By Nathan Jones
Can the spiritual and physical disciplines of Yoga be separated?
Dr. Reagan and I on our ministry's television show Christ in Prophecy had the pleasure of asking this question of our special guest Caryl Matrisciana. Caryl is a best selling author and filmmaker and is a recognized expert on Eastern religions, contemporary cults, paganism and the occult. She has been involved in the production of more than 60 documentaries over the past 30 years. Her biographical testimony Out of India explains how she grew up under Hinduism in India and lived it in England and the U.S. as a New Ager before accepted Christ as Savior. She joined us warn us of the dangers of equating Yoga with Christianity.
Dr. Reagan: Caryl, a few years ago you went back to India and you produced a major documentary on Yoga called Yoga Uncoiled. Tell us about your experience there in India.
Caryl Matrisciana: The reason I went was because Christians today are practicing Yoga and it is being called "Christianized Yoga." Well, it can't. There's no such thing. It's like saying "Christianized Hinduism". It is like saying "Christianized Occultism."
So, anyway, I went to interview yogis who are the practitioners of Yoga. I asked them, "Can the spiritual discipline and the spiritual connections of Yoga be separated from the physical exercises, because in America everybody is saying that they are just involved in Yoga which they believe is simply flexing and stretching?"
Dr. Reagan: Were they willing to be interviewed?
Caryl Matrisciana: Oh, yes. In my movie Yoga Uncoiled, I interview not only the yogis in India who are the Yoga teachers of India, but I actually filmed classes going on and people who can explain what Yoga means in India. I also then interviewed a Christian who teaches Yoga. She is a pastor in her church and teaches Yoga.
Caryl Matrisciana: Here are some excerpts from my documentary called Yoga Uncoiled:
Today in the West about 35 million Americans are into Yoga, just seeing Yoga as a physical fitness. Yoga is a Hindu word. Yoga is a Hindu discipline to become one with the universal consciousness, which means to become one with god. Which god? Brahman, the Hindu god.
There are many various paths to your god. In the sacred text of Hinduism called Bhagavad Gita, indicates three different paths. First of all, Bhakti Veda is a focus on a deity, then Gyana Yoga is a focus on wisdom, then the Karma Yoga is based on your good deeds and actions. You have a number of Yogas. Yoga is not one entity, but it has a wide variety of Yogas. So, each Yoga has a physical aspect and a spiritual aspect. The physical aspect is controlling the physical body. They control the breathing. They control the mind thinking activity. They control the physical movements and the timely behavior to discipline the body in the morning and night, and how to control the bowel movements. These are all the forms of the physical part of Yoga.
If you are practicing Gyana Yoga, or should I say Arsha Yoga, the primary focus of that technique is to bring the mind to perfect stillness and to focus the mind in a very deliberate way on a particular sound or vibration or image as it may be. And, in Tibetan Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, that brings the mind into a state of quiescence — peace such that revelation can occur, spiritual penetration of a higher truth, another truth. So, it is a way of manipulating the mind to generate different experiences or insights of cognitions that are supposed to be connected to the spiritual apprehension of high realities.
According to Hinduism, the highest reality is to become aware of one's own divinity. Hinduism respects everything as deity — the cows on the street, the monkeys in the city, the idols which are half men half animal-like creatures. But, the highest goal is realization of one's personal divinity or god consciousness. This realization can be experienced through direct perception deep within one's own mind, a place known as the "seat of concentrated wisdom," an area between the eyebrows which is known as "the third eye." It is also called the sixth chakra, meaning "wheel," and recognized as psychic energy. The other chakras are said to run along the spine starting at the bottom, blossoming at the top, meeting at the agna meaning "command." Here at the agna the third eye is the central point where all experience is gathered in total concentration, and is also believed to be the base of all creation itself.
In this hotel where I was staying each morning the local priests would come to offer the morning puja or prayer rituals to the gods. He'd prepare aarti — the celebration of light through fire — and mix the vermilion red mixture for bindi or kumkum, the dots seen between the eyebrows. This bindi or kumkum is believed to retain psychic energy in the human body and control the various levels of concentration. Here the hotel manager explains that the bindi or kumkum and aarti fire are being prepared not only for the gods but also the hotel guests who are esteemed as gods.
Hotel Manager: "For our gods we place this kumkum as a tradition. Okay, the guests are our god. Okay, the guest who are coming in here are our gods. Okay? So we keep the bindi. We do the aarti and the bindi for the guests. They are like our gods."
In Hinduism they have more than 330 million gods. That means that everything is God. Whatever you see, whatever you touch, is God. And the sun god, the moon god, and everything is God. So, man and nature and man and animal are one.
In the next part of this series "Christian Yoga" with guest Caryl Matrisciana, we'll learn why "Christian Yoga" is an oxymoron.