Showing posts with label supernatural entities. Show all posts
Showing posts with label supernatural entities. Show all posts



Philosophy taught from a physical standpoint might be seen as problematic. 

Philosophy has been associated with components of religion or else as something that has more to do with debate than demonstration in the modern yoga studio context. 

It's a good idea to start by examining the differences between religion and philosophy. 

Religions assume the presence of supernatural places, entities, and powers; religion claims the existence of supernatural things (Stark and Bainbridge 1985, 3). 

Belief in these supernatural beings does not have to be shown, and it may defy evidence. 

In contrast, one of the objectives of philosophy is that tenets be rationally deduced and the method by which it arrives at conclusions be provable. 

David Lewis-Williams and David Pearce develop a practical paradigm for explaining religion that, in many respects, is similar to a yoga explanation. 

Experience, belief, and practice are three mutually supportive components to explore. 

They claim that "religious experience is a series of mental states formed by the functioning of the human brain under natural and induced situations," and that individuals interpret these experiences as "kind of touch with otherworldly, but very real, worlds... 

"In the first instance, religious belief arises from efforts to codify this experience in particular social settings" (Lewis-Williams and Pearce 2005, 25–27). 

Beliefs give religious experience significance. 

The way beliefs are expressed — the specific rituals and symbology of the community in which they occur – is referred to as religious practice. 

These rituals are intended to guide individuals into religious experiences and to help them express their views. 

People may, for example, believe in the existence of a heaven and hell by visiting church on Sundays or that spiritual insight may be gained by taking a yoga class once a week. 

Because those in attendance share similar beliefs, the mystical experience is intensified and supported, and symbolism and rituals (an Om sign on the studio entrance; a cross on the church – kneeling to pray or putting the hands into namaste) are reinforced. 

Even if the most intense mystical experiences in religion and yoga are uncommon, these beliefs and practices give them legitimacy. 

Religion, on the other hand, gives definitive solutions, frequently backed up by a canon of written or oral scriptures, to challenging issues to which it presents hypothetical possibilities. 

Philosophers develop and test hypotheses in order to improve, disprove, or reify their subject's knowledge. 

Philosophical assumptions are evaluated by experience in physical yoga, and results are susceptible to change. 

The uniqueness of each experience is emphasized when the conditions of a yoga pose vary from day to day. 

The practitioner seeks to extrapolate – both about the uniqueness of the bodily experience and what this could entail – by constant exploration. 

Although Yoga has been put in a religious framework in previous assessments, there is nothing in yoga practice that requires believing in supernatural entities or that the supernatural exist (Eliade 1958, 363). 

While yoga and its physical philosophy share certain religious characteristics, such as references to heavenly or supernatural creatures, these are culturally particular (theistic) interpretations that are unimportant to the study of yoga and its physical philosophy (Jakubczak 2014). 

This is not to argue that religious ideas are unimportant to those who possess them; on the contrary, religious beliefs may help contextualize what a person experiences via yoga.

References & Further Reading: 

Bhaktivedanta Narayana Gosvami Maharaja, Sri Srimad and Śrīla Bhaktivinoda Ṭhākura, Pure Bhakti: Bhajana-rahasya, 2nd Edition. New Delhi: Gaudiya Vedanta Publications, 2015.

Birch, Jason. “The proliferation of asana-s in late-medieval yoga texts.” In Yoga and transformation historical and contemporary perspectives, edited by Karl Baier, Philipp A. Maas, and Karin Preisendanz, 101–180. Vienna: Vienna University Press, 2018.

Coomaraswamy, Ananda K. The dance of Siva: essays on Indian art and culture.
New York: Dover, 1985.

Cooper, David E. “Introduction.” In Aesthetics: the classic readings, edited by David E. Cooper, 1–10. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997.

Eliade, Mircea. Yoga immortality and freedom, translated by Willard R. Trask. 
Princeton: Bollingen Foundation, Princeton University Press, 1958.

Herbermann, Charles, ed. “The Absolute.” In Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1913.

Jakubczak, Marzenna. “The purpose of non-theistic devotion in the classical Indian tradition of Sāmkhya-Yoga.” Argument, vol. 4 (January, 2014): 55–68.

Jaspers, Karl. The origin and goal of history, translated by Michael Bullock. London: Routledge, 1955.

Johnson, Williams J., translator. The Bhagavad Gita. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Lewis-Williams, David and David Pearce. Inside the neolithic mind. London: Thames and Hudson, 2005.

Mallinson, James and Mark Singleton. Roots of yoga. New York: Penguin Books, 2017.

McGilchrist, Iain. The master and his emissary: the divided brain and the making of the Western world. New Haven: Yale, 2009.

Rama, Swami. The science of breath. Delhi: The Himalayan Institute Press, 1979.

Rama, Swami. Sacred journey: living purposefully and dying gracefully. Delhi: Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust, 2002.

Rees, Martin. Our cosmic habitat. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001.

Sinh, Pancham. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika: Sanskrit text with English translation. New 
Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1915.

Sinha, Phulgenda. The Gita as it was: rediscovering the original Bhagavad Gita. LaSalle: Open Court, 1986.

Stark, Rodney and William Sims Bainbridge. The future of religion. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Tarnas, Richard. The passion of the Western mind: understanding the ideas that have shaped our world view. London: Pimlico, 1991.

Vasu, Rai Bahadur Srisa Chandra, translators. Siva Samhita. New Delhi: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, 1914–15.