1. THE GLOBAL APPEAL OF YOGA 3
- The Basic Human Problem
- Biological, Metaphysical or Moral?
2. TECHNIQUES TO ALTER CONSCIOUSNESS 5
- Hatha Yoga: Salvation Through Physical Exercises
- Japa Yoga: The ‘Mechanical Path’ To Salvation
- Surat-Shabd Yoga: The Path Of Sound And Light
- Kundalini Yoga: Salvation Through The ‘Serpent Power’
3. MANY WAYS TO SALVATION? 15
global popularity testifies to India’s growing cultural influence. It
compensates for our recurring four-yearly embarrassment that
we don’t win
in Olympics: that we are not a healthy, athletic people.
How can Indian culture contribute to global health via Yoga, and yet not produce winning athletes?
The answer is simple:
Yoga has not produced an
athletic culture in India because Yogawas never meant to be a means of physical fitness. In
Indian philosophy Yoga is a means of salvation or liberation (oksha M).The
original philosophy behind Yoga definedliberation
soul’s body. Obtaining “out-of-body”
experiences is still the goal of some popular forms of Yoga. Later, after other
schools of Indian philosophy had adopted Yoga, its goal was reinterpreted as
theof the human self the Cosmic
Self or God. Physical Yoga (that is, Hatha Yoga) is only one form of Yoga. Indian sages have taught many different forms of Yoga – or ways of obtaining one’s salvation. Indian Yogis
have a case when they say that the The Western
fans of Yoga abuse it when they use it primarily for physical
Comprehending the claim that
Yoga is a stress management technique is easier than the idea that it is a way
of salvation. Jews, Christians and
Muslims naturally especially find it difficult to understand how physical
exercises could contribute to one’s spiritual salvation. This booklet seeks to
explain the religious worldview behind
Yoga. Let us begin with a question:
What is human beings’ Basic Problem ?
biological, moral or metaphysical? The
materialists think that
Mother Nature (evolution) has made us bad.T . Our problem, ,
therefore, therefore, is biological or genetic. Perhaps some day
genetic engineers will be able to make us good – loving, caring, just and
upright. Scientists w ould then become our saviors.
They will determine what we can think, say and do. But would we then lose our humanity – our ability to make moral choices? Would love
really be love when we are genetically engineered to love? Doesn’t moral value of an act depend upon our
choosing that act voluntarily?
The Jews popularized the idea that the human problem is moral, rather than biological. They were
taught that God created human beings “good.” (Would you expect anything
different from an almighty Creator?) Our first parents, said Genesis (the first
book of the Torah)
chose to disobey God. Thereby they became sinners. That trait has been
transmitted to us all. Although we are still God’s image and capable of goodness, none of us is
perfect. From childhood our tendency is towards evil. Therefore we need
teaching and training to live moral lives. Yet, in spite of the best training
we fail morally. Our central problem, therefore, according to the biblical
(Jewish, Christian and Islamic) tradition is that we are sinners. We need a
divine Savior who will forgive our sins and transform our hearts – the core of
our being – to remake us what we were intended to be: God’s image.Yoga’s
worldview is different than the Bible’s. It assumes
that the human problem is neither biological, nor moral, but metaphysical.
What is “Biological,
Before explaining Yogic belief that the human problem is rather than
let me hasten to add that some ancient Hindu do take our
moral weakness and failure s seriously.
They recommend ritual sacrifices to propitiat e for our sins.
These sacrifices are similar to the ones taught in the Jewish Scriptures,
commonly called the Old Testament. Some of these Hindu scriptural teachings on
sacrifice foreshadow the New Testament teaching that Jesus sacrificed himself
for our sin, as our substitute. Nevertheless, later Hinduism
does not think that our basic problem is moral.
techniques were a part of Samkhya philosophy.
This philosophy was dualistic in that it postulate d two
ultimate realities: purusha (soul)
and prakruti (physical nature). Samkhya taught that
soul (purusha) is pure but physical nature (prakruti) is evil. Somehow the soul has become entangled with the
physical body. Therefore our salvation or Mok hsa lies in isolating soul from body. Yoga
was the technique of
isolating soul from bodyThis low view of physical body naturally undermined
development culture of physical
fitness in India.
is defined not as isolation of soul from body but as “union of soul (atma) and
God (Brahma). ” Yogaother schools of Indian
philosophy that rejected Samkhya philosophy adopted yoga.
