I have found myself in the unsettling position of feeling as though I have to choose between a spiritual practice of yoga or a faith in Jesus Christ as my “Lord and saviour”. I started doing yoga about 9 years ago and have practiced on and off since then. It’s been said that I’ve developed some spiritual power through this practice. On the Christian side, I bought a bible a few years ago during a period where my mental health declined significantly and I didn’t really have anywhere to turn to. I enjoyed reading it but I only properly got into it when I started going to church about a year and a half ago.
Since then I’ve had a good number of encounters with the Holy Spirit in various forms but especially during prayer and in dreams. So I can see that there’s definitely something at work in Christianity. Something tangible – some “other” that can be accessed and communed with. And it’s absolutely Holy.
Yoga has given me a good number of spiritual experiences also – mostly in the form of dreams and meditations. With yoga, a light is shone on ourselves and we are able to clearly see what unhealthy patterns need to be let go of (some patterns are easier to see than others) and with the right support and allies, this can be achieved. Apparently. One main issue I’ve had has never been fully resolved but it is very very deep, so we’ll see what happens with that.
And I have to choose which approach I’d prefer. I don’t think I can “serve two masters” much longer. Christianity offers us the assurance that our place in heaven is assured because Jesus died for us and if we believe, then he will intercede on our behalf and plead our case to God and we will enter heaven. If we don’t believe – eternal damnation in the fiery pits of hell for you, bucko.
With yoga, things seem far more practical and immediate and concerned with our current spiritual state and the steady pursuit of unravelling into our fully realised selves. You will feel complete and won’t hanker for a heavenly realm because, done properly, the beauty of this reality will become more and more clear to you. It’s something I certainly long for – the ability to appreciate a sunset – as opposed to the act of looking at it and knowing with your mind that it’s beautiful but feeling utterly empty inside. The beauty of the cosmos spread before you but you’re unable to see it.
Or are they (as some would suggest) both paths to the same destination? It’s been mentioned that the Nag Hammadi libraries contain other gospels which reveal more of Jesus’ teachings (not included in the authorised version of the Bible). Maybe self-realisation can lead to a kind of unshakable faith that Christians don’t even know about. Maybe information has been hidden from us for whatever reasons – who knows.
One thing’s for sure, I’m not happy with the idea or the THREAT that if you don’t believe in Jesus’ sacrifice then even though your life was nothing more than a drop in the ocean, you’ll have to endure an eternity of endless torment. Hell does get mentioned at church occasionally but it’s a stick that doesn’t come out very often.
I’d much rather have the certainty and peace that comes from working through my issues and practicing real love and service to others from a heart that has already opened and can appreciate and experience the beauty that is already here and not waiting for us in a heavenly realm promised to us if only we just believe in this one thing…