Yoga is the New Satanism!

Here in Southern California, some irate Christian parents are suing their local school district for offering free voluntary yoga classes.This reminds me a lot of Pat Robertson’s famous video telling Christians to fear yoga because it’s praying to Hindu gods. I imagine it’s all tied in somehow. The Vatican itself has even declared yoga, along with Zen and TM as potentially degenerating into a “cult of the body.”

People in America are very committed to their religions. A religion to them is like a wife/husband or girl/boyfriend. You can only have one of them! If you are a Christian and you do yoga, you are cheating on Jesus!

The Japanese, on the other hand, are very religiously promiscuous. They’re like polyamorists when it comes to religion. Lots of people over there go to Buddhist temples on the Buddhist holidays, Shinto shrines on the Shinto holidays and maybe even occasionally to Christian churches on the Christian holidays like Christmas or Easter. Lots of non-Christian Japanese people have church weddings, often with foreign guys pretending to be preachers. It’s no big deal.

Having been steeped in Japanese culture for so long it’s sometimes hard for me to quite get a grip on how my fellow Americans feel about this kind of stuff. But I get a lot of Christians asking if they can do Zen practice without giving up their Christian faith. I always say yes. There’s no conflict I can see between believing in Jesus as your Lord and Savior and doing zazen. Lots of Christians do zazen, like Thomas Merton. There are no matters of required belief involved in Zen practice. So there is no conflict. Besides that, there are Christian forms of silent meditation practice that are remarkably similar to zazen, although these aren’t practiced very widely in our contemporary American churches.

These Christians down San Diego way are saying that yoga is a form of Hinduism. You could make an argument that it is. The word “yoga” means “yoke” and comes from a Hindu concept regarding yoking oneself to God. And, of course, by God they mean Vishnu or Brahman or some of the other bazillion names they have for God and not really Jehovah. On the other hand, the word yoga has a huge number of meanings. It’s even used in the Buddhist tradition as in yogacara, the “way of yoga,” which isn’t Hindu at all. Nor does it involve doing downward facing dog or the “gorilla pose” this article mentions (I want to know what that one is!).

Which brings up a whole other point. What we call yoga in the West generally means the stretches and poses of the Hatha Yoga system rather than the more religious types of yoga. A case can be made that what we now know as Hatha Yoga is really an Indian version of some of the gymnastic poses and stretches they received when they were a British colony. Most yoga taught in the West is extremely secularized. Often the teachers don’t know or care much about the supposed spiritual aspects of the practice.

I think the issue of whether or not meditation is a religious practice is actually a hotter matter than yoga’s supposed Hindu origins. Nobody’s really worried about stretches. Though I have seen some argue that yoga poses are actually forms of worship, that seems to be a minority opinion. Where people really get their panties in a bunch is when it comes to meditating.

I know I’ve told this story multiple times. But when I first got into this Zen stuff I was dating a girl whose mom was a fundamentalist Christian. She was concerned that by opening up my mind in meditation I might allow demons to enter it and control me. It was kind of funny because zazen was usually so boring I kind of wished demons would try to take over my brain! Anything to relieve the tedium!

Lots of meditation teachers these days try to secularize things. Besides not making Christians upset, it seems like a really good way to expand your audience and make loads of money. Lots of what I see promoted as secular mindfulness practice and whatnot is just straight-up Buddhism. I’ve toyed with the idea of presenting things that way myself. In the earliest drafts of my forthcoming book I attempted to eliminate the words “Zen” and “Buddhist” as well as their various derivatives. But it felt deceptive to do so. I’d be lying if I tried to say I didn’t get these ideas from my Buddhist teachers and my Buddhist training. So I went ahead and said I was a Zen Buddhist, even though I think the term is a bit of a misnomer.

I think a lot of the concern Americans express over matters like this is based on that idea I mentioned earlier that one must be true to one’s religion. We’re really scared of mixing things up. But that kind of purity never really existed. What we know now as Christianity is basically a Jewish messianic cult mixed up with a lot of Greek philosophy. Contemporary Buddhism is certainly not pure either. It has dashes of Hinduism, the Bon religion of Tibet, Taoism and these days even some Christian notions thrown into the mix.

Having said that, I do get the idea of being wary of mixing things carelessly. For instance, I am not a fan of the way Zen is often seen as a kind of Japanese form of psychotherapy by many Americans. I think we have to be careful about this.

But perhaps the difference for me is that I see no need to go from being careful to being actually fearful of it.

