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Raja Begum
Unregistered User
(11/23/01 3:22 pm)
Editorial bias in the SRF Lessons?
The average SRF lesson can contain 70 to 100 words and phrases loaded with negative suggestive power. You probably find this hard to believe since we've been conditioned to look past this problem; we've been told the lessons are permeated with Master's vibrations. This is true, but Master's vibrations are not the only ones permeating the teachings.

We all know the lessons were compiled from notes taken by others. Master didn't actually sit down and write them. Somebody else recorded Master's inspirational talks or collected scraps of his writings and assembled them into a patchwork quilt not entirely made up of his words. Whoever compiled the lessons (oddly this is not public knowledge) inserted his or her own editorial bias into his syntax.

I would like to open up a forum on this important subject. Some questions I believe we ought to ask are:

-- Who compiled the lessons?
-- What percentage of the lessons are Master's exact words?
-- Is there a disproportionte amount of bias in favor of
monasticism over householders?
-- Are there contradictions in some of the sentences which
may create confusion?
-- Does word choice and use of language in the teachings
promote distorted thinking?

1) "Should Statements"
                                                        2        ) All Nothing Thinking" (black and white thinking)
                                                        3) Labeling
                                                        4) Jumping to Conclusions

-- As much as we draw inspiration from the lessons, do they
in any way contain elements which have influenced us to
shut down important parts of our external or emotional
-- Have the lessons influenced you to be uncomfortable with
your human side?
-- Do you feel simultaneously uplifted and discouraged by the
lessons? Do you have a generalized, hard-to-describe
feeling that something is off but you're not quite sure what?

Many of my friends in SRF report that the lessons, as well as SRF culture, have helped them to put God first and to be disciplined in meditation and diet (which is good) but have also negatively contributed to their latent material development and emotional maturity. Any loyal and devoted SRF devotee knows that regular, daily study of the lessons is important. We also have been told that "the teachings will be the guru" because Master impregnated every word with his blessings. There is a twofold danger in taking that statement on face value and not evaluating the lessons: 1) We continue to open our hearts and invest our lives indiscriminately on words which may not be purely our guru's, and 2) Editors in charge of publishing the teachings have complete and unrestricted freedom of influence on our thinking.

Unregistered User
(11/24/01 3:10 am)
The Lesson and its many dangers
1) I know from good sources that the Lessons were compiled by direct disciples, most probably, Tara Mata, Daya Mata and Mrinalini Mata. The Lessons quote Master here and there; So, obviously he didn't write them.

2) Master's exact words in the lessons are VERY, VERY few -- just when he is quoted, 1% perhaps?

3) In my opinion , there is indeed a disproportionate, dangerous amount of bias in favor of monasticism. Because the householder path is so different (despite what SRF says) we are in danger of going astray from our true path as householders. As a consequence, householders devotees often make serious mistakes of judgment, which cost them their marriages, vocational calls, and mental health. Significant suffering among householders is the result of this issue.

4) The innumerable contradictions of the teachings are not a problem in themselves. Jung said that the power of religion lies in its contradictions; in its paradoxes. The problem lies in the lack of information (in the lessons and books) to help the devotee understand where those paradoxes come from and what to do about them. Because the student doesn't understand what the hell is going on, it can "drive him/her crazy" -- consciously or subconsciously. It took me years to understand this issue, and I just want to say here that these paradoxes are rooted in two different perspectives to look at life -- the relative and the absolute (the human and the divine) -- which cannot be reconciled with the rational mind. So, the solution is simple -- to embrace the paradoxes or contradictions (after all this universe is paradoxical). If you study the teachings of Plato you will find clear explanations of this fundamental issue.

5) When we want to communicate something, semantics is very important! According to the words we use we can help or we can hurt -- communicating the very same idea! These is the challenge in psychotherapy, and the same when you write a book on self improvement or spirituality. You can help or you can hurt -- it all depends on how you communicate your ideas.

