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 Yoga, Science and Philosophy
 Rudolf Steiner against Yoga? (please clarify)
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Annademiel

Germany
8 Posts

Posted - Jul 23 2021 :  1:42:24 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Message
Hello all together,
I have a question for people who know about yoga and anthroposophical (or just the latter).
My heart is attached to yoga and I have decided in this life to practice according to the AYP system and also to recommend it to interested people. In my place of residence the teachings of Rudolf Steiner are very widespread and from convinced anthroposophists I have heard several times now the opinion that yoga should be rejected for our time. I did not understand the reasoning, it seemed to be that for this New Age yoga is somehow ridiculously outdated or even counterproductive, since the wheel of time now demands otherwise.
I was pained by these statements, something in me says that this, even if only for me, is absolutely not true. In fact, I doubt that Rudolf Steiner himself said or meant it that way. These external opinions will have no influence on my own path, but I would like to know on what basis such claims are based or what I can say to interested people who stand between yoga and these claims.
Can anyone who is versed in Rudolf Steiner's writings explain and preferably refute this denial to me?
Greetings and thank you in advance for your clarifications.

(I hope I have chosen the right topic - if not please move it)

Christi

United Kingdom
3940 Posts

Posted - Jul 23 2021 :  2:32:28 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Annademiel,

This issue is very much a question of perspective and terminology. As I am sure you know, Rudolf Steiner was a free thinker. He understood reality as being one indivisible whole, and the perception of that is very much at the heart of yoga. Steiner had criticisms of yoga on two counts. The first was that he rejected the authority of the Vedas and the Upanishads as scripture. He believed that people needed to be able to question and think for themselves in order to attain liberation, and accepting scriptural authority went against this. This criticism is not a valid one, as the Vedas and Upanishads are not considered to be authoritative in yoga. Even amongst the original Shramanas of Northern India, there were yogis who did not consider the Upanishads to be authoritative. The Buddha is one of the most famous examples. Of course, if people wish to, they can consider any text to be authoritative and many people do. But that is their personal choice, so free thinking and free will is not reduced. They are also free to change their minds.

The second criticism of yoga that Steiner had was to do with the guru-chella system. This is a method of teaching yoga where a student will agree to take one teacher and follow the instructions of that teacher without questioning them. It was, and perhaps still is, the most common method of transmission used in India for the last 3,000 years. Steiner's criticism of it was the same as above, that people are giving up their free will and free thinking in order to follow someone else's guidance. But of course, no one has to enter into this system if they don't want to, and anyone is free to practice yoga any way they wish. So, again, it is not a valid criticism of yoga, but rather of a particular teaching method.

Steiner's approach to these things is similar to that of Krishnamurti, who also rejected authority in any form, preferring the free-thinking approach to spiritual practice. The Buddha asked people to question everything, but at the same time, required his monks and nuns to follow a very strict list of rules regarding conduct in the world (vinaya). So, he was recommending free-thinking within some quite strict guidelines. But again, no one had to become a monk or a nun, so that was a choice. And they could leave the order, at any time.

So, Steiner was not critical of yoga in general, only of these particular aspects of yoga, which are believed in, or used, by some yogis. In fact, he predicted a future where yoga would become the essential bedrock of society. He talked about a future world epoch (the seventh) in this way:

"Thus in the seventh epoch the possibility will be given for all the marvellous wisdom proclaimed by the great Teachers of ancient India to be living once again in human souls. And it will now be their very own – the truth they live by.” [Rudolf Steiner]


Christi


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Annademiel

Germany
8 Posts

Posted - Jul 24 2021 :  3:58:50 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello Christi,
Wow, thank you for your quick and competent answer, it makes me feel a bit better. Some of the opinions I've encountered around here have been pretty firm but what you write is reasonable. Expressed this way, I can easily agree with Rudolf Steiner's criticism, I too reject blind obedience and strict submission in general. I don't think I would have been happy in a traditional guru system myself, I have always been someone who likes to understand and experience things for myself and also ask for reasons sometimes.

But as you say, this has nothing to do with yoga itself but with the teaching method. And from that point of view AYP embodies this new way of thinking. Nice to hear that yoga is not polluting the new age after all ;)

It's funny, of all the anthroposophically oriented statements I've come across so far, yours has motivated me the most to deal a bit with Rudolf Steiner, of whom I must confess I know very little, even as a German. Perhaps I had built up some prejudices.

