Friday, November 30, 2018

The Gurus, the Young Man and Elder Paisios (untranslated chapters - 4 of 4)

The Influence of Yoga on the Body and the Mind

An untranslated chapter from the book "The Gurus, the Young Man and Elder Paisios" pp. 381-393.

By Dionysios Farasiotis

In our age, the system of Yoga is proposed as a panacea to nearly all the problems that humanity encounters. We hear advertising slogans such as: "Do Yoga for health and beauty."

Since we have been engaged in Yoga for years, some of us had also become teachers of Yoga, and we want to convey to you one experience and problem with this.

In the beginning, one truly feels a healthiness, well-being and revitalization. However, it is suggested to attribute this improvement to certain "hidden powers" and a certain "secret wisdom" that exist hidden within the Yoga exercises (stances).

Instead of this, some could comfortably attribute the well-being that they feel to the movement; to the active and energetic doing of the body that wakes up from the sedentary way of life that today's social organizations inspire. One also gets the same feeling when he starts running, swimming, playing soccer or whatever other kind of bodily exercise, and even much more if he cuts certain bad habits such as smoking, staying up late, overeating, drinking alcohol etc.

Every metaphysical explanation of this well-being is superfluous. Persistence in such an explanation simply becomes personal preference or curiosity that hides other goals. Only beginners have this feeling of well-being. The more advanced start to have problems; pains in the waist, knees, back and joints.

The asanas, those curious postures of Yoga, are unnatural for the human body. They are inspired by animals; they imitate the posture of animals. This is also revealed by their names: i) Salabhasana = the locust posture, ii) Bhujangasana = the cobra posture, iii) Kukkutasana = the rooster posture, iv) Utthan Pristhasana = the lizard posture; and there are many others.

Some of these postures are easy; others more challenging. In order for one to succeed in staying correctly in these Yoga postures, they must be practiced for a long time. These positions slowly loosen the joints of the body. They compel the limits of their abilities with persistent force to twist unnaturally. A sufficient amount of people are slightly wounded and some are severely injured (e.g. rupture of the bonds/limbs, wounding of the tendons, etc.). They can also damage their knees and waist. The fact that bodily problems appear as a consequence of Yoga is confirmed by their sacred texts. The sacred Upanishads (mystical Hinduist texts) say: “Whoever complains or curses about these problems that Yoga causes, is unworthy of Yoga.”

During the time that I did these exercises, I chanced upon, and attended the lecture of a Hindu Yogi in Thessaloniki. Wanting to prevail over the other spiritual competitors that start fishing with equations of style (i.e. Yoga = health and beauty), this Yogi said one truth: “Whoever does Yoga only to acquire health and beauty would be better off to do swimming. He doesn’t have any reason to do Yoga. Yoga is for those people who are interested in developing spiritually.” Indeed this is how it is! Only I do not know what spiritual development will result.

However, we still haven't reached the worse part. The main aim of Yoga exercises and postures is neither the development of muscles nor the acquisition of blessings. Its aims are the alteration of the organism's biochemical equilibrium. Someone seated in these postures puts pressure on the internal organs of the body: the heart, intestines, liver and lungs. Certain postures particularly press and influence/act upon the endocrine* glands (they are called chakrasin in their terminology). The pressure incites the glands (most times) when we have an over-functioning and effusion of great quantities of hormones inside the body. Other times, the exact opposite occurs. Every group of postures (asanas) exerts pressure on the various glands. For example, one group of postures incites the thyroid gland** causing a greater production of thyroxin hormones that pour out/discharge in the blood and alters the whole basic metabolism of the body. The individual becomes overactive; something that he takes as "drawing up energy from a higher universal center" of the Yoga techniques. Some time ago, they took care to pass over this interpretation in their printed material and lectures. Thus they told us, in order to fill us with enthusiasm and incite us into more frequent and more vigorous exercise. Our egotism also helped in this direction. I was thinking to myself, “I will progress spiritually where I will also acquire Yogic powers.” Thus, we entered into a vicious circle continually rotating quicker and more vigorously, stimulating all those glands with the appropriate postures; the adrenal glands***, the pancreas**** etc.; even the glands which regulate the secretions of all the other glands. Imagine what occurred in our bodies.

