"YOGA and Christianity - Are They Compatible?". Below is the tract sample as Lighthouse reports:
By Chris Lawson
Western Culture Embraces Yoga It is no secret that Yoga is taking Western civilization by storm. In just a little over a hundred years, a mystical revolution has occurred that millions of Westerners have wholeheartedly embraced. Amazingly, the Western Judeo-Christian view is in the process of a paradigm shift toward the same perspective as yogic India.
• 20.4 million Americans practice Yoga, compared to 15.8 million from the previous 2008 study. • Practitioners spend $10.3 billion a year on Yoga classes and products. The previous estimate from the 2008 study was $5.7 billion.Yoga (or Yogic spirituality) is influencing Christians and non-Christians alike. It only takes 0.27 seconds to come up with over 411,000,000 results for Yoga on Google’s search engine. When searching Amazon.com’s “All” category for Yoga, one quickly comes up with a staggering 143,081 results. That’s just within Amazon.Com. If one searches for book titles only on Amazon.com, the search yields 26,316. Certainly, the influence of Yoga can be found almost everywhere. In Time Magazine’s book, Alternative Medicine: Your Guide to Stress Relief, Healing, Nutrition, and More, it states:
• Of current non-practitioners, 44.4 percent of Americans call themselves “aspirational yogis”—people who are interested in trying Yoga.1
Hard to believe now, but yoga was once considered heretical, and even dangerous. As recently as a century ago, yogis in America were viewed with suspicion; some were actually thrown in jail. Today, though, most gyms offer it, many public schools teach it, and a growing number of doctors prescribe it . . . It may have taken 5,000 years, but yoga has arrived.2
No doubt, many, probably most, of the millions of Westerners who practice postural Yoga have never read a simple definition of what Yoga really is. Below, I have presented a small selection of definitions of Yoga. While there are countless descriptions on the Internet and in libraries, the definitions I have chosen are an accurate overall representation of the meaning of Yoga.
The word yoga, from the Sanskrit* word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” . . . The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago.Goutam Paul, author of Bhagavad Gita: The Ultimate Science of Yoga states:
The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).5
When we talk about linking or connection, an obvious question arises: to connect what with what? The very word “connection” implies that there must be two different entities separated from one another, and they need to be connected. The ancient Vedic* text Bhagavad Gitaexplains that these entities are the individual consciousness and the universal Supreme consciousness. Some may call this universal consciousness an all-pervading energy, whereas most theists consider this Supreme consciousness to be God. . . . The purpose of Yoga is to connect the individual energy with the universal energy, or put another way, to connect the individual being to its source—the Supreme Being.6One large online archive of New Age, occult, and mysticism-oriented literature states:
The ancient Yogis recognised long ago that in order to accomplish the highest stage of yoga, which is the realisation of the self, or God consciousness, a healthy physical body is essential. For when we are sick, our attention is seldom free enough to contemplate the larger reality, or to muster the energy for practice . . .The Index of Cults and New Religions lists the different types of Yoga:
The roots of Yoga can be traced back roughly 5,000 years to the Indus Valley civilization. . . . According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ultimate aim of Yoga is to reach “Kaivalya” (freedom). This is the experience of one’s innermost being or “soul” (the Purusa). When this level of awareness is achieved, one becomes free of the chains of cause and effect (Karma) which bound us to continual reincarnation.7
Karma Yoga (spiritual union through correct conduct)Swami Nirmalananda Giri of the Atma Jvoti Ashram, answering the question to “What is Yoga?” states:
Bhakti Yoga (spiritual union through devotion to a Guru)
Juana Yoga (spiritual union through hidden knowledge)
Raja Yoga (spiritual union through mental control)
Hatha Yoga (spiritual union through body control/meditation)
Kundalini Yoga (spiritual union through focusing inner energy)
Tantra Yoga (spiritual union through sexual practices)8
