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Author Topic: IS an orthodox christian allowed to practise Tai Chi  (Read 9203 times) Average Rating: 0
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philothea
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« on: November 17, 2006, 01:52:21 PM »

Hi everyone

This is my first post , I am very interested to know if anyone knows of an orthodox authority of some kind that has studied Tai Chi and has come to the conclusion that it is or isn't allowed to be practiced by orthodox Christians and why.

I have a Tai Chi chi gung  tape which demonstrates various stances and balancing the chi exercises -- i find it very relaxing and have heard that Tai Chi is used for de-stressing and healing the body (ie lowering blood pressure , improving  circulation) by many hospitals around the world

I have read the views on Protestant sites and they all condemn Tai Chi as spriritual etc but I am not convinced by their arguments - I believe that Tai chi has not got the same implications as the practise of Yoga which I know the Church does not approve of
would like to know the official orthodox stand on Tai Chi.

I would appreciate anyones input on this matter
thank you
Philothea
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« Reply #1 on: November 17, 2006, 02:25:00 PM »

I have read some of Tai Chi from a friend and I personally have the same opinion that I have of Yoga.  The way it is done by most instructors in America is that it heavily involves Eastern Spirituality.  I personally find this uncomfortable being told find the inner Qi - the life force and negative energy, etc.  It's a little too new age for me.  Now, I know some of adapted other Martial Arts to a more Christian sense, but the way Tai Chi and other meditative execercises are now, I would not feel comfortable recommending them to a Christian. 
I do not, though, know if any heiarchs have said one thing or another about this.
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« Reply #2 on: November 17, 2006, 07:53:30 PM »

Dear Friend,

I personally would have to take a different stance as Protestantism will usually take the dooms day, conspiracy, fanatical outlook and reject all things even those that may be deemed good. I think we're given as our measuring stick Phil 4:8, "whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy-- meditate  on these things."

So much good can be derived from practises such as yoga, tai chi and meditation so then why would one deprive themself of these. And as you have mentioned also such exercises have produced such profound results that they have even been absorbed into and utilised by modern day medicine. Usually these practises are expunged of all or any religious significance so there is no fear at all of worshipping a foreign God or opposing Orthodox dogma. Oftentimes the practitioners of these exercises themselves are also agnostic or even atheistic hence further highlighting the fact that there is no fear of delving into a foreign religion here.

In actual fact the Eastern Orthodox practise of hesychasm possesses many attributes which contain many parralels to Eastern mystical practises. And we can go on in general about culture and religion throughout the history of Christianity. Thomas Merton, a Benedictine trappist monk of the Cistercian Order spent much time in the study and appreciation of eastern practises. Heiromonk Damascene has written a book called Christ the Eternal Tao and speaks of the Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu as a prophet of Christ in the Eastern tradition.

I suppose if you're uncomfortable with some of the language that you can substitute it with more Orthodox language. I suppose in the end to a large extent your conscience will be your guide as to what is appropriate and what is not. Therefore, the practises themselves I would vindicate of any wrong and if there be any worship or religious attachments to the practises then it is these can be removed while the practises themselves which oftentimes can be purely physical exercises can be retained.
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« Reply #3 on: November 17, 2006, 08:01:20 PM »

In actual fact the Eastern Orthodox practise of hesychasm possesses many attributes which contain many parralels to Eastern mystical practises. And we can go on in general about culture and religion throughout the history of Christianity. Thomas Merton, a Benedictine trappist monk of the Cistercian Order spent much time in the study and appreciation of eastern practises.

Thomas Merton's a bad example. His last writings are more concerned with Eastern spirituality than with anything recognizably Christian. During his Asian trip, he bowed to idols. His abbot expressed discontent about the direction he had gone in. The preface he wrote for the Japanese edition of The Seven-Storey Mountain even claims that all religions are just different paths to the Divine. Not a good role model, Merton.
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« Reply #4 on: November 17, 2006, 08:12:59 PM »

I'm really not sure how accurate the claims you make are. As far as I know right up until his death Thomas Merton remained a Christian and a monk and in no way bowed to the temptation of syncretistic or relativistic theology.
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« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2006, 05:55:59 AM »

