Do I Recognize Jesus Christ as My Savior? ~ Jasmine Gill

Via on Sep 17, 2011
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Photo: rowanf

About mid-way through our short flight, the woman next to me said something. “Excuse me?” I asked as I pulled out an ear bud. She didn’t realize I was listening to music. She suddenly asks “do you recognize Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?”

I sat down in the middle seat next to my boyfriend, excited that we had been moved into the exit aisle of the plane since they originally had a 90 year woman sitting there (she was not up for the responsibility). Free upgrade! I was free of the corporate dominion and off for a long weekend in the mountains. I could feel the woman to my right eying us, seeking a way to start a conversation. After making the usual small talk with her (where are you from, what part of town do you live in), we settled into our seats. Headphones in my ears and a book in hand I was content.

About mid-way through our short flight, the woman next to me said something. “Excuse me?” I asked as I pulled out an ear bud. She didn’t realize I was listening to music. She suddenly asks “do you recognize Jesus Christ as your lord and savior?” I was stunned for a moment despite the fact that this was not the first time I had been asked this question by a total stranger. After recovering from the slight bit of shock I simply looked at her and said “I don’t think that is an appropriate question to ask a stranger on a plane.” She quietly said sorry and ran off to the bathroom as I went back to my music and book.

My reaction to this woman replayed. I went through all the typical mental chatter. Judgment—I can’t believe she just asked me that? Worry—Did I overreact? Did I hurt her feelings? Mental replay—Is she really crazy? We had a good laugh as I repeated the story later to my boyfriend at the irony of this woman choosing to ask me of all people this question. I have never believed in organized religion and do not think I ever will.

Perhaps it was simply a matter of coincidence as I did happen to just get seated next to her. Perhaps it was more than that, the perfect opportunity for me to get insight into some things I need to work on from the universe’s delightful way of bringing the right people together in random circumstances. In those moments of my mental chatter I was definitely judging this woman (and then judging myself for judging her—the maddening cycle).

Belief
Photo: Steve Rhodes

The interaction led me to one solid question: How were my “beliefs” and systems as a yoga practitioner that different than hers? Were they at all?

Now before I take this story in the direction I’m heading allow me to place a careful caveat to prevent any misunderstandings of my intentions. I do not consider yoga as a “religion” defined in the traditional sense. I understand there are a myriad of differences that quite frankly are too long and extensive to go into at this point in time. That is not the point of this article. My purpose is not to initiate a discussion of whether people should follow organized religion nor any commentaries pertaining to that although I realize there is a chance of those who have stopped reading and possibly skipped straight to the comments. So let us continue…

How many times had I talked to someone about the practice of yoga and stated they should go to a class? How many times have I realized how attached to my practice I was because of how it has benefited me? How many relatives and friends have I said the phrase “do yoga” when they were complaining about some ailment?  Anyone who knows me knows I instantly get engaged in conversation when yoga comes in, a light turns on.

How many times has that woman talked to someone about her religion and stated they should go to church? How many times has she been so attached to Jesus as her lord and savior because it had benefited her? How many relatives and friends has she stated to pray (or prayed for someone) when they were experiencing some ailment? I am quite certain if I had answered yes to her question on the plane she would have certainly been incredibly engaged in a conversation about Jesus if I were open to it.

Was I really so different from this woman?

Photo: w00tpwnage.com

Sure, we have probably had very different life experiences, at least our religious beliefs certainly were.  We were on different paths up and I am certain that if you were to break down to the core the reasons why we even subscribed to any of our beliefs in the first place the reasons were probably very similar. We could debate about the differences for all of eternity. As much as I tried to separate myself from her, immediately dismissing her question as being inappropriate thereby dismissing her, I kept arriving at the same conclusion.

If there is anything I have learned over and over from all of my classes, workshops, teacher trainings, meditation, self-inquiries and time spent on my mat it is this: There is a source of energy that causes the electrical pulse in our heart, our lungs to fill with air and the neural pathways to connect and it comes from the same source for all of us. All the other perceived differences between us are matters of circumstances, facts, and the most dividing of all – mental constructs. This will be true for every single person (and in my opinion every being) you will ever meet, whether you like them or not, whether you agree with them or not, whether you respect them or not.

Ask yourself “how would I have reacted?”

It is very easy to cultivate compassion and be easy going as long as everyone around you thinks and behaves the same way as you do. What happens when they don’t? It is through this type of mental inquiry and recognition of hypocrisy that we can begin to see how there are individuals with unlimited oceans of compassion and understanding. If you are anything like me you must be reminded of this capability, sometimes by a complete stranger.

Therefore woman on the plane who asked me if I recognize Jesus Christ as my lord and Savior? If you were to ask me again my response would be “no I do not but genuinely respect the fact that you do.” I may even ask “have you ever tried yoga?”

Again I re-iterate. If you comment please have it be from a place of understanding and mutual respect.

