Luther Burbank’s Methods

Dear Ones,

I was writing up next month’s newsletter, I had to cut this section (below) from the print version.  But it is too good – so I am sending it along as a bonus to you!


Mary Kretzmann

Luther Burbank’s Methods

excerpted from: Quickening Human Evolution

BY PARAMHANSA YOGANANDA (East-West, January–February 1929)

How is the human brain going to acquire in a lifetime all knowledge and wisdom? That is my question. When I met Luther Burbank, he showed me a walnut tree, and he said, “I took off more than one hundred years from its usual period of growth. I grew that in twelve years.” And you could see the tree bearing walnuts! He made almonds have soft shells, made over the tomato and created the Shasta daisy from bulbs, and the cactus without thorns. In primitive times the different animals used to eat the cactus, so the cactus developed thorns. When one life begins to hurt another life, that life develops weapons of defense. Burbank went into the garden, looked at the cactus, and every day began to talk to the cactus. “Please, beloved Cactus, I am Luther Burbank, your friend. I don’t mean to hurt you. I am not going to hurt you at all, so why develop thorns?” And so the thornless cactus was developed by talking, by attention, by his knowledge of nature’s laws. You can impress certain vibrations on protoplasm. If the walnut tree can be made to grow in twelve years instead of one hundred and fifty years, there is a chance for human beings also. How is a human being within sixty years of existence to develop so that he can be the center of all knowledge? That is the point I want to drive home in your mind. I have shown how machinery quickened world evolution. Where did machinery come from?—from the factory of human minds. If man quickened evolution in business, man can quicken his evolution in all branches of life, including his own inner life.

In ordinary study there is a vast difference between the methods applied by teachers in India and in the West. In the West, they pump into the brains of children the ideas, “How many books have you read; how many teachers have you had?” A man returned from college with a Ph.D. in making sugar from different fruits. He was asked if sugar could be made from the guava fruit. After some deep thought, he said, “I did not study that. It was not in my curriculum.” Using common sense was beyond him. It is not pumping from the outside in, that gives you knowledge.

It is the power and largeness of receptivity within that determine how much and how quickly you can grasp knowledge. The man who has the power of receptivity quickly sees everything. An intelligent man lives far ahead of the idiot. All your experiences are measured in terms of the cup of your receptivity.

Prof. James of Harvard said that most of our habits come through heredity. Feeble-minded people, science says, cannot be helped. Scientists take measurements and believe in the stamp of heredity too much. They forget this: that by awakening the brain cells, man can quicken his evolution. The power of receptivity of the brain cells can become so great that a man can receive all the things he wants to absorb within himself in a normal lifetime.

How can you quicken evolution? By consciously condensing all your experiences, by the power of concentration. By concentration you gather your attention, focusing it to a point. By condensation you again use your attention to quickly do a thing which ordinarily would take a long time. I will tell you of such an experience:

A friend of mine said I was all right as a spiritual man, but that I could not succeed in business. I replied, “I am going to make five thousand dollars in business for you within two weeks.” He said, “You will have to show me. I am from Missouri.” I did not rush to invest money on unwise things. I used concentration, disengaged my mind of all disturbances, and focused my attention on one thing. (Most of us have the searchlight of our attention turned outside all the time instead of inside—we should turn the searchlight of the mind on the divine source. Every change in business, every change in the planetary system, in the physical system—everything is recorded there. We are living on one side of the universe; the other side is more tangible than this side.) So I touched that source. Ordinarily men do not concentrate—the mind is restless, and the restless mind jumps at conclusions and races for something that does not belong to it. You must obey the law. Remember, concentrate and then ask Divine Power. Thus, as soon as I contacted that source, there were shows to me lots of houses. But I did not sit quietly in my room and say, “The Heavenly Father will open the ceiling and drop five thousand dollars in my lap,” because I had favored Him with a fervent prayer. I bought the Sunday papers and looked at real estate advertisements. I picked out a few houses, and told my friend to invest his money in them. He said, “Everything seems pretty shaky,” and I said, “Never mind, doubting Thomas, don’t try to spoil success by your doubts.” In two weeks there was a real estate boom and prices of houses went way up high. He sold the houses and had a clear profit of five thousand dollars. I showed him that the power of God or mind works wherever we apply it with faith.


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