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Taking The Mystery Out of Yoga

By Gretchen Karros

 

The topic of this month’s issue is:

Similarities of the “Gita”

and the “Tao de Ching”

 

It has been said that “next to the Bible and the Bhagavad-Gita, the Tao Te Ching is the most translated book in the world”.  That said, since this is an article about Yoga, some of the similarities between the last two – the Gita  and the Tao, will be presented.  The intention here is to show how two very ancient dissimilar cultures would be writing very similar spiritual ideas.

According to some sources, the Gita (written down from the early oral tradition around 500 B.C), clearly states that “the human body and the oneness of the breath, the mind and senses” indicated in the Yoga Upanishad were also mentioned in the Tao de Ching.  Two more similarities are 1) Lao Tzu, the first Taoist, wrote in (Chapter 15) in the Tao de Ching “the practitioner stopples the openings of his heart, closes his doors.”  2) exact lines in the Gita clearly state (chapter 19) “closing all the doors of the body, shutting up the mind in the heart” There are only two examples of the similarities of these two famous books.  Many more examples exist but are too numerous to mention here.

In China physical exercises similar to Yoga were documented  recently.   Four old silk manuscripts were found in an ancient grave in China in 1973 that shows designs of gymnastic exercises that date to 168 B.C. or before.  There were over forty exercises, some of them named after birds and various animals.  This reminds us of the “asanas” in Yoga, some of them even using the same names.

People in the past believed that there was little intercourse between India and China around the middle of the first millennium B.C.  This seems to be disputed now since archaeologists say that “The Silk Road” carried many spiritual ideas and learned Gurus from India besides merchandise. In our era of the twenty-first century, we are beginning to think globally, learning about other cultures to open our minds and hearts to everyone.

 

Quote of the month;

You must know what you feel

Before you can feel what you know. (anon.)

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