Is Most Rev.Thomas Dabre, former Chairman,Doctrinal Commission, a proponent of yoga?


				


					NOVEMBER 2013

 

Is Most Rev.Thomas Dabre, former Chairman,

Doctrinal Commission, a proponent of yoga?

It would appear so from the contents of his letter to the Archbishop of Goa which has come into my possession:

From: Pune Diocese
<punedioc@vsnl.com> To:
archbpgoa@gmail.com
Sent: Sat, Jul 13, 2013 at 12:37 PM

Dear Archbishop Filipe Neri 

Greetings of peace and joy. […]

I am jotting down a few points on Surya Namaskar:

1) I congratulate Goa NGOs for lodging a case against compulsory Surya Namaskar.

2a) The Surya Namaskar puts the practitioner in direct contact and relationship with the sun in its two phases, rising and setting.

b) It is supposed to re-energize the practitioner in his/her bodily faculties and organs.

c) It is believed to have healing effects on the human practitioner.

d) Being a sort of Yoga in its various postures, the Surya Namaskar puts the practitioner at ease and brings about certain balance and equilibrium in the person. It also helps in mental concentration.

e) However, the very word Surya Namaskar, which would mean salutation, bowing and veneration, is a complicated matter, because it can be construed as reverence to the sun as person or a god. As a matter of fact, many Hindus do regard the sun as a god. And this is a problematic matter.

f) People who are well versed in the Catholic faith and also in Hinduism can separate the postures from the worship of the sun god.  It is possible to regard the sun just as a cosmic force of light, energy and vitalization, but not as a person, nor a god, but just a creature of God. And there should be no difficulty in appreciating its natural powers and other elements which can be helpful which I have enumerated in 2 a, b, c and d.

g) However, can simple people make such a valid distinction and how will the Hindu regard such an exercise, namely will he not think that the Christian also believes in the divinity of the sun? Also the Catholic MAY get scandalized and disturbed, mis-construing that the Christian practitioner is recognizing the personhood and divinity of the sun, like the Hindu. 

I am citing a prayer addressed to the sun during the Surya Namaskar, for your information

13 Surya Namasakaras are practised per cycle.

In the table, the following first 12 mantras corresponds to the 12 asanas in Surya Namasakara and can also be chanted or repeated mentally during the performance of each corresponding asana.[29][30] They can also be pronounced at Pranamasana.

Salutation

1. om mitrāya namah

2. om ravaye namah

3. om sūryāya namah

4. om bhānave namah

5. om khagāya namah

6. om puṣṇe namah

7. om hiraṇya garbhāya namah

8. om marīcaye namah

9. om ādityāya namah

10. om savitre namah

11. om arkāya namah

12. om bhāskarāya namah

13. om śrīsavitṛsūryanārāyaṇāya namaḥ

 

 

 

All these are various aspects or names of the sun who is bowed to.

In particular the last invocation n.13 I bow to the sun god (Narayana) which is not acceptable to us.

I am sending the following reflections which also will be helpful to you.

I am adducing here below a few quotations from the Vatican document on eastern (non-Christian) methods of prayer in order to respond to the issue of the surya namaskar. It clear from these quotations that

1. There are some good psycho-somatic values in some non- Christian methods of prayer which can be appreciated in the light of Vatican II, the document on dialogue with other religions.

The Vatican document on eastern (non-Christian) methods of prayer candidly admits that the bodily dimension of Christian prayer and spirituality has been underplayed in some western forms of prayer.

2. These forms of prayer can put the practitioner at ease, quiet and peace.

3. These can dispose the practitioner for the authentic Christian prayer which is meditation on the Trinity, Christ and communion with the three Persons of the Trinity.

4. However, the practitioner should be trained to understand the nature of both Christian prayer and non-Christian methods. This is necessary to avoid dangers and misunderstandings.

 

My own humble comment is that the use of yoga and other non–Christian methods can be approached in two ways:

1. Conceptually these can be appreciated for their intrinsic good elements

2. Though in Hinduism every thing is connected with their philosophy and religion, these can be legitimately separated from religious beliefs and philosophy. So to adopt these does not necessarily imply acquiescence with Hindu religion or philosophy as some opponents opine.

