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Mt. Washington, Ca
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Registered User
(3/30/02 8:31 am)
SRF Aims and Ideals
Having read a number of posts on this board, I wanted to make a few comments regarding my own ambivalent feelings when I first began attending SRF services in 1969. I'd read the AY and attended some services at a little SRF chapel in Los Gatos, near San Jose, where the wonderful Br. Allen (later Sarvananda who then left in about 1981) used to come one Sunday a month to give services. Wanting to be closer to SRF, I moved to LA.
My first impressions of SRF up close, which seem based on other postings to this board to be rather common: it seemed a bit uptight and starched. There seemed to be lots of rigid, unspoken behavioral codes which, coming from a "flower child" past, I found a bit difficult to accept. There was an undue (I felt) focus on wealth and appearances (does SRF still have the Horn of Plenty coin bank?). I found PY's The Law of Success and the SRF emphasis on Rajarsi's business tycoon status to be off-putting. There seemed to be a rather blatant subtext in SRF: wealth is an important measurement of spiritual greatness. Or perhaps SRF felt that mixing money and meditation is a message which would resonate in "the West." There were quasi-dresscodes in church: the ushers refused entry (to a PY birthday flower service) to a girl I was with because she was not wearing a dress. (This was 1969 or '70 and I recall overhearing a conversation in the ashram a few years later along the lines of, "I guess we have to allow women's pants suits in church now. It's all the rage in Europe.") What was one to do? Well, I just swallowed hard and went along with the whole program, eventually becoming a monk (where I lasted all of three years).
One time, 1971 or '72, we postulants were sent on a work detail (laying lawn sod) at Daya Mata's house in Sierra Madre. We'd never been there and did not know until then that it existed, of course. One of the more cynical postulants (who ended up having a short monastic shelf-life, leaving before his postulant year was up) commented, "It looks like a really middle class house!" Or something like that. Anyway, I think that SRF has always wanted to take that SRF ideal of "promoting spiritual understanding between East and West" right into the heart of middle America. No wonder Daya Mata would rather live comfortably in a suburban ranch-style house than the golden-halled, preservationist, creaking floorboard Mt. Washington. There are the Mormon "roots" of the present leadership, Mormonism being a curiously American religion which has also hungered for mainstream acceptance. Also, I think that perhaps the SRF leadership always felt that the more they could apply "Western" organizational and business principles to the spreading of Yogananada's teachings, the more they could unite East and West.

I really believe that the local Temple ministers are the ones who are most in touch with the lay disciples (Duh!). I no longer have much contact with any SRF Temples or ministers, but I do know they have to deal with all the problems that people go through (marital problems, personality disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, etc.). For this reason, I had always found local SRF ministers to be much more open to the real needs of people than the more isolated and insulated SRF leadership.

Registered User
(3/31/02 3:27 pm)
Re: SRF Aims and Ideals
unmonked, thank you for sharing your experience. This is an example why I read and contribute occasionaly on this board. Sharing one's feelings and opinions honestly with others, besides informing others, can be a spiritually uplifting experience and stress reliever.

I don't understand why some people put down this board as being negative and pro-Ananda or something like that. My only hope is that everyone here is looking for honest discussion, devotion, and concern for P. Yogananda and his teachings.

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