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My attempts to clarify the attitude which I had adopted toward yoga, mysticism, and religion has only partially succeeded in its objects, and still there seems to be a considerable amount of confusion and misunderstanding as to what my views really are. Readers still demand a more explicit statement of my present position and this I propose now to give.

Let it be perfectly clear at the outset that I condemn neither religion nor yoga, but staunchly uphold them. So far as religion consists of a sense of reverence for a higher power and an attempt to live a good life in accordance with the ethical injunctions of the great religious founders, it is a definite necessity for the mass of humanity. So far as the practice of yoga consists in the effort to control thoughts and to subdue worldly attachments, it is an invaluable way for distressed hearts to find peace, an excellent means of obtaining that sharpened attention which is required for the adequate consideration of philosophical questions, and, in its advanced stages, a beatific path to rapt ecstasies.

Holding such views as to the importance and personal value of both religion and yoga for the great majority of mankind, it is natural that I should have nothing but respect and regard for those who faithfully follow and practise their yoga, their religion, or their mysticism. On the other hand, what can honest men give but contempt and indignation for those who become pious hypocrites in the name of religion, parasites on society in the name of yoga, or exploiters of superstition in the name of mysticism? Ought he not to make a strong protest against unbalanced abuse and incorrect practice of yoga which leads to the most unfortunate physical and mental results? Ought he not also to protest against the mistakes of mystics when they take advantage of the much-abused word "intuition" to propagate their own personal imaginations as scientific certainties?

It will be seen that I am for a calm and dispassionate appraisal of these important matters and that I wish to avoid either blind, unthinking adherence on the one side or foolish, hasty scepticism on the other. I could not have arrived at such an attitude of candid examination, I believe, if I had not had the opportunity of studying impartially various manifestations of yoga, religion, and mysticism, not only in India but throughout the world, for more than a quarter of a century. And I have had the advantage of knowing these matters from the inside as well as the outside.


-- Notebooks Category 4: Elementary Meditation > Chapter 1: Preparatory > # 120






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