So chill out down there in San Diego! Worry about ComicCon instead! That’s where the real devil worshipers hang out!

***

Come to our Zen and Yoga retreat at Mt. Baldy Zen Center in April!

Come to zazen every Thursday at 8:30 in Los Feliz!

Come do Zen and Yoga this Saturday in Santa Monica!

***

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63 Responses

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  1. mtto
    mtto February 21, 2013 at 3:37 pm | |

    Why is saying you are a Zen Buddhist a misnomer?

    Also, if yoga is the new satanism, is it acceptable to dedicate a metal band to yoga?

  2. Catwriter
    Catwriter February 21, 2013 at 3:55 pm | |

    I am interested to know more about what you mean about facilitating secular mindfulness as a way to make money. For example, do you think UCLA’s Certificate in Mindfulness Facilitation (CMF) which costs $5,800 for the year, is an example of that? There are many teacher trainings like this being offered around the country, including trainings that cost money at Buddhist centers too, and so I wonder if you feel this is all more or less a money making scheme? I facilitate mindfulness in a public college English course, basing it on scientific research, so that it will be accepted in the classroom as a non religious activity. I make no money from this and do it as a way to introduce mindfulness to a diverse and economically stressed student population with no previous exposure to the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Your thoughts?

  3. Fred
    Fred February 21, 2013 at 4:21 pm | |

    My 2 mentors in 79 taught a university course in the Psychology of Consciousness which
    was really about what you would learn in Zen.

    You can use different words to convey the same concepts.

  4. tysondav
    tysondav February 21, 2013 at 5:15 pm | |

    Brad,

    What mtto said.

  5. Fred
    Fred February 21, 2013 at 6:02 pm | |

    ” I am a Zen Buddhist ” is a misnomer because there is no ” I “.

    You could say that Zen Buddhist is an I, that the Zen Buddhism which is a thing,
    has some type of “I ” quality to it.

    This quality of “I”ing is illusion, so there is no where to pinpoint the Zen
    Buddhist nomerizing.

    Hence misnomer.

  6. Fred
    Fred February 21, 2013 at 6:06 pm | |

    Or you could say that I am a Zen priest who has 3 houses, 2 cars, a motorcycle
    and teaches voice dialogue

    That would be a misnomer as well.

  7. robert
    robert February 21, 2013 at 7:13 pm | |

    It’s not just the “being true” thing. That would make it OK to do the Buddhism thing as long as you stuck only to that. But that’s not how the irate Christians you mention see it. For them, it’s not enough to pick one, you have to pick The One.

    A key drive is the phenomenally, monumentally, awful-beyond-belief-ingly, wailing-and-gnashing-of-teeth-ily consequences of getting that choice wrong (and the correspondingly fabulous consequences of getting it right). Stripping away the modern softening (a la Fred Phelps and friends; but let’s face it, although they are the extreme moronic edge of the pack, they’re not *qualitatively* that much different from many of what we’d think were otherwise moderate) you’re left with an indescribably vicious end for unforgiven sinners — hell and all its torments and for all eternity. It simply doesn’t get any worse. I could and did scare myself shitless with that idea when I was a kid. I mean, have you ever tried to ponder eternal suffering, in darkness, alone, forEVER. No really — like, forEVER. Shudder.

    The tragedy is — and I say this as an ex-one-the-above — the more I look at Zen, Sufism, Hinduism, and the contemplative side of Christianity, I find *it’s the same thing*! Satori, stream entry, the beatific vision, and so on — they all sound so similar it just looks like they’re all tugging at the same thread. Call it “god” or whatever you like, it’s the same. As a few brave Christian souls (e.g. Merton as you mention) have found, stuff like Zen is positively useful. But many Christians would consider Merton verging on heretical precisely because he takes that view.

    Sadly, there’s little or nothing to be done about this. I’ve been there and know where they’re coming from. It’s virtually impossible for someone else to help you see through the fog. You need to get there yourself. The best the rest of us can do is do what Christians are supposed to do, and love ‘em while not necessarily pandering to them.

    Of course I only say all this because demons entered me when I last listened to some Enya (New Age), did some Karate, and sat Zazen. I also once bought my niece a My Little Pony coloring book, which probably made things even worse. That said, it may help my case that as a kid I observed the nine First Fridays in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think that powerup lasts a few years. Or wait — is that Plenary Indulgences I’m thinking of? Hmm.