3. However, on the level of practice and execution there can be errors and exaggerations and so there is as a rule need of proper guidance and initiation and alertness and vigilance. The Vatican document does alert us to the possible misuse and dangers involved in the use of such eastern methods.

4. Also as St. Paul says we should not shock people and scandalize them. Ecclesia in Asia too advises against scandalizing the faithful and about the need of pedagogy and preparation for such initiatives.

5. I am also inclined to think that some protagonists of such methods are over-enthusiasts and may themselves need an orthodox and authentic understanding of the Catholic prayer, spirituality, mysticism and asceticism.

Some Catholics are uncomfortable with the adoption of what is HINDU or BUDDHIST. They would make a distinction between Indian, cultural (which they may be prepared to accept) AND HINDU OR RELIGIOUS. I would opine that per se also there should be no difficulty in accepting what is religious or Hindu provided it is good and noble and compatible with the Christian faith. And this also jells with NOSTRA AETATE.

6. The text of the Vatican document does not mention YOGA
nor does it out of hand reject, condemn or ban it as is claimed by some.

I would also suggest that you Archbishop Filipe can promote and organize a catechesis on the Vatican Document (authored by Cardinal Ratzinger) on eastern methods of prayer which I feel is the need of the moment. Of course, I would be willing to offer my help if asked.

 

RELEVANT QUOTES FROM VATICAN DOCUMENT “ORATIONIS FORMAS”

The majority of the great religions which have sought union with God in prayer have also pointed out ways to achieve it. “The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is true and holy in these religions

26. Human experience shows that the position and demeanor of the body also have their influence on the recollection and dispositions of the spirit. This is a fact to which some eastern and western Christian spiritual writers have directed their attention. Their reflections, while presenting points in common with eastern non-Christian methods of meditation, avoid the exaggerations and partiality of the latter, which, however, are often recommended to people today who are not sufficiently prepared.

In prayer it is the whole man who must enter into relation with God, and so his body should also take up the position most suited to recollection.31 Such a position can in a symbolic way express the prayer itself, depending on cultures and personal sensibilities. In some aspects, Christians are today becoming more conscious of how one’s bodily posture can aid prayer.

27. Eastern Christian meditation32 has valued psychophysical symbolism, often absent in western forms of prayer. It can range from a specific bodily posture to the basic life functions, such as breathing or the beating of the heart. The exercise of the “Jesus Prayer,” for example, which adapts itself to the natural rhythm of breathing can, at least for a certain time, be of real help to many people.33 On the other hand, the eastern masters themselves have also noted that not everyone is equally suited to making use of this symbolism, since not everybody is able to pass from the material sign to the spiritual reality that is being sought.

Understood in an inadequate and incorrect way, the symbolism can even become an idol and thus an obstacle to the raising up of the spirit to God. To live out in one’s prayer the full awareness of one’s body as a symbol is even more difficult: it can degenerate into a cult of the body and can lead surreptitiously to considering all bodily sensations as spiritual experiences.

That (erroneous understandings) does not mean that genuine practices of meditation which come from the Christian East and from the great non-Christian religions, which prove attractive to the man of today who is divided and disoriented, cannot constitute a suitable means of helping the person who prays to come before God with an interior peace, even in the midst of external pressures.

 

 

Yours sincerely in Jesus Christ,

Bishop Thomas Dabre

Trust Archbishop Filipe Neri this will suffice. You are welcome to respond.

Yours sincerely in Jesus Christ,

+Thomas Dabre

 

MY COMMENTS

Orationis Formas” refers to the October 15, 1989 Vatican Document titled “LETTER TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ON SOME ASPECTS OF CHRISTIAN MEDITATION“.

 

Bishop Thomas Dabre was the Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India [CBCI] till recently.


