Thursday, July 19, 2007

Is Yoga a Religion ?

Carl Jung once, supposedly, said a pretty fun thing,
sort of like this:

God wanted to help humanity out
so she gave them spiritual pathways
to find the way back to Her

Commenting to the Devil on
how great this way,
the Devil said,
"No sweat,
I'll just turn that stuff into
institutions and religion,
and then I'll have 'em all coming
right on back to me."

So is yoga a religion,
in the sense of Jung's distinction,
to me,
hints that religion is rigid
and rule bound
and pretty much an enslaving activity
disguised as something to do with
uniting or serving God,
whatever God is.

Some yoga seems like a religion
to me.
Bikram for example.
Very rigid, very dognatic,
no room to explore,
come to your own truth,
all set down from on high,
lots of effort,
no questioning,
no joy,
no inner stillness.

Lots of the Hollywood flash,
body building yoga,
seems like a religion,
worshiping at the altar of Eternal Youth,
or bust.

Some of the yoga or
nothing else people
(as in no Feldenkrais,
for example,
for some reason, I bring that up)
seem mired in true believerdom
which is what makes a religion,
in many ways.

So how about Ananda Yoga?
Is it a spiritual practice,
focused on finding a route for people to
connect with the Highest in themselves
and in their life?

To a large extent it is.
Some of it gets into what I'd call
the religion trap
when the reasons for doing something
are of the
Thus Spake Yogananda,
Thus Spake Swami Kryananda,
therefore it must be true.

By in large, though,
the essence of Ananda Yoga
is intensely spiritual,
to help people find and connect
to something Higher in themselves,
be that called God
or their Higher Self.

This is what spiritual work
is about,
and the path can be
or being present,
or serving humanity,
or even passionate simplicity and stillness.
But it all points to something deeper
or higher or more "real"
than the muck and shuck of
ongoing ordinary
run around in robot circles life.

I plan to use it as a spiritual
as well as the Byron Katie work,
and the be present work,
and the see the God in nature
and everyone work.

Some have even said,
no it's not a religion,
it's a science,
but even that statement to
is just more true believerism.

And from the Byron Katie
Blessed be the true believers
and blessed be the unbelievers,
and blessed be the power yoga people
and the hot yoga people
and the snarling dance sex bod people.

For me,
what i wanted when i came to learn Ananda
Yoga was
something to get back to Patanjali's
Second sutra:
Yogas chitta vriti narodah.
Yoga is the stillness and calming
or the whirlpools of thought/feeling/attachment/belief
in our consciousness.

In the stillness,
there lies the path of spirit,
at least as far as I know so far.

That's the long answer:
the short answer
Is Yoga a Religion?
Yes, to some people.
Sometimes the religion
of My Body
sometimes the religion
of Doing it Right

To some people
yoga is a spiritual path
and I say,
for them,
and us on that path.

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