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Orthodoxy and yoga/chakras


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#21 Rick H.

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:34 PM

As I said, each person has the right to his or her own opinion.



Well that's good to hear. ;)

So, as it relates to our topic so far (void of any patristic evidence) it sounds like we are saying something like "each as is appropriate for oneself" in his/her direct and responsible relationship with Christ, and as guided by one's spiritual father.

Is this anywhere close Effie?

In Christ,
Rick

PS You are correct about the 'blue in the face' phrase, that did not apply . . . I changed it to 'restatement' in that post. Beg your pardon Andreas.

#22 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 05:51 PM

Well that's good to hear. ;)

So, as it relates to our topic so far (void of any patristic evidence) it sounds like we are saying something like "each as is appropriate for oneself" in his/her direct and responsible relationship with Christ, and as guided by one's spiritual father.

Is this anywhere close Effie?

In Christ,
Rick


One's opinion is based on a lot of factors Rick. What I am saying is that being harsh with someone who has a different opinion to yours on this thread is not very democratic, wouldn't you agree? Not to mention loving. And having a different opinion does not automatically mean that we judge and condemn those who see things differently, as you apparently concluded.

As you are in a "listening and learning mode" at the moment
you might consider the fact that our spiritual fathers are an important part of our Orthodox lives. Yes, we read and study the bible and the Fathers, but, most of us do not spend all day, each and every day, as pious priests do, studying and becoming worthy to be spiritual fathers to others. Do you not have a spiritual father Rick, as all Orthodox do? Do you not trust him and rely on his greater knowledge when you are not sure of what to do?

Effie

#23 Rick H.

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 06:05 PM

Effie,

I read in a book once where it was suggested that if there is a problem communicating, then the one listening should repeat back what was said in order to let the other person know what was heard. And, then the other person (you) can confirm what was heard or not and then there is a better chance for a true interpersonal communication.

So, here's what I think I am hearing from your about practicing yoga postures and breathing alone:

. . . (void of any patristic evidence) it sounds like we are saying something like "each as is appropriate for oneself" in his/her direct and responsible relationship with Christ, and as guided by one's spiritual father.


Now, you can say something like 'yes, Rick that's pretty much it' . . . or you can say 'no, Rick, not really, here's what I am saying . . ."

What say you ma'am? :)

In Christ,
Rick

PS Definition: Ma'am —used without a name as a form of respectful or polite address to a woman

#24 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 06:22 PM

Effie,

I read in a book once where it was suggested that if there is a problem communicating, then the one listening should repeat back what was said in order to let the other person know what was heard. And, then the other person (you) can confirm what was heard or not and then there is a better chance for a true interpersonal communication.

So, here's what I think I am hearing from your about practicing yoga postures and breathing alone:



Now, you can say something like 'yes, Rick that's pretty much it' . . . or you can say 'no, Rick, not really, here's what I am saying . . ."

What say you ma'am? :)

In Christ,
Rick

PS Definition: Ma'am —used without a name as a form of respectful or polite address to a woman


No, Rick, not really, here's what I am saying........

This is personal but here goes :

I practised Yoga for many years before I became deeply involved with Orthodoxy. The more I learnt about the Orthodox religion the more I questioned whether what I was doing was right. I started reading articles by Orthodox writers on various Orthodox sites about Orthodoxy and Eastern religions and came to understand that there was a problem with combining the two. I then discussed the matter with my spiritual father. If I say God gave me insights that I had never had before, you might think I am being dramatic, but that is what I believe.

Personal enough? We have a saying here in Greece, Rick. A person throws out an empty net to catch a fish. You Rick give nothing but expect something.

I chose to answer. My choice. I am an honest person and say what I truly believe, not what others want to hear. I am sometimes wrong and I am sometimes right but always, I am honest and do not play with people. I respect those I come into contact with, no matter what their opinions.

In christ
Effie

#25 Rick H.

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 06:43 PM

Thank you very much Effie.

And, while we are still here . . . I wonder if any others want to take a crack at this proposition:

. . . (void of any patristic evidence) this topic can be summed up by saying "each as is appropriate for oneself" in his/her direct and responsible relationship with Christ, and as guided by one's spiritual father.


