by Reb Gutman Locks on Mystical Paths
It is hard for people to give up spiritual practices that they enjoy and think are helpful. One commentator to my article “Yogaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” wrote that yoga was among the gifts that Avraham gave to his sons whom he sent to the East. He asked, “If yoga has spiritual benefits, why would that be bad?” He also asked about a number of Eastern practices.
Our sages explain that the gifts that Avraham gave to those sons were actually “unclean names!” (evil powers) [i]
Briefly, Avraham knew that these powers already existed in the East. If his sons would have gone there without knowing these powers they would have become subservient to those with the powers. But since they too could wield such things they were able to push off that influence.
It is natural for yoga lovers to try to justify their practice, but no matter how you look at it, yoga is a non-Jewish, spiritual practice. Again, except for one or two movements that are entirely associated with yoga, it is not the movements themselves that are the problem. The problem comes when there is ANY association with yoga. Yoga is a branch of idolatry.
Idolatry is not just a social problem. It leads seekers in the wrong direction. One simple example; a famous Indian yogi-guru wrote in his book, “The Blue Pearl” that the highest vision possible is the “blue light.” There was a young man in my apartment just last week who raved about his martial arts master because when he looked at the master he saw a blue light surrounding him. He swears by this master now because of this vision.
Jewish mystical writings state, “All colors in visions are a positive sign except for the color blue. It is the lowest color, and much ardent prayer must be exercised to avoid it!”
This is a simple example of how idolatry is the worship of a particular form, and ignores the Universal. The real problem goes much deeper. The real problem is where idolatry leads. For instance, a common Eastern teaching is that insanity is considered a step along the way to development! And if you would learn what it is that drives them insane, you would tremble, and run from it.
[i] Genesis 25:6 Rashi