When San Diego Superior Court Judge John Meyer asked the question “What is Religion?” in context of the trial on Yoga, he stepped into an area that is completely foreign to Americans and most Westerners.
The greatest tragedy in mankind has been the concept of Religion. And, its primacy in things to do with Divine.
No one has really “seen” God. People have simply experienced the ultimate experience that one can have or imagine as a human being. And, if it was superlative enough, we called that experience Divine. Similarly, whatever has been the highest value that any society cherished, it gave it the highest priority and place. That is why, Israelis greet with “Shalom” – which means Peace. That is why, Muslims cannot tire blessing their Prophet with “May Peace be unto him”.
For a society that has known nothing but war and bloodshed, Peace is Divine and heavenly. But for someone in a society which is stable and peaceful for generations on end, to go around blessing people with Peace – can be a pretty nonsensical thing to do.
While God and articulation of the entity has been mostly conjured up by Human Imagination, it is nevertheless true that there is a higher experience to human existence than being born, eating, sleeping, pro-creating, and dying. Basically, beyond the traps of money and material comforts, at the most fundamental level, this is what the humans have mostly done.
The Religious have never seen God either. They have made up the whole story. They know who “He” is, his whole family – Father, Son.. etc – and even how “He” reacts to things. Little realizing that to come up with this kind of definitive paraphernalia for an entity that is Infinite and which is both, the Creator and the Creation – is an exercise in vain.
Such an effort of self delusion can only be maintained via hard core belief. And, that is what Religion is. It is in essence a belief system and an ideology. That such ideology has cultural ramifications is just a coincidence. But such beliefs have never transformed anyone.
Yoga is about transformation. If you do the right things, then right things will happen to you. It doesn’t matter whether you believe what you are doing is Ardhasiddhasan or the more Secular “Criss Cross Apple Sauce”; if you have the necessary seriousness and balance of things, impact of that Yoga posture will happen. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in the transformational energy of the Breath. If you do your Pranayama well, impact of that will be all too visible.
Chanting, the idols, the Shiva Lingams and the Sanskrit Shlokas are part of the whole process of Yoga. They were the necessary instruments and tools that were discovered by the same minds that came up with Yoga. It was like the manufacturers of this Super Jet called Yoga also providing the best Engine oil which makes it work.
But, for the tinkerers in the town – the New Ageys and the Yoga Enthusiasts who are either Secular or Religious – this Engine Oil is a problem. They want to use the local kerosene to start the Jet. Well it may, and even work, the damage to the Jet will occur at levels that this generation of tinkerers can never imagine. For, they do not even have an idea of what the plumbing of this Jet made of!
For example, all the modern day Yoga teachers and students like to talk about how Yoga helps us in terms of health. How the Blood Pressure comes down, the Blood Cholesterol is impacted. How the chronic diseases are settled, the psychosomatic illnesses are taken care of. Essentially in terms of our body – the Blood, Bones, and Nerves
But those who came up with Yoga – the Yogis of India – talked a completely different language. They talked in terms of Naadi, Prana and Chakras. The last I checked no one had ever seen a Naadi during any dissection or found a Chakra neatly entrenched anywhere in the body under a microscope. Why? Because these are inhererently concepts and realities of the Energy Body, and not the physical body.
Just because the modern day science and doctors have not seen them, doesn’t mean that these don’t exist. For, if those talking about these were such loonies and superstitious fools – and modern day docs such amazing smart brains, then one is forced to ask the obvious – Why hasn’t the best of Modern day doctors been able to come up with anything rivalling Yoga? Something that can simply take a breath and impact your Blood Pressure so tremendously? And, if you knew, why waste time, money and energy on devising pills?
The very same minds said chanting Aum is an essential part of the process. Not because it was their “belief” – as much as following the breath to bring balance and impact the BP wasn’t much of a belief – but because that is what worked!
Just as every aspect of Yoga is a technology, Aum is also a technology. That works. Ditto with Idols and the Lingams. With the Shlokas and Sanskrit. These were conjured up by hallucinating minds thinking of God, and believing it because … well, I was told to do so. They came up with all these because these things worked! For the purpose they were formulated.
Hindus, Dharma and Yoga
Now, it is true that people who came up with this have been known as Hindus because of the river they lived next to by people who were always busy dividing the world based on beliefs. And they couldn’t box the “beliefs” of these people in any which way! Those who looked at fundamental transformation to experience the essence, didn’t care about any belief. For them, technologies for transforming a human such that s/he experiences the utmost quality of this life was the greatest pursuit.
To the outside world, the religious Persians, the Arabs, and the Europeans – it was imperative to box these people in the same paradigm. Which wasn’t even there. Unfortunately, they gained physical ascendancy on this culture and somehow pasted the idea of Divine to be no more than a belief.
But ask any Hindu who understands the experience of Yoga, Aum is not a belief. It is way of being. The highest way of being.
Yoga is Religious only to the Religious minds
“If all you have is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail”, goes the proverb.
That is precisely the state of the religious. They have known nothing else apart from belief. Belief, even in a person who was tortured and killed in a society which never understood him for being a freak because he questioned their hard-set beliefs.
Religion as a way to God or to the Divine possibility of a Human being is the most decadent thing to have happened to mankind. And, worse is that this nonsense has been promoted to widely that it has become the proxy for Spiritual pursuits.
Yoga, and its accompanying components, having nothing to do with a belief. Ask someone whose life has been transformed by Yoga. She will tell you that sitting and reading a book believing that the “Word” will work didn’t do the magic. She had to move herself and make it happen!! And happen it did.
It is a technology by the highest of beings who walked this planet. That we cannot understand them is shameful enough. At least let us not make a mockery of their work by evaluating it using nonsensical paradigms like Religious beliefs!