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Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit


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Yoga: More than Meets the Eyes?

 

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By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

You may find this a stretching article in body, mind and spirit.  I have intentionally avoided writing this article for years, because I knew that it might be unavoidably controversial.  To be honest, I have been waiting for someone else to write this article instead of me.  Like most pastors, I want people to like me.   With genuine reluctance, I eventually faced my conflict avoidance, obeyed the Lord and read hundreds of yoga books in our local public libraries.  In preparing this article, I have not read one book which warns against yoga.  All book citations in this article are from yoga advocates and practitioners.

               To many people, yoga is just the hottest new exercise fad for younger women.  Twenty million North Americans are now doing yoga, including around four million men.  These twenty million people are currently being trained by over 70,000 yoga practitioners in at least 20,000 North American locations.[1]  Many people confuse yoga with simple stretching.  Stretching and calisthenics are good things which I participate in weekly at the local gym.  The term ‘calisthenics’ comes from the combination of two Greek words ‘kallos’: beauty and ‘sthenos’: strength. Calisthenic exercises are designed to bring  bodily fitness and flexibility of movement.  Yoga has not cornered the market on healthy stretching and calisthenics.  Physical fitness does not begin and end on a yoga mat.  I am convinced that we do well when we take care of our bodies as part of our Christian stewardship.  God wants us to be healthier in body, mind, and spirit. We all need to get back to the gym on a regular basis, whatever our views of yoga.  Your body will thank you.

Science of Yoga Book

I unknowingly participated in yoga, in the form of martial arts, for twenty years before renouncing it.[2]  After much prayer, I reluctantly gave it up because I didn’t want any gray area in my Christian life.   It is not an easy or light thing for someone to renounce this, even as a Christian.  For many, it is absolutely unthinkable.  To even imagine giving it up may leave some feeling unexpectedly threatened or even angry.  Most of us are more defensive and more emotionally attached than we imagine.  In hindsight, I realized that the ritual motions and postures (asanas or katas) had gotten very deep into my psyche, shaping my very identity.[3]  Somehow over twenty years, they had become ingrained in me and even became part of me.  Without intending it, I was to some degree serving two masters.  This was a hard truth for me to accept. Change is never easy.  I have heard of one Christian who is so entrenched in yoga that they have vowed to never give up yoga even if God himself told them to stop.  It makes you wonder sometimes who is in charge of our lives.

              Historically yoga was only taught in secret to high-caste male Brahmins.[4]  It was very much a guy thing for the wealthy and powerful.   In recent years, North American yoga has largely stripped itself of its more obvious Eastern trappings: gurus, incense, Sanskrit, and loin cloths.[5]  It has gone through a remarkable image makeover in a relatively short time period.  Yoga classes and paraphernalia have become a ten-billion+ dollar consumer-driven industry, involving designer spandex, yoga mats, and DVDs.[6]  Old-time Yoga purists have called this new development the yoga industrial complex.  In some parts of North America, yoga moms are replacing the demographic of soccer moms.  Yoga has become such a strongly entrenched cultural fad that in some parts of North America it is being taught to children, often using tax-payers’ money, in otherwise strictly secular public school systems.  Spiritually speaking, yoga has replaced the Lord’s Prayer which, you will remember, was bounced from our children’s classrooms for being too religious.  The unquestioned assumption is that yoga has no religious connection.

             This North American yoga industry has registered thousands of copyrights, patents and trademarks, sometimes resulting in threatening lawsuits.[7]  The Indian Government is so concerned about the yoga copyrighting that they have set up their own task-force to protect yoga from being pirated by Westerners:

“Yoga piracy is becoming very common, and we are moving to do something about it,” says Vinod Gupta, the head of a recently established Indian government task force on traditional knowledge and intellectual-property theft.

‘We know of at least 150 asanas [yoga positions] that have been pirated in the U.S., the UK, Germany and Japan,’ he says. ‘These were developed in India long ago and no one can claim them as their own.’ In an effort to protect India’s heritage, the task force has begun documenting 1,500 yoga postures drawn from classical yoga texts — including the writings of the Indian sage, Patanjali, the first man to codify the art of yoga.”[8]

Bhagavita                 There are seven main kinds of yoga: Hatha Yoga, Bhakti Yoga (devotion), Karma Yoga (action), Jnana Yoga (wisdom), Mantra Yoga, Tantra Yoga, and Raja Yoga (royal).   In the 15th Century AD Hatha Yoga Pradipika, its first three verses teach that the ignorant masses are not yet ready for the lofty Raja Yoga, and so Hatha Yoga has been developed as a “staircase” to lead them to Raja Yoga.  [9]   The most popular yoga offered in one’s local Recreation Center is Hatha Yoga, so-called physical yoga involving numerous yoga techniques called asanas.  These yogic asanas appear to the uninitiated as if they are just stretching exercises.  The more fully initiated realize that yogic asanas are worship postures to Hindu deities.   The yoga insiders all know the real scoop.  They also know that North Americans are not quite ready yet for the full truth about the religious identity of yoga.  My question is this: Is it really honest and respectful to pretend yoga is just a physical activity without any spiritual implications?[10]  More importantly, should people get themselves bent out of shape over Christians doing yoga?

              For many Westerners, all that matters is that something seems to be working.  We rarely look under the hood of our cars.   Our practical bent is both a great strength and a greater weakness.  We naively think that we can arrogantly detach anything from its heritage, and snatch its alleged benefits without any downside.   Yoga has been carefully repackaged to appeal for North Americans to our strongly pragmatic side.  The yogic philosophy is initially minimized.  Some yoga advocates claim that  asanas are just poses, and mantras are just words.   Context becomes everything.  To argue that asanas and mantras have no inherent meaning is itself an unquestionably reductionistic statement.  It is ultimately meaningless to suggest that yoga is meaningless.  Is it really as easy to secularize yogic Hinduism as we individualistic North Americans may think?

                I.K. Taimini, Indian scholar and chemist, wrote that there is no subject like yoga which is so wrapped up in mystery and on which one can write whatever one likes without any risk of being proved wrong.[11]  The religion of Hinduism is more than just cows, karma and curry.  Yoga is the very heart of Hinduism.  Yoga is the Hindu word for salvation.  Nine out of ten Hindus agree that yoga is Hinduism.[12]  Without yoga, there is no Hinduism.  Without Hinduism, there is no yoga.  There is no historical evidence for the popular New Age belief that yoga predates Hinduism and was originally non-religious.

In yoga asanas, one re-enacts the story of a particular Hindu deity, identifying as that specific deity.  According to Sanskritist Dr. N. Sjoman, verses from the 19th century yoga text Maisuru Maisiri  clearly indicate that “the asanas are assumed to have an inner nature that is associated with their specific name.”  The hand postures (mudras) in Hatha Yoga are a replication of the same hand postures in the statues of Hindu gods.  Yoga is spiritual embodiment.   Is it mere coincidence that yogic asanas and mudras re-enact the exact shape and position of Hindu graven images and deities?  The mudras are used to channel psychic energy through the body to alter consciousness.  They facilitate the process of yogic Self-Realization, and are designed to awaken and activate the root yogic chakra (psychic wheel).

