One of the main lessons I have learned about Hinduism is that proselytizing is a charged word. The Hindu mindset is not to do it, even though it has and is being done to us, sometimes, even by means of chicanery and deceit. Like many other concepts though, the act itself is neither good or bad, but all in the application.
It is safe to say that the early Hindu missionaries to the West were evangelist as well as a proselytizers. At this point I should stipulate that the difference between the two is purely one of perspective. Christians describe their conversion efforts as evangelism. However in a reverse situation, Christians call the messengers proselytizers. I prefer to say that these beautiful souls and others evangelized The West.
Not too long ago I encountered some Americans in the Eastern section of the New Age book store and we began chatting. I asked if they were Hindu, and one responded with “I am not in a religion but I am spiritual.” He spoke about his meditation practice and how it made him more calm. His friend told me how she is trying to get him into yoga. I helped her a bit by saying how I enjoy it and scores of other men. Continue reading “Hindus Proselytize….but Maybe Not Enough”
In brief summary, we have discussed the goal of Yoga, which is to unite one’s transitory (temporary) self, “JIVA” with the infinite “BRAHMAN”, the Hindu concept of God. This God is not a personal God, but it is an impersonal spiritual substance which is one with nature and cosmos. Brahman is an impersonal divine substance that “pervades, envelopes and underlies everything”. Yoga comes to yogi who is one with Brahman”
Yoga Pt III Breathing and Posing Third in the series, The Debt I Owe to Yoga
We now arrive at asanas. This is limb number three of yoga that gets called, well, “yoga.” Actually, it is properly named asana, or , posture. These are the poses you see in advertisements for yoga paraphernalia or poses by bodies that grace the covers of Yoga or health related magazines . These postures practiced in asanas, comprise the third limb and the breathing exercises or pranayama comprises the fourth. If you have been reading this series so far, you will know that asana is not a fitness system or a series of gymnastic exercises but part of a larger process of spiritual rebalancing. 1, 2
This is the second part of a series entitled The Debt I Owe to Yoga, subtitled Have you worked your limbs today? Part one was an introduction to yoga, some of its cultural impact, a brief history, and how it has affected me personally.
To explain the spiritual significance and the totality of what yoga really is one must, of necessity visit Patanjali. It was he who classified yoga at approximately 200-400 BCE, (some documents say 150 BCE) because by that time the practice, had gone into all different directions. He organized it into a format known as the Yoga Sutras. His “eight limbs” of yoga still inform the practice today and discuss posture, breathing, meditation and correct living. He is known as “the father of modern yoga.”
I owe yoga a remarkable debt. It is the vehicle by which I arrived at my spiritual home. It changed my life both physically and metaphysically, leaving me with a deep sense of gratitude and reverence. Once I began to delve into the subject, I was amazed at its breadth and depth. There are many works available for the seeker who wants to probe beyond the scope of this introduction. Topics include among others, spiritual history, scientific origins, types of practice, and even a new Western fad, “doga”, practicing yoga with one’s dog. (Part one of a series)