Recent posts have touched on yoga and religious beliefs and what they may offer in these disconcerting times. This one explores Quakerism and yoga, how, without seeking facile similarities, these two very different traditions appear to have much in common. Both Quakerism and yoga are quiet, private practices which are light on dogma.
Quakers refer to themselves as The Religious Society of Friends and though their roots are Christian, they set themselves apart from many of its doctrines, institutions and practices. Fundamentally they believe wisdom comes through stillness and that God is revealed through personal experience. They also live ethically and have been instrumental in: anti-slavery, pacifism, prison reform, gender equality, social enterprise, philanthropy and chocolate. Quakerism is then both mystical and practical. They attend meetings rather than services, don’t hold with sermons, prayers or hymns, and whilst members of the congregation are free to standup if they feel moved to speak, they mainly commune in silence. Quakers are 😎.
Quakers and yogis both relate to the divine through personal experience and believe that practise and ethical living help to realise the “light within”, that we all manifest the Godhead. Whilst yoga is a physical pursuit, it fundamentally aims to cultivate unity between ourselves (Atman) and the infinite (Brahman). Quakerism, in upholding a deeply personal relationship with the mystery of God, similarly blurs the distinction, and, along with the aforementioned similarities, focused upon realising the divine within.
But I really don’t know very much about either, so don’t hold back in the comments.