RE: Christian Science and Yoga – Are they compatible?
March 16, 2013 at 11:09 pm #76484
I came across this discussion on Time4Thinkers “Christian Science and Yoga – Are they compatible?” and was a little astonished that this is even a question, and more astonished at some of the answers! I think it is important to keep with the Christian Science textbooks, Science and Health and the Bible when answering questions like these rather than relying on “human theories”, what YOU believe Mary Baker Eddy “would have done”, or what you think Christian Science would allow. The books are the answer! Study them! They will lead you in the right direction, and answer every question. “Divine Love always has met and always will meet every human need.” (S&H 494:10) Yoga was not included as a viable treatment in Christian Science.
So I looked in the books and found the following citations that should be strongly considered in this discussion. Christian Science is Truth! It is finished! We shouldn’t be reinventing it based on our human theories.
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?
Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?
And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:
And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Is not yoga, in one way or another, a material way to make the body healthier? As a Christian Scientist we know that the TRUE body is SPIRITUAL, the image and likeness of God, not of material man. Therefore it is already perfect!
I’ll end with citations from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy:
The human thought must free itself from self-imposed materiality and bondage. It should no longer ask of the head, heart, or lungs: What are man’s prospects for life? Mind is not helpless. Intelligence is not mute before non-intelligence.
By its own volition, not a blade of grass springs up, not a spray buds within the vale, not a leaf unfolds its fair outlines, not a flower starts from its cloistered cell.
The Science of being reveals man and immortality as based on Spirit. Physical sense defines mortal man as based on matter, and from this premise infers the mortality of the body.
Science and Health 191:16-27
We are Christian Scientists, only as we quit our reliance upon that which is false and grasp the true. We are not Christian Scientists until we leave all for Christ. Human opinions are not spiritual. They come from the hearing of the ear, from corporeality instead of from Principle, and from the mortal instead of from the immortal. Spirit is not separate from God. Spirit is God.
Science and Health 192:4March 16, 2013 at 11:43 pm #76487
Is dance compatible with Christian Science? Is painting compatible with Christian Science? Is running a marathon compatible with Christian Science? As a philosophy, yoga is not Christian Science — although I think you will find most yoga instructors to be very spiritually minded and very easy to have wonderful conversations with. But as a form of expression — expressing God’s grace, God’s beauty, God’s rhythm — well those can be wonderful expressions of Soul. One of Mrs. Eddy’s early students (and I apologize but I do not remember which one off the top of my head) was often seen riding his bicycle around the town. Someone asked him if he rode it in order to stay healthy. He replied, “No, I do not ride it to stay healthy; I ride it because I am healthy.”
GordonMarch 17, 2013 at 1:16 am #76488
Thank you for your comments. Although I can see some of your points, I still maintain that the answers are found in the textbooks of Christian Science. One does not take a “class” to ride a bike. They simply learn to ride it because it is enjoyable to ride! What is the fundamental purpose of a Yoga class? Is it not to make the material body more healthy? Taking over what God has already made perfect?
I see your point that for some it’s just enjoyable. But one could say that about martial arts as well. They argue that it helps the soul and body. 1. Who’s soul? Since God is the only Soul! 2. It is fundamentally a fighting technique whether it’s self defense or offensive. That is a drastic comparison to Yoga I realize.
I appreciate your comment of distinguishing the philosophy and “form of expression”. However, most people would not make that distinction, especially someone new to Christian Science. If we are to say that Christian Science supports Yoga, it can be very confusing and misrepresent what Christian Science is because most non-Christian Scientists will see it as Christian Science mixing with the Yoga philosophy. This is sadly how different ideas of Christian Science spawn off to “New Age” religions, (or even in some of our current branch churches), dissecting Christian Science to fit with THEIR MORTAL beliefs.
I don’t feel one needs Yoga to express “God’s grace, God’s beauty, God’s rhythm”. We do that by demonstrating Jesus’ commands, “… seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” and “And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils:” (or “evil” as another translation shows it.)
Did Jesus hold an exercise class for his 12 disciples so they could mentally prepare and go out and heal better? :)
“Is dance compatible with Christian Science?”
