Happy New Year! This month I will be celebrating the first anniversary of Bethel Yogi and I could not be more excited! Thank you so much for your support. I could not keep going if you were not reading this right now.
To give myself a little self-love at the beginning of the new year, I have decided to only post once a month. The post will be a little longer than usual because I will have more time and energy to devote to a single topic. I would like to start this year with a short series on my favorite books that have added to my spiritual journey. So here it goes:
I have chose Hindu Wisdom for All God’s Children as the first book because it has been crucial in the intersecting of Catholic yoga. It was written by Francis X. Clooney, S.J. For any non-Catholic readers, the S.J. behind his name means that he belongs to the Society of Jesus or more commonly known as the Jesuit order of priests which places much importance on education and study. I have mentioned Clooney before because of his work completed in comparative theology between Catholicism and Hinduism and this book is a wonderful intersection of the two. Though it is filled with history and texts of the Hindu culture and religion, the most intriguing sections in my opinion are the commentaries given by Clooney about the nature of the Catholicism and Hinduism as it applies to experiencing one of the two religions for ourselves and learning from other spiritual disciplines. I feel it connects to the integration of Catholicism and elements of outside spiritual disciplines.
To find oneself is to find oneself in God alone.
Experiencing for ourselves
In the introduction of the book, Clooney mentions that because he explored the Hindu religion he became a better Catholic (Clooney, xi). As mentioned in an early post, Barry Schoedel believes that one of the main reasons Catholics see yoga negatively is because they are not open to exploring beyond what is familiar. Here we can comprehend more fully the value of the human person and as Clooney states, we may find that “things weren’t as different as [we] expected” (Clooney, 1). Studying other traditions can mean many things. One can read the sacred scripture of that tradition or maybe look to the rituals but to truly experiencing it for ourselves means that we immerse ourselves in that tradition. As humans, it is utterly important to open our minds and hearts to the unknown and unfamiliar. We must broaden our understanding of humanity to not only connect with the human person but also to connect with ourselves more intimately than we are connected now. For by experiencing what life has to offer in all of the chaos and extraordinary, we experience ourselves. From having an intimate connection with ourselves we can further our intimate relationship with God. Therefore, “to find oneself is to find oneself in God alone” (Clooney, 15). Becoming familiar with ourselves we connect with the divine that is inside us.
Learning from other spiritual disciplines
Experiencing another spiritual tradition can be life changing in either a positive or negative way depending on the perception of the person. When looking beyond his own spiritual or religious tradition, Clooney clarifies that he is not becoming a new person or discovering a new religion, he is simply going deeper into himself and his own religion (Clooney, 4). When I first began studying religious studies, I’m sure many people assumed that I would fall away from Catholicism either to another religion or even away from religion at all. On the contrary, my experience has been very similar to that of Clooney. I see further into the depths of my beliefs when I study other religions. Clooney’s experience demonstrates that religious traditions are not to be separated, they are to be experienced side by side so that the religious believers may expand their knowledge of what their own religion has to offer (Clooney, 7). After all, Catholicism is about rigid uniformity with no room for interpretation, right?! Wrong. We are taught that everyone is called to sainthood and not only that but anyone can be a saint. You can be a saint whether you are a mother or a nun in seclusion. God can be in an outrageous encounter and those “authentic encounters with God do not always contribute to social harmony, and living a respected religious life may not be the best preparation for encountering God” (Clooney, 78). So maybe finding God in a mind-body practice like yoga isn’t so crazy? This is why I cling to it with a death grip. I clearly have a varying degree of social harmony with people thinking that I am leading others away from the Church, but through trial and error this is one of the most effective ways I experience God. Through practicing yoga I learn about my inner and outer self leading to my experience of God.
I look forward to sharing with you an insight into my favorites library. As I've always said, if you want to really know someone look at their library.
Peace and Namaste,