A prominent version of
Upanishadic Hinduism, for example, taught that human soul
is not distinct from God. God (Brahma or the Universal Self) is
the same as the human soul (atma or
our inner self). God and man are ultimately one. This teaching is called
( Adwaita), meaning that human self and the divine self are not
two distinct entities. It is also called Monism
– from “mono ” or one
– emphasizing oneness of everything, especially of God and man. The monistic
gurus teach that man is Infinite Consciousness or God, who has somehow
forgotten his true nature and become entangled in finite, personal, rational,
out of the cycle of births and deaths. , in this
school of thought, is understood as
technique of uniting human soul with the divine soul.
In parenthesis it should be
unfortunately Monism or Non- Dualism did not undo the damage that Samkhya
philosophy had done to the Indian view of material
world including human body. In a sense it made matters
worse by declaring the material universe to be a dream (or rather a nightmare)
of God. It called the physical world maya
or illusion iTalso , undermin ing thereby any
serious interest in nature and science.
also saw the central
human problem as metaphysical rather than moral. We are God , not guilty of
having broken God’s moral law Therefore, our problem is that somehow
we have forgotten
our divinity. In other words ignorance, not sin, is our problem. We need to
experience, “realize ” or perceive our divinity, not or seek forgivenessand moral transformation.
To say that
the human beings are not sinners ; but simply ignorant of our true self
is to imply that the problem is with our consciousness
or perception. Our salvation lies in attaining that original
state of consciousness , that we have lost.
If you are God, you cannot expect a God to come and save you. You have to realize
your own divinity . . . and Yoga is the path of experienc ing God
consciousness, or your inner, essential divinity.
“higher ” state of expanded consciousness which is
believed to be God or our true self. (I have used the
term “man” in the last two
paragraphs because traditional Hinduism did not accept equality of male and
female. While some contemporary gurus affirm equality, the traditional view is
that a woman needs to be reborn male before she could find salvation or Moksha.)
or Non- Dualism.
Some gurus and sects, such as Hare Krishna, do not believe that man is or ever
becomes God. —Krishna. Man’s original state is Krishna- -Consciousness and his true nature is to be a loving
servant of Krishna. Man’s problem is that he has forgotten his Krishna- -Consciousness
and become entangled in this material world. He has to re-establish his link
with Krishna and gain Krishna- -Consciousness. .
nature ”. “higher ” state of consciousness. our nervous
system. This is so because our consciousness is dependent upon our nervous
system. one’s nervous
system in order to alter one’s consciousness. the
that have been popularized by modern gurus.
Yoga: Salvation Through Physical Exercises
Some chemicals make us
sleep, others intoxicate us,
make us hallucinat e or
have psychedelic experiences in us.
Chemicals can change our mood s and make us
see things inside our head that appear real. By manipulating our brain chemistry
we can experience altered states of consciousness. Because our brain needs
oxygen and blood to function normally, its chemistry can be affected by
regulating breathing and and deliberately decreasing
oxygen intake or by standing upside down on our heads and
altering blood flow. So, just as our nervous system and brain can be
manipulated chemically, they can also be manipulated physiologically. Hatha yoga, which consists of
physical and breathing exercises, is a very ancient method of liberation. “salvation ” through physical exercises rests on the
assumption that salvation is a matter of perception – “going within ” and seeing or perceiving our inner
consciousness, which is believed to be God. Perceiving, seeing or experiencing depend on the state of
one’s nervous system, which in turn depends on one’s physical condition.
Hatha yoga’s attractions lies in that its stretching exercises thatmake our bodies extremely flexible. It also
trains us to consciously regulate
breathing and blood circulation.
Its problem however is that toreal ly master
it is a long and tedious process requiring
much discipline and a competent teacher. Hatha Yoga is often advertised as non-religious. It
is promoted for fitness, stress management, or for therapeutic value s.
The Boynton Health Services at the University of Minnesota, for example,
promote Yoga as “The practice of unifying body, mind, and spirit.” That claim
is the exact opposite of the actual goal of Yoga to isolate soul and body.
Could it be a good means for coping with stress? Obviously, taking one’s
attention off from the pressures of life and for a while focussing it on one’s
breathing can only help. Does it help more than a session in the swimming pool?
