Humanity needs yoga, yes, but it must be a yoga that is workable under twentieth-century conditions. It needs mystical ideals, certainly, but they must be realizable in London and New York, not only in Shangri-la. It needs profoundly to kindle the spark of mystical experience within dull mechanized lives, but it does not need to kindle the historical errors and traditional excesses of such experience. There is need for mystical practices to spread but there is no need for mystical absurdities to spread with them. We personally do not want this restoration of the art of mental quiet to be accompanied by a restoration of the art of out-of-date views, blind superstitions, impracticable or unnecessarily harsh rules, and unethical exploitations. Hence nobody should be so foolish as to misunderstand this effort to purify yoga as being an effort to denounce yoga altogether. That would be a profound error.
Much of what I have written will sound like heresy to the unreflective among the mystically minded. But they have their guides and I do not write for them. More intelligent mystics ought not to take exception to what has here been written but ought to probe fearlessly into the true significance of their own experiences. Let it not be said that they cannot bear the truth. In encouraging them to independent or even heretical thinking, and in pointing out the perils of travelling down a mental blind alley, I seek to serve and not to harm the mystically minded. The discerning reader will see that I have all along tried to explain mysticism. The prejudiced reader may however see erroneously that I have tried to expose it. If I have challenged and criticized the validity of certain assumptions common in half-baked yogic circles, if I have impartially showed up some of the insufficiencies of yoga and mysticism as well as corrected their commoner errors, if I have criticized wrong mystical attitudes, all this has been done only to save right mystical ideas from being perverted or lost. I know from personal experience just as much as most Western mystics and Eastern yogis the valuable and attractive benefits resulting from this practice. It is this appreciation which has helped to support me in undertaking the unpleasant task of purifying the theories about it. The weeding-out of errors from such theories is a better service to yoga than their superstitious support. After all, it is not the man who flatters us when we are making mistakes but the man who is courageously outspoken and tells us the bitter but wholesome truth who is a real friend. If, therefore, these critical studies have helped a few mystics to think clearly about their mysticism, and to think of it in terms of the larger background of life itself, then they have rendered them a service. If they have influenced some readers to think and rethink their mystical beliefs, I have rendered them a service, whether they are aware of it or not. If they have persuaded other readers even to consider that the philosophical approach to their own experiences will fulfil and not deny their deepest aspiration, then I have rendered them a service.
-- Notebooks Category 16: The Sensitives > Chapter 3: Philosophy, Mysticism, and The Occult > # 1