Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu"--Hinduism Today

Read this article by a Hindu professor who claims that yoga is intrinsically Hindu. Moreover, he is offended that Americans claim to yoke it to Christianity and deny its Hindu essence.

Do you think a Hindu professor knows what yoga is and isn't? Why do more and more American Christians think they know better, offering "Christian yoga"? This is akin to "Christian atheism" or "Christian relativism."


Anonymous said...

I agree with you and apply the same logic to Christmas and Easter. It's great to know that you repudiate all things that derive from Pagan origins (regardless of whether people knowingly participate) and don't make any excuses.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thank you for the teaching.

Just so I understand you:

It is an absurd waste of my time to not celebrate Christmas.

but we must reject Yoga entirely becuase of its pagan origins.

This sounds good to me. Thanks for the righteous teaching.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Why the sarcasm? Is that "righteous"? Hardly so.

I did misread your original post, not seeing you tried to reduce my argument to absurdity. So, I deleted my original post But you did not refute my argument in either post. Your response suffers from the fallacy of false analogy.

This is because there is a profound disanalogy between Christmas and Easter on the one hand and yoga on the other.

Yes, the dates for Christmas and Easter come from pagan celebrations. But the actual celebration of these events need not have any pagan teaching or practice whatsoever. (Halloween is a different matter.)

With yoga, the practice is not only rooted in Hinduism the practice is essentially Hindu, inextricably Hindu. That is what the Hindu author argued.

There is nothing pagan about December 25 or a date in April. One may celebrate Christian realities (the birth and resurrection of Jesus) on these days.

However, the very practice of yoga is not detachable from its spiritual philosophy, which is profoundly different from and profoundly hostile to Christianity.

Therefore, your argument fails.

C.P.O. said...

Despite having to kind of be on the side of "righteousness first," I'm going to disagree with the reasoning in the original post. I think a practice can be co-opted within a culture and effectively taken out of its original context. I think this is probably what has happened with many things, including some mentioned here like traditions associated with Halloween, Christmas, and Easter, as well as yoga. There are probably many more examples as well.

Once these ideas are culturally adopted and co-opted in some way, they lose the meaning that originally inhered with them. In other words, it is pretty much useless in a pluralist culture to argue for the "true meaning of Christmas" or the "true meaning of yoga" for that matter. Meaning, instead, becomes what the user/participant in the practice suffuses into it. So, Halloween and yoga are today essentially what you want them to be. Are you participating in a devilish rite, mindlessly endorsing consumptive practices, or simply having fun as a family when you go trick or treating? I think the meaning of the practice is what you give it (once it has been sufficiently taken from its original context). Therefore, Christians, I say, "yoga it up" to the glory of God.

Yossman said...

I think the tendency to detach yoga from Hinduism despite arguments from both Hindus and Christians to the contrary is a typical side-effect of religious pluralism. Religions are not seen as mutually exclusive truth-systems but rather pathways to (or expressions of) the same ultimate truth that is beyond logic categories. Given their equal value (according to the religious pluralist) one might select different aspects of various systems and mix them at random. Especially so if one of these aspects is trendy as is the case with yoga. It is one fine example of syncretism.

As for the Christmas-yoga issue. It is one thing to take a pagan custom and fill it with Christian content (questionable as it may be) as it has been done wit the date of Christmas. It is quite another matter however to take a meditative technique of a non-Christian religion and label it Christian. It is still non-Christian content. It is all the more dangerous, as Groothuis in one of his previous posts has argued correctly, when such a technique leaves one vulnerable to spiritual forces beyond one's control.

Anonymous said...

Prof. Groothuis,

What do you make of JP Moreland's new book Kingdom Triangle, where as one Amazon reviewer writes: "Dr. Moreland encourages the reader to participate in an unbiblical form of mediation which is more akin to the religious practices of Yoga and Eastern mysticism than orthodox Biblical Christianity where he details a 2-step process first alluded to in the Lost Virtue of Happiness book. In step one, he tells the reader to "[f]ocus the center of your attention on your physical heart muscle." This is within the section that discusses ways in which to develop the "inner life."

In defense of Moreland, I can only point out that it's a social-scientific fact (I think he cites a source, and I also saw the same thing in Scientific American Mind) that people who are more aware of their heartbeats are less likely to lose control of their emotions.

Anonymous said...

Oh, it appears he responds to this review on STR: http://www.str.org/site/PageServer?pagename=Radio_Archives
July 22, 2007

In any case, why couldn't a Christian simply take out any of the religious aspects of yoga and still do it? Maybe kind of like a Christian who's going to do martial arts and will offend the discipline if he doesn't do some bows but doesn't have to "mean" it.

Paul D. Adams said...

Let's define some terms here re: meditation. I suggest that meditation is (or should be) the prayerful, persistent focus upon a Bible passage so as to discover its meaning and implications for life.

Consider the following:
MEDITATION IS NOT emptying your mind of all thought.

MEDITATION IS filling your mind with God’s thoughts.

MEDITATION IS NOT visualizing your own reality.

MEDITATION IS focusing upon God’s reality found in Scripture.

MEDITATION IS NOT fantasizing about your hopes & dreams.

MEDITATION IS resting in the God’s faithful promises from His Word.

MEDITATION IS NOT involving only one person: You.

MEDITATION IS involving two persons: You and God.

MEDITATION IS NOT passively waiting on any thought or feeling to be revealed to you.

MEDITATION IS actively pursuing God’s thoughts and feelings already revealed to you in Scripture.

Why meditate? It helps us:
-- Gain insight and wisdom (Ps. 119:99)

-- Have an objective standard for truth (Jn. 17:17; 2 Tim. 2:15)

-- Recall God’s mighty work in our lives (Ps. 143:5)

-- Use our minds for pleasing God (Phil. 4:8)

(from my site at http://www.tmch.net/sprtdisc3.htm)
The goal of meditation: Renewing our minds with thoughts that please God

To Consider: We cannot live out what we do not know or understand. Therefore, it is essential that God’s Word be known and understood, so we may successfully live lives that please Him (Jos. 1:8; Ps. 86:11). Meditating upon and taking delight in God’s Word is both necessary and sufficient for maturing in Christ and living successfully.

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Paul Adams swings. (This is what jazzbos says instead of "rocks.") Good post.

JP's meditation is not anything like Eastern meditation; it is rooted in physiological facts and guided by biblical principles.

Paul D. Adams said...

Ditto on Dr. G's comment about JP's book.

"It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. Do wap do wap do wap do wap do wap do wap do wap do wah!"

Kevin Winters said...

One could very well argue that eastern meditation is also guided by "physiological facts." One of the most concise definitions I've heard of meditation is simply "becoming present." One can be present with one's thoughts, one's body, what one is reading at the time, and so on. The "religious claims" come in with what one sees in such presencing.

It must be understood, however, that these practices developed in a time when the "religious" could not be seperated from the "physiological"; everything was inherently "spiritual" and the seperation Groothuis gives would not make sense. I heard similar things from Christians, however: that everything, from learning to making love, is a spiritual practice when one's life is devoted to God. I think this is a strong parallel.

"Becoming present," as I see it, is the core of meditation in both Hinduism and Buddhism and doesn't contradict a single "Biblical" principle.

Anonymous said...

Paul - your comments regarding meditation are "on spot." Thanks.


KVSSNrao said...

For Hindu dharma sutra by Apastamba in blog form visit www.grihyasutras.blogspot.com

Yoga is also mentioned in this

Abu Daoud said...

Yes, but you forget that we Episcopalians have Christian Muslims Priestesses!