This is the aim of the postures: to alter the hormonal and biochemical equilibrium of the body. They raise the equilibrium level of the hormones inside the body to incite/stimulate the organism because they think that they will acquire spiritual experiences in this way. They think that they will become gods by themselves. It is natural for someone who is in a situation of hormonal disorders to have altered organs of feeling and perception. At Satyananda’s ashram in India, one Englishman, Tony, who had been doing Kriya Yoga for two years told me that it is like taking LSD continually. He felt a terrible energy inside him and he couldn’t sit in one place. He wanted to continuually do things and to work. He couldn’t communicate with his friends. He found them to be idle and slow. Thus, he broke away from them and became more connected with the ashram. Once, Elder Paisios told me, “The devil cannot hide completely. God doesn’t allow it. If the devil hid in some sack, a certain horn would protrude. But what does the devil do? 'What’s this,' he says, 'it isn't a horn, it's an eggplant.'" The gurus also follow this tactic. They explain these clearly bodily phenomena as spiritual experiences and as spiritual progress. They interpret the condition (which doctors consider sickness) as "draining up energy from higher centers." Egoism will flatter these people into thinking that they are more advanced; they aren't like the others. The purpose of this tactic is to make these people more attached to the gurus with the hope that they will also reveal other deeper secrets to them; higher techniques that will make them supermen, gods or whatever else they desire. Thus, the maypole of deception is weaved.

I remember going to Elder Paisios and telling him about some light that I saw when I had reached a deep meditation in Yoga. He laughed and said, “My child, we do not want to see such lights. If you press your eyes to see lights, if you suddenly get up, you will see little stars. My child these things are nonsense.” At that time, I didn’t understand, nor did I really believe his words. Years had to pass. I had to suffer in order to learn. It is very easy for someone to be tangled if he doesn’t have spiritual experiences from Christ and the Church. If he doesn’t have a criterion or a spiritual taste in order to judge or discern what it is that he's living through. Does it have a bodily/corporeal origin/source; is it a snare/toy of the senses? Does it have a spiritual origin/source? Is it as the hallucinations of a psychopath who hears voices, sees visions etc. or is it a spiritual fact or event? Even if it is a spiritual fact/event, where does it come from, Christ or the devil? (The devil has the ability to transform himself into animals, light and even an angel, as the Apostle Paul and the ascetic fathers say.)

The Yogic exercises and other similar techniques act upon the endocrine glands and bring about hormonal changes to the body. You will hear that they act upon certain centers – "chakras" (which give them mystical extensions) from where you derive energy. This is a "spiritual source/origin." Is this change without danger? Is it safe for someone to experiment and play with his body’s hormones? God (nature if you prefer) has regulated/adjusted and fixed our body in a certain way. We have a very strong, intricate equilibrium, so why do we want to change it? The smallest hormonal disorder causes serious illnesses (sterility, high blood pressure, goiter,***** diabetes, cancer). It is very dangerous. It is the opposite of what they advertise. It has a deep influence upon the body. Someone can become gravely ill; suffer a galloping form of cancer; he can go mad, ending up in a psychiatric clinic. Paul Grivas (one of my teachers at Mind Control who practiced Kriya Yoga for many years) died from cancer in New York. All the magic and all the invocations or higher consciousness that he and his disciples invoked for his sake, could not save him.

Nobody knew these things. Nobody talked about these things in the 70's. Ten years had to pass for many cases of illness to appear in order for something to start being whispered. Again, the gurus threw the burden and error on their disciples. "They didn’t do the exercise well." "They didn’t make good preparations," etc. The first cowardly questions started to occur. Afterwards, suicides compelled the gurus to start speaking about the dangers. Many people fell from the clouds, so dangers also exist.

