Most of us have heard of one or more of the systems of Eastern Yoga. We all know something about Hatha Yoga- the techniques of controlling the body, and if we are early risers we may have practiced some of the exercises demonstrated on early-morning television by its modern apostles. So most of us think of Yoga only as an exotic form of physical exercise. Students of philosophy or religion know that this Yoga is but one aspect of a large and complex religious-philosophical system used in oriental nations (primarily India) to achieve Nirvana (Liberation)-also called Enlightenment or Cosmic Consciousness. That such a state exists for Man and that there exist methods for attaining it, is usually regarded with suspicion in ourWestern world. I am sure that this is due greatly to our Judaeo-Christian heritage orour misinterpretation of it, which does not believe in any other state of consciousness than the most gruesomely mundane one, and does not believe inany personal capacity to achieve another level of existence. Spiritual awakeningand enlightened consciousness carry subtle implications of class differencesbetween people (the enlightened vs. the unenlightened) and this idea is vaguelytroubling to our Protestant-democratic ideals. Protestant Christianity and conventional Judaism view all persons as equal in the sight of God; the heritage of our democratic governments demands that all persons be treated as equals by lawand by society. The East turns its spiritual attention inward. It views heaven as a state ofconsciousness that is achieved by long and arduous personal effort.
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