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DOES YOUR PASTOR KNOW THAT YOGA AND CHRISTIANITY ARE NOT COMPATIBLE?

BKT-YG-LAWSON-LOW-RESOLLTRP Note: We are hearing more and more reports about evangelical churches embracing Yoga. If your church is entertaining the idea of introducing Yoga classes to the church or if you know of a local church that is doing this, please give that pastor a copy of this booklet and ask him to reconsider. To order copies of YOGA and Christianity – Are They Compatible? in booklet form, click here. Those churches that welcome Yoga will in time be drawn in to the “new” spirituality and away from God’s Word. This is serious, and there is no time to waste. If you cannot afford to buy a booklet for a pastor, e-mail us his name and address, and we will send it for you at no cost to you. Let’s do what we can to stop Yoga from entering so many churches.

We were told a story this week about a place of business where the owners said that all employees had to begin Yoga classes in order to reduce stress. While one employee who was a Christian refused to participate, he observed that eventually two of the non-Christian employees became Hindu. Shockingly, the owners of the business were Christians.

By Chris Lawson

Western Culture Embraces Yoga
It is no secret that Yoga is taking Western civilization by storm. In just a little over a hundred years, a mystical revolution has occurred that millions of Westerners have wholeheartedly embraced. Amazingly, the Western Judeo-Christian view is in the process of a paradigm shift toward the same perspective as yogic India.

To illustrate the magnitude of the Yoga explosion, consider Yoga Journal’s “Yoga in America Study 2012.” This study reveals some incredible statistics:

• 20.4 million Americans practice Yoga, compared to 15.8 million from the previous 2008 study.
• Practitioners spend $10.3 billion a year on Yoga classes and products. The previous estimate from the 2008 study was $5.7 billion.
• Of current non-practitioners, 44.4 percent of Americans call themselves “aspirational yogis”—people who are interested in trying Yoga.1

Yoga (or Yogic spirituality) is influencing Christians and non-Christians alike. It only takes 0.27 seconds to come up with over 411,000,000 results for Yoga on Google’s search engine. When searching Amazon.com’s “All” category for Yoga, one quickly comes up with a staggering 143,081 results. That’s just within Amazon.Com. If one searches for book titles only on Amazon.com, the search yields 26,316. Certainly, the influence of Yoga can be found almost everywhere. In Time Magazine’s book, Alternative Medicine: Your Guide to Stress Relief, Healing, Nutrition, and More, it states:

Hard to believe now, but yoga was once considered heretical, and even dangerous. As recently as a century ago, yogis in America were viewed with suspicion; some were actually thrown in jail. Today, though, most gyms offer it, many public schools teach it, and a growing number of doctors prescribe it . . . It may have taken 5,000 years, but yoga has arrived.2

Just What is Yoga?
No doubt, many, probably most, of the millions of Westerners who practice postural Yoga have never read a simple definition of what Yoga really is. Below, I have presented a small selection of definitions of Yoga. While there are countless descriptions on the Internet and in libraries, the definitions I have chosen are an accurate overall representation of the meaning of Yoga.

According to Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary, Yoga is essentially: “a practice involving intense and complete concentration upon something, especially deity, in order to establish identity of consciousness with the object of concentration; it is a mystic and ascetic practice, usually involving the discipline of prescribed postures, controlled breathing, etc.”3

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary adds: “a Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.”4

Cyndi Lee, expert yogi and writer for Yoga Journal, defines Yoga as such:

The word yoga, from the Sanskrit* word yuj means to yoke or bind and is often interpreted as “union” . . . The Indian sage Patanjali is believed to have collated the practice of yoga into the Yoga Sutra an estimated 2,000 years ago.

The Sutra is a collection of 195 statements that serves as a philosophical guidebook for most of the yoga that is practiced today. It also outlines eight limbs of yoga: the yamas (restraints), niyamas (observances), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of senses), dharana (concentration), dhyani (meditation), and samadhi (absorption).5

Goutam Paul, author of Bhagavad Gita: The Ultimate Science of Yoga states:

When we talk about linking or connection, an obvious question arises: to connect what with what? The very word “connection” implies that there must be two different entities separated from one another, and they need to be connected. The ancient Vedic* text Bhagavad Gita explains that these entities are the individual consciousness and the universal Supreme consciousness. Some may call this universal consciousness an all-pervading energy, whereas most theists consider this Supreme consciousness to be God. . . . The purpose of Yoga is to connect the individual energy with the universal energy, or put another way, to connect the individual being to its source—the Supreme Being.6

One large online archive of New Age, occult, and mysticism-oriented literature states:

The ancient Yogis recognised long ago that in order to accomplish the highest stage of yoga, which is the realisation of the self, or God consciousness, a healthy physical body is essential. For when we are sick, our attention is seldom free enough to contemplate the larger reality, or to muster the energy for practice…

The roots of Yoga can be traced back roughly 5,000 years to the Indus Valley civilization. . . . According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the ultimate aim of Yoga is to reach “Kaivalya” (freedom). This is the experience of one’s innermost being or “soul” (the Purusa). When this level of awareness is achieved, one becomes free of the chains of cause and effect (Karma) which bound us to continual reincarnation.7

The Index of Cults and New Religions lists the different types of Yoga:

Karma Yoga (spiritual union through correct conduct)
Bhakti Yoga (spiritual union through devotion to a Guru)
Juana Yoga (spiritual union through hidden knowledge)
Raja Yoga (spiritual union through mental control)
Hatha Yoga (spiritual union through body control/meditation)
Kundalini Yoga (spiritual union through focusing inner energy)
Tantra Yoga (spiritual union through sexual practices)8

Swami Nirmalananda Giri of the Atma Jvoti Ashram, answering the question to “What is Yoga?” states:

What do we join through yoga? Two eternal beings: God, the Infinite Being, and the individual spirit that is finite being. In essence they are one, and according to yogic philosophy all spirits originally dwelt in consciousness of that oneness.9

The Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age describes how Yoga is done:

Typical exercises, such as those found in hatha yoga, are practiced under the tutelage of a guru or yogi, a personal religious guide and spiritual teacher. Gurus teach students to combine a variety of breathing techniques with asanas, or relaxation postures. In each of the postures, students must first enter the position, then maintain it for a certain length of time, and finally leave it.10

This dictionary further states that people in the West have mistaken Yoga to be “mere breathing and relaxation exercises,” when in reality “[t]he practice of yoga serves as a gateway to Eastern mysticism and occult thinking.”11 It adds:

Certain postures, such as the lotus position, are taken to activate the psychic energy centers [the chakras]. And specific breathing exercises are practiced to infuse the soul with cosmic energy floating in the air. A guru might have students gaze at a single object, such as a candle, to develop and focus concentration. The guru might have them chant a mantra to clear their minds and become one with the object in front of them. The goal is to achieve increasingly higher meditative states until reaching oneness with the cosmic consciousness.12

Understanding the Meaning of “Occult”
The word “occult” comes from the Latin occultus or “hidden,” and those who employ the term generally do so in an attempt to describe secret and mysterious supernatural powers or magical (magick) religious rituals.

Throughout history, there have been those who attempted to gain supernatural power or knowledge through occult means. Occultism also can generally refer to witchcraft, Satanism, neo-paganism, or any of the various forms of psychic discernment such as astrology, séances, palm reading, and a myriad of other spiritual methodologies for contact with the spirit world. The term occult is often interchangeable with the term metaphysics—these terms share the belief that there is a universal energy (e.g., Chi, Prana, Ki, etc.) that exists in all things. By engaging in the occult (i.e., metaphysical arts), this energy is awakened. Yoga in all its forms is simply one spiritual genre among many designed to induce practitioners into altered states, thereby gaining access into the world of occult spirituality.

