Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ass-isi Institute

     I was driving around Rochester earlier this month, and I saw a sign for a place, and the sign and name intruiged me. It was called The Assisi Institute of Rochester, and the symbol on the sign was similar to the OM symbol from Indian and Dharmic religions. I dearly love this, the information age, because I was very quickly able to find the rocwiki and homepage of this Assisi Institute on my Driod. And it sounded nice, as I read through, I found that their message, as they say it, is "Eastern Philosophy and Western Mysticism" which made me pause, I wasn't really sure what they were referring to by "Western Mysticism" because generally I don't associate anything from the West as 'mystical' in any way, at least when compared to the East. I feel like the most 'mystical' we get here in the West involves drinking the special Kool-Aid.
     But I kept reading, and throughout the first paragraph, they used the word 'God' a surprising number of times, for an organization that focuses primarily on Kriya Yoga. Finally, in the third paragraph, they were willing to admit that when they say 'Western Mysticism,' what they mean is Jesus-Yoga, or as they say "a special emphasis on Christian mysticism," whatever that means. I'm a relatively jaded soul with regards to Christianity, so naturally I wanted to know how Christianity could possibly add any kind of occult or arcane aspect to YOGA. I really wanted to know who could possibly think Christianity was more mystical than Eastern meditative religious lifestyles. Thus, I went to their website,http://assisi-institute.org/, to try to find some clarity, and their specific page "Christian Mysticism" and it was blank! Every other page at least had some small blurb, but the mysticism page was emptier than a church during football. They did however, have a plethora of information about the fact that they operate on and encourage donations, as well as their plans to expand. Which really seems to confirm my cynicism toward anything Jesus related that won't admit it's actually just another church.
    What really makes me want to 'cast the first stone' right through their fucking stained-glass windows, is that they can't just be up front about their Jesus slanting. In the information about the Assisi Institute, it was halfway though the third paragraph before the Christian bullshit was revealed. It really feels like a scammer, where you go and listen to a presentation that promises you can make $1000 a week working from home, and then you go and in the last five minutes they 'reveal' that it's Vector knife sales.
     I then waxed curious about the 'Assisi' from the title, I looked up more about it, and it refers to Saint Francis of Assisi, from the Franciscan order of monks. Which to me, once again I feel the tugging of wool down over people's eyes. If you wanted to identify with those monks, the word "Franciscan" is far better known than "Assisi" and would be a more straight-forward, genuine title. Instead they pulled out the much less recognizable word to ally themselves with the teachings of a monk who preached "To follow the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ and to walk in his footsteps." If you believe in following Jesus, but you want to do yoga too, that's fine, just call it a Church and offer yoga classes. Don't lure people in with the promise of mysticism and enlightenment, and then snake in with the Christian dreck.


  1. You want Christian mysticism? Hit up a Pentecostal church some day. That should satisfy ya.

    At any rate, I suspect that you underestimate what would be considered Christian mysticism simply because you've been so heavily exposed to it. Consider, for instance, Catholic communion - they believe that they're consuming the blood and body of Christ. Perhaps it's old hat for you, but someone (say, a Buddhist monk unfamiliar with the details of Christianity) might proclaim, "Damn, transubstantiation is some mystic shit."

  2. At the risk of putting words into a Buddhist monk's mouth, I believe the monk would approach communion with intent to understand. He might ask questions about the ritual of someone knowledgeable, like a priest or pastor. He would not simply accept that "this is the body of Christ because someone else believes it, and it must be mystical." He would draw parallels to his own beliefs and practices, and find peace that you enjoy your ritual like he enjoys his.

    I understand it's a matter of perception and to an unfamiliar person, even those most mundane can seem mystic. What I'm afraid of is Christian ambition muscling its way into another culture's customs and that culture's philosophy being consumed or warped.