By Rudra Shivananda
Yoga is not a religion. It is an experiential movement towards higher states of consciousness. Yoga is more of a way of being and living than about beliefs or practices. Yoga is about personal experience and not about scriptures or the teachings of others.
Yoga is not a philosophy. There are many different “philosophies” within the Indian framework that have been applied to the way and state of yoga. From Samkhya to Advaita to Kashmiri Saivism, yogis have used what could help to explain their experiences to those sincere seekers who aspired to the spiritual life. However, these philosophies were not ends to themselves, but only means to satisfy inquisitive minds so that the seekers could eventually get their own experiences indicated.
Two thousand years ago, Lord Jesus walked the earth and expressed the way of love and inclusion. He renounced the way of dogma and exclusivity that was propounded by the ruling priestly caste. He lived his life in accordance with his teachings – he truly walked his talk. His catholic or universal way formed the foundation of a movement that later solidified into a religion.
The current leader of the catholic movement attributed to Lord Jesus recently visited USA and there was much hype and adoration as well as controversy. Whether one agrees with the beliefs and dogmas of the modern version of the catholic religion, one must take a moment to consider the words and actions of Father Francis.
A yogi is an embodiment of the experience of Self-Realization, of higher consciousness. A yogi’s actions reflect his or her higher state, free from dogma or influence of others. A yogi walks his or her talk. One who is well on the path of the yoga of action and service is a mahatma or great soul.
From the moment that Francis took up the office of the papacy, he brought a fresh breeze to an old institution. He has been trying to bring back the pastoral nature of the office – to be a shepherd indeed to his flock.
What impresses first are his words – direct and straight from his many years of working with the poor of South America. His words of wisdom and humility can be found all over the web now – I would encourage you to check them out. His words are of comfort, seeking to embrace the different and diverse members of his church, rather than to condemn or punish.
What continue to impress are his actions which have for the most part matched his words. He has renounced the ostentatious life-style of some of those who have occupied his office in the past. He has slowly passed measures to bring the marginalized back to the fold. He is focused on those that need the most help – the poor and hopeless – those ostracized because of life-style choices or genetics. He is concerned about the environment. He is truly a wise and humble soul dedicated to the service of his flock. Such a being at the top of a religious organization is extremely rare. This is surely a divine grace at this time.
Of course, as a person, Francis is still limited by his circumstances and beliefs – he is not free of dogma. In spite of these limitations, he is making a great effort to shift the course of his titanic institution back towards the true way of the Lord Jesus – the way of love and inclusivity. Let us pray for this great soul, Father Francis, that he be given the time to bring forth some of the reforms that he is striving for. May Francis become a yogi of Christ – to be unified in Christ consciousness.