in Guru Ploys

Mind Controlling Yoga Groups

wikipedia images, CC BY-SA 3.0

wikipedia images, CC BY-SA 3.0

What happens when members experience psychological damage? How do group leaders react to changes coming from members of the group?

During the late 1990’s, the president of SRF, Daya Mata, created a middle-management “Spiritual Life Committee” composed of a dozen senior monks and nuns. The committee recommended that SRF hire outside communication and organizational consultants, along with psychologists to cope with the severe psychological problems that some of the monks and nuns were experiencing[1].

The committee’s recommendations spawned a series of meetings where monks and nuns began to openly discuss problems they were experiencing. (I participated in many of these meetings and can testify that these discussions were crucial to solving the many psychological dysfunctions of the ashram at the SRF Mother Center).

Some monastics welcomed the promise of ashram change with relief and exhilaration. While others reacted to possible changes with fear and anxiety.

Exodus, Giorgio Raffaelli, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Exodus, Giorgio Raffaelli, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0

Exodus of 1/3 Monastics

The monks and nuns living at the Mother Center split into two factions: the conservatives who sided with Daya Mata and were for maintaining the status quo, and the other faction, the liberals or progressives who embraced and advocated for changes. From the start I sided with the progressives and instantly embraced with enthusiasm the possibility of ashram changes.

After several years of fruitless efforts for meaningful and lasting change in the ashram approximately one-third of the monastic order left SRF during 2000 to 2001. I joined the exodus at this time.

Entrenched and resisting change, Daya Mata and the others with power at SRF, fired the communication consultants who they blamed for creating the 2000-2001 exodus of a third of the monastics. The existing members of the Spiritual Life Committee were replaced by others content with the status quo. The psychologists were let go. The conservatives retained their power of SRF and only the monastics who were either too afraid to leave or too invested in status quo remained in SRF.

Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Therapy Helped

The year or two before my departure from SRF, I had been visiting one of the psychologists noted above. I too had psychological problems, anxieties and fears about staying and/or leaving the ashram. I was damned if I did and damned if I don’t stay. Eventually, I left after a long and painful process of unshackling my mind from the authoritarian control of SRF.

Authoritarian mind control methods are not unique to Yogananda or SRF.

Yogananda and SRF used classic mind control techniques

The primary mind control technique referenced in this post is: Fill the members with fears of leaving the group to keep them inside the group.

In Service Reading #39, Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) teaches: “To such a God-sent Guru [e.g., Yogananda] the disciple must always be loyal throughout his lifetime and through future incarnations until he finds redemption.”

In SRF magazine, Spring 1974, Yogananda said: “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…?’ … 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.”

It was tribal knowledge among the monks that he who left the SRF ashram, supposedly would suffer for seven lifetimes before the guru could accept him back as a disciple.

And this is the supposed unconditional love of the guru, of following the infallible teachings and “divine” incarnations on earth?

Question for readers: Do you have any personal experiences of being inside an extremely controlling group or relationship? What statements did they use to fill your mind with fear or obedience?

Notes

1 Paraphrased from Freedom of Mind website on SRF quoting Lola Williamson, Transcendent in America: Hindu-Inspired Meditation Movements as New Religion, book.

Leave a Reply

22 Comments

  1. Having been an active/serving lay member of SRF, I can say yes, I’ve been indoctrinated. For most of my 19 years on this particular Path, I swallowed whole the beliefs and doctrines of the religion. I’m now in the process of trying to see “the forest for the trees” and find out if there is anything from my involvement which can be salvaged and kept for my own true benefit.

    I’m glad you’ve included personal relationships as situations in which one can be mind controlled. For seven years, before I joined SRF, I was enthralled by a voice teacher (I’m a professional singer) who told me quite simply, “If you study with me, I can guarantee you that you will have a worldwide career. If you don’t follow my instructions or study with someone else, I can’t guarantee you that you will succeed”. He professed to teach a very special, powerful vocal technique which no one else taught. It’s true that it was unique, but I came to discover that the technique was vocally very unhealthy and unsound. This kind of guru type vocal instruction is more common with classical voice teachers than one may think.

    Does this not sound familiar? The voice teacher’s guarantee sounds eerily similar to “If you remain loyal and obedient to me, you will be safe and all doors will open for you. Omnipresence and omniscience will be yours. But, if you leave this Path, your safety is not assured and you will be lost for incarnations.”

