PART ONE: CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIP YOGA
PART TWO: YOGA AND FORGIVENESS
CHRISTIAN RELATIONSHIP YOGA
The art of allowing is the ability to accept what is accord with your true nature and to let go of what is not in accord with you divine nature. The result of the art of allowing is a balance of the body, mind, and spirit working together to produce integrated spiritual living. Christian Yoga is this integrated expression of your divine life experienced inwardly and manifested outwardly.
Christian Yoga is a path in its own right, which can be followed all by itself, and this path is presented on this website. One specific way of practicing Christian Yoga is to base it on the principles of A Course in Miracles. The Course consists of the Text presenting its philosophy, the Workbook for Students for practicing its principles, and the Manual for Teachers providing guidelines for teaching its philosophy. Christian Yoga is compatible with the Course because it is a philosophy presenting concepts that help you to make a transition from a self-concept of limitation and separation to an acceptance of the divine life that is within you. The joining of Christian Yoga and the Course is called Miracle Yoga.
The Course can stand alone as a path in itself that can be followed, just as Christian Yoga can be practiced by itself without the Course. You may choose either one individually, but you can also choose to follow the path of Miracle Yoga. This option of combining Christian Yoga and the Course is presented here as an option for your consideration because each path offers something that the other does not have. Miracle Yoga offers a much greater emphasis on relationships and forgiveness, which will be discussed below in this section. If you want to consider the option of practicing Miracle Yoga, you can learn about it on the following companion website:
Following Christ in the West has become for many, though certainly not all, a form of external seeking without an equally important component of inward seeking. What Christian Yoga has to offer is an emphasis on finding your divine life within you through specific yoga practices and then expressing your divine life outwardly. Obviously this would require a holistic approach to yoga that goes beyond just the body postures and breathing practices of hatha yoga. Christian Yoga includes inward meditation (Christian Raja Yoga), as well as outwardly expressed selfless action (Christian Karma Yoga), love (Christian Bhakti Yoga), and understanding (Christian Jnana Yoga).
However, there is one additional aspect of Christian Yoga that is not an integral part of yoga as it originated in India. Traditional yoga does include outward spiritual practices, most notably the devoted action of Karma Yoga and the expression of love in Bhakti Yoga. But generally speaking, traditional yoga is so centered on finding the divine within through attunement to God that there is not an equal emphasis on relationships. In contrast to traditional Hindu yoga, Christian Yoga as it is presented here places an equal emphasis on inward seeking and relationships. It is true, of course, that Tantric Yoga includes practices of sexual relationships as a form of divine seeking, but in Christian Yoga the focus is on relationships in a much broader all-inclusive spiritual context.
Christian Yoga is a means of unraveling the major mystery of life, which is the riddle of your own true Identity. In Christian Yoga the awakening of your true Identity can be summarized in two statements, which have equal significance, as follows:
You will find your true Identity within.
You will find your true Identity with the help of your brothers by your side.
Both statements are necessary, otherwise you may conclude that Christian Yoga is primarily a solitary path of finding every answer, including the awareness of your true Identity, by looking within. Your true Identity is in the Oneness of God. But you cannot find your true Identity in God alone, because God is not alone and you are not alone. The true Identity of every one of your brothers is in the Oneness of God, just as yours is. Since you and all your brothers share in the Oneness of God, you have an eternal relationship and bond. Your everlasting relationship with your brothers and sisters is a part of your true Identity. In this sense you have a unique Identity based on your direct relationship with God, but you also have a shared Identity because of your divine relationship with your brothers in God. What this means is that in Heaven you will know yourself as having your own Identity, but it will be a divine Identity joined in relationship with both God and your brothers. For example, if you were one branch of a tree, you would know yourself as being joined to the trunk of the tree, but also joined in a relationship with every other branch on the same tree with the same sap following through you and every other part of the tree.
