The Yoga System of Philosophy

It may prove profitable to acquaint ourselves with the Yoga system of philosophy.

By MARIAN OFFER, Bible Instructor, Orlando, Florida

The possession of radiant health, happiness, and the ability to solve every problem, win every goal, and overcome every obstacle ap­peals strongly to every intelligent person, par­ticularly in these days of universal tragedy. Add to these qualities the promise that he who follows in the footsteps of Christ will receive a spiritual power that will unite him with the Godhead, and a magnetic ability that will at­tract all things to himself, and you can readily realize that many of earth's intellectuals, as well as those in more mediocre walks of life, will yield without resistance. For this open door apparently brings all the human heart could de­sire within easy reach.

The fact that this sounds inconsistent and un­true in accordance with the recorded experi­ences of the apostles and other Christian char­acters of the Holy Bible, as well as those who followed with a faith in Christ so sincere that they gave their lives as martyrs to the cause of truth, should arouse questions in the mind of one who is a thoughtful student of the Inspired Word of God.

MANNER OF PRESENTATION.—It 1S not un­common in these days for health lectures to be given in hotels or public halls. Many people in­nocently and eagerly go there in search of bet­ter health, and sooner or later they are favored with personal counsel from the speaker if they so wish. This appeal seems almost as innocent as the one the serpent made to Eve. In a short time the speaker is likely to tell an interested listener that he will be healed of his malady if he will continue to come to the meetings. The same teacher may also declare that through his power he will cause many in his audience to awaken at a definite early hour the following morning.

What is this strange power? Is it the power of Jesus, as claimed? Many of the public at large can be so persuaded, for frequently the same speaker will be scheduled to address a large church gathering, sometimes in the most prominent church in the city, on such subjects as "Interpretation of the Miracles," "How to Read and Understand the Bible," "World Prophecies," "Origin of Our Earth as a Planet," "The Origin of God and Creation of the Universe." To the casual observer, these are legitimate and interesting subjects.

A more than human power is recognized when one attends the meetings, but the ques­tion is, "Whence cometh this power ?" A dy­namic personality and persuasive speaking con­vince many that it is the power of God, as claimed, for "the existence of evil and misery [are] . . . thought [to be] incompatable with the notion of a divine creator and ruler of the world."—Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 19, p._ 969, subhead, "Philosophical Systems." Hence,. the conclusion is that there is but one source of power, and that from God. How cleverly the "father of lies" has inculcated truth with error! How subtle his appearance and how smoothly the net of deception is spread to. gather souls whom the Saviour longs to gather into His net for salvation.

Frequently we are inclined to think of some-great and outstanding manifestation of spirit­ism, when we read Christ's prophecy concern­ing the deceptions of the last days, but let us not forget that the elect are almost deceived. Deception must of necessity have an appear­ance of the genuine; therefore, in the modern cults that are gaining recognition some fine points of truth are cleverly interwoven with error. Perhaps the most important of these is the suggestion to allow some time each day to meditate upon the wonders of God. As Chris­tians this is worthy of emulation. Truly all will do well to heed and follow this practice, as did the saints and godly men of old. But further study into the customs of cultists reveals that all the thoughts suggested are not in accord­ance with Christian principles, for their prac­tice of concentration consists of "fixing the at­tention on one chosen point or subject, so that the mind passes through different stages of ab­sorption or self-hypnotization."—Ibid., vol. 4, p. 326d, art. "Buddha."

PHILOSOPHY.—It may prove profitable to ac­quaint ourselves with the Yoga system of phi­losophy, for it is often introduced and proceeds in the manner mentioned. The Yoga system is a branch of the Sankhya Hindu philosophy. From the following quotations it is easy to un­derstand how readily all who do not believe the Bible truth concerning man's condition in death may quickly accept their philosophy of heathen origin.

"By its practices of hypnotism and self-mortifica­tion the Yogi could attain miraculous powers and con­trol of nature itself. Siva was essentially the great Yogi.—Ibid., vol. 23, art. "Yoga."

"This system was founded by Pataujali who claimed that eight distinct stages were necessary in the devel­opment of the soul before it reached the condition in which it was exempt from further transmigrations. Seven of these stages are:

1. Self-control.

2. Religious observation.

3. Breath regulation.

4. Restraint of senses.

5. Making the mind firm.

6. Meditation.

7. Deep contemplation.

"Owing to the difficulty of the attainment of all these successive stages of perfection the adherents of the Yoga believe that it is very rarely that anyone reaches them all in this life and that consequently most persons must'pass through several births and ex­istences in the attainment of the final goal. In the course of this path. however, one is believed to ac­quire wonderful powers. He is enabled to make him­self light or heavy, at will, to acquire a knowledge of the past and the future, to understand the language of animals, to penetrate the thoughts of others; to re­member all that has happened to him in supposed former stages of existence ; and even to transcend all this and to attain the knowledge of what is going on or has taken place in the stars and in all other worlds. To these powers the believer • in the Yoga adds that of the ability to transport oneself anywhere suddenly at will. These wonderful powers are gradually ac­quired and finally result in the complete separation of the soul from the corporal body in the ultimate tri­umph of the former.