What do we join through yoga? Two eternal beings: God, the Infinite Being, and the individual spirit that is finite being. In essence they are one, and according to yogic philosophy all spirits originally dwelt in consciousness of that oneness.9The Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age describes how Yoga is done:
Typical exercises, such as those found in hatha yoga, are practiced under the tutelage of a guru or yogi, a personal religious guide and spiritual teacher. Gurus teach students to combine a variety of breathing techniques with asanas, or relaxation postures. In each of the postures, students must first enter the position, then maintain it for a certain length of time, and finally leave it.10This dictionary further states that people in the West have mistaken Yoga to be “mere breathing and relaxation exercises,” when in reality “[t]he practice of yoga serves as a gateway to Eastern mysticism and occult thinking.”11 It adds:
Certain postures, such as the lotus position, are taken to activate the psychic energy centers [the chakras]. And specific breathing exercises are practiced to infuse the soul with cosmic energy floating in the air. A guru might have students gaze at a single object, such as a candle, to develop and focus concentration. The guru might have them chant a mantra to clear their minds and become one with the object in front of them. The goal is to achieve increasingly higher meditative states until reaching oneness with the cosmic consciousness.12
The word “occult” comes from the Latin occultus or “hidden,” and those who employ the term generally do so in an attempt to describe secret and mysterious supernatural powers or magical (magick) religious rituals.
Kundalini—the Energy Behind Yoga
Internationally recognized occult authority, Hans-Ulrich Rieker (author of The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika) describes the vital role kundalini plays in Yoga when he states, “Kundalini [is] the mainstay of all yoga practices.”13 With this in mind, a brief look at “kundalini energy” (the root of Yoga) is in order.
When the kundalini is awake, man is fully aware of the inner world. He knows that the outer world cannot satisfy his inner needs. He has brought to the fore the capacity of the inner world, which he has come to realise is far superior to the capacity of the outer world. He has brought to the fore the hidden powers, the occult powers, within himself. Either he uses these powers properly or he misuses them. When he divinely uses the powers of kundalini, he becomes the real pride of the Mother Supreme. When he misuses them, he becomes the worst enemy of man’s embodied consciousness and of his own personal evolution.16
Here in the West there are many who feel that the powers of kundalini yoga are nothing but rank superstition. I wish to say that those who cherish this idea are totally mistaken. Even the genuine spiritual Masters have examined kundalini yoga and found in their own experiences the undeniable authenticity of its hidden occult powers.17
The kundalini power is the dynamic power in us. When the dynamic power and the spiritual knowledge go hand in hand, the perfect harmony of the Universal Consciousness dawns and the conscious evolution of the human soul reaches the transcendental Self [godhood].18
If Kundalini is “the mainstay of all yoga practices,” as Rieker and other Yoga authorities maintain, the Yoga practitioner must understand clearly what the “kundalini” power is, how “it” operates, and what its effects are.19
According to this [tantric] Indian tradition, the kundalini is a type of energy—a “power” or “force” (shakti)—that is held to rest in a dormant, or potential, state in the human body. Its location is generally specified as being at the base of the spine. When this energy is galvanized, “awakened,” [which is done during Yoga], it rushes upward along the central axis of the human body, or along the spinal, to the crown of the head. Occasionally, it is thought to go even beyond the head. Upon arriving there, the kundalini is said to give rise to the mystical state of consciousness, which is indescribably blissful and in which all awareness of duality [separation] ceases.21
Yoga’s Dangers of Psycho-spiritual and Psycho-physical “Emergencies”
Volumes of material could be quoted from regarding the dangers of Yoga, meditation, and other psycho-spiritual and physio-spiritual practices. Modern practitioners—and even medical doctors—are now testifying to the fact that physical dangers associated with practicing Yoga are a reality. In fact, people who have done Yoga for purely “physical exercise” have been spiritually affected to the point of being systematically dismantled by hostile “forces,” over which they have no power. Eastern gurus call this type of Yoga effect “enlightenment,” yet it is anything but that!
