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Editorial: Self-observation opens my mind
BY MAGAZINE EDITOR SUSAN MAIER-MOUL
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There have been few things we’ve wanted to cover in The Magazine that have given me more pause than writing about Jesus. It made me squeeze my eyes shut every time it came to mind.
But that’s just it. It kept coming to mind.
I noticed I was willing, avidly interested actually, to read ideas from cultures that were not the one I had grown up in. The Conference of Birds? Bring it on. Bhagavad Gita. Check. Kabbalah. I’m listening.
For one thing, I was able to read just the part of these texts and traditions that interested me without being subject to any contradictions in the religious practice based around them.
I find it inconsistent that I have accepted the idea that the pedophile priests protected by the establishment of the Catholic church shows Christianity is hollow, while I haven’t accepted, say, that the forced shutting away of widows (see Deepa Mehta’s 2005 movie Water) or that every year 5000 brides commit suicide or are murdered in India because their dowry is inadequate are reasons for me to stop practicing yoga. This makes me suspicious of me.
I know, I know: spiritual not religious. Religions have rules, spirituality is about seeking.
Except so many spiritually inclined of us are hell bent on enforcing the right kind of yoga, the right kind of health, the right kind of practice, as in who you have to have learned it from, where you have to practice it, and what should be on your mind when you do.
Or you know, it isn’t yoga.
Sure sounds a lot like religion.
While there is no Jesus in yoga, there are a lot of gurus that seem to occupy a similar position. Disciples of these teachers unabashedly display photos, surrounded by flowers and incense. I have visited yoga studios, body work salons and natural food restaurants with prominent lovely shrines. How would I feel, I wonder if these were pictures of Jesus?
Freaked out. I get tight just thinking about it.
Do I have guru? No. Am I interested in having one? Negativo. But do I turn on my heel and run when I see guruji photos surrounded by candles and garlands? Nah. I sort of take them in as oh that’s so nice. It’s not what I’m into, but isn’t it nice?
Yoga teaches me to notice and deal with my aversions. I have an aversion to Jesus-speak as wide as a semi using two lanes on I95.
Hmmm as they say.
I’ve been wondering if it would be possible for me to read the ideas put forth by Jesus with my same open mindedness about how to apply them and my equally useful, same skepticism about their translations into contemporary English as I do yoga and Buddhism texts.
When I interviewed Thomas Moore earlier this year I was excited when he said he had just translated the Christian gospels for himself from the Greek.
When I translate the Gospels I don’t see the moralism and dogmatism, the emphasis on church and sin and afterlife that the old translations emphasize. I’m not sure where it came from. I suppose that every age has its moralists who like to threaten people with damnation.
I see a challenging spirituality and a radical suggestion of how humanity could thrive and prosper mainly by dealing with greed and self-interest. The Gospels say that everyone should be a healer and operate from a therapeutic frame of mind. The Greek word therapeia (therapy, of course) comes up again and again.
Sounds spiritual, not religious.
Maybe there is a path for me in reading Jesus like a yogi.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.