Unlike Judaism, Christianity and Islam, one does not have to believe in  or worship something to be impacted by Hinduism.  This systemic religious difference is hard for many westerners to comprehend.  Because all in Hinduism is maya or illusion, belief for yogic Hinduism is nice but not initially necessary.  Nothing is what it appears to be.  The belief or meaning structure is often introduced much later at a deeper level of initiation.  Because Hinduism is technique-based, the performance of the yogic asana is sufficient to open up the chakra energies which produce the psychic interaction.[13]   Similar to the way that psychoactive drugs have mental, emotional and even spiritual impact regardless of what one knows about them, yoga also has a chemical impact regardless of one’s yoga knowledge or belief.  The initial irrelevance of belief and worship is one of the reasons why yoga practitioners often promote yoga to North Americans as either non-religious or religiously neutral.[14]  Transcendental Meditation, a form of Mantra yoga, initiated countless westerners with Sanskrit puja rituals that were never explained to them, but still had a significant impact on their core identity.[15]  Yoga is inescapably religious in a way that most North Americans will not notice.[16]   This is why many well-meaning North American Christians have uncritically or unwittingly opened their spirit to yogic Hindu philosophies that clash with  Christ’s teaching.

The term ‘yoga’ comes from the Sanskrit word ‘yug’, which means to yoke.  Few people in community centre yoga classes ask what they are yoking themselves to.  Yogic practice is designed to yoke or bring psychic union with Brahman, the highest of the Hindu deities.  What looks to us like simple stretches are in fact powerful psychic techniques that have been shown to change the very core of our consciousness.  The purpose of yoga is to produce a mind-altering state that fuses male and female, light and darkness, good and evil, god and humanity.[17]  As the best-selling author Deepak Chopra said in The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga:

“Krishna teaches Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita) the essence of yoga, telling him that good and evil, pleasure and pain, and loss and gain are two sides of the same coin of life.   The solution that yoga offers is to go beyond the realm of duality and become established in the state of being that is beyond time, space and causality….Krishna tells Arjuna, ‘Go beyond the realm of good and evil where life is dominated by beginnings and endings.   Enter into the domain of yoga where all duality finds its unity…”[18]

  nataraja             The term ‘Hatha Yoga’ refers to the union of the sun (ha or male) and moon (tha or female) into one monistic whole.  Some scholars translate Hatha Yoga as ‘violent union’.[19]   The definitive symbol of yoga is the Nataraj asana, known as the dancing Shiva who ‘dances’ destruction upon any distinctions (avidya) between the Creator and creation, good and evil, male and female.[20]  Yoga philosophy believes that all matter and differences are illusion, and that all illusions can be overcome by the performance of yoga rituals.  Yoga  works systemically  to alter biochemical functions, including our hormones and endocrine system.  The so-called physical activity in Hatha Yoga is meant to achieve a changed state of consciousness, eliminating the distinction between subject [self] and object. Yoga is designed to gradually disconnect one’s thoughts and sensory perceptions from one’s sense of self and identity.  The result is a profound loss of personhood and individuality in an age when many people are already very confused about who they are.  Advanced yoga produces the impression that one no longer exists.  This perception can be very convincing.

               Yoga is the primary technique used by the yogis in attempting to become gods themselves.    Through mantric yoga chanting and asanas, the mind experiences both sensory deprivation and sensory overloading, causing a shutting down of the mind.  Unlike Christian prayer and meditation on God’s Word, the purpose of Eastern yogic meditational practices is to ‘kill the mind’.   Mantra or breath yoga causes one to enter into a meditational trance state in which the mind is first silenced and then emptied.  The ‘killing of the mind’ produces the experience of differences disappearing and all becoming one.   Yoga was crafted and developed to enable an escape from rational thinking and a direct access by nonverbal means to a specific psychic state.  Many would hold that yogic Hinduism produces a trance state through self-induced hypnosis.   Is it fair to wonder if intensive yoga has effects similar to psychological brain-washing techniques?  Is it merely accidental that yoga has the ability to cause a blanking of our minds, an actual cessation of our thought processes?   Will community centre yoga classes in the future be required to alert prospective candidates to  such risks, similar to warnings on cigarette packaging?

               While yogic philosophy is polytheistic, it is also monistic, in the sense that it holds that, through yoga, we become the universe and/or god.[21]  Yoga is the primary way that yogis attempt to be liberated from the karmic bondage of endless reincarnation.  While these tenets are rarely taught at community center yoga classes, they are often held by the community center yoga instructor who has gone to a deeper level of yogic initiation.  The further one enters into yoga, the greater the hold that this ‘other master’ has in one’s life.

                Yoga promoters realize that most North Americans are not yet ready to hear about the deeper secrets of yoga.  Community Center yoga is largely drip-feeding lower-level yoga practices during this time of cultural shift.  Hatha Yoga is itself derived from the very secretive tantric yoga.  According to William Broad, author of The Science of Yoga, Tantric Yoga developed in India around 600 A.D:

“(Tantric yoga) worships female deities, roots its ceremonies in human sexuality, seeks supernatural powers for material gain, and cloaks its rites in secrecy.”

  India            In around 1200 A.D., Gorakhnath, a Hindu ascetic of western India, merged the traditions of Tantra and  body discipline, forming Hatha Yoga.[22]  Broad teaches that the path of enlightenment towards the ecstatic yoga union was known as Tantra.[23]  Hatha Yoga is designed to bring a tantric awakening of Kundalini, the Hindu goddess having a serpent power.[24]  The Sanskrit word kundalini means “she who is coiled”.[25]   The cobra asana is not mere stretching, but is a mind control technique that has been developed over many centuries with proven psychic results.  Few community centre yoga buffs realize that the cobra asana was developed to awaken the kundalini cobra chakra.  The Kundalini snake is said to reside in the lowest chakra at the base of one’s spine:

“When (Kundalini) is aroused by Yoga practice, she uncoils and travels up the spine toward her lover, Shiva. Traveling the spine through psychic centers called chakras, Kundalini reaches the top chakra to merge with Shiva and there receive divine enlightenment through the union with Brahman….”[26]

I was unaware for many years that there is a Lord of Yoga.  According to the Bhagavad-Gita Hindu Scripture, Shiva the Hindu god of destruction is the Lord of Yoga (Yogeshwara) and the first Hatha Yoga teacher.  The Bhagavad Gita used the word “Yoga” in chapter six where the deity Krishna declares, “Thus joy supreme comes to the yogi … who is one with Brahman, with God.”[27]  For many generations, the Hindu texts like Hatha Yoga Pradipikia has described yogis as “able to fly, levitate, stop their hearts, suspend their breathing, vanish, walk through walls, project themselves into other bodies, touch the moon, survive live burial, make themselves invisible, and die at will.”[28]  The magical and sexual aspects of Tantric Yoga have both embarrassed middle-class Indian Hindus while intriguing many Western New Agers.[29]  The Tantric aspect of Hatha Yoga has been linked to a number of high-profile New Age yoga scandals.[30]  Dr. Carl Jung, the father of the New Age movement,  remarkably concluded after two decades of study that advanced yoga can loose a flood of suffering of which no sane person ever dream.  In his advanced yogic awakening, Gopi Krishna said: “It was variable for many years, painful, obsessive…I have passed through almost all the stages of…mediumistic, psychotic, and other types of mind; for some time I was hovering between sanity and insanity.” [31]

SwamiYoga came to North America in 1893 when Swami Vivekananda, a disciple of the famous Guru Ramakrishna, taught about yoga at the Chicago World Fair.  Laurette Willis, an ex-yoga teacher, calls yoga the missionary arm of Hinduism and the New Age movement.  In “An Open Letter to Evangelicals”, Swami Sivasiva Palani wrote:

“A small army of yoga missionaries – hatha, raja, siddha and kundalini – beautifully trained in the last 10 years, is about to set upon the western world. They may not call themselves Hindu, but Hindus know where yoga came from and where it goes.”[32]

