Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Yoga; OK or not?



Why is Yoga incompatible with Catholicism?

FATHER JOHN HARDON, S.J.
Why is Yoga incompatible with Catholicism?


Yoga is incompatible with Catholicism because the best known practice of Hindu spirituality is Yoga. “Inner” Hinduism professes pantheism, which denies that there is only one infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. This pantheistic Hinduism says to the multitude of uncultured believers who follow the ways of the gods that they will receive the reward of the gods. They will have brief tastes of heaven between successive rebirths on earth. But they will never be delivered from the “wheel of existence” with its illusory lives and deaths until they realize that only “God” exists and all else is illusion (Maya). To achieve this liberation the principal way is by means of concentration and self control (yoga).

Indian spirituality is perhaps best known by the practice of yoga, derived from the root yuj to unite or yoke, which in context means union with the Absolute. Numerous stages are distinguished in the upward progress toward the supreme end of identification: by means of knowledge with the deity; the practice of moral virtues and observance of ethical rules; bodily postures; control of internal and external senses; concentration of memory and meditation–finally terminating in total absorption (samadhi), “when the seer stands in his own nature.”

Although the psychic element is far more important in yoga than the body, the latter is more characteristic of this method of Hindu liberation. Its purpose is to secure the best disposition of body for the purpose of meditation. The practice begins with a simple device for deep and slow breathing.

Stopping the right nostril with the thumb, through the left nostril fill in air, according to capacity. Then without any interval, throw the air out through the right nostril, eject through the left, according to capacity. Practicing this three or five times at four hours of the day, before dawn, during midday, in the evening, and at midnight, in fifteen days or a month purity of the nerves is attained.

After such preliminary exercises, more complicated practices are undertaken, but not without the guidance of a professional yogin, called guru. The meditative phase begins with fixing the mind on one object, which may be anything whatsoever, “the sphere of the navel, the lotus of the heart, the light of the brain, the tip of the nose, the tip of the tongue, and such like parts of the body” or also “God”, who on Hindu terms is the only real being who exists.

Gradually by sheer concentration of attention; the mind reaches a state of trance, where all mental activity stops and the consciousness rests in itself. The state of samadhi is the culmination of yoga and beyond it lies release. The life of the soul is not destroyed but is reduced to its “unconscious and permanent essence.”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS


Hardon, John A. “Ask Father Hardon.” The Catholic Faith 4, no. 2 (March/April 1998): 54-55.

Reprinted by permission of The Catholic Faith. The Catholic Faith is published bi-monthly and may be ordered from Ignatius Press, P.O. Box 591090, San Francisco, CA 94159-1090. 1-800-651-1531.

THE AUTHOR

Father John Hardon, S.J. is Executive Editor of The Catholic Faith. He is a popular speaker and author of dozens of excellent Catholic books including The Catholic Catechism.

Copyright © 1998 TheCatholicFaith



is aligned with the Dave Hunt view of the New Age movement: very conservative. It says

Yoga is an idolatrous practice which leads one away from the one true God and into the spiritual realm of false gods and demonic spirits


See for a more informed conservative view. Briefly: it may be a Hindu plot to seduce the West, particularly those on the edges of the New Age Movement...

At the other end of the spectrum - "Christian Yoga" likes to talk about 'Christ Consciousness'. Excerpt from their Mission Statement: '[We] assist individuals who have accepted personal responsibility for their rehab by resources of both ancient yoga therapy and modern physical therapy/rehabilitation. The approach is inclusive, avoiding strict dogma from any single tradition and utilizing techniques from all disciplines that seek to facilitate holistic health.

My own view is that meditation/contemplation is a gift from God. But be careful about joining anything which will lead you from one particular method backwards to a non-Christian ideology.

Rowland Croucher July 2001.







Question: "What is the Christian view of yoga?" http://www.gotquestions.org/Christian-yoga.html



Answer: For many Christians in the West who don't understand the history behind it, yoga is simply a means of physical exercise, and strengthening and improving flexibility of the muscles. However, the philosophy behind yoga is much more than physically improving oneself. It is an ancient practice derived from India, believed to be the path to spiritual growth and enlightenment.



The word "yoga" means "union," and the goal is to unite one's transitory (temporary) self with the infinite Brahman, the Hindu concept of "God." This "God" is not a literal being, but is an impersonal spiritual substance that is one with nature and the cosmos. This view is called "pantheism," the belief that everything is God, and that reality consists only of the universe and nature. Because everything is God, the yoga philosophy makes no distinction between man and God.



Hatha yoga is the aspect of yoga which focuses on the physical body through special postures, breathing exercises, and concentration or meditation. It is a means to prepare the body for the spiritual exercises, with less obstacles, in order to achieve enlightenment. The practice of yoga is based on the belief that man and God are one. It is little more than self-worship disguised as a high level of spirituality.



The question becomes, is it possible for a Christian to isolate the physical aspects of yoga as simply a method of exercise, without incorporating the spirituality or philosophy behind it? I don't believe so. Yoga originated with a blatantly anti-Christian philosophy, and that philosophy has not changed. It teaches one to focus on oneself instead of on the one true God. It encourages its participants to seek the answers to life's difficult questions within their own conscience instead of in the Word of God. It also leaves one open to deception from God's enemy, who searches for victims that he can turn away from God (1Peter 5:8).



Whatever we do should be done for God's glory (1Corinthians 10:31), and we would be wise to heed the words of the apostle Paul: "Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise" (Philippians 4:8, NLT).

Recommended Resource: Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs by Ankerberg and Weldon.









http://www.pastornet.net.au/response/articles/18.htm

Yoga means "to yoke"—to yoke with Brahman (i.e., the "Infinite," the "Universal Spirit," the impersonal force that the Hindus call "God") via the realization of an altered state of consciousness, thereby theoretically releasing oneself from the bondage of endless reincarnation. Yoga comes out of the Hindu Vedas. It can be traced back to Patanjali, who was a religious leader. Shiva, one of Hinduism's three most powerful gods, was known as "The Destroyer"—he's called Yogi Swara or the "Lord of Yoga."