Are we saying yoga postures and breathing are for those suffering from prelest and delusion[?] . . . or are we saying this [yoga breathing and postures] is bad for all, it's evil, don't do it! Possibly, we should review some of the above posts?


In Christ,
Rick

#26 Michael Stickles

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:46 PM

Hmmm...

. . . (void of any patristic evidence) it sounds like we are saying something like "each as is appropriate for oneself" in his/her direct and responsible relationship with Christ, and as guided by one's spiritual father.


I don't know that I would put it that way. That wording carries the assumption that the practices are, in and of themselves, at least neutral, and that any problems come from the way they interact with one's own spiritual and psychological condition. That may be going a little too far, even for the most benign practices.

On the other hand, I don't think we can say that all of these practices are intrinsically evil, or even necessarily harmful. That would be going too far the other way.

Let me try to give a fairly comprehensive summary of my opinion regarding this issue:

  • Eastern practices - whether yoga, chakra meditations, Eastern martial arts, or whatever - carry within them an intrinsic tendency to pull/push one towards Eastern mystical experience.
  • This tendency may range from practically negligible to almost irresistable, and varies from practice to practice and sometimes even within a practice (i.e., either between schools or between different parts of the practice).
  • The strength of the tendency varies according to:
    • Whether the practice grew out of mystical traditions, or formed independently but was absorbed into them (or absorbed them into itself); and
    • How deeply integrated the mystical elements are in the practice (or, in a given part of the practice); and
    • The spiritual dynamics involved in the particular group (if any) that one practices with.
  • Different people will have different degrees of susceptibility to this tendency. The susceptibility is not a constant across practices - for example, Person A may be more susceptible to the mysticism in yoga than the mysticism in Kung Fu, while for person B it may work the other way.
  • Direct dabbling in the mystical elements has no place in the life of an Orthodox Christian, since at best they are only shadows of what we have in Orthodoxy, and at worst draw us in the wrong direction entirely.
  • Practicing the purely physical aspects of a practice may be OK if the intrinsic tendency towards Eastern mysticism in the practice, in combination with one's susceptibly to that tendency, is essentially negligible.
  • This determination is best made in consultation with one's spiritual father, to avoid self-delusion.
  • With these practices, one should take the attitude "I will not do this unless I can be sure it is clearly beneficial and poses no danger for me" rather than "I will do this unless it is clearly shown to be worthless and/or harmful".
In Christ,

Mike

#27 Mary

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 07:52 PM

Are we saying yoga postures and breathing are for those suffering from prelest and delusion[?] . . . or are we saying this [yoga breathing and postures] is bad for all, it's evil, don't do it! Possibly, we should review some of the above posts?


In Christ,
Rick


Dear Rick,

How can one delve into realms of such depth? Who of us can judge if anything 'is for those suffereing from prelest and delusions' or not?

I think it's clear from previous posts, that:

a. Yoga + all the teachings that come with it, is contrary to orthodoxy.
b. Yoga - all hindu doctrine - may or may not be acceptable - depending on advice from your spiritual father and doctor.

The dangers of yoga, outweigh the positives. It was developed by people outside the Church, for the purpose of conditioning the mind and body, in a certain way - a way that we know nothing about, but we know for sure, that it's not the way of the Church.

From Orthodox teaching, we know that what our bodies do, affect our souls and hearts and minds. So we learn to control what we eat, in order to learn self control, etc. We bow down, we cross ourselves, we stand in Church... why? Every single thing our bodies do, have some kind of impact on our souls.

We do not know all the lies behind the development of those yoga exercises. Some of their explainations may be far deeper than what you actually hear on the surface. Who can fathom the spiritual impact of a single word or action?

If one wants to practice Yoga, then I think it would be important to find out Why?

While I said earlier, that anything can be separated from the teachings that gave birth to it, I'd like to add, the teachings and the practices of the Church run contrary to our passions, so they're harder to practice wholeheartedly. They are also, the only teachings that can be fully trusted, because they're from God and not from man. But things like Yoga, fuel our passions, and are easier to practice, because they don't demand that you constantly put yourself before your Maker as a sinner needing mercy.