We do not yet have such comparative studies to make a judgement. However, some
critics do have a valid point: supposing this booklet of mine is so boring that
it puts readers off to sleep. Someone struggling with insomnia may decide to
read the booklet to be able to go to sleep. There can be nothing wrong with
that. But what if I started promoting this booklet as a “sleep-aid”? Most
people would consider it unethical advertising. Since the purpose of the
booklet is not to help someone to sleep. Some gurus do promote Yoga in secular,
even misleading, terms in the hope that the disciple practicing Yoga
for physical well- “vision of possibilities ” (Mahesh Yogi). This would open the disciple to the philosophy on which Hatha
yoga rests. Hatha
yoga who are not interested in propagating
its philosophical basis at all. They teach it to impart health or to make
money. Studies are now being conducted to assess the therapeutic value of Hatha
and base its claims on sound empirical data. Such research will demystify
excessive claims. It should also refine and simplify some of the exercises to
maximize their therapeutic value to more people.
No sane person is likely to
Hatha Yoga’s contribution to our health. However,
an exclusively therapeutic use of Yoga raises the question: is it Yoga anymore? ” As a matter of fact, the Indian schools of Hatha Yoga
put much greater emphasis on regulating breathing (Pranayam) than on physical
exercises (postures or Asanas).
That is true of Patanjali Yoga (approximately AD 300), of Yajnavalkya (AD 1300)
and of Hatha Yoga
Pradipika, written in the mid-fourteenth century by Svatmanama. Patanjali
defined Yoga’s goal as isolation (Kaivalya) or aloneness of self, divorced
entirely from any contact with nature, but not itself joined with any
all-encompassing unity (God).
Yajnavalkya, writing a thousand years later, reinterpreted Yoga as the union of
the embodied or “living self” (jiva) with the “Great Self”. His
chapter on physical exercises (Asanas) is the shortest (18 stanzas), while on
breathing (pranayama) is the longest
(80 stanzas). The Hatha
Yoga Pradipika devotes only 40 out of a total
of 400 stanzas to physical postures, while devoting over a 100 to
It is unnecessary here to
discuss the ethical question whether
it is OK to promote a “spiritual” discipline as a purely physical program.
. For, as we shall see, Yoga’s worldview is not interested in
questions of ethics, which pre-suppose
Someone may ask,
wrong with artificially altering consciousness? ” By itself there is nothing wrong with an
altered state of consciousness. Sleepwalking, hypnosis, hallucination, even
madness are all “altered ” states of consciousness. There is nothing
wrong with them in a moral sense, even if some of them are deemed undesirable
states of consciousness. – is your altered state of consciousness God?
If it is not, then does it matter if you consider your own altered state of
consciousness God? Is it harmless to call yourself the President of your nation
if in fact you are not the President? If your inner self is not God then when
you look within could you be looking for God in the wrong place? Is it right to
call something spiritual which is in fact physical or psychological? Does it
matter if one
is mistaken in his/her beliefs? Well, does it matter if you go
on the longest and the most important journey of your life with a map drawn by
a person who mistook East for West or North for South?
Japa Yoga: “The Mechanical
Krishna, Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare Hare Rama,
Hare Rama Rama Rama,
To give a name to something
or someone is to distinguish it from others. The monistic gurus believe that
there is only one soul – God – and it permeates everyone, if not everything.
Therefore they prefer not to use a specific name for God.
They use a symbolic name, such as
“Om or a mantra whose meaning
the meditator does not know, so that the name or mantra may not
create any thoughts or images in the mind by association.
Our mind is constantly
bombarded with many different stimuli entering our brain through our eyes,
ears, nose, tongue or touch. Our senses make us aware of the external world –
the world of maya or deception.
Entanglement with the world, including the world of thoughts is our bondage.
How can we forget the world and become aware of the inner self or God? Constant
repetition of a sound (mantra)
eliminates all other stimuli, thus concentrating the mind. If you keep
repeating the mantra
then eventually its sound itself becomes a non-stimulus. Your mind goes blank.
This induces a state where the mind is aware or conscious, but it is not aware
of anything or any thought.
Pure Consciousness or Transcendental
In order for
this technique to be effective in
“God-realization ”, one has to practice it for three or four
hours a day. ”vision of possibilities ”.
Because the initiation into
TM is a private affair, many consider it to be some mysterious thing. Actually
it is very simple. A seeker who is interested in
is asked to bring flowers, sweets, a white handkerchief, camphor, etc., along
with a substantial amount of money as a fee for a puja ceremony. During the ceremony the teacher worships a photo of
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s guru and also asks the initiate to bow before this
photo. . The
disciple is asked to sit in a comfortable position, close his eyes, and
silently repeat the mantra, like, “Ram ....