The fact that you and your brothers are One in the Spirit is hidden from your awareness in this world by your allegiance to your ego identity, which is based on the mistaken idea of separateness and incompleteness. Your spiritual path in the earth consists of overcoming not only your apparent sense of separation from God, but your apparent separation from your brothers. Just focusing on seeking within can go a long way to awakening your awareness of your divine nature, however, outer aspects of your spiritual path are equally important for uncovering your awareness of your connection with both God and your brothers.
Allowing your brothers to help you on your path and you likewise helping your brothers on their path is your means of accelerating your awakening. Through your mutual assistance to each other you become aware of the true depth of your spiritual connection with your brothers and you increase your awareness of your common divine Source. However, the way in which you perceive your brothers is crucial in determining whether or not you will make spiritual progress through your relationships. There is a danger of making your brother into an idol and therefore taking a step backward in your spiritual growth rather than a step forward.
You cannot find your completion outside yourself because God’s divine life within you is your completion, so you must look within for your completion. However, if you make the mistake of seeking to find your completion outside yourself, you will be tempted to perceive your brother as someone to complete you. By seeing your brother as your means of finding completion, you make him into an idol. It is easy to imagine that two incomplete beings can join like two halves of a circle and become whole. This is in fact the illusion many partners have about their marriage relationship. When this illusion is unmasked, divorce may result, with each partner claiming the other failed to make them complete. Before entering any relationship of any kind, it is best to realize that your brother or sister should not be asked to complete you, because he or she does not have the capacity to complete you.
If you assign your brother the task of completing you, your brother will become an idol who will dissatisfy you and whom you will eventually reject. Idols cannot satisfy your need for completion that can only be provided by God’s presence within. Idols are born out of your own false belief that you are incomplete. This belief becomes projected onto your brother so you will perceive him as incomplete also. Your relationship with your brother will not produce the completion you are seeking because your ideas of incompleteness about your brother will only reinforce your own perception of yourself as being incomplete. Your faulty perception of yourself and your brother will retard your spiritual progress, but you can learn how to change your perception. The obvious way is to look within, and through your contact with the inner divine presence, you can become increasingly aware of your completion that is your true nature in God. This inner seeking is the direct means of awakening your sense of completion, and having this experience can change your perception of yourself.
But there is an indirect means of uncovering your completion and changing your perception of yourself. This indirect means involves changing your perception of your brother, which in turn will affect a change in your perception of yourself. Learning how to perceive your brother’s divine nature and completeness can have the effect of helping to convince you of your own divine nature and completeness. Normally outward seeking does not reveal your divine nature and completeness, but perceiving the divine in your brother is a positive form of outward seeking that can be used successfully for this purpose. For this specific kind of outward seeking to be most effective it should not be your only means of awakening your divine nature. It is best to have an equal emphasis on both inward seeking and this specific form of positive outward seeking.
Traditional yoga affirms mostly inward seeking and to a lesser degree the outward component of seeking. Specifically traditional yoga gives a higher priority to finding God within and a much lower priority to relationships, but this is where the influence of the Course can provide what is generally missing in yoga. The Course says that you need to look within first, but after looking within you can then look outside to your brother, but without making your brother into an idol. The Course recommends joining with your brother for a common purpose and in doing so you form a holy relationship. The holy relationship helps you to look at your brother differently, not as an idol to complete you, but as a divine being, who is already complete just as you are already complete. Perceiving the divine nature of your brother helps you to likewise increase your awareness of your own divine nature.
Based on this Course teaching about holy relationships, Christian Yoga as it is presented here includes a new kind of yoga that is not based on traditional Hindu yoga. This new expression of yoga, which may be considered the healthy offspring of the marriage of the East and the West, is Christian Relationship Yoga. This is not another name for the forms of Tantric Yoga that involve relationships in the context of integrating the male and female sexual energies as a form of divine expression. In the practice of Christian Relationship Yoga, you form holy relationships and you look for the divine in your brother as a means of becoming aware of the divine in yourself.