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Jasmine Gill has been practicing yoga for about 8 years, although only “seriously” practicing for the past two years. She attended teacher training for 200 hour Prana Flow Certification in 2010 and recognizes that the teacher training was just the beginning of a lifelong of learning and practicing. She currently lives in Tampa, FL however dreams of living in Boulder, Colorado one day.

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35 Responses to “Do I Recognize Jesus Christ as My Savior? ~ Jasmine Gill”

  1. yogiclarebear says:

    Jasmine your awareness is awesome. What a great article. Shared to Elephant Spirituality Facebook.

    • Jasmine Gill says:

      Thank you. Awareness is of course a never ending practice that can be more difficult to sustain than any asana out there!

  2. MojaveMama says:

    Lovely essay! And I totally agree with your new response of, "No, I do not, but I genuinely respect the fact that you do." I think I'm going to swipe that one.

  3. Prasad Rangnekar says:

    Dear jasmine , beautiful article and such honest reflection, truly inspirational, Thank you

  4. bodhidude says:

    Way to go with your realization, pushing our beliefs onto others is the same process no matter what those beliefs are and it blocks the true perception of the other person so its good to be able to see that at work to create space to see beyond it…

    • Jasmine Gill says:

      Yes exactly! Recognizing the hypocrisy in ourselves can sometimes be a tough pill to swallow but it's a necessary part of the process of just being a human being.

  5. Roger Wolsey Roger Wolsey says:

    "Airplaneasana."

    Thank you.
    Amen and Namaste.

    • Jasmine Gill says:

      I love it! That SHOULD have been the title of the article (oh there I go using that dirty word should but I just couldn't help myself). Amen and Namaste Roger.

  6. Redden says:

    Pushing her beliefs on others is the cornerstone of that women's belief with a long history of using violence in the process. I would hope that is where the two belief systems diverge sharply.

  7. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  8. __MikeG__ says:

    I believe the authors original response was honest and truthful. IMO, there can be no compassion without truthfulness. And compassion for people does not mean one gives up the right to be offended by inconsiderate behavior. My answer would have been "I do not believe in magic". Why? Because that would have been a truthful answer.

    Why the all the hand wringing about the judgement you felt? Without judgement no one can be for or against anything. If you think murder, rape or rude questions posed by annoying people on airplanes are all wrong behaviors, then you have used your judgement to come to that conclusion. You can't be for compassion or against rape without the ability to judge the merits of those two behaviors.

    • Jasmine Gill says:

      Thanks Mike. I agree about your statement that truthfulness (also known of Satya from the eight limbs of yoga) is of course important. However there must be consideration given to what others do believe in. While your answer that you do not believe in magic may have been the most truthful answer you could give, it may have also caused unnecessary harm and conflict. It is certainly a difficult balancing act that I am still working on.

      Judgement will always be a part of our every day life, we have to make decisions all day. My main cause of reflection came from the fact that I automatically went straight to the differences that I may have with this particular woman in theory instead of identifying with what ties us together as human beings. Upon reflection I realized that while there are certain ways we differed and probably would never agree, our similarities were greater and where I should focus my energy on.

      • __MikeG__ says:

        Fair enough. Making good decisions should be a self correcting activity. I think it is great that you want to focus on the positive.

  9. MM Perusse says:

    "In those moments of my mental chatter I was definitely judging this woman (and then judging myself for judging her—the maddening cycle)." That was one of my favorite parts of your article, one I can relate to whole-heartedly. When in this position, even from door to door proselytizers, when they ask me that question I find it easier to just say, "Yes, I do believe with my heart." This creates a positive reaction and usually a smile and then they tend to move on because I am already "saved". This may seem deceitful but at one time I did believe this way, the belief has just morphed into one of universal connection, to me it is the same thing, just not as judgemental. I loved this article and thank you for writing it.

    • Jasmine Gill says:

      Thank you MM Perusse for your comment. I think at the end of the day people are just looking for others to identify with and feel human with. Your way of responding certainly still allows this to occur without engaging in conflict or betraying your own beliefs, which is quite beautiful.

  10. Shannon says:

    Great post! Compassion and understanding are the keys! We cannot bridge the gap and cross the divide with our defenses up…we must be able to SEE the other person fully, accept the other person fully and then communication can begin.