Ram .... Ram .... ” for twenty minutes. He is told that he will
first forget the rest of the world and be aware only of the mantra. Then he
will forget the mantra
too and transcend all thoughts and feelings and become aware of the awareness.
This is the Transcendental state of consciousness.
After some time, the
meditator reaches a higher state of consciousness, called
Cosmic Consciousness, in which he is aware, both of the world and of the Pure Consciousness. Then after some more years of meditation, one can attain God Consciousness, in which he comes to perceive the subtler levels of
the objective world, which appear as personal. In this state it is said that one can even
communicate with birds, animals, plants, and rocks. Unity Consciousness, in which one perceives oneness of himself with
Mahesh Yogi calls this path
Path to God-realization. ” “God-realization ” is a matter of perception and “the process
of perception is both mechanical and automatic. ” In order to perceive the external objects,
we just “open
our eyes and the sight of the object comes automatically without the use of
intellect or emotions. ” Likewise in order to perceive the inner
consciousness, we just have to turn the attention inside and we automatically
come to perceive it. “Whether perception is outward or inward, ” writes
the Maharishi, “it is automatic and mechanical. Perception
in the outward direction is the result of a progressive increase of activity of
the nervous system. And perception in the inward direction is the result of
diminishing activity... . until the entire nervous system ceases to
function and reaches a state of stillness, a state of restful alertness. This
brings the realization of “Be still and know that I am God ”. 5
Yogi’s brilliance lay in the fact that he developed very effective marketing
techniques for his brand of Japa
Yoga that he called TM. He insisted that it was
not a religious but a scientific technique to reduce stress, induce relaxation,
lower blood pressure, increase concentration, creativity and productivity. He
also emphasized social benefits of
TM – better relationships, lower crime, higher economic growth and a better
world. This enabled TM to gain acceptance in academic, corporate and political world. More committed followers,
however, were taught that reciting mantras that are names of demigods
will also connect them to the world of spirits.
In my book The World of Gurus I have told the story
of my own initiation into TM that took place in Maharishi’s living room in
Rishikesh in the Himalayan foothills.
I had to give up TM for practical reasons – my experiment resulted in insomnia.
However, I was also
getting doubts about its worldview : it does sound good to know that deep down in your essence
you are God. But if God alone is real and all human beings are God then what
happens to my uniqueness? Is the philosophy behind Yoga offering me dignity without
uniqueness? I am God, but my personality is
not real?In the name of enhancing my consciousness am I being
led to abandon my
consciousness as a unique individual? TM’s claims of political,
economic and ecological utopia through meditation were enticing, but if my very
unreal then how
could I have such basic political privileges as
individual rights? To attempt to lose one’s individual consciousness into a
larger whole seemed to me a recipe
for totalitarianism, not political freedom.
many gurus affirm, and add that this light is within us. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word
was with God, and the Word was God, ” declare many sects, and add that this Word
is within us. a contact with this
Word, the Word takes it back to the Godhead, its original home. Surat- Shabd
yoga in our day. Surat means soul and Shabd means Word or
Sound; so Surat- Shabd
yoga is union of soul and the Word.
The sects that teach this
path try to keep their techniques
The techniques are called by various names, such as Nam (name) and Updesh
(knowledge), to deliberately mislead non-initiates. The name and
knowledge actually refer to techniques of physiological manipulation
of the senses, and meditation on one’s
sects that teach the path of sound and light do not initiate everyone who asks for it. One has to be
spiritually “ready ” for initiation. liquor,
non-vegetarian food, , etc.
After one has been chosen
for initiation, he is taken into a closed room, where the initiator explains the importance of
“knowledge ”, Satsang The
would-be initiate takes a vow of secrecy and to follow no other guru except his
own. d Then hebows, kneels, or generally prostrates
before the guru or his photo s, and worships him/it.
Sects such as the Divine
Light Mission teach the following four techniques:
In order to see the
the initiator asks the devotee to close his eyes; then he place s his middle finger and thumb on his eyes , and starting from the corner of the eyeballs, he presses
the eyeballs up from the bottom, so that in actual fact if the eyelids were
open the center r of the pupils would be
looking at the point between the two eyebrows on the forehead just above the
nose, which is supposed to be the location of the “third eye ”. If the initiate concentrates on this
point, he can see a light.
Some people see only a small
point, others see a blinding light, some others see a psychedelic movie of
moving patterns and brilliant colors,
and some do not see anything at all. The reader
can try it himself and most probably he
will see the light.
In order to hear the
is asked to block his ears with the thumbs so he cannot
hear any external sounds. his
inner silence, he can eventually hear some noises.