    Funny how we repeat the same scenarios over and over again. It’s also kind of embarrassing. I was only 18 years old when that voice teacher captured my full attention. I take solace in the fact that I was really vulnerable being so young.

  2. This is nice illustration, uwsboi14, of authoritarian and controlling relationships outside of just the “religious”-proper realm.

    I could see that there may be some situations where we might not want to mix certain methods or treatments. One example, might be when taking medications (drugs) with other drugs there could be potentially harmful or contra-indicated physical or psychological reactions. We have the chemicals involved, the prescribed dosages, and the physicians directives to seriously consider before deviating or mixing outside advice or drugs.

    Where your example of the voice teacher gets tricky is how could we know if you were to practice other voice methods would that contradict or cause harm to your voice development? Not sure we can say yes or no either way.

    But, I think we could say that anyone who preaches the student to avoid exploring other options than that of the teacher’s methods seems like a potentially limiting, harmful, and controlling doctrine.

    Thanks

  3. I have been with two Catholic monastic orders. At some point, both Masters of Novices gave us a lecture on obedience. They said ” You must obey me as if I was God “. One of them added: ” Even if it is against your conscience “.
    I was horrified… Everybody else was sitting without any reactions, like Easter island statues (the right monastic attitude lol)

    I knew that the Vatican II Council recognised freedom of conscience. I thought those Master of Novices were just using their position in the monastic context without regard to the Church code of law.
    Now, after having researched the matter I realise Church teaching on that matter is not very clear. It is open to the usual “interpretations” that allow all sorts of decisions by the people in charge.
    And it is anyway the rule in ancient Christian monastic tradition. The ” Abba ” / Father / Elder / leader of a group was supposed to be obeyed and relied on for all matters of spiritual and daily life. I suppose it is about the same with the ” Gurus “.
    Modern Catholic orders still function according to that system. It is the base of monastic communities.

    Hermits were the original leaders and they became Masters/founders of communities and then Orders.
    And later on in History they denied the right of individuals to become Hermits. Because they were afraid hermits would come up with new ways. It is still the case today. At first I wanted to become a hermit but I was told by all “spiritual directors” I shouldn’t do that and first become a member of a community. Only later, if I was authorised to, could I become a hermit.
    There are quite a few Catholic monks who had that project but were not allowed to implement it, as they were now under the rule of “obedience”. Only a few individuals who have become influential people in their order are allowed to become hermits. Mostly in their old days, when the Order is dead sure nothing “weird” can come out of it.

    Monastic orders prefer having subhuman sheep, bored, sick or useless monks under control rather than inspired individuals. Who would break free from the “compulsory tradition” as it is generally a sure path to “heresy”.
    An “Order” relies on control. It is essential, it is in its “essence”.
    To be successful, or even just to survive, an order HAS TO be “extremely controlling”.

  4. 2bidule22, your post is completely fascinating. Thanks for sharing. So, it sounds like a hermit would be free from all outer spiritual authority and definitely a threat to the status quo. A yogi is supposed to be an eastern version of the hermit, but he/she usually has a guru who must be obeyed and followed until final emancipation is reached. The early Christian hermit had only the resurrected Jesus Christ and God as his guide. Am I correct?

  5. @2bidule22, what a story and reminder that Christianity, namely the Catholic Orders also demand total “surrender” obedience to the Abbot or Superior of the Order. Similar to guru-worship. I’m wondering how many of the other monks you lived with at the time heard with horror what you did but just could not display any displeasure at the thought.

    Are you the only monk in your group who escaped that Catholic monastery?
    What happened to the monks in that group who stayed with the monastery? Any psychological issues or were those monks eventually promoted to positions of power in Order “made gurus” for the next generation of monks?
    How long were you in this monastery and the other one? Two total, you said.

    By “hermit” do you mean a recluse, living solitary life of prayer and meditation? Or?

    Feel free to elaborate. Your personal history and stories are intriguing and insightful.

  6. @uwsboi14: I have the same questions you raised by 2bidule22’s post.

    I think we need to first define what we mean by “hermit” and then also by “yogi”.

    My understanding, through my research using historical and critical scholarly books, is —

    A yogi, in pre-modern India, was a pejorative term for a swindler, conjurer, and not a holy person. Few “holy men” lived in isolation like hermits–Western romantic notions of yogis are not always indicators of what actually happens in India nor historical notions of what yogis were considered: basically, sinister figures in early Hindu literature.