The practice of Christian Relationship Yoga involves the most basic practice of the art of allowing, which allows you to recognize what is true about your brother to be true for you and what is false about your brother to be false for you. The art of allowing allows the real to be real and illusions to be illusions. The art of allowing is necessary because you have made what is false about your brother appear to you to be true and you have made your illusions about your brother appear to be his reality. The art of allowing changes nothing about your brother’s reality, but merely changes your perception of him. These changes in perception are what A Course in Miracles calls “miracles.”
The art of allowing is both a principle and a practice. As a principle of thought, the art of allowing affirms the false to be false and the true to be true. As a practice, the art of allowing becomes a spiritual discipline applied to daily living. Another name for the principle and the practice of the art of allowing is looking and overlooking. The principle and practice of looking and overlooking is integral to all the aspects of Christian Yoga.
Looking and overlooking is particularly important for the expression of Christian Relationship Yoga. In the practice of looking and overlooking you look for the light, love, truth, and divine presence in your brother and overlook everything else. Your looking is the acceptance of your brother’s reality in God. Your overlooking is looking past the illusions of form that only obscure your brother’s reality in God. In this process of looking and overlooking your brother is not an idol you must possess to become complete, but instead he is a perfect mirror of your own condition. Seeing the divine in your brother serves as a reflection of your own divine nature and opens your mind to the awareness of God’s presence within you that is your completion.
The practice of looking and overlooking may be considered a positive use of denial. Normally denial is used to deny and therefore obscure truth and reality and to instead perceive illusions of untruth and unreality. The negative use of denial results in your worshiping illusory idols that convince you of your littleness and incompleteness. On the other hand, the positive use of denial reverses the usual practice of denial and allows you to deny the illusions of untruth and unreality. Your denial of illusions of untruth and unreality allows you to perceive truth and reality just as they are. This leads to letting go of false and unreal idols and facilitates looking within to find your completeness.
The reason why the principles of the Course are recommended as a basis for your practice of Christian Yoga is that there is a possibility that you may make yoga itself into an idol that you will seek to make yourself complete. How can this be so, since yoga teaches you to go within to find your completion? It can happen if there is a misunderstanding about yoga and a misunderstanding about yourself. If there is a misunderstanding about yoga, you will confuse the forms of yoga with the content of yoga. In this case you will value the forms of yoga such as the postures, breathing practices, or other disciplines as more important than the content of yoga. The content of yoga is related to its name, since the word “yoga” literally means “union.” Yoga becomes an idol if you think that yoga itself as a practice can “create union” with God. From the perspective of yoga, you are already united with God. Yoga cannot make you complete because God has already done that when He created you as an extension of Himself. However, yoga can help you to awaken to the fact that you are already united to God now, as you have always been and always will be.
This making of yoga into an idol can only occur if you misunderstand yourself and your true relationship with God. When you approach the practices of yoga, you take yourself, as you think of yourself, with you into your practices. The you that you think of yourself, which is your ego, is the image you have of yourself as little and needing something to complete you, perhaps even yoga to complete you. Consequently you will seek to complete yourself with outer idols that appear in different forms, but represent the same content of illusion.
Your self-image, based on the ego idea of separation, is the source of your seeking idols, which is really the worship of illusions and littleness. Your mind-set that says you are separate and need something to complete you is not corrected by combining yoga with traditional Christianity. In fact, traditional Christianity makes its central theme that you are now separated from God and must become reconciled with God in order to become pleasing to God. Although the forms of Christian Yoga can be practiced with this mind-set, the true content of yoga and, indeed, the truest content of Christianity will elude you.
Your God has never abandoned you, never separated Himself from you, and never stopped embracing you with His Love. This understanding, which the principles of the Course supply, is needed in order to most effectively practice Christian Yoga. Of course, the unitive principle of being joined with God is central to traditional Hindu Vedanta, but it is not presented in a Christian context. The Course provides this Christian context for understanding the unitive principle. However, it is important to make sure that you do not make the Course itself into an idol that you need to complete you. After all, the Course is recommended to you because it teaches you in Christian terms that you have no need of idols and that you are already complete. You are already joined with your Father who created you by extending Himself into you. His gift of divine life will never be withdrawn. God is already your completion, and no idols can substitute for His completion of you.