As Yoga Guru B.K.S Iyengar notes in his book Light on Yoga, “Some asanas are also called after Gods of the Hindu pantheon and some recall the Avataras, or incarnations of Divine Power.”[33]  Because the Hindu deities rode on animals, many yoga asanas are devoted to these deified animals.[34]  In the Sun Salutation asana, one is yogically paying direct homage to Surya, the Hindu Sun deity.  The Cobra asana is about identification with and worship of the Kundalini snake, yogically awakened in the chakras.  The fish asana (Matsyasana) is the yogic worship and reenactment of the Hindu deity Vishnu who turned himself into a fish to rescue people from a flood.[35] The Half Moon asana involves the yogic identification with and worship of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god who threw part of his tusk at the moon.[36] The Tortoise asana is dedicated to the yogic worship of Kurma the Tortoise incarnation of the god Vishnu.[37]  The Downward Dog asana reenacts the Hindu worship of the dog as happens for five days each November.[38]  The Hanuman asana is dedicated to the yogic worship of the Monkey god, Hanuman.[39]

The Warrior asana is identified with the yogic worship of Lord Virabhadra who is described as having a thousand arms, three burning eyes, and a garland of skulls.[40]  The Corpse asana is the death or extinction of the person when yogic unification with the Hindu deity Brahman wipes out one’s own identity and existence.[41]  The Lotus asana is identified with the yogic worship of the Hindu deity Lakshmi who sat on a lotus.[42]  The Marichi asana is dedicated to the yogic identification with and worship of Marichi, one of the seven Hindu Lords of Creation and the Grandfather of the Sun god Surya.

A number of well-intended Christians have been recently promoting Christianized yoga in North America.  In their classes, they usually do the same hatha yoga asanas as the new-agers, but add scripture quotes and Gospel music.  Subhas R. Tiwari, a Hindu University of America professor who has a master’s degree in yoga philosophy, comments: “Such efforts [to Christianize yoga] point to a concerted, long-term plan to deny yoga its origin. This effort . . . is far from innocent. It is reminiscent of the pattern evident throughout the long history and dynamics of colonizing powers.”[43] Tiwari holds that efforts to Christianize yoga are unjust “encroachment” and thinly veiled Christian proselytism of Hindus.

Some Christians claim that 1 Corinthians 8 and Romans 14 gives them the right to christianize yoga, saying that because Paul ate meat sacrificed to idols, then we can do yoga that has been dedicated to idols.  They claim that because they are strong, Spirit-filled Christians, they can do yoga with no downside.  Paul however never encouraged Christians to participate in idolatrous Greek or Roman temple rituals as a way of proving how protected they are by the Holy Spirit.  In fact, in 1 Corinthians 10: 1-13, Paul stated that Christians needed to flee idolatry and syncretism.  Sometimes the wisest thing to do is to simply say no, and remove ourselves from a compromising situation.  Never did the Bible encourage us to christianize idolatry or to hang around the idolatrous temple to prove how strong we are.  Not everything can be redeemed.  Some things need to be renounced.  It goes without saying that sacrificing animals to the  local temple statue would have been unthinkable for New Testament Christians.

What Paul was encouraging in 1 Corinthians 8 was the practice of saying grace before eating meat at dinner.  He knew that most meat would have been sacrificed to idols at the local temple before making it to the butcher.  Rather than becoming vegetarian, Paul advocated saying grace as a cleansing prayer.  The parallel passage in 1 Timothy 4:3-4 says that saying grace is not just a nice religious thing we do before Sunday dinner, but rather is a significant act of thanksgiving (in the Greek, eucharist), which actually consecrates or sanctifies the meat through prayer and God’s Word.

Saying grace at dinner, however, is radically different than adopting ancient yogic mind-altering techniques.  Because yoga physically embodies the spiritual philosophy of Hinduism, it inhibits the Lord’s command to take every thought captive in obedience to Christ.  It also  disregards Paul’s encouragement in Colossians 2:8 to not be “taken captive by philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”  This is not at the same level of whether or not one chooses to have a Christmas tree in one’s living room, or what kind of worship music one prefers.   Yes, there is great freedom on non-essentials for Christians.  But on more essential issues like idolatry or  immorality, the bible is clear that we are to have clear boundaries.  Some, coming from legalistic church backgrounds, defend yoga in the name of freedom.  Does christianized yoga bring freedom or bondage? Syncretistically dabbling in things that the bible cautions against leads to great confusion.

JesusUltimately from a biblical perspective, the deities of yoga are no deities at all, and their devotees have no power to proscribe or limit what Christian believers may do with their bodies.  Jesus is Lord of our bodies, which are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19).  That is why many Christians make use of their bodies in worship, kneeling , arms elevated, or even prostrate.   How we use our bodies is an expression of our identity in Christ.  We need not be afraid that through involvement in stretching and calisthenics, we may accidentally be stretching in a way that might look like yoga.  Even with its 1,500 asana poses, yoga does not own the world of calisthenics and stretching.

             With yoga and Hinduism, nothing is what it seems.  This is why it has been described as the embrace that smothers.  Trying to separate the so-called physical from the spiritual in yoga is like attempting to remove arsenic from a bowl of sugar.  Yoga has always been shrouded in illusion and secrecy, and can intentionally look like whatever you want it to in the short term.  Hindus are well aware that yoga is an ancient form of divination.  The bible does not encourage us to see how close to the line we can get before we fall in, but rather to flee idolatry.   In the end, the yogic road leads to idolatry and monism, to serving two masters.   The Lordship of Jesus is what is at stake.

Yoga and Christianity go together like ice cream and beach sand.  Just as there is no Christian Ouija board, no Christian astrology, and no Christian tarot card reading, there is no Christian Yoga that is either truly Yoga or truly Christian.  I invite you to do the stretching, perhaps unthinkable thing of turning from Yoga towards healthy stretching and calisthenics.  This will not be easy for you, but it will be life-giving.  Please pray about it, like I did.  Ask Jesus to reveal to you the truth about yoga.  Does he want you to renounce it?  Prayer is the way forward.  You will not regret choosing to serve one master.  Jesus is Lord.  Yoga is not.

p.s. For those who would like to do healthy stretching, I recommend your checking out these two websites: Mayo Clinic Stretches and Sport Injury Stretches.  Another healthy option would be to check out Praise Moves with Laurette Willis, a Christ-centered alternative to yoga.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

 -award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

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To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

