I lobbed my first question to Fr. Michael wanting to start at the beginning. Namely, does the Catholic Church have anything to say about yoga? He directed me first to a pontifical document born from a joint effort of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue: Jesus Christ the Bearer of the Water of Life. It came to be under then Cardinal Ratzinger’s (now Papa B) watch, and I’d never heard of it, and it is absolutely fascinating. From section 2.1:
“Some of the traditions which flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, Yoga and so on.”
And again in section 2.134:
“Yoga, zen, transcendental meditation and tantric exercises are thought to lead to an experience of self-fulfilment or enlightenment.”
2.1. What is new about New Age?
For many people, the term New Age clearly refers to a momentous turning-point in history. According to astrologers, we live in the Age of Pisces, which has been dominated by Christianity. But the current age of Pisces is due to be replaced by the New Age of Aquarius early in the third Millennium.(14) The Age of Aquarius has such a high profile in the New Age movement largely because of the influence of theosophy, spiritualism and anthroposophy, and their esoteric antecedents. People who stress the imminent change in the world are often expressing a wish for such a change, not so much in the world itself as in our culture, in the way we relate to the world; this is particularly clear in those who stress the idea of a New Paradigm for living. It is an attractive approach since, in some of its expressions, people do not watch passively, but have an active role in changing culture and bringing about a new spiritual awareness. In other expressions, more power is ascribed to the inevitable progression of natural cycles. In any case, the Age of Aquarius is a vision, not a theory. But New Age is a broad tradition, which incorporates many ideas which have no explicit link with the change from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. There are moderate, but quite generalised, visions of a future where there will be a planetary spirituality alongside separate religions, similar planetary political institutions to complement more local ones, global economic entities which are more participatory and democratic, greater emphasis on communication and education, a mixed approach to health combining professional medicine and self-healing, a more androgynous self-understanding and ways of integrating science, mysticism, technology and ecology. Again, this is evidence of a deep desire for a fulfilling and healthy existence for the human race and for the planet. Some of the traditions which flow into New Age are: ancient Egyptian occult practices, Cabbalism, early Christian gnosticism, Sufism, the lore of the Druids, Celtic Christianity, mediaeval alchemy, Renaissance hermeticism, Zen Buddhism, Yoga and so on.(15)