—Excerpts from Dave Hunt's book Yoga and the Body of Christ
There is mounting controversy among Westerners involved in yoga as to how to practice it and the purpose behind it. Is it purely physical, or is something more involved—something spiritual? There are many proponents on both sides of this discussion. Much of the public, however, is not even aware of the issue. Nor can most of the disputants even agree to what is meant by "spiritual." Clearly something nonphysical is involved. But what is it?
What is this "energy" to which Ken Harakuma (and others) are referring? Is this the ki, or chi, of martial arts, which has no physical explanation and clearly comes from the spirit world? Yet in spite of warnings backed with factual data about its dangers—and that it can even open the door to the occult—yoga continues to grow in popularity everywhere. What is behind the accelerating worldwide interest in yoga?
That non-Christians are engaging in yoga is not surprising. After all, it is being promoted in the West as purely physical stretching and breathing exercises beneficial for one's health—even as a cure for cancer, with testimonials that supposedly back up that claim. That Christians, however, who say they follow Christ and His Word, would also jump on the bandwagon of Eastern mysticism is staggering.
Yoga was developed to escape this "unreal" world of time and sense and to reach moksha, the Hindu heaven—or to return to the "void" of the Buddhist. With its breathing exercises and limbering-up positions, yoga is promoted in the West for enhancing health and better living—but in the far East, where it originated, it is understood to be a way of dying. Yogis claim to possess the ability to survive on almost no oxygen and to remain motionless for hours, free of the "illusion" of this life. The physical aspects of yoga, however, which attract many Westerners, were, in fact, originally developed and practiced for spiritual goals.
The call went out to Hindus and yoga enthusiasts, "The New Age movement...has accepted the great ideas of the East.... Let us invade the American Campuses armed with the vision of Vedanta." Few, if any, realized that the West had fallen victim to the largest and most successful missionary campaign in history.
Missionary campaign? Most Westerners find it difficult to think of these smiling, bowing, obsequious, and supposedly broadminded yogis, swamis, and lamas as missionaries determined to spread their mystic gospel. It comes as a great surprise that the largest missionary organization in the world is not Christian but Hindu—India's Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Of course, that's acceptable to the media and the world—it is only Christian missionaries who are held in contempt and maligned.
Yes, Hindus have launched the largest missionary effort in history....In January 1979, at the VHP-sponsored second "World Congress on Hinduism" in Allahabad, India, attended by about 60,000 delegates from around the world, a speaker declared, "Our mission in the West has been crowned with fantastic success. Hinduism is becoming the dominant world religion, and the end of Christianity has come near."
In a frank interview in Yoga Journal, Ken Wilbur, a yoga expert who is often called the "Einstein of consciousness," warns that Eastern meditation, no matter how carefully practiced, involves "a whole series of deaths and rebirths...some very rough and frightening times."
David Pursglove, therapist and transpersonal counselor for decades, warns that those involved in Eastern meditation can encounter "Frightening ESP and other parapsychological occurrences...out-of-body experiences...[encounters] with death and subsequent rebirth...awakening of the serpent power (Kundalini)...violent shaking and twisting...."
Among the few who honestly warn the public is Dr. Walt Larimore. He explains, "Yoga has spiritual roots.... [Therefore] one could argue that promoting it in schools violates the...so-called separation of church and state...." He warns that the "deeply religious practice" of yoga, with its roots in Eastern mysticism, may put kids in a position to be influenced by elements that are not at all healthy.
Yoga opens the door not to true enlightenment but to demonic seduction of mankind. And in spite of the literally hundreds of exposés by those who have experienced the evil firsthand and barely escaped, yoga is gaining adherents among Christians and is being practiced in a growing number of churches, including those that claim to be evangelical. Christian leaders have naïvely encouraged this deadly practice. Robert Schuller was one of the first to give it his endorsement....
No matter what the various schools and forms of yoga being practiced in the West, however, there is no mistaking that if one is interested in true yoga, one must be willing to have that terrifying Kundalini aroused. What is this serpentine power that allegedly lies coiled at the base of the spine?
The texts by ancient yogis warn that the "Kundalini serpent force" often manifests itself in frightening and destructive ways. Unfortunately, those texts are scarcely known to yoga enthusiasts today and are certainly not heeded by their instructors. Kundalini is the "enlightenment" that the practice of yoga is designed to "awaken." One yoga enthusiast writes, "The cobra that opened its fan over Buddha's head is the metaphor for the field of energy, which...emits out from the head during and after sustaining Kundalini...." [Another] writes, "When the Kundalini awakens, tremendous power is unleashed. The resulting expansion of consciousness affects every element of our being, from our biological functions to our personal relationships to our concept of reality to our influence in the world....Kundalini is Shakti, the Great Mother Goddess, the living energy that daily makes her vibrant presence known in my body and my psyche....If Kundalini is to be invoked, it must be with care and better still, with reverence and humility. We are treading sacred waters here. To plunge in recklessly is to risk self-annihilation."
This entire discussion always brings us back to the most fundamental fact about yoga. No matter what physical benefit might be derived from the exercises themselves, yoga inevitably involves Eastern meditation. And Eastern meditation, unlike Western contemplation or reflection, accompanies an intentional dissociation from our conscious minds. This shutting down of the mind is, in fact, a total abdication of our God-given responsibility that Jesus declared is the first and great commandment: to love Him with all our heart, soul, and mind (Deuteronomy:6:5-6, Matthew:22:37). Thus, we are violating one of the true God's most basic commandments every time we give our minds over to the intentional "nothingness" of yoga and associated "relaxation techniques."