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[1] Colleen Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga (MaranGraphics, Wiley Publishing Inc, New York, NY, 2003), p. 33.; William J. Broad, The Science of Yoga (Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2012), p. 2 “twenty million in the USA…more than two hundred and fifty million (yoga practitioners)…”; “Yoga in America Study 2012”, Yoga Journal. http://www.yogajournal.com/press/yoga_in_america  “82.2 percent are women; 17.8 percent are men.” (Accessed April 28th 2013)
[2] Nathan Johnson, Zen Shaolin Karate, “Ch’an (zen) monks of the Shaolin Temple” (Ch’an comes from an Indian word dhyana meaning meditation.)
[3] Taekwondo and other martial arts can be traced to a 6th century Buddhist monk Bodhidharma who travelled from India to China and established Zen Buddhism at the Shaolin temple of Ko San So Rim.  There he taught them both sitting meditation and the martial arts (moving meditation) to enable his disciples to free themselves from all conscious control in order to attain enlightenment. The karate equivalent to the poomse is the kata patterns.  As the Taekwondo author and instructor Eddie Ferrie puts it, “Many of the patterns of taekwondo are rooted in semi-mystical Taoist philosophy and their deeper meaning is said to be far more important than the mere performance of a gymnastics series of exercises.  This is not immediately obvious, either when performing or watching the poomse being performed…”
[4] Timothy McCall, Yoga as Medicine: a Yoga Journal Book (Bantam Dell, New York NY, 2007), P. 112 “At one point yoga was only taught to the elite of Indian society, male Brahmins, and then only to those who dedicated their life to it. The teachings and practice of yoga were kept secret from the rest of the world.”
[5] John Capouya, Real Men Do Yoga (Health Communications Inc., Deerfield, Florida, 2003), p. xiii “No chanting, no incense, no gurus…”
[6] Cain Carroll and Lori Kimata, Partner Yoga (Rodale Books, Emmaus, Pennsylvania, 2000), p. 21 “Unlike their predecessors, modern yogis now wear spandex and nail polish and practice postures on thin purple mats.”; “Yoga in America Study 2012”, Yoga Journal. http://www.yogajournal.com/press/yoga_in_america “The previous estimate from the 2008 study was 5.8 billion dollars.” (Accessed April 28th 2013)
[7] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. 3.
[8] “India makes moves to reclaim heritage from ‘yoga piracy’”, David Orr, Washington Times, September 22nd 2005, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2005/sep/22/20050922-114821-4035r/
[9] Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga, p. 7.; Svatmarama, The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, The Sacred Books of the Hindus, ed. Major Basu, I.M.S. (retired) (Bahadurganj, Allahabad: Sudhindranatah Vasu, 1915), http://www.geocities.com/kriyadc/hatha_yoga_pradipika_chapter1.html.
[10] Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga, p. 11 “…Yoga is not simply a system of physical exercise or a means of releasing psychic stress, as so many in the West have come to believe…”
[11] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. ix.
[12] Laurette Willis, “Why A Christian Alternative to Yoga?” http://praisemoves.com/about-us/why-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga (Accessed Dec 14th 2012).
[13] www.yogabasics.com  : “More than just stretching, asanas [yoga postures] open the energy channels, chakras and psychic centers of the body. Asanas purify and strengthen the body and control and focus the mind.” (Accessed Dec 12th 2012)
[14] Capouya, Real Men Do Yoga, p. xiii “Yoga’s not some weird Eastern religion. In fact it’s not a religion at all.”; Capouya, p.xvii “He’s not looking for a religious experience, and hasn’t found it. You don’t have to sit around and say ‘Om’ to do yoga…It doesn’t have to be all Eastern and mystical.”; Pat Shapiro, Yoga for Women at Midlife & Beyond (Sunstone Press, Santa Fe, 2006), p. 15 (Yoga) “is not connected with any particular religion and does not require a specific belief system.”; Dr. Candy Gunther Brown, Encinitas School Yoga Lawsuit,  p. 5, “Many Americans fail to recognize non-Christian (e.g. Hindu) religious practices as ‘religion’ and fail to understand the inseparability of certain bodily practices from spiritual purposes.”  http://bit.ly/11HChls
[15] “Transcendental Meditation”, http://biblefacts.org/cult/tm2.html
[16] According to the Webster’s New World Dictionary, yoga (coming from an east Indian Sanskrit word which means “union with god” or “to yoke”) is “a mystic and ascetic Hindu discipline for achieving union with the supreme spirit through meditation, prescribed postures, controlled breathing, etc.” Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary defines yoga as “Hindu theistic philosophy teaching the suppression of all activity of body, mind, and will in order that the self may realize its distinction from them and attain liberation.”
[17] Carroll and Kimata, Partner Yoga, p. 227 “In these moments of absorption, it is said that we are ‘yoked’ to the underlying force behind all creation. In this place, there are no questions, no opposites, and no struggle; there is only union. This is the essence of yoga.”
[18] Deepak Chopra and David Simon, The Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga (John Wiley and Sons Inc., Hoboken, New Jersey, 2004), p.197.
[19] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. 17 “The Sanskrit root of Hatha is hath – to treat with violence, as in binding someone to a post…” P. 17 …a number of scholars translate Hatha Yoga as ‘violent union.’…
[20] http://www.theyogatutor.com/natarajasana The Yoga Teacher, “The definitive symbol of yoga is the Nataraja, otherwise known as the Dancing Shiva.”; http://bit.ly/TNFTRV Tirusula Yoga, “Nata= Dancer. Raja = King / Lord” (Accessed Dec 23rd 2012)
[21] David Frawley (Vamadeva Shastri) “Hindu View of Nature”, Hindu Voice UK, http://www.vedanet.com/2012/06/hindu-view-of-nature “Ultimately for the Hindu as the Upanishads say, ‘Everything is Brahman’ Sarvam Khalvidam Brahma.” (Accessed April 5th 2013)
[22] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. xxv.; Broad, p.16 “In truth, Hatha is a branch of Tantra.”
[23] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. 15.
[24] Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga, p. 16.
[25] Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience (Integral Publishing, Lower Lake, California 1987, 1992), P. 8.; Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga, P.7 “Two popular forms of Tantra Yoga are Kundalini and Kriya Yoga.”
[26] Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga, p. 26.; Capouya, Real Men Do Yoga, p.89 “In the yoga tradition…there’s a ‘chakra’, or an energy center, around the solar plexus…”
[27] Laurette Willis http://praisemoves.com/about-us/why-a-christian-alternative-to-yoga “…according to Hatha Yoga Pradipika.”; Titlman, Teach Yourself Visually Yoga, p. 12 (Bhagavad-Gita is) “a classic Hindu text believed written between the Fifth Century B.C. and the Second Century A.D.”
[28] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. 17.
[29]Capouya, Real Men Do Yoga, P. xv (yoga) “…recharges your sex life.”; p.172” …in the Kundalini tradition, the perineum is where energy supposedly enters the body. The more energy you take in there, it’s believed, the hornier you get…”; Carroll and Kimata, Partner Yoga, p. 27 “…contrary to popular belief, not all Tantric yoga is sexual.”; Broad, The Science of Yoga, p.24 “Middle-class Indians found (yoga’s) its obsession with sex and magic to be an ’embarrassing heritage,’ according to Geoffrey Samuel, a yoga scholar…”; Broad, p. 26 “Throughout his career, Gune maintained a virtual taboo on the word ‘Tantra’- the parent of Hatha which Hindu nationalists had come to abhor.”;
[30] Broad, The Science of Yoga, p. 164 “…modern yoga throbs with open sexuality ranging from the blatantly erotic and the bizarrely kinky to the deeply spiritual.”; Broad, p. 164 “…the discipline (of yoga) itself began as a sex cult …”; p. 175 “Even Kripalu came under fire. Former devotees at the Berkshires ashram won more than $2.5 million after its long-term guru–a man who gave impassioned talks on the spiritual value of chastity- confessed to multiple affairs.”; McCall, Yoga as Medicine, p. 109 “Kripalu: This system is perhaps the most New Age in feel of the Yoga styles common in the West.”
[31] Broad, Science of Yoga, p. 10; Gopi Krishna, The Awakening of Kundalini (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1975), p. 124
[32] Sivasiva Palani, “An Open Letter to Evangelicals”, Hinduism Today, January 1991, http://bit.ly/10Bzxr1.
[33] http://www.hafsite.org/media/pr/yoga-hindu-origins Hindu American Foundation, “Yoga Beyond Asana: Hindu Thought In Practice”,  “Yet, even when Yoga is practiced solely in the form of an exercise, it cannot be completely delinked from its Hindu roots.” (Accessed Dec 23rd 2012)
[34] “The Significance of Animals in Hinduism” http://www.hinduwebsite.com/hinduism/essays/animals.asp “Hindus revere many divinities in animal form.  Lord Vishnu incarnated upon earth first as a fish, then as a tortoise and then as a boar… In the Hindu pantheon, each god and goddess is associated with an animal as a vehicle.” (Accessed April 5th 2013); “Why Animal Worship in Hinduism?”, http://bit.ly/XZ4mbS  “Almost all the deities in Hinduism have animals as their mode of transport (vehicle) or are associated with animals… Brahma travels on a humongous swan Hamsa, Lord Shiva on the Divine Bull Nandi and Lord Vishnu travels on the Golden-Eagle Garuda”  (Accessed April 5th 2013)
[35]“Fish Pose”, http://www.yogajournal.com/basics/2335 (Accessed Dec 26th 2012)
[36]  History of Yoga Postures,  http://bit.ly/12puYFs (Accessed Dec 29th 2012)
[37] “Sitting like a Tortoise”, http://bit.ly/ZErk2K  (Accessed Dec 29th 2012)
[38] “Animal Worship” http://bit.ly/2ogQaB (Accessed April 5th 2013)
[39] http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/889 Hanumanasana: Pose Dedicated to the Monkey God, Hanuman, By Aadil Palkhivala
[40]   “Viradhadra” http://bit.ly/K1fK0R (Accessed April 5th 2013)
[41] Mike Stokes, “Shavasana the dead pose”, http://www.godrealized.com/Shavasana.html (Accessed April 5th 2013) “Why is it that in nearly every yoga class, no matter what the style, we end with Savasana?… Why practice death pose? …The reason lies in the fact that death brings us face to face with total annihilation of the self… the essence of Savasana and the essence of yoga, namely total annihilation of separateness and unification with the whole.  Annihilation of the self is the access to the experience of yoga.”
[42]“Lakshmi: Goddess of Wealth & Beauty!” http://hinduism.about.com/od/hindugoddesses/p/lakshmi.htm “Lakshmi is the household goddess of most Hindu families.”; “Name: Padmasana” http://babynamesworld.parentsconnect.com/meaning_of_Padmasana.html (Accessed April 5th 2013)
[43] “Pose dedicated to Marichi” http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/939; “Urban Ashtanga Teacher Training” http://bit.ly/XZ2xf3 (Accessed April 5th 2013); Subhas R. Tiwari, “Yoga Renamed is Still Hindu,” Hinduism Today, January-February-March 2006.