    My post on Sinister Yogis summarized the book of that title and outlines that yogis in India are traditionally seen more as boogie men, not holy men. It wasn’t until the 19th Century that Westerners started fascination with yoga and “yogis” were seen by Westerners as holy men or miracle makers.

    David Gordon White, my favorite historian and scholar of Yoga makes a distinction between yoga (method of salvation that was made up by Hindu and Buddhist philosophers) and yogis (where sinister characters who took over the bodies of other beings and had supernatural powers).

    Here’s a paper by White: Yoga, Brief History of an Idea http://press.princeton.edu/chapters/i9565.pdf that ‘My Two Feet” (occasional commenter on our blog) turned me onto. Its a great history and I may reference in some upcoming blog posts.

    Thanks

  7. (My answer to Scott’s comments later)

    “it sounds like a hermit would be free from all outer spiritual authority”
    If he decides to, yes, if he decided by himself to become a hermit. Nobody can prevent you from living alone in an isolated place and have the sort of spiritual practice that you wish. Unless civil authorities forbid it.
    In Western Europe, around the XIth century, eremitism became very popular due to unsatisfaction with the official church. New “reformed” (cenobitic) monastic orders were also founded, like the Cistercians. But as it started to all go wild (heresies), in the XIIIth century the Church selected a few orders and forced all monks to join them (inquisition). In later centuries, eremitism, and heresies flourished again. It became forbidden to become a hermit in Spain and France around the XVIth and XVIIth century. They were threatened with imprisonment and death penalty !

    ” The early Christian hermit had only the resurrected Jesus Christ and God as his guide. Am I correct? “
    History of eremitism is long and varied and not always well documented as hermits were sometime living as outcasts. Catholic tradition says the first Christian monks were Egyptians (Saint Anthony the Great- IVth Century). Some started as hermits and were later joined by disciples, which formed the base of the first Christian monasteries. In those days, hermits were not proper priests and didn’t practice the Eucharist for example. We have traces of the early “Desert Fathers” in the form of sentences. You can find it on line. It is most often wisdom, it doesn’t really have a Christian vocabulary. It seems the early Christians monks were continuing pre-Christian traditions of the Therapeutae, ancient Pytagoricians, and Gymnosphists (the greek version of Yogi: Alexander the Great conquered till Afghanistan and Buddhist, Yogic stuff made it into ancient Greece/the Mediterranean.
    So… How did early Christian Hermits “pray” / meditate ? It is not very clear…
    I’d think that “Christos” was more popular than “God” as a figure to relate to. In Medieval Europe, the “Holy Spirit” was very popular with independent/heretic monks/Hermits. See “Free Spirit”.
    There is that popular Orthodox XIXth Century book “The Russian pilgrim” advocating practicing the “Jesus Prayer”.
    Back in time it was very popular in Mount Athos, that path known as “Hesychasm”, a sort of Christian Mantra Meditation technique. See a Pop version on Youtube: Bjork – Jesus Prayer.
    The Russian pilgrim clearly states that if you can’t find a “spiritual father”, you can rely on the Holy Spirit.
    As you can imagine, religious authorities don’t like that.

    Here is a link for the English translation of a book in French that gives details on all sorts of “alternative” / heretic movements:
    http://www.notbored.org/resistance.html
    An easy read, each chapter is a short summary. The title is not quite appropriate as most of these people defined themselves as Christians. It should rather be called “Resistance to Catholicism”.
    You may find “fascinating” stuff in there 😉

  8. Sorry, I also forgot to say that among those past heresies you can find answers to questions that “spiritual people ” keep on asking and facing till today. Authority, practices, vision of world,…Plus ça change plus c’est la même chose…