YOGA AND FORGIVENESS
The art of allowing that is the process of looking and
overlooking has been described above as a means of unmasking illusions by
overlooking them and looking for the truth in reality. However, the Course
repeatedly describes this same practice with a more common term, “forgiveness.”
Forgiveness, as the practice of looking and overlooking, is actually the most
important theme of the Course. According to the Course forgiveness does not
consist of seeing your brother as sinful and guilty and forgiving him anyway.
Rather, forgiveness consists of removing from your mind any thought of guilt
you may have projected onto your brother and simultaneously seeing the divine
holiness in your brother that is his and your own true nature. Forgiveness is
the art of allowing applied to your brother so you allow illusions you have about
your brother to be illusions and you allow the divine truth about your brother
to be the divine truth.
The concept of forgiving your brother by perceiving his true holiness may be difficult to accept at first. Your concept of forgiveness will depend upon your concepts of guilt and sin. The typical concepts of guilt and sin are so widely accepted that these are among the generally unchallenged foundations of traditional Christian thinking. It is not unusual for a reasonable man to doubt that God exists and to struggle with his faith. But that same reasonable man may never even consider the possibility that guilt and sin may not exist at all. The ideas of guilt and sin certainly appear to be true, but what if these commonly accepted ideas are only illusions of the truth? The art of allowing means allowing illusions to be illusions and the truth to be the truth. This means allowing yourself to re-examine your preconceived ideas to see if you have been perceiving illusions of guilt and sin as real when in fact they are not real. It will be a test of your openness to consider the radical Course perspective on guilt and sin that is summarized by the following quotation:
“God’s Son is guiltless, and sin does not exist.”(1)
Traditional Christianity teaches that every man is guilty and sinful; the Course teaches that no man is guilty and sinful. The Course asks you to see every brother as a holy child of God who is guiltless and innocent in God’s eyes and therefore needs to be seen as guiltless and innocent in your eyes. The Course does not ask you to be blind to your brother’s mistakes, but does ask you to see his mistakes for what they are. Mistakes are not sins that place a mark on your brother’s soul. Mistakes do not separate your brother from fellowship with God. Mistakes are mistakes and need to be seen as such. Mistakes are made by men and therefore are changeable, which means they can be corrected. Your brother’s true nature was created by God and therefore your brother’s true nature is unchangeable, which means even his mistakes cannot change what God has created. Consequently, your brother’s mistakes have not made your brother guilty or changed his divine meaning or true nature. Thus sins are merely correctable errors with no guilt attached to them. Any guilt you feel is only a self-imposed illusion that makes you think you deserve punishment and not love. However, God does not agree with your assessment that you deserve punishment and not love. God created you as always deserving of only love, and He will never change His mind and see you as unlovable.
This perspective on guilt and sin allows you to also perceive forgiveness in a new way. Seeing forgiveness from a new perspective enables you to effectively practice looking and overlooking. Your “overlooking” consists of letting go of your own projections of guilt and your “looking” consists of perceiving the true holiness of your brother. By forgiving your brother with looking and overlooking you free him and yourself of guilt simultaneously and likewise you accept his and your own divine nature simultaneously.
These Course concepts about forgiveness, guilt, and sin
may seem to be just abstract ideas that are not relevant to everyday living.
You may not see how these ideas are related to, for example, the body postures
and breathing practices of hatha yoga. The connection between these ideas and
yoga is related to the meaning of the word “yoga,” usually interpreted as
“union,” but which can also be translated as “integration.” Yoga represents an
integration of body, mind, and spirit. Changes designed to benefit the body in
the practice of hatha yoga are ideally coordinated with mental changes in
perspective and increased openness to the Spirit. The question is, “Are you
willing to make changes in every area
of your life to gain the most beneficial effects?”
