PODCAST: Yoga and Institutional Religion
- YOGA AND INSTITUTIONAL RELIGION
Swami Jnaneshvara Bharati
Recorded January 4, 2006
3 minutes, 26 seconds
Click here to listen to the audio Podcast:
Yoga is in religion, but religion is not in Yoga. The principles of
Yoga are (in alphabetical order) in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism,
Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and most of the other religions.
However, unlike religions, Yoga itself has no deity, worship
services, rituals, sacred icons, creed, confession, clergy,
institutions, congregation, membership procedure, or system of
temples or churches. The word "Yoga" means "union" referring to the
direct experience of the wholeness of ourselves at all levels. While
the word "Yoga" comes from traditional Sanskrit language, that union
is a universal process. The inner calling for that wholeness has also
been called the "mystic" longing.
The yogis and mystics seek the esoteric end of the polarity of
esoteric-exoteric. However, since the world of religions is dominated
by the exoteric orthodoxy, the mystic and yogi is rarely understood.
One who has been to the top of the spiritual mountain in direct
experience may say, when asked what was discovered, "Yahweh; Ehyeh,"
or "I am that I am." He or she may say, "The father and I are one."
She or he may say, "Sohum" which is Sanskrit for "I am that." He or
she may go as far as to say, "I am God," in the spirit that the wave
and the ocean are one and the same. That direct experience aligns
with the immanent end of the immanent-transcendent polarity, but not
being understood, comes across as a threat to the religionists. As if
that is not enough of a threat, the mystics and yogis seek to trace
their way back to the original material cause, rather than myopically
focus on a projected efficient cause.
Because of their direct experience of the esoteric, immanent, and
material causes--rather than mere belief--the mystics and yogis who
are unwilling to renounce that direct experience and pledge loyalty
to the orthodox religious institutions and their leaders have been
beaten, hung, shot, crucified, beheaded, burned at the stake, and
otherwise murdered. They have been outright banished or coerced to
leave the cities and communities of the fear-filled religionists so
as to live alone in the deserts, forests, or high mountains. Modern
religions, cultures, and even religion classes insist on categorizing
and classifying the mystics and yogis, attempting to force them into
rigid boxes of institutional religious identity.
It remains as true today as always, that the mystics and yogis prefer
to remain invisible, outside of the mainstream view, as they live far
outside the center of the bell curve called "most people." Yet, the
number of people with this level of deep longing for direct
experience rather than mere blind faith is so large that there is an
increasing need for higher visibility of the authentic mystics and
yogis. As long as humanity is here, there will continue to be mystics
and yogis longing for, seeking, and attaining the direct experience
of the highest truth, self, reality, infinity, god, or whatever term
one wants to use for that. The realized yogis and mystics drift here
and there in our world so as to serve those few.
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