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Neo-yogism, "realizationism"

To believe, with certain 'neo-yogists', that 'evolution' will produce a superman 'who will differ from a man as much as man differs from the animal or the animal from the vegetable' is a case of not knowing what man is. Here is one more example of a pseudo-wisdom which deems itself vastly superior to the 'separatist' religions, but which in point of fact shows itself more ignorant than the most elementary catechisms. For the most elementary catechism does know what man is: it knows that by his qualities, and as an autonomous world, he stands opposed to the other kingdoms of nature taken together; it knows that in one particular respect -- that of spiritual possibilities, not that of animal nature -- the difference between a monkey and a man is infinitely greater than that between a fly and a monkey. For man alone is able to leave the world; man alone is able to return to God; and that is the reason why he cannot in any way be surpassed by a new earthly being. Among the beings of this earth man is the central being; this is an absolute position; there cannot be a center more central than the center, if definitions have any meanings.

This neo-yogism, like other similar movements, pretends that it can add an essential value to the wisdom of our ancestors; it believes that the religions are partial truths which it is called upon to stick together, after hundreds or thousands of years of waiting, and to crown with its own naive little system.

The intellectual poverty of the neo-yogist movement provides an incontestable proof that there is no spirituality without orthodoxy. It is assuredly not by chance that all these movements are as if in league against the intelligence; intelligence is replaced by a thinking that is feeble and vague instead of being logical, and 'dynamic' instead of being contemplative. All these movements are characterized by an affectation of detachment in regard to pure doctrine. They hate its corruptibility, for in their eyes this purity is 'dogmatism'; they fail to understand that Truth does not deny forms from the outside, but transcends them from within. Orthodoxy includes and guarantees incalculable values which man could not possibly draw out of himself. (Spiritual Perspectives and Human facts, p. 117-118). and intelligence can each be conceived at two different levels: faith as a quasi-ontological and premental certitude ranks higher than the discerning and speculative aspects of intelligence,(1) but intelligence as pure Intellection ranks higher that faith which is no more than an adherence of the sentiments; it is this ambivalence which is the source of numerous misunderstandings, but which makes possible at the same time an exo-esoteric language that is both simple and complex...

(1) This higher faith is something altogether different from the irresponsible and arrogant taking of liberties so characteristic of the profane improvisers of Zen or of Jnâna, who seek to "take a short cut" by stripping themselves of the essential human context of all realization, whereas in the East, and in the normal conditions of ethical and liturgical ambiance, this context is largely supplied in advance. One does not enter the presence of a king by the back door. (Logic and Transcendence, p. 206).

It happens frequently that anglicized Hindus, as also other Asiatics, mention in the same breath names like Jesus and Gandhi, Shankara and Kierkegaard, Buddha and Goethe, the Holy Virgin and Mrs. X, or affirm that such and such a German musician was a yogi or that the French Revolution was a mystical movement, etc. This fact reveals a total ignorance of certain differences of category which are none the less of capital importance -- we would readily say differences of 'reality' -- as well as a strange lack of sensibility; it also shows a tendency to simplification, due doubtless to the more or less unconscious idea that only 'realization' counts and not 'theory', whence a completely misplaced and profitless contempt for the objective discerning of phenomena... A typical example of neo-Hindu deviation is the Swami Yogananda, founder in the United States of a "Self-Realisation Fellowship'(SRF!), the president (!) of which is -- or was -- an American woman. On the other hand we find the 'discerning of spirits' present to an eminent degree in a man like [Ananda] Coomaraswamy, and we are not alone in hoping that his influence will grow in his own country. (Gnosis Divine Wisdom, p. 57-58, note 1).