You are reading this website and considering the possibility of practicing Christian Yoga because of the possible benefits. But the benefits will not be determined solely by the nature of the practices of Christian Yoga. You will determine the benefits by the subjective standard of whether you feel worthy of those benefits. This standard is the same one you apply to the goal of happiness. You want happiness, but you are the one who determines your own happiness. You allot to yourself the amount of happiness that is in accord with your idea of how worthy you are of happiness. The benefits you gain from Christian Yoga will be determined in this same way based on your estimation of your own worthiness.
Your evaluation of your worthiness for happiness and for benefitting from yoga is influenced by subconscious factors related to your self-image in general. Your self-image, like everyone else’s, is affected by subconscious thoughts of guilt and sin. You may be consciously aware of some of these thoughts of guilt and sin, but many of these thoughts go very deep into the subconscious psyche. These subconscious thoughts may stem from long forgotten, unresolved childhood emotions, impressions, and experiences. Thoughts of guilt and sin may seem to have no relevance to your everyday life because of their subconscious nature. Nevertheless, these very thoughts go a long way in determining your level of happiness and the level of benefits you receive from Christian Yoga or from any other form of spiritual seeking.
The goal of Christian Yoga is to live in Christ. This means accepting the divine life in you and allowing it to be expressed through you. Ultimately you will want to transcend your limited self-image based on the ego and accept your true Self in Christ. But as a stepping stone to transcending your self-concept, it is first necessary to change your self-image by replacing negative conscious and subconscious ideas, such as guilt and sin, with positive ideas. Ideas of guilt and sin are always connected to the idea of punishment. If part of your self-image is based on the belief that you are guilty and sinful, you will believe you deserve punishment and not happiness. Even though you consciously want happiness, your subconscious mind could be telling you that you are unworthy of happiness and that you deserve punishment instead. When you let go of negative thoughts of guilt, sin, and punishment, your self-image will change so you will feel that you are worthy of happiness and worthy of the benefits of practicing Christian Yoga.
Inner attunement through meditation and contemplation is a
direct way of inviting spiritual assistance in the process of removing negative
subconscious blocks. However, forgiveness is a very important means of
indirectly healing your own mind by offering healing to your brother. If you
can perceive your brother with forgiving eyes by seeing him as being without
guilt and sin, you will likewise be able to look with forgiving eyes upon
yourself. Seeing holiness in your brother and realizing your brother is worthy
of God’s love will convince you that you too must be holy and worthy of God’s
love. God’s love established your brother’s worthiness and your own worthiness.
Forgiveness is a giving of your love to your brother because you realize that,
in spite of outer illusory appearances, he is worthy of love. Having given
love, you receive as you have given. Through forgiveness you learn to perceive
yourself as a giver of love. Since you are a giver of love, you convince
yourself love must be in you and must be your true nature. This teaches you
that you must be worthy of love and worthy of happiness. This new self-concept
of worthiness allows you to receive happiness and the benefits of your
Consequently, forgiveness as a means of unmasking illusions helps you to affirm your brother’s true meaning and in so doing claim your own meaning, since how you perceive your brother will determine how you perceive yourself. In practicing Christian Relationship Yoga, it is important to understand right in the beginning that trust in your brother is as significant as trust in the divine, since your brother’s true nature is divine. As a suggestion, you may want to consider reading this website in coordination with a friend. For example, you and a friend could read one page in this website and then discuss that page before proceeding to the next page. Or still better, if you have a friend that is activity oriented, you can practice the yoga postures, breathing practices, and/or meditation together.