Kundalini—the Energy Behind Yoga
Internationally recognized occult authority, Hans-Ulrich Rieker (author of The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika) describes the vital role kundalini plays in Yoga when he states, “Kundalini [is] the mainstay of all yoga practices.”13 With this in mind, a brief look at “kundalini energy” (the root of Yoga) is in order.

Born as Chinmoy Kumar Ghose (1931-2007), Sri Chinmoy was an Indian spiritual “master,” spirit medium, occultist, and interfaith guru. Teaching Yoga in the West from the time he moved to New York City in 1964, Chinmoy spent 43 years in the West producing “prayers and meditations, literary, musical and artistic works.” Giving spiritual meditations twice a week at the United Nations building (since 1970),14 Chinmoy’s occult philosophy for life was, “When the power of love Replaces the love of power Man will have a new name: God.”15 Man becomes “God”? According to Chinmoy, yes!

Like many other occultists who promote yogic spirituality intertwined with “love,” Chinmoy masterfully crafted his occultism under the guise of “Concentration, Meditation, Will-Power and Love.” These themes are expanded upon in Chinmoy’s occult manifesto, Kundalini: The Mother Power where Chinmoy explains Yoga’s occult foundation, goals, and the purpose of manifesting the kundalini serpent power.

Chinmoy likened “kundalini arousal” (varying states of demonic possession) to a “game” that is to be “played” between Shakti “The Mother Power” (a Hindu goddess) and the adept who seeks to manifest kundalini. The “power” and “force” that Chinmoy encourages people to “play with” is, in actuality, in many varying religious contexts, demonic spirits (fallen angels) that masquerade as “The Mother Supreme,” “kundalini,” “Chi,” “prana,” etc. Chinmoy wrote:

When the kundalini is awake, man is fully aware of the inner world. He knows that the outer world cannot satisfy his inner needs. He has brought to the fore the capacity of the inner world, which he has come to realise is far superior to the capacity of the outer world. He has brought to the fore the hidden powers, the occult powers, within himself. Either he uses these powers properly or he misuses them. When he divinely uses the powers of kundalini, he becomes the real pride of the Mother Supreme. When he misuses them, he becomes the worst enemy of man’s embodied consciousness and of his own personal evolution.16

Here in the West there are many who feel that the powers of kundalini yoga are nothing but rank superstition. I wish to say that those who cherish this idea are totally mistaken. Even the genuine spiritual Masters have examined kundalini yoga and found in their own experiences the undeniable authenticity of its hidden occult powers.17

The kundalini power is the dynamic power in us. When the dynamic power and the spiritual knowledge go hand in hand, the perfect harmony of the Universal Consciousness dawns and the conscious evolution of the human soul reaches the transcendental Self [godhood].18

Kundalini Awakening
If Kundalini is “the mainstay of all Yoga practices,” as Rieker and other Yoga authorities maintain, the Yoga practitioner must understand clearly what the “kundalini” power is, how “it” operates, and what its effects are.19

Kundalini is a term which in Sanskrit means “coiled.” This “yogic life force” supposedly moves through the chakras (energy centers that are “activated one by one through the breath”20 in the human body in order to bring one into a state of occult enlightenment. According to occult philosophy, Kundalini is a non-physical field of energy that yogis say not only surrounds the physical body but can infuse the body.

Lee Sannella, M.D., a noted Psychiatrist, Ophthalmologist, and cofounder of the Kundalini Clinic in San Francisco, explains in his book The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence:

According to this [tantric] Indian tradition, the kundalini is a type of energy—a “power” or “force” (shakti)—that is held to rest in a dormant, or potential, state in the human body. Its location is generally specified as being at the base of the spine. When this energy is galvanized, “awakened,” [which is done during Yoga], it rushes upward along the central axis of the human body, or along the spinal, to the crown of the head. Occasionally, it is thought to go even beyond the head. Upon arriving there, the kundalini is said to give rise to the mystical state of consciousness, which is indescribably blissful and in which all awareness of duality [separation] ceases.21

For those who have doubts that all Yoga has the capacity to arouse kundalini energy, perhaps one ought to think again. After all, the Yoga postures themselves were designed specifically to receive this serpent power.

Yoga’s Dangers of Psycho-spiritual and Psycho-physical “Emergencies”
Volumes of material could be quoted from regarding the dangers of Yoga, meditation, and other psycho-spiritual and physio-spiritual practices. Modern practitioners—and even medical doctors—are now testifying to the fact that physical dangers associated with practicing Yoga are a reality. In fact, people who have done Yoga for purely “physical exercise” have been spiritually affected to the point of being systematically dismantled by hostile “forces,” over which they have no power. Eastern gurus call this type of Yoga effect “enlightenment,” yet it is anything but that!

In India today, countless millions of Yoga practitioners are influenced by the spirit world, achieving manifold “possession” states and “manifesting” the kundalini-shakti power (also called “serpent power”). It is the same in the West, only it falls under different names and in a Western context. One should note well that it was not until the 19th and early 20th centuries that Yoga was touted as a physio-postural “exercise” in Britain and the USA.22

The following is a mere sampling of what can occur when the kundalini-shakti “force” is “aroused,” “galvanized,” “awakened,” “summoned,” etc. These “spiritual emergencies” can even occur during Hatha Yoga sessions at the local fitness center. Depending on the teacher (yogi/yogini) one has, you never quite know what you will get.

In Lee Sannella’s book The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence, Sannella tells how the “Physio-Kundalini” experience is “a dramatic occurrence . . . culminating [in a] state of ecstatic unification.”23 He adds:

[T]he kundalini causes the central nervous system to throw off stress . . . usually associated with the experience of pain . . . It appears to act of its own volition, spreading through the entire psychophysiological system to affect its transformation.24

[T]he kundalini produces the most striking sensations . . . the “heat” generated by “friction” of the kundalini . . . causes turbulence, which may be experienced as painful sensations . . . spontaneous bodily movements, shifting somatic sensations.25

Amongst other kundalini symptoms, “spiritual emergency” scenarios26 and numerous case studies of destructive kundalini manifestations, Sannella mentions Swami Narayanananda, author of “the first detailed book on the kundalini experience.”27 Sannella notes that Narayanananda’s book:

. . . distinguished between a partial and a full arousal of the kundalini energy. Whereas partial arousal can lead to all kinds of physical and mental complications, only the kundalini’s complete ascent to the center at the crown of the head will awaken the true impulse to God-realization, or liberation, and bring about the desired revolution in consciousness. Only then can the body-mind be transcended in the unalloyed bliss of enlightenment.28

Narayanananda catalogued a listing of sensations and experiences that occur as kundalini symptoms. Sannella summarizes some of these:

* There is strong burning, first along the back and then over the whole body.
* The kundalini’s entrance into the central spinal canal, called sushuma, is attendant with pain.
* When the kundalini reaches the heart, one may experience palpitations.
* One feels a creeping sensation from the toes, and sometimes the whole body starts to shake. The rising sensation may feel like an ant crawling slowly up the body toward the head, or like a snake wiggling along, or a bird hopping from place to place, or like a fish darting through calm water, or like a monkey leaping to a far branch.29

Sannella arranges the “physio-kundalini complex” into four basic categories, which the following somewhat encapsulates and which Sannella (and others) consider to be “therapeutic.” Of the psycho-spiritual/physio-spiritual process Sannella contends, “[s]everal of my kundalini cases are especially interesting because they serve as support for my contention that the kundalini process can be looked upon as being inherently therapeutic.”30

Therapeutic? I find that absurd reasoning! Surprisingly, Sannella admits to the dangers:

I must, however, sound a word of caution here. I firmly believe that methods designed specifically to hasten kundalini arousal, such as breath control exercises known as pranayama, are hazardous, unless practiced directly under the guidance of a competent spiritual teacher, or guru, who should have gone through the whole kundalini process himself or herself.31

He says the Yoga breathing techniques “may prematurely unleash titanic inner forces,” and the practitioner will have no way to control these forces. He warns, “The kundalini can be forced, but only to one’s own detriment.”32 Basically, one must go through varying stages of what the Bible would consider demonic possession!

