What is yoga... ?
An interesting and difficult question that concerns many practitioners. As the yoga teacher I am often asked, is yoga a philosophy or a religion? As a rule, I try to evade the answer, so as not to impose my vision, not to destroy the formed foundations of a particular person. I often ask the counter question: "What would you prefer?". And sometimes we get engaged in fascinating conversations.
If we take our longstanding society we tend to avoid topics like freedom, sex, money, race, and religion for various reasons. These topics are considered unethical, forbidden, inconvenient, as if they do not exist at all, and they do not affect us in any way. But it is not so. I think these topics are of vital importance in everyone's life. In fact, they are our driving forces, what most of us live and develop for.
So, if we are practicing yoga, lets think together a little.
Religion or philosophy? And is there any difference at all?
There are several fundamental differences between these two ways of thinking.
1. Faith or research.
As for faith: imagine that a human brain is a sorting machine. Information was received, processed immediately, and the response was Yes/ no / I don't know / agree / disagree and so on. An essential function that helps us to survive. People who created religious ideas played it very well, coming up with unshakable rules. You don't need to think much about "truths", everything is written, everything is clear and simple! You just need to follow them, play by the rules, and then the reward will be waiting at the end!
The first and most difficult step to philosophy is to understand obligations in a different way of thinking. By slowing down the "sorting mechanism", we get a state of neutrality. Instead of judging, marking, we leave ideas in a neutral position, open for further consideration. Time will judge what is true and what is not.
The philosophical idea is not to accept everything at once. It lies in the fact that there are no simple truths. In fact, everything we study and what others say is unknown for sure. Understanding this is more important than being right. God, life after death, emotions, nature, or what is truth...?
Yoga always leaves the question open about everything. Each practitioner searches for the answer him/herself and enjoys the search path.
2. Practice and a word.
Religious knowledge is based on the written word. Bible, Koran, etc. Different people have reproduced the tenets of faith in different ways, but in the end, we can sit down and read them.
The ancestor of philosophy, Socrates, did not write a word. Everything we know is written by his disciples and the people around him. He has been the greatest thinker: "The spoken word has power. As soon as it is recorded, it is half dead."
Ancient yoga schools and teachers passed on knowledge only from face to face. Without writing anything down, everyone learned words, practice, and then shared their experience.
Religion makes a choice. And as long as we follow the path of this choice, nothing will happen to us. Religion takes care of us. If we go beyond the limits, no one else takes responsibility for us.
Philosophy boldly asks: "What do you think about it? What is Your result? Can you be sure of that? Do you take responsibility for this?"
Yes, there are more questions than answers, but everyone is looking for answers alone. It is personal responses to your and only your individual requests.
It seems to me that the path to true bliss runs through spirituality, but also through physical, emotional, and material needs. All religions lead to one God, and all philosophy is based on human kindness. But this is just my belief. There is a fine line between religion and philosophy, and the choice is Up to you. I hope your choice will be sincere and you will enjoy your trip.
I'm on my way too. And I'm grateful for this opportunity.