"Hot" Yoga says it all. If it is not Hindu/Yoga, it is stolen/hot. The ramifications of phony yoga were sadly predictable and sadly continue.

 

THE CON ART OF LIVING

 

Secular, liberal and materialistic is not (in this case) a description of an irreligious Democrat interested in making lots of money, but rather a description of the new-age "designer spirituality" and its so-called "spiritual but not religious gurus." In the up-side-down "new-age," imagine a pimp who claims to be religious, conservative and lives an austere life. True religion and spirituality always go together. An authentic Guru is religious/spiritual (Hindu or related sect), conservative/liberal and ascetic. Though these new-age "spiritual gurus" and their "certified teachers" often present their techniques as something unique, they are generally teaching (without disclosure) Hinduism and its many Yogas. The same deception can be found in those who teach Tai Chi unethically separated from Taoism. Buddhism (a cult of Hinduism) is gaining in popularity among many new-agers. However those who casually refer to their self as a Buddhist (or, worse, a teacher), have fallen into the same non-committal trap.

 

Like any fundamental/universalist (see "spiritual but not religious"), these "spiritual teachers" or "gurus" claim that "yoga," "tai chi," etc., are applicable to everyone's religion. In true double speak, this rhetoric is designed to draw the unsophisticated away from any specific religion and into the cult of the "universal teacher/organization." Openly or deceptively, these individuals and groups denounce following any "other" religion which, paradoxically, creates a fundamentalist position. Though the "universalist teacher" may claim to respect all religions, simply ask them: "What is your religion?" The claim that one is beyond all religion begs the question and is actually a sign of an inflated ego.

 

Since the Spirit is by definition incorporeal, all true spirituality is grounded in the religious process in general and assuredly (at this time in history) a specific religion. Essentially, religion is the process of "linking-back" (religio) to the Spirit. In other words, religion is a system or body of worship (ethics and meditation/contemplation) that comes from and leads to the incorporeal Spirit experiences. Religion is also, by definition, "adoration of God." Though certainly not all religions seek "God," in general, all religions are (in varying degrees) logical systems which lead to Spiritual-Realizations. It is in the natural and necessary specific systems that we discern a specific religion.

 

The Sanskrit word "yoga" is almost identical in meaning to "religion." Sanskrit is, by definition, the noble language of the Hindus. The root meaning of the word "yoga" is "yuj" which means "to yoke" to the Atmana (Spirit/Soul). This understanding, of the truth of yoga, dispels the bizarre notion that "yoga is not religion." Yoga is not however a general term which can be applied to all religions. The Yoga system is the Hindu religion or specific system of worship: Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga. In general, this system of worship is (more or less) found in other religions in their specific forms of ethics, devotion and meditation which leads to Spiritual-Realizations. Regarding the general term clergy, there must also be the logical and respectful understanding that, for example, a Cardinal is a Catholic Christian; a Rabbi is Jewish and a (genuine) Guru or Swami is a Hindu.

 

The fact that there are numerous so-called "spiritual gurus" and their ilk, preying upon others, is simply an indication of our shallow materialistic nature. Considering that prostitution and gambling are ancient practices, it is easy to see how many are duped by the promise of instant gratification involving no commitment and little work--pretty alluring in any age! P.T. Barnaum said "There is a sucker born every minute." Considering the temptation for anyone (and obviously the female) to rather quickly assume the role of a spiritual leader or simply an "exercise guru," an easy mark(et) for counterfeit "yoga certifications" was born.

 

The blind "new-age gurus of spirituality" (nags) capitalize on the instinctive desire for instant gratification. The blind and the blind in a blind dance shuffle. - Hindu proverb. Obviously many people are enamored with what amounts to an irritating repetition of small talk, but the nag must package their self and their product as something high and lofty. A hook (see the movie) is needed and its companion trendy sales pitch which deceptively (or not) leads to self-absorption--the antithesis of Self/Soul absorption.

 

Again, by definition, the Spirit/Soul is incorporeal, but boy do the nags sell the body image under the guise of "spirituality." Picture, personality and price tag are the "obvious" give away. The hooks are personal empowerment, money, materialism, a beautiful body and even sex; i.e., "modern yoga." The sales pitch is universalism and (a phony) spirituality which, to the discerning, is simply a cloak for fundamentalism and especially cultism. One of the most recent nags Sri Sri Ravishankar, for example, claims (falsely, of course): "The unenlightened are those who say I belong to this particular place, or I am from that culture." All the nags use this universal hook (when convenient) to draw in the crowds by denouncing all those who follow a specific religion. Of course, what the charismatic cult figures do not admit outright or what many fail to recognize is, each of these specific cult figures are just that complete with their own "unique" organizations. This deception takes place under the guise of universalism which is actually another word for monotheistic fundamentalism.

 

The Cult Executive Officers/Organizations are of course not unique--though this enticing hook is frequently used. An extraordinary number of these CEO's are simply repackaging the Hindu religion. For fear of losing customers as well as going against their universal sales pitch, naturally, the CEO's will not disclose the Hindu connection. Sri Sri (like all the others), for example, will proudly (at times) recommended for all to follow their religion, and yet when asked what is his religion, the answer is not only none (or, equally deluded, all) but also to not even be teaching religion. So, what is the point of even bringing up religion/spirituality? Of course, the CEO's are suffering from megalomania and actually feel they are beyond all religion. Such a deluded individual also robs the beginning student of a comprehensive and effective religious path to which one is said to have gone beyond. The deluded student is often made to believe they are simply, because they say so, "at the top of the spiritual mountain."

 

Another "blatant" example of the dishonesty and duplicity of the CEO's is in their very organizational formation. These specific (but they refer to their self as universal) organizations claim non-profit status. Since their focus is on so-called "spirituality," and often paying lip-service to religions, their non-profit status was obtained by proving adherence to a specific religion; e.g., Hinduism. However, it certainly seems that after the legal paper-work is complete, the CEO's never mention their Hindu origins. There is no non-profit status for "spirituality" or "new-age." One has to wonder, on hospital information forms, etc., what is put on the blank next to religion? It is also interesting to note how the new-age universalists play fast and loose with the word "God." Are these consciously displaced Hindu CEO's Christians? Sage Hindus and their Pandits, Yogis and Swamis are not Monotheists, nor do Hindus pray to God any more than a Christian worships Siva, Vishnu or Devi, for example.