What did Satyananda say when speaking about the techniques? “Together with this redemption from restrictions and misfortunes, from the other side, you can go mad and pass your remaining years in a psychiatric ward. Unfortunately, this has happened to some people who followed practical Yoga without guidance or, otherwise, they didn’t obey their teacher’s instructions.” That is, he throws the blame on the disciples. He puts "oil" on himself.

Since these exercises are so dangerous, why do they circulate periodicals, books, and magazines with photographs that advertise only their beneficial results without any warning about the dangers? Should we label them irresponsible and indifferent about the harm people can suffer? They are interested only about the promotion of their organization. Sometimes, they remind me of criminal profiteers who sell dangerous products for the health of men, who
advertise and project only their so called would be virtues, in order to earn money. Isn't this the same social behavior?

I will tell you how I suffered this very thing. I started to perform the exercise Surya Namaskar (Sun Salutations). I was affected by the high praises concerning these exercises. What did they say? “It is a good method of loosening all the joints of the body. It massages all the internal/esoteric organs and the body's muscles. If someone feels tired, he is able at any time of the day to perform the exercise to restore the lost vitality (physical and intellectual).” Because I had read that Yogis do twelve sets of this exercise, I also did twelve sets. After a few times, I started to feel my chest boil and rumble/gurgle. Also, I started to feel hot in all of my body. In the stupidity of 22 years year of age, I thought “the spiritual fires have opened.” I started to feel awful, and fortunately I stopped. What happened? Evidently, it was a hormonal over-excitation and nothing spiritual as I had imagined. Later, I discussed it with a swami who sympathized with me. He was very disturbed and told me not to do it again, without telling me the reason why.

Let's return to guru Satyananda to see how he justifies or excuses the madness and cancer that someone can suffer from Yoga and similar techniques: “Don't permit such a thing to happen to you. If you desire to follow the road toward true knowledge, you should have a guru that is completely familiar with this other dimension of consciousness. The teacher should know it backwards. He should have been found there. Such a guru is called a Satguru. Why reconcile with something lesser?”

The sneaky guru is indirectly self-recommended. So, for the "mishaps," according to his view, he blames the disciples or the pseudo-guru. Satyananda, however, is guaranteed a successful teacher. His disciples don’t have to fear. Yet, is this really how things are? How many disciples left from him, afraid, disappointed, discouraged and mentally insane? In the beginning, when I met the mentally insane swami (that is, an advanced Yogi teacher), I asked, “Why is he like that?" They told me, “His guru took his mind because it was an obstacle to his spiritual progress.” What can someone say? They patch up everything. They justify it all by proposing their own interpretation. They slip from thesis to thesis until they contradict themselves, justifying the unjustifiable.

Guru Satyananda says, “Many disciples/students come and tell me that from the time they did Kundalini Yoga, they have had many sexual problems. They feel a lot of guilt about this. If I wasn’t there, they would have gone mad. I tell them, '"ook here, this is simply physiological. Let it happen.'” (Teachings of Satyananda, Vol. 6, p. 397, Sept. 1989). That is to say, according to his view, the danger of someone going insane is simply physiological. For us, this view seems ridiculous.

However, these views come from the world of another tradition. Their Hinduism has twisted and perverted/corrupted minds. Hinduists consider this madness/insanity as sacred. In India, I had known a certain Brahman who boasted because he had an insane wife. What can one say? Some consider a bone passed through the nose as beauty.

Further on, Satyananda says, “Sometimes people that accept these surges of Kundalini want to eat and eat like epicureans. I tell them, 'It's completely alright.' Otherwise, they have many complexes about themselves."

In other circumstances, Satyananda said to other people, “Despite all these things, people say that the awakening of Kundalini is dangerous. Why? Naturally, a mishap/accident can happen, perhaps resulting in a psychiatric clinic for some time, but everything is a risk. Life is one long risk and it benefits man to be a daring, venturesome warrior. What will happen if you train in Kundalini Yoga and go insane? Then you will start to train and if you go crazy, then someone else will start. Eventually, we will tame Kundalini” (Yoga, 5/1981, p.8).