Symptoms of Kundalini Awakening
There is a very long list of symptoms that can occur during a kundalini awakening. While proponents will tell you that there are many benefits, they readily admit, as I have shown, that there are many terrible consequences. Here are just a few of them:

Tremors * Shivering * Shaking * Cramps * Spasms * 
Energy rushes * Muscle twitches * Strong electricity circulating the body * Tingling * Intense heat or cold * Involuntary bodily movements * Jerking *
Periods of extreme hyperactivity * Periods of fatigue * Intensified or diminished sexual desires * Headaches * Pressures within the skull
* Racing heartbeat 
* 
Emotional outbursts
* Rapid mood shifts *
Feeling of grief, fear, rage, depression * Spontaneous and uncontrollable laughing and weeping * Mental confusion * Convulsions * Altered states of consciousness33

I don’t recall Jesus or the disciples ever likening the fruit of the Spirit or the working of the Holy Spirit with any of these symptoms!

What About “Christian” Yoga?
In an eye-opening article titled “Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu: I challenge Attempts to Snatch Yoga From its Roots,” Professor Subhas R. Tiwari of the Hindu University of America made some very interesting points in response to inquiries from several journalists around the country. As a graduate with a Master’s degree in Yoga philosophy from the famed Bihar Yoga Bharati University, Professor Tiwari’s response was featured in an article in Hinduism Today. Professor Tiwari enlightened undiscerning American’s with the following:

In the past few months I have received several calls from journalists around the country seeking my views on the question of whether the newly minted “Christian Yoga” is really yoga.

My response is, “The simple, immutable fact is that yoga originated from the Vedic or Hindu culture. Its techniques were not adopted by Hinduism, but originated from it.” . . . The effort to separate yoga from Hinduism must be challenged because it runs counter to the fundamental principles upon which yoga itself is premised. . . . Efforts to separate yoga from its spiritual center reveal ignorance of the goal of yoga. . . .

[Yoga] was intended by the Vedic seers as an instrument which can lead one to apprehend the Absolute, Ultimate Reality, called the Brahman Reality, or God. If this attempt to co-opt yoga into their own tradition continues, in several decades of incessantly spinning the untruth as truth through re-labelings such as “Christian yoga,” who will know that yoga is—or was—part of Hindu culture?34

Some may ask, “Well, can’t I just do the Yoga exercises and forego the religious or spiritual aspects?” One researcher has this to say:

There is absolutely no problem in stretching exercises in and of themselves. . . . No one can deny that stretching helps the blood flow, that breathing in oxygen helps our overall health. . . . There are numerous exercise programs that incorporate stretching that in no way relates to yoga (and its perspective). . . . Religious syncretism is probably the most dangerous thing we can involve ourselves in because we can rationalize its purpose. . . . Essentially one cannot practice a portion of Hinduism and continue to walk with the true Christ who is not a Hindu Guru.35

A former occultist who is now a Christian explains:

You cannot separate the exercises from the philosophy. . . . The movements themselves become a form of meditation. The continued practice of the exercises will, whether you . . . intend it or not, eventually influence you toward an Eastern/mystical perspective. That is what it is meant to do! . . . There is, by definition, no such thing as “neutral” Yoga36

The Conflict Between Yoga, “Christian” Yoga, and the Gospel

Is Yoga a religion that denies Jesus Christ? Yes. Just as Christianity denies the Hindu MahaDevas such as Siva, Vishnu, Durga and Krishna, to name a few, Hinduism and its many Yogas have nothing to do with God and Jesus . . . all of Yoga is all about the Hindu religion. Modern so-called “yoga” is dishonest to Hindus and to all non-Hindus such as the Christians.—Danda, Dharma Yoga Ashram, Classical Yoga Hindu Academy; an e-mail written to Lighthouse Trails Research

Altogether, Western Yoga has become a launching platform for occultism—the very thing that lies at the heart of Buddhism Hinduism, and New Age spirituality. Even the Christian church has been affected by alleged “Yoga for Christians.” Consider the names of such “ministries” that mix Scripture and “Jesus” with Yoga, and then sell it as Christian Yoga exercise: Yahweh Yoga, Holy Yoga; Body Prayer, Christ-Centered Yoga, New Day Yoga, Trinity Yoga, Yoga Devotion, Grounded in Yoga, Be Still Yoga, Atoning Yoga Extending Grace, and many more.

Most Christians would probably acknowledge that occultic practices are the antithesis of biblical Christianity. But when it comes to Yoga—also the outworking of occultism—they seem oblivious. And yet, the philosophies and practices of yogic mediation have the capacity to “unhinge” (dismantle) humans—in every way. These philosophies come from ancient occultism and originally started back in the Garden of Eden. The voice of that old serpent, the Devil and his satanic forces, put forth the exact same lie today that has fueled the world of the occult through all the ages—that humanity can become God. “[Y]e shall not surely die . . . ye shall be as gods” (i.e., like God; Genesis 3:4-5).

The very nature of many of the meditative yogic practices are engineered to (1) blow out the discernment faculties of human beings, (2) create an insulating barrier of spiritual resistance against the biblical Gospel, and (3) generate personal hostile opposition towards Jesus of Nazareth and His teachings. Consider the difference: the Bible teaches that man is sinful and the wages of sin is death; Jesus Christ, came in the flesh, died on the Cross, and was resurrected, paying the penalty for man’s sin with His own shed blood. He then offers salvation freely to “whosoever” believeth on Him by faith. Yoga (i.e., Hinduism), on the other hand, is completely the opposite. Man is already divine, and that divinity only needs to be “awakened” through Yoga. No sin, thus no need for a Savior. Man will save himself.

In place of God’s Word as the ultimate authority, a new higher authority called “experience” is embraced. Thus, the Jesus Christ of the Bible, the clear teachings of Scripture, and the established historical doctrines of the Christian faith, along with “biblical separation” from occult pagan spirituality, are thrown out of the window.

The reality that practitioners of Yoga, including Christian practitioners, can become physiologically and psychologically “unhinged” is a terrifying consideration. When one yields to the spiritual forces of darkness that fuel the world of yogic spirituality, one ought to be prepared to face dire consequences—that for millennia yogis in the East have endured, and by which have tragically been destroyed.

Practicing Yoga can result in the severe dismantling of the human personality, resulting in total spiritual devastation, and oftentimes including demonic possession. The respect, honor, and adoration of rats, snakes, monkeys, cows, and the worship of 330 million gods of Hinduism surely ought to speak volumes to the Western Yoga practitioner who thinks he or she can Christianize Yoga or simply turn it into a benign physical exercise program.