If you would like to try a relaxing practice that doesn't involve Taoism or other new-agey Eastern spirtiuality, give Systema a try.  They have very relaxing breathing and movement methods, are Russian, and incorporate Orthodox faith in their practice (such as praying "Lord, have mercy." during breathing).  Here is a book and video that may be of interest:
http://www.russianmartialart.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=81
http://www.russianmartialart.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=86
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2006, 06:21:37 AM »

My friend I would encourage you to be open to and experiment with different systems and adopt that one which you are most comfortable with and find yourself most suited to. I wonder if an Asian convert who once practised Tai Chi would abandon his practise and I would ask the same about yoga and meditation or would he be best to adapt his practise to his new beliefs and understandings.
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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2006, 08:56:29 AM »

I'm really not sure how accurate the claims you make are. As far as I know right up until his death Thomas Merton remained a Christian and a monk and in no way bowed to the temptation of syncretistic or relativistic theology.

Doesn't bowing to a statue of Buddha not involve syncretistic theology?
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« Reply #8 on: November 18, 2006, 11:17:46 AM »

We may not adopt the idea of an inner Qi, but we do believe that the "kingdom of God is within you."

What I found so refreshing about Orthodoxy when I discovered it is that it IS an EASTERN RELIGION. However, unlike the other eastern religions Orthodoxy contains the correct CONTENT of belief.

Seek the kingdom within you and pray Lord have mercy with your breathing.
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2006, 01:15:16 PM »

Here's a novel suggestion: Ask your priest.
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« Reply #10 on: November 18, 2006, 04:22:28 PM »

Quote
Doesn't bowing to a statue of Buddha not involve syncretistic theology?

I'm not sure what evidence you have, if any at all, that Thomas Merton ever performed such a thing.

Quote
We may not adopt the idea of an inner Qi

I don't understand why such a concept is so wrong as well. Would it still be wrong if we were to refer to this concept as homeostatic or quantum energy.

Don't forget that a large proportion of the practitioners of this system originate from communist countries and have adopted Marxist notions of dialectic materialism; China's current government in fact formally embraces anti-spiritual atheism.

Is this simply an elitist failure to understand and appreciate other cultures or a western predisposition to eschew all that is without.
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« Reply #11 on: November 18, 2006, 04:28:36 PM »

I'm not sure what evidence you have, if any at all, that Thomas Merton ever performed such a thing.

See The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New York: New Directions Publishing, 1973).
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« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2006, 04:37:16 PM »

The problem I see with the Qi is this:  Many Buddhists and Confucionists believe it is the life force that exists in all and throws through all including ourselves.  Now one may be tempted to parrallel this with God's Energy.  However, a fundamental difference exists.  While through theosis we take in God's energy we are not taking in His essence.  Many Eastern philosophers, would argue though that the Qi is the same of all.  The giant and world illusion.  This is false.  Also, we can only willingly take on God's Energy and only Baptized Orthodox Christians.  It is not forced upon us, nor is it present in all nor at the same rate.  Thus, at the most, most Tai Chi as taught in America emphasizes this Confucionist philosophy and it is impossible to divorce the philosophy from the practice.  Just as one could not practice hesychasm for meditation while de-emphasizing the Jesus Prayer.  We are not being ignorant or arrogant westerners.  Rather, we are being wary Christians who are protective of our souls, especially of how the New Agism has creeped into such practices. 
Now as some have pointed out if you are looking for meditation, there is the Russian practice one pointed out.  Also, there are simple meditaive ways to control oneself.  Ultimatly the best response would be talking to your Spiritual Father.
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« Reply #13 on: November 18, 2006, 04:54:12 PM »

Quote
See The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New York: New Directions Publishing, 1973).

In his journal what Merton describes is a spiritual experience amongst the Buddhists and not his beginning to bow or worship a statue of the Buddha...I must say that would be quite an extrapolation...

Quote
The problem I see with the Qi is this
It seems to me that while there may be different schools of thought about the system, a large proportion of these schools would be materialistic in notion due either to the communist countries they originate from or western athiestic tendencies.