- Consider the following portion of an article from a secular newspaper:

"It is estimated that there are 10,000 yoga teachers in the United States, who teach between 4 and 5 million students a week. Yoga is a program that involves conscious stretching, deliberate movements, controlled breathing and relaxation exercises. It's purpose is to develop strength, flexibility, balance, body alignment, body awareness, muscular balance, calmness and controlled breathing. Yoga originated from a school of thought in the Hindu religion, which suggests that postures can isolate the soul from the body and the mind. In the Western world, yoga is used mainly as a form of exercise. Yoga comes from the original Sanskrit word, 'joga,' which means 'to join.' Yoga means to join body, mind and breath; to get them to work together in harmony [This is a lie!]. It's very gentle, slow and meditative; but it requires concentration. Yoga instructors say they have received a handful of complaints from people who believe yoga is intertwined with mysticism and the occult. [We] acknowledge that yoga does indeed come from a portion of India's Hindu religion, but [our] classes deal mainly with the physical aspects of yoga, and do not in any way coerce people to become involved in Eastern religion" [another lie]. (Source: The Bloomington Herald-Times, 1991.) (Emphasis added.)

Sadly, even professing Christians have bought into this lie. Every Yoga teacher is, in effect, a Hindu or Buddhist missionary, even though "he or she may wear a cross, insist that Jesus was a great Yogi, and protest that Yoga is not a religion but science. This is the most blatant of lies. Yet it has been so widely proclaimed and believed that in America's public schools, beginning in kindergarten, and in almost every other area of society today, Yoga and other forms of Hindu-Buddhist occultism are taught and accepted as science. In contrast, Christianity has been thrown out of the schools and is being crowded out of every other area of life in the "broad-minded" move to replace religion with the New Age 'science'!" (Source: Dave Hunt, Peace, Prosperity, and the Coming Holocaust, p. 147.)

- The practice of Yoga is pagan at best, and occultic at worse. Its teachings eminate from the Eastern religions, all of which teach that self is God, only we just don't realize it. "The goal of Yoga is 'self-realization '—to look deeply within what ought to be the temple of the one true God and there to discover the alleged 'true Self' or 'higher Self' and declare self to be God. Nothing could be more religious than that, yet with straight faces all of the Yogis insist that practicing Yoga will not change anyone's religious beliefs. This is the religion of Antichrist; and for the first time in history it is being widely practiced throughout the Western world as Transcendental Meditation and other forms of Yoga." (Source: Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity, p. 54.)

- Yoga calls itself science. "By calling itself science, Yoga (which is the very heart of Hinduism), has within the last [30] years become an integral part of Western society, where it is taught in nearly every YMCA or YWCA, in clubs, in public schools, in industry, and in many churches. Dressed in Western clothes, Yoga has gained acceptance in medicine, psychology, education, and religion under such euphemisms as 'centering,' 'relaxation therapy,' 'self-hypnosis,' and 'creative visualization.' Yoga is designed to lead to the 'realization' of one's true 'godhood' through an inward meditative journey that finally locates the ultimate source of everything within the human psyche." (Source: Dave Hunt, The Seduction of Christianity, p. 110.)

- Hatha-yoga is a popular form of Yoga practiced today by those looking for a form of relaxation and non-strenuous exercise. Johanna Michaelsen, however, correctly discerns:

"There is a common misconception in the West that hatha-yoga, one of about ten forms of Yoga that supposedly leads to self-realization, is merely a neutral form of exercise, a soothing and effective alternative for those who abhor jogging and calisthenics ... [However], Hatha-yoga is 'one of the six recognized systems of orthodox Hinduism' and is at its roots religious and mystical. It is also one of the most difficult and potentially dangerous [spiritually] forms of Yoga.

"The term hatha is derived from the verb hath, which means 'to oppress.'... What the practice of hatha-yoga is designed to do is suppress the flow of psychic energies through these channels ["symbolic, or psychic, passages on either side of the spinal column"], thereby forcing the 'serpent power' or the kundalini force to rise through the central psychic channel in the spine (the sushumna) and up through the chakras, the supposed psychic centers of human personality and power. Westerners mistakenly believe that one can practice hatha-yoga apart from the philosophical and religious beliefs that undergrid it. This is an absolutely false belief. ... You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. ... 'The movements themselves become a form of meditation.' The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you ... intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! ... There is, by definition, no such thing as 'neutral' Yoga" (Like Lambs to the Slaughter, pp. 93-95). (Last emphasis added.)

- So if someone's interested in physical exercises that are designed to help one's body, he should not take Yoga, which is designed for death, and teaches how to reach this state of consciousness* where one gets a better reincarnation. Even the physical positions in Yoga come right out of the Hindu scriptures, and are designed to put one into this state of consciousness where you imagine that you're God. Therefore, Christians who think they think they're getting relaxation and/or exercise, are really getting Hinduism! They think they're getting science, but they're getting religion. It's mislabeled and it's dangerous! (Summarized from Dave Hunt's comments on a 1988 John Ankerberg Show program, "The New Age in Society.")

- John Weldon and Clifford Wilson wrote in Occult Shock and Psychic Forces that Yoga is really pure occultism. Hans-Ulrich Rieker, in his book The Yoga of Light, also warns that misunderstanding the true nature of Yoga can mean "death or insanity." Also a little known fact is that virtually every major guru in India has issued warnings similar to these; i.e., deep-breathing techniques such as the ones taught in Yoga are a time-honored method for entering altered states of consciousness and for developing so-called psychic power.

* Yoga is one of the basic means of reaching this altered state of consciousness. And the altered state is the doorway to the occult. Sir John Eccles, Nobel Prize Winner for his research on the brain, said the brain is "a machine that a ghost can operate." In a normal state of consciousness one's own spirit ticks off the neurons in his brain and operates his body. We are spirits connected with a body. But in an altered state, reached under drugs, Yoga, hypnosis, etc., this passive but alert state, the connection between the spirit and the brain, is loosened. That allows another spirit to interpose itself, to begin to tick off the neurons in the brain, and create an entire universe of illusion. You've then opened yourself up. It's called sorcery. People are literally teaching themselves how to be demonized, all in the name of developing one's full potential.