That depends. Is it expressing spiritual joy or sensuality? I dance with my wife and kids and my dog, but I wouldn’t take them to some of the dance night clubs in town!
“Is painting compatible with Christian Science?”
Same answer. There are paintings out there I would not show my kids! Therefore why should I be exposed to it if my spiritual goal is to be as innocent as a child? Some paintings shown in Mary Baker Eddy’s book “What Christmas means to me” are deep, thought provoking, spiritual and uplifting to me.
“Is running a marathon compatible with Christian Science?”
NO! Ha! Just kidding. I believe running a marathon can be enjoyable. I have gone jogging early in the morning before when the sunrise was coming up and it just lifts my thought to God. But really, is the jogging necessary for that to happen?
Someone made a point that Mary Baker Eddy went on regular carriage rides. Was that exercise?? I think she was seeing the beauty in nature, God’s “new heaven and earth”. The horses were getting the exercise!
DaveMarch 17, 2013 at 7:01 am #76489
I think I know what you want to express, Dave, by making those radical statements. Still I think it is somehow even offensive to support this tone and aggression towards people who consider taking Yoga classes. I don’t mean to reprehend you but I just have to point out that we have to be patient with our body, loving and tender, not radical and harsh. There is always a certain strictness in tenderness and love, and that is enough. What you represent doesn’t really invite to open up to God’s love.
Everyone should ask God for the right answer, and it may be right to take Yoga classes for a few months or something like that, who knows what’s connected to that, who knows who will be blessed by your presence, who knows who you will meet.
It’s difficult to apply the strict rules of God’s Law to human lifestyles. God’s Law is always present and always fresh, and since it is absolutely demanding and omnipotent, it will guide us individually with absolute certainty, so there won’t even be the need to establish a general rule on the human level.March 17, 2013 at 1:08 pm #76490
It’s not so much about the actions that are being performed. Whether it’s yoga or other examples brought up like painting, dancing, etc…
It really is as simple as coming down to the motives of a person performing the actions. If a person is doing yoga because they feel like it’s the only way for spiritual growth and to be close to God, those motives obviously don’t line up with the teachings of Christian Science.
Maybe someone enjoys yoga because they have fun getting together with friends in the class every week. Or enjoy that mode of expressing qualities like activity, flexibility, motion, creativity, etc… That may very well be a person’s preferred way of expressing those things. Someone else might prefer to express them in activities like bowling, soccer or gymnastics. If those are the reasons for someone doing yoga, is that really against CS in some way? I can’t really see how.
While I am not a yoga expert in any way, from what I understand, there are a lot of different forms, some of which put a more spiritual slant on things. More of a philosophy rather than way of expressing activity. That, I can see as completely being incompatible with CS, as it’s really just an example of false theology.
But there are yoga classes that are just another form of exercise. If someone enjoys that, so be it. Can’t see how it would hurt anything or be against anything Eddy taught.
Really, in any human activity we do, checking our motives is key.March 17, 2013 at 11:40 pm #76499
“I think I know what you want to express, Dave, by making those radical statements. Still I think it is somehow even offensive to support this tone and aggression towards people who consider taking Yoga classes. I don’t mean to reprehend you but I just have to point out that we have to be patient with our body, loving and tender, not radical and harsh.”
In no way did I mean to offend anyone who would like to take Yoga. But as a Christian Scientist, I believe I have a right to defend Christian Science based on what the Bible and Science and Health teach us.
Jesus was very radical in his day to correct human theories and false Christian beliefs the Pharisees were spreading around. But he taught to love one another at the same time!
Mary Baker Eddy was very radical in her day to re-introduce the teachings of the Christ to a troubled society. And she loved and healed mankind while doing it.
Sometimes one has to be radical, but LOVING, to remind people what Christian Science is and is NOT, not with human theories, but with Divine Truth and Love that only comes from our understanding of the books.
“It’s difficult to apply the strict rules of God’s Law to human lifestyles.”
Why? If you continue to believe you are mortal, sure! When one strives to understand they are the spiritual image and reflection of God, they will start to see things in their lives change. No longer will they require to “exercise” to keep the body healthy. It will just BE healthy and perfect, not material.