 

Similar to dedicated lay people and clergy within any religion, Hindus should, of course, be teaching Hindu Dharma and standing up for its profound wisdom. Hindus should be instructing those who wish to learn this great religion. It is truly Hindus who are at fault for the misrepresentations of Hindu/Yoga Dharma. There is even a so-called "Hindu University" which not only teaches phony yoga but also officially aligns itself with the spurious Yoga Alliance. It must be recognized that the beliefs behind such misrepresentations often come from deluded Hindu fundamentalists, who, like the monotheists, truly believe in (their) One God who is The Creator of everything.

 

Many Hindus, for example, have been duped into believing that Vishnu/Krishna is the One God from whom all (including other Divine forms) manifest. It is easy for those of this mindset to make universalist statements, for when they hear the word "God," in their mind, they are thinking Vishnu/Krishna. In the case of the universalists, other Divine Beings and other religions are respected in as much as they are "really" manifestations (Avatars) of the One God/Vishnu. The "pure" fundamentalist is more honest but certainly potentially more dangerous, for the fundamentalist believes in the "True One God" and all others come from that which is evil. Of course, both the fundamentalist/universalist are equally deluded but a necessary part in our human evolution. One extreme is often an understandable knee-jerk reaction to the other. Recognizing the role of the fundamentalist and universalist, centered balance is ultimately found in the /. With centered balance, there is a place for fundamentals and universals without bottoming out, so to speak, in the extremes.

 

The popular "spiritual gurus" of today, with their universalist message, come mainly from the Vaishnava Hindu background. Of course there are also fundamentalist/universalist Saiva Hindus. The so-called "universal" approach of the f/u's has led to an "anything goes or nothing goes philosophy." Sadly, humorous however is that generally "anything goes" (all is one, etc.) except when it comes to registering trade marks, making sure they are well paid as well as denouncing (while paradoxically using the trite phrase "do not judge") adherence to a specific religion! One now belongs to the "new universal organization," that is, until the next fad comes along. Selective division is the M.O. of the f/u's.

 

Because of poor teachers and complacent Hindus, we have all kinds of other non-sense and perversion in the name of yoga such as: Yoga Booty Ballet, Hot Yoga, Hot nude Yoga, Ruff Yoga (for your dogs), blah, blah, blah... . Along with other sacred Hindu/Sanskrit words like "Guru," "Mantra" "Aum" and "Pandit," "yoga" is also grossly misrepresented on T.V. and various forms of advertising. One of the most recent Madison Avenue examples of the perversion of Hatha Yoga is found in a commercial for Cadilac cars. A young, sexy women is driving a sleek, fast new Cadilac--enter the caption: "When yoga is not enough." Even unethical Christians and Jews have pilfered (Hatha) Yoga from the Hindus. Of course these religions are old hands at stealing from others, and (not coincidentally) one can find many of the "new-age yogis" (nay's)coming from these religions.

 

Unable to internally perceive, the nay simply replaces one form of deception with another. Leaving, for example, the Christian doctrine of simply accepting the theology on faith, the nay blindly accepts the so-called "science of Yoga" without a true understanding of either "science" or the facts of Yoga. Whether realized or not, nays repeat their dogmatic assertions learned from equally blind but charismatic "yoga gurus." The following are just a few of the dogmatic views of the nays: I am spiritual but not religious; Yoga is science and not religion; Yoga is a lifestyle and not religion; Yoga is universal; Yoga is for everybody; I do not follow any religion; I follow all religions; I follow Dharma and not religion; Nobody owns Yoga (*see below). The problem with such false claims is "obviously" the inflated ego. There are even examples of nays who have gone (back) into being a Christian fundamentalist. The new Praise Moves (.com) is an example of the inherent ego problem.

 

It is illuminating to note that, by definition, Universalism/Universalist is theological and means: The doctrine that all men will eventually be saved. In the study of world religions, this term is applied to both the Jewish and Christian religions. To a degree, what the nags and the CEO's are doing to the Yogas of Hinduism is not unlike what arrogant missionaries have done to indigenous peoples throughout history. Taking a cue from their mentors, lacking commitment and/or the honesty to ethically leave one religion and commit to another, the nay's casually say no to one religion and simply steal from another. It is not a coincidence that other forms of divorce are popular in the new-age.

 

The CEO's have spawned a whole host of phony "yoga teachers." Though many of these individuals and groups believe their intentions are good, if one is not a Hindu or related cult/sect (by birth or conversion), one cannot be an authentic teacher of any aspect of Yoga. This common sense value would be true of any of the great religious/spiritual paths/religions and their clergy. It is actually very easy to discern a phony yoga teacher. A true teacher of any aspect of Yoga will be a Hindu (or related cult/sect) and will have a Sanskrit name. Though there is much more involved than a name (change), there are no real Hatha Yoga (or any other form of Yoga) teachers with Christian (or other non-Hindu religions) names like John, David, Georg, Frank, Rodney, Patrica, Sharon, etc. It needs also to be remembered that "yoga" is a general term within Hindu Dharma. For clarity and correctness, one speaks of Karma Yoga, Bhakti Yoga, Raja Yoga and Jnana Yoga or the Classical Yoga of Hindu Dharma.

 

Why are so many afraid (or for other reasons) to admit they are Hindu and/or studying Hindu Dharma? Are they simply megalomaniacs? Picture, personality and price tag prevail. In denouncing "organized religion," these cult figure-heads have established their own highly structured organizations. Of course the deceit is evident in that they are pilfering from an already established religious tradition: Hinduism. An ethical person would not participate in this kind of theft. If one does not recognize the "obvious" truth of existing religious/spiritual teachings, like the Hindu/Yogas, a truly creative "spiritual" person would come up with something entirely new! The following are a few examples of the core CEO's and their organizational/personal duplicitous quotes:

 

The program of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi is the single most effective meditation technique available to gain deep relaxation, eliminate stress, promote good health, increase creativity and intelligence, and attain inner happiness and fulfillment. [Is it not interesting that, on the one hand, such groups claim a (phony) oneness and yet advertise their (pilfered) technique as "the most effective?"] When pushed into admission, the Maharishi (like the rest of the con artists) will have to admit that what is passed off as "yoga and meditation" is Hinduism. As the author of yogadangers.com, said: "Maharishi relented and confessed that by being initiated, you basically became a Hindu." (Duh?)