Furthermore, I don't think that your notion of theosis is compatible with the Orthodox notion of panentheism or even scripture's understanding of God, the spiritual realm and our relation to it, "for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, 'For we are also His offspring.'" (Acts 17:28)
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« Reply #14 on: November 18, 2006, 04:58:52 PM »

The problem I see with the Qi is this:  Many Buddhists and Confucionists believe it is the life force that exists in all and throws through all including ourselves.  Now one may be tempted to parrallel this with God's Energy.  However, a fundamental difference exists.  While through theosis we take in God's energy we are not taking in His essence.  Many Eastern philosophers, would argue though that the Qi is the same of all.  The giant and world illusion.  This is false.  Also, we can only willingly take on God's Energy and only Baptized Orthodox Christians.  It is not forced upon us, nor is it present in all nor at the same rate.  Thus, at the most, most Tai Chi as taught in America emphasizes this Confucionist philosophy and it is impossible to divorce the philosophy from the practice.  Just as one could not practice hesychasm for meditation while de-emphasizing the Jesus Prayer.  We are not being ignorant or arrogant westerners.  Rather, we are being wary Christians who are protective of our souls, especially of how the New Agism has creeped into such practices. 
Now as some have pointed out if you are looking for meditation, there is the Russian practice one pointed out.  Also, there are simple meditaive ways to control oneself.  Ultimatly the best response would be talking to your Spiritual Father.

I fear my knowledge of Far-Eastern philosophy is rather limited, though my knowledge of Platonic thought and it's derivative Christian thought, is a bit more developed. You seem to speak of the presence of divine energy in merely an existential sense. What about the ontological presence of the divine in all of creation, the active sustaining energy of God that is required for us to even exist. This divine energy is present not merely in the baptized, but in all humans, in all creation, witnessed by the very fact of its existance.

I dont know whether this eastern meditation would be benificial or not, it probably depends on the individual; however, I dont believe that any viable theological objections have thus far been presented.
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« Reply #15 on: November 18, 2006, 05:07:38 PM »

I fear my knowledge of Far-Eastern philosophy is rather limited, though my knowledge of Platonic thought and it's derivative Christian thought, is a bit more developed. You seem to speak of the presence of divine energy in merely an existential sense. What about the ontological presence of the divine in all of creation, the active sustaining energy of God that is required for us to even exist. This divine energy is present not merely in the baptized, but in all humans, in all creation, witnessed by the very fact of its existance.

I dont know whether this eastern meditation would be benificial or not, it probably depends on the individual; however, I dont believe that any viable theological objections have thus far been presented.

I do see what you're saying.  Reminds me of the Medieval insult, "May you only have sufficent grace" Wink 

I will admit that I am no theologian which why I normally do not get in such conversations.  However, as I understand it, part of Tai Chi demands that we draw upon the power of the Qi.  The problem, and I'll freely admit that this is my own bias, is that this is drawing upon a power that one does not see in Christianity and the idea of Qi differes mtore than the Soul and God's Divine Energy.  Rather, like much in Eastern thought is a force that is the same in all creation and is all creation.  And that does differ from the Christian understanding of the Soul and creation.

Anyways, I did get off subject and I shall not debate the Soul and its nature as in reality (and you may tell) my knowledge is greatly limited and I shall be made to look foolish.  So I'll admit my knowlege lacking. Smiley  Anyways, my point is that many practicianers of Tai Chi (that I'm aware of) do embody these Confucian principles and that I do see as a problem for a Christian to engage in.
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« Reply #16 on: November 18, 2006, 05:12:10 PM »

This is from Wiki:

"Neo-Confucians criticized the notion that qi exists separate from matter, and viewed qi as arising from the properties of matter. Most of the theories of qi as a metaphor for the fundamental physical properties of the universe that we are familiar with today were systematized and promulgated in the last thousand years or so by the Neo-Confucians."
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« Reply #17 on: November 18, 2006, 05:24:15 PM »

Okay, that's fine, but that's not my point and in reality I got side tracked with the Qi.  My point from the beginning is that the practicianers (which is a small four) and books that I have read and spoken toof the subject have a very New Age understanding and I personally would feel uncomfortable about that.  Perhaps, there is a different experience others have had.  If so, good.  Perhaps it has been Christianized.  If it hasn't though, then I'd be wary.  So, I'll leave it at that.
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« Reply #18 on: November 18, 2006, 05:26:34 PM »

And just to get back to the original poster's question and topic,
Ultimatly I don't think you can say one way or another whether one can.  There hasn't been a consenous.  I'd ask your bishop, read of the subject, and follow your concious.
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« Reply #19 on: November 19, 2006, 02:03:06 AM »