Again, rather than discussing this with “human theories”, Christian Scientists should find the answers in the books! I’ve given citations from the Christian Science textbooks to support my discussion but as of yet have not received the same to support the opposite ideas. Instead, I’m being called radical and offensive for supporting Christian Science. I’m not offended because I understand the resistance of mortal thought to Divine Science, OR lack of understanding of it. Please don’t take offense at that statement as we ALL, including myself, are continuously searching for the Truth, but have to do so by following the teachings of the Christ and Divine Science.
Look up what Mary Baker Eddy says about “body” and “exercise”. Maybe you will disagree with her, I don’t know. Or maybe you will find a change in your own thought. She has that effect ya know. :D
A few citations I found helpful:
Comments for thinkinghard:
“It really is as simple as coming down to the motives of a person performing the actions. If a person is doing yoga because they feel like it’s the only way for spiritual growth and to be close to God, those motives obviously don’t line up with the teachings of Christian Science.”
Yes! Exactly. My whole discussion was based on whether Christian Science and Yoga were compatible. Not whether Yoga is acceptable outside Christian Science. Whoever wants to take Yoga, go for it! If that is what brings you happiness! But it doesn’t correspond to the beliefs and teachings of Christian Science. Thank you thinkinghard!
“But there are yoga classes that are just another form of exercise. If someone enjoys that, so be it. Can’t see how it would hurt anything or be against anything Eddy taught.”
See S&H 232:19
DaveMarch 18, 2013 at 5:08 am #76501
Friends – I have found it interesting reading this thread of thoughts. Let me share some thoughts that have come to me. At the very beginning of “Science and Health” we read one of Eddy’s favourite quotes from Shakespeare: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” In the textbook of Christian Science we also read that “Christianity as Jesus taught it was not a creed, nor a system of ceremonies . . . but it was the demonstration of divine Love casting out error and healing the sick . . .” (SH 135). On page 332 we find this quote: “Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness.”March 18, 2013 at 5:44 am #76505
Dave, just to be clear – of course the Divine Mind has an impact on the human basis, there is no doubt in that, and also the Divine Law governs our lives in every detail.
I just think it is wise to “think absolutely, act relatively”.
Mind’s laws are the total source of everything, and its effects on our experience may seem odd to us at times when we expect the results to be 1:1. That’s why people sometimes follow their intuition after prayer, even if they have no idea why that would make any sense, and then in the end get the big aha!.
That’s all I was saying, that a certain openness helps to invite the divine nature into our daily experience in a broader way.March 18, 2013 at 7:06 am #76506
@ Dave – are you really applying everything you say to your own life? Have you ever taken any kind of class ever? Did they all make you feel less close to God?
I’ve taken all kinds of classes from academic to weight training, African dance, pilates, and yoga. I think I learned something about myself as a spiritual idea in any of them where I was thinking about spirituality. When I did the weight training, I learned that strength is mental and I was able to break through all kinds of self-imposed limits. I’m not really into yoga, but I’ve appreciated the quiet atmosphere when I have taken classes. Yes, it’s a class, but I could do it on my own (just like biking. Oh, and I did have to learn how to bike at one time. Didn’t you?).
If you think you can only get something in a yoga class that you can’t get by going directly to God, that’s probably a problem. But don’t we all think that to some degree? When you eat, aren’t you thinking you’re getting nutrition from something material or every single time you take a bite are you clear that nourishment comes from God?
And finally why are you so astonished that this was even a topic on time4thinkers? It seeems like this is a good place to talk about anything.March 18, 2013 at 3:13 pm #76528
I’d be wary of making assumptions about the motives of others. Some could question the motives of a CSist who makes time in their day to walk vigorously for 30 minutes every single day. And yet, that’s what MBE did.
One person could play basketball because they love having a fit body. But another could be into it because it helps them overcome physical limitation and gives them a broader sense of their own unlimited ability. Just because people do an activity for purely physical reasons doesn’t mean that the whole activity is wrong.
