Yoga and Spirituality

YOGA AND SPIRITUALITY

Yoga and spirituality – The aim of this article is to shed light on the depth of the word spiritualty, while discussing the possible connections between spirituality, religion and yoga. We will also explore the idea that the Holy Spirit is possibly just another expression of prana, kundalini and much more.

Yoga and spirituality often seem to be linked, so the question we must ask is whether yoga is a spiritual practice or not. The place to begin then is exploring the meaning of the word spiritualty.

The modern interpretation of spiritualty appears to be quite diverse, ranging from traditional religious practices, and new age mysticism. Yoga is quite often confused with new age spiritualty, and very often without any clear understanding of either yoga or spiritualty. The same can be said for yoga & religion

NEW AGE SPIRITUALITY AND MYSTICISM  

New age spiritualty and mysticism can be a mish mash of beliefs ranging from Witchcraft, Paganism, Reiki, Shamanism and much more. There are many genuine people involved in all these areas of spirituality, but I have come across many examples of events that take bits and pieces from a range of practices, which I believe comes from a lack of understanding and on occasion a deliberate misrepresentation.

As yoga teachers we have a responsibility to understand the truth behind what we are teaching, and to authentically uphold its traditions. There are I believe many examples of yoga being expressed by teachers who are ignorant about what yoga really is. If we lack the knowledge to know, we still have a duty to educate ourselves

Avidya is the first Klesha which means ignorance and non-truth, considered the seed bed for all the other Kleshas.

So, what is Spiritualty and what is a Spiritual practice?

 THE ORIGINS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT   

Yoga and Spirituality – To explore the meaning of the word spirituality we must go all the way back to the Tanakh (The first Hebrew Bible)   

The Origins of the Holy Spirit go back to the Tanakh and in Judaism Ruach Ha-Kodesh is a term for The Holy Spirit. The word Kodesh means Holy, Ruach means Spirit and Ha means simply The. The Ruach is also the word for wind or breath in Hebrew.    

RUACH HA-KODESH

The Holy Spirit appears many times in the Tanakh, and as we see it is expressed as breath, wind, force and power. These words are linked to the concept of the Holy Spirit in many ways through many traditions as we will see. 

“It must be experienced, realised, kindled within like a holy fire”        

“A realm beyond the ability of words to properly convey”

“He is invisible and like the wind, because he can be felt or experienced, but never seen. He is the breath of God which disperses his life force, his energy and his intentions”

Ruach – is also wind or breath, but neither can be presumed as essence – instead it is a “POWER (Dunamis) encountered in the breath whose whence and whither remains mysterious”

“He is Yahweh’s spirit which is Omni Present, but can also be directed in specific ways for specific purposes”

“His spirit can be said to be the emanation of his life force – or breath”

“Ruach as a designation for the wind is necessarily something found in motion with the POWER (Dunamis) to set other things in motion”  

“It is Yahweh’s POWER (Dunamis) that puts things in motion, it is Yahweh’s power through his Ruach that breaths life force into his creation and makes things live!

PNEUMA THE GREEK WORD FOR BREATH

The word Spirituality is derived from the old French Esprit, which comes from the Latin word Spiritus and means soul, courage, vigour and breath, and is related to Spiare (Breathing)

Pneuma is the archaic Greek word for breath, air in motion and wind. In Greek translations of Ruach from the Hebrew Bible it means Spirit or soul. Stoic philosophy (Branch of ancient Greek philosophy) describes Pneuma as the breath of life, or a combination of the classic elements of Earth (Home) Water (Fluidity) Fire (Discipline) Air (Movement) and Ether (Potential)

Stoics believe Pneuma is the fundamental active generating foundation which coordinates individuals and the Universe

CHRISTIANITY & THE HOLY SPIRIT

Yoga and Spirituality – Christians mainly view the Holy Spirit as one third of the Trinity, made up of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Each person is distinct but is made of one “substance, essence or nature” God is one God but consists of three, Christians call this Consubstantiation. Christian Theology also uses the term Hypostasis, meaning substance, essence and underlying reality. In other words, Jesus contains human and divine natures. 

DYNAMISTIC & ANIMISTIC

The words Dynamistic and Animistic appear in the Bible and the meaning of these words and their meaning are used widely in many ethnic spiritual beliefs.   

Dynamistic comes from the Greek word Dunamis. Dunamis is mentioned in the Bible many times, and it means Inherent power, marvellous works, miracles, miraculous power and moral power. Dynamistic is described as an impersonal power or force that fills a man like a fluid.

Luke 1:35

The Angel answered – “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power (Dynamistic – Dunamis) of the most high will overshadow you. So, the Holy one to be born will be called Son of God”

Luke 24:49

Jesus said: The culmination of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as being “clothed with power (Dunamis) from on high”

Acts 1:8

Jesus said: you will receive power (Dunamis) when the Holy Spirit comes upon you 

Acts 10:38

Jesus is described as being “anointed with the Holy Spirit and power (Dunamis)”  

Dunamis is also a Greek word for possibility or potential

The Greek word psukhē (psyche) is connected to Animisim the Holy Spirit and Yoga.

The Greek word for soul is psyche (psukhē) and means “Breath, soul, spirit, mind, invisible animating (Animistic) (Holy Spirit) entity that occupies the physical body

In Yoga the Soul is referred to as The Atman (Inner true self) and the body is called Jiva (Living being, or entity filled with life force)

MORE ANMISTIC CONNECTIONS    

  • Anima Mundi is the Stoic belief that of a world soul that unites everyone   
  • Anima Christi is Latin for soul of Christ.
  • Animism, originally from the Latin word Anima, or Breath, Spirit and life, is a system that believes everything has life force. Animism pervades all things (Prana)     
  • Animistic World of Spirit believe souls (spirits) are living beings that are capable of performing black or white Action

According to Rudolf Bultmann the Holy Spirit can be thought about in two ways

“Animistic” and “Dynamistic”. In Animistic thinking, it is “an independent agent, a personal power which like a demon can fall upon a man and take possession of him, enabling him or compelling him to perform manifestations of power” while in Dynamistic thought it “appears as an impersonal force which fills a man like a fluid”.

 CONCLUSION

It is clear the word Spiritualty means far more than it appears to at first glance. I think it is clear also that there are too many connections between Yoga and Religion for it to be just a coincidence. It appears to me that Yoga and Religion are one and the same thing, just different expressions. Religion and Yoga have gone through many changes over many millennia, but if we take the time to really understand both Religion and Yoga it really has not changed its original message. As I said at the beginning of this article, we have a duty to understand what we are teaching, I hope I have demonstrated why I believe this      

Martin Thompson