Taking The Mystery Out of Yoga

By Gretchen Karros


The article for this month is quoted from a wonderful book “Gateway to Wisdom” by John Blofeld.* He was a prolific writer, having written more than 20 books and specializing in Eastern Religions.  He lived in China for most of his adult life only returning to the U. S. in 1937, therefore, he was not there when the Japanese occupied northern China and later on with the war against the United States.

“My use of the term ‘yoga’, and also of ‘yogin’ for one who practices contemplation, may require explanation.  ‘Yoga” is cognate with the English words ‘union’ and ‘unite; it was originally employed in India in the sense of ‘union with God’ and extended to cover the various spiritual exercises practiced to this end.  Unfortunately it has passed into the English language at the popular level as a synonym for hatha yoga, which connotes just the physical exercises related to yoga as a whole, with the result that misunderstanding of its full meaning has risen.. . .

. Since Yogis, Taoists and Buddhists do not believe in a personal Creator, they never seek to attain union with God…. Instead they seek an experience of “Enlightenment”  – that is “a transcendental experience that sunders the bonds of ego-delusion.. . . . “In this context. “Yoga” means full realization of an already existing but hitherto unperceived state of union’.  By extension, it also connotes the various means of attaining this supreme intuitive experience.”

A Yogin is one who employs such means, whether to reach Enlightenment or to achieve more limited objectives along the way that will raise his potentiality for intuitive experiences and meanwhile reconcile him joyously with his environment . . . . . . Essential yogic practice has far more to do with mind than body (although the well-being of the body is certainly not to be neglected).  Therefore, yogic practices are mainly mental in character, there being, by the way, no distinction in this terminology between mind and spirit.


The aims of this book are:

To enhance the quality of life in the Here and Now, through realization of the essential holiness and underlying unity of oneself, all living beings and the whole environment; The practice of awareness; Various meditative techniques; Yogic breathing techniques, exercises, chants, mantras, mudras, creative arte, regulation of diet and sexual intercourse, etc.


* Gateway to Wisdom by John Blofeld, Unwin Hyman Limited, London, 1990