When you stop and realize that increasing numbers of Christian churches are now allowing Yoga classes, and when you look at the sheer facts, this is simply hybridized yogic evangelism in the church. Sadly, the bulk of Western Christians seem to be blind to this.

Paul the Apostle, remembering the sinful disaster that took place in the garden of Eden, warned the early church at Corinth about the danger of spiritual deception in the name of Christ:

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlity, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

The question this booklet title asks is: Are Yoga and Christianity compatible? I hope and pray that after reading this material you will answer that question with a resounding No. We live in a world where forces of darkness, of which the Bible speaks, are seeking to deceive us. But Scripture also says we can protect ourselves through His provision. We do not have to walk in spiritual darkness.

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6: 11-13)

To order copies of YOGA and Christianity – Are They Compatible?, click here.

Endnotes:
1. “Yoga in America Study 2012” (Yoga Journal, http://www.yogajournal.com/press/yoga_in_america.
2. Lesley Alderman, “Bend and Be Well,” Alternative Medicine: Your Guide to Stress Relief, Healing, Nutrition, and More (New York, NY: TIME Books, 2012), p.62.
3. Webster’s New Twentieth Century Dictionary of the English Language (New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, Unabridged, 2nd ed., Deluxe Color 1955, 1983), p. 2120.
4. http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yoga.
5. http://www.yogajournal.com/newtoyoga/820_1.cfm.
6. Goutam Paul, Bhagavad Gita: The Ultimate Science of Yoga (http://www.cs.albany.edu/~goutam/ScYogaCamera.pdf).
7. http://www.experiencefestival.com/yoga.
8. http://www.sullivan-county.com/id3/expositer.htm#Y.
9. http://www.atmajyoti.org/med_what_is_yoga.asp.
10. Debra Lardie, contributing editors Dan Lioy and Paul Ingram, Concise Dictionary of the Occult and New Age (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2000), pp. 288-289.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Hans-Ulrich Rieker, The Yoga of Light: Hatha Yoga Pradipika (New York, NY: Seabury Press, 1971), p. 101.
14. http://www.srichinmoy.org.
15. Ibid.
16. Sri Chinmoy, Kundalini: The Mother Power (Jamaica, N.Y: AUM Publications, 1992), p. 49.
17. Ibid., p. 51.
18. Ibid.
19. See Hidden Dangers Of Meditation And Yoga: How To Play With Your Sacred Fires Safely by Del Pe.
20. “Chakras,” http://www.sanatansociety.org/chakras/chakras.htm.
21. Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience: Psychosis or Transcendence (Lower Lake, CA: Integral Publishing, 1987, Revised 1992), p. 25.
22. See Yoga Body: The Origins of Modern Posture Practice by Mark Singleton, 2010; A History of Modern Yoga: Patanjali and Western Esotericism by Elizabeth De Michelis, 2005; The Yoga Tradition: Its History, Literature, Philosophy and Practice by Georg Feuerstein, 2001.
23. Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience, op. cit., p. 31.
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid., p. 32.
26. See also Grof & Grof’s The Stormy Search for the Self: A Guide to Personal Growth through Transformational Crisis, 1992; and Spiritual Emergency, 1989.
27. Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience, op. cit., pp. 48-49.
28. Ibid., p. 48.
29. Ibid.
30. Ibid., pp. 93-108, 113.
31. Ibid., p. 116.
32. Ibid.
33. Symptoms of Kundalini awakening, Submitted by zoya on Fri, 03/11/2011—11:57, http://www.gurusfeet.com/forum/symptoms-kundalini-awakening.
34. Subhas R. Tiwari, “Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu” (Hinduism Today, Jan/Feb/Mar 2006, Magazine Web Edition http://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=1456).
35. Mike Oppenheimer, “Yoga, Today’s Lifestyle for Health” (http://www.letusreason.org/NAM1.htm).
36. Johanna Michaelsen, Like Lambs to the Slaughter (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), pp. 93-95.
A. Sidebar on page 7: Goutam Paul, Bhagavad Gita: The Ultimate Science of Yoga, op. cit., p.1.

To order copies of YOGA and Christianity – Are They Compatible?, click here.

CL_Color_suit_2About the author: Chris Lawson is a missionary and an ordained pastor. Among his achievements and calling as a career missionary, he has served as a long-term church planter in the USA and also in Edinburgh, Scotland. He is the founder and president of Spiritual Research Network, Inc., a Christian outreach dedicated to proclaiming the Gospel and encouraging biblical discernment. You can visit his website where there is extensive research at: http://www.spiritual-research-network.com. Chris lives in central California with his wife and children.

Letter to the Editor: Devastated in the Bible Belt Over Churches and Pastors Lack of Discernment—And Charisma Magazine’s Blatant Promotion of Emergent/Contemplative

Old ChurchDear Lighthouse Trails:

I wanted to thank you for your tremendously exhaustive efforts to uncover the dangerous deception happening in and to the Church. I was all too aware of the New Age movement, having been seduced into it through massage school, persuaded by my very New Age instructors that it was completely cohesive with my Christian faith. It took me at least 2 years to fully see the lies, manipulations and dangers in these teaching and in the “gifts” and abilities I’d “discovered” through their teachings. I had heard of contemplative prayer awhile back and researched it, quickly discovering it was nothing more than the same New Age paganism I had learned but with a Jesus sticker slapped on it. Sadly, I was under the impression that only a minority of “Christians” practiced these heathen rituals.

Through heartbreaking and tragic, though blessedly awakening, events and circumstances, I became aware of just how deeply seeded and prevalent the New Age had already worked its way into the churches in our average communities, even here in the Bible Belt. These pagan practices were no longer “out there” or only held by a few oddball “Christians” who had always been a bit sketchy in their beliefs but were now being promoted from the pulpit. They were being taught and touted by a church highly regarded in our community and offered to all who were willing, including my broken, desperate, and alcoholic husband in his weakest hours, finally yielding to his heart being wrecked by God. You can imagine what it did to his spirit when the hand he was reaching for and found hope in was uncovered and exposed for the lies and danger it truly was, only to have another one offered by another church, offering hope from the likes of Rick Warren and then finding out the truth about him.

Devastated doesn’t begin to describe how I feel right now in regard to how the church has “helped” my family in our most desperate hour. And, it would seem, many of our pastors were not only completely unaware, or had no discernment to recognize Jezebel, but had never even heard of contemplative spirituality, the emergent church, or her various other heretical teachings.

This is my fear: that there is either no discernment left in the church, or they see the truth but have willfully determined to turn away from it. I’ve become more and more uneasy about what is being circulated and promoted through the evangelical community and specifically what is being published through Charisma Magazine and its website. They’ve been very generous with their space given to many emergent leaders and sympathizers, negligent in their silence on the contemplative/emergent movement, implying ignorance at best, support at worst, but I was stunned to find the articles linked below.

I truly didn’t expect to find such blatant promotion of the emergent agenda in a world-wide evangelical publication just yet. In case you haven’t seen these articles, I’ve linked them below. I know much of the content on Charisma’s site has lacked discernment and scripturally sound exegesis for quite some time, but this took things to a new level. It seems to me a bold step that has potentially tremendous implications for the very near future.

God bless you for all your work in protecting the true Gospel and loving us enough to speak the truth when few want to hear it. I pray you will continue for as long as our eyes need uncovering and our hearts need to be awakened. Your ministry has made a life-altering impact on my heart, and I feel an urgency to share this message with anyone and everyone who will hear. I believe God is using your ministry as a vessel to warn, call, and equip those who will listen to go and wake the rest who slumber. I pray we will not be found silent and empty-handed.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

L.S.

http://www.charismamag.com/spirit/prophecy/23155-ancient-and-emerging-5-major-changes-coming-to-the-church

http://www.charismamag.com/blogs/a-voice-calling-out/17574-3-stages-of-prayer

Iceland’s Asatru pagans reach new height with first temple

LTRP Note: The following news article by BBC is posted for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement of the content or source.