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Remembering Dear Nana

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

Nana Allen, my maternal grandmother, died with her prayer book and bible by her bed. I was never successful in talking her out of using the “old-fashioned” Book of Common Prayer, and ‘getting with the program’.  Nana to me symbolizes the deep Judeo-Christian roots of our beloved Canadian nation.  She knew in her heart that I would one day become an Anglican priest, even when I was running from God on the top of Mount Seymour ski hill.  Nana, while outwardly a very gentle and proper ‘English’ lady, was inwardly a prayer warrior who never gave up on her family or her nation.  Nana’s passionate love for our nation came out most strongly when she watched Hockey Night in Canada, fervently cheering for her favorite team ‘The Montreal Canadiens’.

I love Nana very deeply, though she passed away 18 years ago in March 1982, just before my throat operation where I received my voice back.  It was hard for Nana to watch me lose my voice, as she was so deeply committed to my calling to the Anglican priesthood.  I remember her saying that she wanted to live until I became ordained as a deacon. Then after my first ordination, she decided that she wanted to live until I became priested which she did as well. Within a year of my priesting, she had gone to be with the Lord.

Why am I an Anglican priest today?  I believe in my heart of hearts that I am a priest because of my Nana’s powerful prayers and personal witness to a biblically faithful Anglicanism.  Nana’s life embodied to me the heart and soul of genuine Anglican Christianity.  Sadly most of the faithful congregations that my Nana attended have since been swallowed by other agendas.

Nana was also a devout Anglophile and royalist.  Though she had never been to England, it very much functioned for her as ‘the mother country’.  Nana was probably more English than the English.  My parents finally persuaded her at age 80 to fly to England with them.  While she enjoyed the trip tremendously, she felt that England had changed!

As someone who has been an ordained Anglican clergyman for 30 years, I must say similarly to my grandma’s comment that the Anglican Church has changed.  I value healthy, necessary change, but I grieve when the core values of the Anglican Church are discarded in the relentless search for temporary relevance.  I have sadly had to face that we are now often dealing with another gospel, another religion, another faith than the biblical Anglican Christianity that my dear Nana stood for.

I believe that the Anglican Church is the ‘canary in the tunnel’ for our great nation of Canada.   Our Canadian passivity has made us vulnerable to serious cultural meltdown of everything that made Canada great.  My grandparents’ and parents’ generation put everything on the line to defend our great nation in World War I and World War II.  How can we do any less in the current battle for the soul of Canada?

We say in the pre-amble to our Constitution that we acknowledge the Supremacy of God.  It is time for us as Canadians to turn our words into actions.  Our founding forebearers were determined in the words of Psalm 72 that ‘he would have dominion for sea to shining sea’.  Our original name “The Dominion of Canada” was chosen to deliberately reflect that spiritual commitment as the core of our nation.

My cry is that God would keep our land glorious and free, that God would have mercy upon our rebellious land, that mercy would triumph over judgement.  God’s heart of love is that we would repent of our turning away from our godly Judeo-Christian heritage and turn back before it is too late.

When I remember my dearly beloved Nana, I am reminded that we have a great heritage as Canadians.  Let’s not squander it.

 

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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La passion de Louis Riel

par Rev Ed Hird

‘La  première fois que j’ai reçu l’eucharistie sainte, je tremblais,’ a dit Louis Riel. Né à St Boniface (Winnipeg) le  22 octobre, 1844, le jeune Louis Riel a eu un esprit très sensible et passionné avec un manque de tolérance pour l’intimidation.  Selon Mousseau, « rien  ne l’a irrité autant qu’un abus de force contre le faible. »   Riel a également eu une vie profonde de prière et du jeûne, commentant en son journal intime : « Le jeûne et la  prière sont les deux grandes clefs au succès à temps et l’éternité.  Rien ne peut résister jeûner quand il est fait avec l’humilité, la sincérité et la dévotion. Le jeûne ouvre des prisons et libère les criminelles.  Trois ou quatre jours de jeûne accomplissent-ils plus qu’une armée sur le champ de bataille… »

Sa mère, Julie, avait voulu être une nonne. Au lieu de cela elle a envoyé son fils prairie-né par le Red River en 1858 à Montréal pour devenir le premier prêtre Métis du Canada.  Riel a été profondément effectuer par la spiritualité de sa mère, notant que « les caractéristiques  réfléchissantes et calmes de ma mère, avec ses yeux constamment tournés vers le ciel, son respect, son attention, sa dévotion à ses engagements religieux, ont toujours laissé sur moi l’impression la plus profonde de son bon exemple. »  Riel a été très centré sur Christ, priant en son journal intime : « Lord Jésus, je t’aime. J’aime tout lier à vous. »

Vous pouvez imaginer le choc de sa mère quand Louis a abandonné l’université de Montréal seulement quatre mois avant de son ordination. Louis est allé vivre avec les nonnes grises dans leur couvent. La mort récente de son père avait pesé très fortement sur Louis comme la nouvelle tête de la famille Riel. De plus compliquer ses plans d’ordination, il s’était secrètement fiancé à Marie Julie Guernon, seulement d’avoir les   fiançailles annulées par ses parents racistes. En son journal intime, Riel a commenté : ‘Les hommes peuvent lutter contre la volonté de Dieu et s’opposent à sa réalisation, mais ils ne réussissent jamais à l’exclure des conseils des affaires humaines. Dieu a tout dans son soin. Ayez la confiance en Jésus Christ.’