I definitely wouldn’t make assumptions about the reasons why people do yoga. There is not only one reason, even among non-Christian Scientists. Jivamukti is one style of yoga. Their approach is to bring more selflessness and compassion into their own lives and into the world around them. From the book Jivamukti Yoga, “Replace the question, ‘What will yoga do for me?’ with ‘How may I serve thee, Lord?’ Let love be your guide. When you love what you do, the means to do it will be revealed to you.” Its not the same as Christian Science but their focus is not simply to get a healthy body.March 18, 2013 at 3:20 pm #76529
Thank you Isabella and Birgid for your comments.
“are you really applying everything you say to your own life? Have you ever taken any kind of class ever? Did they all make you feel less close to God?”
Yes! I’m trying very hard to apply everything. But I also understand and love the quote, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” That statement has meant so much to me MANY times.
Of course I’ve taken classes of sorts in college and in life. I’ve taken music courses because I am a musician. But part of my degree was in Music Education which required me to take Child Psychology. And yes, that did make me feel less close to God. I really had to stay in the study of Christian Science while taking that class. Sometimes I had some interesting arguments with my instructor during class. Was that how a Christian Scientist should act? Probably not.
But I haven’t purposely gone out and taken a class, that was not required, that was against the very nature that Christian Science teaches, no.
Yes, I did learn to bike, but I didn’t take a class to do it. The person making that point was comparing Yoga class to learning to ride a bike. Yoga class teaches a Theosophical idea with it. When you learned to ride a bike, was Theosophy included in your instruction?? Not mine, other than my dad helping with the fear through Christian Science. That’s what parents do! Have you taken a Yoga class that teaches Christian Science? To my knowledge there isn’t any.
“When you eat, aren’t you thinking you’re getting nutrition from something material or every single time you take a bite are you clear that nourishment comes from God?”
To tell you the truth, I don’t really think about either of those things every time I eat. But as a general guideline, “Take no thought what ye shall eat or drink….”. We just eat because it is necessary in this experience. Taking Yoga isn’t necessary for me to be closer to God.
“And finally why are you so astonished that this was even a topic on time4thinkers? It seeems like this is a good place to talk about anything.”
Yes, I suppose you’re correct. It’s just to me, because Yoga in general teaches a Theosophy, it would be like asking is Catholicism compatible with Christian Science? Or is Wicca compatible with Christian Science?
To me Christian Science is not so much a “religion” but a “way of life”. It is the teachings of Christ accessible to ALL mankind as Mary Baker Eddy wanted it to be. But in my understanding, (correct me if I’m wrong), she formed the church to protect Christian Science from being misconstrued and dissected to form other “New Age” religions, or mixed in with current religions taking credit for her life work. It’s happened anyway, but without forming the church, it would be hard to know what Christian Science started out as, what it’s fundamental teachings are. It’s healing element as Christ taught would be lost, again. She was divinely guided to protect her discovery.
Perhaps the question ‘Is Christian Science compatible with Yoga’ was asked because it is a going concern and it was to prompt discussion to get to the truth out? My feeling on that is if you ask the question, it prompts the reader to think that maybe it IS compatible and therefore it’s okay to mix them. This is why I was a little astonished it was there on a Christian Science site where young Christian Scientists go to find answers.
Or was the question asked because there is a general belief out there that Christian Science is compatible with all theosophy? Or maybe it was just simply a question.
So was this question okay to ask? I don’t know. But Mary Baker Eddy was very clear on this answer in her chapter Science, Theology and Medicine in Science & Health. I encourage everyone to read it.March 18, 2013 at 3:39 pm #76530
I’m not making any assumptions of anyone who wants to exercise for the fun of it. But the question was asked, ‘Is Christian Science compatible with Yoga?’. I believe I made it clear that since Yoga does teach a Theosophy, it is not compatible.
Yes, MBE went for walks. But did she do it because she felt she wasn’t healthy enough?? She healed many people including herself. She didn’t prescribe someone to go for walks or jog, or take Yoga as a means of treatment.