I mean, I think Demeter agriculture is good and I have been told that it is rooted in Rudolf Steiner's way of thinking. But I also find Masanobu Fukuoka's natural farming methods or Bill Mollison's permaculture excellent things that the world can do well with and, when I got into conversation with anthroposophists, often didn't understand why the latter should be inferior just because it doesn't have Rudolf Steiner written on it. For reasons like this I have not been that involved with Rudolf Steiner but I think I will learn to distinguish between him and his modern disciples. After reading your clarification I think that much of his work is much more reasonable than I thought and when you have such a great clairvoyant in your own country's history it might be good to learn a bit more.


Thank you again and greetings


Annademiel
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Annademiel

Germany
8 Posts

Posted - Aug 25 2021 :  3:37:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hello,
I would like to ask again for information in the sense of Topic.
In the last time I have talked again with the anthroposophists here locally - all very nice people who keep bees and chickens in the front garden, carry out seed projects or breed butterflies and partly reintroduce species that are already extinct here. So much and the fact that not a single conversation has degenerated into argument or even unpleasant tone I would like to send ahead. I am very fond of my neighbor, who gave me his wonderful book about regional butterflies, and from whom some of the comments summarized here come. Because of him I have taken two Admiral caterpillars in care that have pupated beautifully the day before yesterday, five others are eating their way through a bunch of nettles and it is all very nice to watch. However, as far as yoga is concerned, we have different opinions...

In any case, I have now been told that there is probably also the following view:
According to Rudolf Steiner, yoga allegedly does not contribute to the development of the „I-Sense“, but even reduces it "to a pleasant degree", which leads to the fact that the yoga practitioner floats around in a kind of fog of happiness, but does not care about anything else in the world and mentally goes through a regression to the "baby stage". The reason for this is that the ancient Indian only perceived the world as if in a dream. For him, yoga still had a value in order to develop at least a little consciousness. People of ancient times, especially Indians or Egyptians, were not incarnated to such a high degree as today's people and we are much more advanced due to the progress of the ages from the beginning. Practicing yoga today would be like kindergarten for adults, or one could also say that yogis are like children who do not want to grow up. For today's time the exercises given by Rudolf Steiner are the only right thing, Anthroposophy is the only science that can build a sustainable culture. Rudolf Steiner had prophesied that if this new Western way, which is appropriate for the time and the human being, should fail, the old methods from the East would come back - which would be "a misfortune", because then the wheel of time would have to start again from zero, so to speak, and all the development that has been gone through so far would be in vain etc. Buddha had been the highest in his time, but the development had been continued by Christ and should go further forward and not backward in our time - however, all churches existing at Rudolf Steiner's time had left the true Christian way of development - He had recognized the right way and one must now go just this way. Another point is that God works through a special plan which is fixed in the personal karma, yoga would then clear or delete the karma in a way that also God's intention for us would be lost with it.

The penultimate part is a construction site for itself and could certainly heat up the minds in a special way, but I would like to ask as a focus for a statement on the I-sense and karma thing, also for an explanation of the term in the anthroposophical sense, because if I-sense is to be equated with consciousness then ... well then I don't understand anything anymore, because to me an increase of consciousness through yoga seems obvious. (Just like an increasing God-connectedness just when the karma clears up...).

I disagree, as I said, but would like to hear your view. Is this at all Steiner's core message or rather an aberrant interpretation? By the way, I gave the lesson 11 and the section Unity from lesson 327 as well as Christi's answer to the interlocutor to read, but it seemed to rather strengthen the above mentioned view.

Finally I would like to ask: What do you think how one should hold it generally with the tolerance against other spiritual teachings? I mean how do you manage to keep your own firm standpoint and at the same time not to hurt anyone? Is in some cases "hop and malt lost" and one does well to keep silent and just continue his way?
I have so far held back with negative statements towards anthroposophists, but I cannot agree with much of what I have heard about other areas from this school of thought and would be careful and with reservations simply speak of "nonsense" for some things. However, I do not want to offend anyone and also wonder what would be gained with a clear "clarification". On the other hand it would be already good if the truth would assert itself or we could approach this at least more and more.