The third technique in
Divine Light Mission is a difficult yogic exercise: tasting the
nectar ”. You have to
curl your tongue to come up to the back of the throat, then swallow the
tongue in such a way that it points upwards. Here the tongue is supposed to hit
a point and make contact with the “divine nectar ” that is constantly flowing through one’s
body. “living water ” of which
Jesus spoke, and it is indescribably tasty. Some devotees claim this nectar is the “bread of life ” , and after
making contact with this ever-flowing stream of nectar, one can live without
water or food.
The main meditation is a
breathing exercise called hearing or contacting
“the Word ”. a
lotus position (if possible) with both hands on the knees, and to concentrate
on his breath going up and down, up and down. “primordial
the Word or Logos, which has created the universe and sustains it. Samadhi,
or the expanded state of consciousness. Samadhi, you become full of the divine
light. At initiation the light may
appear as a small dot, but in Samadhi
it overtakes you and you feel (or perceive) that you have become that Light.
The other sects, who teach
salvation through this path, describe their experiences differently. According
to some sects, such as the Radha Soami Satsang, during meditation the
is opened. The soul leaves the body through this eye with the “Sound
(Logos), and travels up to heaven.
There can be no reasonable
doubt that these experiences are real in the sense of being vivid psychological
experiences within one’s head. But are they real in an objective sense? Does
the soul (
actually leave s ones body with the Word ( Shab ad)
and visit other worlds? A meditator said to me, “These
Americans have gone to the moon only now. We have been travelling to other planets
and galaxies for ages – ever since we learnt Surat- Shabad
Yoga! ” “You may be right ,” I
replied, “ the only problem is that you don’t
bring the rocks back from these planets for us to have some evidence that you
actually left your body. ”
Yoga: Salvation Through The “Serpent Power ”
Hindu psychology teaches
that in the human body three
centimeters above the rectum and three centimeters below the genitals at the base of the spine
s is a beautiful triangle in which lies
the Kundalini “ Serpent Power ”. Kundalini really is,
nobody knows. It is supposed to be red and white in color. “coil power ” or the “creative sex energy ”. Kundalini. Pranayam,
to the homosexual handling of the genitals. The most influential guru in the
last few decades who preached Kundalini yoga was Swami
Muktananda of Ganeshpuri, near Bombay. “ Maha ” (Great yoga) or “ Siddha ” ( Perfect yoga), for he said it was the only yoga in which the aspirant does not have to
Thousands of people have
testified that Muktananda
their Kundalini, but the method he used is
“occultic ” (hidden or secret). e secrecy gives the impression of the power and experience being
spiritistic or demonic.
has not been very popular in India because many of the experiences it gives are
what William James called “diabolical mysticism ”.
It gives pain, makes people depressed, and even produces madness.
Muktananda’s own initiation
Kundalini Yoga is explains what William James meant. Muktananda
had left his home early in quest of spiritual enlightenment. He went to all the
holy places in India that he heard about
and met with all the holy people he could, but he did not find anyone who was
truly enlightened and could help him. Discouraged, he was ready to quit, when he
found a naked ascetic sitting on a pile of human excreta. (In those days poor
people went outdoors for reliev
ing themselves and the richer people would have a toilet
outside their housesThey would squat on a tin. Later a sweeper will come and carry the “night soil ” outside and
dump it in one place.) No but he
was brim ming with bliss. Muktananda was
intrigued. The naked ascetic invited Muktananda to come and sit on his lap and
lick his head. Then he initiated Muktananda into undalini
Muktananda described his own experience of “diabolical mysticism ” after leaving the ascetic:
at about nine o’clock, Muktananda sat again for meditation
I felt there was great commotion
ition. , I saw
ugly and demon-like figures.
I then saw blazes of fire on
all sides and felt that I too was burning.
powerfully dazzling light, and it ???? out 9
silly to think that a naked ascetic sitting on a pile of stinking filth must be
an enlightened being? Most people would indeed have considered the ascetic mad.
But Muktananda was more intelligent. He understood that if
is true, if everything is One divine consciousness, then that ascetic
had really become one with everything. The ascetic was the only one who really
knew that the filth was only an illusion (maya),
God alone is real, He (or rather It)is
everywhere and everything – including that detestable pile of filth. God is
blissful consciousness and that is what the ascetic was radiating!
