Showing posts with label Is Yoga A Religion. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Is Yoga A Religion. Show all posts

Yogic Philosophy - Is Yoga Considered A Religion?


Some Christians and Jews in the West are worried about Yoga's status as an Eastern religion. 

They are concerned that by doing Yoga, they would be jeopardizing their religious beliefs. 

Is their apprehension justified?

Is Yoga considered a religion? 

The short answer to both concerns is that, rather than eroding their personal faith, Yoga has the potential to strengthen it. 

I'll provide a somewhat more extensive explanation after that. 

Let me start with Christian fundamentalism's extreme perspective, which considers Yoga as a harmful import from the East that should be avoided at all costs. 

  • Yoga is sometimes mixed together with New Age doctrines, which are considered as a threat to Christianity. 
  • True, yoga has always been linked to India's three major religious and cultural traditions: Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. 
  • As a result, numerous Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain principles are interwoven into Yoga's teachings. 
  • The concepts of karma and rebirth, as well as the belief that there are numerous deities in addition to the one ultimate Reality, are the most conspicuous instances, which are typically a stumbling block for Westerners. 
  • To begin with, there have been Yoga gurus who have denied the concepts of karma and reincarnation, and Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain deities may be contrasted to Christian and Jewish angels. 

You do not need to believe in karma or reincarnation to practice Yoga. 

  • You don't have to believe in anything other than the potential of self-transformation, that you can transcend your existing worldview and experience, and, more importantly, that you can transcend your own egocentric way of being. 
  • The premise that you have not yet reached your full potential as a human being is at the core of all types of Yoga. 

Yoga, in particular, aims to connect you to your spiritual core, your deepest essence, and that which or who you actually are. 

  • The many schools of Yoga depict this nature in different ways. 
  • You are free to let your unique experience and realization influence your thinking rather than being forced to believe in any of the established answers. 
  • Yoga has been connected with different philosophical and religious systems throughout the millennia, none of which can be considered to describe Yoga itself. 
  • Yoga, after all, is first and foremost a practical spiritual practice based on personal exploration and verification. 
  • In other words, any theory or intellectual framework is seen as secondary to direct personal experience or spiritual enlightenment. 

As a result, Yoga may and has been practiced by individuals who hold a broad range of views and beliefs. 

  • Some Yoga students believe in a personal God who created the cosmos, while others choose a metaphysics that views the world as illusory and the ultimate Reality as solitary and formless. 
  • Others, such as Theravada Buddhism's yogins, refuse to speculate on metaphysical issues. 
  • As a result, some Yoga practitioners are religious while others are not. 
  • Yoga, on the other hand, is only a tool for delving into the depths of our human nature, for delving into the secrets of the body and mind.

An Exercise In Self-Introspection

1. Consider how you feel about Yoga's original objective of freedom. 

2. Consider if and to what extent you want to use Yoga to change yourself. 

  • Make a note of everything you do to facilitate yogic/spiritual development in your situation. 
  • Then write a list of everything you do that keeps you from making significant changes. 

3. As we progress along the yogic path, great masters' insights may be a significant source of inspiration for us. 

  • Our shared inheritance is the Yoga tradition, a live record against which we may test and analyze our discoveries. 
  • What aspects of Yoga have proven to be especially beneficial to you? 

4. "Freedom is not a method, but a manner of being in the world without being of it," a subtle issue is presented in this statement. 

  • This means that human existence may be lived from the "perspective" of awareness, or, to put it another way, pure Awareness. 
  • According to a variety of traditions, one may stay as the transcendental Witness, which is the Self (dtman). 
  • As a result, the body/mind is no longer identified. 
  • This alludes to the condition of jivan-mukti, or physical emancipation. 

5. Teachers build various frameworks and use philosophical language to transmit their ideas to a particular audience while expounding essential truths founded in personal awareness. 

  • As you read through this Study Guide and The Yoga Tradition, keep in mind whether or not the teachings are context or culture-bound. 
  • In each lecture we look at, try to perceive the dynamics of various parts of yoga practice, as well as the intricacies of spirituality involved. 

6. "All roads lead to the same objective," we frequently hear, but is freedom, the purpose of Yoga, the same in every case? 

  • Or do Buddhist nirvana, Vedantic moksha, Patanjali's kaivalya, and the Bhagavad-brahma-nirvdna Gita's all refer to different realizations? 
  • There is enough evidence to suggest that these names aren't just linguistic variances. 
  • When one contrasts the notion of liberation in theistic schools to that of atheistic systems like Classical Samkhya, this reality becomes clear. 

The seventeenth-century instructor Shrinivasa Dasa, for example, offers the following extremely important statements in his Yatindra-Mata-Dipikd (8. 1 6): 

There are two types of liberation seekers: 

  1. those who seek kaivalya 
  2. and those who want moksha. 

The awareness of one's inner Self as separate from Nature is referred to as kaivalya, and it is reached via the Yoga of knowledge. 

This realization... is without the Lord's realization. 

In contrast to kaivalya, moksha is claimed to be attained via passionate devotion to God (bhakti) or unconditional self-offering (prapatti). 

  • A close examination of the scriptures of various religions reveals even more distinctions in the notions of liberation. 
  • As a result, it seems that certain historians of religion's assertion of the transcendental unity of all faiths is a theological oversimplification. 
  • At the same time, these disparate ideas of emancipation do have a common denominator, namely the realization of a degree of existence that transcends the usual space-time continuum. 
  • However, we must not lose sight of the equally important differences. 

According to the facts, there are genuine distinctions in the condition of liberty, as seen by members of various schools. 

Sages and philosophers may choose to dispute whether these subtleties represent degrees of realization fullness. 

  • What are your own views and sentiments on this crucial theological point? 
  • Do you think there's just one ultimate Reality? 
  • If that's the case, do all sages comprehend the transcendental Singularity in the same manner, and are all discrepancies in their explanations only language differences? 
  • Or do you believe that all such theories are pointless and unworkable?