Yoga and the Heart

10 Feb

Courses in Yoga, Zen meditation, even extensive studies in religious studies and spirituality can never free people enough to open their hearts to God and His love, Pope° Francis said at Mass° on January 9th 2015. Only the Holy Spirit° can ‘move the heart’ and make it ‘docile to the Lord and to the freedom of love,’ the Pope said at the morning homily°. ‘Catechism°, Yoga°, Zen°,’ the Pope told those attending the service, ‘cannot open people’s hearts to God.’

L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper that regularly reports on the Pope’s spontaneous messages at his daily Mass celebration at Domus Sanctae Marthae°, where the Pope resides, is quick to pick up on the themes that this people-friendly Pope touches on. At this talk the Pope looked at how Christ’s disciples could fail to recognize and be open to His miracles, like his walking on water, the multiplication of the loaves and encountering Him on the road to Emmaus.’ They were the apostles, those closest to Him and yet they still didn’t realize who He reallywas,’ the Pope said. ‘It was because their hearts had been hardened….’

‘But how does a heart harden? How is it possible with these people who were always with Christ, every day, who listened to him, saw him … and their heart was hardened?’ The Pope said he had asked his secretary why he thought people’s hearts become so closed and cold. Together they came
up with a number of probable reasons that often affect many people in life.

The Pope thought that painful and difficult experiences can cause people to harden their hearts because they do not want to be vulnerable to ‘another ordeal’ or be disillusioned once again. He referred to a saying in Argentina°: ‘If a person gets burned by milk, he will cry whenever he sees a cow.’ This, the Pope believed, expresses the idea of becoming fearful after a painful experience.

‘Pride, vanity, smugness and a sense of superiority can also lead people to become closed up,’ he said. ‘Religious narcissists,’ he added, ‘also have hard hearts because they shut them up. They are not open, and they try to defend themselves within these walls they build up around them.’

‘Insecurity causes people to look for things to grab onto to feel secure,’ he said, ‘like the Pharisees and Sadducees who were so attached to the letter of the law. These people may feel safe and secure,’ the Pope explained, ‘but really they are trapped in a jail cell behind bars. It is a security without freedom. It was precisely this freedom that Christ came to bring humanity.’

‘When the heart is hardened, it is not free and if it is not free it is because it does not love,’ he said.
‘God’s perfect love crushes fear,’ he explained, ‘because in love there is no fear because fear assumes punishment and whoever is afraid is not perfect in love. Such a person is not free. He is always afraid that something painful or sad will happen.’

‘The problem with a heart that lacks love is that it has not learned how to love,’ he said.
‘So, who then will teach us to love? Who will free us from this hardness?’ he asked. ‘Only the Holy
Spirit can do that.’

‘You can take a million catechetical courses, a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in Yoga, Zen and all these things, but all of this will never be able to give you the freedom of being a child of God. It is only the Holy Spirit that moves hearts and compels people to cry out, Father, and become docile to the freedom of His love.’

–adapted by T.D’Souza from ‘Osservatore Romano’ for TRODZA

-Argentina: the Pope is from Argentina and so is familiar with Argentina’s folklore and culture..
-Catechism: the book/text that explains the beliefs of the Catholic faith.
-Domus Sanctae Marthae: the apartment/flat where the Pope chose to live. He does not live in the Papal Apartments.
-Holy Spirit: the Third Person of the Holy Trinity (in Catholic Belief).
-Homily: the talk given at Mass, which explains the Bible readings of the day.
-Mass: the function or liturgy where Catholics celebrate the most precious mystery of their faith.
-Pope: the head of the 1.2 million Catholics in the world, who resides in Rome. Francis is the present Pope.
-Yoga: in Hinduism (Indian) form of disciplined exercise that aims at physical, mental and spiritual well being.
-Zen: a Japanese form of Buddhism that concentrates on learning through meditation and intuition.


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