Friday, July 29, 2011

Yoga, Mindfulness and Awakening

The ancient Buddhist scriptures were translated into English when Buddhism was transferred to the Western world. The Pali word sati, for example, was translated into mindfulness. However, not only the sound of the word changed in the translation, even the meaning changed.

Yoga is another example of an Indian word which got a new meaning when it was transplanted in the West. Bodhi (awakening) is a third example.

Things change, words change, new interpretations arise. This is not necessarily something bad. Sometimes new viable cross-fertilizations are created in new environments.

Christianity has changed dramatically through history and so have Buddhism, Advaita-Vedanta, Islam and Judaism. Everything is constantly changing. Sometimes crazy interpretation arises, sometimes interesting new approaches are found. The thinking mind is never at rest.

Yoga was originally not a method to loose weight or getting a tighter butt. Mindfulness was originally not a method for stress reduction or a way to improve work performance. And it was certainly not a way to get better sex. Awakening and glimpses of other ways to perceive reality were not synonymous in the ancient Buddhist scriptures.

The original Christianity had no right-wing political agenda. Advaita-Vedanta was originally only for men from the Brahmin cast. To hire a certified awakening coach in order to wake up is a modern concept.

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