605: YOGA AND CHRISTIANS by Martin King

“A warm welcome to Zingcreed, the bumbling, fumbling amateurish religious blog which is trying to find a way through the thickets to get a clearer view of Jesus the man. In a recent post on yoga (“603: Is yoga more than just posturing?”) I put the case for this gentle oriental form of exercise and expressed bafflement that some Christians objected to it on religious grounds. Former journalist and yoga teacher Martin King from Hull, whom I met at the European Christian Anarchist Conference a couple of weeks ago, kindly wrote a piece for Zingcreed on this very topic. This throws a completely different light on the topic. I hope you find this interesting.
In solidarity,
Peter Turner.”

 

  • Yoga and Christians
    One of the greatest modern day examples of how to live a Jesus-like
    life of non-violence, turning the other cheek, yet at the same time
    standing up to oppression, challenging the powers and principalities
    was Mahatma Gandhi.
    Gandhi was a yogi (a practitioner of yoga). Yoga is not simply about
    being able (or not) to touch ones toes. No. The word itself is taken
    to mean ‘union.’ Union with all of life, as Jesus himself also taught.
    Within the world of yoga there are, as in all great spiritual
    philosophies and practises, suggestions on how to live the ‘life in its
    fullness’ (John 10:10) that Jesus talked of.
    For Christians this is the Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus
    basically lays out his manifesto for peace, both within and without.
    As we know, the concept of compassion and non-violence is at the
    top of the list.
    In yoga, there are what are called the Yamas and Niyamas, the yoga
    do’s and do not’s, which include such things as ahimsa, (non-
    violence/universal compassion) aparigraha (non covetousness),
    asteya (non stealing). On the concept of ahimsa, Gandhi says: “If
    we are to be non-violent, we must then not wish for anything on this
    earth which the meanest or the lowest of human beings cannot
    have.” (Gandhi, All Men Are Brothers, p87) Sound familiar? “Love
    your enemies…… What you do to the least among you, you do also
    to me…..” Gandhi here isn’t ‘co-opting Christianity’ as some may
    consider, he’s merely teaching what is obvious to anyone who is
    serious about spiritual practices speaks of, whether Jesus, Buddha,
    Mohamed, Lao Tzu, or that man Peter Taylor: Peace and Love.
    OK, let’s move on to that ol’ dog, the devil. So, as the so-called
    evangelical Christians say, taking their lead from the apostle Paul
    (who never met Jesus), anything outside of Jesus is of the devil, it’s
    paganism and you’ll burn in hell for it.
    When Jesus refers to the devil, he is clearly referring to one’s ego.
    That which will keep us from realising ourselves as beings of a
    loving God. Jesus was a genius. He knew that the ego must be
    destroyed, and he taught accordingly. Forgiveness, compassion,
    standing with the least amongst us, helping without being identi<ed
    as being the helper… All these things dampen and help to destroy
    the ego/the devil/that which keeps us from our brothers and sisters,
    in union (yoga) with God.
  • If Christians say that yoga shouldn’t be practised for fear of it being
    of the devil and therefore will lead us to hell, as if hell is something
    outside planet earth then they haven’t grasped the most basic
    concept of Christianity – that of an unconditionally loving God. Why
    would an unconditionally loving God allow his/her followers to go to
    hell if he’s all powerful and loves them without prejudice? Surely he
    loves them whatever they do? Isn’t that what unconditional means?
    If we’re talking about hell as being a concept on earth, that of, say,
    addiction, emptiness, restlessness etc, then yoga, as with Jesus, can
    help to bring freedom from such issues. And that’s what it’s all
    about. Freedom. Here. Now.
    Of course, there is a wealth of mumbo-jumbo and hucos pucos out
    there and we need some discernment around it. If a book title
    suggests you can ‘heal you life and be enlightened in 7 days’, er,
    don’t buy it!
    But don’t worry too much either.
    Life’s a journey. Yoga is truth. Jesus is truth. Truth will set you free.
    Martin King

 

 

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