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 February 22, 2013 at 3:14 am | |

      “The tragedy is and I say this as an ex-one-the-above the more I look at Zen, Sufism, Hinduism, and the contemplative side of Christianity, I find *its the same thing*! Satori, stream entry, the beatific vision, and so on they all sound so similar it just looks like theyre all tugging at the same thread. Call it god or whatever you like, its the same.”

      Yes. Reading certain Mahayana sutras and much online Zen chit-chat one can be forgiven for concluding that Zen/Buddhism is all about the revelation of some ultimate-ground-of-all-being-type truth…such as could be called “god”. I agree with you that that’s a kind of tragedy, a mistake. But revelation and/or experience of the one true “god” is what people ususally look to religion, philosophy, politics…hoping to find. People who really need to find what they’re looking for will usually find it… or something very ‘similar’.

      1. robert
        robert February 22, 2013 at 4:40 am | |

        @anon108,

        Perhaps, but that wasn’t what I meant by tragedy. The tragedy I referred to was that many if not most Christians are discarding what could be an invaluable tool for them in their search.

        The tragedy is that most Christians have completely missed the very point of Christianity. And if they hadn’t, they’d be Zazening their asses off like the rest of us. For most Christians, the point is either stuff like “Don’t wear a condom” or “No not three gods; it’s three *persons* in the *one* god” or “Vote/Don’t-Vote for Romney because Mormons are/aren’t Christian”. Or it might be “As long as you can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ you’re fine” or “I got the gift of tongues and prophecy, what did you get?” (usually after the so-called Baptism In The Holy Spirit).

        But unlike most modern Christians (including me, in my day), Christ *did* get (at least some of) the point. And I reckon Gautama got it too, 500 years earlier. Rumi probably got some of it. Even Paul of Tarsus and Mohamed appear to have got part of it, although it’s not clear they had much of a clue about what to do about it. Teresa of Avila got it, and John of the Cross got it. Hey, I’m willing to believe that even Eckhrat f*cking Tolle has got at least some of it.

        1. anon 108
          anon 108 February 22, 2013 at 4:49 am | |

          “Perhaps, but that wasnt what I meant by tragedy.”

          Thought it might not be :) Thanks for clarifying. And thanks for giving me an opportunity to make my point.

          1. robert
            robert February 22, 2013 at 5:04 am |

            You’re welcome. May the Lord bless ye and keep ye; may He make His face to shine upon ye and be gracious tae ye; and may ye be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows ye’r deid ;-)

  8. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 21, 2013 at 11:11 pm | |

    yoga on a rope (full lotus at 1:14):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_M4hRPSkMqk

  9. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 21, 2013 at 11:12 pm | |

    yoga on a pole (full lotus no hands at :39)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jM6kUQXxdAI

    yes I’m easily impressed (1:24)!

    1. The Grand Canyon
      The Grand Canyon February 22, 2013 at 5:44 am | |

      More yoga on a pole. Marjariasana (cat pose) at 1:24.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmJMJ41Wi3s

  10. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel February 22, 2013 at 1:56 am | |

    My take about that sort of attitude from the devout monotheists, is that, deep down, their unconscious knows that there are gaping holes in their theory and that their beliefs are not really as sound as they make it. That knowledge is unsettling, and to fight that feeling of unstability, they try to convince as many people that they are right: you know, that idea that, the more people believe something, the truer it must be…

    I also think that, in reality, they are missing the point. What’s important in Jesus, for example, is not the historical reality of him, which is at best sketchy, and at worse invented, but the mythical reality of the god of self sacrifice, ready to offer his life for the sake of others, and who (sometimes) by some sort of miracle, gets away with it. That vein has been an important motor of Hollywoodian filmography; this is what is really important in it.

    1. robert
      robert February 22, 2013 at 4:57 am | |

      > … deep down, their unconscious knows …

      Yeah, no :-) Or at very least they’d say exactly the same about you. They’d say that all of us have a Jesus-shaped hole in our being and that deep down we know that. It’s not a particularly useful position on both sides though, no? I mean the best you’re going to get from even the most open-minded on the other side is “Well perhaps, but if that’s deep down and unconscious then I can’t tell can I?”