Biblical Discernment Ministries - Revised 3/96

ALSO SEE:

http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=2927

and

http://www.flameministries.org/word.htm

and

Fr. Tom Ryan









Yoga and New Trends in Christianity
http://www.pastornet.net.au/response/articles/107.htm

'Kneel to yourself. Honour and worship your own being. God dwells within you as You.' Swami Muktananda, Hindu guru

'I know that in me, that is in my flesh, dwells no good thing.' Paul the Apostle

At a New Age fair, where I was helping with a Christian witness, a young man told me that he rejected all religious systems. He said that he was discovering god as a force within himself and so finding harmony with all created things. When I told him that he was in fact following the ancient religious system of Hinduism, he said angrily, 'I don't like Christians telling me what to believe,' and walked off.

This brief conversation highlighted the conflict between the eastern religious world view now being accepted by many people in the West, and the biblical world view now being rejected. According to Biblical Christianity the basic problem of humanity is our sin nature which causes us to break God's laws and thus separates us from God who is holy. The solution is to invite God into our lives through repentance and faith in the Gospel message: that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself through the sacrificial death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Before we take this step of faith, God is outside of our lives. After doing this He is inside our lives, dwelling within us by the Holy Spirit.

According to Hinduism the problem of humanity is not a moral one, but one of a lack of knowledge. God already dwells within us, but we do not know this. We have lost contact with our innate divinity through becoming entangled in the material world and being limited by our rational finite minds. The solution is to discover the 'god within' through experiencing a higher state of expanded consciousness. It was evident from the huge numbers of young people attending the New Age fair that this idea is far more attractive to many today than the traditional Christian view. New Age devotee Miriam Starhawk has written, 'The longing for expanded consciousness has taken many of us on a spiritual journey to the East and to Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist concepts. Eastern religions offer a radically different approach to spirituality than Judeo-Christian traditions. Their goal is not to know God but to be God. In many ways these philosophies are close to witchcraft.' (Yoga journal May 1986).

How does Hinduism claim that one can experience an 'altered state of consciousness' leading to discovery of 'godhood'? Over thousands of years it has developed numerous techniques to manipulate human consciousness in order to bring this about. These techniques are called yoga. According to a Hindu saying, 'There is no Hinduism without yoga and no yoga without Hinduism.' Yoga therefore can never be seen solely as a means of gaining physical exercise, reducing stress or as a medical therapy. Some of the methods used by yoga are as follows:

Hatha yoga: Physical and breathing exercises

Body postures (asanas) are intended to immobilise the whole body. Practising them will enable the body to become completely motionless and hardened in fixed positions. Meditation words (mantras) serve to immobilise the consciousness. Mantras are usually the names of gods used for worship. Symbolic body movements in yoga are designed to close 'all nine doors of the body', so that no sense perception from the outside penetrates into the mind. When all outer sensation is shut off the body itself will create sense perceptions of an inner kind, an inner light, an inner sound, an inner smell, and an inner pleasure.

I once talked to a yoga teacher who became a Christian. He said that he did not teach his pupils anything about Hinduism to begin with, but simply taught them the techniques of yoga. They then experienced things that they could not explain and he interpreted their experiences in such a way that would lead them deeper into the Hindu philosophy of discovering god within yourself.

Japa Yoga: The mechanical way of salvation

Japa is the repetition or chanting of a mantra which is usually the name of a Hindu god. One example of this is the Hare Krishna movement which chants the names of Krishna and Rama. I once had a conversation with a young man selling Hare Krishna books in London. As soon as I questioned his basic philosophy he began chanting 'Hare Krishna, Hare Rama' after which all meaningful discussion became impossible.

Transcendental Meditation (TM), taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, has become one of the most well known forms of yoga in the West. In TM the meditator learns first to forget the rest of the world and to concentrate only on the mantra (usually a short word, a name of a deity such as Ram or OM). Then he forgets the mantra too, transcending all thoughts and feelings. After several years of meditation one is said to attain 'god consciousness.' In this state it is said that one can even communicate with birds, animals, plants and rocks. The final state is 'unity consciousness', in which the devotee perceives the oneness of himself with the universe. This is 'liberation.'

Kundalini Yoga: Salvation through the 'Serpent Power'

Hindu psychology teaches that the 'kundalini shakti', or serpent power, lies at the base of the spine. Normally the kundalini lies dormant in most human beings, but when it is awakened it arises and begins to travel upwards. In its journey from the base of the spine to the top of the head it passes through six psychic centres called 'chakras'. When it passes through a chakra it kindles various psychic experiences and energies. When it reaches the sahasrara, or crown, one attains power to perform miracles and to achieve liberation. The most influential guru who preached kundalini was Swami Muktananda. He labelled it Siddha (perfect) yoga, for it is the only yoga in which the aspirant does not have to do anything. He just surrenders to the guru and the guru's grace does everything for him.

In an article published previously in this magazine (October 1995), Robert Walker described what takes place in kundalini yoga: 'Few Christians realise that for thousands of years gurus have operated with gifts of healing, miracles, gifts of knowledge, and intense displays of spiritual consciousness as they stretch out and connect with a cosmic power which, though demonic in origin, is very real. The meetings which mystic Hindu gurus hold are called 'Dharshan'. At these meetings devotees go forward to receive spiritual experience from a touch by the open palm of the hand, often to the forehead, by the guru in what is known as the Shakti Pat or divine touch. The raising of the spiritual experience is called raising Khundalini. The practice is quite intricate but is brought on by Shakti Pat in conjunction with the repetition of mantras or religious phrases and by holding physical positions for a long time. After a period when the devotee has reached a certain spiritual elevation they begin to shake, jerk, or hop or squirm uncontrollably, sometimes breaking into uncontrolled animal noises or laughter as they reach an ecstatic high. These manifestations are called 'Kriyas'. Devotees sometimes roar like lions and show all kinds of physical signs during this period. Often devotees move on to higher states of spiritual consciousness and become inert physically and appear to slip into an unconsciousness when they lose sense of what is happening around them. This state is called 'samadhi' and it leads to a deeper spiritual experience.'