I can understand Philothea's concern and I respect the admonitions of the other posters.  There is just not much information out there from an Orthodox point of view.  I have been practicing Tai Chi for one year and I initially had some of the same reservations.   Health concerns, including stress-related problems, were my reason for beginning tai chi.  The one thing that has been overlooked here is that while tai chi does have its basis in daoist philosophy, it is definitely a martial art, and a very powerful one.  It is not a beautiful Chinese ballet, but composed of defensive movements that are just very slow.  The kung fu dojo that I attend does a little bit of work on the movement of chi through meditation techniques and the use of chi energy techniques for increasing one's fighting and striking power.  While I do not believe in chi as a life force in the same way that a daoist might, I see no real problem with the explanation that chi may be similar to the electrical and metabolic energy that we know exists in our bodies.   The mind can exert lots of effects on the body's functions, so it doesn't seem unlikely that we could have an effect on the body's energy flow, electrical impulses, chi, whatever you want to call it.

The advice to speak to your priest should always be followed.  Even if your priest has no problems with you practicing tai chi, he should definitely know what you are pursuing.  I've spoken with my prior priest about this and he had no reservations, but he had also been a practitioner of another martial arts form for many years.  I have had more concerns about the martial arts aspect of tai chi than the chi aspect.  My tai chi program also includes weapons training (sword, broadsword, fan, dagger, etc...), which I absolutely love, but it has bothered me a little when doing movements that are designed to decapitate, disembowel, or skewer your opponent.  I don't necessarily think I'll ever have the need to defend myself with a sword, but I wondered whether a Christian should participate in this kind of activity.  Another priest I asked said it was no different than Orthodox Christians who are soldiers and who train to defend themselves.

Philothea - My only other two cents would be to ditch the tai chi videos.  Seek out a reputable kung fu program that will teach you proper technique and form.  Trying to learn from a video can be frustrating or quickly become boring.  You can also injure yourself without proper instruction.  And, by focusing on the martial arts aspects of tai chi, you will not be involved in the more New Agey wacko programs that are out there.  Feel free to email me privately if you want a recommendation for a good school in your area.

Blessings to all during the fast of our Lord's Nativity. 
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« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2006, 11:39:04 AM »

Tina,

Very good stuff.  I think, just like a variety of things, you can utilize Tai Chi for an intended purpose, like meditation and relaxation, without buying the whole ball of wax.

As far as Tai Chi being new age . . . . .  If I recall correctly, the art itself is something like 3,000 years old.  So, it is hardly new age.  Now, that being said, that doesn't mean that some practitioners or instructors haven't incorporated new age thought or practice into it.

Finally, as far as Tai Chi or any other martial art being compatible with Orthodoxy . . . . .  I know of a very holy Orthodox priest in Ohio who practices both Tai Chi and Karate.  He doesn't seem to have been adversely affected by it.

Rob
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« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2006, 11:19:42 PM »

I have no problem with Tai Chi or any other marshall art.

But it is anachronistic to talk of new age thought "entering" these practices.

New Age thought is Eastern monist philosophy (as found in Hinduism, Bhudism, Zen) packaged for Western yuppies.

The basics of "new age" thought are inherent in the practices, religions and philosophies of the East. If anything, "new age" is a watered down version of what they really are about!

Not that I think we need be any more wary of them than anything else that is not the Christianity of Eastern Orthodoxy. In fact, if we were as wary about Western materialism, commercialism, uncritical nationalism, upwardly mobile careerism as many are about "new age" or "eastern" thought, we would be a whole lot better off.
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« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2011, 11:40:34 AM »

Here's a novel suggestion: Ask your priest.

Your trite sarcasm scared the OP away! For shame!
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« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2011, 02:31:50 PM »

You don't need to subscribe to Daoist or Confucian beliefs to practice Taijiquan, any more than you have to be a pagan to use the Julian calendar or Euclid's geometry. Some people think that all "Eastern religions" believe the same thing, when in fact there are many key differences, for example, between Buddhism and Daoism. And yet both Buddhists and Daoists (and atheists in China too) practice Taiji, qigong, etc.  