      > Whats important in Jesus, for example, is … the mythical reality of the god
      > of self sacrifice, ready to offer his life for the sake of others,

      I think what’s important is whatever happened in the desert, and possibly what was going on with him between the ages of 12 and 30. I’m not suggesting he dragged his ass to India (he may well just have been making tables and stuff), but what’s really important, I reckon, is something that he *experienced*. It’s not about beliefs and dogmas; he saw/felt/whatever something that had a life-changing impact on him. Now of course we’ve lost crucial information about that in the ensuing post-Pauline/Constantine noise. But, fortunately, Jesus isn’t the only one to have had that experience. Start cross referencing them, and I at least start to go, “Huh?”

      But of course, that brings us back to the tragedy of Christianity. Christians aren’t really allowed to cross reference.

  11. Fred
    Fred February 22, 2013 at 6:03 am | |

    “Its not about beliefs and dogmas; he saw/felt/whatever something that had a life-changing impact on him. ……………………………… But, fortunately, Jesus isnt the only one to have had that experience.”

    Yes, the mental institutions are full of them.

    1. robert
      robert February 22, 2013 at 6:14 am | |

      > Yes, the mental institutions are full of them.

      True, the sane don’t have a monopoly this context :-)

  12. robert
    robert February 22, 2013 at 6:33 am | |

    Another point on this:

    Brad wrote:
    > Nobodys really worried about stretches.

    But in fact they are worried. There’s this notion of tainting, or infecting. I’m coining those terms here and now, but the heavier Christians both current and ex will know what I mean.

    I doesn’t matter to the Believer that modern yoga is *now* mostly just about sticking your toe in your ear, and that the teacher wouldn’t know samadhi if it poked her in her third eye. The problem is, that modern religion-less yoga *came from* the real stuff, and that’s a crack through which demons and such may enter.

    It’s hard to figure given that Christians believe God can kick Satan’s ass and still have time to make sure we’re not jerking off to Adriana Lima in a thong (Adriana I mean. In the thong. Not us. Although …) You’d think, given that power differential, that the tainting would be *of* evil *by* good. But it seems to be the other way around. It just takes a little bit of evilosity to spoil the otherwise pure and holy. Way to go omnipotence.

    An example I saw was in music. Amy Grant was originally seen as a bona fide “Christian musician”. But then she become Satan incarnate by, I dunno, singing with someone who was *not* Christian, or being too hot or something. My friends and I, and many like us, just dropped her like a stone. Didn’t matter what she was really like, or that she was still ostensibly way more Christian than, say, Ozzie Osborne , she was tainted. Even now, five seconds of Googling throws up stuff like: http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/CCM/amy_grant-exposed.htm

    Another example — martial arts. I was seriously chastised by pastors for even thinking about doing karate, and that’s despite it usually (and certainly in the case of the place I was looking at) having nothing to do with spirituality and everything to do with kicking someone else’s ass. (Actually, I’ve since realized that most martial arts have little to offer on the kicking-ass front either, but back then I thought it was going to make me into Bruce Lee). And it didn’t matter that I explained that to them. It didn’t matter that karate *today* has no overt spiritual component. The point was that it was old, and asian, and weird, and not Christian and … demons, yada yada.

  13. WendyR
    WendyR February 22, 2013 at 7:18 am | |

    “It has dashes of Hinduism, the Bon religion of Tibet, Taoism and these days even some Christian notions thrown into the mix.”

    Brad, I’m hoping in the future you’ll post a blog on what you think are some of the Christian nottions thown into the mix. I’m assuming you’re refering to Zen Buddhism in the US, but maybe Christian bits have been tossed into it in Japan too.

  14. sri_barence
    sri_barence February 22, 2013 at 8:16 am | |

    When we blend traditions and religions together, we run the risk of having no clear core beliefs or practices. For an example, look at the history of The Farm (Summertown, Tennessee, USA), which at least at some time called itself “an intentional spiritual community.” What this meant in practice was that people believed all kinds of different things, smoked a lot of pot, and sometimes did a kind of zazen on Sundays. This turned me off so much that I became a Zen student. Who needs that?

    1. robert
      robert February 22, 2013 at 10:00 am | |

      Whether “blending” is bad depends on the topic. In our attempts to understand the nature of reality — a.k.a. physics — blending the rules describing electricity, magnetism and light has been spectacularly successful. But in making rules for driving on public roads, blending the rule about which side we’re to drive on would not be good.

      So what are “traditions and religions”? Models of reality, where we don’t get to pick the rules, we just figure them out; or shared ways of living where we have to pick *a* rule, but which one (drive on the left, versus drive on the right) isn’t so important?