 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: His mission is to go beyond religion... He does not teach religion. He teaches Sudarshan Kriya(TM) and Sri Sri Yoga.

 

Deepak Chopra can be found at chopra.com--need one say more? More than willing to sell their self, he and Sri Sri are both ex-TMers who have started their own personality cults. Chopra is infamous for his many ridiculous statements.

 

Bikram Choudry: What more needs to be said about this "guru to the stars?"

 

Iyengar Yoga: Even the dot com evangelists are not brash enough to put their name in front of the Christian religion and its practices.

 

(The late) Sai Baba: Along with other magic tricks (which have been exposed), Sai offers up the same universal double speak: His timeless and universal teachings, along with the manner in which he leads his own life, are attracting seekers of Truth from all the religions of the world. ["Obviously," these seekers failed to find the Truth in their religion.] Yet, he is not seeking to start a new religion. [Of course he didn't say a new cult.] Nor does he wish to direct followers to a particular religion. Rather, he urges us to continue to follow the religion of our choice and/or upbringing. [So, why would they join the Sai organization? What is his religion? If the new-age followers adhered to the advice of these "universalist gurus," they would go back (or get into) to their Jewish, Christian or Hindu roots.]

 

Swami Satchidanada of Integral Yoga(TM): Yoga is the basis of all the religions. Please do not think that I am a Hindu and the Hindu scriptures say this so that is why I am saying it. I don't belong to any particular religion. He obviously did not forget to continue to refer to himself as Swami which is, of course, a Hindu monk.

 

Yogi Desai: Speaking of being displaced, this married "yogi" was kicked out (for illicit sex) of his own so-called "yoga organization." On a sadly humorous note, he has started another organization, and the original Kripalu has changed its non-profit status from religious to educational. Speaking "On Bullshit" (a book highly recommended for all the CEO's), Kripalu continues to teach so-called "yoga" and offer classes in Buddhism, etc. It seems new-age groups have enough clout to fool even the IRS

 

.Among many other so-called "swamis" (a Swami is a Hindu monk who stands up for the Faith) Swami Dayananda, from Arsha Vidya Gurukulum, speaks of Hindu Dharma to other Hindus (it seems the CEO's have the ability to change their beliefs according to their audience) and yet hires non-Hindu so-called "yoga teachers." Some of his long-time students claim they are not even studying Hindu Dharma but universal Vedanta! Interestingly (showing the fundamentalist/universalist nature), in a recent interview, Dayananda said: "I consider everybody a Hindu until they say they are not." How insulting! The same universal double speak can be found in the Sivananda organization, Siddha Yoga, Yoga-In-Daily-Life, Yoga International, Paramahansa Yogananda and offshoots like Ananda, to name a few.

 

Swami Rama was another in a growing list of so-called "swamis" who don't claim to belong to any religion and then start large universalist movements teaching Hinduism (without admission) and its many Yogas--go figure. Like so many, there was also sexual scandal surrounding the late "swami." Even the current figure-head uses the title Pandit and yet claims to be spiritual and not religious and certainly not Hindu. These spurious cult figures simply create further phony "certified yoga teachers."

 

Subramuniyaswami: Though an advocate for Hinduism, this self-appointed Swami and "Sat Guru" deceived many and of course himself.

 

Truly a step above the phony "yoga teachers of today, all previously non-Hindus who have formally become Hindus need to spend a lot of time learning the Dharma before attempting to teach. Obsessively seeking authority through real or, in this case, self-created lineages (Satyakama, where are you?) is simply a manifestation of others forms of unethical obsessions. Again, it is not a coincidence that many of these so-called "yogis" and "swamis" indeed numerous religious (and "spiritual") leaders have succumbed to the abuse of sex, alcohol and money. It has to recognized that many of these wayward (open or concealed) Hindus have done a lot of good! Bravo! However, we all need to recognize that everyone can make mistakes. No one is beyond reproach. Mature people within all religions can simply apologize, make the necessary corrections and get on with nurturing their chosen religion.

 

Wayne Dyer: Yes, even many of the self-help "gurus" have not only taken on the characteristics of a CEO but also have pilfered much of their teachings from Hindu Dharma. Along with the tell-tale picture, personality and price tag, Dyer once informed a rapt audience about a sacred sound that was taught to him by a very special person. With of course no mention of Hinduism, the sound was the AUM and was taught to him by a man named (in his words--drum roll...) Sri Gurudev. This would be like a new-age teacher telling an uneducated Hindu audience (hypothetical, of course) about a special prayer (Hail Mary) taught to him by, ready, Arch Bishop. Oh! and, of course, my seminar has absolutely nothing to do with religion and certainly not Christianity.

 

One cannot overlook the darlings of the highly materialistic (the very antithesis of the yoga they pretend to represent) Yoga Journal crowd, Jois and the Desikachars. Pandering to this elitist bunch and being anti-religious (and anti-Hindu/Yoga), they are simply another (missing) link in the yoga is science (fiction) camp.