The Yoga believes in a primordial soul. . . . Its devotees can acquire even in this world entire com­mand of elementary matter by certain ascetic prac­tices, such as long-continued suppression of the respi­ration, inhaling and exhaling the breath in a particular manner, . . endeavoring by force of mental abstrac­tion to unite themselves with the vital spirit which pervades all nature and is identical with Siva. When this mystic union is effected the Yoga . . . can equally know the past, the present, and the future, and can animate any dead body by transferring to it his own spirit. It is claimed that the whole doctrine of Yoga works toward the establishment of the Supreme Being ; and that it claims that it possesses the means by which the soul may become finally united with the Creator from whose hand it came.—(See Encyclopedia Ameri­cana, art., "Yoga.")

KRISHNA AND OTHER GODS.—The name Krishna is of particular importance in Hindu­ism and also to the Yoga system. Krishna is identified with Vishnu, a deity. Krishna is a deified hero whose consort Radha filled the ca­pacity as mother of mankind. (EDWARD J. JURJI, The Great Religions of the Modern World [Princeton University Press, 1946], p. 68.)

The legend associated with Krishna is that he was slain at Puri while wandering. The criminal who killed him is believed to have left his body to beasts, birds, and decay; a pious person placed his bones in a casket which was deposited within an image of Vishnu; the image had neither hands nor feet, but two pen­etrating eyes, by divine provision, and a potent soul. This combination, the Jagannatha-Krish­na-Radha, became very popular and was wor­shiped by all clean classes. (Ibid.)

Mahadevi, the great goddess, was consort of Shiva, of whom people asked if she were father or mother and glorified her as Supreme Prin­ciple, worshiping her under the names of Krishna, Rama, and Shiva. Shiva is dear to Yogis, and those whose dependence is on works. (Ibid., p. 82.)

In the fourth century B.C., the Gita sings of Krishna the divine. Krishna as Bhagavata-Va­sudeva is known as the supreme, the absolute, the all, the universal savior who minimizes works and rewards men by his grace. Men are supposed to set their minds on him. (Ibid., p. 85.)

Various versions of the Veda give the basic revelation of the Yoga philosophy, the oldest of which antedate IMO B.C. (Ibid., p. 53.) It is well to know that this and similar philoso­phies claim adherents who still maintain their membership in Protestant churches; therefore, when one claims a denominational affiliation it is not surprising to find that these strange teachings also may have been accepted.

These theories are not new, although they may fascinate many people. Their origin is from ancient pagan days. Very likely some of the same demonstrations were witnessed when Jesus was on earth, but today such philosophies are more subtle because they appear to approve of His teachings, whereas in reality this is only a net to attract souls who are eager for a new experience.

This information would lose its importance if it did not serve to assist in making an intelli­gent approach to those entangled in such a philosophy. God's greatest gift, His gift of love, is the only power that can draw these precious souls from the darkness of deception into the presence of His eternal light. Funda­mentally, it is essential to present the love of our heavenly Father as revealed in His con­tinuous power to uphold the universe and main­tain life every moment of the day. This quality of love in God's character may also be em­ployed to establish the primary truth that God is a personal being, and not simply a transpar­ent power pervading all that exists, for no mere power could know love, truth, purity, perfec­tion, and the other attributes of God.

It is of utmost necessity to accept the Bible as the Word of God without so-called spiritual commentary, and also to realize that God speaks of literal places and experiences. The reality of Satan, sin, and death, with salvation through the blood of Jesus, must be presented with exceeding thought and care, always giving honor to the personality of a loving God and Saviour who ,has a personal interest in each in­dividual. The reality of heaven may then be successfully presented. General doctrinal sub­jects may follow and hold the attention, but without this background or foundation, one who is indoctrinated with such strange teach­ings seldom sees the importance of our special truths as we know them.

To those who have received an elementary knowledge of the teachings of the Scriptures in their early years, it is necessary only that light be added. To such the presentation of God's message for these days adds to a foundation of light, but to those who are steeped in darkness the first rays of light must be emitted slowly and carefully. Satisfactory response comes more slowly from those who adhere to such philosophies, but we must remember that they too are not without hope, and that they also are precious souls for whom our Saviour died.


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By MARIAN OFFER, Bible Instructor, Orlando, Florida

February 1948

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