      For me, it has both components. When I bow to the cushion in the zendo, or chant whatever the hell it is we chant, I’m merely driving on the right. But the fact that I’m in the zendo in the first place, or sitting in my own study, is because, in one sense, I’m pursuing an extension to Maxwell’s equations.

      Of course there is a third component, which is the plain bollocks. Like teachers shagging people in circumstances they’d say one shouldn’t, or dudes in robes telling people with their fancy new telescope that if they don’t recant their statement that the earth orbits around the sun they’ll take a hot jaggy poker to their arse.

  15. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer February 22, 2013 at 8:30 am | |

    “I could and did scare myself shitless with that idea when I was a kid. I mean, have you ever tried to ponder eternal suffering, in darkness, alone, forEVER. No really like, forEVER. Shudder.”

    If you think about any sort of experience lasting forever, it just can’t be anything other than horrible.

    Nothing that is human could in any way deal with eternal life…..

    Cheers.

    1. robert
      robert February 22, 2013 at 10:16 am | |

      Yeeaaah, but I’m going to say that teaching children the following:

      “If you’re bad you’ll have to eat pizza and ice cream and play video games with your friends for all eternity”

      is merely silly (and not likely to affect their behavior in the way you’d intend), whereas teaching them the following:

      “If you’re bad you’ll be damned forever into something so awful that a fiery lake of burning sulphur, eating at your skin and eyes, where your screaming for mercy goes unheard except by countless evil beings with an insatiable appetite for your very misery doesn’t even begin to describe the depths of agony, regret and despair.”

      is bordering on child abuse.

  16. Andy
    Andy February 22, 2013 at 9:25 am | |

    Proulx Michel wrote:

    “My take about that sort of attitude from the devout monotheists, is that, deep down, their unconscious knows that there are gaping holes in their theory and that their beliefs are not really as sound as they make it.”

    I’m with you on this, and I’ve experienced folk who I’ve thought the same about. But I do wonder if those that might fit this category, might also be better described as partially devout, in the sense that those types of people are really much more heavily ‘devoted’ to – or rather ‘invested’ in – mostly group dogmas and beliefs. Those who are are devotional in the sense of expressing their religious commitment wholeheartedly through practice (prayer, rituals, communal and personal activities) in my experience display much more of a rounded and flexible humanity, and an openness to others.

    I think sometimes that a contrast can and should be sought to be made between those whose beliefs (in actuality, and whether they aware of it or not) serve more as frameworks for living more intimately and deeply, and those who are in the service of their beliefs. With both types, aren’t we then more readily able to meet ourselves – or at least share breathing space?

  17. fightclubbuddha
    fightclubbuddha February 22, 2013 at 9:25 am | |

    I have a very active yoga practice. I take four or five classes a week, focusing mostly on hot yoga (which, if the Christians are right, is great practice for hell). Right now, I am even going through a 200-hour teacher training program. Most yoga practice (excluding the Raja schol and maybe Kundalini) is far from overtly religious. There is a spiritual component, but that is left to the individual practitioner.

    One thing I will note about yogis is that they have sloppy meditation habits. Rounded backs. Hands on the knees. Chins slightly tucked. I often want to smack them with a Keisaku. Sadly, or maybe fortunately, I don’t own one.

    As for Satanism, pfffffffffft! There is no Satan, because there is no god. There is no heaven and there is no hell. There is only this life, this day, this moment. Everything else is the ego and the fear it feeds upon.

  18. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel February 22, 2013 at 10:41 am | |

    Andy wrote

    ” Those who are are devotional in the sense of expressing their religious commitment wholeheartedly through practice (prayer, rituals, communal and personal activities) in my experience display much more of a rounded and flexible humanity, and an openness to others. ”

    That is also my experience. Which is also one of the reasons for believing that the more intolerant are also the more insecure.

  19. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer February 22, 2013 at 10:44 am | |

    Robert,

    I tend to agree.

    My statement was not intended to conflict with yours, just to point out that, carefully examined, heaven also sucks.

    Cheers.

    1. fightclubbuddha
      fightclubbuddha February 22, 2013 at 11:03 am | |

      But, suppose that in heaven all the women looked like “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and the Sex Pistols played two shows a day in perpetuity and every building you walked into had an all-you-can-eat Mexican buffet?