These are purely my opinions, based on my observations, and as Effie says, just because I say something doesn't mean I'm judging or condemning what others are saying. Thanks Effie. Those were my thoughts as well, but you phrased them so well.

In Christ,
Mary.

PS: Mike's post wasn't there when I started to write. I wouldn't have said anything if I'd read it first.

#28 Rick H.

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 08:19 PM

Dear Mary,

While I hope to work with all of Mike's very high caliber posts [as a whole] in the near future, I appreciate yours very much and want to interact with it now.

When you wrote:

How can one delve into realms of such depth? Who of us can judge if anything 'is for those suffereing from prelest and delusions' or not?



I gave you a silent "amen" when I read this--point well made Mary!! Broad sweeping statements like these are not exactly wisdom filled assertions.

And, as you wrote:

a. Yoga + all the teachings that come with it, is contrary to orthodoxy.
b. Yoga - all hindu doctrine - may or may not be acceptable - depending on advice from your spiritual father and doctor.


Again, "amen" . . . preach it sister! This is very direct, clear, and balanced in my view.

And, my mind wandered back to a time when I was a little "trigger happy" when I went bear hunting a few months back when I read your words in the following:

The dangers of yoga, outweigh the positives. It was developed by people outside the Church, for the purpose of conditioning the mind and body, in a certain way - a way that we know nothing about, but we know for sure, that it's not the way of the Church.


And, this is not to say that I disagree with what you are saying here; but, if we look in the Philokalia (don't have references handy), it is not hard to find perfect parallels, in practice, including sitting on a 9" stool, the breathing excercises, sky gazing, others I can't remember now . . . and more to the point, along with these things that we know are a part of the Church based on these monastic writings--what about monasticism itself. The same could be said here, using the same logic, we could say monasticism "was developed by people outside the Church . . ."

And, when you wrote:

If one wants to practice Yoga, then I think it would be important to find out Why?


I think this might hold the most fertile ground for exploration of any question that could be asked regarding this topic as it is laid out. I hope we move in this direction at some point, or maybe I will try to get us there as we go along. But, this is it in my view, as you say "Why?" Possibly, the compassionate and pastorally minded among us may also see the significance of this simple question "Why?"

Thank you for this contribution.

In Christ,
Rick

#29 Misha

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 08:41 PM

I humbly think that many things depend on what we expect when we practice yoga and other relaxation technics.

If someone expects to achieve enlightment or a divine experience then this proud stance makes him susceptible to evil energies.

But if someone takes some deep breaths when at the same time stretches out his limbs just for relaxation or exercising purposes i think that there s not a spiritual danger.

Christianity has taken many things from the paganist society:music,painting,architecture,ritual order etc,transformed them and embodied them in Church's life.

#30 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 04 June 2008 - 10:28 PM

I cannot for the life of me understand this curiosity with yoga and the like even for purely physical exercise. Nothing of such eastern practice can have anything to do with Orthodoxy. As my friend's spiritual father said, if you want exercise, do hundreds of prostrations. That way you will also engage with Orthodox spirituality at least at a very basic level. But for heaven's sake drop this eastern mumbo jumbo. No good can come of it. Why even think of dabbling in this stuff? In the face of the warnings of Elder Sophrony and what is said in the quotes Effie has posted, why still persist? We are Orthodox Christians! Have I got a closed mind? Yes! Closed to unnecessary and potentially harmful alien elements.

Edited by Andreas Moran, 05 June 2008 - 04:12 AM.


#31 David Naess

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 03:02 AM

Hello Dave!

Strange as it may sound I do know what I am talking about.
I started studying Yoga in 1968. The Yoga I am talking about is Hatha Yoga. Why? Because I was interested in Yoga for it's practical benefits and never felt the need to experiment with mystical experiences that could endanger my health and jeopardize my sanity. But even the basic asanas of Hatha Yoga are referred to as one of the eight stages to Enlightenment. You can see therefore that even simple exercises are linked to religion.

As you mentioned in a previous post you also started with Hatha Yoga but then proceeded beyond this. I was never interested enough.