[T]he kundalini causes the central nervous system to throw off stress . . . usually associated with the experience of pain . . . It appears to act of its own volition, spreading through the entire psychophysiological system to affect its transformation.24Amongst other kundalini symptoms, “spiritual emergency” scenarios26 and numerous case studies of destructive kundalini manifestations, Sannella mentions Swami Narayanananda, author of “the first detailed book on the kundalini experience.”27 Sannella notes that Narayanananda’s book:
[T]he kundalini produces the most striking sensations . . . the “heat” generated by “friction” of the kundalini . . . causes turbulence, which may be experienced as painful sensations . . . spontaneous bodily movements, shifting somatic sensations.25
. . . distinguished between a partial and a full arousal of the kundalini energy. Whereas partial arousal can lead to all kinds of physical and mental complications, only the kundalini’s complete ascent to the center at the crown of the head will awaken the true impulse to God-realization, or liberation, and bring about the desired revolution in consciousness. Only then can the body-mind be transcended in the unalloyed bliss of enlightenment.28Narayanananda catalogued a listing of sensations and experiences that occur as kundalini symptoms. Sannella summarizes some of these:
* There is strong burning, first along the back and then over the whole body.
* The kundalini’s entrance into the central spinal canal, called sushuma, is attendant with pain. * When the kundalini reaches the heart, one may experience palpitations.
* One feels a creeping sensation from the toes, and sometimes the whole body starts to shake. The rising sensation may feel like an ant crawling slowly up the body toward the head, or like a snake wiggling along, or a bird hopping from place to place, or like a fish darting through calm water, or like a monkey leaping to a far branch.29
I must, however, sound a word of caution here. I firmly believe that methods designed specifically to hasten kundalini arousal, such as breath control exercises known as pranayama, are hazardous, unless practiced directly under the guidance of a competent spiritual teacher, or guru, who should have gone through the whole kundalini process himself or herself.31He says the Yoga breathing techniques “may prematurely unleash titanic inner forces,” and the practitioner will have no way to control these forces. He warns, “The kundalini can be forced, but only to one’s own detriment.”32 Basically, one must go through varying stages of what the Bible would consider demonic possession!
Symptoms of Kundalini Awakening
There is a very long list of symptoms that can occur during a kundalini awakening. While proponents will tell you that there are many benefits, they readily admit, as I have shown, that there are many terrible consequences. Here are just a few of them:
Tremors * Shivering * Shaking * Cramps * Spasms * Energy rushes * Muscle twitches * Strong electricity circulating the body * Tingling * Intense heat or cold * Involuntary bodily movements * Jerking * Periods of extreme hyperactivity * Periods of fatigue * Intensified or diminished sexual desires * Headaches * Pressures within the skull * Racing heartbeat * Emotional outbursts * Rapid mood shifts * Feeling of grief, fear, rage, depression * Spontaneous and uncontrollable laughing and weeping * Mental confusion * Convulsions * Altered states of consciousness33I don’t recall Jesus or the disciples ever likening the fruit of the Spirit or the working of the Holy Spirit with any of these symptoms!
What About “Christian” Yoga?
In an eye-opening article titled “Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu: I challenge Attempts to Snatch Yoga From its Roots,” Professor Subhas R. Tiwari of the Hindu University of America made some very interesting points in response to inquiries from several journalists around the country. As a graduate with a Master’s degree in Yoga philosophy from the famed Bihar Yoga Bharati University, Professor Tiwari’s response was featured in an article in Hinduism Today. Professor Tiwari enlightened undiscerning American’s with the following:
In the past few months I have received several calls from journalists around the country seeking my views on the question of whether the newly minted “Christian Yoga” is really yoga.Some may ask, “Well, can’t I just do the Yoga exercises and forego the religious or spiritual aspects?” One researcher has this to say:
My response is, “The simple, immutable fact is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it.” . . . The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised. . . . Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga. . . .