 

Bishop Thomas Dabre chose the life and teachings of Tukaram as his doctoral research and acquired PhD degree for his thesis titled “The God Experience of Tukaram – A Study in Religious Symbolism” from the Jnana Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune, in 1979. Source: http://www.tukaram.com/english/translation/dabre/geot_c_1.htm

 

Sant Tukaram (1577–1650) was a prominent Varkari Sant and spiritual poet of the Bhakti. He is often referred to with an honorific, Sant Tukaram. Sant Tukaram was a devotee of Vitthala or Vithoba, a form of God Vishnu. –Wikipedia

 

So, Bishop Thomas Dabre did his doctoral thesis on “Saint” Tukaram, a Hindu devotee of the deity Vishnu.

This background often reflects in the bishop’s writings and talks.

As more seminarians and priests study Hinduism, Buddhism and other pagan religions in our seminaries and higher institutions of learning for the purpose of earning academic degrees, there is a subtle dilution of the Catholic faith that goes unnoticed… until they write or speak.

Their words might suggest that one religion is as good as another or that we could learn something useful, good [seeds of truth, rays of light], even holy from these religions.

 

I would like to reproduce Deuteronomy 12:29-31 from the New American Bible:

When the Lord, your God, removes the nations from your way as you advance to dispossess them, be on your guard.

Otherwise, once they have been wiped out before you and you have replaced them and are settled in their land, you will be lured into following them. Do not inquire regarding their gods, “How do these nations worship their gods? I, too, would do the same.”

You shall not thus worship the Lord, your God, because they offered to their god every abomination that the Lord detests…

 

If God demanded that the people of Israel did not even inquire about the false gods of the people whose lands He delivered unto them so that they would not be lured into following them [“ensnared” is the popular translation in many Bibles], does not that hold equally good today? How do we take over [evangelize] the land that He has given us if we are engaged in imitating them, adapting their symbols and customs and rites?

Many of our theologians falsely teach, using a couple of verses from the Documents Ecclesia in Asia or Nostra Aetate, that Rome wants us to learn from other religions. This is simply not true. I have clearly demonstrated this in report after report and will avoid repeating the details here. Rome would never allow the Faith of the Church to be sullied by pagan influences.

 

In his letter to the Archbishop of Goa, Bishop Thomas Dabre appears to be responding to an enquiry from the Archbishop about the Hindu practices of Surya Namaskar and yoga.

As in the state of Madhya Pradesh, there was a move by the state government and communal forces to make these pagan practices compulsory in schools in the Union Territory of Goa.

In the first part of his letter to the Archbishop, Bishop Dabre explains the intricacies of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation [worship] and concedes that it is intrinsically Hindu to the extent of describing it as “a sort of Yoga in its various postures“.

There is a serious problem with what Bishop Dabre tells the Archbishop in his point f):

f) People who are well versed in the Catholic faith and also in Hinduism can separate the postures from the worship of the sun god.  It is possible to regard the sun just as a cosmic force of light, energy and vitalization, but not as a person, nor a god, but just a creature of God. And there should be no difficulty in appreciating its natural powers and other elements which can be helpful which I have enumerated in 2 a, b, c and d.

 

According to the bishop, “People who are well versed in the Catholic faith and also in Hinduism can separate the postures from the worship of the sun god.

How many such people can the bishop summon up? Most Catholics I know of who are well versed in the Hindu religion are the novices, seminarians, priests and nuns who are studying in our institutions of philosophy and theology, and those same along with laity who are processed regularly through courses at the CBCI’s National Biblical, Catechetical and Liturgical Centre [NBCLC], Bangalore, and I can’t guarantee that they are simultaneously well versed in the Catholic faith.

In fact my experience has been that these Catholics are either confused or compromised and cannot be relied on for clarity or conservatism.

What Bishop Dabre is saying in f) is basically this:

If a Catholic is learned in his own faith as well as in Hinduism, it is possible for him or her to “separate the postures from the worship of the sun god. It is possible to regard the sun just as a cosmic force of light, energy and vitalization, but not as a person, nor a god, but just a creature of God.” What he doesn’t say is why any sensible, orthodox Catholic would even want to do that in the first place.

A good and faithful Catholic, even without any study of Hinduism, is well and fully aware that “the sun [is] just [as] a cosmic force of light, energy and vitalization, [but] not [as] a person, nor a god, but just a creature of God.