So much for now from me, I am curious what you have to say.


Greetings


Annademie


I could still call thousand reasons if I only which would know...
Otto Waalkes
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Christi

United Kingdom
3940 Posts

Posted - Aug 27 2021 :  12:21:31 AM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Annademie,

quote:
For him, yoga still had a value in order to develop at least a little consciousness. People of ancient times, especially Indians or Egyptians, were not incarnated to such a high degree as today's people and we are much more advanced due to the progress of the ages from the beginning. Practicing yoga today would be like kindergarten for adults, or one could also say that yogis are like children who do not want to grow up. For today's time the exercises given by Rudolf Steiner are the only right thing, Anthroposophy is the only science that can build a sustainable culture. Rudolf Steiner had prophesied that if this new Western way, which is appropriate for the time and the human being, should fail, the old methods from the East would come back - which would be "a misfortune", because then the wheel of time would have to start again from zero, so to speak, and all the development that has been gone through so far would be in vain etc. Buddha had been the highest in his time, but the development had been continued by Christ and should go further forward and not backward in our time - however, all churches existing at Rudolf Steiner's time had left the true Christian way of development - He had recognized the right way and one must now go just this way.


Generally, when people bring something new to the spiritual endeavour, they will say that what they are offering is better than what has come before. Otherwise, what use would it be? Or at the very least, they will say that what they are offering is more useful under the current spiritual climate. And that is very much how yoga has developed, either with people offering something new and better than what has come before, or offering something more relevant to changing times. The yoga that Jesus taught was more suited to a Jewish audience, than the teaching of the Buddha would have been, for example. Jesus was fundamentally teaching Vedanta, which fitted in well to the existing archetypes of the Kabala.

If Steiner was offering something radically different and more effective than the yoga that preceded him, then that is great. Of course, the proof of any teaching is in the pudding. Did his teachings actually lead more people to enlightenment, and did they do it in a more effective way?

When people do bring something new, it is generally helpful if they are not too disparaging of what has come before. This is simply a question of respect for other teachers and is an indication of rising enlightenment.

quote:
According to Rudolf Steiner, yoga allegedly does not contribute to the development of the „I-Sense“, but even reduces it "to a pleasant degree", which leads to the fact that the yoga practitioner floats around in a kind of fog of happiness, but does not care about anything else in the world and mentally goes through a regression to the "baby stage". The reason for this is that the ancient Indian only perceived the world as if in a dream. For him, yoga still had a value in order to develop at least a little consciousness.


Understanding the "I-sense" in yoga is not that simple and actually requires quite a bit of work in the form of meditation. To begin to inquire into the nature of the I-sense (ahamkara), it is necessary to first cultivate samadhi. Then, with inner silence present, we can begin to examine the nature of the I-sense and how we relate to it. The understanding that is gained, is not one that can be expressed in words, so it is not really something that can be debated. Instead, it is known, in bliss.

If you have not read it already, I would recommend reading Yogani's book on Self-Inquiry, which can be found here. The book can also be found in read-only mode on the AYP Plus site here. This will give you some understanding of the I-sense and of how our relation to it changes, as our sadhana deepens. This may help you to understand what Steiner was trying to say in relation to the I-sense and yoga.


Christi
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Dogboy

USA
1878 Posts

Posted - Aug 27 2021 :  1:41:46 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Great reply, Christi
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Annademiel

Germany
8 Posts

Posted - Aug 27 2021 :  6:04:42 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Thank you Christi

quote:
Generally, when people bring something new to the spiritual endeavour, they will say that what they are offering is better than what has come before. Otherwise, what use would it be? Or at the very least, they will say that what they are offering is more useful under the current spiritual climate.



I feel the same way about APY - I find it more beneficial for our time than much of the other spiritual practice I have found, which is why I point it out to others when asked about my own practice. I find it a pity when spiritually interested people waste their time and to me some of what anthroposophists do looks a bit like a waste of time. Especially since it seems that many follow this path mainly by study and not so much by doing the exercises Rudolf Steiner gave.

