Have you got your Pilate on lately? I mean that type of stretching, which is good for heart, mind, and body–I’m not talking anything about that dude who oversaw Jesus’ trial. Yoga and Eastern stretching have caught on in the US, but few folks actually know about the ancient wisdom, which gave yoga its life. Now, I am not one of those “yoga is of the devil” Christians–though I do take seriously the positive and negative spiritual forces to which we expose ourselves. And, it seems like when it comes to world scriptures and ancient wisdom, I do not dwell at the usual extremes: on the one hand folks think there is not a shred of wisdom or goodness in ‘other’ scriptures; on the other hand, folks unwisely open and attach themselves to partial truths and imposters. After all, I have seen many in my own tradition negatively possessed by our rituals and sacrifices. In the end, I want to keep my heart both open and guarded especially to ancient traditions, for in them we find the fingerprints of the divine and sometimes God himself.
Making Sense of Wisdom and Revelation
I realize I am opening up Pandora’s religious box. So, I would be careless not to explain how, as a Christian, I revere the wisdom of our world and remain convinced of the supreme revelation and applicability of God’s wisdom incarnate. In total, I have a high view of culture, I distinguish between wisdom and revelation, I understand Christ as God’s wisdom en-cultured, and as a practitioner of spirituality, I find that wisdom from around the world can support and sometimes strengthen my ability to live my tradition more faithfully.
About Yoga–and its description in the Bhagavad Gita–, I will quickly note here that from it (I mean beyond the oversimplification and irony of our American version), we can learn about the role of things to which we are over-attached in this life. We can learn a bit of devotion and contemplation from our Indian brothers and sisters. And, though I am convinced that the revelation in Jesus Christ shows us the clearest picture of reality and the human condition, it seems like those who wrote the Gita had their finger already placed on the personal nature of God and human life in so many ways: in devotion and love for God, in the difference between those who really understand the spiritual life and those who are just reciting what they learned in Sunday school, and in the humility of knowing one’s self and not taking yourself to seriously, for example.
And as I wrote this post, I realized just how deep this topic reaches: into revelation, inspiration, inter-faith dialogue. There is not space here to unfold this all. Stay tuned for a resource I am building for you on ancient wisdom (particularly yoga) and it’s place in your faith tradition.