Effie

Howdy Effie!

I do not know what it is like in Greece, but here in the USA most of the people who "teach" Hatha yoga don't have a clue about yoga!

They are teaching "postures" and "exercises."

IMO: "Postures & exrcises" are not yoga!

Yoga is a method of internal spiritual exploration and enlightenment.

As I previously posted on this thread, many of the objectives and methods are the same ones that you will find in



"The Ladder of Divine Ascent" by John Climacus:
  • self awareness
  • work without expectations
  • worship and praise
  • communication with the Absolute through internal silence
  • enlightenment through discrimination
  • the macrocosm within the microcosm
  • Unity with the Absolute
If enlightenment (the Orthodox term is "illumination") is not your objective, then it is not yoga.
I have a problem saying that something is "anti-Orthodox" which predates Orthodoxy. People were seeking spiritual enlightenment all over the world long before the desert fathers came into the picture.

The Hebrews and the Orthodox are not the first people to seek God. I might even go out onto a limb and say that they are probably not the first people to have prophets who were given a flicker of insight by God.

Dave

Edited by M.C. Steenberg, 13 June 2008 - 11:07 AM.
Removed line breaks


#32 Michael Stickles

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 04:32 AM

I cannot for the life of me understand this curiosity with yoga and the like even for purely physical exercise. Nothing of such eastern practice can have anything to do with Orthodoxy. As my friend's spiritual father said, if you want exercise, do hundreds of prostrations. That way you will also engage with Orthodox spirituality at least at a very basic level. But for heaven's sake drop this eastern mumbo jumbo. No good can come of it. What's wrong with you all? Why even think of dabbling in this stuff? In the face of the warnings of Elder Sophrony and what is said in the quotes Effie has posted, why still persist? We are Orthodox Christians! Have I got a closed mind? Yes! Closed to unnecessary and potentially harmful alien elements.


Sigh. Where to begin?

The quotes Effie posted explicitly deal with using yoga and other Eastern practices as aids to one's "spiritual quest", which is not the issue under discussion. As for Elder Sophrony's warnings, whether they apply depends on precisely what he said - I haven't seen any quotes, so I can't effectively evaluate that. And given that I've seen sayings by different elders on various topics which appear to contradict each other, I would be very wary about letting the words of a single elder automatically close discussion on any issue.

As to yoga being an "unnecessary and potentially harmful alien element", I imagine that the priests and spiritual fathers Rick mentioned - who gave their blessing for some of those under their care to practice yoga - might disagree.

More could, and perhaps should, be said, but I'm not sure I can word it appropriately at the moment (especially not with drooping eyelids). I'll see if I can organize my thoughts better tomorrow.

In Christ,
Mike

#33 Angela V.

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 10:30 AM

Dear David & Rick,

Having read some of these posts, I don't still see why you think it's okay to practice yoga or whatever name you want to call it.

In my opinion, yoga is wrong! Seek Orthodoxy. Why are you connecting St John Climicus with yoga? They are totally different. You cannot compare the two.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, this is mine. And in my opinion, Effie is right in her posts.


Effie, you must have a good spiritual father that forbids such things.

In Christ
+Angela

#34 David Naess

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 01:50 PM

Dear David & Rick,

Having read some of these posts, I don't still see why you think it's okay to practice yoga or whatever name you want to call it.

In my opinion, yoga is wrong! Seek Orthodoxy. Why are you connecting St John Climicus with yoga? They are totally different. You cannot compare the two.

Everyone has a right to their opinion, this is mine. And in my opinion, Effie is right in her posts.


Effie, you must have a good spiritual father that forbids such things.

In Christ
+Angela

Howdy Angela!

I came to Orthodoxy from the East, not from the West (as most people did.)

As for "CAN'T connect St. John Climactus..."

Show me where my connection is wrong!

The bullet objectives that I listed in my previous post come from yoga,
not Orthodoxy. I have seen the same objectives in my different translations
of "The Ladder"

I personally have no problems equating "The Absolute" with "God."

Dave

#35 Rick H.