 

Bishop Dabre ends his point f) to the Archbishop with these words, “And there should be no difficulty in appreciating its natural powers and other elements which can be helpful which I have enumerated in 2 a, b, c and d.

What are those “natural powers and other elements which can be helpful” according to Bishop Dabre? I reproduce the section here, before I summarize in my own words further below:

2a) The Surya Namaskar puts the practitioner in direct contact and relationship with the sun in its two phases, rising and setting.

b) It is supposed to re-energize the practitioner in his/her bodily faculties and organs.

c) It is believed to have healing effects on the human practitioner.

d) Being a sort of Yoga in its various postures, the Surya Namaskar puts the practitioner at ease and brings about certain balance and equilibrium in the person. It also helps in mental concentration.

If one is “well versed” in both the Catholic faith and in Hinduism, one can “separate the
yogic
postures
of Surya Namaskar
from the worship of the sun god” [keep in mind that I’m quoting the bishop!] and appreciate the sun’s “natural powers and other elements which can be helpful” as in points 2 a, b, c and d, which are basically these:

-the Catholic practitioner is brought “in direct contact and relationship with the sun in its two phases, rising and setting.

-the Catholic practitioner is “re-energize[d] … in his/her bodily faculties and organs.

-the Catholic practitioner experiences “healing effects” from his/her contact with the sun.

-the Catholic practitioner doing this yoga of Surya Namaskar experiences “ease, balance, equilibrium… and mental concentration.

 

Mind you, this is a senior, highly acclaimed bishop and a former Chairman of the Doctrinal Commission of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India who is actually engaged in SELLING the benefits of Surya Namaskar and yoga to an Archbishop and to the Indian Church at large.

 

That brings us to Bishop Dabre’s point g).

g) However, can simple people make such a valid distinction and how will the Hindu regard such an exercise, namely will he not think that the Christian also believes in the divinity of the sun? Also the Catholic MAY get scandalized and disturbed, mis-construing that the Christian practitioner is recognizing the personhood and divinity of the sun, like the Hindu. 

The Bishop ended with two sentences that invalidated his earlier hard sell.

Simple Catholics cannot effectively engage in all this spiritual jugglery; and both Hindus and Catholics would get confused and scandalized by these shenanigans.

Then why did the bishop take the pains to argue on their behalf for so much of his communication?

Because that, most unfortunately, is the unhappy condition of the clergy of the Indian Church today.

 

Bishop Dabre cites the Vatican Document “Orationis Formas” or “Letter to the bishops of the Catholic Church on some aspects of Christian meditation“. In his point no. 6, he informs the Archbishop, “The text of the Vatican document does not mention YOGA
nor does it out of hand reject, condemn or ban it as is claimed by some.

A half-truth may not be a lie, but it is certainly not the truth. In the final analysis, I would say that it is a lie.

Certainly, the TEXT of the Document does not mention the word “yoga”. But the word comes up in Endnotes 1 which reads partly as follows:

The expression “eastern methods” is used to refer to methods which are inspired by Hinduism and Buddhism, such as “Zen,” “Transcendental Meditation” or “Yoga.” Thus it indicates methods of meditation of the non-Christian Far East which today are not infrequently adopted by some Christians also in their meditation.

 

 

 

 

What the note is saying is that the whole of the document deals with the problem of “eastern methods” of meditation as opposed to genuine Christian meditation, and these “eastern methods” are Zen, Transcendental Meditation, and yoga! Did the bishop manage to befool the archbishop?

The Document may not have explicitly condemned either Hindu yoga or T.M. or Buddhist Zen. It would have been an insensitive and politically incorrect thing to do considering that yoga is a religion to millions of Hindus. So it was put to Catholics in the context of Christian meditation and the dangers of eastern alternatives.

So, the purpose of the Document, signed by the future Pope Benedict XVI, was to warn Catholics of the spiritual dangers posed by oriental or eastern meditations such as Zen, Transcendental Meditation, and yoga! That is the raison d’etre of the Document, and its essence and thrust from the first line to the last.

It is a betrayal of the trust the people have in him for a bishop of Dabre’s stature to interpret it otherwise.