Since I was raised very anti-spiritual before I found my own spiritual path and was used to rejecting everything that was not "scientific", I naturally experience quite a surprise when I started to feel these energies in my own body. ... But somehow a deeper part of me already *knew* that all this exists and the surprise was not so big after all. Anyway, it made me realize that pretty much everything I thought I knew before was not complete. And with me it has left the reaction that when I hear a statement of a spiritual teaching to think: "What do I know? I'm going this way because I feel it's right for me, too bad it's not yours". But I have become cautious about quickly dismissing something as untrue. On the other hand, for this very reason, I cannot understand why others can be so sure that they know exactly what is right. To be honest, this rejection is the main reason why I myself have problems to fully approve of Anthroposophy. In any case, I hope that those who study it will create something that will be useful for humanity...

As for the development of the sense of I, I can only guess where it will lead, since I am not even anchored in witnessing all day. But as I said, when I read lesson 327 and especially the section on unity, Steiner's - or his students' - statements are incomprehensible to me. It seems as if the ego-sense in the end encompasses everything and the enlightened one cares for others very well, or even more so. What is given up is egoism, if Steiner sees something negative in that, then that is not my way. At least that is my opinion, but as I said: what do I know? and since it seems to me that Steiner was more developed than I'm, it was not so easy for me to contradict only with intellect...

quote:
If Steiner was offering something radically different and more effective than the yoga that preceded him, then that is great. Of course, the proof of any teaching is in the pudding. Did his teachings actually lead more people to enlightenment, and did they do it in a more effective way?


The real problem I see is not that Steiner says his path is better suited to achieving enlightenment than others, but that the goal of enlightenment itself as understood in yoga ("Unity" lesson 327) no longer applies and seems to view it as a regression to kindergarten age. However, it is not clear to me what Steiner sees as the goal instead. https://www.aypsite.org/327.html

Of course I don't want to nag, because it is obvious that Rudolf Steiner was a candle in a very dark time and spent his life giving some light. I would just like to know why some people, when it comes out that I practice yoga, seem to think I want to regress myself and with that all the others....


Greetings

Annademiel


Cosmic (Football) Wisdom:
Everything is connected, you can pull out a hair on your butt and your eye will water....
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Christi

United Kingdom
3940 Posts

Posted - Aug 27 2021 :  8:28:36 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hi Annademiel,

quote:
Since I was raised very anti-spiritual before I found my own spiritual path and was used to rejecting everything that was not "scientific", I naturally experience quite a surprise when I started to feel these energies in my own body. ... But somehow a deeper part of me already *knew* that all this exists and the surprise was not so big after all.


If you feel something in your own body, then that is scientific. After all, how did all the scientists discover anything, if not through their own experience?

quote:
But I have become cautious about quickly dismissing something as untrue. On the other hand, for this very reason, I cannot understand why others can be so sure that they know exactly what is right. To be honest, this rejection is the main reason why I myself have problems to fully approve of Anthroposophy.


I don't see it as necessary to approve of something, or to reject something. With any spiritual path we can take the wheat and leave the chaff. We can also simply bear things in mind as food for thought for later. Who knows, it may come in handy at some point?

If you look at the teachings of Krishnamurti, he rejected yoga in a very powerful way. But then he had to, as that was his teaching methodology. He rejected everything that involved a progression in time. The irony was, that only people who had been practising yoga for a long time, could understand what he was talking about.

So, there are many paradoxes in yoga, and many things are not what they seem at first glance.

Do babies experience unity? Yes. But they do not possess wisdom. That is why they cry every time they get hungry. So, enlightenment is like seeing the world through the eyes of a child, but with wisdom (jnana).


“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” [Jesus] [Mathew 18:1-5]


Christi
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Annademiel

Germany
8 Posts

Posted - Aug 28 2021 :  10:18:34 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Hmmm, I think now I can also only say: Great reply ; thank you Christi.

quote:
I don't see it as necessary to approve of something, or to reject something. With any spiritual path we can take the wheat and leave the chaff. We can also simply bear things in mind as food for thought for later. Who knows, it may come in handy at some point?


I remember an interview with a German yoga teacher who describes his own path of development and tells how at a certain point he began to understand what the old wisdoms meant that he had read somewhere years before and wondered why he could not see it at that time - it was as if he had read a completely different book. I mean Yogani also writes somewhere something along the lines that the theory of the wisdoms will eventually come alive through one's own experience....