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 02:11 PM

I cannot for the life of me understand this curiosity with yoga and the like even for purely physical exercise. Nothing of such eastern practice can have anything to do with Orthodoxy. As my friend's spiritual father said, if you want exercise, do hundreds of prostrations. That way you will also engage with Orthodox spirituality at least at a very basic level. But for heaven's sake drop this eastern mumbo jumbo. No good can come of it. Why even think of dabbling in this stuff? In the face of the warnings of Elder Sophrony and what is said in the quotes Effie has posted, why still persist? We are Orthodox Christians! Have I got a closed mind? Yes! Closed to unnecessary and potentially harmful alien elements.



As to yoga being an "unnecessary and potentially harmful alien element", I imagine that the priests and spiritual fathers Rick mentioned - who gave their blessing for some of those under their care to practice yoga - might disagree.


Dear Angela, Effie, Andreas, Misha, David, Mike, and all contributors,

It's morning here, but, I have severely 'drooping eyelids' as well--I've been up for the past two nights with my daughter who's recovering from surgery, so with that disclaimer/excuse in place I want to try to squeak out a reply here.

As for the most recent conversation I see in Andreas's post the conclusion of our topic as being an "unnecessary and potentially harmful alien element." I really don't want to get us off track, but It occurs to me that the same could be said about the high dollar scotch that you have mentioned before Andreas, as well as other things that have been discussed on this forum that fall under the catagorey unnecessary and potentally harmful. But, again I don't want to get this thread off course, although I wonder what the fathers and saints would have said about drinking scotch, and this is an example, I suppose of having a blessing from one's spiritual father to drink hard liquor, or not, it's a subjective thing. For that matter I would rather have a spiritual father that does the child's pose, or can hit a good triangle pose, or one who sits in the lotus position when he meditates instead of a spiritual father who drinks scotch. Andreas basically is saying he can't understand "why" in the world any Orthodox Christian would practice the postures and breathing found in yoga. And, I appreciate this honest statement (somewhat because I cannot see why in the world a mature christian would practice throwing back a glass or two or scotch), so hopefully we can work towards a sharing of understanding about yoga and get to Mary's excellent question "Why?"

And, this is the perfect part of the forum for this I think as we read on the main discussion board this is the "Informal Chat Area" on Monachos.net for the purpose of:

Casual and Personal Conversation

The place for casual, friendly discussion of a general nature; and also for all conversations of a directly personal/pastoral nature.

And, as I read Angela's post, it occurs to me that there are subplots here to this conversation as well as the fact that as David and I have been singled out and placed in opposition to Angela and Effie . . . we could place a poll at the top of this thread and let folks express their opinion and vote on whether they the postures and breathing of yoga can be positive, negative, or somewhere inbetween in the life of a christian. But, at the end of the day, so what? What would be accomplished by this? I think Mike has the right idea in his systematic and very methodical contributions to this thread. For that matter both Mary and he are presenting very clear and balanced presentations of this topic and possibly most importantly from a place of knowledge/knowing what they are talking about.

Maybe this is a key here. With the exception of Effie, who said she studied yoga in the 60's I think we are seeing a less tolerant view of the practice of postures and breathing from those who seem to know little or nothing about it. And, we are seeing a somewhat more open minded view of these from those who actually know a little something about our topic. So, in conclusion here, possibly this is a key to promote a better understanding (and avoid some of the subplots) whereby those who actually know a little about this topic can continue to define and dilineate for those who are lacking in actual knowledge (let alone actual experience) with yoga postures and breathing techniques/methods.

What say you Andreas? I will come to the UK and bring a yoga mat for you and you can pull out a small glass for me. I will teach you the child's pose and you can teach me to drink scotch! :)

In Christ,
Rick

PS I'm not sure I get the steak and kidney pie thing either, but I'm open to that possibly before we break out the scotch ;)

#36 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 02:30 PM

Howdy Effie!

I do not know what it is like in Greece, but here in the USA most of the
people who "teach" Hatha yoga don't have a clue about yoga!

They are teaching "postures" and "exercises."

IMO: "Postures & exrcises" are not yoga!

Yoga is a method of internal spiritual exploration and enlightenment.