 

Though they claim a much higher plateau, the bottom line on the CEO's is that they claim a so-called "universality" with no boundaries, beliefs, etc., and yet they create their own specific cult, classes, price scale and often register trade-marks on ancient Sanskrit terms. These CEO's are the pitch men (and women) of double speak. They get rich. You get duped. It is truly amazing that innumerable individuals (from all social strata) are more than ready to join these specific groups that blindly make themselves "unique" by denouncing the very practice of joining or adhering to a specific religion. How can a thinking person accept that one makes the claim "to respect all religions" and then declare "I don't belong to any religion." What is the point? These Chalins often assure their students "yoga will make you a better Christian." The only thing this bogus claim is designed to do is to lead people away from any serious religious commitment. These deluded so-called "universalists" are actually suffering from an essential fundamentalism. Whether it be the arrogant and irresponsible assertion that "yoga is the science behind all religions" or "accept Jesus (or God) no matter what your religion," it is all fundamentalism. Naturally the "pure universalist" will tend to be less violent than the "pure fundamentalist," but the f/u's both share a similar exclusive/extremist mind-set with the cry: "Yoga is the Universal Way!." "Jesus/Christianity is the Universal Way!"

 

Simply consider that if not for the dedicated and self-less servants of the great religions of the world (and, in this case, Hinduism), these dishonest CEO's would not have the profound teachings and practices to steal and re-package. Thankfully, the humble and dedicated devotees far out number the corrupt within any religion. Though many of these CEO's do a lot of good, the end product ultimately elevates their own selves and puts the student in a deep hole of deception. These CEO's do a great dis-service to the student as they deceptively lead them away from their former religion (if they had one) and into (in this case) a quasi-Hindu mind-set which places the student in a very precarious mental and emotional situation. Either totally ignorant or simply blinded by greed and/or ego satisfaction, the NAY'S; NAGS; the CEO's are part of what is often referred to as the world's oldest profession. The solution is actually very simple: simply declare one's religion, and, if qualified, one can teach that religion while, of course, respecting the existence of other religions. Though the typical "new-ager" would be shocked to realize they are dogmatic, here are a few examples of the dogmatic assertions of the new-age fundamentalist/universalist:

 

1. Yoga (or perhaps Tai Chi) is simply a physical exercise. Yoga is not a religion!

2. I am spiritual but not religious. No Dogma!

3. _____ (often "yoga") is science and not religion.

4. Following _____ (often "yoga") will help you better understand your religion.

5. Religion has rules and rituals; yoga has none of these.

6. Spirituality unites and religion divides.

7. Spirituality is God-made and religion is man-made.

8. I do not follow any religion.

9. I follow all religions.

10. There is only one religion. I follow the pathless path.

11. I don't believe in labels.

12. I follow Dharma and not religion.

13. I do Yoga. I am a Yoga teacher.

14. Nobody owns Yoga.

 

1. One of the most glaring examples of New-Age distortion is the usage of the word "yoga" to simply mean a form of physical exercise. Completely contrary to the facts of the Hindu/Yoga connection, equating yoga with just an exercise would be like saying Baptism and Communion are merely and underwater exercise and wine tasting, respectively. To see how ludicrous is the Yoga as exercise notion, imagine a non-Christian offering classes (and "certification") in Baptism (as an underwater, holding one's breath exercise for a fee)! There is a form of Yoga that deals with physical postures. This (actually most minor) form of Yoga is called Hatha Yoga and are actually worshipful postures and an integral link in the Hindu religion. (There is more on Hatha Yoga in Dogma #13.)

 

There are also many who have a notion that somehow yoga is not simply an exercise but is spiritual but not religious. Both points of view are seriously flawed. It is a totally false statement that Yoga is not religion. In all respects but one, Yoga is religion. The Latin religion comes from the root "religio" meaning "to link-back" to the Spirit. Yoga is Sanskrit and comes from the root "yuj" meaning "to yoke" to the Spirit. Religion and Yoga convey a similar meaning. Religion is also defined as restraint and taboo. Yama (restraint), which is also Karma Yoga, is the foundation of Hindu Dharma. The Sanskrit "Dharma" means "Dri" "to hold" (similar to "religio") and is defined as "religious law." Taboo means "to hold sacred" which applies to religious rituals and devotions which, in Hinduism is called Bhakti Yoga.

 

Of course religion defined as a system of worship is a more general than Yoga which refers only to the Hindu religion, or system of worship, and its subsequent sects (Buddhism, the Jain and Sikh religions). Any academic reference source such as a dictionary, encyclopedia, books on comparative religions as well as books on Hinduism and other religions (to see where yoga is not found) will quickly reveal the true Yoga/Hindu connection. Interestingly, the only definition of "religion" that does not fit Hindu/Yogic Dharma is "adoration of God." Literally, Hindus do not worship "God" anymore than a Christian worships Siva or Vishnu, for example. Ironically many Hindus and quasi-Hindus are more than willing to use the Christian term "God" than they are to link all the Yogas to Hindu Dharma. Many of these individuals are even afraid to use the word "Hindu!" What a "testament" to the victory of Christian invaders and an example of cowardice.

 

All Yoga terminology is Sanskrit which is defined as the language of the Hindu religion. Religion is also defined as consisting of rules, regulations and rituals. Beginning with Karma Yoga, the Hindu and student of Hinduism attempts to follow a demanding set of rules, regulations and rituals. Religion also consists of theology, philosophy and mythology--the Hindu/Yogas are rich in all three. Yoga is Hinduism, and therefore the classic Yogas constitute a religion; i.e., the religion of Hinduism. The same common-sense understanding would also apply to practices like Zen of the Buddhist religion and Tai Chi of the Taoist religion. New-Agers use the dogmatic statements one and two to support their views and occupations as (deceptive) teachers of Yoga (and often) Zen and Tai Chi.

 

2. Think your spiritual but not religious? No way. Think you do not use dogma? Think again. Since spiritual means incorporeal or without body, one cannot be (in this world) just spiritual. Just as one cannot, at this point, separate the soul from the body, one cannot separate spirituality from the body of religion. Similar to the heart (or other vital organs) and the body, though different, spirituality and religion are inseparable and complimentary. Religion is the body of teachings and practices which lead to Spiritual-Realizations.

 

Without recognizing a religious path, one literally has no way to the summit of Spiritual-Realization. The New-Age clich? "I am spiritual but not religious" is not only intellectually false but also demonstrates a spiritual/religious laziness, lack of commitment and even perhaps an inherent prejudice. This clich? forms the bedrock of the extremists views of the New-Age elitism. When understood, a person cannot be (at least in this world) spiritual but not religious.

