Is Yoga to Hinduism as English to Catholicism?

It was not too many generations ago in Singapore when immigrant parents from China viewed the English language with great suspicion. It was the language which promised a better future for their offspring, perhaps a chance at a white collared career so difficult to come by in those days, but it was also the language taught largely by Catholic nuns and missionaries. Of course, the price of learning English in those days was having to grace before meals and various Catholic rituals frowned upon by the Chinese.

Likewise, yoga is often viewed with a fair amount of suspicion as a vehicle for Hinduism. It is a practice that promises a better body and better health, and perhaps even spiritual awakening. However, since it was brought into Western knowledge and popularized by Hindu monks, it could be difficult to express yoga without the context of Hinduism. However, the existentialist mysteries of life, and death and everything in between that yoga seeks to elucidate are not very different from those that plague philosophers from ancient Greece to China.

Abstract concepts such as duality and existentialism are as difficult to grasp today as they were eons ago. Due respect should be paid to the brave souls who thought enough of these concepts that they sought to share them, even beyond language and cultural barriers. At this moment, as I write about simple ideas, my thoughts and how I word them are really a construct of every experience that has brought me to this point today, and so it was for the Catholic nuns and Hindu monks explaining explaining concepts, both philosophical and divine. The message could be exactly the same – there is one, unchanging absolute truth, and the truth could exist within us, except for that the world has come in between. The rest of the story depends on which world we were brought up in.