As I previously posted on this thread, many of the objectives and
methods are the same ones that you will find in


"The Ladder of Divine Ascent" by John Climacus:

  • self awareness
  • work without expectations
  • worship and praise
  • communication with the Absolute through internal silence
  • enlightenment through discrimination
  • the macrocosm within the microcosm
  • Unity with the Absolute
If enlightenment (the Orthodox term is "illumination") is not your
objective, then it is not yoga.


Except they are NOT the same. Orthodox Christians do not seek communication or unity with an amorphous or generic "absolute". We seek a relationship with Christ. I do not see this as the same thing. I do see some superficial similarity in certain "techniques" but when you look beyond the superficiality, the differences become readily apparent.

I have a problem saying that something is "anti-Orthodox" which predates
Orthodoxy. People were seeking spiritual enlightenment all over the world
long before the desert fathers came into the picture.


Well, I guess I would have a problem with saying something "predates" Orthodoxy. It may "predate" a particular recognized Orthodox Father, but if Orthodoxy is simply the continuation of God's Revelation to His People, it predates pretty much everything else, and anything else is merely a reflection of that revelation "...as seen through a glass darkly..." to borrow from the esteemed Apostle Paul.

The Hebrews and the Orthodox are not the first people to seek God. I
might even go out onto a limb and say that they are probably not the
first people to have prophets who were given a flicker of insight by God.

Dave


We are all given the inate desire to seek God, because we are all created in the image and likeness of the Creator. The Hebrews were not the first to "seek" God, but they were the ones chosen for the REVELATION of God, so that we all could come back to the True REVEALED God, not some approximation or deduction (read REduction). We walk with the REVEALED Christ, a very specific person, not some generic and undefined "absolute". That God can reach out through the Veda is not surprising, to think that some might be led to the True Faith by this path should not be scandalous. But to think that any non-Orthodox philosophy or system can "add" anything to the fullness of the Faith seems wrong. Anything else is going to be something less. We should not forsake the treasure of Orthodoxy to chase after some little flashy rock by the roadside.

I have no doubt that there are physical and even psychological "benefits" associated with the techniques of yoga and the martial arts and various and sundry "new age" feel-good spritual exercises. But we who are Orthodox should rightly be wary about seeking "spirituality" or even "enlightenment" for its own sake. If we focus too much on the techniques we can lose sight of the goal which is not mastery of technique, but walking with Christ, becoming like Christ, having a relationship with Christ, and not with a technique.

Yoga, martial arts, sports, model-building, all these things are hobbies. Christ is not a hobby. The Church, the continuing worshipping People of God, is more than a technique, more than "self-improvement", more than "spirituality". It shows us the Way, the Truth, and the Life, which is Christ Jesus.

I can certainly understand why an Orthodox Christian would have concerns about things that come from outside Orthodoxy, and well we should. I personally would not recommend that any Orthodox Christian actively practice yoga but I am reminded of the Apostle Paul who says not to judge another's servant. All things are lawful, but those who are "knowledgeable" need to take care not to cause those who are "weaker" to fall.

If doing yoga-style exercises for one person is no different than doing pilates for another, then perhaps there is no harm. But trying to seek "enlightenment" or "unity with the abolute" might get you something you were not bargaining for, since you do not know the source of that "enlightenment" or the definition of that "absolute" once you step outside the boundaries of the Church.

#37 Mary

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 04:24 PM

And, when you wrote:

If one wants to practice Yoga, then I think it would be important to find out Why?

I think this might hold the most fertile ground for exploration of any question that could be asked regarding this topic as it is laid out. I hope we move in this direction at some point, or maybe I will try to get us there as we go along. But, this is it in my view, as you say "Why?" Possibly, the compassionate and pastorally minded among us may also see the significance of this simple question "Why?"

Thank you for this contribution.

In Christ,
Rick



Dear Rick,

You have misunderstood my 'Why?' When I said it's important to find out why one wishes to practice yoga, I didn't mean it's important for someone else to ask why, but for the person who desires to practice it. Your motives for practicing yoga, will decide whether it's spiritually beneficial for you or not. If you're not doing it for spiritual 'enlightenment', and only for physical benefits, then you need to figure out why you can't choose some other exercise, like Pilates, which is very similar to yoga, minus all the spirituality. If you're doing it for relaxation and to calm yourself down, it's just a bandaid - the best way to find Peace is through Confession and revealing your inmost thoughts, so someone who knows better can untwist your twisted mind. (my experience). What is it that attracts you to yoga?