By Neil McMahon
BBC News (Europe)

It has been the dream of Iceland´s neo-pagan worshippers for four decades.

Now construction of the first heathen temple or “hof” to be built in a Nordic country in almost 1,000 years is set to get under way.

Work will start in March on a wooded hill near to the the capital Reykjavik’s domestic airport.

The temple will provide followers of Iceland’s old Norse religion with a place to hold their communal “blot” – or feasts – as well as marriages, name-giving ceremonies, funerals and rite of passage ceremonies for teenagers. Until now, ceremonies have mostly been conducted outdoors during the summer.

“At last, our long journey across the desert is at an end,” says Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson, a composer and high priest of Iceland’s neo-pagan Asatru movement.

 

Letter to the Editor: Texas Christian University’s Labyrinth – School Needs to be Added to Contemplative College List

(TCU 360/Tyler Christensen)

LTRP Note: After receiving this letter to the editor and after doing some of our own research, Lighthouse Trails has placed Texas Christian University on our “Contemplative Colleges List.” To see an example of the “fruit” of contemplative spirituality, check out Texas University’s Interfaith Initiative.

Dear Lighthouse Trails:

I read you recent article on the labyrinth at the college. Sadly, this isn’t the only one. TCU (Texas CHRISTIAN University), just [a few] miles from where I’m sitting, has what amounts to a pagan worship circle that they call “Froghenge” and has in the past spray painted a labyrinth on it. TCU even has a contemplative studies interest group. Plays have performed inside the circle on Halloween.

http://bldglist.tcu.edu/bldgdetail.aspx?bldg=HENGE

I wonder if any Bible study leaders or campus Christian organizations warn the students about labyrinths?

Not only TCU, but several churches nearby also have labyrinths, according the the Labyrinth Society map. One is next to the TCU campus.

The largest hospital in the area also has its own labyrinth.

Dave

Related Information:

 The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

Letter to the Editor: Eastern University to Add Labyrinth With Grant From Calvin Institute

Labyrinths – Popping Up at Lots of Seminaries and Christian Colleges

 

 

 

 

 

Church of England to blend Christianity with Paganism to attract spiritualists

By Stand Up for the Truth

Here’s a new twist on church growth: creating a pagan atmosphere and branding campaign for New Age spiritualists in order to increase the number of bodies in the pews. The Church of England is actually training its ministers to create “a pagan church where Christianity [is] very much in the center” to attract spiritual believers.

That means changing the Anglican church doctrine to make it more inclusive for people of alternative beliefs. The Church of England admits that its motive is to retain congregation numbers who have embraced paganism. The Church Mission Society, which is training ministers to “break new ground” in order to get spiritual people into churches.  If you’ve come from a Seeker-Driven model, that might actually sound like a good thing. Get them in the doors and tell them about Jesus, right? But make no mistake; that is not what is happening here. The Jesus the Church of England is re-creating is not the Jesus of the Bible. Click here to continue reading.

Video: Searching For Truth

Roger Oakland talks about Jesus is the only way to Heaven in his Searching for the Truth on Origins DVD set. To order, click here.

NEW BOOKLET – The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?, written by Carl Teichrib, is our newest Lighthouse Trails Print Booklet. The booklet is 18 pages long and sells for $1.85 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail.  Below is the content of the booklet. To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey, click here.

The Labyrinth Journey - Walking the Path to Fulfillment?The Labyrinth Journey: Walking the Path to Fulfillment?

Carl Teichrib

Symbols are keyholes to doors in the walls of space, and through them man peers into Eternity . . . Symbolism, then, is the divine language, and its figures are a celestial alphabet.1

. . . symbolical rites are the external expressions of man’s inward desire to unite with Divinity.2

Whilst we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for, they were clearly a symbol of the Christian way, representing the path of the soul through life.3

I was struck by the simplicity of the above statement: that labyrinths are “clearly a symbol of the Christian way.” This is an interesting position, especially given the fact that the authors of this particular quote admit, “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for.”

We live in a day and age where many “new things” are sweeping through the Christian church. Some of these alternative directions are simply a reflection of changes in style and format. However, in our exploration towards alternative forms of spiritual expression, it is imperative that doctrinal discernment and discretionary principles come into play. This is especially true as society rapidly embraces a plethora of alternative spiritual practices, beliefs, and paths. Sadly, we as Christians often flounder in doing our homework, and in that vein we may inadvertently open our congregations to highly questionable choices and spiritual experiences.

Paradoxically, while the evangelical Christian community talks about “spiritual warfare” and “putting on the full armor of God,” many of these same churches can be found embracing that which they claim to counter. In seeking relevancy, we have become dangerously “experiential,” and old forms of mysticism are becoming centerpieces in “experiences of faith.”

The labyrinth prayer walk, which follows a single winding path to a central location, is a case in point, and I hope to show the reasons why Christians should not embrace this practice. Primarily jump-started by a UK-based Christian movement in alternative spiritual expressions and by an influential San Francisco cathedral, denominations around the world are embracing labyrinths as a viable part of the spiritual journey. But are labyrinths part of the Christian encounter, as suggested by the third introductory quote above?

My first experience with a labyrinth happened years before the idea become so popular in Christian circles. I was doing research work on occult philosophy at the Theosophical* headquarters in Wheaton, Illinois, and after spending a better part of the day reviewing esoteric literature, I went for a walk across the grounds to clear my head. There, toward the back of the property, was a labyrinth that had been set up as a place for spiritual release and expression.

As a Christian researcher and author on globalization and religious trends accompanying our changing international situation, I wasn’t surprised by the fact that a labyrinth was set up at this intensely “occult” location. It made perfect sense.

Understand, Christians looking for ways to bring in new relevancy within church worship did not rediscover the labyrinth as a spiritual tool. As we shall see, it’s been part of the esoteric world for a very long time. Which is why, today, labyrinth walks and “prayer journeys” are being promoted by Rosicrucian groups,4 at New Age festivals and celebrations5 and throughout the neo-pagan New Age world. Not surprisingly, one of America’s largest witch, shaman, and neo-pagan assemblies, the Pagan Spirit Gathering at Wisteria, OH, holds a nighttime Summer Solstice Labyrinth ritual, which is described as a “transformative, walking meditation through an all-night labyrinth formed by 1000 lighted candles.”6

Embarking on the Journey
Counter to the statement “we cannot be exactly sure what the labyrinths were used for” is a wealth of literature, some easy to obtain, others that should be kept hidden on dusty shelves. This material paints a fascinating picture on the uses and purposes of the labyrinth as a conduit for the mystical. But before we venture down this path, it’s important that we journey into the recesses of ancient mythological history.

The primary historical focal point for the lore of the labyrinth goes back to Cretan and Greek tales of Queen Pasiphaë, her perverse sexual desire for a specific sacrificial bull, an abominable act of bestiality, and the birth of a strange hybrid offspring—the dreaded Minotaur, which lived in a labyrinth built to cage him.7

Each year, King Minos, the husband of Pasiphaë, demanded that seven boys and seven girls be given as a sacrificial tribute to be devoured by the Minotaur. One year, a hero named Theseus accompanied the children. Taking a ball of twine, he unravelled the string as he went through the labyrinth, giving him a trail leading back out. Once inside the labyrinth, Theseus followed the maze to its center, where he battled with the Minotaur and eventually beat the creature to death.