  9. Replying to Scott.

    I did two postulates of one year. After the first year in the first congregation, I knew I was wasting my time and I hated the “traditionalist” mentality. I was allowed to do a retreat in another place, still keeping “my right” to continue with them if I wanted. In the second place I found the people much more simple and friendly and there was more of the solitude and silence I was seeking. But then, as time passed, I started to face the same problems. It was not these or those that were not right for me. It was … Catholicism (!). My Master of Novices eventually told me: BTW, if you want to be a catholic monk, you ought to be a Catholic, you know…
    lol
    But I loved the monastic life. So, as they needed me in the jobs I was doing in the house (Laundry, washing the dishes, chopping wood/heating,…) they agreed to hire me as an employee. But they kept the hope that I may one day rejoin.
    I continued to live in my cell in the cloister, I didn’t go anymore to teaching sessions, I had the internet in my cell,… and a salary. A brother told me “You have all the advantages without the disadvantages”. It lasted for 3 years. I was studying reading a lot on spirituality and history of religion. And bit by bit I moved further apart from Catholicism. It started to become a problem with the community as I did speak freely (twice a week we had opportunity to have free conversations. Then came a time when I felt foreign and they felt I was becoming a disturbance. So, we decide it was time for me to go.
    I didn’t “escape”. It is very rare that it happens. It is more like a candidate/postulate/novice can’t stand it anymore. And his behaviour starts being messy. So, when he leaves, it is obvious for both that it wasn’t his place. In monasteries (=living in an enclosure) you cannot really force people to stay. They’d go mad and make big trouble. But, monks really do suffer a lot in the first years. To get used to the mode of living. It is like a psychotherapy with “spirits” lol Plus, the more you stay, the more you know you’d be unable to go back to “the world “. Or at least you very well feel there are many advantages and few material worries at living in a grand XVII th century mansion.

    Two cases of people who run away. One left early morning while everybody was assleep… Another one was taking a Phd course in a mixed community. He met a lady there, he waited till he got his Phd (paid by the order) then he left and married her. He was a very observant monk, a rigorist on matters of morality…

    On “psychological problems”
    The most important is to be right on doctrine. If you go mad, as I said earlier, you just leave before you explode. It depends how much you can bare of the “purification process”. I used to call it “putrification” lol It is quite painful psychologically. You basically have to burn – or vomit – your … shit. It just happens automatically. It falls on yr head. You see your spiritual director once a week or as you want in case of emergency. He can help you somehow to keep going. But in the end it is You and only you who has to undergo the process.
    It doesn’t mean people become saints or angels after sometime. It just means you can live in peace in such an environment and schedule. It is Just my opinion. But a good Catholic is supposed to believe they are Holy Men. I don’t think they are. They can do some very silly “sins”, be unpolite, pretentious, all the facet of their personality really. But from the exterior they look like professional monks.

    ” By “hermit” do you mean a recluse, living solitary life of prayer and meditation? “ Yes.

    You say Yogis in India didn’t always have a good reputation in the past. In Europe there w<as also all sorts of problems with hermits who were not always “very spiritual”. Some were just people living away from society actually.

    I think in India there were also “independent hermits” = without a guru. That’s how new schools appear. The legend of Buddha’s life says he eventually left all masters to pursue his quest. I can also mention Kabir the poet who inspired Guru Nanak (the Sikh). I mean there are always people who go their own way. It is also the story of Prophet Mohammed, who lived as a recluse in a cave for sometime, where “the Angel” started to “dictate “him the Quran.
    ed

  10. ” the Catholic Orders also demand total “surrender” obedience to the Abbot or Superior of the Order. Similar to guru-worship.”
    No. Not quite. When I mentionned they said we have to obey as i they were God. It is about matters of everyday life. you do his, you do that. But when it comes to doctrine, the Church has a long and rich tradition. An Abbott cannot “invent” stuff and become a Guru. Certainly not in the ancient orders, where i was. In the modern, newly created communities, when the founder is still alive, there might be some personality cult tricks. On spsychology-pirituality, he can only give advice. He follows your progress.. or your failure. He knows where you are. You’ll be allowed in further stages of the training when he knows you are fit for it. They cab also kick you out. I have seen the case of a postulate who was “sick” and refused to live with the group. They still allowed him to stay for a few months. But eventually, they told him to leave. It is not easy to enter a catholic order. They have to check you first. With retreats and long discussions with the Master of Novices.
    A catholic monastery is more like the army. Not like a cult.

  11. @2bidule22, Thanks for your thorough response and your personal background the monastery.

    Seems there’s usually a conflict in all these religious systems between the ideal of individual divinity and following organizational doctrine. Yes, heretics or hermits may occasionally break off, become famous and start their own religious “system” or doctrine. Yet, the branches don’t grow far from the tree that sprouted them–Buddha, Mohammad, Kabir seem to all have innovated off the old traditions. So in a sense the “guru” was the tradition, holy texts, or old saviors/saints the Buddha or Mohammad innovated off of.

    The monasteries (and ashrams) that I am familiar with and few that I lived in have “coercive” tactics to get renunciant monastics to stay. It’s not that different for how religions in general try to hold congregants in the system: these religions create the poison (of fear, guilt, sin) and then offer the cure (sacrifice to the guru-teacher or system of beliefs).

