Orthodox Judaism Vs. Kundalini Yoga

In some ways, these two spiritual paths compliment each other. In other ways, they conflict.

I have been studying and practicing Judaism for 20 years. I have been practicing Kundalini Yoga for two months.

Here are the most significant differences as I understand these two paths:

* Judaism is obsessed with hating evil. As the Torah commands, "You shall burn the evil out of your midst." There’s no such equivalent in Kundalini that I’ve seen. Hatred is a dirty word in Kundalini. You are supposed to cultivate a detached point of view on life. As best as I can tell, Kundalini advocates pacifism, which Judaism regards as immoral (the Torah commands that you shall not stand by while the blood of your neighbor is shed, the Torah commands capital punishment, etc).

* Judaism is obsessed with distinctions, between Jew and non-Jew, between man and God, between man and woman, between adults and children, between good and evil, between the holy and the profane, between the kosher and trafe. I’ve detected no such obsession in Kundalini.

* Judaism has a systematic system of ethics. The ethics of Kundalini, as I understand it so far, lie in developing states of being such as love and compassion.

As I practice these two paths, here is how they conflict in my life.

* For every hour I am doing yoga, I am not studying Torah nor performing its commands. I have limited time, energy and money. All the resources I give to yoga, I am not giving to Judaism.

* I hear a lot of things in Kundalini that go against what Judaism teaches. For instance, I’ve heard that "I am God." Judaism separates God and man. God can never become man.

Kundalini complements my Judaism in that Judaism has no system for exercise and stretching (I’ve heard about Jewish meditation but don’t know much about it, I have tried some Jewish yoga and it is cool). The yoga center is a far happier, more joyful place than shul. The women are prettier and nicer. Yogi tea tastes better. The idols look cool. Yogi chicks are more flexible than the average shul chick.

By doing yoga, I am a happier person and I feel more flexible for dealing with the winds of life. Yoga makes me a more pleasant person to be around, whether I am in shul or not. Yoga gives me more energy so I can study Torah and perform God’s commandments. Yoga is a diversion from the beit midrash (House of Study) so I can return to the sacred text feeling rejuvenated.

A friend writes: “Based on the yoga sutras of Patanjali (a very holy and amazing thing to study from over 2,000 years ago) and The Bhagavad Gita, the yoga philosophy is that our true self is divine but there is also “Brahman” Who is the outside God. So essentially we are like little pieces of God. It can be equated to our highest self, our best self, our most holy self, but that doesn’t conflict with believing in a Supreme God.”

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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