As it has been rightly said here in this board, the communication style in the SRF Lessons with all those shoulds, shoulds not, must do, must be, have to do, have to be, never, always, all, nothing, and so on, is damaging. Mr. or Mrs. "Distorted" explained this quite clearly in his/her posting, where he responds to "Aurora." There is indeed, a tremendous amount of scientific research supporting the point that Should Statements and All-Nothing Thinking are detrimental to mental health. It is my humble opinion that SRF will have to change this language or eventually no one will take it seriously! And, I personally consider that it would be great loss. Master's insights are very important, and I wish the best to his work; to SRF. However, still his insights have not been communicated adequately and householders especially are being hurt unnecessarily.

6) Yes we have shut down important aspects of ourselves -- our feelings and thoughts; no less. The language used in the lessons and books -- the shoulds and so on -- create disconnection from our feelings and thoughts. If all our actions can be guided by those external "shoulds" -- which we introject -- then why listening to our feelings; desires, and emotions or inner inspirations. This process leads to alienation from ourselves which is dangerous.

7) If we are constantly "shoulded" into extremes that we can't reach, we become soon discontent with our human side. Human nature is by definition limited -- that is the way God created it. Pointing towards ideals is a difficult art, because if you do not do it right, you create guilt, low self-esteem, and inner conflict. Such "pointing" needs to be done with lots of empathy. SRF lessons do this in a "shoulding" style -- kind of a sargent talking to an ignorant soldier. It is a primitive communication style and of course it will eventually hurt the reader.

8) When I started the lessons I felt uplifted, then guilty (for years), today I can't open a book or a lesson without feeling somewhat angry at so much ignorance. But, I'm moving to a space where I read all that, and it makes me laugh and laugh.

So, I hope I answered your questions to your satisfaction Raja Begum (I like your name). This is only my humble opinion of course. But I want to say that I am a devotee for more than two decades and a licensed psychologist for more than a decade. And, I'm planning to continue being a devotee -- unless they kick me out after this posting (a joke only). I am coming often to this board just to visit and read; but your questions were very good and I couldn't resist the temptation.

Gray beard
Registered User
(12/5/01 9:36 pm)
Re: The Lesson and its many dangers
Dear Psyche,

I really enjoyed reading your comments on this issues raised so expressly by Raja B. I thought that I was the only one who wondered why Master (I thought the lessons were handwritten by him, personally, for years and years) would use such loaded terms as you've both described so well.

Growing up in an abusive family I was already very alert to terms that express in one way or another "your not good enough, you'll never amount to anything, you gotta try harder you don't measure up" etc. etc. So when I took the lessons and found similar, though not abusive, terms it naturally resonated with my conditioned mind translating into, 'God is hard to find you must work harder than anyone else. Sleeping more than 6 hours a day is pure laziness. Eating a hot fudge sunday is wrong. If I don't do all the sadhana everyday I'm a loser, God is angry." etc. etc.

In other words it reminded me of a very familiar place: low self esteem and deep unhappiness with myself. I ended up in therapy where I was able to let go of some of that negative conditioning. But I still feel those twinges when I re-read the lessons (which I now know--as you've pointed out-are mainly almagamations of Master's lectures and other's editiorializing); and I have to look for the wheat among the chafe.

For it is alright to not be 'on fire for God.' That is a very advanced state of almost God-communion; a deep bhakta state of an advanced saintly soul. Me, I'm just meditating and accepting as much of the path as possible without trying to be something I'm not, at least yet, or possibly for many lifetimes. I remember Brother Achalananda many years ago telling us, "Sometimes you incarnate to overcome just one problem." I have to keep telling myself that.

For God is mercy and accepts us as we are. No suitcoat required.


Unregistered User
(12/6/01 1:51 am)
The power of language
I felt sad as I read about your childhood experiences, dear Gray Beard. I had my share too, and if you read Mejda you will see that even Master had his.

It is very interesting the parallel you make between the language used to abuse a child and that used in the lessons -- right on! And the most amazing thing is that the results are similar -- low self esteem, low self confidence, depression, anxiety and so on.

How SRF can't see the pink elephant in the room? I know that several professionals in the behavioral sciences have written or personally explained this issue to the Matas, but they insist in not changing the language -- fascinating! Such a stubbornness! And you know; they do it in the name of "the purity of the teachings." Such blindness! The blind leading the blind -- that's what it is.