You cannot discard some things as non-divine and
also claim to have become one with
men who go to the holy places on earth (or to the “psychic centers ” of the earth’s energy as they call it) only
betray their faith that everything and every place is God. There is no
difference between good and bad, demons and gods.
With that map
of reality as
its guide, it should not surprise
anyone that Muktananda’s sect split with
umpteen court cases withalleg ations of rape,
sexual and financial abuse, and murder s capturing institutional power in his otherwise
It was the ‘
‘Counter -Culture’ ’ movement of the 1960s in the West that revived
Tantra and gave it fresh
respectability by fus ing sexual permissivenessand theoccult
and “spirituality. ” Although still suspect ed
and despised in India, in the WestTantra is now at the root of virtually
all religious forms of Yoga and other Eastern religious practices
adopted by the West. This point has been made repeatedly by Professor Johannes Agaard
of the Arhus University in Denmark. He is one of Europe’s leading authorities
religious influence in the West. Agaard’s contention can be illustrated in many
ways. An obvious example is Dr . Fritjof
Capra’s highly influential book The Tao
of Physics. Capra, a physicist turned mystic /environmentalist, reproduces ‘Self- Realization in the experience of sensual love; stone
sculpture from the Citragupta temple at Khajuraho, Circa A. ’ as the first photograph in his book. This sculpture, only 30 kilometers from my hometown, is an explicit scene of sexual intercourse. To depict a
goddess in sexual act has a tremendous shock value for young people come from a Catholic background where the highest
portrayal of femininity has been as a virgin. For an average westerner the shock lies in the fact that sculpture is a part of
a religious site , not underground pornographic
Tantra’s Non- Dualistic ( Adwaitic) idea that reality is one. Our normal
(rational/sensory) perception of duality – of male and female, right and wrong,
good and evil – is a perception of unreality, maya, or lila. Lila is the play of cosmic consciousness (God) or illusory magic.
Before the beginning, beyond time, was pure consciousness, existing in perfect unity or equilibrium, having no polarity, no form, no thought, no distinction. Something disturbed this primeval, pure and still ocean of consciousness. The divine stability then turned into an oscillating instability, imbalance or insanity. God was divided. The first duality to appear as a result of this ‘insanity’ was male and female. This original duality produced a series of waves, further disturbing the tranquil surface of the sea of bliss (God). A criss-crossing of these waves created elaborate patterns. The farther these waves were removed from their original state as divine consciousness the ‘grosser’ they became; appearing finally as condensed matter, the world of sense experience. The cosmos, in other words, is a divine devolution – densified frequencies or compacted waves of consciousness that conceal their divinity because they are convoluted divine emanations. The original polarity of male and female manifests itself as the polarity of mind and matter.
to be a mind-blowing for scientists
He notes that it took centuries of painstaking research to lead western
science to the conclu sion that
matter and energy were one. Science, he feels, is yet to catch up with the discovery of the
mystics that even mind (or consciousness) is no t
different from matter, it is only the ultimate form of energy. Is the
energy of physics the same as the consciousness of the mystics (yogi es)?
Capra believes that it is but he is
cautious enough not to say so. We cannot know for sure because “Mystics understand the roots of Tao but not
its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots. ” The tantric
thought says that human beings are the microscopic versions of the cosmos, because the finer
‘consciousness’ and the grosser ‘body’ coexist in a human being. Polarity is
the key to existence and gender
division of male and female is the basic polarity in human beings. The reunification
of male and female in sexual intercourse is our point of contact with the
cosmic powers. Tantra
uses duality as the surest path to cosmic unity. It defines our sexual function
as the means of our direct connection with the divine. It reaches Reality by embracing illusion – our own
Tantra is unapologetic about using
insanity to reach
reality. Creation itself is divine insanity; therefore
sanity has to be left outside the temple of God. Although Tantra entered the West
in 1893 through Swami Vivekananda, it was not until the 1970s that the West
embraced tantric insanity in a big
way via Bhagwan (later Osho) Rajneesh. Rajneesh is as famous for his Rolls Royce s
at his ranch in Oregon as he is for his book From Sex to Superconsciousness.
It summed up his tantric creed. Rajneesh,
of course, was no fool. He had taught philosophy in an Indian
university before becoming a guru. He knew that the western Age
of Reason had reached a dead end and
that human reason by itself was incapable of knowing truth. Boldly, therefore,
Rajneesh described the human mind as our “chief villain ”. Intellect, he said, act s like a prism. It divided one ray into many.
