Click here to read AFA article entitled->:AFA Writer Condemns Christians Who Practice Yoga | Right Wing Watch
Instead of our spiritual "leaders" like Albert Mohler of the Southern Baptist Convention and Douglas Groothuis of the Denver Seminary leading the flock into the freedom which comes only through Christ they shackle Christians to the idolatry of religion. They suggest that the bible narrowly defines a methodology to following Christ.
They have at least read James 1:27- Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. So then specifically their issue must be what is and what isn't being polluted by the world.
Please bear with me as I lay out the foundational thoughts of Buddhism to point out where I think my brothers in Christ miss the boat or feel free to scroll down to "Christians Involved in the Practice of Yoga."
The foundation of Buddhism is centered on the " Four Noble Truths:
- The truth of suffering (dukkha)
- The truth of the cause of suffering (samudaya)
- The truth of the end of suffering (nirhodha)
- The truth of the path that frees us from suffering (magga)
You can find this in the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta.
Here is the Eightfold Path by Barbara O'Brien, About.com Guide:
- Right View
- Right Intention
- Right Speech
- Right Action
- Right Livelihood
- Right Effort
- Right Mindfulness
- Right Concentration
Wisdom: Right View and Right Intention are the wisdom path. Right View is not about believing in doctrine, but in perceiving the true nature of ourselves and the world around us. Right Intention refers to the energy and commitment one needs to be fully engaged in Buddhist practice.
Ethical Conduct: Right Speech, Right Action and Right Livelihood are the ethical conduct path. This calls us to take care in our speech, our actions, and our daily lives to do no harm to others and to cultivate wholesomeness in ourselves. This part of the path ties into the Precepts.
Mental Discipline: Through Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration we develop the mental discipline to cut through delusion. Many schools of Buddhism encourage seekers to meditate to achieve clarity and focus of mind.
The Truth of the End of Suffering
The Buddha's teachings on the Four Noble Truths are sometimes compared to a physician diagnosing an illness and prescribing a treatment. The first truth tells us what the illness is, and the second truth tells us what causes the illness. The Third Noble Truth holds out hope for a cure.
The Buddha taught that through diligent practice, we can put an end to craving. Ending the hamster-wheel chase after satisfaction is enlightenment (bodhi, "awakened"). The enlightened being exists in a state called Nirvana.
Christians Involved in the Practice of Yoga
I would make several points here about Christians involved in the practice of yoga being wrong for doing so. My first point is revealed in a question, do you know all of the above philosophy about Buddhism or enough to say you truly have an understanding of what is going on here to the point of agreement or disagreement? If the answer is no then continue on in blissful ignorance because to be affected by this one must buy into the Truth is the End of Suffering hook, line, and sinker.
The first part of this makes a lot of sense. The Buddha preached that we can end craving through discipline and practice. Many Christians undertake disciplines to do likewise. There is a plethora of scripture that speak of the ability to control one's mind such as Romans 12.1-2 ending in, "don't be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.."
The departure from Christianity says that after one has mastered this one moves on to a state called Nirvana. At this point huge buoyant, all encompassing red flags should be everywhere a Christian looks. This is directly tied to the concept of Reincarnation which basically says one is doomed to a cycle of returning to the concrete until one gets it right and this is diametrically opposed to the good news found only in Jesus Christ. If one has any foundation in Christ then this is absolutely, positively wrong.
If you are in Christ you might have noticed that just about all of your thoughts and perceptions go through a Christ filter. This means that you convert things into the likeness of Christ in your daily living. A number of years ago there were some Tibetan monks at the Cleveland Museum of Art. One of them the Venerable Lama Tenzin Yignyen is an ordained Tibetan Buddhist monk and very, very charming. They were there to spread the word of Buddhism through creating a sand mandala.
A mandala is a cosmic diagram that represents the dwelling place or celestial mansion of a deity. Both the deity, who reside in the mandala and the mandala itself are recognized as pure expressions of Buddha's fully enlightened mind. Mandala can be visualized, painted or constructed from wood, precious jewels, rice, flower and so forth. Sand is considered to be a superb medium because of its number and the great skill required to create the mandala's exquisite details.
There was a public question and answer with these wisemen and Christians would have agreed with every moral platitude they uttered. Why, because Christianity does not corner the market on morality, it is universal. We had great conversation myself and the monks until one morning I asked could I worship with them and they were curious enough to listen. I told them I wanted to meditate on Christ with my didgeridoo, that was where they drew the line. My didgeridoo sounds a lot like chanting/throat singing if I want it to and I showed them.
My point is that I get involved in the world all of the time but I am not of the world, Christ is with me and the Holy Spirit is in me. I have the mind of Christ. Therefore I can meditate, change my state of consciousness, which was such an affront to brother Mohler and Gruthias and twist myself like a pretzel and not affect my standing in Christ. Paul said that buffeting the body might even do a little good when comparing spiritual exercise to body exercise. In 1Cor.9 Paul beats his body to make it his slave... Downward Facing Dog anyone?
By change my state of consciousness, I do not mean over indulgence or introducing anything into my body for an effect, we are commanded not to be filled with such things but to be filled with the Holy Spirit. However I believe "altered states" is a dangerous acid test for real Christianity and if my brothers believe this they must start within the church and every Holy Roller congregation from West Virginia to New Jersey to Cleveland Heights Ohio. Sadly AFA author, Marsha West, who I greatly respect, Mr.s Gruthias and Mohler point to Christians who apparently are not very grounded in knowledge of the scriptures and following Christ through the Word as proof of their judgement. I'm sure had they wanted to they could have pointed to more learned judgements among their respondents.
There's a Zen story in which a professor visited a Japanese master to inquire about Zen. The master served tea. When the visitor's cup was full, the master kept pouring. Tea spilled out of the cup and over the table.
"The cup is full!" said the professor. "No more will go in!"
"Like this cup," said the master, "You are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?"
If you want to understand Buddhism, empty your cup.
Got Christ? Then guess what, your cup is full, no more will fit in.