Yogi Baba Prem, who is a Hindu Yogi, a Vedavisharada trained in the traditional gurukural system, came across a book called “Yoga for Christians.” To which he proclaimed, “There is no such thing as yoga for Christians . . . why do Christians insist on trying to steal what is Hindu? . . . Besides, they do it all wrong.”
Hindus and Christians listen (or meditate) differently. Hindus learn to empty the mind to achieve peace and union with the external divine. In silent meditation, they hope to free themselves of the illusion of the world and become part of the divine.
Followers of Christ, on the other hand, believe that God, the Holy Spirit, dwells within them – so we aren’t trying to achieve union with God, but we are listening to God who already indwells us. What we expect is not union, but direction in how we take on the yoke of Christ. Nor does scripture teach that we should try to empty our minds, but redirect all thoughts on Christ. It is our way of coming to Christ…
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Mat 11:28-30 NRS)
The difference is subtle, but ultimately significant. Respect Yoga for what it is. Respect Hindu’s too, but honor that we don’t believe the same things and be at peace with that. We certainly don’t make practicing Hindus happy by stealing their stuff and rearranging it for ourselves. Nor are we more enlightened – or more progressive – by ignoring that we have differences. In addition, trying to merge divergent beliefs into one new age theology destroys both faiths! Instead, honor the differences!
On the other hand, I know very few Christians who ever “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Listening prayer or meditation is rarely practiced by Christians. Yet, scripture tells us to close the door, be quiet, and listen to the Holy Spirit so that we can have the wisdom and power to live out the life of Christ – to be his hands and feet.
May Lent be a time of listening – opening our lives to God’s wisdom and power – so that we may share in the yoke of Christ.
April is a progressive Christian who writes about scripture and spiritual disciplines. See her latest book, James in the Suburbs.