The mind is the source of
our bondage and ignorance of the ultimate reality because it can only see an object by separating it from others, by
labeling or categorizing it. Therefore, the aim of the religious quest
according to Rajneesh is to
‘kill the mind ,’ to choose insanity.
Tantra, like other schools of
Hindu thought, admits that the world is maya
or unreal in a fundamental sense. However,
unlike other Hindus the tantric does not scorn
the world as a source of temptation. He embraces it as the raw material of
enlightenment. For Tantra,
the realm of maya
is the only available context of liberation.
Tantra uses mantras as one of the weapons to kill the mind. Words are sounds
is mindless repetition
of words aims to sever sense from sound. Prayer is an attempt at a meaningful
conversation with our Creator. Mantra is a deliberate
annihilation of meaningful language by mechanical, non-personal repetition of a
word or sound Professor Mircea Eliade says, “All indefinite repetition leads to
destruction of language; in some mystical traditions, this destruction appears
to be the condition for further experiences. ”
The sexual ritual in
Tantra is called maithuna. The
‘right hand’ tantrics,
also called white
tantrics, believe that the maithuna
passages in the tantric scriptures are to
be understood figuratively. The ‘left-hand’ or red tantrics advocate a literal enactment of the
some of them would reserve it for advanced practitioners. One has to first find
an experienced guru, because the deepest tantric
traditions are oral, not written. Even the written texts are ambiguous. They
use symbolic language called sandha-bhasha,
which cannot be understood without a guru’s help. This language is intended to
discourage the non-initiate and to remind the enlightened tantric
that the reality he seeks is beyond logical language.
During a secret initiation
ceremony the guru connects a disciple to the spiritual tradition he embodies.
The ceremony may consist of the worship of the guru, receiving of a mantra,
instruction for meditation and visualization, and purification of
chakras (psychic centers of one’s
body) by the handling of a disciple’s genitals.
During maithuna a male
disciple usually prefers a female
who takes on the role of a guru. But in Tantra it is not
essential for a man to have a woman companion. For in serious Tantra Tantric transcendence
takes place when the mind is completely still but focused, breathing has ceased
and sexual arousal is arrested at the point of maximum tension. Thus maithuna first
stimulates and then traps the energies of sexual arousal to be able to release
them through the channel of a still mind. This is “spiritual orgasm. ” It does not seek to make a man and a woman
‘one flesh’. Its aim is to help fuse a tantric’s own inner polarities
into one; that is to give him a mystic experience of oneness. That is why most
Hindu and Buddhist tantrics are unmarried. They do
not seek an abiding, growing, fulfilling love-relationship with a member of the
opposite sex. Rajneesh said , Tantra treat s sex
as ‘simply a door. While making love to a woman, you are really making love to
Existence itself. The woman is just a door; the man is just a door. ”
Once you have learned to
reach samadhi or
superconsciousness through sex, said Rajneesh, you do not need a woman for you
can have sex with the whole universe,
“with a tree, with the moon, with anything. ”
Or you can simply shut
yourself in a room and reach superconsciousness using the female Kundalini within you.
Some interpreters, like Amur
Riencourt, see Tantra as a celebration
or affirmation of life, a human counter-attack on other life-negating forms of Yoga.
They suggest that it was a manifestation of human instinct for
self-preservation, an attempt to save India from the destructive consequences
of religious outlooks, which view life as suffering, if not illusion.
Although there is an element of truth in this interpretation, by and large it
is little more than wishful thinking. For, as Brooks Alexander wrote, “Even in
its affirmations, Tantra is haunted by paradoxes.
The naturalness of human life is affirmed, but only as a means for its
dissolution. Human existence is validated, but only as a platform for leaving
humanity behind. ”
As Rajneesh admitted, and
many female devotees of Muktananda have testified, a
does not make love to a woman or a man. He uses his partner as a means of his
own enlightenment, leaving him or her sexually frustrated. Shirley MacLaine,
Hollywood actress and a popularizer of Tantra
admits that sex in Tantra
is not meant to fulfil l two people by
uniting them in one bond. It is used by one (or both) partner to discover his or her own completeness
as an androgynous being so that each may become complete without the other.
