Yoga no medium to experience divine: Church

(in the pic: A Syro-Malabar nun doing yoga in Kerala); Published on: 2:09 am, April 5, 2017 by:

(Note:Yes Yoga is a physical exercise but more than that. If physical exercises cannot help form correct mental and spiritual attitudes, how can so many ritualistic practices and physical postures like, kneeling, standing, sitting, bowing, clapping, singing and ever so many physical postures cultivated by the Syro-Malabar Church help one attain divine or spiritual experience?

Nay how does going to a Church, a particular church (parish church, of St. Antony, Sebastian, Chavara, Alphonsa etc.) on Sundays or specified days like Fridays, help one achieve spiritual experience? Nothing enters our mind except through our five senses. God (if there is a God, to pay our humble respect to our atheistic friends) acts and prompts humans through visible and invisible mediums.

Jesus asks us to close all doors and windows (five senses) and to pray in silence. For the Syros Church worship is more a physical exercise of body movements (rituals) from start to finish. Charismatics were the extreme noisy type and so the so-called Churches were opposing them  bitterly before but now they are befriending all of them.

It is also the teaching of the Church that God appears to the hungry in the form of bread, that the prayers of an ignorant but believing women praying in a Serpent temple in the woods, will be answered because of her deep faith.  God looks into the heart of the devotee, his/her intentions and faith, not at the external physical movements or exercises of the one praying. That is why today there is the common understanding, that all religions are true. Vivekanda said it long ago. The basis of religion is FAITH in the unknown and unseen. And God looks at the faith of the devotee not at the external exercises gone through.

Some thinking sections may say: “How stupid it is to roll on the ground around a particular Church or go to Kurisumala carrying a heavy cross, to please God or Jesus. If that helps some, so be it, while trying to persuade them to something more human and humane like feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, comforting the afflicted etc. which Jesus did. But you cannot  make people start or stop such things with the Diktat, that Church has said or Rome has said or certain Archbishop has said. If something reasonable is said, every thinking person will listen and try to understand and follow, if the reasons cited are convincing. If not they will just ignore such Diktats.

Then there is the question of the culture of the place and country. Inculturalization  is incarnation, God appearing in human form. It is basic to incarnational principle based on which so many Catholic theologians were promoting Indianisation of the church and its ritual practices of worship. Yoga is basic to Indian culture and whatever is holy and reasonable in Yoga should be accepted and promoted to communicate the message of Jesus. Jesus would have done that.

We are not trying to disprove whatever is communicated through the circular of Cardinal Alanchery, who is a great friend of ours. We are only highlighting our rational thinking to show why we are forced to disagree and say, that the ‘Right and Wrong’ of ritual practices cannot and should not be decided or imposed by a diktat of a Cardinal or a Commissar.  Since all reasons for and against can’t be cited here, may the light of reason prevail in this type of discussions on religious practices. James kottoor, editor)          

Kochi: The Syro-Malabar Church, based in the southern Indian state of Kerala, says yoga is not a medium to attain divine experience, though it would help physical and mental health.

The Oriental Church’s Synod of the Bishops, which discussed the role of Yoga in their faith early this year, said divine experience could not be experienced through a particular posture.

“God in whom we believe is a personal God. God is not someone who can be reached through a particular posture,” said the circular signed by the Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Church.

In its circular to its priests and laity in January this year, the Church said that recognizing the important place given to yoga in Indian culture, it is to be considered as a physical exercise or postures to concentrate or to meditate.

“It is not quite right to think that the experience of God and the personal encounter with the Lord is possible through Yoga,” the circular said. It said those who hold different opinions other than that of the Church in this regard are not to be encouraged.

“In this context, each one should take utmost care to avoid getting into those prayer groups and spiritual movements which are against the Catholic faith and do not recognize the official teachings of the Church,” the circular said. (Source:

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