Saint Paisios of Greece (+1994) on Yoga & Hinduism
TEXTS – ORTHODOXY
Yoga and other eastern practices
In their quest for health, wellbeing, or even the development of esoteric powers, many of our contemporaries are turning their attention to various Eastern practices, particularly yoga.
Yoga is advertised as a method that will help prevent illness, recover from illnesses that have already begun—even those that don’t easily yield to treatment; that will teach one to gain self-control and to influence others; and that will confer an influx of vitality.
The majority of people are attracted to the external (so they think) aspect of yoga that improves health—therapeutic postures, cold baths, cleansing enemas, special breathing techniques and so on. The improvement of the working of one’s internal organs and system—digestion, potency, blood pressure, memory, and other organs—is set as the target. The average person believes that you can ignore yoga’s world-view and at the same time acknowledge its unique system of physical and mental development. Contemporary yoga uses traditional Hindu physical exercises—hatha yoga—similar to the physical exercises of the Chinese and ancient Persians. One also comes across such schools as raja-yoga and mantra-yoga—to which “transcendental meditation” is related, mystical Taoism, the methods of Tibetan Buddhism, breathing techniques and so on.
What, however, does this wisdom of sunny India have in store for us?
Yoga is a component of the philosophical-religious teachings of ancient and medieval India. It is a system of exercises, methods and techniques, the aim of which is not only to control the psychological and physiological processes of one’s system, but also to rise to a special spiritual state. Initially, the goal of yoga’s system of psychophysical exercises was to develop the soul’s independence from the body, so that after the person’s death the soul would avoid reincarnation and would dissolve into the primordial impersonal spiritual substance.
The physical exercises developed in yoga, in point of fact, are religious rites that open a person up to meet Hindu “spirituality.” Yoga exercises in their direct application are tied to occult meditations, while various yoga postures identify a person with animals or even objects (for example, “the cobra posture,” “the cow’s head,” “a dog muzzle down,” and others). As a rule, special motions of the body, physical postures, holding the breath, and repetition of Continue reading “Yoga and other eastern practices – Valery Dukhanin”
CONVERSIONS TO ORTHODOXY
ON HOW FORMER KRISHNAITE ANANDA RUPA
BECAME OLGA AGAIN
Peter Davydov, Olga Gagushicheva
One day the following notice appeared on the door of the Krishnaite Ananda Rupa’s astrology office: “The office is closed because of my return to Orthodoxy. I sincerely wish you the same. May Christ save you. Olga.” This talk is about how Olga Gagushicheva, who had been baptized yet was absolutely unenlightened, became a Krishna worshipper and practicing astrologer, why she returned to her paternal home and Christ, and what came of it.
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The days are evil (Eph. 5:15), or an unorthodox “Orthodox life”
—Olga, Did you know anything about Christ before completely falling into the grip of astrology and other spiritual delusions?
—When I was one year old, my parents wanted to have me baptized. According to my mother, on the appointed day the weather was sunny and dry, so the family decided to go and gather berries instead of going to church. During that berry-picking hike I fell seriously ill and the illness lasted three years. I learned this from my mother when I was sixteen. I naturally drew a conclusion that I must go and receive Baptism. You see, I was empty-headed. Many of my relatives joined me. And that was the end of my “Christian living”. Though I also got the “knowledge” of the Church and God in the Soviet school. It was a real mishmash. Of course, I was a Komsomol member. We were warned that in no case should we, Komsomol members, attend any church services on Pascha. But we were curious to see what would happen during the church service, all the more so because we were told: “It is not allowed!” So we forced our way through all the police cordons and Komsomol activists who were wearing their bands. On the following day we were summoned to our director of studies who gave us a good dressing-down and promised to expel all of us from school. Of course, he didn’t keep his promise. I don’t remember how my Baptism took place as it was not a result of my conscious decision. I did it “for no particular reason”. Later, when I got married, it was fashionable to marry in Church, so we did it as well… Our wedding ceremony was arranged for us in a village church near the city of Cherepovets which was opened especially for us. And afterwards we baptized our children. That was all. You see, it was our unorthodox “Orthodox life”.
A big thank you to the press
—How did you develop an interest in astrology? How was it manifested? When did it happen?
—During my school years. I think it was 1985 or 1986.
—The time when the “gates to the West” opened wide…
—Or yawned open, to be more precise.
—And when all those individuals appeared on TV.
—Yes! Now general secretaries were replaced with sorcerers, psychics and other “enlightened” individuals who were goggling their eyes and moving their hands on TV. And not only TV. The most popular magazines, such as Continue reading “On how former Krishnaite Ananda Rupa became Olga again – Peter Davydov spoke with Olga Gagushicheva”
Yoga and Orthodox Christianity: Are They Compatible?
Dr. Christine Mangala, India
Dr. Christine Mangala was raised in India and brought up a devout Hindu. Her family was close to one of India’s leading Hindu gurus and teachers. Now an Orthodox Christian writer and teacher, she and Illumined Heart host Kevin Allen speak about whether various aspects of Hindu Yoga are compatible with Christian faith and practice, or whether Yoga should be shunned entirely.
The interview video of Dr. Christine Mangala & Kevin Allen
Mr. Allen: Welcome to The Illumined Heart on Ancient Faith Radio. As many of you know, we have spoken often on this program about the influence of eastern, non-Christian, spiritual ideas, metaphysics, and worldviews on our culture. And this is the spiritual background I came out of, one which continues to be a subject of interest to me, and, I hope, for some of you as well.