The labyrinth containing this Minotaur was not the typical single-path labyrinth of today but rather a complex maze containing halls and chambers. However, esoteric philosophers have long understood that the Minotaur maze directly corresponds to the ancient (and now modern) spiritually-connected labyrinth walk—the long soul journey with its many twists and turns, the ultimate arrival at the central convergence point, the struggle with the inner monster—and the final victory over the forces of darkness and ignorance (which can only happen when one is illumined at the center), and the repeated journey back to wholeness and the light of day. This esoteric significance of the Cretan story has never been lost on the initiates of the Mystery Schools.

Don’t forget, this Grecian/Cretan story was immersed in the pagan religious context of the day; that’s the metaphysical origin of the labyrinth as we can trace it. Hence, the story of Pasiphaë, with its labyrinth journey and inner battle, is of interest first and foremost to the world of occult lore for the simple reason that this is the intended context.

Following the Path
In following the path of knowledge concerning the spiritual uses of the labyrinth, one doesn’t have to go to the Pagan Spirit Gathering or delve deeply into occult literature (though, we will examine some esoteric writings). Plenty of information abounds in various reference works. Take, for instance, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols.

In discussing the labyrinth as a religious tool, The Penguin Dictionary associates the maze (labyrinth) with the Buddhist Mandala—an aid in the spiritual initiatory journey. Consider the various other metaphysical interpretations of the labyrinth [note: square-bracketed comments indicate an explanation provided by this author]:

In the Kabbalistic tradition [the Kabbala is a series of texts which make up the school of Jewish mysticism] taken up by the alchemists, mazes filled a magical function which was one of the secrets attributed to Solomon. This is why the mazes in cathedrals, “those series of concentric circles broken at given points on the circumference to provide a strange and tangled pathway,” came to be called “Solomon’s Maze.”

The maze also takes one to the centre of one’s self, “to some hidden, inner shrine, occupied by the most mysterious portion” of the human personality. To reach the centre of the maze, like a stage in the process of initiation, is to be made a member of the invisible lodge [the high-calling of the Mystery Religions] which the maze-makers always shroud in mystery or, better still, have always been left to be filled by the finder’s own intuition.8

Jack Tresidder’s Dictionary of Symbols explains:

[M]any labyrinths are unicursal, having no traps but leading sinuously along a single path. These were often used in early temples as initiation routes or more widely for religious dances that imitated the weaving paths of the sun or planets. They reappeared in patterns on the floors of medieval Christian churches as “roads to Jerusalem”—paths symbolizing pilgrimage.9

Other reference works on symbols—and a labyrinth is both a spiritual tool and a religious symbol—give similar definitions (as an example, see The Herder Dictionary of Symbols). While the meanings are varied, they do pulse with a similar theme, even when associated with the early Roman Catholic cathedrals. And this theme is repeated and more deeply probed by esoteric philosophers and New Agers—it’s the path of mysticism, esotericism, and occultism.

Reaching the Center
If the labyrinth is a path leading to one specific point, what does the wayfarer expect to find when he or she arrives?

On the mystical journey to spiritual fulfillment, the middle-eye of the labyrinth becomes a place of divine illumination. Even Kimberly Lowelle Seward, the past president of The Labyrinth Society (a network of labyrinth scholars and enthusiasts) recognizes this basic function: “The labyrinth is an archetype of transformation. . . . [It] serves as a bridge from the mundane to the divine.10

The promotional website for the Breemie Labyrinth in the UK gives an almost identical explanation:

The labyrinth is an archetypal spiritual tool, found across many times and cultures. While a maze is a left-brain, rational puzzle, the labyrinth involves the right side of the brain, and helps us access our intuition, providing a portal to the Divine.11

Kathy Doore, an author on sacred spaces, freely describes the spiritual implications of the labyrinth:

Labyrinths are temples that enhance and balance and bring a sense of the sacred—a place where we can confirm our unity with the cosmos, awaken our vital force and elevate our consciousness. These structures are space/time temples where we can behold realities that oddly enough transcend space and time. The orientation, form and geometry of a labyrinth has symbolic as well as spacial importance. It is a mirror for the divine. . . .

Moving through a Labyrinth changes ordinary ways of perception connecting the inner and the outer, the right brain and the left brain, the involutional and the evolutional through a series of paths that represent the realms of the Gods and Goddesses. These realms are associated with planetary movement as a process that induces Union with the One.12

Divine illumination is the end-goal of esoteric philosophy; it’s the central arena of occultism. Manly P. Hall, one of the 20th century’s greatest esoteric philosophers and an eminent Masonic historian, tells us that the labyrinth was symbolic of man’s search for truth.13 Other occult scholars tell us that the labyrinth symbolized to the people “the difficulty of finding the Path to God.14 All of this points to the same thing—the mystical realization of our own divinity.

As Hall states in his book on Freemasonry:

Man is a god in the making, and as in the mystic myths of Egypt, on the potter’s wheel he is being molded. When his light shines out to lift and preserve all things, he receives the triple crown of godhood.15

Rosicrucian authority Christian Bernard explains this mystical goal as the building and unfolding of the inner Temple:

The Temple of the Universe, the Temple of the Earth and the Temple of Life are only one in the Temple of Man. This is why the time has come to work towards rebuilding it, for the Messianic Light must emanate from the Heavenly Jerusalem which vibrates within us.16

Laying it out very plainly, Annie Besant—an early Theosophical leader—simply said, “Man is not to be compelled; he is to be free. He is not a slave, but a God in the making.”17

Different Paths, Same Meaning
Part and parcel of labyrinth symbology is initiation, the mystical process of inner transformation. Robert Macoy’s Dictionary of Freemasonry, like so much of the esoteric literature, connects the meaning of the labyrinth with this concept. Defining the labyrinth, Macoy wrote, “In the ancient mysteries the passages through which the initiate made his mystical pilgrimage.”18

As stated above, initiation is the process of inner transformation. To that end, esoteric societies and occult orders employ initiation as a vital component to spiritual advancement. Indeed, initiation is the pathway, the journey, to mystical completeness. This is the occult metaphor of the labyrinth, a metaphor that is played out in a host of mystical similes. Consider the following archetypes. Keep in mind, each example is replete with historical and religious connections to the Mystery Religions, of which the labyrinth is but a part.19

Freemasonry: When the Masonic candidate undergoes his initiation, he is led on an invisible path from station to station throughout the Lodge room. Each point and part of this journey is given an esoteric explanation—that is, the real meanings are cloaked in allegory and symbolism. After completing the journey around the Lodge, he is led to the center of the room where he kneels before an altar. The Worshipful Master asks what the candidate most desires, and the initiate responds with “Light.”20 Know this, the light requested is not incandescent light or some other physical light energy, but spiritual illumination.21

Order of the Golden Dawn: Initiations rites such as the Ceremony of the Grade of Philosophus have the candidate embark on a spiritual journey, following an invisible yet tangible path throughout the Lodge room. This journey, like that of Freemasonry, is intended to elevate the candidate’s level of transformative enlightenment.22

Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis: In AMORC’s Temple ritual, Second Portal, the student partakes in an allegorical journey searching for light and knowledge. While engaged in the ritual, the student follows a path to each point on the compass, and returns to a central triangle. Again, like the two other illustrations above, this act is part of the mystical journey towards “light” and cosmic unity.23

Order of the Eastern Star: As a co-Masonic body, the OES engages in a series of ritualistic initiations. Unlike Freemasonry, the OES ritual work is performed on a giant floor-rug pentagram. This pentagram, with an altar placed in its center, is called a Labyrinth. Each of the various initiation rites—journeys on the path to greater understanding—takes place in and around this Labyrinth.24 Beulah Malone, Past Grand Matron and Secretary of the OES explains:

The winding in and out of the labyrinth symbolizes the human soul stumbling and struggling through life; learning by mistakes and experiences that the way leading to the supreme life and to God is not easy but is a way of testing one’s power and strength.