 

"Religion" is a synonym for "spiritual." Enough said, however the antonym of "spiritual" is "secular" which means non-religious; therefore if one is non-religious, one is non-spiritual! The English word "religion" comes from the Latin root "religio" meaning: "to link-back" to the spirit. With this understanding, the two words naturally compliment each other. The "body" of religious rules, rituals, scripture and practices are the vital foundation that leads one to spiritual experiences. Religion is also the outcome of Spiritual-Realizations. Thus, true spirituality and religion work harmoniously together soul and body; just like inseparable relationship of head and body and mountain path and summit. Again, by definition, the word "spiritual" means "incorporeal" which means without a body. When one understands the compatibility and inseparability of religion/spirituality, one begins to see not only how ludicrous it is hold on to this fundamentally dogmatic clich? but also how dogmatically programmed one has allowed oneself to become.

 

Of course a person can be religious and not go very deep into an understanding and experience of the Spirit. Ironically in regard to understanding the Spirit, the "spiritual but not religious" fit more into this category. A truly spiritually realized person knows the vital role of religion--a path to the summit. Factually anytime one seeks to "link-back" to one's spirit, one is being religious. Whether or not one belongs to an established religion is another matter. Many people have pure moments of profound religious/spiritual reflection and experience. Of course if one is practicing a specific ritual or technique (Hatha Yoga, for example) learned from an established religious/spiritual tradition, common sense and morality dictates that one recognize this source.

 

It is more than a bit humorous (but actually a very serious infraction) that those in the "spiritual but not religious camp" take (in effect, steal) from established religious traditions (like the Yogas of Hinduism) without recognizing them and then claim they are following the universal science or way! All fundamentalists do basically the same thing--they claim their way is the science or universal way.

 

In Hindu/Yogic philosophy and practice, the two-fold nature of religion/spirituality is fully evident though not always practiced. Called by many names, religion/spirituality is sometimes identified as the complimentary practice/experience; i.e., Dvaita/Advaita (Vedanta); Pravritti/Nivritti and Prakriti/Purusha. The primary New-Age dogmatism of "spiritual but not religious" has been perpetuated by those who preach only the second half of the equation. No truly Spiritually-Realized person would ever make this most primal blunder. For example, the famous Vedantic Guru Sankara said: Dividdyo Dharmaha Pravritti lakshano; Nivritti lakshanas ca. Jagata stiti karam. "This two-fold Dharma of Religious practices and Spiritual-realizations is what cause world stability."

 

Sadly, numerous disingenuous "Hindu" teachers have deceived many by simply extolling the virtues of the mountain top. Actually denouncing a path/religion to the top, these cunning (or simply deluded) individuals effectively rip the rug out from under the beginning seeker. Deviously, it appears that the motive is to cause the student to be attached solely to the teacher which creates a potentially dangerous cultic situation. It is not a coincidence that New-Age is characterized by Picture, Personality and Price tag and the attendant scandals. Gandhi put this problem into perspective when he said: "Because so few are unwilling to undergo intense religious disciplines, there is so much untruth being delivered to a bewildered world." Think if (as the CEO's proclaim) everyone is "at the top of the spiritual mountain/already realized, etc.," who needs the teacher?It is also wise to consider all the religious people that the arrogant "spiritual but not religious" crowd exclude--all the: Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs, Taoists, Shinto, Jewish, Christian, Muslims, Native Americans, Hawaiians and Aboriginals, for example. Of course those that exclude all such people are themselves not really spiritual (and of course not claiming to be religious). New-Age universalists would have a very rude awakening if they simply paused a moment and thought "Gee from where did all these teachings and practices (like Hatha Yoga, Mantra Yoga, etc.....) derive?" Of course these religious/spiritual disciplines came from mature, courageous, dedicated and hardworking religious/spiritual people.

 

3. Modern "yogis" often make the lofty claim to be teaching yoga science--true--science fiction. When the mindless statement "Yoga is science and not religion" is made, a thinking individual might wonder why "Yoga" is not part of the sciences offered by all accredited institutions of higher learning. The "science thing" is also sadly humorous because, in effect (when one says that "religion is not science"), one is saying religion is something ignorant and not knowing ("science;" e.g. "to know"). To arrogantly claim that all religious people "don't know" is another manifestation of the initial segregation and elitist exclusions that begins by separating all so-called "spiritual" people from all the billions (past and present) of religious people. The phrase "yoga science" does not fit any more than the new-age combo of Sanskrit and English "yoga and meditation." Would not the nay be shocked to realize true Yoga Sastra (science/scripture).

 

In Hindu religious philosophy, the material plane (Prakriti) or science/matter and the Spirit (Purusha) must (and do) come together. Prakriti is likened to a blind man and Purusha to a lame man; the two meet, the Spirit/Purusha, being able to see but not walk, sits atop science/Prakriti who can walk but cannot see. The Dutch philosopher Spinoza recognized this wisdom and was quoted as saying: "Religion without science is lame; Science without religion is blind." And to put this New-Age dogmatism to rest, we need only quote from Albert Einstein: A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super personal value. ... Religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. ... I am of the opinion that all the finer speculations in the realm of science spring from deep religious feeling, and that without such feeling they would not be fruitful.

 

4. Yoga universalists/fundamentalists openly declare that "Yoga will make one a better Christian, Muslim, etc." In effect, these elitist individuals and groups are claiming "yoga" to be something superior to what is found in all other religions. On closer inspection this statement is even more perplexing. For example, once one becomes a "better Christian through yoga," then what? Does one then fully practice their Christianity (which has no yoga) thus giving up the Hindu practices of yoga?

 

Those who make a universalist claim for yoga are no different than any fundamentalist who erroneously assumes their religion (or whatever they call it), with its unique practices and teachings, is the universal one. True unity in diversity is to seek similarities and respect between religions and to also honor their unique expressions. Fundamentalists/Universalists seek an illusory unity through sameness which is essentially a unity through blindness. Though it is highly beneficial to study various religions, the way to be a better Christian, for example, is to be a better Christian.