Recently, my parish in southern California has begun to see a trickle of enquirers coming from various eastern traditions, especially those of Hinduism. So I hope our conversation today—Yoga and Orthodox Christianity: Are They Compatible?—will bring light to the subject. In addition to enquirers from eastern spiritual traditions, many Christian believers also practice yoga asanas, physical postures which have become virtually mainstream in North American and European life, and even some forms of Hindu-influenced meditation. So the question of the compatibility of yoga in its various meditative and especially the physical postures forms with Eastern Orthodox Christianity is one that we’ll attempt to address on the program today.
My guest, whom I’m very very enthused to be speaking with, was born a Hindu, a Brahmin, the highest and priestly caste in India. She was brought up on yoga. Her grandfather, in fact, was a personal friend of one of the expounders of modern yoga and Vedanta philosophy, the well-known Swami Sivananda, who is the founder of the Divine Life Society. And Dr. Christine Mangala became a Christian at age 22, and later converted to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. She received her doctorate in English literature from Cambridge University, and has authored articles on literature and books of fiction, of which she has written several, as well as various spiritual subjects, including yoga and Christianity. She is married to Dr. David Frost, the director of the Institute for Orthodox Christian Studies in Cambridge, England—a fine program, by the way—with whom she has four children, and she attends St. Ephraim’s Russian Orthodox Church in Cambridge, UK, England.
Her excellent article, “Yoga and the Christian Faith,” provided the impetus for this program, and I’m speaking with my guest today by telephone in Cambridge, England. Dr. Christine Mangala, welcome to The Illumined Heart on Ancient Faith Radio. It’s great to have you as my guest.
Dr. Mangala: Thank you very much, Kevin. It’s a great pleasure and privilege to be on this program.
Mr. Allen: Thank you so much. It’s good to have you as my guest. I’m going to enjoy this; I can tell already. Let’s begin with this first question, Christine, if I might. Speaking of yoga, not in its modern and popularized context, but in Continue reading “Yoga and Orthodox Christianity: Are They Compatible? – Dr. Christine Mangala, India”
HIPPIES MET ORTHODOXY
ROMAN CATHOLICS MET ORTHODOXY
LATIN AMERICA OF MY HEART
Fr. Simeon de la Jara from Peru:
On a righteous path from Peru to Mount Athos, Greece
When Miguel Angel de la Jara Higgingson was seven, his mother had a vision. She sensed that her son would some day leave her for a “far away place, like an island, there where people of solitude lived who pray all the time and rarely step out into the world”. Even she, however, could probably not have imagined just how far from his native Peru, both physically and spiritually, his life’s search would take him.
Now he is Father Simeon the hermit, an Orthodox Christian monk of Eastern Orthodox Church who lives on Mount Athos, a self-administrating, all-male monastic community on the Athos peninsula – the eastern most of three jutting peninsulas in the northern Greek prefecture of Halkidiki in Greece.
However, it’s not just his Peruvian origins that make Father Simeon such a well-known figure among visitors to Mount Athos; it’s also his radiant presence as an artist, poet and Continue reading “Fr. Simeon de la Jara from Peru: On a righteous path from Peru to Mount Athos, Greece”
EDELWEISS OF MY HEART
Esoterik Yoga östliche Religion, dämonen, Götter Heil oder Unheil?
Klaus Kenneth, Deutschland
HIPPIES MET ORTHODOXY
Esoterik, Yoga, Buddhismus, östl. Mystik, Übersinnliches, Heilsangebote: etwa jeden Monat ein Neues!
“Zeit meines Lebens habe ich gelernt , Theorie, Theologien und allen -ismen gründlichst zu misstrauen.
Mit geschickten Worten und etwas Erfahrung in Psychologie kann man jeden Menschen alles andrehen. Wo war der Guru, der seine Lehre lebt? Die wirklichen Motive waren Sex, Macht oder Geld”.’
Herzlose Erbarmungslosigkeit’, ‘gnaden’ -lose Egozentrik lassen uns in die Falle eines Ersatz-Lebens, einer ‘viritual reality’laufen. Wer will schon glauben, dass Yoga eine einbahnstrasse in die Selbstvernichtung ist?
Die Fata Morgana sind wir selbst, solange wir von Gott getrennt sind.
HEAVEN ON EARTH – ORTHODOXY
What is yoga? What is kundalini energy?
By Fr. Joseph Magnus Frangipani, USA
The literal meaning of yoga is ‘yoke.’ It means tying your will to the serpent kundalini and raising it to Shiva and experiencing your ‘true’ self. All paths of yoga are interconnected like branches of a tree. A tree with roots descending into the same areas of the spiritual world. This is evident in the ancient books the Bhagavad Gita and the Yogic Sutras of Patanjali. I learned that the ultimate goal of yoga is to awaken the kundalini energy coiled at the base of the spine in the image of a serpent so that it brings you to a state whereby you realize Tat Tvam Asi.
Of course, yoga may facilitate exceptional experiences of body and mind. But so does the ingestion of mind-altering drugs, and flavorless, imperceptible poisons. Through yoga, little by little, one is harnessing shakti, which yogis refer to as the Divine Mother, the ‘dark goddess’ connected with other major Hindu gods. This energy isn’t the Holy Spirit, and This isn’t aerobics or gymnastics. Attached to this entire system are bhajans and kirtans – pagan equivalents to Orthodox Christian akathists, but for Hindu gods – as well as mantras, which are ‘sacred’ formulas, like calling cards or phone numbers, to the various pagan gurus and gods.
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 Sanskrit for “Thou art that” appearing in the Upanishads and subsequent yogic and Vedic texts. The phrase means the practitioner is identical with the Ultimate Reality, or with a god, or God.