Retournant à Winnipeg, il a découvert la dévastation agricole, sociale, et politique, particulièrement parmi son peuple, les Métis. Quand Riel défendait les droites des Métis, il a réveillé notre nation somnolente du Canada. Après avoir repris le fort Garry de la Compagnie de la Baie D’Hudson, Riel a forcé avec succès le Premier ministre MacDonald à d’identifier des droites de terre des Métis, et d’accepter Manitoba dans la confédération comme province, et pas simplement comme un territoire. Riel a indiqué au négociateur fédéral Donald Smith : « Nous voulons seulement nos droites justes comme des sujets britanniques, et nous voudrions que les Anglais nous joignent simplement pour obtenir ces droits. »  Le 12 mai, 1870, l’acte de Manitoba, basé sur le Métis “liste des droites,” a été ratifié par le Parlement canadien.

La tragédie de la rébellion de Red River était le tir de Thomas Scott que Riel a autorisé. En conséquence, le Canada de l’est ne se contenterait pas avec moins que la tête de Riel sur un plat. Les troupes de colonel Wolseley ont voulu le sang.  Laissant le fort Garry, Riel a dit, « Nous avons fuit  parce qu’il semble que nous avons été trompés. »  L’évêque Tache plus tard a dit concernant l’amnistie promise : ‘L’honorable John MacDonald a menti comme un ‘trooper’. »

En s’échappant aux Etats-Unis, Riel s’est soulagé, disant : « N’importe ce qui se passe maintenant, les droites du Métis sont assurées par l’acte de Manitoba ; c’est ce que je voulais- ma mission est fini. »  Écrivant à son bon ami, l’évêque Tache, le 9 septembre 1870, Riel a dit : « Ma vie appartient au Seigneur. Laisse-le faire ce qu’il souhaite avec elle.’

La période de l’exil aux Etats-Unis était très douloureuse pour Louis Riel. L’évêque Bourget a soulagé Riel en lui indiquant que « …Le Seigneur, qui vous a toujours mené et vous a aidé jusqu’à présent, ne vous abandonnera pas dans les heures les plus foncées de votre vie. Parce qu’Il vous a donné une mission que vous devez accomplir à tous les égards. »  Riel a commencé à se déplacer plus dans le prophétique, parfois éprouvant la joie intense et la douleur profonde dans des offices. Avec un grand effort, Riel a essayé de supprimer ses larmes : « Ma douleur était aussi intense que ma joie. »

Au journal intime de Riel, il a mémorablement dit : « L’Esprit de Dieu a pénétré mon cerveau dès que j’ai commencé à dormir.  L’Esprit de Dieu nous affecte où Il souhaite, et dans la mesure qu’Il voudrait. »

À cause de l’intensité de ses expériences spirituelles, ses amis ont caché Riel dans un asile aliéné de Montréal. Après avoir été libéré en 1878, Riel a commenté : «Je faisais semblant d’être fou. J’ai réussi si bon que tout le monde ait cru que j’étais vraiment fou. » La folie de Riel était peut-être comme la folie simulée du roi David avant les Philistins (1 Samuel 18:13).  Riel a indiqué : « Si je disparais ou si je perds mon esprit, leur persécution implacable peut-être relâcherait… Donc mes ennemis cesseraient probablement de persécuter mon peuple Métis. »

En 1884, Riel est revenu du Montana avec sa famille, à la demande pressante des Métis affamés, à Batoche, Saskatchewan. Wilfrid Laurier, être plus tard Premier ministre libéral, plus tard avoué sur le plancher de la Chambre des Communes : « Si j’étais né sur les banques de la Saskatchewan, j’aurais épaulé moi-même un mousquet au combat contre la négligence des gouvernements et l’avarice sans scrupule des spéculateurs. »  Riel a pétitionné sans succès le gouvernement fédéral avant d’essayer de conquérir le fort Carlton. « Je peux presque le dire, »  Louis Riel a indiqué, « notre cause secoue la confédération canadienne d’une extrémité du pays à l’autre. Il gagne de force chaque jour. »

Cependant la cause de Riel  a été militairement condamnée. La plupart des 250 Métis avaient des fusils de chasse ou de vieux museau-chargeurs, mais quelques-uns ont eu seulement des arcs et des flèches. La milice de Toronto, qui incluait mon grand-grand-père Oliver Allen et 1,000 autres hommes, a eu des Sniders, des Winchesters, des canons et un pistolet de Gatling, le précurseur de la mitrailleuse. Le pistolet de Gatling leur avait été prêté par l’armée des USA, et actionné par un lieutenant américain, Arthur Howard. Tout en conquérant Riel, mon grand-grand-père a rencontré ma grand-grand-mère, Mary Mclean, qui était une journaliste de ‘Regina Leader’ bien disposée à l’égard de Louis Riel. Juste avant la pendaison de Riel, Mary Mclean, qui parlait le français couramment, s’est déguisé en prêtre catholique afin d’interviewer Riel. Son rédacteur de journal lui avait indiqué : « Vous devez avoir une interview avec Riel si vous devez surpasser la force entière de police dans le Nord-Ouest. » Riel a dit à mon grand-grand-mère le 19 novembre 1885 : « Quand je vous ai vu la première fois au procès, je vous ai aimé. »  Peu de temps après, mes grand-grand-pères Oliver et Mary se sont épousés et déménager pour commencer la vie à nouveau en Colombie Britannique.

Avant que Riel soit mort, il a passionnément prié en son journal intime : « Jésus, auteur de la vie ! Soutenez-nous dans toutes les batailles de cette vie et, sur notre dernier jour, donnez-nous la vie éternelle. Jésus, donnez-moi la grâce de savoir vraiment votre beauté ! Donnez-moi la grâce de vous aimer vraiment. Jésus, accordez-moi la grâce de savoir comment beau vous êtes ; accorde-moi la grâce de vous chérir. »

Ma prière  est que nous aussi pouvons découvrir la passion de Louis Riel pour son sauveur Jésus Christ.

 

Le Recteur Révérend Ed Hird

Église  de St. Simon, North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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The Passion of Louis Riel

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird

‘The first time I received the Holy Eucharist, I was trembling,” said Louis Riel.  Born at St. Boniface (Winnipeg) on October 22nd 1844, young Louis Riel had a very sensitive, passionate spirit with zero tolerance for bullying.  According to Mousseau, ‘nothing irritated him as much as an abuse of strength against the weak.’  Riel also had a deep life of prayer and fasting, commenting in his diary: “Fasting and prayer are the two great keys to success in time and eternity…Nothing can resist fasting when it is done with humility, sincerity and devotion.  Fasting opens prisons and releases the most hardened criminals…Three or four days of fasting accomplish more than an army on the field of battle…”

His mother Julie had wanted to be a nun.  Instead she sent her Red River prairie-born son in 1858 to Montreal to become Canada’s first Metis priest.  Riel was deeply impacted by his mother’s spirituality, noting that “the calm reflective features of my mother, her eyes constantly toward towards heaven, her respect, her attention, her devotion to her religious obligations always left upon me the deepest impression of her good example.” Riel was very Christ-centered, praying in his diary: “Lord Jesus, I love you.  I love everything associated with You.”