 

5. Only the very deceitful and cunning adult would deny the inevitability and wisdom of rules and rituals. The facts are that life is an expression of rules and rituals that make sense out of existence. Thankfully, we can depend on the precise timing of the daily "sunrise," "sunset," high tide and low tide, for example. It is a good thing that the various divisions within the body follow their rules and regulations. Those who are out to, ironically, set up their own rules, rituals and organizations are fond of denouncing all established rules and rituals. The ego rules! Negative cultic situations are often the outcome of those who denounce the rules of others only to set up their own "new" way.

 

6. Spirituality unites and religion divides. This New-Age clich? sounds good to those who do not take the time to understand the inseparability and inevitability of the religious/spiritual union. The Spirit/Soul is to religion what the Spirit/Soul is to the Body, different yet inseparably working together in a complimentary way. In another analogy, yes the heart is one thing and the body is another, yet they cannot be separated and still have a functioning human being. The religions of the world are defined by their religious practices that lead to Spiritual-Realizations. Recognized religious/spiritual practices are found within their respective religions.

 

At the root of this New-Age dogmatism is the hypocritical and extremist notion that division is a bad thing. Common sense division is life. The body, for example, is wisely divided into various compartments each of which follow very precise rules and rituals, so to speak. Of course, unnecessary divisions or segregation are the other extreme to also be avoided.

 

The very statement that spirituality unites and religion divides is a divisive statement. The religions of the world are basically here to stay. The wise approach to religion is found in the N.A.T. principle. One's religion is not The way (fundamentalism), and not No way (universalism) but A way. Naturally, The extremes exists, but seek to find A solution.

 

7. Sure the Spirit is Spirit or "God-made." (Note: many use the word "God" or "God-made," but one should respect that many non-Christian religions do not use that word.) Humans are, of course, also Spirit or "God-made," and it is we who make these other things like religion with all its practice. So, in a real sense, everything (including religion) is Spirit or "God-made." In fact, one of the other names for the Hindu religion is Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Religion). E.T. also means that the Spirit (extra-terrestrial, if you please) flows through all things terrestrial. It is amazing how even those with scholarly credentials (who claim to know something of E.T.) fall prey to New-Age; areligion (which may give a new meaning to "Ph.D."--Phone Home Dude).

 

The body that is religion is not only necessary but inevitable. We are form. (Shall we add a duh for emphasis?) From language to all the practices and teachings that people do, they are doing the body of religious/spiritual practices. Remember the meaning of the English word "religion" is "to link-back" to that which is spiritual. Again, the word "yoga" is also the same as "religion" which dispels the New-age myth that "Yoga is not religion." True religion and spirituality always go together--at least while we have bodies and speak and move through this world of form.

 

A specific religion could be likened to a recognized specific playing field. This field has boundaries, rules, rituals and regulators. The game is known. The players know the specific game and the practices. There are many different fields upon which to play. One person's game is not that of another, but the recognition of the chosen field with its specific practices is evident. A similar analogy could be made regarding the various career choices. Just as many are more than willing to announce their chosen career, one can be proud in declaring one's religion without having to denounce another's religion.

 

8. Many who have not been to the top of "the spiritual mountain" have read or heard quotes by Hindu (and other) religious/spiritual teachers such as: "All is One," or "I am a Hindu, and a Christian and a Muslim," etc. The New-Age clich? I follow all religions is simply another example of naive individuals simply repeating the words of one who has perhaps climbed the religious/spiritual mountain. Of course there are also relatively realized (and more than a few with criminal intent) teachers who have not taken into consideration their actions and reinforce the delusions of the naive student by not providing the inspiration and method by which one can climb the mountain.

 

It is a stereotypical New-Age delusion to pretend to be at the top of "the spiritual mountain." It is true that many relatively realized saints have achieved a "mountain top state" of oneness. However a fact that is often "conveniently" overlooked is the progress up the mountain. Some of these teachers may have allowed their self to be quoted out of context and/or many naive followers have misunderstood what they were trying to convey.

 

The following may help to clarify the importance of steady progress on one's chosen religious path up the mountain. Who was: a mediocre student; lacking in confidence and poise; began smoking at twelve and stole money for cigarettes; contemplated suicide; married at 13; would not allow his wife to go out without permission; supported strict social division; was haunted by fears of thieves, ghosts, and serpents; considered meat-eating a duty; revolted against religion; had no faith in God; and ...... who also became a lawyer; extremely courageous; highly ethical; a champion of equal rights; thirsty for religion, a zealous vegetarian, a Hindu and a religious/spiritual leader of a nation? Mahatma Gandhi.

 

Along with his many erroneous (but necessary) and relative life "conclusions," at one point in Gandhi's life, he also said: "I am a Christian and a Hindu and a Moslem and a Jew." When Gandhi, the Hindu, said "I am a Christian and a Hindu and a Moslem and a Jew," he clearly meant that he could appreciate the many aspects of these religions which is a basic Hindu belief. For Gandhi also said, "Why can I go to Heaven and attain salvation only as a Christian?" He used to "chide the missionaries for making Christians of hungry Indians ... make us better Hindus, he pleaded." "In the end, Gandhi embraced Christ but rejected Christianity." (source and quotes: "Gandhi His Life and Message For The World" by Louis Fischer 1954.)

 

In other words when a "Master" says "All is One," they are perhaps speaking from the top of the mountain. However if one makes the effort to look into the lives of these individuals, one will see that these courageous adventures had the intelligence, determination, strength and patience to choose a path and to climb that specific religious/spiritual path "up the mountain." Truly respecting other religions is to know what they believe. Though there is much in common to be celebrated, there are also many differences some of which are very contradictory. Like the numerous specific professions/careers of the world that get along harmoniously with their differences, the many religions of the world are not the same. However, these inevitable differences should not mean that humanity cannot seek a sense of religious harmony to accompany the natural differences between the various religions. All paths up the mountain are not the same though they may lead to the same place. Of course when any religion makes an exclusive claim to their sole validity, it is very difficult to "get along."

