Now, Contending for the Faith. In this regular feature, Dave and Tom respond to questions from listeners and readers of The Berean Call. Here’s this week’s question: “Dear Dave and TA, I have a friend who is a fine Christian. However, she is a health nut and really into yoga. I’ve tried to point out yoga’s incompatibility with Christianity, but she doesn’t see it. What would you say to her?”
Tom: What would you say, Dave?
Dave: Well, we’ve written a lot about this. And I would go back to—I mean, you could read…the top authorities on yoga would be the yogis themselves, and I think that Shiva, the Destroyer (notice—the Destroyer), in Hinduism is Yogishwara—he’s the god of yoga. I mean you could investigate it; you could read books by yogis who would warn you about yoga. That’s why they say you ought to have somebody…
Tom: Now, this is real yoga, okay? This isn’t the homogenized, Americanized version that we see here.
Dave: Well, but the homogenized, Americanized version could get you into trouble because they are going into an altered state of mind.
Tom: It doesn’t give you the real understanding of what it’s all about—that’s my point.
Dave: Right. You see, yoga, in India, and that’s where it comes from, is known as a technique for dying not for living. It’s not designed to enhance your health; it’s designed to get you into the place where you can get along without air—you can…I mean, some of these yogis can be locked up for a period of time; you can become motionless, and ultimately, the goal is to reach self-realization, to reach moksha, escape from time, sense, and the elements, and to reach a higher reincarnation—ultimately, to become god—self-realization.
Tom: Atman, as they say, is Brahman, that is, the individual god, which…
Dave: Individual soul—Atman, the individual soul…
Tom: Becomes one with the over-soul, or the…
Dave: The universal soul, Brahman, right. So, Tom, you asked me a question. In a nutshell, I would say if you are interested in health, then why not take a regimen of exercise which is designed for health—to strengthen your body, and so forth? Now, granted, this will help you become more flexible—you can get in these odd positions, and so forth. What that will ultimately do for your physiology I don’t know, but…
Tom: But Dave, the other side of yoga, which is meditation—that’s the scary part, and I’m not using that term lightly. It really can be very scary.
Dave: Yoga is designed to reach this altered state, and you know, we’ve written about Transcendental Meditation, for example. That is a form of yoga—that’s what it is, and we’ve interviewed people who went crazy, there are others who committed suicide, there are others who saw demons on each side, trying to get into them—suddenly they’re up on the ceiling looking down on their body—they freaked out. They didn’t expect this to happen in Transcendental Meditation. They are supposed to be reaching a state of calm. Some of them have smashed furniture and so forth. Okay, this doesn’t happen to your everyday yoga class, and as you said, we’ve got it watered down. But look, if you’re going to call it yoga, then why don’t you go for the real thing? Don’t call it yoga if it really isn’t yoga.
Tom: Well, many do who begin with that, and now they want to get serious about it and that’s where…
Dave: Right, then you can get into some real problems. It is a spiritual exercise to reach a higher state of consciousness. Now if you want to do that, then with your eyes open, go into it and recognize the dangers and read what the top yogis say about this, okay? But if you want to enhance your physical strength and your health and so forth, then take some exercises designed for that.
In fact, Tom, they have a mantra, generally, and if you really get into yoga, you have a mantra.
I remember interviewing—well, we have interviewed people in the past who were involved in Transcendental Meditation, and they said, “I got this mantra from Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and…”
“Yeah, that’s who he is—a yogi, a master of yoga—and I was reading a book on Hinduism one day, and there’s my mantra—the secret mantra that he said was just for me alone. Well, I found out it’s the name of a Hindu god!”
And the books on yoga will tell you that when you repeat this mantra, you are literally calling upon this god to come and possess you.
Tom: Dave, I’m looking at an article from the Charlotte Observer, and the biggest problem here for Christians—the name of the article is: “Yoga Gains a Christian Following.” The biggest problem is misinformation. For example, “Yoga was born in India, a country of many religions including Hinduism. It is a spiritual practice but not a religion, according to Richard Falls, Chairman of the Board of the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Massachusetts.” It’s not a religion, Dave!
Dave: It’s a religious practice, and there is no doubt about that, but…
Tom: Well, let me give you one more quote from him. He says, “It’s not Christian or un-Christian. The true teachings are beyond name and form, beyond Christ, beyond Buddha or Krishna.” Baloney!
Dave: You are…it is designed to lead you into an altered state of consciousness. The altered state of consciousness is the doorway into the spirit world, okay? In a normal state of consciousness, your mind controls your brain. In an altered state, you lose control, and another entity can take over, and this is where the problems arise and the psychedelic experiences come from. I certainly would not recommend it, and it is anti-Christian, in fact.