Wonderful! That is to say, we the disciples/students will go insane and these teachers will tame Kundalini on our backs. We are their guinea pigs. The formula reminds me of the SS doctors who performed fatal experiments with the prisoners in Nazi camps. Guru Satyananda admits that not even genuine gurus and successful teachers are excluded from this "mishap." It happens. They knew about these things. They knew that problems and trouble would appear. They know that it is dangerous. However, the students have the risk and danger, not the teacher. If something doesn’t go well, the student will pay for it, not the guru. The guru will simply understand his mistake will give the next student other guidelines. They will always find enough disciples/victims in order to do their experiments. I'm not even examining if this Kundalini (the sacred snake that sits at the edge of everyone’s spine) exists,****** or if it's still a religious conviction that can be explained in a thousand other ways.

It has never been proven if this energy truly exists. Quite simply, inside their deception, they give their own interpretations about things that could very well be explained differently by a scientist, or a saint, or a Muslim, or a Christian. It is a matter of an arbitrary metaphysical explanation. They adapt the events to their theory. They adapt the effects/results to their metaphysical belief. They operate like the bed of Procrustes.

The scientific method is different. When the experiment or experience doesn’t agree with the theory, then the theory is rejected and not reality. But here, the matter is about a metaphysical faith that tries to exploit the validity of science. The center and nucleus of their theories is found outside the boundaries/confines of logic. It is impossible to audit with logic. It is a matter of a philosophical, religious belief. It is a matter of religious deception.

I am not examining the validity of Kundalini here; I am however examining the guru‟s stance against their fellow man, the people who have put their confidence in them and have become their disciples, who believe them about the "gods." Some of these people have dedicated their lives to the person of the guru who shows such contempt and hardness towards the disciples. He shows no respect, no love, or sympathy for the people that already went crazy in this foolish endeavor. Insanity is a very great grief. The madman aches and ceaselessly suffers in the depth of his soul and the guru offers not even one word of apology to those who went insane. Instead, the attitude they hold is: “We will continue until we tame Kundalini.” That is to say, we will continue and we will drive others insane under our enlightened guidance. It's a matter of ruthless people.

The hard and inhumane attitude of this particular guru is not only due to his own heart or character, but is an expression of a deeper and broader attitude of life. It is the perception of the Hinduist worldview that forms such personalities. He is the living example of Hinduism. One more interesting piece of news from the newspapers:

“In February, 1988, Vasilis Theoropoulos (28 yrs. old) was found hung outside the gate of Satyananda Ashram in Paiania, Attica. He was a follower of the movement for two years. The people in charge of the center threw him out wretchedly and miserably because according to their assertion, he showed symptoms of manic depression. Yesterday morning, an anonymous person – evidently from the site of the ashram, called the police in Koropi and announced the death of a certain acquaintance.” (Auge Feb. 18, 1988)

This is one of the guru's mishaps. How many other secret accidents occur that we don't even know about? I add here the confession of Theodora Kateloozou (without annotations) that was published in the newspaper Orthodox Typos, 1976:

“Because I strenuously trained in Maharishi's system for over two years, I can say with all sincerity and responsibility that the relaxation of meditation is an Indian style passivity that paralyses your every power of resistance and struggling in life. However, it's very far from true serenity/calm and psychic/mental euphoria. With Maharishi's technique, and all other related Hinduist, Buddhist, etc. techniques,the person is self-hypnotized and slowly loses all will-power and initiative. It is a brainwashing that is undergone gradually, notably when the person knows Maharishi and finally becomes another voice without personality. Personally, it did me much mental harm because I could neither concentrate nor read and I had also lost my energy. Since the time that I stopped meditating, I was able to continue my studies. We also had very dangerous cases (of an epidemic) with Maharishi's system. One young man practiced TM (Transcendental Meditation) and committed suicide while he attended a seminar of Maharashi's in Magiorka. Another person completely lost his voice. Some Greek captain showed many mental disorders and they locked him up in a psychiatric clinic. I saw many kids with my own eyes who started to make spastic movements and gestures. They also showed other different symptoms that were outside of their control."