Joining with a friend for a common purpose in this way is an example of a holy relationship, which is the basic practice of Christian Relationship Yoga. Even if you are not coordinating with another person in this direct way, you are never alone in your spiritual practices. Every step forward that you make is made for both you and every brother and sister because of your divine connection to everyone. The more you can be consciously aware of your connection to your brothers and sisters, the more quickly you can make spiritual progress. Forgiveness is especially significant in this regard because overlooking your brother’s illusions allows you to look at his divine meaning. Seeing the divine in your brother helps your brother to accept his true meaning, helps you to accept you own true meaning, and affirms your divine connection with your brother.
It is an important part of God’s Plan that you help your brother discover his divine meaning, which in turn helps you to discover your own meaning. Jesus is the leader in the executing of God’s Plan. The purpose of God’s Plan is salvation. Salvation can be described as the revealing of your illusions to be your illusions. Illusions always involve the mistaken idea that you are what you are not. Salvation can likewise be described as the full regaining of your meaning that can be hidden, but can never be lost or damaged. In contrast to illusions, your true meaning is that you are a divine being—just as God created you in Oneness with Him and with all your brothers and sisters.
You can delay the fulfillment of God’s Plan by holding on to illusions or you can accelerate the coming of His Plan by learning how to reclaim your meaning. A delay in time may seem to be a stumbling block to God’s Plan, but since time itself is an illusion, His Plan is certain because it has already been accomplished in eternity. However, for you to whom time is important there is no reason to delay since to do so only means prolonging your suffering unnecessarily by clinging to illusions that tempt you to believe that you can be what you are not.
You have a specific function to fulfill in God’s Plan that will be revealed to you. But you, as every seeker, have the general purpose of saving time, reducing suffering, and awakening to your true meaning. The acceptance of this purpose also means that you recognize your responsibility to help your brother to awaken, which assists you in your own awakening. If you decide to accept your purpose and place in God’s Plan, hopefully you will seek guidance within from the Holy Spirit. If God’s Plan for you includes following the path of Christian Yoga, you are not required to join some organization to do so. Hopefully the information in this website will assist you in accomplishing your purpose of spiritual growth, but your best resource for continuing your spiritual progress can be found within by accepting the Holy Spirit as your primary Teacher and Guide.
1. M-10. How Is Judgment
Relinquished?, 2:9, p. 26
Christian Bhakti Yoga : Love
Christian Karma Yoga : Service
Christian Raja Yoga : Meditation
Christian Jnana Yoga : Understanding
AN OVERVIEW OF
“A COURSE IN MIRACLES”
If you are interested in learning more about A Course in Miracles, you can read the description below of the book An Overview of “A Course in Miracles”: Introduction to the Course—What Beginners Need to Know:
In Aesop's fable a fox comes across grapes that are so high he cannot reach them, so he walks away muttering that they must be "sour grapes." Likewise, many beginning students find no nourishment in A Course in Miracles because they cannot grasp its lofty spiritual principles. The Course presents spiritual principles in a Western framework, yet includes important Eastern influences along with deep psychological insights. Many seekers have transformed their lives through learning the Course and applying its principles. Nevertheless, newcomers won't want to study the three volumes and the 1249 pages of the Course unless they know it will be worth spending the time and effort required. Furthermore, the beginner invariably needs practical help in actually comprehending the Course. After all, the Course quite literally transforms the normal thinking process by offering surprising and profound answers to the most meaningful questions of life. If you are a beginner, this overview comes to your aid by letting you know in advance that the spiritual principles can be grasped and are as nourishing as sweet grapes, as they weave together to unify and heal the mind. This introduction to the Course helps you by providing clarity and conciseness, enabling you to make the difficult step-by-step transition to a new way of thinking about the world and about yourself. This overview prepares you for studying and applying the Course, which teaches how to perform "miracles" of changing fearful perceptions into loving perceptions. Your mind can find peace and wholeness through practicing true forgiveness that reminds you of the divine presence within others and within yourself. This brief introductory overview provides an inexpensive and efficient way for you to determine for yourself if the path of forgiveness presented by the Course is right for you to pursue in greater depth.