[Yoga] was intended by the Vedic seers as an instrument which can lead one to apprehend the Absolute, Ultimate Reality, called the Brahman Reality, or God. If this attempt to co-opt yoga into their own tradition continues, in several decades of incessantly spinning the untruth as truth through re-labelings such as “Christian yoga,” who will know that yoga is—or was—part of Hindu culture?34
There is absolutely no problem in stretching exercises in and of themselves. . . . No one can deny that stretching helps the blood flow, that breathing in oxygen helps our overall health. . . . There are numerous exercise programs that incorporate stretching that in no way relates to yoga (and its perspective). . . . Religious syncretism is probably the most dangerous thing we can involve ourselves in because we can rationalize its purpose. . . . Essentially one cannot practice a portion of Hinduism and continue to walk with the true Christ who is not a Hindu Guru.35A former occultist who is now a Christian explains:
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” Yoga36The Conflict Between Yoga, “Christian” Yoga, and the Gospel
Is Yoga a religion that denies Jesus Christ? Yes. Just as Christianity denies the Hindu MahaDevas such as Siva, Vishnu, Durga and Krishna, to name a few, Hinduism and its many Yogas have nothing to do with God and Jesus . . . all of Yoga is all about the Hindu religion. Modern so-called “yoga” is dishonest to Hindus and to all non-Hindus such as the Christians.—Danda, Dharma Yoga Ashram, Classical Yoga Hindu Academy; an e-mail written to Lighthouse Trails Research
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlity, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)The question this booklet title asks is: Are Yoga and Christianity compatible? I hope and pray that after reading this material you will answer that question with a resounding No. We live in a world where forces of darkness, of which the Bible speaks, are seeking to deceive us. But Scripture also says we can protect ourselves through His provision. We do not have to walk in spiritual darkness.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6: 11-13)
2. Lesley Alderman, “Bend and Be Well,” Alternative Medicine: Your Guide to Stress Relief, Healing, Nutrition, and More (New York, NY: TIME Books, 2012), p.62.
3. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Unabridged, 2nd ed., Deluxe Color 1955, 1983), p. 2120.
6. Goutam Paul, Bhagavad Gita: The Ultimate Science of Yoga (http://www.cs.albany.edu/~
10. Debra Lardie, contributing editors Dan Lioy and Paul Ingram, Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000), pp. 288-289.
13. Hans-Ulrich Rieker, The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika (New York, NY: Seabury Press, 1971), p. 101.
16. Sri Chinmoy, Kundalini: The Mother Power (Jamaica, N.Y: AUM Publications, 1992), p. 49.
17. Ibid., p. 51.
19. See Hidden Dangers Of Meditation And Yoga: How To Play With Your Sacred Fires Safely by Del Pe.
20. “Chakras,” http://www.sanatansociety.org/
21. Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence (Lower Lake, CA: Integral Publishing, 1987, Revised 1992), p. 25.
22. See Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton, 2010; A History of Modern Yoga: Patanjali and Western Esotericism by Elizabeth De Michelis, 2005; The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice by Georg Feuerstein, 2001.
23. Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience, op. cit., p. 31.
25. Ibid., p. 32.
26. See also Grof & Grof’s The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth through Transformational Crisis, 1992; and Spiritual Emergency, 1989.
27. Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience, op. cit., pp. 48-49.
28. Ibid., p. 48.
30. Ibid., pp. 93-108, 113.
31. Ibid., p. 116.
33. Symptoms of Kundalini awakening, Submitted by zoya on Fri, 03/11/2011—11:57, http://www.gurusfeet.com/
34. Subhas R. Tiwari, “Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu” (Hinduism Today, Jan/Feb/Mar 2006, Magazine Web Edition http://www.hinduismtoday.com/
35. Mike Oppenheimer, “Yoga, Today’s Lifestyle for Health” (http://www.letusreason.org/
36. Johanna Michaelsen, Like Lambs to the Slaughter (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), pp. 93-95.
A. Sidebar on page 7: Goutam Paul, Bhagavad Gita: The Ultimate Science of Yoga, op. cit., p.1.
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