Jesus wouldn’t do that.

Via Michelle Margaret Fajkus
on Nov 11, 2010
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Note: This article was inspired by my recent blog about John Lennon and the subsequent comments made by a Christian reader.

Authentic yoga is an innately spiritual practice, a prayer in motion..

Religion involves ritualistic, organized worship a deity or a gaggle of deities.

Yoga has no requisite god.

The fact that yoga grew up intertwined with Hinduism in ancient India leads some to believe that it is a religion. Though yoga shares similarities with Tao and other Eastern thought, it is its own unique science. Religious believers and non-believers alike can freely practice yoga without risking damnation of any kind.

At this point on my personal spiritual path, it is not helpful for me to believe or disbelieve in God.

Over the past decade, I’ve deepened my practice by becoming a spiritual seeker, yoga and mindfulness teacher, creative writer. I’ve thought lots about Jesus, his teachings and his divinity or lack thereof. I’ve ruminated about atheism.

My mom is devoutly Catholic and my dad is open-minded. I wore a frilly white dress for first holy communion. I refused Confession at age 10, because I didn’t think I needed to tell my sins to a priest. I’ve visited a variety of congregations over the years. Southern Baptist. Disciples of Christ. Unity Church.

Dating a fundamentalist Christian several years ago led me to question every aspect of my belief system. It, among other things, also led me to a total nervous breakdown for ten days in 2005. (But that’s another story.)

I learned a bit of Judaism by teaching Sunday School at a heretical Unitarian Universalist church in Austin. I made pilgrimages to Barsana Dham, a Hindu temple in central Texas and meditated on Hare Krishna. I practiced zazen and Vipassana at silent Buddhist meditation retreats in California, Texas, India. I’ve dabbled in every major religion except Islam.

I learned that, for Christian Fundamentalists, the Bible is without a single error and is read as a book of history, law and faith. If you ask me, when Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life,” he did not mean, “I am the ONLY way.”

Obviously, we don’t know exactly what Jesus said. The Bible is an ancient document that has been translated many times over. We can only feel for ourselves which of his teachings resonate most deeply in our own lives, moment to moment. It is through this common bond, love of Jesus, that liberal and conservative Christians can live together in harmony.

I am not Christian by definition, but I do love Jesus.

I do not practice Catholicism, but I have a tattoo of Mother Mary (the Virgin of Guadalupe) hovering over my left shoulder and a Buddha on my right. I go to extremes; I strive for the middle way.

I am not religious, and I have morals.

Just because I don’t believe in the Bible literally doesn’t mean I will murder, slander and cheat at the first opportunity. I’m not an atheist, though I tried to be. I read The God Delusion. According to smarmy, smart Richard Dawkins, “Faith (belief without evidence) is a virtue. The more your beliefs defy the evidence, the more virtuous you are. There are some weird things (such as the Trinity) that we are not meant to understand. Don’t even try to understand one of these, for the attempt might destroy it. Learn how to gain fulfillment in calling it a mystery.”

The existence of God is unknowable. And irrelevant, if you think about it.

I have faith in nature. In the sun rising and setting. I salute the sun and contort my body into ancient yoga poses from India. Does that mean I am worshiping Hindu gods? Does it mean I’m damned to hell? I worship false idols; John Lennon was right, the Beatles are bigger than Jesus. Words are just fingers pointing at the moon.

Concepts are constantly oversimplified. The universe is paradoxical.

What matters to me is living in the present with compassion. “My religion is kindness,” as the Dalai Lama says. Jesus is God as much as every living being is God. (Most of us are not a whole lot like Jesus though. He was enlightened; we are still seekers on the path.) Buddha attained enlightenment, just as each of us could, with practice and perseverance.

My disdain for fundamentalist Christianity (fundamentalist anything, really) reminds me of what I love about yoga and Buddhism.

No dogma. Just experience.

The truth in the breath, in the present moment, in learning to quit beating ourselves up — because we are not broken, sinful, lowly beings, we are children of the universe, with hearts like Jesus, regardless of whether we have “accepted Jesus” into our hearts. We are perfect in our imperfections. We are all on the path to balance, peace and enlightenment in our own ways. Religious or not, these beliefs continue to sustain me.


About Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a Gemini yogini, writer, teacher and retreat leader who founded Yoga Freedom in 2002 in Austin, Texas. Her home since 2012 is Lake Atitlán, Guatemala where she lives in a tiny eco cabin with her Colombiano partner and their adorable daughter, dog and two gatos. Michelle has been writing this column for elephant journal since 2010 and has written some inspiring books, with more on the way. She leads yoga and mindfulness retreats and serves as the retreat managers for the stunningly beautiful Villa Sumaya on majestic Lago Atitlan. Her lineage is the very esoteric Yoga Schmoga, which incorporates hatha yoga asana, dharma (Buddhist) teachings, pranayama (breath work), yin yoga, mindfulness practices and meditation. Join Michelle on retreat in Guatemala!


21 Responses to “Jesus wouldn’t do that.”

  1. Mary says:

    Good to know that there are others out there who share this view. Thank you, from a fellow yogi and child of the universe.

  2. Roger Wolsey says:

    Nice work Michelle! You may enjoy two blogs I wrote for Elephant:

    your fellow Jesus lover,


  3. Roger Wolsey says:

    One thing that Jesus would have us not do is judge others. While I could quibble with Michelle's equivocating Christianity and Buddhism and Salvation with Enlightenment, etc. I've learned that such quibbling isn't really worth very much. Better to affirm the light and love. Yoga may not offer an eternal gift, but it sure helps with my low back issues and it sure makes me feel better. God bless Michelle, God bless Erma, God bless yoga. Namaste and Amen y'all.

  4. candicegarrett says:

    Monique, there are a great many people who believe, falsely, that yoga came from warriors. Like some hindu/indian form of karate? LOL

  5. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Thank you for your kind comment, Mary! It is always so wonderful to discover likeminded people. Namaste, Michelle

  6. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Thanks for sharing your related article, Roger! It's always heartwarming for me to know there are some open-minded, compassionate Christians out there (ministers even)!

  7. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Thank you for your kind comment! I appreciate it! Namaste, Michelle

  8. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Thanks, Roger! I appreciate your honesty and openness. Namaste, Michelle

  9. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Thanks, Monique. Sing it sister! I couldn't have said it better. Namaste, Michelle

  10. Hi, Michelle. Great blog.

    We've dealt with this issue of the nature of God rather extensively in our Gita discussions. Most recently, see my exchange with YogaforCynics in the comments to Gita in a Nutshell #1: Live and Act with Love and Purpose. This coming Wednesday's Gita in a Nutshell #2 will be about the passages in the Gita dealing with the nature of God.

    Bob W.

  11. I don't know, Candice. You know of course that our hero of the Gita, Arjuna, was quite the warrior…

    Bob W.

  12. candicegarrett says:

    yes of course, Bob! But I don't equate yoga with a practice based on war. What are your thoughts about the comment about yoga "leaving death and destruction" in its wake?

  13. candicegarrett says:

    yoga is not about stretching but about self inquiry. Do you know so little about yoga and it's philosophies? Are you familiar with the 8 limbs of yoga (of which asana, or postures, are only one part?) What say you about karma yoga (the yoga of service) or bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion to god) or the yamas and niyamas (similar to your 10 commandments, but better entailed) or about meditation?

  14. I'm not sure I'm even interested enough in that to even click on the link. The karate comparison must be about asana, and there's not even any record of much asana being done back then. It's non-existent in the Gita, so that can't be the source, and minimal in the Yoga Sutra.

  15. candicegarrett says:

    ha ha! and here here! Asana in those days, was, um lotus? meditation? Definately not as we know it today…

    I don't mind people using yoga to "get fit" or yoga to "be sexy" or yoga in the gym or yoga in "XYZ" style. But I do mind falsity and elitism and misconstruing the truth to make a buck …

    Yoga is truth, yoga is for all.

  16. yogafreedomfoundation says:

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful comment. Yeah, Dawkins is a fundamentalist atheist for sure. I wish we could all just find the middle way. Our society seems more and more polarized all the time. Namaste, Michelle

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