Christian Yoga Part 3
First Steps on the Way
To grasp the first steps in Christian Yoga you need to remember that Christ frequently taught in parables. Such teaching by the use of analogy and symbols was not limited to the stories told, but was also given via the very events and actions of his life. In the ancient world, much more than in the world of today, teachings were given in the form of rituals or mystery plays, stories and analogies.
If we look at the path of the Christian Yoga, it starts with birth. In The Bible story, this is the birth of Jesus. That event in the mystery play into which Jesus is born, is also true for each of us. For Christian Yoga, unlike some aspects of Eastern Yoga, is concerned with the arrival of the individual identity or soul amidst the forces of the cosmos, not with its nirvana or blinking out and melting back into the ocean of being. So unless there is the coming into being of a living feeling person, an identity that can make conscious choices, there is nothing to work with. For this reason, whether as a ceremony or as a psychological fact, Christening has always been an important first step in the Christian mysteries or inner teachings. Particularly in some denominations of Christianity it is felt to be of great importance if a baby is ill, to have it named before, or in case, it dies. If this were not done, it is believed that its ‘soul might be lost.’
While in Japan I visited a Buddhist temple devoted to aborted babies. Prayers and remembrance were given for them. So this recognition of the importance of naming and remembering is not limited to any one culture.
Studies of human babies who were lost at an early age and reared by animals, show that even when physically adult, the lost baby never developed a sense of identity or selfhood. What we call ‘self’ or ‘I’ or the ‘soul’ is not innate. It does not develop by itself. In fact it is given to us by other human beings who have attained it. It is a precious gift, a flame passed on to us by our parents and the society in which we are reared. Being given a name, taught to speak, and looked upon and related to as a person, enable us to achieve identity. (See Animal Children).
You are the divine – expressed or repressed
With this in mind, God, Christ, the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary become definable forces with which we can consciously relate, in and through Christian Yoga. For instance, when Christ says, ‘Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I” – He is describing the force of collective human love and caring. In other words, Christ is saying, “I am the force generated by people when they unite in goodwill.” It is this transcendental force (it transcends individual human action) that creates human souls by naming them, treating babies as loveable valid beings, and accepting them as welcome parts of our community. Without that action of love and care, human identity does not properly mature, or take its place in society. In fact without it a person may never develop an awareness of the living process in nature and other people as it extends beyond the narrow boundaries of their own personality and sense impressions. They never develop a spiritual life. So here the word spiritual refers to that which exists as a reality beyond the limitations of ones own personal awareness and body. Priestley’s dream of the birds was a spiritual experience because he was helped to look beyond the individual life and death of the birds.
But returning to the action of family and society on the growing mind and soul of the child, we can see clearly enough when we look around, that children reared in violent or abusive environments have been twisted or injured. It is therefore evident that the opposite is true. In a loving and supportive environment, a child can grow as a soul until the eternal in it shines through.
So when, as a group we approach the mystery of our own existence, we are the God who creates or destroys human souls. In this light, Christ is the personification of collective human self-giving and supportive love, the shepherd of individual souls. But of course, Christ is both immanent and transcendent.
This is the very foundation of Christian Yoga; that we recognise our responsibility as a group and as individuals, for the creation of the massive amount of ill formed identities we find in modern society; that we attempt to move toward a more caring and humanitarian world; that as parents or adults, we recognise the part we play in transforming tiny human animals into human souls, under the guidance of Christ, which is collective human love, suffering and experience. And out of this collective human love and suffering, we create the means of healing the deficiencies we find in ourselves, and in the care and humanity we give to each other.
Therefore, Christening as a ritual is an enactment of a baby being given a name and taken into collective human care, that it may be nurtured into healthy identity. Christening as a psychological fact rather than a ritual, is our own recognition of that baby as a loveable being, who we agree to treat as a valid individual. It is recognition of each person’s own unique ideas and experiences. It is an introduction to oneself as a being with a personal will. It is the respect we give to the children and people we relate to.