THE NEW-AGE: (A)RELIGION
I am spiritual but not religious! A study in Fundamentalism/Universalism
Illusion works impenetrable,Weaving webs innumerable. Her gay pictures never fail, Crowd each other veil on veil Charmer who will be believed, By one who thirsts to be deceived. - Emerson
The so-called New-Age has been around long enough to (ironically) have an established set of dogmas. Ironically, because one of the New-Age dogmas is to eschew dogma (and religion)! If your confused already, you are not alone. Dogma essentially means "opinion" and everyone has one. When dogmas are held in the face of facts to the contrary, one becomes dogmatic. As you will see, in classic denial, New-Age is extremely dogmatic as well as a hypocritical attempt at spirituality/religion. Religion essentially means "to link-back" to that which is spiritual, and since New-Age attempts to make this link, they fall (much to their chagrin) into the category of religion.
New-Age is an interesting phenomena (but really nothing new, hence the italics) since this movement is, paradoxically, based on being highly critical of dogma as well as religion in general. At best, New-Age is an ecumenical movement to learn about some practices within established religions. At worse and most popular is the New-Age tendency to actually denounce all organized religion while paradoxically creating "teachers" (and new organizations) of some of the practices that come from established religions. This form of New-Age is merely age-old ignorance and ego (avidya and asmita). Though New-Age distorts several spiritual/religious traditions, this paper will focus primarily on the Yoga/Hindu distortions which are popular as well as the focus of the Classical Yoga Hindu Academy.
New-Age is, in part, an understandable knee jerk reaction to fundamentalism and especially Christian fundamentalism. Seeing through the fundamentalist mind-set of proclaiming a one way or religion, New-Age denounces this unhealthy tendency. However under the guise of "universalism," little do most New-agers realize that they too have fallen prey to fundamentalism. Going to the opposite extreme, New-Agers deceitfully and/or blindly claim no boundaries or divisions. Coming from a fundamentalist mind-set, many simply substitute another name for Jesus, for example, and continue in the same vein/vain. Yoga, the Sai Baba and modern Hare Krishna movements are just some of the examples of these New-Age universalist substitutes.
New-Age is basically a vision-less movement to draw upon established religious traditions without claiming allegiance to any one and more disturbingly to actually denounce the very process of religion upon which they draw. The New-Age practitioner becomes especially deluded when they attempt to teach one or several practices found within these religious traditions to which they do not fully adhere and ironically even denounce.
New-Age draws heavily upon Eastern religions and especially Hinduism and its offshoot Buddhism. Spiritual/religious practices like the Tai Chi of the Taoist religion are also popular among New-Agers. In large part, unsophisticated Hindu (and Buddhists) teachers and naive non-Hindu, non-Buddhist students constitute the make-up of the unhealthy mix that is New-Age Yoga. Though many of these so-called Hindu and Buddhist teachers and students would not accept the label of New-Age, their mind-set is very similar. New-Age thinking is really extreme liberalism which can be just as destructive as extreme conservatism. The latter is epitomized by the phrase of being close-minded, while the former is found in the adage of being so open-minded that one's brains fall out.
One of the oldest religions, Hinduism and its Yoga practices reflects a great appreciation and tolerance for other religions. New-Agers feel an affinity with this outlook but generally misinterpret this to mean one should not follow a specific religion. Even more interestingly, the many Hindu practices of Yoga (without the word Hinduism), for example, are claimed to be the universal way which ironically brings one right into fundamentalism.
F/U's: Humorously (but also very seriously), fundamentalists and universalists actually share a similar elitist mind-set. Consciously or unconsciously, F/U's are out to violate others. The former believes that their religion is the only valid one which can and does have deadly consequences. The universalist is one who may pay "lip service" to the many religions but inherently feels that their spiritual practices (which come from a religion like the Yogas of Hinduism) are the universal way or science. To the New-Age universalist, all other religions are valid in that they are merely reflections of this "one universal way." Modern (counterfeit) Yoga is vivid example of New-Age universalism.
The transcendental and mystical teachings of Hinduism and Buddhism also appeal to the New-Ager. These "mountain-top" spiritual experiences appeal to those of the "get-it-quick" mindset. Dogmatically believing that one can skip over the whole mountain of religious teachings and practices and somehow magically be at the top appeals to the adolescent New-Age thinking. Offering quick "certifications" (for a substantial fee of course), spurious "teachers" lacking in vision abound who will capitalize on this naivet?. Of course, many Hindus are to blame for not speaking out against these travesties.
The following New-Age clich?s exemplify some of the dogmatism that the New-Ager is taught and expounds:
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.
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