      1. robert
        robert February 22, 2013 at 11:09 am | |

        Xena, the Pistols, and enchiladas. I’m sure that combination could tell us worlds about you fightclub, but I’m darned if I know what it is :-)

  20. SoF
    SoF February 22, 2013 at 11:54 am | |

    The Vatican itself has even declared yoga, along with Zen and TM as potentially degenerating into a cult of the body.

    o.k. brad: you owe me a cup of coffee AND a computer keyboard.

  21. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi February 22, 2013 at 12:14 pm | |

    The word yoga means yoke and comes from a Hindu concept regarding yoking oneself to God. And, of course, by God they mean Vishnu or Brahman or some of the other bazillion names they have for God and not really Jehovah.

    I don’t think Hindus would object at all to the use of yoga to worship Yahweh. Their view is that all Gods are merely the “faces” of the faceless, formless Being of Reality. One chooses whatever “face” one likes to worship, whatever grace draws one to. If one is drawn to Jesus or Yahweh, that’s fine also.

    Whenever Ramana Maharshi was asked about Christianity or Judaism, he used to say “The most perfect name of God is ‘I Am That I Am’”, which is the actual meaning of the Hebrew God “Yahweh”‘s name (sometimes called “Jehovah”)

    1. Broken Yogi
      Broken Yogi February 22, 2013 at 12:15 pm | |

      First paragraph should be in quotes. How come this blog doesn’t accept HTML? Or does it used brackets rather than “greater-lesser” signs?

  22. Broken Yogi
    Broken Yogi February 22, 2013 at 12:43 pm | |

    The reason many Christians are afraid of yoga, is that the Christian tradition generally lacks an esoteric understanding of how the human body actually works and how to engage that in meditation and daily practice. This lack creates a very real insecurity in Christians, which they fill with scriptural quotes and beliefs and emotionalism, but all of that is a very poor substitute for an actual “yogic” practice.

    Some Christian mystics did indeed develop something like a “Christian yoga”, but most were persecuted for it, and had to keep it a secret in the monasteries and secret societies. The mass of Christian culture was never exposed to this sort of thing, and therefore has no basis for understanding it, much less making use of it. To them, it’s a taboo to even think that worshiping God would require engagement with an actual yogic process in the body and mind. They have been led to believe that faith and good works in some combination or other is enough, when the yoga traditions (and include Buddhism in this) will adamantly tell you otherwise.

    So the whole attitude of yoga really is a threat to these sorts of mainstream Christians and their whole worldview. Even the notion that bodily exercises can help focus one’s attention seems threatening, as if the two ought to be separate forever in the dualistic scheme of things.

    As a side note, one of my big surprises was talking to my Uncle at the funeral of his younger brother, who had been into Hinduism and meditation and had gone to India several times. My living Uncle had been what seemed to be the mildest of liberal Episcopalians, but he confessed to me a terrible fear and horror that his brother would be consigned to eternal torment in hell because he had not been a Christian or taken the sacraments. This was not some tossed off comment, it was a deeply emotional terror at the thought of someone he loved suffering eternally for not having taken up the “right” religion. I didn’t know what to say.

  23. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 22, 2013 at 3:12 pm | |

    Jesus said: If the flesh has come into existence because of (the) spirit, it is a marvel; but if (the) spirit (has come into existence) because of [the body] it is a marvel of marvels. But I marvel at how this great wealth has made its home in this poverty.

    (The Gospel According to Thomas, coptic text established and translated by A. Guillaumont, H.-CH. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till and Yassah Abd Al Masih, pg 21 log. 29, 1959 E. J. Brill)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYr6vI_sib0

  24. Fred
    Fred February 22, 2013 at 5:15 pm | |

    One difference between Buddhism and Christianity is the 1500 pedophile
    coverup cases:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/sex-abuse-scandal-did-archbishop-ratzinger-help-shield-perpetrator-from-prosecution-a-684970.html

    “It was not only in Munich, but also later in Rome that Ratzinger missed countless opportunities to vigorously tackle the issue. For over 23 years — until his election as pope — he headed the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, meaning that he was also responsible for dealing with reports of sexual abuse.”

  25. Khru
    Khru February 22, 2013 at 9:07 pm | |

    Robert,

    Holy shit, YES!

  26. Brent
    Brent February 23, 2013 at 3:57 am | |

    Someone told me that in western culture we think of yoga as stretching but in India it’s part of a larger program. Is this true?

    1. anon 108
      anon 108 February 23, 2013 at 6:34 am | |
  27. mika
    mika February 23, 2013 at 7:36 am | |

    Brad said: “A case can be made that what we now know as Hatha Yoga is really an Indian version of some of the gymnastic poses and stretches they received when they were a British colony.”

