I found this forum while I was trying to find answers to certain questions that are related to yoga and Kriya Yoga specifically.
During a short time I read some posts on other threads on this forum where some concerns and/or questions similar to mine have been discussed, so I feel more encouraged to ask mine as well.
Based on the information provided on the Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) website first I found the teachings and the information regarding the associated yoga compelling, because they promise to be the way to “find God” and to attain “unity with God” and find “God’s eternal bliss” through a direct personal experience, but I started to have doubts after I looked at their claims a little closer.
The aims and ideals of this fellowship that represents and offers these teachings and techniques for personal sale include the following:
(Source: The “Aims and Ideals” on the referred website)
(Source: The “Frequently Asked Questions” page on the SRF website)
The above claims - as well as many others listed on the SRF website - are very strong claims and many of them are contradictory to one another. These claims also imply their scientific validity as they are called “definite scientific techniques” and the “scientific methods of yoga” in attaining direct personal experience and unity with God.
I was searching the “Contact us” section on the website for an email address at which I could ask my questions directly from them, but I haven’t found any. So I was wondering if anyone on this forum who is knowledgeable and/or has experience with Yogananda’s teachings, the SRF, and Kriya Yoga, could explain/answer the following questions:
How can Yogananda and his followers scientifically prove that someone’s personal experience and the “truths” derived from such experience - either Yogananda’s or that of others - are with objective and scientific validity?
On what objective basis do they call their yoga methods “scientific” and what exactly is their definition of science and scientific method?
If their claim of scientific method has the assumption of objective and verifiable validity - which it has to, otherwise it contradicts the core concept of the definition of science - how can they prove with objective validity and verifiability that their path provides faster results than other spiritual paths? Do they have access to all other personal experiences and individual paths? What scientific method do they use to objectively compare the different individual experiences regarding their effectiveness and “speed” to lead to certain spiritual goals and how can they objectively verify the results of such comparison? How can they scientifically and with objective validity measure one’s speed in spiritual development and the opposite effect which they call a “diluting” effect? Where can we read such research results from peer-reviewed sources that are accepted and/or debated by the scientific community?
What kind of scientific proof they can provide that the personal experiences through these yoga and meditation practices are from God, rather than from hallucinations, self-hypnosis, or some other not-shared mental states? (The perceived “beauty” of these personal images, “bliss” or other effects perceived as positive do not necessarily imply the presence of God.)
If we assume the existence of God and the spiritual realm, how can they scientifically prove that the experience attained through these methods is from and with God rather than from some other, possibly misleading and malevolent spirits of the spiritual realm?
The very fact that a human being is abundantly prone to such deception/delusion is a well-known fact in religious studies and for example evident from Teresa de Avila’s - a Christian/Catholic saint’s - personal accounts as well, whom Yogananda in his own books nevertheless uses as a “reference” to support his statements on the subject.
Another question beyond the above: In addition to those of Kriya Yoga, do the practitioners and teachers of other forms/types of yoga and/or meditation claim as well that their methods eventually lead to a personal unity with God or this is a special case?
Thank you in advance from your help and advice.