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Spirit Yoga

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Please read John 3:1-21

Context

Wait, seriously? Yoga?  No, we will not be talking about contortion poses or breathing techniques here.  The traditional Hindu viewpoint of Yoga refers to “the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation” (Merriam Webster).  Gyana, Bhakti, Raja, and Karma are some of the well-known yogas which are attempts to divinity.

Here is the story of Nicodemus, a seeker.  He was knowledgeable in Jewish law and religious practices and taught them to students.  He was impressed with Jesus and his ability to perform many miracles, and he wanted to find out Jesus’ secret for divine success.

A New Perspective 

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – John 3:3 ESV

Jesus pointed out that the secret lies in being born a second time. Note that a person of natural birth has an active body and soul, but a dead or dormant spirit. To really experience God, who is Spirit, man’s spirit needs reactivation. In other words, the natural man needs to become a spiritual man.  This starts to make sense if we know about  human origin.

The Bible teaches that God created the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve (Genesis 2:7). The first couple had all the three components – body, soul, and spirit that were active and alive. Thus, they were able to enjoy God‘s presence and fellowship. However, when they followed the advice of the fallen angel (Satan), they sinned (i.e., disobeyed God) and their spirits died and were expelled from paradise. Cherubim have since been guarding the entrance to paradise with a flaming sword (Genesis 3:24) (Image Credit: Archive.org).

I might try any of the yogas but it will not avail much in reaching divinity, because we’re blocked from entering paradise on our own. Only spiritual beings have access. “Born again” refers to receiving life into the dead spirit.

Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. – John 3:5 ESV

Natural birth requires a baby growing in the amniotic fluid of a womb. In the same manner,  spiritual birth requires that we are immersed and washed in God’s holiness.  Water symbolizes the cleansing of our sins. The Bible states that “For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). We need to repent of our sinful nature and the sins we have committed.

The “unless” in the above verse is stressing that it is impossible to enter into the presence of God except with holiness and the Spirit. It is futile to attempt to achieve spiritual things through the power of human will. (Image Credit: Flickr).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:5, 14-16 ESV

Fortunately God loves you and me so much that He intervened and provided the way!  He sent His Son from paradise to the earth to incarnate as a man. The LORD Jesus lived as a human, and voluntarily died on the cross. Since he is perfect, his sacrifice is able to rescue the human race from sin’s curse, which is death. Anyone who believes in His name will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and thus be able to enter paradise once again.

In traditional Yoga, a person strives to reach the spirit from bodily and soulish attempts which take the form of rituals, fasting, meditation, etc. By contrast in Spirit Yoga,  God orchestrates changes of the body and soul by pouring in a new spirit.  The person surrenders to God’s working in response.

So why not follow Spirit yoga today? All it takes is believing!

Reflection

  1. Do you believe that God exists? If yes, what makes His existence real for you?
  2. This Bible passage talked about seeing and entering the Kingdom of God. How do you imagine it?
  3. What path(s) have you followed or are currently following – career (karma), religion (bhakti), intellectual curiosity (gyana), despair, or something else?
  4. What component of your being has been or is dominant – body, soul (intellect, emotions, and will), or spirit?
  5. Have you tried following the path of the spirit?  What is the reality?  What struggles if any have you faced?

Prayer

Dear God,

I’m sorry for my sinful nature – deceitful thinking, lying, committing acts of wickedness, or < fill in your choice here>.  I’m sorry for living a life that is displeasing you and the hurts I inflicted on others. Please forgive me. Thank you for sending Jesus to save me. I believe in Him. Grant me your spirit so I can be filled with peace, joy, and eternal life.

Amen.

Next Steps

  1. Go to Yeshu Samaj Help and ask any follow-up questions or connect with others in our community.
  2. Explore for yourselves by watching the film Life of Jesus in which you will also find many stories of changed lives. It is available in the following languages: English, Hindi, Gujarathi, Punjabi, Marathi, or Urdu.

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