The role of the Guru in granting liberation

The role of the guru in the liberation of a devotee is described differently in different sects. Generally speaking the guru's task is only to teach the technique of achieving liberation; the devotee has to achieve liberation by practicing the technique on his own. Some sects however teach that at initiation the guru takes the karma (action) of a disciple upon himself. According to the law of karma, each man has to take the consequences of his good and bad actions. For this he has to be continually reborn into the world. But if the guru (out of love and grace) takes the karma, the necessity of a rebirth vanishes, and one attains deliverance from the bondage of reincarnation. Therefore it is believed that without the guru's grace, one cannot be saved. Devotees generally claim blessing, peace and a sense of union with god as a result of the guru's ministry. Clearly something supernatural happens, often with miracles taking place. There is however no lasting blessing, peace or real union with God.

Connections to contemporary Christianity

Today we see that the 'guru' mentality is being accepted by some Christian groups in which it is required to submit to authoritarian leaders who are said to provide the believer's connection to God and who cannot be questioned. Often these leaders' authority is reinforced by demonstrations of spiritual power causing people to fall to the ground, laugh uncontrollably and generally behave in a way which resembles an 'altered state of consciousness.'

An audio tape produced by Hank Hanegraff, author of 'Christianity in Crisis', features actual recordings of well known American preachers getting crowds under their spell to repeat, mantra like, the serpent's lie, 'I am god.' Those who resist or object to these new trends are often ridiculed as narrow minded legalists or Pharisees, warned that they will miss out on God's blessings or even threatened with death and damnation.

Christians alert to the deceptions of the end times should not be intimidated into accepting uncritically all that they are told at highly charged meetings by preachers with apparently powerful ministries. We should question any manifestation which is not to be found in scripture, especially if it connects to yoga and Hinduism. These spiritual forces do not bring liberation and union with God, but bondage, deception and alienation from God. In his book 'The Dust of Death' Os Guiness has described the invasion of eastern religious ideas well;

'The subtlety of eastern religion is that it enters like an odourless poison gas, seeping under the door, through the keyhole, in through the open window, so that the man in the room is overcome without his ever realising that there was any danger at all.'

Looking at this issue from a prophetic point of view we see that yoga is a force which is helping to bring together religious devotees of different backgrounds, since its techniques can be superimposed on any religious system including nominal Christianity and Islam. As such it is helping to unite the religious world in the coming one world religion described in Revelation 17, 'Mystery Babylon the Great, the Mother of Harlots and Abominations of the Earth.' The defence we have against all this is to be found in a true faith in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, the one way to a true relationship with God, who has given us the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth.




Yoga and Christianity: Are They Compatible?
http://www.probe.org/content/view/967/0/

Written by Michael Gleghorn

What is Yoga?

What is yoga? For many in the West, yoga is simply a system of physical exercise, a means of strengthening the body, improving flexibility, and even healing or preventing a variety of bodily ailments. But if we inquire into the history and philosophy of yoga we discover that "much more than a system of physical exercise for health, Yoga is . . . [an] ancient path to spiritual growth." It is a path enshrined in much of the sacred literature of India.{1} Thus, if we truly want a better understanding of yoga, we must dig beneath the surface and examine the historical roots of the subject.

Before we begin digging, however, we must first understand what the term "yoga" actually means. "According to tradition, 'yoga' means 'union,' the union...of the finite 'jiva' (transitory self) with the infinite'...Brahman' (eternal Self)."{2} "Brahman" is a term often used for the Hindu concept of "God," or Ultimate Reality. It is an impersonal, divine substance that "pervades, envelops, and underlies everything."{3} With this in mind, let's briefly look at three key texts that will help us chart the origin and development of yoga within India.

It appears that one can trace both the practice and goal of yoga all the way back to the Upanishads, probably written between 1000-500 B.C.{4} One Upanishad tells us: "Unite the light within you with the light of Brahman."{5} Clearly, then, the goal of yoga (i.e. union with Brahman) is at least as old as the Upanishads.

In addition, the word "yoga" often appears in the Bhagavad Gita, a classic Hindu text possibly written as early as the fifth century B.C.{6} In chapter 6, Krishna declares: "Thus joy supreme comes to the Yogi . . . who is one with Brahman, with God."{7}

Finally, in about A.D. 150, the yogi Patanjali systematized yoga into eight distinct "limbs" in his Yoga Sutras. These eight limbs are like a staircase, supposedly leading the yogi from ignorance to enlightenment. In order, the eight limbs are: yama (self-control), niyama (religious observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing exercises), pratyahara (sense control), dharana (concentration), dhyana (deep contemplation), and samadhi (enlightenment).{8} It's interesting to note that postures and breathing exercises, often considered to be the whole of yoga in the West, are steps three and four along Patanjali's "royal" road to union with Brahman.

We see that yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline deeply rooted in the religion of Hinduism. This being so, we may honestly wonder whether it's really wise for a Christian to be involved in yoga practice. Next, we'll continue our discussion by examining some of the important doctrinal differences between yoga and Christianity.
Yoga and Christianity: What are the Differences?

Many people today (including some Christians) are taking up yoga practice. We'll later consider whether yoga philosophy can truly be separated from yoga practice, but we must first establish that there are crucial doctrinal differences between yoga and Christianity. Let's briefly look at just a few of these.

First, yoga and Christianity have very different concepts of God. As previously stated, the goal of yoga is to experience union with "God." But what do yogis mean when they speak of "God," or Brahman? Exactly what are we being encouraged to "unite" with? Most yogis conceive of "God" as an impersonal, spiritual substance, coextensive with all of reality. This doctrine is called pantheism, the view that everything is "God." It differs markedly from the theism of biblical Christianity. In the Bible, God reveals Himself as the personal Creator of the universe. God is the Creator; the universe, His creation. The Bible maintains a careful distinction between the two.{9}

A second difference between yoga and Christianity concerns their views of man. Since yoga philosophy teaches that everything is "God," it necessarily follows that man, too, is "God." Christianity, however, makes a clear distinction between God and man. God is the Creator; man is one of His creatures. Of course man is certainly unique, for unlike the animals he was created in the image of God.{10} Nevertheless, Christianity clearly differs from yoga in its unqualified insistence that God and man are distinct.

