The Discrimination Of Yoga Practitioners In Romania Reaches Uncontrolled Social Dimensions
By Advaita Mihai Stoian
“Love Your Neighbor As Yourself”
I have just returned from Bucharest where I kept some lectures at MISA yoga school. There I also met some colleagues from the yoga course that I had known for more than 23 years. However, the joy of seeing them again was overshadowed by some of my colleagues’ stories that pointed out a hideous face of discrimination to which yoga practitioners are subjected in Romania even in the second decade of the third millennium.
My colleague CV is a kind, very hearty and pious man with a rather special appreciation of the value of Christian teachings. For him, yoga is a real treasure of spiritual practices that helped him open up even more towards authentic Christianity. For him – like for many other of my colleagues from the yoga course – yoga practice is a spiritual help for him to follow his chosen spiritual practice (regardless of what it is) with even more efficiency.
In the yoga course, CV met the one who recently became his wife. They were colleagues for several years and only after a period in which both of them matured they decided to unite their destinies through the holy sacrament of marriage.
They prepared meticulously both outwardly and inwardly because of the profound reverence and transfiguration in which they hold this union.
Together with them, many of their friends from the yoga course and other colleagues and friends from work attended the wedding.
The Christian Orthodox wedding ritual implies a stage of confirmation and crystallization of the sacred union of the couple, a stage that is done in one week after the wedding. Impregnated with profound feelings of Christian experience, the husband and wife went to church one week after the wedding, at the proper moment according to the Christian Orthodox wedding ritual.
There, in front of the crowd of people that had gathered for the sermon and the friends of the newlywed couple, the priest addressed them out loud, asking them if they are yogis in Bivolaru’s school. The two sincerely answered yes and then, to their great astonishment, the priest began to say in front of everybody that they have to leave the church immediately because they do not have the right to receive the Christian sermon. My colleagues sought to explain that they are Christians and that yoga practice even helps them strengthen their state of faith and spiritual power, but it was to no avail.
The priest vehemently insisted that the two immediately leave the church with all their guests that were also yogis. To the consternation of the newlywed couple and their guests, the priest continued by making serious statements in front of the crowd of people that filled the church.
He said that they (yogis) come there in the church and charge themselves with positive energy and then they go to Bivolaru’s cult where they have orgies. He further added that through the order of the Romanian Patriarchy he is not allowed to make any sermon for such people. It is naturally understandable that the other people that were present in the Sunday sermon become hostile and practically expelled the newlyweds and their guests from the church. My friend’s testimonial ended with his rhetorical questions “did I make a mistake to confess that I practice yoga?”
I believe that this very question expresses the strange and abnormal situation in which yoga practitioners in Romania are put nowadays.
I do not want to make judgments here about how a Christian Orthodox priest should have behaved in this situation, considering the teaching that Christianity teaches to its followers. The hypocrisy of the church and its double standards are well-known nowadays and they need no further comment.
However, I want to stress the fact that this hallucinating episode, comparable to movies that evoke the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, is unfortunately not an accident but represents the symptom of a chronic illness that grinds the Romanian state on the inside.
Many who practice yoga have managed to acquire a state of inner peace and even benevolent understanding with respect to those around them. So, even when they are subjected to such discrimination, they find the inner resources to forgive and go on without complaining. Consequently, many such cases have found a wise solution on the part of the yoga practitioner that is subject to discrimination, but only due to their capacity to forgive and to adapt, which the practice of yoga discipline brings into one’s being. However, this does not mean that the situation is normal or that this is how one should treat people that ultimately manifest in their life that which many others pretend to do but fail to show practically.
“…Who Slaps You On The Right Cheek, Turn To Him The Other Also”, But “…. Who Take The Sword Will Perish By The Sword”
I have decided to write about such situations because beyond the fact that yogis from Romania benefit from the intense “training” of their power to forgive and adapt to the difficult situations that life offers, it is inadmissible that such situations be left to proliferate in a country that considers itself European, especially when the discrimination is institutionalized and supported by segments of society.
On repeated occasions we have sought to draw attention to certain similar situations in which colleagues from the yoga course have lost their job, being fired because they attend the MISA yoga school course, and families that had to suffer because of a neighbors’ attitude only because one or more of them were students of the MISA yoga school. And each time these actions of drawing attention to these phenomena hit against the conspiracy of silence that the Romanian media has instituted in a criminal manner with regards to any information that appears from MISA. In a similar manner, the Romanian authorities have preferred until now to UTTERLY IGNORE any attempt to signal any irregularities in the act of justice concerning the MISA yoga school.
Unfortunately, this defense strategy of the Romanian authorities is well-known, especially when they want to make a good impression outside the country: they ignore the direct addressing of all that might lessen the blaze with which they want to fool their international partners. And in the meantime they do everything possible to make the respective opponent or situation disappear. This practice was state policy in the communist regime but in the period since 1989 it has still been present, especially in delicate situations like the MISA-Gregorian Bivolaru case.
However, now the phenomenon of the discrimination of yoga practitioners begins to acquire social dimensions and risks becoming an out-of-control phenomenon, with dramatic consequences for the people involved. The fact that institutions such as the church begin to become very active in joining the mass-media in this campaign of discrimination of yoga practitioners from the MISA school shows the advanced level of this degenerative process that contains and grinds the Romanian society, especially concerning the act of justice and the observing of fundamental human rights.
Once things have reached to this point, you need not be a genius to see that it is easily possible for the situation to degenerate into violent social phenomena in which innocent people will have to suffer. Who will be responsible at that time?
One must NOW intervene at the level of European institutions in order for the authorities in Bucharest to get out of the denial phase and uproot these flagrant discriminations, allowing for a constructive social dialogue attended by representatives from the MISA yoga school and the involved institutions, which would lead to the definitive and equitable solving of the MISA – Gregorian Bivolaru case.
This case (presented above) and many others are contained within a file that will be presented in the following days to the competent European institutions (with all the necessary details, names of people involved, and conclusive data).
I wait for you to take initiative with determination and to not allow the situation to pass the point of no return.
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