 

If one is to grow in the spiritual realm, one must (at some point) find a religious path that is comfortable and then step on it and follow it to the top. From the top, one will realize what is meant by "Oneness and Manyness" (as well as "no-thing-ness"). True "unity in diversity" is being on a religious path while simultaneously respecting the validity of other paths. It is one of the many self-deluding tricks of the ego to never choose a religious path and/or to prematurely declare that one is a (yoga) teacher before one has fully committed (in this case, to the Hindu path) to a religious path. Stepping on a religious path is the first step; then one finds the courage and will to follow it to the top.Whether born into a religion or later adopting or converting to a chosen religion, a naming ceremony is most basic. So important is religion to a sincere individual, that one is given or chooses an appropriate religious name. Overlooking this most basic understanding, New-Age Yogis with Christian names such as Judith, James and George, for example, are often perplexed when they are so easily identified as non-Hindus and therefore fraudulent "yoga teachers."

 

9. Many universalists who deny following a specific religion (and often seem to end up creating their own personality cults) often say "I follow all religions" and/or "My religion is the religion of Love." Just imagine filling out an application form or entering a hospital and putting "Love" in the religion blank--one will probably be visited by the psychiatric staff! Of course Love should be the basis of all that we do, but to thoughtlessly use these clich?'s to draw in the masses, is to practice a serious deception. In attempting to eradicate the identities of the various religions, such individuals and groups only end up creating a new group identity. Though we want to avoid the extreme of religious discrimination, being religiously rich, or color rich, for example, is far more enlightened than being blind to the various religions, cultures and races.

 

10. It is sometimes hard to believe but religious fundamentalist/universalists will often say they don't belong to A religion, because (in their eyes) there really is no other religion. This clouded vision is sometimes expounded by those who may say there really are no paths or there is only one path. When one grows up in a religion, there is always the danger that one may assume that religion to be the only valid one, and if others exist, they are merely a reflection of the "one religion" or (putting it mildly) misguided steps that hopefully will lead one to the "real one religion." A convert to a religion may also be so zealously involved that they too begin to assume that the religion (or whatever they call it) they are in is really the only one. "I follow the pathless path" is another New-Age clich? that is touted by those who will also say "There are no paths."

 

11. Again, Yoga is a Sanskrit (the foundational language of Hinduism) label identifying the many, progressive religious disciplines of the Hindu Dharma (religious law). Since the definition of "Sanskrit" is: "The ancient Aryan (noble) language of the Hindus," (Webster's) one cannot (honestly) use a single Sanskrit word or label without recognizing the Hindu religious connection.

 

Many New-Age individuals and groups who are perverting the Yoga/Hindu teachings and practices often claim to have a problem with labels. What would happen if someone switched or removed all the labels from the cans in the supermarket? The problem is not, essentially, with labels which are an inevitable and useful (and can also be misused) but rather a egotistical problem of mislabeling or simply choosing labels only to suit one's own agenda. Of course one who truly eschews all labels would be totally isolated and incommunicado. For all the rest of us, honest labeling is a useful fact of life.

 

Anyone who thinks they do not need labels is either not thinking or, with relative degrees of awareness, crafting one's own ideology. Here are a few thoughts: Mislabeling through ignorance or cunning makes one liable. Believing there is only one label, one becomes disabled though quite able of hurting others. To respect and use proper labeling is inherently enabling. "New-age yoga" suffers from the age-old ego delusions of rebelling against definition and then turning around and creating one's own (false) definitions. Superficially labeling over an already established tradition and it's practices is unethical, at best and criminal at worst. Eclecticism seems to be a New-Age "ism" for watering down (to the point of non-recognition) the many profound religious/spiritual traditions. A truly creative individual would come up with a new approach rather than abusing already established religious/spiritual traditions. Refusing to respect the unique religions with their specific practices and labels is the New-Age M.O.

 

12. New-Age so-called "Yogis" often say "I follow the Dharma and not religion (meaning Hinduism). Such cultic practitioners will also adamantly preach that "Yoga is Vedic and not Hinduism," that "Yoga existed (in the Indus area) before Hinduism" and "Yoga is a lifestyle while Hinduism is a religion." One would hope that with the previous facts, the shallowness and deception of these clich?s would be evident.

The most glaring blunder in this ill-founded logic is the fact that the Indus river valley is the origin of the people called (H)indus! The word "Hindu" is simply another pronunciation for not only "Indu" but also "(H)(S)indu. Sindu is generic for river as well as a specific river in the Indus area. It was these (H)indus that wrote the Vedas, wherein we find the first recorded evidence of Yoga: Seers of the vast illumined Seer, Yogically control their minds and intelligence. - Rig V.81. A prevalent and thoughtless notion is that "Yoga" and "Hinduism" are like two parallel tracks and are therefore separate. This is not only bad yoga "theology" but also bad geometry. Anyone who knows what is a parallel will quickly see through this deception. One line inseparably needs the other or else there is no parallel!"

 

Dharma" means "religious law" or "Tradition." Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Tradition) is another name for Hinduism as is "The Dharma," "Vedic Dharma," "Arya Dharma" and "Yoga Dharma. So important is Dharma or religion to many Hindus, that if one happens to say they do not have a Dharma or religion, one is looked at as either lacking in sanity and/or (temporarily) evil. Again, the Vedas are the scriptures of the Hindus, written by Hindus. The first evidence of the word "Yoga" is found in the Vedas, so any speculation as to various Yoga practices prior to the record of the Vedas is just that, speculation. Finally, anyone who has a modicum of understanding of religion knows that a religion is (in varying degrees) a lifestyle. Hinduism, the religion of Yoga is such a lifestyle. It is important to remember that though the valley of the (H)indus is the origin of the religion, Hinduism is a recognized world religion to which anyone (as in any other religion) can belong.

 

13. When one says "I do Yoga," one is factually saying "I do religion" and specifically "I do the Hindu religion. Obviously, the New-Age Yogi, who also claims to be non-religious, is simply a practitioner of a serious deception. There is another very real problem with simply using the word "Yoga" which is generic within Hinduism for the many Yogas such as Karma Yoga and Bhakti Yoga, for example. In the mistaken modern usage of "Yoga," this has come to stand for only one Yoga which should rightly be called "Hatha Yoga." A subsequent serious deception in making (Hatha) "Yoga" the "be-all-and-end-all" of what is Yoga is that Hatha is actually the most minor form (and most recent in development) of the classic Yogas! Hatha Yoga, however, is a very important link in the classic Hindu Yogas.

