Tuesday, March 06, 2007

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Eastern Infiltration - Part 1

by Akiva at Mystical Paths

The Yetzer Hara, the evil inclination, is a wily old fox. This is a multi-part multi-post story of twists and turns, coincidences and surprises, and dealing with a wily old fox. G-d forbid, not for personal credit, but to show the hand of heaven directing us and giving us a chance...

This is a multi-part series and a true story.
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On my last visit to Yerushalayim, my children and I (those who were on the journey with me) went to lunch with a cousin near the Kotel (the Western Wall), in the Old City. We sat and ordered, and my children had fun. Well, except for my oldest son. After a few minutes of the service taking it's time, he was bored. (This seems to be a perpetual state with teenage boys, or so I'm learning.)

He leaned back and almost tipped his chair. He figgeted. He complained. He turned around, hanging over the restaurant's outdoor patio fence.

Up the alley way walked a older Jew, long white beard, black hat, interesting look on his face, books under his arm. He looked around and spotted the bored teen, came over, addressed me, "Hey, maybe this young man would like something to read?" He introduced himself, presented his book (qualified that one chapter may not be appropriate for a religious teen), and said it's a true story about him.

The story, about how in the 60's he went off and became a Hindu guru in India, came back to the US and started a Hindu meditation New Age cult in New York City, and eventually returned to Judaism.

My son started reading it on the plane back to the US and was riveted. When he fell asleep for a little while, my daughter grabbed it and she became riveted. My turn was next. We battled over possesion of the book over the next week, my wife grabbed it a few days after that. It's a story!

After finishing it, I corresponded a bit with the author, inquiring does he have anything more in depth on meditation? (I was particularly interested in understanding the differences in Eastern meditation versus Jewish meditation.) He pointed out another book of his exactly in this area, which I purchased.

There are few in the Jewish world that have practical experience with Eastern meditative techniques, and I dare say this may be the only Jew in the world who was a highest level master of such things. While not something a Jew would aspire to, perhaps only someone who has been there and is now here can truly explain what is there in the terms of here.

Literally while reading this book, I received a flyer in the mail from a local synogogue inviting the ladies of the community to a 'yoga' class (special kosher edition).

Hmmm, I thought, that seems an odd thing to offer, I've always associated yoga with Eastern religious practices that we observant Jews stay FAR away from. I turned the next page in the book and I find a review of...yoga. The book clearly identified yoga as a highly undesirable practice, containing direct Hindu religious practices within it (both names of their gods and actual worship positions).

So I emailed the author, "Kosher Yoga, yes or no?". He responded, "Umm, no. Kosher stretching exercises, sure, yoga, no way."

Next step, go and talk to the Rabbi's wife sponsoring the class...

Posted at Mystical Paths. Read it elsewhere? Stop by the source.

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