 

I copy below from another section of Bishop Dabre’s letter in which he admits “The Vatican document does alert us to the possible misuse and dangers involved in the use of such eastern methods.” Since he commences the section by referring to the Hindu spiritual discipline of yoga and ends with the above cited line, he himself contradicts his earlier play of words to the archbishop that the “The text of the Vatican document does not mention YOGA
nor does it out of hand reject, condemn or ban it as is claimed by some.

Note that Bishop Dabre says, “the use of yoga and other non–Christian methods…” Yoga is non-Christian, yoga is Hindu, and even Bishop Dabre is obliged to admit it. Still, he continues to sell it to the archbishop.

He goes, “Conceptually these can be appreciated for their intrinsic good elements.”

But, inevitably, concept becomes praxis in points 2 and 3 as one can read in the lines below.

 

My own humble comment is that the use of yoga and other non–Christian methods can be approached in two ways:

1. Conceptually these can be appreciated for their intrinsic good elements

2. Though in Hinduism every thing is connected with their philosophy and religion, these can be legitimately separated from religious beliefs and philosophy. So to adopt these does not necessarily imply acquiescence with Hindu religion or philosophy as some opponents opine.

3. However, on the level of practice and execution there can be errors and exaggerations and so there is as a rule need of proper guidance and initiation and alertness and vigilance. The Vatican document does alert us to the possible misuse and dangers involved in the use of such eastern methods.

 

Catholics will disagree with the bishop’s twisted logic. If “in Hinduism every thing is connected with their philosophy and religion“, how in heaven’s name can they be “legitimately separated from religious beliefs and philosophy“?

I contradict his next line too:

So to adopt these does not necessarily imply acquiescence with Hindu religion or philosophy as some opponents opine.

My long years of research into yoga have revealed beyond any shadow of doubt that those who engage in yoga eventually accept some aspect of the other of Hindu philosophy as true. They are compromised, deceived, but simply do not know it. And, it must be clearly understood that Hindu philosophy is completely at odds with Biblical Christian philosophy. They contradict each other leaving no room for dialogue.

What does the bishop mean by throwing in this caveat in point no. 3, “However, on the level of practice and execution there can be errors and exaggerations and so there is as a rule need of proper guidance and initiation and alertness and vigilance.“?

He is talking here about yoga [an eastern meditation or spiritual system that is brought up in not one but two Vatican Documents] and he posits that since in its practice there can be “errors and exaggerations“, there is need for proper “guidance, alertness, vigilance and initiation“.

From/by whom? Does the bishop recommend the instituting of some sort of body to govern the safe practice of yoga in the Church at the parish level? How ridiculous can he get? He makes a recommendation without giving a solution. For in fact, there is no solution.

The laity suffers from poor catechesis. By and large, they do not educate themselves in the faith, and the Sunday homilies leave much to be desired. Knowledge of Catholic apologetics is appallingly poor. The Catholic Charismatic Renewal has abjured its prophetic role and its spirituality is shallow with repetition.

Why on earth do Catholics, who don’t know their own faith, need to become, as Bishop Dabre suggests, well versed in Hinduism, only so as to be able to separate yogic postures from idol worship [as if that is even possible]? Catholics need to re-learn the “Faith of our fathers” by turning to orthodox, traditional and conservative sources and rejecting those priests and bishops who would seek to teach them to “inquire” about the false gods of pagan religions. We also need to pray for them, and for Holy Mother Church.

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Categories: Eastern Meditation, Hinduisation of the Catholic Church in India, new age

Tags: ,

4 replies

  1. Every day Catholics are exposed to the religious practises of the hindus, Astrology, Palmistry and Gemology. I am surprised when I see people with rings on all their fingers coming for Mass and some wear talismans of other faiths. It goes to show how under Catechised Catholics are. It is rare that we hear anything about this preached in Sunday Homilies which is one of the reasons the Year of Faith will not result in some peoples faith being increases

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  1. Catholic Bishop Thomas Dabre Obstinately Misrepresents Church Teachings | THE LAITYTUDE
  2. Catholic Bishop Thomas Dabre Obstinately Misrepresents Church Teachings | Christian Reforms
  3. Bishop’s Sin of Apostasy: In India | Heresy and Apostasy

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