  12. @2bidule22,
    Good points about obedience to the requests or rules of everyday life–I assume all done out of obedience to the guru-savior-teacher “behind” his representative Superior or Abbot.

    How long typically was the typical trial period for your Catholic postulant monks to be “checked out” before being wholly accepted into the Order? In the Self-Realization Monastic Order, where I lived, the postulant training/indoctrination period typically lasted 12-18 months. Mine was 18 months until I “graduated” out of postulancy and then within a few months took the Novice vow with dozen other newly minted Novice monks. I also know postulants and bonafide monks who were asked to leave for misbehavior, bad fit, or who jumped ship of their own choice. The percentage of monks who lasted until the end of life in the monastery I think was less than 1/3 who entered, if not less.

    I see many similarities between the Catholic and SRF Monastic Orders. Human nature, idealism, and obedience to indoctrination into so-called sacred rites or religions seems quite similar everywhere, eh?

  13. On the Guru. In Roman Catholicism the Guru is the Pope I suppose. He is far away. You keep on mentionning the Abbott. But the most influential person for new monks is the master of Novices, their spiritual Director. New monks don’t chat with the Abbott on personal matters/ questions of spirituality. Once you made final vows, after 6 years, you become a full member of the order and you can participate in discussions on house management and depending on the Order, electing an Abbott/head of the monastery.
    Postulancy is normally 6 months but can be extended. In my case, in the first place it was extended to one year. Actually there was no fixed term. They just didn’t offer me to become a novice… an I was not looking forward to it.
    In the second place, they offered me to join after 4 months but I declined as I was not feeling “good enough”/in tune enough to become a novice. It involves starting to wear the robe and choosing a new name. You are free to pick the name you want but it has to be accepted.
    In the first place, during that year I saw 8 other guys. 4 left during noviciate and two, me included during postulancy. Two have now taken final vows and are still there. Because it also happens that final vows might leave… Due to changes in he management of the “Povince” = the houses of one country. The head of the province was elected for Three years as well as head of the houses. It also implies lots of politics. People might be moved from one house to another which resulted in tensions.
    In the sencond order it was more stable. There were visiting candidates for a month retreat. But very few eventually decided to join. As it is a very extreme mode of living: solitude and silence: a community of hermits. With nearly no contacts with he outside world. Apart from the weekly recreation when the Abbott would give the most important news of the country and the world. I think the percentage of final vows is around 5 % of the visiting retreat. It was not easy either to be accepted for a visiting retreat. I was because the Master of Novices from the first place contacted the Abbott of the second place and told him I was a “serious” candidate. It somehow looks like joining a masonic lodge, an exclusive club. And becoming a member of kind of aristocracy. There were real aristocrats there. They are very few in Europe but have an important proportion in monastic orders. I don’t have hat sort of mentality, so that was one of the problems for me.

  14. @2bidule22,

    You wrote: “As it is a very extreme mode of living: solitude and silence: a community of hermits.”

    I thought you primarily left because you wanted to live the life of a “hermit” and the Order didn’t support your goal? I know it is likely more complex than one can explain in a few posts. But I noticed the seeming contradiction from your previous comment post.

    You ought to consider telling your story/thoughts in your own blog, book, or video. Maybe I can interview with you sometime about your story/thoughts, after I get my podcast going. I plan to publish Skeptic Meditations audio recording/podcasts in addition to blog posts.

    There are some similarities between the Catholic Monastic Orders you speak of and my experiences in the SRF (Hindu-inspired) Order I belonged to for 14 years.

    The SRF Order (in the West) was modeled to large degree after Catholic Orders. In my post, Secret Underground Libraries of Monks I described the preponderance of Catholic Saints books in the SRF Monks Library. There were also many Eastern-inspired religious books in the SRF Monks Library.

    The SRF Order also had some characteristics of the Hindu-based Orders.

    The SRF (Western)/YSS Order (India/Eastern) is modeled mostly after Catholic Orders and to limited degree after the Hindu Orders founded by Adi Shankaracharya (Shankara).

    This is the legendary Shankaracharya I wrote of in my post about Shankara: King and the Corpse.

    It could be that the Catholic Orders you joined were more extreme renunciate, more ascetic than SRF/YSS Orders. My data says that 7 years was the average duration of time a monk lasted before leaving the Order. There is a rare few monks, a dozen or two, who remain in the SRF Order until death-do-they-part.

