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Lesson 266 - Harvesting the Best from India  (Audio)

AYP Plus Additions:
266.1 - India: Distortions and Truths
  (Audio)

From: Yogani
Date: Sat Jun 18, 2005  9:30 pm

New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, "Why This Discussion?"


Q: Yoga originated in ancient India. It is well known that in ancient India the predominant religion was Hinduism (as it is even today). As per Indian mythology also all sages of the ancient past were Hindus. While yoga is based on broad thinking and the golden principle of `do unto others as you want it done to you,' we find that Hinduism is very mean in its thinking -- encouraging caste system, oppression of women, even animal sacrifices. Even in Indian mythology many of the sages were provoked at the slightest offence and cursed people to death.

My question is, if yogic practices originated in ancient India why we don't find examples of good yogis? And if a large number of yogis did exist at that time, then there is no room for the heinous rules of Hinduism, right? The biggest irony is that, as per Hindu scriptures, the golden period was in the ancient times, and our present society is the worst one. But it is during those ancient times, all ugly things such as caste system got created.

Historically thinking, it is very difficult to assume that the same ancient Indian people followed the yoga and the crude Hinduism. I don't have any exaggerated vengeance against India or Hinduism. I myself am an Indian, and born in a Hindu family, but personally I'm an atheist. You are not a historian but what in your opinion could explain this?

A: Of course, in all times religion is a mixture of culture, politics and spirituality, and every time has had many enlightened beings - the vast majority of them we never hear of. We all know a few saintly people, yes? It is not a matter of reputation. It is only the simple acts of giving that are the divine in action on earth. Yoga is very quiet that way, even as human interiors are opening to infinity!

In so-called "enlightened" times (which have undoubtedly been idealized), the struggles for survival have been going on also, and there have always been blind prejudices lurking. This has nothing to do with the inherent potential for rising human spirituality, except that these obstructions lodged in the nervous system yielding ignorance have always been obstacles to be dissolved and transformed to higher expression in every individual. Nothing has changed, except now we have much better communications, which gives us an edge.

Religious institutions have always used the devotion of their followers for ill-advised ventures, giving religion as a whole a poor moral track record. Even so, that takes nothing away from the potential for human spiritual transformation, which is an observable experience in anyone who makes the effort to utilize the practical methods of transformation first uncovered in ancient times, and rediscovered many times since. Let's face it, the methods have come to us from the religions, or at least from their founders and most serious practitioners, so there is something there to be harvested. But we have to learn to separate the wheat of sound practices from the chaff of blind ritual and misguided dogma.

While the realms of human spiritual transformation and organized religion have important intersections on the possibilities we all share, and methods of practice especially, due to political and cultural elements, they do not have much else in common overall. It is a key point.

A sage once said that it is good to be born in a religion, but not good to die in one. This makes sense. We all need a starting benchmark -- exposure to our possibilities and the means for developing our full spiritual potential. This we can get from the scriptures and a few knowledgeable souls. Interestingly, we also have to move beyond the distortions of organized religion (and maybe beyond the knowledgeable souls too) to achieve it. This is true in all times, past and present.

There is an old saying: "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water." When we throw out the bath water of organized religion, let's make sure to hang on to the baby of effective spiritual practices. Nowhere is this more true than in India, where the baby was born. I hope that educated Indians will come back to the important truths of their heritage. We in the West can help with the distillation of ancient truths via the no-nonsense practical methods of scientific observation, integration and implementation. This is what AYP is.

There is no doubt that we owe much to the many seers of India who found out the truths of human spiritual transformation and took the trouble to pass them on to us as best they could. May we continue to do the same for the benefit of present and future generations.

Thank you, India!

The guru is in you.

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