I don't see how the concept of qi needs to be any more problematic than the "four elements" natural philosophy adopted by the Fathers. There are many ways qi can be understood, and I've no doubt that Christians can come to their own understanding just like Daoists, Buddhists, and atheists have come to theirs. It's kind of like the Indian chakra system- many different schools of philosophy accept their existence, but give them a wide variety of interpretations. Taijiquan can be a spiritual practice but for most practicioners in China it is chiefly for physical well-being. It's therefore not comparable to hesychasm or any other strictly spiritual discipline.
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« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2011, 02:52:09 PM »

I think that some Orthodox Christians tend to be overly suspicious of anything that doesn't readily fit into Orthodoxy's very specific (and therefore necessarily limited) perspective. Qi Gong has helped me with chronic fatigue issues, as has acupuncture. Insight meditation (derived from Buddhism) helps me, and thousands of others, to cope with ADD and anxiety.

I'd say that Qi Gong is perfectly compatible with an Orthodox life, provided one uses it for health purposes only and doesn't start mixing far-out Taoist spiritual practices with Christian ones.
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« Reply #25 on: January 03, 2011, 04:48:08 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
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« Reply #26 on: January 03, 2011, 04:56:27 PM »

Taijiquan can be a spiritual practice but for most practicioners in China it is chiefly for physical well-being. It's therefore not comparable to hesychasm or any other strictly spiritual discipline.

I would also point out that the fact that the Communist government actively supports and encourages (from what I understand, mind you) the practice of taijiquan for physical well-being shows that it can be separated from the spiritual dimension of some practitioners.
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« Reply #27 on: January 03, 2011, 05:20:51 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.
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« Reply #28 on: January 03, 2011, 05:31:17 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  
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« Reply #29 on: January 03, 2011, 05:44:28 PM »

I practice Tai Chi Rho - metanias by the hundreds.
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« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2011, 06:04:19 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.
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« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2011, 06:11:58 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.
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« Reply #32 on: January 03, 2011, 06:14:15 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.
Pontius Pilates?
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« Reply #33 on: January 03, 2011, 06:16:08 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.
Pontius Pilates?

 laugh!!!
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« Reply #34 on: January 03, 2011, 06:21:02 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.
Pontius Pilates?

One could argue that the washing of the hands action could be integrated into a Pilates exercise program! Wink
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« Reply #35 on: January 03, 2011, 08:10:08 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.

Pilates has its origins from Joseph Pilates, a Greek by descent, who lived in Germany during the 20th century. And so, while it may have certain aspects and influences from eastern mysticism (I believe it surely does) it is not a technique that comes directly out of that spiritual practice, as does yoga or T.M. Even though Pilates did study yoga and some martial arts, he also consulted with dancers and physical fitness experts to help develop his system, and not Hindu gurus and yogis.

Still, it is something linked in many people's minds to Eastern mysticism, and so one should still be careful with it, as those who are involved with it may also be involved in eastern mystic practices.
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« Reply #36 on: January 03, 2011, 08:35:16 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.

Please. I just read this book. The everyday practice of Taijiquan as a health practice is just not comparable with the stuff he was was getting into. This talk about "Eastern mysticism" as if it's all the same is just ignorance. I just smile at people fretting about the supposedly dangerous spiritual background of traditional Chinese medicine, who think nothing of visiting Western doctors who may be informed by materialist philosophy.

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And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation


What spiritual foundation? Which spiritual foundation? These practices are "relieved of their spiritual foundation" every day by thousands of people.
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« Reply #37 on: January 03, 2011, 08:44:58 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.

Please. I just read this book. The everyday practice of Taijiquan as a health practice is just not comparable with the stuff he was was getting into. This talk about "Eastern mysticism" as if it's all the same is just ignorance. I just smile at people fretting about the supposedly dangerous spiritual background of traditional Chinese medicine, who think nothing of visiting Western doctors who may be informed by materialist philosophy.

I didn't say it was all the same. Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, Sikhs and the like are all very different in their beliefs and practices...and remain incompatible with Christianity. And I'm not a fan of "western doctors" or "Chinese medicine." So there.  Tongue

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation


What spiritual foundation? Which spiritual foundation? These practices are "relieved of their spiritual foundation" every day by thousands of people.