What's this about a spiritual father in a child's pose? I'd pick the one who likes Scotch!

Herman's post is perfect.... it puts everything in it's right place.

As for coming from the east or from the west, what difference does it make? Both east and west are the products of man's ideas, deeply rooted in pride, just, different in expression, and purpose and direction. But, they are both perfectly described in the Bible: "There is a way that seems right to man, but in the end, it leads to death." (forgive me, for I never know what part of the Bible I find things in, so I can't supply a reference off the top of my head, but I know it's in there somewhere.) And St Peter describes it as well when he says that God has freed us from the empty way of life handed down to us by our forefathers.

In Acts, we read stories of people who converted, the first thing they did was build a huge fire, and burn all their books, their charms and their idols. Why did they do that? It's the best way to make a new start. Totally, empty yourself. How many times, I wish I could just burn myself and start over! Is there anything of true value that I should carry with me into my new life? If there is, and I just tossed it into the fire, is God not able to bring it to life and give it back to me? That's what Abraham believed, when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.

How can we, who are so new in the faith, discern what's good and not good of our former lives? I think that's why you find parallels in teachings of the Desert fathers and the leading philosophers of their time. We know that our Desert Fathers, emptied themselves of everything to follow God. And God, returned to them, the things that were good and useful, from their own respective cultures.

The reason you'll find something good and true in every culture, in every philosophy, is because lies do not hold together very well. Satan has to infuse the lies with truth, so they appeal to man, whether intellectually, or spiritually. Hinduism is a wonderful substitute for what the heart of man longs for. Do you see how many people refuse to become Christians because of it? India is one of the largest nations (population wise) - with the least amount of Christians. That should serve as a warning to you, of the power of eastern teachings, to blind a soul. Buddhism and Islam would be the other greatest immitations that keep people from searching for Christ. In the west, protestantism does the same.

Of these ways of spiritual 'enlightenment' Christ said: "If the light in you is darkness, how great is that darkness."

I'm not going to post a whole lot more to this thread. I never had any doubts about yoga - I just wanted to see if I could participate in a discussion, for the sake of discussing. I can't. I'm sorry.

Anything, not just yoga, that distracts me from orthodoxy, has to go. People have sacrificed a lot more than yoga to follow Christ. Can't serve both God and yoga. (Or whatever your passion is).

Well, I gotta go burn some more of my slothfulness. I hope you find what you're looking for.

In Christ,
Mary.

PS: Had time to look up some references:

* Proverbs 14:12 -
There is a way that seems right to a man,
But its end is the way of death.

*1 Peter 1: 18-19
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

*Matthew 6:23
But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Edited by Mary, 05 June 2008 - 06:30 PM.


#38 Rick H.

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 04:42 PM

You have misunderstood my 'Why?' When I said it's important to find out why one wishes to practice yoga, I didn't mean it's important for someone else to ask why, but for the person who desires to practice it. Your motives for practicing yoga, will decide whether it's spiritually beneficial for you or not. If you're not doing it for spiritual 'enlightenment', and only for physical benefits, then you need to figure out why you can't choose some other exercise, like Pilates, which is very similar to yoga, minus all the spirituality. If you're doing it for relaxation and to calm yourself down, it's just a bandaid - the best way to find Peace is through Confession and revealing your inmost thoughts, so someone who knows better can untwist your twisted mind. (my experience). What is it that attracts you to yoga?



Mary!!!

Thank you very much for this clarification, and for the rest of your last post. your writing in this thread is a true blessing to me--I'm not sure that I can communicate that clearly enough. This is a thread that I will be returning to in order to reread much of what has been said through you and others. Thank you.

