab for a time due to the nature of your addiction (conditioned mind), but the goal is healing and re-entry into enjoyment of a God-illumed life in the world."

We set up our little stalls here on the Walrus ezboard bazaar in the hope that we will have the pleasure of dispensing our wares of spiritual experience to those who pass through. Side streets and bazaars figure strongly in the AY, and may that continue here.

Registered User
(2/17/04 9:20 pm)
thank you ranger20 and ugizralrite

and thank you Raja Begum

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