You can imagine the shock to his mother when Louis dropped out of the College of Montreal just four months before his ordination. Louis went to live with the Grey Nuns in their convent.  His father’s recent death had weighed very heavily on Louis as the new head of the Riel family.  Also complicating his ordination plans was that he had secretly become engaged to Marie Julie Guernon, only to have the engagement quashed by her racist parents.  In his diary, Riel commented: “Men can struggle as they will against the will of God and oppose its fulfillment, but they never succeed in excluding it from the guidance of human affairs.  God has everything in His care.  Have confidence in Jesus Christ…”

Returning to Winnipeg, he discovered agricultural, social, and political devastation, especially among his Metis people.  When Riel stood up for the rights of the Metis, he woke up our sleepy Canada nation.  After taking over the Hudson Bay Company’s Fort Garry, Riel successfully forced Prime Minister MacDonald to recognize Metis land rights, and to accept Manitoba into Confederation as a full Province, and not just another territory.  Riel stated to the Federal negotiator Donald Smith: ‘We want only our just rights as British subjects, and we want the English to join us simply to obtain these.’  On May 12, 1870, the Manitoba Act, based on the Métis “List of Rights,” was passed by the Canadian Parliament.

The tragedy of the Red River Rebellion was the Riel-authorized shooting of Thomas Scott.  As a result, Eastern Canada would settle for nothing less than Riel’s head on a platter.  Colonel Wolseley’s troops wanted blood.  Leaving Fort Garry, Riel said: “We have fled because it appears that we have been deceived.”  Bishop Tache later said regarding the promised amnesty: ‘The Rt. Honourable John A MacDonald lied like a trooper’

In escaping to the USA, Riel comforted himself, saying: “No matter what happens now, the rights of the Metis are assured by the Manitoba Act; that is what I wanted –my mission is finished.”  Writing to his good friend Bishop Tache on Sept 9th 1870, Riel said: “My life belongs to God.  Let him do what He wishes with it.”

The time of exile in the USA was very painful for Louis Riel.  Bishop Bourget comforted Riel telling him that “…God, who has always led you and assisted you up to the present time, will not abandon you in the darkest hours of your life.  For he has given you a mission which you must fulfill in all respects.”  Riel began to move more in the prophetic, sometimes experiencing intense joy and deep sorrow in church services. With a great effort, Riel tried to suppress his weeping: “My pain was as intense as my joy”.  In Riel’s diary, he memorably said: “The Spirit of God penetrated my brain as soon as I fell asleep…The Spirit of God affects us where He wishes, and to the extent that suits Him.”

Because of the intensity of his spiritual experiences, his friends hid Riel in a Montreal insane asylum.  After being released in 1878, Riel commented: “I did pretend to be mad.  I succeeded so well that everybody believed that I really was mad.”  Perhaps Riel’s insanity was like King David’s feigned insanity before the Philistines (1 Samuel 18:13).  Riel stated: “If I did disappear or if I should lose my mind, their relentless persecution may be relaxed…Then my enemies would probably cease persecuting my Metis people.”

In 1884, Riel returned from Montana with his family, at the urgent request of the starving Metis, to Batoche, Saskatchewan. Wilfrid Laurier, later to be Liberal Prime Minister, later declared on the floor of the House of Commons: “Had I been born on the banks of the Saskatchewan, I would myself have shouldered a musket to fight against the neglect of governments and the shameless greed of speculators.”  Riel unsuccessfully petitioned the federal government before attempting to capture Fort Carlton.  “I can almost say it”, noted Louis Riel, “our cause is shaking the Canadian Confederation from one end of the country to the other.  It is gaining strength daily.”

Riel’s cause however was militarily doomed.  Most of the 250 Metis had shotguns or old muzzle-loaders, but a few had only bows and arrows.  My great-grandfather Oliver Allen, as part of the 1,000-strong Toronto militia, had Sniders, Winchesters, cannon and a Gatling gun- the forerunner of the machine gun.  The Gatling gun had been loaned to them by the US Army, and operated by an American Lieutenant Arthur Howard. While conquering Riel, my great-grandfather met my great-grandmother Mary Mclean a Regina Leader news-reporter sympathetic to Louis Riel.  Right before Riel’s hanging, Mary Mclean, who was fluent in French, disguised herself as a Catholic priest in order to interview Riel.  Her newspaper editor had told her: “An interview must be had with Riel if you have to outwit the whole police force of the North-west.” Riel said to my great-grandmother on Nov 19th 1885: “When I first saw you at the trial, I loved you.”  Shortly after, my great-grandparents Oliver and Mary married and relocated to start life anew in BC!

Before Riel died, he passionately prayed in his diary: “Jesus, author of life!  Sustain us in all the battles of this life and, on our last day, give us eternal life.  Jesus, give me the grace to really know your beauty!  Grant me the grace to really love You.  Jesus, grant me the grace to know how beautiful You are; grant me the grace to cherish You.”

My prayer for those reading this article is that we too may discover the passion of Louis Riel for his Saviour Jesus Christ.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the Deep Cove Crier

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Louis Riel: Canadian Patriot?

By the Rev. Dr. Ed and Mark Hird

Who was Louis Riel?  Was he a patriot or a dissident or both?

Louis Riel was born at St. Boniface (Winnipeg, Manitoba) on October 22nd 1844, inheriting from his father a mixture of French, Irish and Aboriginal blood, with French predominating.

Louis’ mother Julie sent her son Louis to become Canada’s first Metis priest.  The 1864 death of his father however weighed heavily on Louis, bringing about an abrupt end to his seminary training.  Four months from becoming a priest, Louis met a young Montreal girl, fell in love, and decided to marry.  He rashly left the College of Montreal without obtaining his degree, and then his marriage plans collapsed when his fiancée’s parents forbade this proposed union with a Metis.  Embittered by this racist-rejection, Riel left Montreal in 1866 – without a wife, without a career, without money.

Returning home to the Red River settlement, Riel found that locusts had devastated the land. With the demise of the Hudson Bay Company’s influence, both Eastern Canada and the United States seemed poised to swallow up the Red River settlement.  The Metis felt forgotten, ignored and politically abandoned.

Without adequately consulting the local 12,000 Red River people, the Hudson Bay Company sold the Red River settlement to Eastern Canada.  Louis Riel rallied the Metis people in 1869 to take over the local Fort Garry, the Western nerve centre of the HBC.  Riel’s goal was to force the Federal Government to negotiate Manitoba’s admission into Confederation as a full province, not just a territory. The provincial name Manitoba, rather than the expected territorial name Assiniboia, came from Louis Riel himself.

Louis Riel proclaimed that the Metis were ‘loyal subjects of Her Majesty the Queen of England’. “If we are rebels, said Riel, “we are rebels against the Company that sold us, and is ready to hand us over, and against Canada that wants to buy us.  We are not in rebellion against the British supremacy which has still not given its approval for the final transfer of the country…We want the people of Red River to be a free people…”

The Americans watched the Red River Rebellion with keen interest.  Ignatius Donnelly, a former Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, said: ‘If the revolutionists of Red River are encouraged and sustained…, we may within a few years, perhaps months, see the Stars and Stripes wave from Fort Garry, from the waters of Puget Sound, and along the shore of Vancouver.’  In the summer of 1870, Nathanial F. Langford and ex-governor Marshall of Minnesota visited Riel at Fort Garry.  They promised Riel $4 million cash, guns, ammunition, mercenaries and supplies to maintain himself until his government was recognized by the United States.  Riel declined.

After William O’Donohogue ripped down the Union Jack, Riel immediately reposted the Union Jack with orders to shoot any man who dared touch it.  Despite his rebellious reputation, Louis Riel showed himself to be a Canadian patriot who single-handedly kept Western Canada from being absorbed by the USA.  Riel prayed in his diary: “O my God!  Save me from the misfortune of getting involved with the United States.  Let the United States protect us indirectly, spontaneously, through an act of Providence, but not through any commitment or agreement on our part.”  Riel also prophetically noted in his diary: “God revealed to me that the government of the United States is going to become extraordinarily powerful.”