 

Hatha Yoga is all about worshipful postures. Common to all the Hindu/Yogas, the physical asanas (postures) are highly beneficial in harmonizing body, mind and individual Soul with the MahaDevas (Great Hindu Souls). To one degree or another, all Hindus do these asanas. Every Hindu is subtly trained from childhood to sit effortlessly on the floor in Siddhasana or perhaps Padmasana. This "one steady comfortable pose" (Stirasukamasana) becomes a lifelong "friend" cultivated through years of sitting through lengthy pujas and meditation in the home and temple. However most important to posture is the religious/spiritual attitude that the Hindu seeks to constantly practice.

 

Though many Hindus may not practice numerous Hatha Yoga asanas, the basics are always there (and actually the deeper understanding of the proper attitude/posture). This understanding dispels another New-Age deception that Hindus do not do yoga (meaning Hatha Yoga). Importantly, in-depth Hatha Yoga training is wisely reserved for the more reclusive times in the Hindu's life. It is this fact to which many Hindus refer when they may with wisdom say they do not do the more ascetic practices which were never meant for mass display! Of course the Hindu monk ardently pursues these intense practices which include more intense Kundalini Yoga practices which were actually suppose to be kept secret! This depth of Hatha Yoga practice was meant only for those in the later stages of one's life as well as for the young celibate male Hindus who have reached a point in their evolution when they renounced much of their material existence. By definition, Hatha means force; violence which implies the severity of these rigorous Hindu practices.

 

The true Yogi is a devout Hindu grounded in both Karma, Bhakti and Jnana (as knowledge) Yoga. The genuine Yogi then enters a very reclusive lifestyle. It takes extreme dedication, a lengthy studentship and much experience before one truly receives the title "Yogi." Contrast these facts with the so-called "Yoga" of today with just about anybody quickly being "certified" to teach. These false certifications are a blatant insult to what is a genuine Yogi. The glossy body image "yoga magazines" are another perfect expression of this most imperfect understanding and practice of the Hatha Yoga of Hinduism. To be honest, the counterfeit modern "Yogis" should give up such titles and classes and perhaps teach a simple stretching and relaxation.

 

The modern notion of a so-called "certified yoga teacher" is not only absurd but highly unethical and damaging to the naive student as well as to the personal growth of the so-called teacher. Those who seek and sell these spurious "Yogi certificates" are under the sway of serious delusion.The first step in being a teacher of any religion is to logically first be a member of that religion. To be a lay teacher of any religion requires commitment and education. However the clergy are naturally expected to have a much great commitment, knowledge and experience. A true Yogi is such an individual.

 

14. A final New-Age bit of dogma is to make the blind and arrogant claim "Nobody owns Yoga!" This trite phrase and cruel deception has actually been used, in general, by invaders against many indigenous peoples. Native people have always been known for sharing with others. For example, the Carib, Arawak, Native North and South Americans and Hawaiians all initially embraced foreigners. The invaders, however, took advantage of this generosity and the rest is history.

 

Sure, nobody owns a religion in the sense that one cannot join in and become a member. However to use this trite phrase to simply take what one wants from an established religion and define it in whatever way one desires, is to create an ego driven practice. A few analogies that may help the disingenuous New-Ager to understand their deception are as follows: True no one owns the earth, so does this mean that someone can simply take the land upon which you live? No one really owns anybody, so does this mean someone may simply take your children? In the same way, those who adhere to Hinduism own Hinduism and the many Yoga practices by origin, continuum and elaboration.

 

In summary to split religion and spirituality apart is not only something that cannot (honestly) be done but also is counterproductive. Unfortunately, we do live in an age when people split all kinds of things apart. Look at the Divorce rate, for example. The New-Age tendency to split apart religion and spirituality is simply a symptom of a mental division, ignorance and ego. It is predictable how many who think they teach "yoga," etc. and are not following a religion (in this case Hinduism), are also divorced people with other relationship problems. Re-ligion is about learning on many levels to re-late.

 

In general, to divorce religion from spirituality is to miss the whole point of religion/spirituality. Specifically, to divorce the practices (like the Hindu/Yogas) from the religion (Hinduism) is to miss the whole point of the complete religious/spiritual experience.  A mature person can have a way/path/religion while still respecting other religions. We want to try and avoid being a fundamentalist (thinking our religion is the only way) as well as avoiding being a New-Age universalist (not recognizing/respecting the many religious paths). Living through these extremist views, one learns one can follow a sect without being sectarian; on can adhere to dogma without being dogmatic; one can adhere to fundamentals without being a fundamentalist; and one can practice a love that is universal without being a New-Age universalist.

 

I am spiritual but not religious, is the motto of deluded divisiveness.

Yoga is science and not religion, is another sign of internal division.

I am new-age, is the same old ego seeking center stage.

All is One, sounds like fun but rings hollow from the lips of anyone.

I follow the pathless path, is another "obvious" ego mask.

Our tradition is universal sir, says the fundamentalist suffering from delusion of grandeur.

I am not into labels and specific religions you see, all the while hiding behind my Ph.D. etc., etc.(If truth be told what you do is very rude,perhaps the initials stand for Phone Home Dude.)

I am a Yoga teacher, is generally another way of saying, I am a deluded preacher.

I follow the Yoga tradition. This probably means one is on a mission to deceive the naive and seek fame and glory and money and sex, its the same sad story.

Whether conscious or unconsciously we deceive all, it doesn't hold water in any court of law.

We are all Enlightened, we are all the same. Yet, you need our way.What a silly game.

Better to seek the bottom of the mountain you see; find your religion and follow it, this is religious/spiritual reality.

And one more thing before we part,all of Yoga isHinduism, this is where you must start.

Jai Ganesha!

 

 

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