Finally, let's briefly consider how yoga and Christianity differently conceive man's fundamental problem, as well as its solution. Yoga conceives man's problem primarily in terms of ignorance; man simply doesn't realize that he is "God." The solution is enlightenment, an experience of union with "God." This solution (which is the goal of yoga) can only be reached through much personal striving and effort. Christianity, however, sees man's primary problem as sin, a failure to conform to both the character and standards of a morally perfect God. Man is thus alienated from God and in need of reconciliation. The solution is Jesus Christ, "the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."{11} Through Jesus' death on the cross, God reconciled the world to Himself.{12} He now calls men to freely receive all the benefits of His salvation through faith in Christ alone. Unlike yoga, Christianity views salvation as a free gift. It can only be received; it can never be earned.

Clearly, Christianity and yoga are mutually exclusive viewpoints. But is every kind of yoga the same? Isn't there at least one that's exclusively concerned with physical health and exercise? Next, we'll take a closer look at hatha yoga, the one most often believed to be purely physical in nature.
What Is Hatha Yoga?

Here we've learned that yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline rooted in a belief system that is utterly incompatible with Christianity. But is this true of all yoga? Isn't hatha yoga simply concerned with physical development and good health?

Hatha yoga is primarily concerned with two things: asana (physical postures) and pranayama (breathing exercises). But it's important to realize that both asana and pranayama also play a significant role in Patanjali's raja (or "royal") yoga. In the traditional eight "limbs" of Patanjali's system, asana and pranayama are limbs three and four. What then is the relationship of hatha to raja yoga?

Former yoga practitioner Dave Fetcho states that yoga postures "evolved as an integral part of Raja . . . Yoga."{13} He points out that the author of the famous handbook, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, "presents Hatha . . . solely and exclusively for the attainment of Raja Yoga."{14} He also cites a French yoga scholar who claims, "the sole purpose of . . . Hatha Yoga is to suppress physical obstacles on the . . . Royal path of Raja Yoga and Hatha Yoga is therefore called 'the ladder to Raja Yoga.'"{15} Fetcho concurs, noting that the physical postures are "specifically designed to manipulate consciousness...into Raja Yoga's consummate experience of samadhi: undifferentiated union with the primal essence of consciousness."{16} These statements should make it quite clear that hatha, or physical, yoga has historically been viewed simply as a means of aiding the yogi in attaining enlightenment, the final limb of raja yoga.

This is further confirmed by looking at Iyengar yoga, possibly the most popular form of hatha yoga in the U.S. The Web site for the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco states: "BKS Iyengar studies and teaches yoga as unfolded in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjaili [sic] and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika among other classical texts. Thus Asana, or postures, are taught as one of the eight limbs . . . of yoga defined by Patanjali."{17} In fact, the ultimate goal of Iyengar hatha yoga is precisely the same as that of Patanjali's raja yoga.{18} Both aim to experience union with "God," Brahman, or universal consciousness.

If all these things are so, it seems increasingly apparent that hatha yoga may ultimately involve its practitioners in much more than physical exercise. Although it may not be obvious at first, the ultimate goal of hatha is the same as every other form of yoga: union of the self with an impersonal, universal consciousness. We must remember that the Bible never exhorts Christians to seek such an experience. If anything, it warns us of the potential dangers in doing so. Next, we'll consider whether yoga practice might, in fact, be dangerous--and why.
Can Yoga be Harmful?

Despite its touted health benefits, there are numerous warnings in authoritative yoga literature which caution that yoga can be physically, mentally, and spiritually harmful if not practiced correctly.

For instance, Swami Prabhavananda warns of the potentially dangerous physical effects that might result from yoga breathing exercises: "Unless properly done, there is a good chance of injuring the brain. And those who practice such breathing without proper supervision can suffer a disease which no known science or doctor can cure."{19}

In addition, many yogis warn that yoga practice can endanger one's sanity. In describing the awakening of "kundalini" (coiled serpent power) Gopi Krishna records his own experience as follows: "It was variable for many years, painful, obsessive...I have passed through almost all the stages of...mediumistic, psychotic, and other types of mind; for some time I was hovering between sanity and insanity."{20}

Finally, however, from a Christian perspective it seems that yoga could also be spiritually harmful. To understand why, let's return to the experience of "kundalini." Yoga scholar Hans Rieker declares, "Kundalini [is] the mainstay of all yoga practices."{21} But what exactly is kundalini and why is it so central to yoga practice?

Swami Vivekananda summarizes the kundalini experience as follows: "When awakened through the practice of spiritual disciplines, it rises through the spinal column, passes through the various centres, and at last reaches the brain, whereupon the yogi experiences samadhi, or total absorption in the Godhead."{22} And researcher John White takes the importance of this experience even further declaring: "Although the word kundalini comes from the yogic tradition, nearly all the world's major religions, spiritual paths, and genuine occult traditions see something akin to the kundalini experience as having significance in "divinizing" a person. The word itself may not appear...but the concept is there...as a key to attaining godlike stature."{23}

Reading such descriptions of the kundalini, or coiled serpent power, the Christian can almost hear the hiss of that "serpent of old...who deceives the whole world."{24}In Eden, he flattered our first parents by telling them: "You will be like God."{25} And though Christianity and yoga have very different conceptions of God, isn't this essentially what yoga promises?

Swami Ajaya once said, "The main teaching of Yoga is that man's true nature is divine."{26} Obviously this is not the Christian view of man. But if the goal of yoga is to realize one's essential divinity through union with "God," then shouldn't the Christian view the practice that leads to this realization as potentially spiritually harmful? Next, we'll conclude our discussion by asking whether it's really possible to separate yoga philosophy from yoga practice.
Can Philosophy and Practice be Separated?

We've seen that yoga is an ancient spiritual discipline whose central doctrines are utterly incompatible with those of Christianity. Even hatha yoga, often considered to be exclusively concerned with physical development, is best understood as merely a means of helping the yogi reach the goal of samadhi, or union with "God." Furthermore, we've seen that all yoga, including hatha, has the potential to be physically, mentally, and spiritually harmful.