In some ways I would love to provide answers to your last question, especially as it relates to what you have written in this thread . . . using myself as an illustration would probably be a valuable tool in this thread. But, that is such a personal thing, and to lay myself bare in this way for anyone in the world to read makes me uncomfortable at the present. Maybe if this thread keeps going well, I can speak about other folk's experiences that I have talked with who could provide the same type of mechanism to accomplish the same thing in the end.

So, for now, as far as I'm concerned, if ever see you in person, I owe you one bottle of at least medium priced scotch. :)

Your brother In Christ,
Rick

#39 Michael Stickles

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 05:00 PM

I think Herman brought out an excellent distinction in regards to David's earlier post. While the yama (attitudes/restraints) and niyama (observances) of yoga do parallel very strongly with Orthodox attitudes and beliefs, they are not the same. And while I don't agree that the similarities are only superficial, I do agree that the differences are not inconsequential. You might say that the truths contained in them appear as if in a darkened mirror, not directly, and discernment is required in dealing with them.

The usefulness of such things as yoga or other Eastern practices is probably similar to that of pagan literature, as described by St. Basil the Great:

Into the life eternal the Holy Scriptures lead us, which teach us through divine words. But so long as our immaturity forbids our understanding their deep thought, we exercise our spiritual perceptions upon profane writings, which are not altogether different, and in which we perceive the truth as it were in shadows and in mirrors. Thus we imitate those who perform the exercises of military practice, for they acquire skill in gymnastics and in dancing, and then in battle reap the reward of their training. ...

If, then, there is any affinity between the two literatures, a knowledge of them should be useful to us in our search for truth; if not, the comparison, by emphasizing the contrast, will be of no small service in strengthening our regard for the better one. ...

But let us return to the same thought with which we started, namely, that we should not accept everything without discrimination, but only what is useful. For it would be shameful should we reject injurious foods, yet should take no thought about the studies which nourish our souls, but as a torrent should sweep along all that came near our path and appropriate it.


Two points strike me forcibly in what St. Basil says. First, that he is actively encouraging these men to take advantage of the positive content of things which are outside of Orthodoxy (while using discernment to reject what is injurious in them); second, that he makes it clear that he recommends this because of their immaturity, and inability to fully assimilate the treasures which are within Orthodoxy. I think the same would apply to such things as yoga. (On a personal level, I know that I'm not mature and disciplined enough to gain from ascetical practices what I currently get from my martial arts training. Someday, God willing ...)

His discussion of how far this can be taken, I think, is also quite applicable, again allowing for the differences between reading texts and performing exercises:

Perhaps it is sufficiently demonstrated that such heathen learning is not unprofitable for the soul; I shall then discuss next the extent to which one may pursue it. To begin with the poets, since their writings are of all degrees of excellence, you should not study all of their poems without omitting a single word. When they recount the words and deeds of good men, you should both love and imitate them, earnestly emulating such conduct. But when they portray base conduct, you must flee from them and stop up your ears, as Odysseus is said to have fled past the song of the sirens, for familiarity with evil writings paves the way for evil deeds. Therefore the soul must be guarded with great care, lest through our love for letters it receive some contamination unawares, as men drink in poison with honey. ...

I have the same words for the historians, and especially when they make up stories for the amusement of their hearers. And certainly we shall not follow the example of the rhetoricians in the art of lying. ... For just as bees know how to extract honey from flowers, which to men are agreeable only for their fragrance and color, even so here also those who look for something more than pleasure and enjoyment in such writers may derive profit for their souls. Now, then, altogether after the manner of bees must we use these writings, for the bees do not visit all the flowers without discrimination, nor indeed do they seek to carry away entire those upon which they light, but rather, having taken so much as is adapted to their needs, they let the rest go. So we, if wise, shall take from heathen books whatever befits us and is allied to the truth, and shall pass over the rest.


I think the importance of submitting all our discernment in these things to our spiritual father hardly needs to be pointed out. One who is immature should not trust in his or her own discernment. And our spiritual father can help us determine when we have matured enough to pass from the "shadows and mirrors" to the direct light.

In Christ,
Mike

#40 Rick H.

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Posted 05 June 2008 - 05:13 PM

What a day.

Now we're talking.

Pure gold Mike! Pure gold from St. Basil and you.

Thank you.

In Christ,
Rick




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