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Old 12-06-2009, 12:38 AM   #2

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Oct 2005
Senior Member
Hi Nathanie- this thread is a discussion of the compatibility with Indian hatha yoga and other eastern psychosomatic systems. I'll just copy and paste my own opinions from it, as I think they apply to qigong too:

When considering some of the world's traditional health disciplines (yoga, traditional Chinese medicine, ayurveda, etc.) I think it's worth considering that the early Church came into a world whose science and medicine had been created by pagans, with many pagan presuppositions. The Fathers did not reject these outright- rather, they accepted the common understanding that the world is spiritualized and adapted these practices to Christian views.

Matter and spirit, while distinct, are intertwined. Focusing on one and ignoring the other produces a distorted picture. In this sense, I think Christianity has more in common with, say, the Indian or Chinese practices than with modern Western medicine, which is dualist or materialist in outlook. We would be wrong to think that, because a discipline does not have spiritual content, that somehow makes it spiritually neutral!

I would also point out that Buddhists also accepted the chakra system, but interpreted it in a very different way, corresponding to a very different cosmology. So the specific doctrines behind these ideas are not fixed.

I don't presume to be one with the wisdom to make such "adaptations" for Christian purposes. We should be always cautious, whether looking at yoga- or entering a modern hospital. Qigong is hard to generalize about, because there are so many different practices and ideas that fall under that general name. For many people, it's just a way of maintaining mental and physical health, like aerobics. I think the early Church, by necessity, accepted a lot of scientific/medical theories and practices which had some origin in pagan thinking- see, for instance, St. John Damascene's cosmological theories in An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith- nevertheless, it was possible to Christianize these and maintain their basic usefulness. I think some kinds of qigong might be acceptable in this way.

There are, however, many qigong lineages specifically connected to religious systems, like Daoism or Buddhism. There are also many gurus out there peddling their brand of qigong, claiming supernatural powers, and demanding devotion from their followers- the Falun Dafa cult came out of this milieu. My mom used to take me with her to a qigong center which I could only describe as a cult- we were constantly told about the miraculous abilities of the group's leader and why his qigong method was superior to any other. So obviously anything like this should be avoided by Christians.

But I'm always a little amused by people who flatly reject any form of qigong, yoga, etc. as incompatible with Christianity, while uncritically accepting modern Western medicine and science.
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