Posted by Stuart Gilman (188.8.131.52) on September 28, 2003 at 06:59:41:
In Reply to: Yoga posted by Simon on September 27, 2003 at 19:50:38:
It is important to realize that yoga as taught in the west - everywhere - no matter how secular the approach - contains Hindu rituals, greetings, prayers, statues and symbols. While Hatha (exercise) Yoga is what we normally equate with the term Yoga, a reading of any proper text on Yoga teaches that Hatha Yoga is one of several 'yogas' all of which are intended to bring one to the Hindu plain of enlightenment or Heaven. All Yoga is for purification of the impure mind and body. The purification is for transcedance to a "supernatural" place, or super-mind.
In addition, there are hundreds of sects of Yoga, the most mystical being Tibetan Yoga, which offers those who reach enlightenment and purification supernatural, human powers. A popular test of a Tibetan Monk is to cover himself with wet blankets and go out into subzero weather where with his supermind he warms and dries the towels.
The chanting of Om is Hindu and is prevalent in every yoga class in North America, England and, I presume, elsewhere. This, too, has the purpose of purifying (emptying) the mind so that one can experience 'samadhi', enlightenment and a relation with the Hindu Pantheon (Plurality) of Gods. Hinduism is polytheistic, not monotheistic.
As such, attending a Yoga Class includes breaking Bahai laws. If you feel that Yoga, as an exercise discipline, has something to offer you, you can certianly perform the exercises without the rituals, prayers, chants and the rest of the overtly Hindu religious elements.
Finally, you remind me of an old argument between sects of Jews - Can a Jew enter a Church?. Jewish orthodoxy forbids it and formally states that anyone participating in any aspect of any other religion will be alienated from God and may be excommunicated. Reform Judaism does not dictate such prohibition or punishment. But there is only Bahai Orthodoxy. Bahaullah, Abdul Baha and Shoghi Effendi leave no room for sectarian departures. In fact, it is written:
"And now, one of the greatest and most fundamental principles of the Cause of God is to shun and avoid entirely the Covenant-breakers, for they will utterly destroy the Cause of God, exterminate His Law and render of no account all efforts exerted in the past. O friends! It behooveth you to call to mind with tenderness the trials of His Holiness, the Exalted One, and show your fidelity to the Ever-Blest Beauty. The utmost endeavor must be exerted lest all these woes, trials and afflictions, all this pure and sacred blood that hath been shed so profusely in the Path of God, may prove to be in vain." `Abdu´l-Bahá, Will and Testament p. 20
Nowhere in the Sacred Writings have I read a text that allows for differences between Orthodox Bahai, Conservative Bahai, Reform Bahai, etc.... Sectarianism is explicitly or implicitly forbidden, as the following indicates:
"In all His Books and Tablets He [Bahá'u'lláh} has praised those who are firm in the Covenant and rebuked those who are not. He said, "Verily, shun those who are shaken in the Covenant. Verily, God is the Confirmer of the firm ones." In His prayers He has said, "O God! Render those who are firm in the Covenant blessed, and degrade those who are not. O God! Be the Protector of him who protecteth Him, and confirm him who confirms the Center of the Covenant." Many utterances are directed against the violators of the Covenant, the purpose being that no dissension should arise in the blessed Cause; that no one should say, "My opinion is this"; and that all may know Who is the authoritative expounder and whatsoever He says is correct. Bahá'u'lláh has not left any possible room for dissension. Naturally, there are some who are antagonistic, some who are followers of self-desire, others who hold to their own ideas and still others who wish to create dissension in the Cause. For example, Judas Iscariot was one of the disciples, yet he betrayed Christ. Such a thing has happened in the past, but in this day the Blessed Perfection has declared, "This person is the expounder of My Book and all must turn to Him." The purpose is to ward off dissension and differences among His followers. Notwithstanding this safeguard and provision against disagreement, there are certain souls here in America and a few in Akka who have violated this explicit command." `Abdu´l-Bahá, Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 382
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