Any spiritual foundation, and again, I find that very hard to believe. I know many, directly and indirectly, who have found their way into the new age movement through "harmless" yoga, meditation and other types of exercises. I know some that have even become practitioners of eastern religions directly, and many (MANY) more that, while they may not be pre-disposed to religion (or even consider themselves Christian by culture) that hold certain aspects of their own life philosophies in common with Indian religious traditions. The belief that all religious paths are equally acceptable and valid is a hallmark of modern western society, which is shared with Hindus, Buddhists and others (even though they believe their path is the best, of course).
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« Reply #38 on: January 03, 2011, 10:24:53 PM »

i've been taking tai chi for over ten years, am now an instructor, and Orthodox. There is much misinformation about what it is. One of the things that led me to Orthodoxy was my search to integrate the relaxing movements, the breathing, and calming my thoughts with Christian music, and Christian meditation and through that discovered the Jesus Prayer.  Health for your body, mind, and soul! After ten minutes or more of tai chi I found I was more easily able to relax and pray with fewer distractions. My advice is to find a good teacher who is not concerned with fighting, Buddhism, etc., but with the health aspects. Tai chi is about defense, but you don't even need to go into that to get the health benefits.
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« Reply #39 on: January 03, 2011, 11:06:41 PM »

The belief that all religious paths are equally acceptable and valid is a hallmark of modern western society, which is shared with Hindus, Buddhists and others....
I think this is a very common mis-conception of what Hindus, Buddhists, and other Asian traditions teach, in part because these Asian traditions teach different things. If you just take a look at Buddhism, specifically Theravada Buddhism, for instance, you'll find that the Buddha explictly taught that all "religious" paths are not equally acceptable and valid for one who is seeking the highest Truth. If all paths were the same, then Siddhartha Gautama would have realized Buddha-hood through any one of the various paths in existence during his life-time. But the fact that religions are not the same, meant that Siddhartha had to discover the truth for himself.
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« Reply #40 on: January 04, 2011, 12:34:59 PM »

The belief that all religious paths are equally acceptable and valid is a hallmark of modern western society, which is shared with Hindus, Buddhists and others....
I think this is a very common mis-conception of what Hindus, Buddhists, and other Asian traditions teach, in part because these Asian traditions teach different things. If you just take a look at Buddhism, specifically Theravada Buddhism, for instance, you'll find that the Buddha explictly taught that all "religious" paths are not equally acceptable and valid for one who is seeking the highest Truth. If all paths were the same, then Siddhartha Gautama would have realized Buddha-hood through any one of the various paths in existence during his life-time. But the fact that religions are not the same, meant that Siddhartha had to discover the truth for himself.

Was what I said a generalization? Yes. Does every single little Tradition within eastern mysticism teach that? No. Sikhs do not, some Buddhists do not, etc. Yet, many do. This has permeated western society. This is all I mean, as I'm trying to discuss the affect of eastern religion on the west. I am by no means attempting to provide in-depth comparative religions analysis.

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« Reply #41 on: January 04, 2011, 12:43:22 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.

Pilates has its origins from Joseph Pilates, a Greek by descent, who lived in Germany during the 20th century. And so, while it may have certain aspects and influences from eastern mysticism (I believe it surely does) it is not a technique that comes directly out of that spiritual practice, as does yoga or T.M. Even though Pilates did study yoga and some martial arts, he also consulted with dancers and physical fitness experts to help develop his system, and not Hindu gurus and yogis.

Still, it is something linked in many people's minds to Eastern mysticism, and so one should still be careful with it, as those who are involved with it may also be involved in eastern mystic practices.

And, yet, most every single physical exercise in Pilates has a corollary to a yoga pose.  I have yet to meet a Pilates teacher who was actually teaching Pilates system (as opposed to a yoga person using the name Pilates as a marketing gimmick and vice versa) and utilizing some sort of spiritual mumbojumbo in their program.  Quite the opposite, the word you hear most is "the core" which specifically refers to a group of muscles at the physical center of our bodies. 

You will, of course, believe what you will and are entirely in your rights to do so. 
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« Reply #42 on: January 04, 2011, 12:59:05 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.
I disagree, and have also thoroughly read Farasiotis' book.

Indeed.  One can easily see that the protagonist was clearly using the physical practices of Eastern mysticism (such as yoga) to attempt to achieve a spiritual goal.  

And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation. At the very least, I would approach any of it with much apprehension and the direction of a spiritual father.

Pilates.

Pilates has its origins from Joseph Pilates, a Greek by descent, who lived in Germany during the 20th century. And so, while it may have certain aspects and influences from eastern mysticism (I believe it surely does) it is not a technique that comes directly out of that spiritual practice, as does yoga or T.M. Even though Pilates did study yoga and some martial arts, he also consulted with dancers and physical fitness experts to help develop his system, and not Hindu gurus and yogis.

