All tagged Francis Clooney
As I’ve been editing and posting Father Clooney’s reflections on Lent and the Yoga Sutras for the past few weeks, I’ve been struck--again--by how much the practice of yoga prepares the body for prayer and meditation, for being still before God.
Fr. Clooney's Yoga and Lent series concludes with a Holy Saturday reflection on samadhi (a state of concentration) alongside Jesus' death and resurrection.
When Patanjali writes of “holding” and “meditating,” he turns out to be offering us a gift, first regarding the practice – we learn to be moral, detached, to sit, breath, let go, attend, hold our gaze, just there – and then regarding the inner states of contemplation to which we aspire as Christians.
We might consider that an excellent Lenten practice, even for its last weeks, would be to sit, and breathe, and let that breathing dispel illusions about what and who we are.
Lent is in part about stepping away from ordinary concerns. Jesus said, “There is need of only one thing” (Luke 10.41), and these Lenten reflections are dedicated to that proposition.
Fr. Clooney shares a discussion on the 8 limbs of yoga and how they may be incorporated into our Lenten observances.
In comparing the words of the Apostle Paul and the Sutras, Fr. Clooney suggests "that we put aside the competitive angle in all this, and presuppose for now that Christ and yoga are not at odds. Yoga need not threaten or diminish what Christ does in us."
This section of the Sutras may beneficially remind us that that what may be required is a sober, steady gaze at the mass of afflictions that beset the Church today — the problem of our loud words and clumsy deeds, particularly at the top.
It is Lent once more, and as I’ve often done in the past, I will take up a theme that I will return to every now and then between now and Easter. ... This time I will focus on what the Yoga Sutras ask us to do...
The final question I wish to address has to do with the end of the two texts: if a person practices yoga as understood by Patañjali, or meditation as taught by Ignatius, and if she or he reaches a fairly advanced state (by effort, by grace) — then what kind of person is this, and how does she or he live? Do Ignatius and Patañjali produce very different kinds of persons?
When the object of our meditation alone illumines us...
One of the things that most attracts people to yoga, I think, is that it is wholesome, challenging, and able to bring a deep sense of well-being to body, mind, and spirit — all without seeming to impose an alien worship on the practitioner. Even in the ancient Indian traditions, and certainly now in America, it has always seemed possible to practice yoga and at the same time maintain, even deepen, our original and continuing faith commitments. But at the same time, this very point is a source of worry for others, since yoga seems blithely unconcerned about matters of religion: as if its energies were elsewhere, making religious commitment seem not so much a problem, as simply optional. If yoga is a powerful religious system, shouldn’t it conflict in a more direct way with Christian commitment? Or are we missing something?
Yoga is extremely supple in its ability to take on various rationales -- nondualist, devotional, health-oriented, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. -- and my impression is that even expert teachers of disciplined yoga practice are rather fluid -- sometimes unhelpfully vague -- in their explanations as to what it is all for. The Sutras help pin down a succinct attitude toward the practice and its purpose.