In light of such evidence, it may appear that this question--"Can yoga philosophy be separated from yoga practice?"--has already been answered in the negative. And this is certainly the view of many yoga scholars. Dave Fetcho, formerly of the Ananda Marga Yoga Society, has written, "Physical yoga, according to its classical definitions, is inheritably and functionally incapable of being separated from Eastern religious metaphysics."{27} What's more, yoga authorities Feuerstein and Miller, in discussing yoga postures (asana) and breathing exercises (pranayama), indicate that such practices are more than just another form of physical exercise; indeed, they "are psychosomatic exercises."{28} Does this mean that separating theory from practice is simply impossible with yoga?

If one carefully looks through an introductory text on hatha yoga,{29} one will see many different postures illustrated. A number of these may be similar, if not identical, to exercises and stretches one is already doing. Indeed, if one is engaged in a regular stretching program, this is quite probable. This raises an important question: Suppose that such beginning level yoga postures are done in a context completely free of yogic philosophy. In such a case as this, doesn't honesty compel us to acknowledge at least the possibility of separating theory from practice?

While I hate to disagree with scholars who know far more about the subject than I do, this distinction does seem valid to me. However, let me quickly add that I see this distinction as legitimate only at the very beginning of such practices, and only with regard to the postures. The breathing exercises, for various reasons, remain problematic.{30} But this distinction raises yet another question, for how many people begin an exercise program intending never to move beyond the most basic level? And since by the very nature of yoga practice, such a distinction could only be valid at the very earliest of stages, why would a Christian ever want to begin this process? It seems to me that if someone wants an exercise program with physical benefits similar to yoga, but without all the negative spiritual baggage, they should consider low-impact or water aerobics, water ballet, or simple stretching.{31} These programs can be just as beneficial for the body, without potentially endangering the soul. In my opinion, then, Christians would be better off to never begin yoga practice.

Notes

1. Raphael, Essence and Purpose of Yoga: The Initiatory Pathways to the Transcendent (Massachusetts: Element Books, Inc., 1996), back cover.

2. Brad Scott, "Exercise or Religious Practice? Yoga: What the Teacher Never Taught You in That Hatha Yoga Class" in The Watchman Expositor (Vol. 18, No. 2, 2001): 5.

3. Ibid.

4. Ibid., 6.

5. Ibid., cited in Swami Prabhavananda and Frederick Manchester, The Upanishads: Breath of the Eternal (New York: New American Library, 1957), 120ff.

6. Bhagavad Gita, trans. Juan Mascaro (New York: Penguin Books, 1962), back cover.

7. Ibid., 71.

8. John Ankerberg and John Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1996), 601.

9. See Romans 1:18-25.

10. See Genesis 1:26.

11. John 1:29.

12. See 2 Corinthians 5:19.

13. Dave Fetcho, "Yoga," (Berkeley, CA: Spiritual Counterfeits Project, 1978), cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 602.

14. Ibid., 603.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid., 602.

17. See "Source and Context: Patanjali and Ashtanga Yoga" at http://www.iyisf.org/. This quotation was obtained from the site on March 1, 2002.

18. Ibid.

19. Swami Prabhavananda, Yoga and Mysticism (Hollywood, CA: Vedanta Press, 1972), 18, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 604.

20. Gopi Krishna, The Awakening of Kundalini (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1975), 124, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 608.

21. Hans Ulrich Rieker, The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika (New York: Seabury Press, 1971), 101, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 606.

22. Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga (New York: Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1970), 16, cited in Scott, "Exercise or Religious Practice? Yoga: What the Teacher Never Taught You in That Hatha Yoga Class," 5.

23. John White, ed., Kundalini Evolution and Enlightenment (Garden City, NY: Anchor, 1979), 17, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 606.

24. See Revelation 12:9.

25. See Genesis 3:5.

26. Swami Rama, Lectures on Yoga: Practical Lessons on Yoga (Glenview, IL: Himalayan International Institute of Yoga, Science and Philosophy, 1976, rev.), vi, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 596.

27. Dave Fetcho, "Yoga," 2, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 600.

28. George Feuerstein and Jeanine Miller, Yoga and Beyond: Essays in Indian Philosophy (New York: Schocken, 1972), 27-28, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 600.

29. For example, Richard Hittleman, Introduction to Yoga (New York: Bantam Books, 1969)

30. For instance, the breathing exercises can by physically dangerous. Sri Chinmoy wrote, "To practice pranayama without real guidance is very dangerous. I know of three persons who have died from it..." See Great Masters and the Cosmic Gods (Jamaica, NY: Agni Press, 1977), 8, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 604. In addition, however, from a Christian perspective such exercises may also be mentally and spiritually dangerous (at least potentially) because they can induce altered states of consciousness that may make one more vulnerable to demonic deception. Indeed, psychologist Ernest L. Rossi has written of pranayama: "The manual manipulation of the nasal cycle during meditation (dhyana) is the most thoroughly documented of techniques for altering consciousness." See Benjamin B. Wolman and Montague Ullman, eds., Handbook of States of Consciousness (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1986), 113, cited in Ankerberg and Weldon, Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs, 595.

31. Of course such programs will need to be tailored to each individual's needs and goals. It's always a good idea to talk to your doctor before beginning any new exercise program.

©2002 Probe Ministries.

About the Author

Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University and a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before coming on staff with Probe he taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael is married to his beautiful wife Hannah.
What is Probe?

Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3 1/2 minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.