Still, it is something linked in many people's minds to Eastern mysticism, and so one should still be careful with it, as those who are involved with it may also be involved in eastern mystic practices.

And, yet, most every single physical exercise in Pilates has a corollary to a yoga pose.  I have yet to meet a Pilates teacher who was actually teaching Pilates system (as opposed to a yoga person using the name Pilates as a marketing gimmick and vice versa) and utilizing some sort of spiritual mumbojumbo in their program.  Quite the opposite, the word you hear most is "the core" which specifically refers to a group of muscles at the physical center of our bodies. 

You will, of course, believe what you will and are entirely in your rights to do so. 

I'm not saying the issue isn't complex, and I'm not saying that there aren't similiarities between the two or that those who teach "Pilates" don't have ties with Hinduism. I believe I acutally suggested something like that earlier, receiving much consternation from others...

And so, as I have said and continue to say...these practices are best avoided.
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« Reply #43 on: January 04, 2011, 12:59:47 PM »

I would have to suggest that Eastern mysticism (and it's related practices, such as meditation, yoga, etc.) are incompatible with Orthodoxy.

For those who disagree, I would recommend a thorough reading of The Gurus, The Young Man and Elder Paisios by Dionysios Farasiotis.

Please. I just read this book. The everyday practice of Taijiquan as a health practice is just not comparable with the stuff he was was getting into. This talk about "Eastern mysticism" as if it's all the same is just ignorance. I just smile at people fretting about the supposedly dangerous spiritual background of traditional Chinese medicine, who think nothing of visiting Western doctors who may be informed by materialist philosophy.

Quote
And I find it highly implausible that these methods can be completely relieved of their spiritual foundation


What spiritual foundation? Which spiritual foundation? These practices are "relieved of their spiritual foundation" every day by thousands of people.
My sister in law comes from Korea, was baptized by the Vatican, and practices acupuncture.  I don't find that  any more problematic, as you say, than Western doctors who continue (or claim to) the Hippocratic tradition, although his pythagorean philosophy informed it.

I think your analoy of qi with the four elements of the world of the ancient Fathers is spot on.
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« Reply #44 on: January 04, 2011, 05:00:17 PM »

...  While I do not believe in chi as a life force in the same way that a daoist might, I see no real problem with the explanation that chi may be similar to the electrical and metabolic energy that we know exists in our bodies.   The mind can exert lots of effects on the body's functions, so it doesn't seem unlikely that we could have an effect on the body's energy flow, electrical impulses, chi, whatever you want to call it.

[...] Philothea - My only other two cents would be to ditch the tai chi videos.  Seek out a reputable kung fu program that will teach you proper technique and form.  Trying to learn from a video can be frustrating or quickly become boring.  You can also injure yourself without proper instruction.  And, by focusing on the martial arts aspects of tai chi, you will not be involved in the more New Agey wacko programs that are out there.  Feel free to email me privately if you want a recommendation for a good school in your area.

Blessings to all during the fast of our Lord's Nativity. 

Well exactly! Qi (chi) is nothing more than the the life that flows through you and every living creature. It is the same biochemical electricity (energy) that accompanies our every action or inaction as well as thoughts and responses to thoughts (images) and motivates or demotes us emotionally by those thought-images.  An Orthodox Christian can accept a notion of Qi if one understands Patristic Anthropology (not the subject of this thread).

I also agree that one should learn Tai Chi from a reputable teacher.  The videos will only help if your teacher instructs in the same "style".  Since Tai Chi has so many "styles" it might not be likely to find a teacher to match your videos.  The practice of the Jesus Prayer can be a dangerous practice when accompanied with proper posture and correct breathing. It is frequently recommended that one find a monastic teacher or elder to guide you in the practice of the "Prayer of the Heart" otherwise limit yourself to its prayerful repitition and contemplation of the prayer.

I am a former Aikido-ka and now practice Tai Chi via the Taoist Tai Chi Society Intl in response to my fibromyalgia, degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, etc.  It is relaxing and helps to clear the mind. A clear mind is best for Orthodox Prayer.  There is something positive to be said about an active body and an active mind -- as long as its all kept in check with ascetic awareness.

Blessed Nativity to you all.

forgive me,
monk Symon

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