sharing notes

For over some ten years I have been invited to speak in some schools of Yoga, about my thoughts on the similarities that exist between the philosophy of Yoga and that of Christianity.

I have a series of notes that some have asked me to share and so I will begin with one of the main ones.
This was taken from a talk on Yoga and teachings in Christianity

Yoga and the Teachings of Lord Jesus.

I have chosen Yoga and the teachings of Lord Jesus as the introductory lecture for tonight rather than Yoga and Christianity because I want to compare the teachings of Yoga specifically to what I believe Jesus taught.

When I speak of Yoga, I look at several definitions. One of the main books I looked to for reference concerns the Bhagavad Gita. It was the first book I read from the  teachings of India. The name Bhagavad means Lord and Gita, song. When reading this book, especially in the beginning, we need a good commentary.

I have found that the commentary from a great Saint from India called Ynaneshwar, is for me, the best!

Jnanadev or Jnaneshwar, Poet and yogi, was on this earth for about twenty years, nearly seven hundred years ago. His brief life was considered a divine event.

The Bhagavad Gita embodies the essence of the Vedic Religion within a short compass and in the most popular form. When I was in India in every temple in the North especially,  they would be giving talks on this book.

That glorious dialogue between Arjuna and Lord Krishna, is aptly described as Jnanamaya Pradipa – The Light of Knowledge.

The cardinal Pietro Rosssano was nominated as President of a Pontifical Council for Dialogue with other Religions. This was in the sixties during the time of Pope Paul VI, and the Cardinal began reading the Bhagavad Gita he said, to learn about Hinduism.

In an article in a review called Theology and Religions, this Cardinal of the Catholic Church wrote about the Bhagavad Gita and he said, “the Bhagavad Gita, with its invitation to reply showing an abandon to a personal and affectionate love of God for man, offers a path which does not cease to surprise the Christian because of its close analogy with the Gospel precept..”

This article coming out from Rome at the time was an added inspiration for me to read the Bhagavad Gita.

In this book, the Lord Krishna tells Arjuna what is Yoga. In Chap2 V 48

Yogastah Kuru Karmani!  Established in Yoga, perform your actions., having abandoned attachment, Arjuna, and having become indifferent to success or failure. It is said that evenness of mind is Yoga.
And in V 50 Lord Krishna again explains,
He whose wisdom is established casts off, here in this world, both good and evil actions; therefore devote yourself to Yoga! Yoga is skill in action!.

And the Lord Krishna outlines three approaches towards this union with God.

Karma Yoga,  the way of action, Jnana Yoga, the way of Knowledge, and Bhakti Yoga, the way of Devotion.
Both Swami VishnuDevananda and  the Master Swami Sevananda said that the aim of all Yoga is to lead us to the Union with the Divine.

There is this Sutra which says “When the mind becomes one, it is called Raja Yoga. The Yogi, being the master of creation and destruction, becomes the equal of Ishwara” (Pradipika Chap 77)
Who said “I and the Father are One”?

The meaning of the word religion has been disputed all through the centuries and some say it comes from the Latin word ‘religare’, to bind together and in the
Catholic Encyclopaedia it says:
Religion in its simplest form implies the notion of being bound to God ; the same notion is uppermost in the word religion in its most specific sense, as applied to the life of poverty, chastity, and obedience to which individuals voluntarily bind themselves by vows more or less solemn. Hence those who are thus bound are known as religious.

As human beings I believe whether we like it or not, we are all bound, tied in to that same reality as we call God, the Divine, Creator, the Self or by whatever we may call It. It is only that our minds have strayed and we don’t know where we are.

And we are told that the aim of all Yoga is union with the Divine. In that sense, Yoga then is really about religare, religion, in the true sense of the word without ritual or dogma.

In this reality, as we sit here tonight, regardless of what religion we follow or we don’t, we can look at Yoga…..union with the Divine, or with our True Self, as something for every one of us.

When I was a child and in school, a Catholic school, I remember being taught that we were put on this earth for these reasons; to know, to love and to serve God in this world and to be happy with him now and forever in the next. (Baltimore Catechism)

Remember also what I previously mentioned as the Bhagavd Gita proposes, the three paths of Yoga, Action, Knowledge and Devotion,

I find then that in Yoga, exists the same thing as I was taught, why I am on this earth!

So I look at Jesus and the more I look at him and what he taught and what he said, the more I can find things pertaining similar to the teachings in Yoga.!


2 thoughts on “sharing notes

  1. Thanks for your note. Glad you are sharing them. I didn’t know ‘religare’ in latin meant to ‘bind’. In that sense I can see are relation to the word yoga (yuj or to to yoke).
    I love the picture of the battle scene in the Bhagavad Gita. This picture to me describes everyones’ life: the struggle to make the right decision, the need for guidance, the confusion when faced with tremendous responsibility, but most of all the light, there is so much light in this picture, there is so much love.

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