Further information about Probe's materials and ministry may be obtained by contacting us at:

Probe Ministries
1900 Firman Drive, Suite 100
Richardson, TX 75081
(972) 480-0240 FAX (972) 644-9664
info@probe.org
www.probe.org



http://www.brfwitness.org/Articles/1986v21n6.htm
WHAT'S WRONG WITH TAKING A YOGA CLASS? Editorial
November/December, 1986
Volume 21, Number 6
Yoga is defined as a "mystic discipline by which one seeks to achieve liberation of the self, and union with the supreme spirit, through intense concentration, deep meditation, and practices involving prescribed postures, controlled breathing, and so forth" (Webster's New World Dictionary/1980). Thirty years ago most people in our communities would not even have been able to pronounce words like "yoga," "reincarnation," and "mantra," because they were relatively unknown. Today, yoga practitioners include senators, nuns, ministers, and rock stars who practice their exercises in YMCA centers, public schools, health spas, and church buildings. Most assume yoga to be nothing more than an exotic way to achieve a beautiful body.
Surveys indicate that today 23% of all Americans believe in reincarnation (Time, September 10, 1984). That is, more and more people believe that they previously (before this life) existed in other forms, and that after this life, they will again appear in yet another form. The Time writer says, "Reincarnation is alive and well in Hollywood." Glenn Ford thinks he was once a Christian martyr eaten by a lion. Loretta Lynn believes she was a Cherokee princess who served as a mistress to a king. Shirley MacLaine is sure she was a prostitute who was later beheaded. Sylvester Stallone believes that he may have been a monkey in Guatemala in his previous life.
One of the underlying principles of the yoga philosophy is the belief that humanity (like the rest of creation) is an extension of god (ultimate reality) and that human beings share its nature. The aim of getting involved in various trances and concentrated meditation exercises is to eventually become one with the ultimate reality (god) by achieving release from the endless cycles of birth and rebirth. This is the traditional intent of yoga, as well as the goal of some of the diet, exercise, and massage therapies that are prominent today. Many of the methods are inherited from the Eastern religions. Some may argue that most Westerners derive benefits from yoga without becoming entangled in pagan theological premises, but there is a subtle tendency to become involved in yoga's deeper stages which are distinctly religious in nature.
The book Out on a Limb, written by Shirley MacLaine and published in 1983, describes her transformation from being an agnostic to becoming a believer in the spirit realm. MacLaine's second book, Dancing in the Light (1985), was on the New York Times Bestseller List for many months. A writer in Christianity Today (May 16, 1986) describes the book as being more like "rushing into the dark." He says, "The journey carries (MacLaine) along into a daily exercise of yoga, the use of crystals for spiritual power, the chanting of Hindu mantras, (and) the use of various past-life recall experiences." In her first book, MacLaine is told by the spirits that we are all co-creators with God. In her second book, she understands that each individual human being is God. Shirley MacLaine insists that if all of us would believe that "Everyone is God," this world would be a much happier and healthier place. The Christianity Today writer concludes by saying, "MacLaine presents Hindu philosophy and various occult practices in a seductive manner ... (and) those experiences will be further felt by the general public in the autumn of 1986" -- because there is tentatively scheduled for November, 1986, a five-hour made-for-TV movie series to be aired on the ABC network -- a series which is based on MacLaine's books. This is sure to have an impact on multitudes of people.
The growing belief in reincarnation and the increasing experimentation with yoga (and related concepts) is part of an attempt to remove death's sting -- not by pointing to Christ's substitutionary atonement and His bodily resurrection -- but by denying death's reality and ruling out the possibility of God's judgment. The genuine Christian knows that faith in the saving power of the blood of Christ (Romans 5:8) can bring true union with God and with His will. Peace with God does not come through release from participation in the endless cycles of reincarnation. (Most of us, when encountering some new setting in life, have had thoughts that we may have seen a certain street, or met a certain person, or eaten a particular food before -- when indeed we never had such an experience in the past. Many places look alike; many people look alike; surely such strange thoughts are merely the imagination at work).
Yoga implies pantheism (that all is God) because human beings are a mere extension of the ultimate reality. Yoga ignores the sin nature (the Fall in Genesis 3) because alienation caused by sinful rebellion against God is not the fundamental problem of the human family. Yoga describes salvation as the healing of humanity's problems. It is achieved when people become aware of their oneness with all living things and through intense concentration and deep meditation are released from the endless cycles of birth and death and rebirth .
Those who advocate yoga are certainly to be admired for their devotion to maintaining healthy bodies. Too many in our churches are consuming inordinate amounts of coffee, sweets, and soft drink. Such persons will find some immediate physical benefits in yoga. Care of our physical bodies is important, but not at the risk of aligning ourselves with pagan principles! The popularity of yoga presents a difficult challenge to Christians who ought to make their bodies a welcome place for the Holy Spirit to reside (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20).
The article featured in this issue of the BRF WITNESS takes a closer look at yoga and the implications of some of the ideas undergirding it.
--Harold S. Martin
What's Wrong With Taking a Yoga Class?
by Steve Wagoner
The physical fitness craze is sweeping the country. With more leisure time, people are spending much time exercising, jogging, swimming, and the like. But amid all this activity, many are turning to yoga, not realizing the spiritual implications of such a move. Many celebrities and movie stars have given glowing testimonials concerning yoga. Soma schools have incorporated yoga classes into their curriculum. America's fascination with yoga has grown faster than our knowledge of its dangers.
Let us begin examining the dangers of involvement with yoga by looking at some of yoga's basic presuppositions. Yoga has its roots in Eastern religion (Hinduism), and therefore teaches that "all reality is one." Every system of yoga seeks to merge the self (samkhya) with Atman (or god--the true self). But Atman is not the God of Christianity. In the systems of yoga, god is part of the problem, for "god" is impersonal, changeable, and lacks a sufficiently high vantage point to give solutions to the problems he is also embroiled in. The Hindu gods remind us of the gods of Greek mythology in some respects.
HUMAN BEINGS CANNOT MERGE WITH THE TRUE GOD
From a Christian perspective, man is either able to merge with God, or he is not. He is either the creature, or the Creator. He cannot be both. This makes a significant difference when one builds a system of ethics, especially if a person is willing to believe that man can achieve union with God by his own efforts. The creature-Creator distinction, bridged by the Cross and Resurrection events in Christianity, are important not only for liberation from the power of sin, but for redemption as well. From the Bible's point of view, we cannot come before God by our own unassisted efforts, much less merge with Him. Otherwise we make the work and resurrection of Christ sheer folly. This fact alone sets up enormous differences between Christian thought and yoga at the outset -- but let us continue.