By following the examples symbolized in the lives of the heroines of our Order [This is part of the OES Labyrinth journey], we may come into a full light of His Star and into wisdom and understanding. The great magnet of our Star as it shines forth in the world is missioned to bring Unity, the Truth of Fatherhood of God, and Brotherhood of Man.25

And herein lies the deeper spiritual meaning of the labyrinth walk that has become so fashionable today: It’s the symbolic journey of illumination, completely spiritual in nature and dependent on our works—the “journey,” or the “testing [of] one’s power and strength.”

The path to the center of the labyrinth is as the invisible but tangible path leading to the esoteric altar; it’s an initiation into the mystical.

The Path of Completion: Returning from the Center
Hundreds of Christians have taken part in labyrinth prayer walks, and many churches across North America and Europe are embracing this tool as a means to expand their spiritual experience. The Rev. Jill Geoffrion, a “certified labyrinth facilitator” and author of such books as Christian Prayer and Labyrinths and Praying the Labyrinth, writes:

We are currently in a period of historic labyrinth revival. Churches, retreat centers and Christian camps are placing these prayer tools inside and outside. Christians all over the world are installing labyrinths in their yards and gardens. Many are using the labyrinths as a ministry tool, bringing portable versions to prisons, national denominational conferences and church group meetings. It is conservatively estimated that there are over 5,000 labyrinths in the United States alone. God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.26

I must admit her pronouncement sounds appealing. But this particular statement by Geoffrion doesn’t paint the whole picture. On her labyrinth prayer website, Geoffrion offers suggested prayers for different labyrinth events. In dedicating a new labyrinth, she suggests that those in attendance form a circle on the pattern and extend “the energy that is in our hearts and minds through their hands towards the labyrinth.” Following this exercise is a meditative time where each person physically lays hands on the labyrinth and calls forth “the image of a loved one walking this labyrinth and receiving what is needed.” After more “imaging,” she recommends this responsive prayer:

Community: We dedicate this labyrinth to spiritual awakening and reawakening.

One: With hearts extending in many directions, Let us pray…Sacred Sustainer, Way to wholeness, Creator of possibilities, Supporter of change, Forgiving Releaser, Freedom, Honesty, Wisdom, Hope, Joy…we thank You for the beautiful spiritual tool on which we are standing.27

Geoffrion suggests other reflective meditations for the labyrinth, including short prayers from the “Christian Tradition,” “Egyptian Tradition,” “Hindu Tradition,” and “Sufi Tradition.”28

For Christians holding to the exclusive message of Jesus Christ in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me,” a serious rift is now encountered. It’s the dilemma that exists between what Geoffrion’s first quote described versus the religious pluralism that the labyrinth appears to propagate. And because of the nature and metaphysical history of the labyrinth, this spiritual pluralism is inescapable. However, this ever-widening religious inclusiveness—which is the expression of the esoteric idea of the Fatherhood of God—shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, in the labyrinth experience every path is relevant, every road is right, every religion is valid.

Granted, Geoffrion is but one spokesperson representing the Christian labyrinth prayer encounter. Grace Cathedral, however, carries a little more clout. In fact, Grace, San Francisco’s prominent Episcopal Church, has been North America’s “pathfinder” congregation in the labyrinth movement, hosting prayer walks on their two labyrinths for years. Moreover, Grace’s outdoor labyrinth is open 24 hours, and the church now has an involved global networking organization dedicated to advancing the labyrinth experience. Hence, Grace has been viewed by many Christian labyrinth advocates as the driving influence for this new spiritual expression in North America.

There’s no doubt that one reason for Grace Cathedral’s success is their connection to Chartres Cathedral in France. As an ancient medieval church, Chartres hosts an original pattern that is today’s recognized prototype for the Christian prayer walk. Grace meticulously copied Chartres, has marketed it very well, and is now a major spokes-church for the Chartres experience. Consider Grace’s website titled “Walking the Labyrinth: Reflections from Chartres,” which stated:

A profound meditation tool, a metaphor for the spiritual path, a feminist Christian icon, a symbol of Mary or even all Christianity, even perhaps an almost cult-like centerpiece of a movement—the labyrinth is, most everyone can agree, a powerful inspiration.29

Grace is open about the deeper meanings of the labyrinth. On the front piece to their labyrinth website, Grace states:

The Labyrinth is an archetype, a divine imprint, found in all religious traditions in various forms around the world. By walking a replica of the Chartres labyrinth, laid in the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France around 1220, we are rediscovering a long-forgotten mystical tradition that is insisting to be reborn.30

And Grace also points out that the labyrinth is a shared interspiritual esoteric tradition:

In Native American culture it is called the Medicine Wheel and Man in the Maze. The Celts described it as the Never Ending Circle. It is also called the Kabala in mystical Judaism. One feature they all share is that they have one path which winds in a circuitous way to the center.31

The labyrinth exercise, Grace further explains, should be viewed in three parts:

Purgation (Releasing)—A releasing, a letting go of the details of your life. This is the act of shedding thoughts and distractions. A time to open the heart and quiet the mind.

Illumination (Receiving)—When you reach the center, stay there as long as you like. It is a place of meditation and prayer. Receive what is there for you to receive.

Union (Returning)—As you leave, following the same path out of the center as you came in, you enter the third stage, which is joining God, your Higher Power, or the healing forces at work in the world. Each time you walk the labyrinth you become more empowered to find and do the work you feel your soul reaching for.32

As an institution, Grace is no ordinary church. Not only has it been extremely influential in propagating the labyrinth prayer walk, it has been a hotbed for global interfaith work.

In the 1990s, William Swing was Bishop of Grace. During the 1995 United Nations 50th Anniversary, Swing proclaimed that Grace would work towards the building of a global interfaith network. After an intense amount of travel and lobbying, Swing succeeded in forming the United Religions Initiative—one of the world’s leading UN affiliated inter-religious partnerships. Today, the URI is an active player in advancing global religious unity.