“The Metis are a pack of cowards”, boasted Thomas Scott, “They will not dare to shoot me.” If it was not for Riel’s sanctioning of the tragic shooting of the Orangeman Thomas Scott, he might have ended up in John A Macdonald’s federal Cabinet.  Thomas Scott’s death made Riel ‘Canada’s most hated man’.

After fleeing to the United States, Riel was then elected in his absence as a Manitoba MP. The Quebec legislature in 1874 passed a unanimous resolution asking the Governor-General to grant amnesty to Riel.  That same year, after Louis Riel’s re-election as MP, he entered the parliament building, signed the register, and swore an oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria before slipping out to avoid arrest.  The outraged House of Commons expelled him by a 56-vote majority.

Exiled to Montana, Riel married and became a law-abiding American citizen. In 1884, with the slaughtering of the buffalo, many First Nations and Métis were dying of hunger.  The Metis in Saskatchewan convinced Riel to return to Canada.  Riel sent a petition to Ottawa demanding that the Metis be given title to the land they occupied and that the districts of Saskatchewan, Assiniboia and Alberta be granted provincial status.  The Federal Government instead set up a commission.  In the absence of concrete action, Louis Riel and his followers decided to press their claims by the attempted capture of Fort Carlton.

Due to the Canadian Pacific Railway, my great-grandfather Oliver Allen was shipped with the Toronto militia to quickly defeat Riel at Batoche.  Using an American Gatling gun with 1,200 rounds a minute, the battle did not last long.  While in the West, Oliver Allen met his future wife Mary Mclean a Regina Leader news-reporter sympathetic to Louis Riel.  Right before Riel’s hanging, Mary Mclean disguised herself as a Catholic priest in order to interview Riel.  Before Riel died, he prayed in his diary: “Lord Jesus, I love you.  I love everything associated with You…Lord Jesus, do the same favour for me that You did for the Good Thief; in Your infinite mercy, let me enter Paradise with You the very day of my death.”

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s  Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-previously published in the North Shore News

-award-winning author of the book ‘Battle for the Soul of Canada’

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide


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Faithful Father-in-Law

By the Rev. Dr. Ed Hird Cline family2

My father-in-law David is solid like a rock.  I have been married to his daughter for thirty-three years.  David jokes that he has never quite forgiven me for taking his daughter away, as she was the lead soprano in his choir.  To make up for this ‘theft’, I have paid him back by ‘giving’ him three grandchildren.  The nicest thing about grandchildren, of course, is that you can fuss over them, and then send them back home!

Over the years, my father-in-law has shown great wisdom in dealing with impossible situations.  When others give up, he keeps on moving faithfully forward.  I have experienced my father-in-law as someone who never stopped expecting the best from you.  Many times over the years, my father-in-law has opened doors for me to speak in situations that would otherwise have been closed.  He is a true Barnabas, a Son of Encouragement.

When I have faced enormous obstacles relationally, financially or spiritually, David has always been someone that I could sit down with and pour out my heart.  I am blessed with ‘stereo’ wisdom from my father-in-law and my own father, both of whom live just ten minutes from each other.  We live in a culture that is often embarrassed by aging and gray hair, but the Good Book says that ‘Gray hair is a crown of splendor’ and a potential sign of wisdom that comes through often painful years of experience.  My father-in-law’s wisdom has taught me to be less afraid of aging and gray hair!

‘With humility comes wisdom’, writes King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs.  My father-in-law is a very humble man, so much so that he wouldn’t recognize his own humility.  The Good Book says ‘Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.’ There is gentleness to my father-in-law that has drawn many hurting, broken people over the years.  People instinctively know that David cares.  My father-in-law is both a true shepherd and a true gentleman.

I remember when I announced to my father-in-law that I was going to marry his daughter.  Because I said it with a smile, he thought that I was joking!  But after I got down on my knees, he got the point.  I am one of a rare breed of bridegrooms whose father-in-law actually performed the marriage ceremony.  My father-in-law is one of three brothers who became ordained as clergy.  So you can imagine all the speeches that we had at our wedding reception.  My wedding reception, by the way, was so long that we actually had to have an intermission!

One of the most refreshing things about my father-in-law is that he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  Being a wonderful storyteller, he always has a great joke that breaks the ice, and opens people up to deeper spiritual truth.  With a twinkle in his eye, David will tell a hilarious story of some mishap that happened as children back on the family farm in Saskatchewan.

It was there in Saskatchewan that he met my future mother-in-law.  If there was ever a marriage made in heaven, their marriage was one of them.  Filled with much love and perseverance, their marriage inspired many other struggling couples to go the second mile and keep on forgiving.  Everything about David and Vera breathed the message of hope and steadfast endurance in the face of great obstacles.  Their faith in our Lord Jesus Christ was the open secret of their great love for each other, and for a hurting world.  Though it has been ten years now since Vera passed on, she is still fondly remembered.*

My father-in-law has been deeply impacted by the Christian Ashram Retreat movement.    I admire people who want to keep growing and learning even into their retirement years.  David is always looking for ways to be more loving, more caring, more forgiving, more Christ-like.  The Christian Ashram movement is a big part of what makes my father-in-law tick, of what keeps him vital and joyful year after year.  If David had one wish for those of you reading this article, I am sure that it would be the desire that you might experience a transformed life through attending a Christian Ashram retreat.  My own life has been radically transformed through 36 years of spending each summer at a Christ-centered Ashram retreat with my father-in-law and family.  You are invited to join us this summer for an unforgettable three-day BC Christian Ashram retreaton July 25th-27th 2014.   Give us a call at 604-533-5509 or ed_hird@telus.net .  You will never regret making that phone call.

* David has been so blessed to be given a dear second wife Una by the Lord who has joined faithfully into the Christian Ashram family.

The Rev. Dr. Ed Hird, Rector

BSW, MDiv, DMin

St. Simon’s Church North Vancouver

Anglican Mission in Canada

-award-winning author of the book Battle for the Soul of Canada

-The sequel book Restoring Health: body, mind and spirit is available online with Amazon.com in both paperback and ebook form. In Canada, Amazon.ca has the book available in paperback and ebook.

It is also posted on Amazon UK (paperback and ebook ), Amazon France (paperback and ebook), and Amazon Germany (paperback and ebook).

Restoring Health is also available online on Barnes and Noble in both paperback and Nook/ebook form.  Nook gives a sample of the book to read online.

Indigo also offers the paperback and the Kobo ebook version.  You can also obtain it through ITunes as an IBook.

To receive a signed copy within North America, just send a $20 cheque (USD/CAN) to ED HIRD, 1008- 555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC, V7N 2J7, Canada.

– In order to obtain a signed copy of the prequel book Battle for the Soul of Canada, please send a $18.50 cheque to ‘Ed Hird’, #1008-555 West 28th Street, North Vancouver, BC V7N 2J7. For mailing the book to the USA, please send $20.00 USD.  This can also be done by PAYPAL using the e-mail ed_hird@telus.net . Be sure to list your mailing address. The Battle for the Soul of Canada e-book can be obtained for $9.99 CDN/USD.

-Click to download a complimentary PDF copy of the Battle for the Soul study guide :  Seeking God’s Solution for a Spirit-Filled Canada

You can also download the complimentary Leader’s Guide PDF: Battle for the Soul Leaders Guide