    Did you read through the link you included in that statement? It seems to me the whole point of the page was to *refute* that idea!

  28. demello
    demello February 23, 2013 at 5:41 pm | |
  29. Fred
    Fred February 23, 2013 at 6:06 pm | |

    Demello, this is J. Krishnamurti’s teaching.

  30. Fred
    Fred February 23, 2013 at 7:22 pm | |

    “Father de Mello demonstrates an appreciation for Jesus, of whom he declares himself to be a “disciple.” But he considers Jesus as a master alongside others. The only difference from other men is that Jesus is “awake” and fully free, while others are not. Jesus is not recognized as the Son of God, but simply as the one who teaches us that all people are children of God. In addition, the author’s statements on the final destiny of man give rise to perplexity. At one point, he speaks of a “dissolving” into the impersonal God, as salt dissolves in water. On various occasions, the question of destiny after death is declared to be irrelevant; only the present life should be of interest. With respect to this life, since evil is simply ignorance, there are no objective rules of morality. Good and evil are simply mental evaluations imposed upon reality.

    Consistent with what has been presented, one can understand how, according to the author, any belief or profession of faith whether in God or in Christ cannot but impede one’s personal access to truth. The Church, making the word of God in Holy Scripture into an idol, has ended up banishing God from the temple. She has consequently lost the authority to teach in the name of Christ.

    With the present Notification, in order to protect the good of the Christian faithful, this Congregation declares that the above-mentioned positions are incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.

    The Sovereign Pontiff John Paul II, at the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect, approved the present Notification, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

    Rome, from the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, June 24, 1998, the Solemnity of the Birth of John the Baptist.

    + Joseph Card. Ratzinger
    Prefect

    + Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B.
    Archbishop Emeritus of Vercelli
    Secretary “

  31. sns
    sns February 24, 2013 at 5:56 am | |

    I’m not Christian, but I attended a public school that had a lot of evangelical Christians. The evangelicals were always trying to introduce Christianity into the school in various ways – voluntary student-led prayers, moments of silence, etc. Sure, you could opt out of anything you were uncomfortable with, but you looked really weird – and that is a big deal for a kid. I was always annoyed with this situation because, IMO, religion doesn’t belong in public schools. I practice yoga, and I agree that yoga need not be religious – but it can be. If a sizable minority is worried that it is, then that should be taken seriously. So, on this issue, I kind of side with these evangelicals. Treat others the way you wish they’d treated you, right?

  32. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 24, 2013 at 7:37 am | |

    Robert, can you talk a little more about ‘No not three gods; its three *persons* in the *one* god’, ‘the Sacred Heart of Jesus’, and ‘Plenary Indulgences’?

  33. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 24, 2013 at 7:49 am | |

    Ah, no, wait- never mind! No wonder Brad’s retreat is 3 days!

    ‘A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful, who spend at least three whole days in the spiritual exercises of a retreat.’

  34. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel February 25, 2013 at 7:03 am | |

    The Minister of Interior was on the radio this morning, and the talk was about authority.
    That was interesting, and the radio commentator said that the ’68ers would be horrified since modern youth are in demand for authority.
    A philosopher was invited. He said that we have to know what we’re talking of. Authority is neither the Order nor Power. There can be authority without power, and also power without authority. For the latter, he gave the example of the petty chief who tries to crush everyone, and for the former, we have the example of the wise man who will be consulted.
    The etymology is interesting as it comes from “augere” which is Latin for “augment”. In some way, authority is a magical operation whence something is “augmented”: a power or an argument, somehow in a bit of a metaphysical fashion, which is tied to trust.
    In History, the Past allowed to augment the power of an argument; the relation to a Nature, which the Greek called the Cosmos, or, eventually, some god.
    The crisis began in the democratic age, where those arguments were either invalidated or show to lack much validity.
    Nowadays, there is a general request for authority, coupled with a general defiance towards politics. A tendence which had already been theoretised by Hanna Ahrendt. The suppression of a whole series of traditional constraints which organised societies, made the individual freer, but left him with more responsibility to cope with. And that which organised the society left without being subsituted with some other form of organisation.

    My take being here, that the loud voiced extremists of 1968 undid the attempts at reorganising society on a more cooperative level, merely destroying what limited them, without any proposal at some alternative.