In any case, you have now finally convinced me not to see everything so doggedly. Probably it is enough at the moment to know which way one wants to go and not to hinder others on theirs. I only wish I could give such disarmingly conciliatory answers as you do when I meet decisive points of view.

quote:
If you feel something in your own body, then that is scientific. After all, how did all the scientists discover anything, if not through their own experience?


So I also think, I have put "scientific" also in quotation marks, perhaps I should have written materialistic dogmas, because some use the term as a synonym for "reject everything what does not fit into the current doctrine". But I always understood science as a search for the truth and the reality should be described with a model and not the parts of the reality should be denied which do not fit into the model. I mean at the moment the graviton is not discovered yet - gravity therefore not explainable, nevertheless nobody denies her existence... Apart from that: Isn't the state of the science still that one has calculated that everything what is there at heat energy, matter, radiation etc. is only 5% of what must be there?

Up to here I had already written the answer yesterday, but then I was too tired to send it already. In the evening a certain thought came to me and today my neighbor gave me an essay of an anthroposophist from the 50s which expresses exactly that. The derivation and also the conclusion is not quite clear to me, but we agreed with the help of this aspect that there is actually no contradiction of yoga and anthroposophists, only an extension. The point is this:

According to this, Rudolf Steiner saw the increasingly destructive influence of the materialistic and monetarily influenced spirit of the times and was of the opinion that it was no longer enough to strive individually for enlightenment / holiness as in past ages, but that the individual must also actively contribute to the flow of individual qualities such as love, compassion, etc. into the whole of society and seek to co-create a culture in which these qualities were the basis of science, politics, economics, etc. In short, he called for more service (preferably in the sense of global interest issues such as environmental protection) and less withdrawal and self-centered development.

I pointed out again that this was the case in yoga as I had come to know it and we agreed.

quote:
The image of the lone sage on the mountaintop, indifferent to the travails of the world, is fiction. If a sage is not engaged in some way for the benefit of others, their condition will be in question. True enlightenment is the spontaneous outpouring of divine love, which is working constantly to uplift everyone. The sage becomes a willing and wide open channel for That, which does nothing even while doing everything.
Yogani Unity Lesson 327


I can't quite agree with the view that nowadays we don't need to walk the path of development to unity anymore because Buddha, Jesus and others have already done this for us and today we only have to work on this second rather external aspect of society. That would be like saying that I don't need to learn anything for a mathematics exam because others have already passed it before me. I have it lighter because I do not have to derive the formulas any more but I must learn to use them if I want to have a use.

That the social aspect for the current time gets more and more weight, but I fully agree. If we do not manage very quickly to do much more in terms of environmental protection and to do something against what I know as "neoliberalism" (Steiner probably spoke of Arithmanian influences) there will be less beauty down here for future incarnations.

Unlike in former times, when I was very much occupied with these dark topics, I see today the solution not so much in wanting to push through or prevent a certain thing by hook or by crook, e.g. in politics, but exactly the other way around in the fact that the personal path of development is taken - but unlike in past times not by a few individuals but by very very many. I see responsible action as a consequence of this path and yoga for the broad masses will make an important contribution to this. An enlightened person or someone who aspires to become one will not deconstruct the world but build it up. The founder of the spiritual teachings I follow and through which I came to AYP said after the Second World War that he saw the guarantee for peace in nothing else than that all people again decide to strive for the good, for God - within which religion he did not see that so strictly. And although he emphasized that this path begins with each individual himself and that one must first sweep at one's own door, he himself did a lot for others - as all great teachers have done.

So maybe we should not look for contradictions where there are none. Anyway, as I said, I will try not to see it so narrowly anymore.

This was quite a monologue, but I thought if I start a topic with a controversial question, I can also say something conciliatory.


Greetings


Annademiel
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Christi

United Kingdom
3940 Posts

Posted - Aug 28 2021 :  10:38:52 PM  Show Profile  Visit Christi's Homepage  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
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kensbikes100

USA
173 Posts

Posted - Oct 14 2021 :  6:33:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote  Get a Link to this Reply
Annademiel and Christi, it was a pleasure to read your discussion! Thanks to you both!
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