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Date Posted: 15:21
Author: Mike Drake - 4 Jun 2001
Subject: Burbank: No mysticism in Yogananda's education plan?

After reading some of Ketch's remarks, I looked up the by-now famous Burbank testimonial letter at http://www.crystalclarity.com/yogananda/chap38/chap38.html.

The following excerpt from the letter popped out at me: "The Swami's idea of right education is plain commonsense, free from all mysticism and non-practicality."

I don’t know what the “right education” teaching contains (the letter is unspecific about this), but by the “free from all mysticism” remark it would appear that whatever Burbank thought he was giving credence to, it wasn’t to any body of mystical beliefs. More importantly, it strongly suggests that he didn’t count mysticism* as a virtue.

Thought that would be of interest.


* Let me here anticipate and set aside a possible semantic argument. The term 'mysticism' is usally used (and always so by readers here, I take it) to mean "immediate spiritual intuition of truths believed to transcend ordinary understanding" or "direct, intimate union of the soul with God through contemplation and love." If Burbank meant this, his testimonial is a problem (at least if such are components of "right education").

Astute apologists will think to counter this by citing an uncommon usage of 'mystical', under which it merely means "obscure." This would indeed resolve the apparent antimony for Yogananda's adherents.

Nonetheless, there is no principled basis to think this is what Burbank meant. First of all, as mentioned, this apologetic sense is by far the least common usage. Second, mystics themselves do not so use the term. Third, such an apolegetic interpretation leaves Burbank's use of the terms 'commonsense' and 'nonpracticality' with no independent meaning: Something that is obscure is, by the meaning of the term, not practical and not common sense. Fourth, if (as will be necessary for the apologist to hypothesize) Burbank meant to credit Yogananda's teachings about reincarnation, spiritual intuition and union with God (again, assuming these are components of the "right education"), he hardly would have done so by saying that Yogananda's program of "right education" is "free of mysticism."

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