I found incredible Achalananda's comment too. It is so negative! It might be true that some souls in their early journeys to earth come to just learn one little thing, but a devotee comes to find God, never less than that! You and I came to find God, and He can come right now to you or to me in an instant -- like a thief in the night. And the fabulous thing is that He can come while you are meditating or while you are sleeping, playing, even peeing! All is sacred, all is God says Master. In fact, He doesn't need to come to anyone, because He is already there. We are all enlightened -- we just don't know it for a brief moment.

I suggest you read a wonderful book called -- "Collision with the Infinite" by Susan Seagal. It is all about this issue -- to stop thinking that you need to "deserve" God. Her whole life was to show that one thing. We do not need to deserve having God -- that is BS. We are already Him and God cannot be bound by his relativistic laws.

This is the advantage of non-dual thinking. It is so positive -- to the extreme! And without ever shoulding anyone. This is why Master said again and again -- God is everything. There he laid the foundation of the non-dual thinking for us -- his disciples. It is up to us to understand the unending implications of that simple one statement. From that statement the whole non-daul philosophy springs from -- the highest, the most pure, the most positive, inspiring, and which have given birth to the greatest paths to God ever. When we understand that, dualistic thinking, dualistic paths look like pure superstition. I suggest you read a story I just posted -- by Ramana Maharshi at "Householders vs Monastics" / "Leading a Balance Life"/ page #2

Gray beard
Registered User
(12/8/01 1:58 pm)
Re: The power of language
Dear Rigidiananda,

Thank you so much for your inspiring words. How true that Master didn't make distinctions, he saw God everywhere in everyone and tried to awaken all to his state of realization.

Do you think in the future that SRF will somehow realize that the 'buzz words' in the Lessons contribute to either/or thinking and change them to less charged expressions?

Unregistered User
(12/9/01 4:37 am)
Will the language change or not?
Dear Gray beard, you ask: Do you think in the future that SRF will somehow realize that the 'buzz words' in the Lessons contribute to either/or thinking and change them to less charged expressions?

Here is my opinion:

1) It already changed! If you go to a service with new smart monks like: Mitrananda, Anilananda, Devananda, Atmananda, Satyananda, you will see that they do not "should" people, and they are more cautious to avoid the black and white mentality. If you talk with them about this issue they will agree with all that has been said here in this board on the subject.

2) The problem is with the lessons and books, which are plagued with this junk. However, they will have to change too, because eventually all devotees will demand it, or they may stop coming to convocations or cooperating financially. Why participating or helping to be "shoot" all the time. The Matas thought they have wrote the scriptures for the next millennium. What a frustration to realize that a good part of that work is completely wrong due to the language. It hurts their ego! But they already know they have made a big mistake -- within they know it!

3) Out of 100 new students only 6 finish the lessons --three years after. Those numbers will become worse, and will force them to see that something with the lessons is very, very, very wrong.

So, in my opinion, the language in the written teachings will change too. And it will not take that long for us to see the first changes. The pressure is increasing everyday. And we here are doing our part. We are serving Master, because, as we can choose to see it, he needs the SRF teachings for the 21st Century in good shape.

Such change in the teachings will create a positive chain reaction, because the “should” mentality, and the “black and white” thinking are powerful underlying issues that have created tremendous psychological tension in the organization and its members -- especially monastics.
That stress, accumulated throughout half a century, has also deteriorated the interpersonal relationships among monastics, and between monastics and employees. It has also created serious self-esteem and self-confidence issues among monastics and devotees. Many have been infantalized.

The number of stupid rules inside the organization has grown to grotesque proportions and obviously rules are just "shoulds."

If you live in a family where the communication style is completely sickening, the result is mental disease, physical illnesse and deterioration of interpersonal relationships.

Registered User
(3/1/02 6:19 am)
Re: Editorial bias in the SRF Lessons?
Kamala (Mary Isobel Buchanan) was asked by Yogananda to come back to SRF to put the Praecepta and other lessons together. You may wish to investigate this further by comparing her writing with Yogananda's.

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