    Tocqueville had already foreseen this, that democracy implied a contestation of the traditional forms of authority. There are thus three theses. One is the “Restoration of Authority”, which is essentially reactionary: an attempt to restore things as they were before 1968. I think this is exactly what is behind the neo-con ethos. A second these is that “Authority must be maintained”, in front of a world which is angst generating, and a third these which would be “Reinventing Authority”, that is “recreating” authority in accordance with democratic values. There are three forms of authority, each quite subject to criticism: one is the authority of competence, but at the same time, we don’t want too much expertise. There is the authority of charisma, of leadership, but that leads to trusting a guide ( ein Fhrer, as they say in German…). And third form which is “compassionate” in both directions: that is that a victim is “authoritative” in the sense that we must care for the victim, along with everything that this is at risk of engaging; a situation where we have “compassionate” politics, all sugar coated with good intentions.
    None of those three is entirely convincing and we need to find a good synthesis and balance.
    This is probably our modern challenge.

    1. boubi
      boubi February 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm | |

      Om mane padme om (more or less)

      And i continue to find the justice minister very sexy :)

  35. SoF
    SoF February 25, 2013 at 9:52 am | |

    Just now, the Vatican has ‘other fish to fry.’

    But, in a sense, Rome has a point. Meditation promotes reflective thinking. And reflective thinking is the seed of critical thinking. Perhaps critical thinking will lead us out of Pisces and into the post-Christian great age (a.k.a. the new age).

    Wait, and see.

  36. Fred
    Fred February 25, 2013 at 3:10 pm | |

    “My take being here, that the loud voiced extremists of 1968 undid the attempts at reorganising society on a more cooperative level, merely destroying what limited them, without any proposal at some alternative.”

    I was a loud voiced extremist of 68. Where I lived 1968 was the summer of love,
    LSD and the promise of a new world and society.

    However, the counter-culture is always absorbed into the culture to become the
    new focus to keep the masses entertained.

    What is authority to a Buddha? What is an authority in the face of emptiness?

  37. Fred
    Fred February 25, 2013 at 3:14 pm | |

    J. Krishnamurti:

    “Through authority you will never find anything. You must be free of authority to find reality. It is one of the most difficult things to be free of authority, both the outer and the inner. Inner authority is the consciousness of experience, consciousness of knowledge. And outward authority is the state, the party, the group, the community. A man who would find reality must shun all authority, external and inward. So, don’t be told what to think. That is the curse of reading – the word of another becomes all-important.”

  38. Fred
    Fred February 25, 2013 at 3:24 pm | |

    J. Krishnamurti:

    To be free of all authority, of your own and that of another, is to die to everything of yesterday, so that your mind is always fresh, always young, innocent, full of vigour and passion. It is only in that state that one learns and observes. And for this, a great deal of awareness is required, actual awareness of what is going on inside yourself, without correcting it or telling it what it should or should not be, because the moment you correct it you have established another authority, a censor.

  39. SoF
    SoF February 25, 2013 at 3:30 pm | |

    “There are three forms of authority, competence, charisma, and compassionate in both directions.”

    Sorry, there is only ONE form of authority – responsibility for your own actions.

    The rest is fogging.

  40. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote February 25, 2013 at 3:42 pm | |

    “Where I lived 1968 was the summer of love, LSD and the promise of a new world and society.”

    And 1969 was the year the speed freaks arrived, in the panhandle- or so the story goes. My good friend said he made it back to Baker’s Beach, San Francisco, the other day; something kicked in and he felt like he had made it back home. He lived on 19th at about Lake, so the beach was very familiar to him.

    I remember in the film about Geronimo, one of his ancestors saying that Geronimo got the power, he had the power- something that the spiritual world imparted to him, she implied. I read that he and his followers could do 80 miles in a day without horses.

    I like what Krishnamurti said, but I think the analysis could be strengthened; it’s not so much the naming as the doing that paralyzes the ability to feel, although naming is a form of mental doing, I suppose. The accent for me is on the relinquishment of activity in favor of the senses, true. That I never noticed equalibrium, gravity, and proprioception as senses in their own right was my ignorance. Gautama’s yardstick was the cessation of thought applied and sustained in the second meditation, out of an experience of inner happiness, not connected to the pain and pleasure of the senses. And yet he spoke of sharpening the wits to brilliance, of seeing sense organ, sense object, consciousness, impact, and feeling as they really are as they are, as developing all the elements of the path to fruition. Cessation of activity, a kind of falling asleep, can’t actually be done, do it every night!

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