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Is Yoga a Religion?

pranamIt is commonly said that Yoga is not a religion. But since religion is derived from the Latin word religere, which means “to bind back,” and yoga means “joining,” practically speaking yoga is the only religion.

The many systems of dogmas and doctrines are by their very nature not really religions at all, and in most instances are systems of superstition–either by the nature of their ideas or practices or by the attitudes of their adherents toward their beliefs and disciplines. Only when Yoga and Self-realization are the matrix around which a philosophy has been formulated for their furtherance is it worthy of our consideration. Other philosophies only produce confusion and distraction from the Goal.

It is yoga alone which reunites the consciousness of the individual to its infinite Source, restoring the lost unity. Earlier I quoted a paragraph from I. K. Taimni’s book The Science of Yoga about the purpose of yoga [in the post “What is Yoga?“], but omitted his preceding words regarding the relation of yoga to religion–or rather, their difference. Here they are now, for I think you will find them relevant:

“The Orthodox religious ideal which requires people to be good and moral so that they may have a happy life here and hereafter is really a concession to human weakness and the desire to prefer the so-called happiness in life to enlightenment.

“In this respect the philosophy of yoga differs fundamentally from most of the orthodox religions of the world which offer nothing better than an uncertain and nebulous happiness in the life after death. They say in effect ‘Lead a good life to ensure happiness after death, put your faith in God and hope for the best.’ According to yogic philosophy death no more solves your spiritual problem than night solves your economic problem. If you are poor you do not expect on going to bed that your economic problem will be automatically solved next day. You will have to get up the next day and begin where you left off the previous night. If you are poor economically you do not expect to get rich overnight and if you are poor spiritually, bound by illusions and limitations of all kinds, you cannot expect to become enlightened [by simply being reborn] or, if you do not believe in reincarnation, in the vague and unending life which is supposed to follow death.”

Yoga is the way we answer for ourselves the prayer:

Lead me from the unreal to the Real.
Lead me from darkness to the Light.
Lead me from death to Immortality.

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