“One person could play basketball because they love having a fit body. But another could be into it because it helps them overcome physical limitation and gives them a broader sense of their own unlimited ability. Just because people do an activity for purely physical reasons doesn’t mean that the whole activity is wrong.”
That is fine if that is what they want to do. I played soccer, baseball, basketball, etc., but not one of them taught Theosophy. I didn’t say that the activity was wrong. Again, it’s the activity with Theosopy being compatible with CS that is the question here, not assumptions of why people do Yoga.March 18, 2013 at 6:05 pm #76531
Parts of this discussion feel judgmental. I like the first paragraph in the chapter Teaching Christian Science in Science and Health. I know MBE’s not referring to yoga, per se, but she is pointing out the importance of allowing people to work out their own salvation. The paragraph is on page 443. The part I’m referring to specifically is, “While a course of medical study is at times severely condemned by some Scientists, she feels, as she always has felt, that all are privileged to work out their own salvation according to their light, and that our motto should be the Master’s counsel, ‘Judge not, that ye be not judged.’”
It’s a good rule of thumb as we continue to work together to demonstrate this Science.March 18, 2013 at 8:52 pm #76532
What a great conversation, don’t you think? It’s important to remember that Christian Scientists are often doing what’s nearest right. Perhaps a spouse (who may not be CS) wants his or her partner who is CS to attend yoga classes together. Let’s keep our feet on the ground as we think above it metaphysically.
Didn’t MBE take daily carriage rides not vigorous 30 min. walks everyday as you mentioned? If so, to your point, we wouldn’t question her enjoyment of those rides and categorize it as taking in fresh air for good health. All these comments about looking at our motives are really good, thanks!March 19, 2013 at 1:06 am #76534
I appreciate your comment. But I don’t feel I’m being judgmental by trying to correct what I feel is a mistake in the logic of Christian Science vs. Yoga. Jesus often corrected or taught his 12 disciples without judging them. Mary Baker Eddy corrected her students quite often with love. She didn’t judge them. Just because I feel there is something that needs to be corrected here doesn’t mean I’m judging the person I feel is making the mistake. If I could, I would hug each and every one of you! I love Christian Science! I’ve been through Class Instruction, a member of both the Mother Church and my branch church, and I’m a soloist in my branch church. Christian Science has been in my family for 3 generations. Not that that makes me a better Christian Scientist than anyone else because like you quoted, each of us must work out our own salvation. However, that doesn’t mean we are to learn Christian Science by ourselves. We have Christian Science Practitioners, Teachers, and each other to learn from.
I realize that people have different ideas of CS and are at different points of understanding in their lives. But if there is something I feel needs to be corrected based on what I’ve been taught in Christian Science, from the books and/or Class Instruction, isn’t it our duty to Preach the Gospel (which includes correcting the mistake), as Jesus instructed, with love? It is hard to convey with just text, without the personal face to face conversation, the affection I have for you all. We are Christian Scientists after all. We love our neighbors! No matter how wrong you are! LOL!! Just kidding. ;)
Thank you for your loving ideas! I understand just that. My spouse is not a Christian Scientist but I’ve made it clear to her that Christian Science is very important to me and she respects that. We still have fun with activities that don’t interfere with the ideals of CS. I’m not downplaying those that are in the same situation and compromise with their spouse by going to Yoga. It is like what the previous commentator quoted about working out their own salvation. Or perhaps they say to their spouse, “I’ll go to Yoga with you if you come to church with me.” I know with myself if that were the situation with my wife and I, I would be knowing the Truth through the Yoga class, “standing porter at the door of thought”.
One example is birth classes! (So yes, Elizabeth, I guess I did have a class with other theological ideas mixed in.) I went to birthing class with my wife when we were about to have our first child. The Midwife had all these medical ideas along with some Theological ideas mixed in about how to handle pain, maneuvering the baby if it was turned the wrong way for birth, etc. (The pain ideas were interesting in that she believed it was mental, similar to CS!) I “prayed without ceasing” the whole time! Knowing the Truth that our baby was complete, perfect, no complications, and that my wife would be fine. My wife has her own ideas and I respect her beliefs. It has led some pretty interesting conversations over the years, just as this discussion has. :D
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