... the modern 'spirituality' of India, whether it bases itself on bhakti or jnâna or both at once -- not to mention those who think they can do better than the sages of old -- this 'spirituality', we say, is characterized, not only by a too unilateral confidence in such or such 'means', but also and above all by the fact of neglecting, with remarkable lack of consciousness, the human foundations -- the 'human climate' it might be said -- the integrity of which is guaranteed only by tradition and by the sacred. Spiritual 'short cuts' exist, certainly, and cannot but exist, since they are possible; but, being founded on pure intellection on the one hand and on subtle and rigorous technique on the other, and on bringing into play both the constitution of the microcosm and universal analogies, such short cuts exact an intellectual preparation and a psychological conditioning anchored in the tradition, apart from which they remain ineffective, or still worse lead in the opposite direction. This is the sin committed by the protagonists of such and such a yoga who believe that they must offer to the least apt and the least informed people a 'purely scientific' and 'nonsectarian' 'way', 'discovered' by ancient sages but 'freed from all superstition' and all 'scholasticism', that is to say, in short, freed from all traditional safeguards and indeed from every adequate reason for existing. (Gnosis Divine Wisdom, p. 60-61).

In order to understand certain error of neo-bhaktism, or of neo-Hinduism in general, it is necessary to recall that unfortunately the opposition between 'orthodoxy' and 'heterodoxy' does not always coincide with the opposition between 'piety' and 'worldliness'; this paradox is a favorite haunt of Satan, for there he finds a fruitful ground for all sorts of seductions and hypocrisies; it amounts, in short, to dishonest speculation on the difference of plane separating doctrinal truth from virtue. Nothing is more agreeable to the Evil One than the cries of indignation of the heretic against the occasional vice of the orthodox, or the pharisaical condemnation, by some orthodox-minded person, of a spiritual value not properly understood; the genesis of the modern West and the easy and rapid modernization of the East are largely to be explained in terms of these inseparable oscillations.(Gnosis Divine Wisdom, p. 64)

There are neo-Hindu 'reformers' who want to 'reject all these fables about cults, this blowing of conches, this ringing of bells', and even 'all pride of knowledge and study of the Shastras, and all those methods for attaining personal deliverance...' But if the Brahmans had not blown conches during thousands of years, none of you 'reformers' of India today would even exist ! (Gnosis Divine Wisdom, p. 65, note 1)

A pernicious error that must be pointed out here -- one which seems to be axiomatic with the false gurus of East and West -- is what could designated by the term "realizationism" : it is claimed that only "realization" counts and that "theory" is nothing, as if man were not a thinking being, and as if he could undertake anything whatsoever without knowing where he was going. False masters speak readily of "developing latent energies"; now one can go to hell with all the developments and all the energies one pleases; it is in any case better to die with a good theory than with a false "realization". What the pseudo-spiritualists lose sight of only too easily is that, according to the maxim of the maharajahs of Benares, "there is no right superior to that of the truth". (The Play of Masks, p.13, note 7).

... the rationalists and the fideists are not the only adversaries of the Sophia Perennis: another component -- somewhat unexpected -- is what we could term "realizationism" or "ecstatism": namely the mystical prejudice -- rather widespread in India -- which has it that only "realization" or "states" count in spirituality. The partisans of this opinion oppose "concrete realization" to "vain thought" and they too easily imagine that with ecstasy all is won; they forget that without the doctrines -- beginning with the Vedanta! -- they would not even exist; and it also happens that they forget that a subjective realization -- founded on the idea of the immanent "Self" -- greatly has need of the objective element that is the Grace of the personal God, without forgetting the concurrence of Tradition.

We must mention here the existence of false masters who, as inheritors of occultism and inspired by "realizationism" and psychoanalysis, contrive to invent implausible infirmities in order to invent extravagant remedies. What is surprising logically is that they always find dupes, even among the so-called "intellectuals"; the explanation for this is that these novelties come to fill a void that never should have been produced. In all these "methods", the point of departure is a false image of man; the goal of the training being the development -- patterned after the "clairvoyance" of certain occultists -- of "latent powers" or of an "expanded" or "liberated" personality. And since such an ideal does not exist -- more especially as the premise is imaginary -- the result of the adventure can only be a perversion; this is the price of a supersaturated rationalism -- blown up to its extreme limit -- namely an agnosticism devoid of all imagination. (The transfiguration of Man, p. 9)

  1. Gnosis and gnosticism, theosophy and theosophism
  2. Modern Vedantism
  3. Psychic powers, miracles, ecstasy, apparitions, visions
  4. Neo-yogism, "realizationism"
  5. Occultism, spiritism, fetishism, paganism and decadent traditions
  6. The psychological Imposture, psychoanalysis
  7. Modernist Zenism