  11. Lori says:

    Love, love, love this article! :) Thanks for sharing it with me :) Blessings & Namaste~

  12. Tom Pedersen says:

    Beliefs are great crutches to stabilize the continuous potential of chaos with the absence of conceptual understanding is not present. A belief is a mindset, a window of view and the fixed set of constructed data that is designed as a crutch, a fortress and building block.
    It is a collection of stable data in a sea of motion, essential for a reference when the motion is not desirable. Conceptual understanding, that level of knowing which requires no consultation of memory or of the mind will replace beliefs. That type of understanding is in continual "never not broken" evolving, not fixed.
    Some will foist their beliefs upon others to fortify their own shaky confidence in it and others will be genuinely caring by offering up their discussion of a belief in the attempt to better another.
    The issue so eloquently put by Jasmine Gill in her article is that such beliefs and whole systems of beliefs are what divide us (among other mental constructs) as spiritual beings utilizing the power of our own minds against us. Busywork is created just by the actions, think and judge.
    Know that a person has his own mind to deal with and it is supposed to assist him in this thing called survival. Vested interests who wish to see people less capable will use beliefs systems against others for their own ill purposes or agenda's.
    Divide and conquer is the basis and "different beliefs" do not make spiritual beings different from one another, unless we "believe" they do.

  13. Jasmine Gill says:

    Absolutely agree with you Brooke. There are definitely appropriate times and places for the discussion the woman on the plane was attempting to start to happen. Not everyone has the discernment for these times nor the respect of boundaries the response can still happen with grace and integrity. Happy sunday!

  14. Jasmine Gill says:

    Thank you Tom for this beautiful response. While it was not the main point of the article you bring up a realm of thought that I have been recently exploring in the practice to remain present. Our beliefs are essentially summed up points resulting from our memories and experiences. While memories are vital for our survival (i.e. do not touch the stove when it is on or you will get burned) the recycling of our memories keeps us living in the past instead of allowing us to exist completely in present time and react with our own natural intelligence as opposed to our patterns and habits.

  15. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the Elephant Yoga homepage.

  16. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    a possible comeback – i haven't but i know that xenu will beam me up to the mothership after i clear all the enneagrams that suck my negative energy, so good luck with your jesus, my xenu is much more ancient and powerful!

    OR oh goodness, i know you mean well, but i have given my life to thor – and that's the only reason this plane is still in the air and hasn't been struck by lightning!

    OR actually i have heard only atheists go to heaven, religious people tend to be too hypocritical and judgmental… so i am just trying to keep my side of the street clean.

    OR have you accepted the fact that your imaginary friend cannot save you from the mortal destiny that awaits every living organism?

    OR now, what's a nice all american girl like you doing messing with an ancient palestinian mythology?

    given these options, i think your original response was quite appropriate and honest!

  17. Julian Walker yogijulian says:

    you don't believe in any kind of organized religion but you think 'the universe" somehow "brings people together" in some non-random intentional way to help us learn "lessons?" hmmmm… familiar but oh so fishy! :)

  18. [...] is no need to dis-empower ourselves by looking for saviors. We are the ones we have been waiting for, as the saying goes. Instead of looking externally for [...]

  19. yogadivina says:

    Right on. I agree with you on this.
    I am asked way to often about my faith in Jesus and in God. My answer is now, "No, My God has been around longer than the story of Christ. My faith in God requires no messenger, I am a direct path with my God. Thank you." (insert smile)
    The look is I get back is a long blank or confused stare. Then it might be followed up with a, "but" or a "so you DONT believe in God?"
    And again I reply, "My God has been around longer than the story of Christ. My faith in God requires no messenger, I am a direct path with my God. Thank you." (and insert smile.)
    And life is fantastic.

    Great article! Thnxs!

  20. Jasmine Gill says:

    Thanks Jenny for the comment. I definitely laughed when you stated " I don't seek out ppl to say, "do you recognize being a raw food vegan and yogini as your savior, saving you the hell of ill health …." While I understand where you are coming from in your statements (and even in this particular instance had mental thoughts of "I cannot believe the nerve this woman has to ask like that") reflection on this interaction along with my practice has recently begun to change my perspective.

    There will always be people who believe in things that we do not support to the very core of our hearts. There may be actions we can take to ensure our own fundamental rights as human beings are protected and most certainly should. However, others beliefs will oftentimes be a realm where at the end of the day the only way to prevent even further violence against one another is simple, humbling respectful acknowledgment and acceptance.

    While this particular woman certainly could have approached her conversation with me in a much more compassionate way, the fact that she didn't did not give me right to discount her as a human being, which is what I felt I was doing in my own internal reaction immediately following.

  21. Jasmine Gill says:

    Thanks yogadivina for the response. Life is fantastic, isn't it?

  22. Jasmine Gill says:

    Thanks Thaddeus and Redden for your comments. To clarify – the woman's simple act of asking the question was not necessarily an act of violence in itself but my ego's perception of it at the time was that is was one (and subsequently I responded in what I perceive to be a subtly violent manner as well). One of my main points, although this might not be explicitly stated, it to stop the cycle right in its path.

  23. __MikeG__ says:

    I'm on board with you comment about firm boundaries. Being nice doesn't mean one has to accept poor behavior in others.

    And you reminded me of an old story about a man with a magical watch who stopped time while riding the train to hell so he could spend eternity with all the fun people.

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