Why does this matter? Remember, between various esoteric philosophies and the labyrinth concept, a parallel runs between both themes—unity. As a spiritual interface, and as Grace Cathedral reminded us, the mystical labyrinth belongs to “all religious traditions.” Remember the Eastern Star’s labyrinth? Unity, the Fatherhood of God, and the Brotherhood of Man was the proclaimed magnetism of their Star. Manly P. Hall, speaking of the Masonic interfaith ideal of the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man, penned these words:

The true Mason is not creed-bound. He realizes with the divine illumination of his lodge that as a Mason his religion must be universal: Christ, Buddha or Mohammed, the name means little, for he recognizes only the light and not the bearer. He worships at every shrine, bows before every altar, whether in temple, mosque or cathedral, realizing with his truer understanding the oneness of all spiritual truth.33

This is the starting point of the occult concept of “the divine.” It tells us that every path on the journey is unique, yet each is true. In order for the mystic to move onward and upward, to return from the center of the labyrinth, he must accept his inner divinity. As Hall says, “[T]he way of salvation has been hidden within us.”34

Reiki master Kate McManus, in her article “Walking the Fire Labyrinth,” tells of her friend’s spiritual journey:

This year a friend mentioned an event that was to be held further out west a week after our winter magic festival. She described it as a fire labyrinth ritual in which a stone labyrinth would be lit at night to be walked with conscious intent and so mark the end of the year and begin a new one, a shedding of the old and birthing of the divine child.35

Years ago, Paul Clasper drew this religious inclusiveness into a completed package:

The new mingling of faiths will cause a fresh interpenetration of ideas and customs. Out of the encounter some paring of outmoded encrustations will perhaps take place. The new intercourse will fructify in more inclusive, universal faiths, perhaps even a new world faith as a basis for the coming world civilization.36

What Have we Learned?
In an earlier quote by the Rev. Jill Geoffrion, she proclaimed that “God is blessing the use of the labyrinth; many are being drawn closer to Jesus, experiencing healing and gaining spiritual clarity as they pray on its path.” On the surface this sounds great. But is God really blessing this “new thing”? Moreover, can God bless something that has its origins in esoteric doctrine and ancient pagan mythologies? Adding to its historical pagan significance is the fact that the labyrinth has never lost its occult meaning. As mentioned earlier in the article, labyrinths are still being used, and will continue to be used, as an instrument of pagan spirituality.

If God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to deal with Deuteronomy 12:1-14, 18:9-13 and Exodus 34:10-17? In each of these Scripture passages God explicitly tells His people to refrain from anything used in pagan practices. Moreover, the entire book of Jeremiah is a warning against involvement in alternative religious practices.

Furthermore, if God is going to bless labyrinth prayer journeys, how is He going to excuse the interfaith aspect that is common throughout the movement? John 14:6 clearly states that the only path to the Father is through Jesus Christ, and by no other way.

Beyond all of this, just as walking the labyrinth is used for initiation in cults, it serves as a catalyst to draw people into more serious forms of New Age or eastern-style meditation cloaked under terms like “the silence,” “centering prayer,” or “contemplative prayer.” Yes, the majority of Christians would affirm that their labyrinth prayer walk is completely focused on Jesus Christ. That may be true, but it doesn’t excuse the fact that the labyrinth is, by its theological nature, an inter-religious and deeply mystical device. If God is going to bless the labyrinth experience, how is He going to deal with 2 Corinthians 6:14-16?

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey click here.

Notes:
1. Manly P. Hall, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy (Philosophical Research Society, 1984), p. 357. Hall was one of the 20th century’s most celebrated esoteric philosophers, founder of the Philosophical Research Society, eminent Freemason, and a respected lecturer on occult doctrines and the Mystery Religions.
2. Roberta H. Lamerson, F.R.C. “Initiation” (Rosicrucian Digest, November, 1984), p. 21.
3. Kevin and Ana Draper, Steve Collins, and Jonny Baker, “Labyrinths and Mazes” (http://www.labyrinth.org.uk/historypage1.html). Website promoting labyrinths as an alternative Christian experience.
4. The Toronto lodge of the AMORC Rosicrucian order hosted a labyrinth journey the first Sunday of every other month (September, November, 2005; January, March, 2006). Location: Rosicrucian Regional Cultural Centre, 835 Broadview Ave, Toronto, ON.
5. See the Pagan Spirit Gathering website at https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/circle-magazine/sample-articles/solstice-fires-of-the-pagan-spirit-gathering. Another example is the Breemie Labyrinth Mid-Summer Festival at http://www.sacredway.co.uk/Breemie%20main/mhaydenlabs.htm.
6. See https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/pagan-spirit-gathering/rituals-and-celebrations.html.
7. Joseph Campbell, Occidental Mythology: The Masks of God (Arkana, 1991), p. 20. See also The Dictionary of World Myth (Facts on File, 1995), p.135. Other ancient labyrinth myths and stories exist that are rooted in Egyptian and various other Mesopotamian locations.
8. Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant, The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols (Penguin Books, 1996), pp. 643-644.
9. Jack Tresidder, Dictionary of Symbols (Chronicle Books, 1997), pp. 117-118.
10. The Labyrinth Society, http://www.labyrinthsociety.org.
11. See footnote 5.
12. Kathy Doore, “Myth and History of Labyrinths”(“Official Blog of Kathy Doore,” http://www.labyrinthina.com/path.htm).
13. Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Philosophic Research Society, 1989).
14. C.W. Leadbeater, Ancient Mystic Rites (Quest Books, 1986), p. 51.
15. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy, 1951), p. 92.
16. Christian Bernard, So Mote It Be! (AMORC, 1995), pp. 87-88.
17. Annie Besant, Esoteric Christianity (Quest Books, 1966), p. 220.
18. Robert Macoy, A Dictionary of Freemasonry (Gramercy), p. 215.
19. Historians and occult philosophers who assert this link between the Mystery Religions and today’s esoteric societies include Manly P. Hall, Foster Bailey, Albert Pike, C.W. Leadbeater, Israel Regardie, Papus, A.E. Waite, Eliphas Levi, J.D. Buck, Albert Mackey, H.P. Blavatsky, Henry C. Clausen, George H. Steinmetz, Joseph Fort Newton, and many others.
20. See Look to the East: A Ritual of the First Three Degrees of Masonry. See also Duncan’s Masonic Ritual and Monitor and Albert Pike’s Morals and Dogma.
21. Albert Pike, Morals and Dogma, p. 252 and Foster Bailey, The Spirit of Masonry, p. 108.
22. See Israel Regardie’s The Golden Dawn and What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn.
23. Rosicrucian Initiation, Temple Section, Second Portal, AMORC.
24. See Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light; see also Robert Macoy, Adoptive Rite Ritual; Ritual of the Order of the Eastern Star, published by the authority of the General Grand Chapter Order of the Eastern Star.
25. Beulah H. Malone, Let There Be Light (Masonic Home Print Shop,1958), p. 97.
26. Jill Kimberly Hartwell Geoffrion, Christian Uses of Labyrinths (http://library.stkate.edu/pdf/trw%20lab-christian%20uses.pdf).
27. Jill Geoffrion, Dedication of Deep Haven Labyrinth (article no longer available online).
28. Jill Geoffrion, “Prayers from Varying Traditions to Use at a Labyrinth”  (http://web.archive.org/web/20101229071645/http://www.jillgeoffrion.com/prayers4labusedifreltrad.html). I give Geoffrion sarcasm credit; she includes a short prayer from the American Secular Tradition—“whatever!”
29. Grace Cathedral, Walking the Labyrinth .
30. Grace Cathedral labyrinth homepage: http://www.gracecathedral.org/labyrinth.
31. Ibid.
32. Ibid.
33. Manly P. Hall, The Lost Keys of Freemasonry (Macoy Publishing, 1923/1951), p.65.
34. Manly P. Hall, The Mystical Christ (Philosophical Research Society, 1951), p. 248.
35. Kate McManus, “Walking the Fire Labyrinth: A Winter Solstice Encounter” (http://healing.about.com/od/labyrinthspiritual/a/firelabyrinth.htm).
36. Paul Clasper, Eastern Paths and the Christian Way (Orbis Books, 1980), p.108.

To order copies of The Labyrinth Journey click here.

For more information on labyrinths, visit  www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/labyrinth.htm.  Also visit the author’s website, Forcing Change Ministries, at www.forcingchange.org.

* Theosophy is a blend of mystical traditions, ancient mystery religions, and eastern philosophies.


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