We suffer and learn. We pay the exact price. I hope that you read and learn without having to suffer. Let‟s proceed to the third point, which in my view, is the most dangerous: their fold of techniques. Usually when someone performs these exercises, he is told to concentrate his mind on some specific spot of the body. It is a different spot for every exercise. Simultaneously, he is to think of or say some phrase or sound with the mouth, a mantra.

What are these mantras? The beginners don't know. They refer to some of the many deities in Hinduism; either the "god"‟ Siva, or Krishna, or Kali, or Vishnu, or the sacred syllable OM, etc. They are invocations or doxologies to idolatrous deities. The worship of these "gods" is imposed by the Vedas.

The first command of the Ten Commandments which God gave through the Prophet Moses on Mount Sinai says: “I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods beside Me. Thou shalt not make to thyself an idol, nor likeness of anything, whatever things are in the heaven above, and whatever are in the earth beneath, and whatever are in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down to them, nor serve them, for I am the Lord thy God” (Exodus 20:1-5).

God forbade people to make and worship idols and simultaneously, He proclaimed that there is no other god except Him.

Later, through the Prophet and King David, God proclaimed, “For all the gods of the nations are demons” (Ps. 45:5). “The idols of the nations are the works of the hands of men” (Ps. 113:12). The evangelist John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, says, “Little children guard yourselves from the idols. Amen” (1 Jn. 5:21).

Of course, ancient idolatry never ceased to exist in India. The Apostle Thomas went and preached in India and he established the Church that exists to this day. However, today the bulk of the population are idolaters. Parallel with the Yoga exercises (in order to become better and have more powerful results) they have you invoke the names of idolatrous deities by saying a certain mantra (i.e. Hari, OM, Hari Krishna, or OM nama Sivaya, etc.). This results in the withdrawal of Divine Grace. We also deny Christ in this way, by transgressing the first commandment. The withdrawal of Divine Grace leaves the field open to the devil who finds us less protected and we give him rights. Then the devil starts his planning. He mainly creates various supernatural phenomenons through the imagination which have the aim to enchant us, and draw us deeper inside the deception, far away from Christ, to the worship of idols and eventually to the unfeigned, undisguised worship of Satan.

If this isn't a sideways, indirect entrance into idolatry and the denial and transgression of God's laws, then what is it?

The greatest danger of Yoga starts from here because the most important thing is at stake: the right knowledge about God. If someone fails in this subject, he fails in everything; everything is wrong afterwards. For this reason, the Prophets preached and Christ was crucified in order for us to gain eternal life: “And this is the eternal life, that they may be knowing thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom thou didst send forth” (John 17:3).


* Endocrine gland: One of several ductless glands, whose secretions released directly into the blood or lymph, having critical importance in many phases of physiological activity.

** Thyroid gland: An endocrine gland situated in front of and on each side of the trachea. It screens thyroxin and is important in the regulation of metabolism and body growth.

*** Adrenal gland: One of a pair of small ductless glands situated on the kidneys of most vertebrates, in man secreting epinephrine and cortin; also called the suprarenal gland (epinephrine = the active principle of the medullar portion of the adrenal glands CaH1303N, used as a heart stimulant; also called adrenaline).

**** Pancreas: a large gland situated behind the lower part of the stomach secreting digestive enzymes into the duodenum and producing insulin.

***** Goiter: any abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, visible as a swelling in the front of the neck.

****** Kundalini: According to Hinduist teaching, Kundalini is a hidden energy at the base of every human being's spine. The purpose of the Yogic techniques is to awaken the sacred snake of Kundalini in order for man to acquire illumination-deification, to reach Samadhi.