- Why am I seeing more physical healing come through yoga than through the church?
- How is it that I know so many people practicing yoga from other faith backgrounds who have such a deep connection to God ?
My Christian yogi friends and I have talked many times about how blown away we are at the spiritual maturity we've found in the yoga community. You see, most of us grew up believing that unless someone has an understanding of Christ as a savior, then there was no connection to the Father. And yet, we are confronted by relationships with people who have deep connection to God who have no concept of Christ other than as a "good teacher"--which might be easy to dismiss except that they are full of the love and peace that the scriptures describe as illustrative of the work of the Holy Spirit.
Earlier this week, as I was praying about these things, I ran across a profound answer in an unlikely place.
A friend of mine who has had her life changed by Alcoholics Anonymous loaned me the Blue Book. (I was curious about the program because of her passion and because I've been watching Elementary.) If you aren't familiar, it is hard to argue with the overwhelming success of the program. The sheer volume of life change with no organization, no membership roster, no paid positions and only 12 steps as a creed is pretty phenomenal. The first three steps are as follows:
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
There is a chapter in the Blue Book called "We Agnostics." In it, I read these words..."Much to our relief, we discovered that we did not need to consider another's conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact
with Him...We found God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him."
I think we often forget that there is a God on the other end of our spiritual connection who is completely unconcerned with the depth of our understanding and highly responsive to our hearts.
For my friends who are not Christian, please understand that a lot of the "exclusivity vibe" that you may receive from Christians comes from something Jesus said Himself: "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by me." It is in the context of the last conversation He has with his disciples before He is taken for sentencing and nailed to the cross. The disciples ask where He is going and how they will know the way. He tells them that they know the way to the place he is going. That because they have seen Him they have seen the Father. (The conversation is in St. John's Gospel at the beginning of Chapter 14.)
So what about the verse? While I happen to think that scripture is authoritative, I also think many people have brandished that verse solo as a "see, we're right" sword, rather than really exploring what Jesus said to his disciples. It can't be isolated from the conversation (which is beautiful by the way.)
I personally believe that what Christ did at the cross was so powerful that it changed the fate of all men. I also believe that the heart of God is to connect with all of us, and that if the steps were a definitive 1, 2, 3, that He would have spelled it out with a 1, 2, 3 in scripture. Instead, both the Old and New Testaments are filled with stories of people who encounter God in many different ways--some initiated by them and some--as in the case of the Apostle Paul--directly initiated by God. There is no "sinners prayer" prescribed. (Though I happen to know by personal experience that the "sinners prayer" works. Just like the first three steps of AA, honesty+humility+surrender is an effective formula for connecting us to God. )
I'm grateful that the people I've met have "blown my borders" as Yogi-Noel would phrase it. That the kingdom of heaven is working its way through our world like yeast through bread. I also enjoy that God gives His name as I AM and that He seems to enjoy working way beyond all that we ask and imagine.