PHYSICAL CONCENTRATION CANNOT CHANGE THE INNER BEING
A basic tenet in yoga is that there are different levels, or stages, of being that a person must move through before he can finally yoke the ego with the ultimate self (or god), which is said to be its "true nature." To do this requires mystic and ascetic practice, usually involving the discipline of prescribed postures, controlled breathing, voluntary sense deprivation, and intense, complete concentration upon something (such as a mantra) -- in order to establish identity of consciousness with the object of concentration (dharana). After intense contemplation, whereby one finally "sees through" that object to its essence (dhyana), one supposedly arrives at a trance-like state (samadhi), which is called the most intense energy level. In this state, it is claimed, the self is merged with "ultimate reality."
Stories of yogis who can change their brain waves to unconscious patterns at will, or cause the heart to voluntarily stop, have been documented to support the contention that yoga provides one means for controlling the body and mind. It should be borne in mind, however, that some who have become involved in yoga have reported having had demonic experiences of a frightening nature. The end is not always what is sought; hence the contention that this is spiritual openness with religious significance -- a risky science of playing with the inner man.
SELF-CONQUEST CANNOT BRING ETERNAL SALVATION
In yoga, an individual's own mind constitutes his source of yogic power. Self-conquest is therefore to be achieved by "knowing one's own mind," which to many persons in Western societies sounds noble. But the problem is this: By the time one meets up with power in meditation, the reason is left behind. You have no way of knowing if the overwhelming and demanding power which you have experienced means you are good or evil. The idea is to give yourself to it and see what happens! Then you go back to the Hindu Vedas to read about what god you have experienced. But the Vedas tell of gods who can promise anything, and then turn on you with unpredictable viciousness and furious abrupt changes. There is risk involved here that has much spiritual significance (compare Exodus 20:3; Ephesians 6:12; 1 Corinthians 10:18-21). Anyone who delves into yoga very far, knows that the gods are where the power is. One discovers at length that some yogis have power to control their bodies, often in spectacular ways, but only because they have surrendered themselves to another power.
If yogic meditators have lower blood lactate, or consume less oxygen during meditation, their problems are still waiting for them when they come out of their trance. Life must be lived between experiences, and it is this "space" between experiences that proves to be a problem for the yogic meditator. The key to the problem lies not in technique, but in humble dependency on Jesus Christ and His mercy, and on being led and empowered by the Holy Spirit. The yogic meditator is not apt to appreciate such a perspective, because it makes his "heroic efforts" to merge with god look quite foolish. After all, consider the years of intense self-discipline and the large outlay of cash (you didn't think yoga was free, did you)) required to achieve union with the "ultimate self." The Good News is that we don't have to go through all that. The price has been paid for our salvation. Through the blood of Jesus Christ we have bold access into God's presence at any time (Hebrews 10:19-22).
ECSTATIC EXPERIENCES CANNOT REPLACE GENUINE SELF CONTROL
One big problem with yoga is that by the time one meets up with some power, his reason has been left behind. The yogic meditator leaves knowledge for meditation, and meditation for detachment, and doesn't know who (or what) he is submitting to. Frequently the god will promise divinity and power in exchange for complete surrender to its power. Does this sound anything like Satan's temptation of Jesus in the wilderness (Matthew 4:8 & 9)?
One of the means by which we are to discern the difference between the true prophets of God and false prophets, is by means of self-control. "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets" (1 Corinthians 14:32). In other words, those who truly have come before God and speak His words, remain in full possession of their rational faculties, with their self-control left in tact. Self-control is one fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23). Christian prayer leaves us with our wits so that we can tell if it is God working, or some other spiritual counterfeit. Implicit in the notion that we can unify ourselves with God, is the concept that we can also unify ourselves with Satan. Hence, the warnings of the early Church Fathers about seeking visions, external sensations, soul travel, or other ecstatic experiences that have the earmarks of delusion, and the potential of demonic invitation.
THE GLORY OF THE CREATOR MUST NOT BE GIVEN TO THE CREATURE
In yoga, body and soul are equated, since all reality is viewed as one. Not only is man god, but so is everything else -- which amounts to full-blown pantheism. It says, "That rock is god; I am god; etc." Is this exchanging the glory of the Creator for that of the creature (Romans 1:23)) The view that all reality is one -- surely creates a low view of God, and an absurdly high view of man.
Yoga also encourages the use of a "mantra" in meditation. Few realize just what a mantra is. Mantras evolved from the left Tantric Vehicle School of Buddhism, whose pathetic adherents erotically attempted union with the cosmos, were involved in ritual murders, and ate excrement to try for magical power. As John Weldon and Zola LeVitt warn in their book, The Transcendental Explosion, present-day mantras often are, in fact, names of Hindu gods. Did not our God say, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3)7
When the Christian prays, he should not seek an experience. Instead, prayer involves praise to Jesus (our Mediator with God), cleansing the mind, putting to death the ego or personal desire -- in such a way as to emphasize personal dependency on Christ and His mercy. Purity of heart and being receptive to the Holy Spirit by emptying the self (Philippians 2:5-13) are central factors. Prayer involves an affirmation of one's sinfulness (unlikely in yogic practice) that one might also find forgiveness (again, unlikely in yoga). This stands in marked contrast with yogic meditation, where one's troubles are still waiting for the meditator when he comes out of his trance, and perhaps are compounded by the encouragement of demonic activity and indifferent escapism .
Paul and the other apostles saw that the power of Christian meditation lay in praying systematically and frequently (Acts 6:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Paul knew that true meditation is a matter of the heart -- not a mere technique nor a mouthing of words. Prayer is a joining of the Spirit: "I shall may with the Spirit and ... with the mind also" (1 Corinthians 14:15).
Steve Wagoner was pastor of the Eden Church of the Brethren (Northern Ohio District), and the Broadfording Church of the Brethren (Mid Atlantic District).
Editor's Addendum.
Some say, "But Isn't meditation a good thing? After all, the First Psalm encourages meditation in the Word of God." But there is a difference between engaging in yoga meditation exercises end meditating on the Scriptures! The yoga meditation seeks to turn off all thoughts; Bible meditation seeks to activate the mind into a deeper commitment to the Lord. The chief goal of yoga is to achieve a union between the individual and the Absolute. The chief goal of Christian meditation is to use our minds to perform God's will more perfectly.
--H.S.M.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You
Patrick
PS: why would i need to "yoga" when I have the HOLY SPIRIT!!

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