unabashedly embrace human
sexuality in its spirituality. But because it us es sex for individual gain rather than for binding
two people in love, it turns sex into
frustration. It does not fulfillment l men and women as sexual
beings, nor does it celebrate life. It seeks to deny or transcend
OF SALVATION? As
we have seen, whether you
as an attempt to isolate soul (purusha) from nature (prakriti) or as an attempt to unite human self with the divine self, you end
with a low view of physical reality and human body. The logic of yogic worldview undermines the motivation
to pursue science – the study of nature – as well as pursuit of bodily well
The monistic idea that the
human self is the same as the divine self and that everything is one, makes our
individuality illusory, thereby destroying the very foundation for affirming
the unique value of every individual. It should not surprise us that the Indian
philosophical tradition, in spite of all its brilliance, could not produce a culture
that recognized human rights and the worth of
every individual. Nor could Yogic monism give to Indian society a
framework for moral absolutes, a strong sense of right and wrong, fair and
unfair. Yogic exercises indeed gave flexibility to our bodies but unfortunately
the yogic philosophy gave too much flexibility to our morals – making us one of
the most corrupt nations in the world. That is why St .
Paul wrote, “physical training is of some value, but
godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life
and the life to come .” (1 Tim othy 4:
The pursuit of physical
fitness is desirable because our bodies are a part of God’s good creation. God
does want to makeour bodies His temple. The Yogic tradition is right in making
spirituality the real goal of physical training. By the same token the Western fans abuse Yoga when they use it only for physical
fitness. The problem is not with Yogic exercises, but with its understanding
God is holy – morally pure. We are sinful
merely ignorant. We have done what we know to be wrong and not
do ne what
we know was right. A holy God must judge and punish our sin. God and sin cannot
co-exist anymore than light and darkness. Our need is not to
alter our consciousness, but to have our ation
of – the core of our being and our
character transformed. Yoga seeks our union with God. The question
is: How can a sinner be reconciled to God?
reconciliation with God is possible because He not only created us but also loves
us. He wants to forgive our sin. That is why Jesus came and died as our
substitute. He took the punishment of our sin upon himself. In order to be
reconciled with God we need to repent for our sins and accept his gracious offer of
forgiveness through Christ. He will then replace our sinfulness with his godliness.
This, God’s Word says, is valuable for all things – for the present life as
well as for the life beyond our physical death.
adwaita = non-dualism (God and human self are not distinct)
Aing = a mantra whose meaning you are not supposed to know
atma = soul (human self)
devas = nature spirits
Brahma = God (the Universal Self that permeats us all, including physical nature)
chakras = the six psychic centres of the body
Hrim = a mantra whose meaning you are not supposed to know
Jainism = non-Brahminical Indian religion of strict asceticism, founded c.BC600; ‘saint’ or ‘victor’
karma = good or bad deeds or destiny; past lives dictating present and future lives
kutir = hut
lila = the play of cosmic consciousness
maha = great
maithuna = the sexual ritual in tantra
mantra = chant; sacred sound or name of God to be repeated as meditation
maya = illusion, unreal (as a dream)
Om = sound representing ultimate reality or God
padmasana = the lotus position
prakriti = physical nature
pranayam = breathing exercises
purusha = soul
sadhu = holy man, ascetic
samadhi = expanded state of consciousness.
samsara = world or life as a wheel of suffering
samkhya = Indian dualistic philosophy concerned with pure soul and impure body
sandha-bhasha = symbolic language of tantra
satsang = the weekly gathering for fellowship and teaching
surat = soul; beauty
shabd = word; sound
siddha = perfect
Sring = a mantra whose meaning you are not supposed to know
Dear Ivan, I am attaching the Yoga booklet. It is done except for the footnotes - that is relatively a simple thing since all the quotations are from my Yoga tract, Gurus book or the New Age book. If you are able to add them it will be a big help to me, if you can't do them, do number them as you edit so that I can fill in the blanks. The next two weeks are extremely busy for me, so I need you to run with this now - Getting feedback from Prabhu and perhaps one or two more experts, working with Jenny on editing and with Borsad on cover design, we also need to craft the back page more carefully. We had a great planning meeting today with Bob Brydges and Larry present. Brad will send the minutes of today's meetings and will work with you in making sure that every one knows what we are doing when - we do want to get all the ten booklets out by March 1st. This means that you have got to drive the whole project - editing, designing, production. Bruce will begin working on publicity, promotion and marketing and he will be in touch with Prabhu and you with details. You can put this attached booklet in a format so that different people can edit in different colors. IMPORTANT - Bob Osburn suggests that we have the SAR meeting on Sunday Feb 4th after lunch. Can you please send out the notice. We can send the agenda later. Feb 2-3 is L'Abri conf. it will be great if Silvia, you & LT were able to join us there - Prabhu and I are speaking. There will be about 700 people and we should have good booksales. In haste - Vishal
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