    I look forward to hearing more about your story/thoughts.

  15. Hi Scott,
    A community of hermits under the authority of an Order, an Abbott, a Master of novices… and the Catholic Church is certainly not the same as a solitary hermit (!) under no authority.

  16. Sarabaites (From Wikipedia)
    Sarabaites were a class of Catholic monks widely spread before the time of St. Benedict.
    They either continued like the early ascetics, to live in their own homes, or dwelt together in or near cities. They acknowledged no monastic superior, obeyed no definite rule, and disposed individually of the product of their manual labour.
    St. Jerome speaks of them under the name of Remoboth, and John Cassian tells of their wide diffusion in Egypt and other lands. Both writers express a very unfavourable opinion concerning their conduct, and a reference to them in the Rule of St. Benedict is of similar import.
    At a later date the name Sarabaites, the original meaning of which cannot be determined[verification needed], designated in a general way degenerate monks. The Rule of St. Benedict considered their nonadherence to church canon only to be exceeded by the Gyrovagues.

  17. Gyrovagues (From Wikipedia)
    Gyrovagues (sometimes Gyrovagi or Gyruvagi) were wandering or itinerant monks without fixed residence or leadership, who relied on charity and the hospitality of others.
    The term, coming from French, itself from Late Latin gyrovagus (gyro-, “circle” and vagus, “wandering”), is used to refer to a kind of monk, rather than a specific order, and may be pejorative as they are almost universally denounced by Christian writers of the Early Middle Ages. The Council of Chalcedon (451) and Second Council of Nicaea (787) prohibit this practice. The “gyrovagi” were denounced as wretched by Benedict of Nursia, who accused them of indulging their passions and cravings. Augustine called them Circumcelliones (circum cellas = those who prowl around the barns) and attributed the selling of fake relics as their innovation. Cassian also mentions a class of monk, which may have been identical, who were reputed to be gluttons who refused to fast at the proper times.
    Up until the time of Benedict, several attempts had been made by various synods at suppressing and disciplining monks who refused to settle in a cloister. With the establishment of the Rule of St. Benedict in the 8th century, the cenobitic and eremitic forms of monasticism became the accepted form of monasticism within the Christian Church, and the wandering monk phenomenon faded into obscurity.
    As with the term Sarabaites, after the eighth century the term Gyrovagi was sometimes used pejoratively to refer to degenerate monks within a monastery, or to travelling salesmen.

  18. 2bidule22: I see better now your distinction that it’s the authority followed that defines differences in solitary versus community hermits.

    Can you help define what a hermit is? Here’s some practical examples-

    Hermit 1 follows the authority of a holy text;
    Hermit 2 follows his own or someother revelations;
    Hermit 3 follows a dead saint or imaginary being;
    Hermit 4 does not appear to follow any person, doctrine, or particular code of morals.

    Hermits 1-3 all seem to follow “authority” of some kind even if not a physical, living person, and or follow a code or doctrine of some kind?
    Hermit 4 is the only hermit who appears to be maybe not to follow somekind of “authority”. This hermit seems to defy categorization as hermit. We can’t seem to necessarily call hermit 4 a religious or necessarily spiritual.

    Thanks

  19. 2bidule22: Interesting orders or ascetic bands of monks you referenced.

    I found a similar pejorative reference to “yogis” as hermits or wandering monks (sadhus) in the Indian literature.

    In my post Sinister Yogis, D.G. White describes the Eastern counterparts of Western degenerate monks whom to this day are in India referred to also as beggars, homeless, tricksters, and worse.

    Seems that when these same hermits or lone-wolf monks join an accepted religious community, institution, or monastery they are acceptable, maybe even are seen then as being sanctified and holy in the popular culture.

    thanks

  20. On Hermit 1 tp 4

    There are and have been all sorts of hermits. It can also be understood as synonymous with solitary. Hermits may also have very different spiritual paths. I should add than prior to following a saint or Scriptures *, hermits are ascetics.
    Asceticism is a spiritual path that operates without words/discourse.
    Check this website hermitary dot com. It encompasses all sorts of solitary life, secular, religious or “spiritual”. For the author literature see “blogs” on the home page.

    in the distant past, hermit may have been illiterate and anyway books were a luxury only for the rich, or religious communities. And very few in a monastery had access to all the books.
    Reading is not allowed as a leisure and knowledge is heavily censored in monasteries till today.